Introduction to KiCAD

A talk I presented at Electronics Rocks 2012, Bangalore

I have been using KiCad since I first started off in to Open Hardware around 2009. Around that time, KiCad was still pretty basic but it still seemed like the best EDA tool. Since then, it has come a long way, especially after the support and development push from CERN, the European super-collider folks. All of the hardware projects I have done since then have been done in KiCad.

Here is a video of a talk I presented at the Electronics Rocks 2012 conference in Bangalore. (Note : Pardon the squeaky vioce, I had a bad throat day). It's about 40 minutes, during which time I am able to just about scratch the surface. A deeper orientation would require about 2~3 days at the least. Some of the stuff is a bit dated now, since KiCad has improved by leaps and bounds since 2012. But the basics still hold good.

 http://youtu.be/MgYvz5mFGc0

The corresponding presentation can be found at this link :  http://goo.gl/az5H6B

 

Here are some KiCad related links : 

Original Project Home Page : http://iut-tice.ujf-grenoble.fr/kicad/

Current Home Page : http://www.kicad-pcb.org/

Libraries : http://www.kicadlib.org/

Libraries on Github : https://github.com/KiCad/kicad-library

A more recent Forum : https://forum.kicad.info/

KiCad forum on Yahoo : https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/kicad-users/info

 

Beyond this, you can always use Google to look up on any help you need with KiCad.

 

Drone Build

“And when you want something all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it “.

                                                                                                                               - Paulo Coelho

So the First Build Group was announced at Makers Asylum and people from all stretch came in .  This Sunday Makers Asylum witnessed the first community meet of The Build Group .

Cheers to the Team Drone .

You might want to question what exactly are Build Groups ? And what will they do?

So Build Groups is a community initiative where the community comes together to engineer and build stuff . Helping and learning from each other . The outcome of the build groups can be taken to the next level to improvise and keep building better versions of it . Finally even end up with a product with a big market .

Skills Required : Well you should be sound enough to know what you are doing that’s it .  You need not have all that expertise . But definitely some of what you have will benefit the group .

Having answered what build groups are . Lets Investigate in detail the first Build Project  - THE DRONE .

DRONES - are unmanned aerial vehicle ( UAVs ) . Usually Quadcopter , hexacopter , Octacopter depending on the number of motors they host . Usually they are powered by batteries or engines . They are either controlled by ‘pilots’ from the ground or increasingly, autonomously following a pre-programmed mission. The use of drones has grown quickly in recent years because unlike manned aircraft they can stay aloft for many hours ; they are much cheaper than military aircraft and they are flown remotely so there is no danger to the flight crew.

Technical: The design of the frame of the drone is what matters a lot. The frame needs to be lightweight , sturdy to take accidental crashes and as minimalistic as possible . The drones use Ultrasonic sensors to avoid obstacles and maintain precise autonomous flight and to land .The gyrometer is used to measure the orientation of the drone , whereas the accelerometer measures the acceleration ( g-force ) . Control boards play a crucial role here. continuously busy analyzing the data fetched from the gyrometer and accelerometer and keeping the drone balanced. Li - Polymer Battery being dense are used to power a Drone . They last for 15 minutes and take 40 minutes to charge.

Applications :

  • Drone delivery , a big news by Amazon already , that INDIA will be the launch pad for this .
  • Aerial Mapping
  • Military ( spying )
  • Atmospheric Measurements
  • Communications , Facebook's Connectivity Lab is going to build drones, satellites and lasers to deliver the internet to everyone.

Well a lot more is to be witnessed about Drones and every possible application is being examined . It’s Just begun for us and a long way to go .

So, excited to build one come be a part of the Build Group .  

Drop a mail to : rupin.chheda@gmail.com

Group Lead : Rupin Chedda

Stay tuned to Makers Asylum for more build groups to be announced in the coming month .

