BUS PIRATE: USB Micro B connector test

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USB Micro B is the connector of the moment, but we haven’t had a very good time working with it. The bog-standard Chinese generic Micro B connectors on Bus Pirate v5 and Bus Pirate NG1 break constantly. We tested a Micro B connector with through-hole support tabs on the latest Bus Pirate PCBs. It turned out really well.

Standard Chinese USB Micro B connector

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A ton of mom and pop factories around Shenzhen churn these out by the bucket load. It seems like a great part: ubiquitous and cheap, doesn’t require a special board slot, versions with extended leads and centering pegs are easier to hand solder. Unfortunately, every connector soldered by every member of our team has eventually decided to exit the PCB.

This connector is optimized for paste stencil and reflow soldering. Most support should come from two solder pads under the connector that are impossible to reach with a soldering iron. Maybe it could be done with hot air, or the QFN “solder from the bottom of the board through a via” hack.

Connectors with supporting through-hole tabs

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The generic Chinese connector (left) has six solder pads holding it to the PCB. Four can’t be reached with a soldering iron – the two under the front, and the two recessed pads at the back near the pins.

A Molex 47589-001 (right) with through-hole support tabs went into the next revision of the Bus Pirate boards. The tabs aren’t long enough to go completely through a 1.6mm PCB, but they can still be soldered in place from the top of the board. It’s much more expensive – essentially free vs $0.50 each – but we’re optimizing for hand assembly, not production.

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Now we’re living the dream. The four tabs are really secure, and we don’t have to treat the prototype like glass. The next step is to find the most widely available Chinese equivalent.

 

 

 

PopCom – Identify your COM ports

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avishorp has written a small program that pops up a message whenever a serial port over USB device is plugged in, that is available on GitHub (code) and (installer)

PopCom is a COM port plug-in/plug-out notifier. Whenever a USB device that emulates a COM port is connected to the computer, a pop-up will be displayed, describing the device that has been plugged in and the COM number assigned to it. This pop-up helps determining the COM number assigned to each device, a number that is required for communicating with it.

More details on avishorp’s blog.

PSoC5 Grbl with Native USB

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bdring at Buildlog.Net writes:

I added native USB support to my PS0C5 port of Grbl. The PSoC has USB capability on the chip. It also has a component for using it as a USB UART (CDC Interface). This means it looks like a serial port to the connected PC and uses the standard CDC interface driver that most OS have.
I am currently only using this on the PSoC5 development board so I am comfortable using their VID and PID values. If I make some custom hardware and distribute it, I will need to get my own.

See the full post on Buildlog.net blog.

Presenting the single ESC key USB keyboard

 

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Glen Akins shares his latest build the single ESC key USB keyboard:

After building the “awesomely impractical” giant three-key keyboard, I decided it was time to build something a bit more practical—presenting the single ESC key USB keyboard! This keyboard has exactly one function which is to provide an optimal ESCing experience regardless of whatever keyboard you normally use. In exchange for giving up a USB port, you get a dedicated tactile, clicky Cherry MX blue ESC key.

See the full post on Photons, Electrons, and Dirt blog.

Building a giant USB three key mechanical keyboard

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Glen Akins shares his latest build the giant three key USB keyboard:

After seeing this giant mechanical keyboard at Adafruit, I decided I had to build my own. Adafruit made theirs out of wood and used one of their Python-compatible microcontroller boards. I wanted a sloped top on my keyboard. I also wanted to check out what was new with Microchip’s USB device stack. I decided to build my keyboard out of aluminum and use a PIC18 microcontroller.

See the full post on his blog here, Photons, Electrons, and Dirt.

Tiny, isolated USB to Xcvr interface (PTT, Audio, CAT, …)

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Mare writes:

I will describe here the USB interface between the radio station and the computer which I recently developed and tested. This post is a continuation of the first part, where I described a simple interface for controlling two digital lines using the USB / Serial Converter, where I presented simple interface to control two digital signals (e.g. Ptzt and CW). This time I will describe an interface that combines more functions:

  • Controlling several digital (switching) inputs and outputs
  • Interface for controlling the station via the serial interface
  • Audio input and output interface (sound card)

More details at Mare & Gal Electronics site.

BML USB 3.0 FPGA interface over PMOD

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An open-source-hardware USB 3.0 to FPGA PMOD interface design from Black Mesa Labs:

Black Mesa Labs is presenting an open-source-hardware USB 3.0 to FPGA PMOD interface design.  First off, please lower your expectations. USB 3.0 physical layer is capable of 5 Gbps, or 640 MBytes/Sec. This project can’t provide that to your FPGA over 2 PMOD connectors – not even close. It does substantially improve PC to FPGA bandwidth however, 30x for Writes and 100x for Reads compared to a standard FTDI cable based on the FT232 ( ala RS232 like UART interface at 921,600 baud ). A standard FTDI cable is $20 and the FT600 chip is less than $10, so BML deemed it a project worth pursuing.

More details at Black Mesa Labs homepage.

Via the contact form.

Designing a USB breakout board

USB 2.0 Breakout PCB layout (1)

Alexander Lang has been working on a USB breakout board, he writes:

I often need to intercept USB signals for decoding and measurement purposes. I cut a cable apart last time I needed one but to be honest I much prefer doing things properly. I also noticed that nobody seems to sell a similar product on Ebay, Aliexpress or Amazon! I did find a vendor in the USA on tindie. I also found this product on tindie which is similar but has a current monitoring circuit built in.
Either of these products would work for my purposes but the first product’s shipping costs from the USA seem a little extravagant and I only wanted one or two.
The second product uses pin headers to allow connection which are a bit close together for my liking. It’s often the way of things. When I cannot obtain what I want I make my own!

More details on his blog.

How to: STM32F103C8T6 as an USB device (Virtual serial port / CDC)

In this video Hugatry shared detailed instructions of how to use the STM32F103C8T6 as an USB device with virtual serial port:

Cheap STM32F103C8T6 development board
Blue STM32F103C8T6 development boards, also known as “BluePill”, are cheap way to get started with 32bit ARM microcontrollers. The STM32 development board can sometimes be bought for less than $2 and ST-LinkV2 compatible programmer and debugger doesn’t cost much more than that either.
The STM32F103C8T6 has nice amount of flash and RAM, runs at 72MHz and best of all: It has built-in USB. It is possible to program these STM32 boards to act as an USB devices, without “FTDI chip”. In this post and in the embedded video I will teach step by step how to use the STM32F103C8T6 as an USB device, in particular a virtual serial port.

More details at Hugatry’s HackVlog.