Piggybacking USB onto an industrial push button


Glen Akins has written an article detailing his USB-connected big red button project:

In this project, I mount the electronics from my single-key USB keyboard project to the back of an industrial mushroom push button switch. The finished big red button now activates my screensaver with a single overly-large button press. The biggest issues in this project were where to mount the USB electronics and how to connect the USB cable between the button and my computer.

More details on Photons, Electrons, and Dirt blog.

Building the ultimate USB power distribution system


Dr. Scott M. Baker published a new build:

My goals include:
1. The ability to switch each device on/off with a rocker or toggle switch
2. Current limiting capability via a fuse or similar device
3. Overvoltage protection
4. Visual indicator (LED) of operational status
5. Multiple independent outlet

See the full post on his blog.

Check out the video after the break.

Serial Star, a 4 in 1 USB serial and I2C converter


Jesus Echavarria published a new build:

Here’s one of the last board I design the last year. On 2016, I develop the Dual USB Serial and I2C Converter board. Although this board works fine, it has a couple of lacks. First one, is that to use the both converters, you need two free USB ports. Is a minor problem today with USB hubs, but you need the hub and also two USB wires. And the other problem is that this board uses mini-USB connectors. Of course today you can still find it, but aren’t as common as the micro-USB wires. For this two reasons, I decide to upgrade the board, add the micro – USB connector and put a USB hub inside it. Because I choose a 4-port USB hub, I use also 4 USB serial converters. With some addons, you can select power supply value (5V, 3V3), serial levels (TTL, RS232) and GPIO functions in an independent way for each converter. So, let’s see how works this USB Serial Star, a 4 in 1 USB to Serial and I2C Converter.

More details on Designing Electronics in Spain blog.

BMP180 based USB atmospheric pressure monitor


Dilshan Jayakody published a new build:

We initially developed this USB atmospheric pressure monitor to study some operating characteristics of Bosch BMP180 sensor. BMP180 is low cost sensor to measuring barometric pressure and temperature. According to the data sheet this sensor can use to measure pressure ranging between 300hPa to 1100hPa. This sensor is introduced couple of years back but still it is popular due to lower cost and simplicity of it’s interface.

See the full post on his blog.

BUS PIRATE: USB Micro B connector test


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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.