 

 

 

Make Day Mumbai + MAKER the Movie

Some time in July, I got in touch with the team at www.makerthemovie.com asking them if we can hold an official screening of their superlative documentary about the maker movement. At the Makers Asylum, we are passionate about pushing the maker movement in India, and we thought it would be perfect to have a screening of the movie to expose people here to what is happening around the world. Once the MAKER team responded positively, I discussed it with the rest of the gang at Makers Asylum, and we decided to host a screening. Hosting a public screening was going to cost us USD295/- which would have to come from our pockets or from donors/sponsors. I replied back to MAKER team telling them :

So, the plan now "looks" simple :

1. Look for a Sponsor or Sponsors
2. Look for a Venue
3. Screen the Movie

Well, turns out it wasn't as simple as it sounded. We couldn't find any sponsors (or maybe we didn't look hard enough), although we spread word out through friends and social media. The venue, on the other hand, turned out to be a nice surprise when our friend Rajeev at Studio-X (http://www.arch.columbia.edu/studio-x-global/locations/studio-x-mumbai) agreed to let us have their space for nothing. We had already partnered with Studio-X during an earlier Nokia event for Urban Innovation (http://youtu.be/ODvacd5NSb8) , so we knew the palce was a perfect setting. Still no sponsors, and we couldn't wait much longer to purchase the screening rights. Luckily, the team at MAKER the movie realized our quandary and offered us a generous discount on the screening cost, which helped us a lot. Eventually, the cost for the whole event was paid out of our own resources, with no external support.

Make Day Poster

Through all of August, we got down to planning the event, which we had now designated as “Make Day Mumbai” to be held on September 20th, where we wanted to feature a whole after noon of hands-on making, followed by screening the movie in the evening. The plan was to have sessions on Origami, PVC Pipe Lamp Making, 3D Printing and other fun stuff during the afternoon. We interspersed the making sessions with some inspirational talks by some maker friends such as Shreekant Pawar from www.diabe.to who talked about why his company choose to make their product Open Source, Angad Daryani , a young 15 year old kid who talked about his experience as a Maker, Shailesh Prabhu from Yellow Monkey Studios who talked about “Steam Punk Art” and myself where I talked about the DiY and Maker Movement.

On D-day, the whole of the Maker's Asylum team was at the venue from early in the morning, setting things up. We had three 3D printers, a Polargraph draw bot, besides all of the hand's on making tables that were set up. T-Shirts arrived in the nick of time on 20th Sept morning. Banners and posters were done, we hung up tools on the walls,and generally turned Studio-X in to one big maker space for the day. The team had just a short bit of time to grab some Pizza lunch before the first visitors started trickling in.

For Make Day, I had dug up the g-code for my Ultimaker that allowed it to 3D print objects in continuous “auto-print” mode – once a object is printed, the print head is used to push the object out of the print bed, and the next print starts. Samarth, our 3D printing expert, set up and tuned the Ultimaker, and it started the auto-print routine at around 11:00 in the morning (or probably earlier). By the end of the day, it had been running continuously (about 8 hours) pushing out Stretchy Bracelets every 15 minutes. I also set up my “Polargrap” draw bot. It uses a pen attached to two strings that are driven by stepper motors, and is an example of how a machine can be used to create “Art”.

I had some trouble setting it up, and never managed to grab enough time to set it up correctly.

For me, the day passed off in a breeze. I was busy talking to people continuously, about the Maker movement, my open hardware projects, talking to students discussing stuff and so on, and before I know it, Vaibhav came up to me and said it's time to start the screening. Whoa, already ? I glanced at the time, and couldn't believe when I read 5:30pm. I guess we had between 70 to 100 people attend Make Day and hopefully they all went back motivated to do some DIY.

My Maker friend Sohil Patel from Makerfest Ahmedabad turned up, and showed us an amazing hack using Way Crayons, Sand Paper and Iron to create Iron on Transfers on T-Shirts !

These kids travelled all the way from Nashik to attend Make Day !

Our awesome friend, Amit Arora from http://www.smartprinting.co/ created a short survey on 3D Printing, and it would be interesting to see the results when he publishes them on his blog.


 EDIT : Amit Arora has published his results here  : http://www.inside3dp.com/inside3dp-exclusive-16-indian-population-owns-3d-printer/


We started the movie screening at about 6:00pm after a short round of introductions, and from what I saw, it seems the audience were pretty engrossed with rapt attention watching all the magic on screen. For me, the Movie seemed special since I knew / followed a lot of the people that were interviewed.

For those who missed attending Make Day Mumbai, we have a whole set of pictures at these links:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/125352978@N05/sets/72157647472331847/

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.958811870812306.1073741851.268461276514039&type=1