Name that Ware December 2015

December 22nd, 2015

The Ware for December 2015 is shown below.

This ware got me at “6502”. Thanks to DavidG Cape Town for contributing this specimen!

One question for the readers (separate from naming the ware!), it’s been something I’ve wondered about for decades. On the back side of this board, one can see ripples on the fatter traces. My original assumption is this is due to a problem with hot air leveling after the application of a solder finish to the bare copper board, before the soldermask is applied. However, the top side is almost entirely smooth, so clearly the process can supply a flatter finish.

So here’s my quandary: are the ripples intentional (for example, an attempt to increase current capacity by selectively thickening fat traces with a solder coating), or accidental (perhaps microscopic flaws in the soldermask allowing molten metal to seep under the soldermask during wave soldering)?

Been wondering about this since I was like 15 years old, but never got around to asking anyone…

Happy holidays to everyone! I’ll be at 32C3 (thankfully I have a ticket), haunting the fail0verflow table. Come enjoy a beer with me, I’m not (officially) giving any talks so I can actually sit back and enjoy the congress this year.

Winner Name that Ware November 2015

December 22nd, 2015

The Ware for November 2015 was an RS-482 interface picomotor driver of unknown make and model, but probably similar to one of these. It’s designed to drive piezo (slip stick) motors; the circuits on board generate 150V waveforms at low current to drive a linear actuator with very fine positional accuracy.

This one was apparently a stumper, as several guessed it had something to do with motor control or positioning, but nobody put that together with the high voltage rated parts (yet with no heatsinking, so driving low currents) on the board to figure that it’s meant for piezo or possibly some other electrostatic (e.g. MEMS) actuators. Better luck next month!

Products over Patents

November 29th, 2015

NPR’s Audrey Quinn from Planet Money explores IP in the age of rapid manufacturing by investigating the two-wheel self balancing scooter. When patent paperwork takes more time and resources than product production, more agile systems of idea sharing evolve to keep up with the new pace of innovation.

If the embedded audio player above isn’t working, try this link. Seems like the embed isn’t working outside the US…

MLTalk with Joi Ito, Nadya Peek and me

November 28th, 2015

I gave an MLTalk at the MIT Media Lab this week, where I disclose a bit more about the genesis of the Orchard platform used to build, among other things, the Burning Man sexually generated light pattern badge I wrote about a couple months back.

The short provocation is followed up by a conversation with Joi Ito, the Director of the Media Lab, and Nadya Peek, a renowned expert in digital fabrication from the CBA (and incidentally, the namesake of the Peek Array in the Novena laptop) about supply chains, digital fabrication, trustability, and things we’d like to see in the future of low volume manufacturing.

I figured I’d throw a link here on the blog to break the monotony of name that wares. Sorry for the lack of new posts, but I’ve been working on a couple of books and magazine articles in the past months (some of which have made it to print: IEEE Spectrum, Wired) which have consumed most of my capacity for creative writing.

Name that Ware November 2015

November 28th, 2015

This month’s ware is shown below:

And below are views of the TO-220 devices which are folded over in the top-down photo:

We continue this month with the campaign to get Nava Whiteford permission to buy a SEM. Thanks again to Nava for providing another interesting ware!