Open Hardware Summit 2020

Alicia Gibb, Ayah Bdeir, Kate Hartmann, Lenore Edman at OHS 2011
Photo from OHS 2011 by Jacob Gibb

The tenth annual Open Hardware Summit will be in New York held online on March 13. I’ll be participating in a panel looking back at the past ten years of open source hardware and looking forward to the next decade as well. The schedule is filled with great speakers and I’m looking forward to seeing so many friends, old and new.

Note: the session has been turned into a podcast so you can listen at your leisure!

Edited March 11 to reflect the change to online.
Edited March 18 to add podcast link.

Linkdump: January 2020

PCBs swung out on wiring harness acting as hinge or book spine

Windell and Lenore on the Embedded.fm podcast

Hilton's Aeolid

Elecia and Chris of Embedded.fm invited us to come back on the show for episode 317: WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY DISINTEGRATED?. We also had the added enticement of a low tide adventure after recording.

Lenore had been on the show back in 2014 for episode 40: MWAHAHA SESSION, and Windell was on the following year when The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory was published for episode 124: PLEASE DON’T LIGHT YOURSELF ON FIRE.

We enjoyed the conversation immensely. We wandered from talking about our kits, to plotter art, to PCB art, even to seaweed. The tide pooling afterwards was wonderful as well!

Linkdump: December 2019

Touch Screen UI for navigation system for the USS John S. McCain

Four Favorite Tools

Cover of Four Favorite Tools

The kind folks at Cool Tools sent us a copy of Four Favorite Tools, which is a compilation of recommendations from the Cool Tools Podcast, including from the episodes we were on. I’ve had it sitting on my desk since it arrived, and I’ve been flipping through it pretty regularly. It’s been fun to look up the people I know and see what they recommended. It’s also fun to learn about people I don’t know from their browsing their recommendations.

Lenore's section in Four Favorite Tools

All of the information in the book is also included in each person’s podcast episode on the Cool Tool’s site (here are ours: Lenore and Windell), but I’m much more likely to flip through the book and happen upon something new than I am to go explore online. This book would be a great gift for the tool-users in your life.

Thank you Kevin, Claudia & Mark!

Linkdump: November 2019

Screenshot of Enigma machine simulator encoding Hello World

The AxiDraw MiniKit

AxiDraw MiniKit

Today we are introducing a brand new member of the AxiDraw family of pen plotters: the AxiDraw MiniKit.

AxiDraw MiniKit
The AxiDraw MiniKit is a special compact addition to the AxiDraw lineup.

Designed for lighter-duty applications, It takes up less desk space and less storage space. With a plotting area of just 6 × 4 inches (150 × 100 mm), it’s small enough to take with you, or to fit into places where bigger machines can’t.

AxiDraw MiniKit
In addition to be being “Mini”, it is also a kit.

Unlike other models of the AxiDraw family like AxiDraw V3 and AxiDraw SE/A3 (which come assembled, tested, and ready to use), the AxiDraw MiniKit is a machine that you assemble yourself.

We’ve taken great care in designing a kit that is rewarding to build and to own.

AxiDraw MiniKit

And of course, it’s an AxiDraw, and performs like one. Small but sturdy, it’s built with custom aluminum extrusions, machined parts, attention to detail, and care.

Our Thanksgiving Weekend Sale


It’s our Thanksgiving Weekend Sale! use checkout coupon code TURKEY to save 10% storewide at Evil Mad Scientist.

Save on popular items like the brand new AxiDraw MiniKit, surface-mount 555SE and 741SE soldering kits, and everything else too.

Our biggest sale of the year, it’s a great time to get that AxiDraw SE/A3, EggBot, or through hole 555 kit too.

Sale runs through Monday, December 2.

The 555SE and 741SE surface-mount soldering kits

555SE and 741SE kits

Today we are pleased to announce the release of two new soldering kits: the 555SE discrete 555 timer and the 741SE discrete op-amp.

Both of these new kits are surface mount soldering kits — our first surface mount soldering kits — and we think that you’re going to love them.

555 kits, big and small

You might be familiar with our Three Fives discrete 555 timer and XL741 discrete op-amp kits. Both are easy soldering kits that let you build working transistor-scale replicas of the classic 555 timer chip and the famous µA741 op-amp. Those two are constructed with traditional through-hole soldering techniques and are styled to like “DIP” packaged (through-hole) integrated circuits.

Our new 555SE and 741SE kits implement the same circuits, now with surface mount components, and are styled to look like smaller “SOIC” packaged (surface mount) integrated circuits, complete with a heavy-gauge aluminum leadframe stand. Side by side with their through-hole siblings, the new kits are exactly to scale, with half the lead pitch and a lower profile.

555SE kit for scale

The 555SE and 741SE kits each come with eight (tiny) color-coded thumbscrew binding posts that you can use to hook up wires and other connections.

You can also probe anywhere that you like in these circuits — something that you generally can’t do with the integrated circuit versions.

741SE kit close up

The new 555SE and 741SE circuit boards are black in color, with a gold finish and clear solder mask so that you can see the wiring traces between individual components. There are a few other neat details here and there, such as countersunk holes for mounting the board to the leadframe.

The surface mount components are relatively large, with 1206-sized resistors and SOT-23 sized transistors, and assembly is straightforward with our clear and comprehensive instructions. These kits are designed to be a joy to build, whether you’re an old hand at surface mount soldering, want some practice before tackling a project, or are introducing someone to it for the first time.

Family portrait

And here is the new family: XL741, the Three Fives, along with the new 741SE and 555SE.

You can find the datasheets and assembly instructions for these kits, as well as links to additional documentation, on their respective product pages.

Both new kits are part of our ongoing collaboration with Eric Schlaepfer, who we have worked with on a number of dis-integrated circuit projects including the four kits here and the MOnSter 6502.

Watch the transit of Mercury with us!

Solar telescope and binoculars set up in front of Evil Mad Scientist sign.

Tomorrow morning is the transit of Mercury, which is where the planet Mercury is visible directly in front of the sun. This won’t happen again until 2032. If you happen to be in Silicon Valley and would like to see the transit with your own eyes, please join us tomorrow morning (weather permitting—assuming that the sun is out).

What: Viewing the transit of Mercury
When: 8:30 – 10 am Monday, November 11, 2019
Where: Evil Mad Scientist, 1285 Forgewood Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94089

We’ll be setting up solar binoculars and a telescope with a solar filter so that we can safely watch Monday morning. It will take Mercury about 5 and a half hours to cross in front of the sun, and we’ll be watching the last hour and half. We’ll start viewing at 8:30 am until the end of the transit at about 10 am.