Category Archives: tools

Fritzing

Recently, I’ve been spending a bit of time with Fritzing. It’s a piece of software that allows you to document prototypes, design circuits and manufacture PCBs. So far, I have only used the breadboard view to generate wiring diagrams for my Arduino and Sensors class, but I am still very impressed.

One of the circuits in my class involves wiring an accelerometer and a switch to an Arduino. Here was my attempt to photograph the circuit:

IMG_6845From the photograph, it’s not very clear on how to wire the accelerometer. There are too many wires in the photograph and it’s not easy to see where each wire terminates. Of course, I could try to recreate this circuit using wires with less slack, but there is a simpler solution – use Fritzing! The image generated by Fritzing makes it much easier to understand how the accelerometer is wired:

accelerometer_calIt’s fast and simple to generate the wiring diagrams. Fritzing has a bunch of predefined components (such as breadboards, switches, resistors and Arduinos) that you can drag and drop together. There’s also a great snap-to-grid functionality that ensures that components are connected. Fritzing allows you to import component libraries from other vendors so that you can prototype with correct representations of the components. For example, the accelerometer object comes from the Adafruit Fritzing library.

I’m really glad to see that there are excellent open-source tools available for this kind of thing. It makes sharing knowledge much easier. I’m already impressed by the breadboarding functionality, so I am looking forward to tinkering with the schematic and PCB views!

Test Equipment Class

This weekend at NYC Resistor, I took the test equipment class taught by Trammel Hudson. It was a great class on how to use two very common tools for debugging issues with electronics.

The first half of the class covered how to use an oscilloscope. We used the DSO Nano v3 by Seeed Studios. This pocket-sized oscilloscope is powerful despite its small size. We first discussed how to measure signals and then moved on to more complex topics, such as using the triggering functions and figuring out baud rates based on the oscilloscope readings. The small size is a major plus, as it will fit nicely in my hack box. It’s a big step up from the giant analog oscilloscope that my grandfather used back in the day.

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The second half of the class covered how to use a multimeter. This is a must-have for anyone who likes to tinker with microcontrollers as I do. We covered how to measure AC and DC voltage, resistance and amperage, as well as continuity testing. Even though I already knew how to use one, this was a great refresher.

Resistance is futile... or approximately 220 ohms.
Resistance is futile… or approximately 220 ohms.

Of course, no class is complete without sticking something into the electric socket!

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The best part of the class was that we got to keep the tools! I can’t wait to break things so I can use my new tools to fix them!