Altium Designer Workshop Slides by Daniel Travis

Daniel Travis says:

Altium Designer is the absolute best PCB design software available today. It is jam packed with advanced features that make designing your very own PCB easier than ever. Two weeks ago I hosted an Altium workshop for ECE students here at UMass, and now I’m back to share the workshop with you! This Altium Tutorial link will take you to a folder on Google Drive which contains the following: PowerPoint presentation, schematic, custom libraries, my completed schematic file, my completed PCB file, and additional links to more tutorials. These resources should provide you with everything you need to get started on a PCB design today.

Sparkfun’s Internet-of-Things Database: Phant

Phant (think elePHANT, I guess) “acts as a logging tool which allows any device to read and write data to and from the service”. After creating an account with Sparkfun, one can create feeds by interactively describing the data that will be included. Two keys are then supplied to the user: a private (read-write) one that can be used to submit or modify the data, and a public read-only one (all feeds are publicly viewable).
To submit data, one simply sends it in an html GET or POST request. It will then be captured by the database and a confirming reply sent. Similarly, one can retrieve data with a GET or POST request.

There is a space limit and a bandwidth limit, but these are set reasonably so that most users won’t be inconvenienced by them.

I have been storing data automatically into Phant for a few months now. I have a solar-powered ESP8266 WiFi-enabled processor which wakes up every ten minutes, takes temperature and battery-voltage readings, connects to my home network, and sends them up to Phant. You can view them as raw data at https://data.sparkfun.com/streams/2J5rnpZllATNjOOmqLrq, or graphed by another free service at https://analog.io/#/s5EV.

I am working with MQTT also as another, fairly different, IoT data broker, and will publish another blog entry about MQTT. A key difference between the two is that Phant is entirely passive – you can get data from it or put data into it, but it won’t notify you when new data arrives. MQTT is designed with a publish/subscribe architecture; you subscribe to a topic and when new data is published to that topic, you are notified with the new data.

Circuits and Code 2016S

Denizens of M5 and other interested people – rejoice!

Another exciting term at UMass is coming to a close, and with it three amazing prospects:

  • SDP Demo Days – Senior Design Project extravaganza (about which see http://www.ecs.umass.edu/ece/sdp/sdp16/),
  • summer vacation, but, most importantly,
  • Circuits and Code! People that have been making stuff at M5 – especially students in the Design Projects course ECE297DP – will be presenting their work on Saturday, April 23, from 1 to 4, in Euler’s Good Room at M5 in the Marcus basement. Community members will be welcome to come and see the projects, and there will be refreshments available.

If you’ve been working on something cool and want a forum wherein you can brag about it, Circuits and Code is just what you’ve been looking for!

Chuck Malloch

mbed Discussions and Workshops

M5 is hosting discussions during the Spring 2016 term addressing mbed-enabled ARM-based microcontrollers. On Wednesday afternoons at 2:30 we will be working with STM Nucleo microcontrollers and will address hardware and software issues. More details and a reading list are posted at http://umassamherstm5.org/spring-2016-mbed-discussions. For more information, visit the link or contact Chuck Malloch (CBMalloch / engin.umass.edu)

Academic credit for tech explorations

chuck-malloch6 Feb 2016

Dear ECE students:

Here is yet another fantastic opportunity for you to expand your tech knowledge (and land those amazing internships and jobs): Chuck Malloch, ECE-lecturer-extraordinaire, is offering you, the lucky ECE student, the opportunity to get support and academic credit for extra tech work/play: ECE 297DP, 1 credit, pass/fail. Obviously. add/drop is over but Chuck can late-add you if you act FAST… by FAST I mean you must meet him at M5 today, Saturday, 6 Feb 2016 (2:30-4:30)… or, at the very latest, on Wednesday, 10 Feb 2016 (2:30-4:30). 

>>>>>> You will find Chuck’s announcement below. Please read it carefully as it explains the difference between his Wednesday and Saturday sections. 

Cheers, Baird

Baird Soules
ECE…M5

…………………..Begin forwarded message: ……………………

From: Charles B. Malloch, PhD
CBMalloch at umass dot edu

2016 Spring Term — M5 According to Chuck

I (Chuck Malloch) will be available at M5 on Wednesdays and Saturdays this term. My core hours will be 2:30-4:30, but I will usually be here by 1 on Wednesdays and by 2 on Saturdays.

The ECE297DP course is offered as always for individuals with interest in completing independent projects. In addition, I will be hosting a workshop series on Wednesdays, exploring the ARM mbed initiative.

What is the ARM mbed initiative, you ask?

Look at www.mbed.com for the official details. The short version is that these folks have identified a bunch of microcontroller boards that can be used in the development and deployment of embedded systems. Think automotive, industrial, instrumentation, and medical systems, for example. Also Internet of Things. The mbed idea is to provide a simple path to programming all these different systems with portable tools and code.

What will we be doing with mbed?

The Wednesday time slot will be primarily a workshop series for the mbeds. We’ll start by looking at the STI nucleo 32-bit boards and programming them using the on-line tools. Next, we’ll set up the freeware Eclipse development environment on our PCs and using that to work with the Nucleos, making up various tasks as homework exercises. While I will be emphasizing high-level programming techniques, we will most likely address many hardware-level concerns as well.

So how will ECE297DP be run this term?

As I indicated above, the Wednesday section will be workshop. Students in this section will be expected to attend that session each week, and do homework assignments in between. Nucleo development boards will be made available to the students enrolled in this section.

The Saturday section will be devoted to students with independent projects, as usual. Students will be expected to attend each weekly session and to make consistent effort on their projects.

All students will be expected to spend at least two hours each week on project work outside of the session meeting time.

 Students enrolled in ECE297DP will be required to prepare and deliver a 5-minute lightning talk (exactly 20 slides, exactly 5 minutes, auto-advance) at the mid-term point, present their finished project at Circuits and Code (the Saturday afternoon coinciding with SDP days), and submit a final report describing their project and their adventures in working on it.

See more soon on the M5 web site! C’mon down and join the fun. We’ll be looking at 32-bit mbed microcontrollers, Eclipse, SPI communications, C++, and will be having planned and ad-hoc adventures in all these areas.

       Chuck Malloch

Charles B. Malloch, PhD

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

M5, 5 Marcus Building

University of Massachusetts / Amherst

Win an internship at CERN

If you are a monster coder, you might be interested in this contest to streamline code used in a project to simulate the human brain. CERN and Intel are putting on the competition; whoever submits the fastest equivalent code will win either a visit or an internship at CERN. It’s not directly ECE, but I know some denizens of M5 who are mighty good codeslingers. http://hackaday.com/2015/09/23/win-an-internship-at-cern-openlab/

M5 Discussions

M5 is hosting discussions during the Fall 2015 term addressing several aspects of the Internet of Things. On Tuesday afternoons at 2:30, we will be discussing wireless communications in the context of smart sensors. On Wednesday afternoons at 2:30 we will be discussing issues of battery operation for wireless operation of smart sensors. More details and a reading list are posted at http://umassamherstm5.org/fall-2015-iot-battery-operated-wireless-smart-sensors-discussions. For more information, visit the link or contact Chuck Malloch (CBMalloch / engin.umass.edu)