How to turn your breadboard rat’s nest into a badass circuit – PCB manufacturing tips

Printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing is a black art among the DIY community.  If you’re putting together a prototype circuit, the process is very well established: get an Arduino or your microcontroller of choice, pick out some components, get a breadboard and wires, and then string everything together.  Easy, low cost, and accessible.

However, what if your project becomes more complex?  You can extend breadboard or perf-board work to a point, but the likelihood of making an error grows exponentially with project complexity.  Nobody wants to end up with a circuit that looks like this:

Now THIS is a rats nest of wires.

Image credit: Big Mess o’ Wires

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Extreme AVR power savings – the quest continues

At Engblaze, we’re somewhat obsessed with squeezing every possible bit of performance out of our circuits.  Ok, really obsessed.  Like beyond Facebook-stalking and into restraining-order-territory obsessed.  To that end, we consider it our duty to bring news of other intrepid performance squeezing pioneers in the DIY electronics world.

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A toast to international geekiness: The making of Arduino

The making of the Arduino DIY electronics platform.

Ever wonder how the Arduino platform got started?  IEEE has a very well written article on the history of Arduino and the global five person team behind its creation.  Although Arduino isn’t the most powerful or even the most flexible development board ever to come along, the story of its adoption by the open-source and creative community is a great example of how virtual collaboration can be an incredibly powerful tool.

If you’re a true geek, mark your Italian travel guide with the address for the Bar di Re Arduino in Ivrea, the namesake hangout of Arduino creator Massimo Banzi.  Next time you’re there, you can toast the DIY hacking community in his honor.  The bartenders may not know what you’re talking about, but your nerdy, nerdy soul will.

Recreate fancy OnStar commercials with nothing but tenacity and a $10 cell phone

Car remote start system using a pre-paid cell phone for long-range activation.

Building on our theme of cellular hackery, Dave has a three part series on his blog dedicated to the creation of a remote start system for his car. What’s the catch, you say? Oh, no catch, no catch at all… except that he wired his remote start to work via cellphone input, so he can give his whip a call before he leaves work and climb into a warm car immediately upon arrival at the parking lot.

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Have your Arduino tweet, text, and post rambling Tumblr updates from anywhere using the official GSM/GPRS shield

Straight outta Compton the official Arduino labs, the GPRS/GSM shield and associated library have been developed for your communications pleasure.  There is a lot of scattered work out there on cellular communications, but this project was developed by a three-person team that includes two Arduino co-founders, so you know you’re getting a level of professionalism.  Like some of our other cellular posts, the library relies on standard AT commands, so you may be able to adapt it to a range of other hardware.  Check out their detailed documentation and see if it will work for your project.