Tech Marinade
Uncovering Hidden Innovation in DIY Electronics
Improve Your Hardware Debug Cycle With Tiq
by Ryan Sailor ▪ 5.11.2014 News


As a maker, you need ways to debug fast and accurately without adding too much time to the design cycle. This means making a choice to use a simple probe to check a connection’s voltage, and only bringing out the oscilloscope if something is absolutely wacky. In some cases you might have a problem where you need to check for more than just a voltage level, maybe a quick pulse, and a multimeter or logic probe won’t do.

That’s why Mark Henderson of Innavatus (@Innavatus) from Long Beach, CA created the tiq a logic probe with advanced features for super quick debugging. Mark saw a big gap between simple and complex testing tools and decided to fill it with a device that’s as quick an easy as a logic probe, but takes some advanced logic and pulse measurements that can save precious time in debugging a circuit.

The first thing you might notice about the tiq is the big LED near the probe tip. It’s a logic state indicator using color. For example, green is LOW, CYAN is 3.3V HIGH, and BLUE is 5V HIGH. The tiq is all about providing fast and accurate measurements right at your fingertips — literally! The tiq features a 32 character LCD display located near the tip that shows all of the relevant information in an easy-to-read graphical format.

The display changes automatically depending on what type of signal detected by the tiq. If the signal is pulsing, the display shows signal frequency, duty cycle, HIGH pulse width, and LOW pulse width. In static mode, the screen shows a bar graph of voltage thresholds for the detected logic level alongside the voltage measurement. It can also measure non-logic voltages (anything between -13 and 28 Volts).

So, how does it know which mode you want to look at? It’s automagic! Well, it’s auto-ranging – a not very new or magical feature of many electronics measurement devices. Basically, the tiq can detect the voltage level and the pulse variation which is enough information to show you the right screen. No settings, no adjustments, just automatic. That might seem restrictive, but that’s the point: don’t worry about it, just debug!

The tiq showing off its pulse display mode.

The tiq showing off its pulse generation mode.

Another feature of the tiq is pulse generation. It’s a little extra bonus that could be useful on-the-go or if you don’t want to set up your Agilent generator for an easy 1 MHz, 50% duty cycle pulse. Handy.

The cherry on top is single-shot capture. While this doesn’t bring pulse measurement to the levels of a decent logic analyzer, it’s a handy feature to check if a UART is at least sending something, or to see if the PWM timing is correct. In single-shot capture mode, as long as the intended pulse is greater than 30 nanoseconds (that’s about a 33 MHz frequency sine wave) the tiq will grab the next pulse it measures.

So, why would you want the tiq?

First off, your project needs to use either 3.3V or 5V logic levels because that’s what the tiq can measure (there’s some discussion here about extending its features in the future). For maker-level projects, that’s completely reasonable – Arduino’s popular units only come in those two logic flavors.

Second, you find yourself using a voltmeter a lot for a tiny voltage range in your digital projects and grasping for the logic analyzer to measure really simple dynamic signals. The tiq fits snuggly between these two categories of measurement tools to give you quick results for the measurements you need most.

Third, you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a tool to check if PWM is working. The tiq can be yours for only $89 ($79 if you hurry!).

And no, the tiq isn’t trying to replace the tools you already love and use. It’s a first-step tool: designed to give quick, insightful information and speed up debugging. It will let you know if your circuit is functioning or if you need to step up to some more advanced troubleshooting hardware.

If you are ready to speed up your debug cycle, check out tiq on Kickstarter now!

Look below for an updated image of the LCD display along with a video from the Kickstarter campaign.

Happy Making!

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Give Your Devices Flexibility with Paper-Thin Printoo Boards and Modules
by Kyle Patrick Cayabyab ▪ 4.19.2014 News


Flexibility is the key to creativity and those pesky physical limitations of creating hardware can impede the production of truly unique devices. Ynvisible from Cartaxo, Portugal wants to help relieve creators from the pains of physical design limitations by introducing the Printoo; flexible low-power boards and modules that are Arduino compatible. These paper thin boards are sure to fit into any design you can come up with Ynvisible aims to provide a wide selection of boards to choose from. And the board designs are open source as well!

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OpenKnit Makes Clothing Open-Source
by Kyle Patrick Cayabyab ▪ 4.15.2014 News

Fashion is becoming a more accessible art form as many are finding a liking to hand crafted clothing. Offering to bridge the gap between mass produced and hand crafted is OpenKnit, an open-source digital fabrication tool that allows users to create their own clothing from digital files.

This gives tailors the ease to try different designs and produce clothing to their liking. The open-source aspect of OpenKnit can help create a marketplace for these digital files. People can set up their own online boutiques without having to carry inventory; they can simply sell the digital files to customers with their own OpenKnit. Granted, that would require customers to have the system in place, but the seller could also easily have the clothing knit and sent off.

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SoundsCape: Connecting All of Your Audio Devices with a BeagleBone Cape
by Kyle Patrick Cayabyab ▪ 4.11.2014 News


The sleek new future seems to be reaching a wireless state, with Bluetooth devices cropping up everywhere providing need ranging from helping you use your collection of credit cards to a “LoJack” for your luggage. In contrast to these complex designs, the simpler tools provide the most possibilities. Take the SoundsCape for example. This BeagleBone Cape developed by Simple Media Networks provides a Bluetooth and audio I/O interface that will allow users to connect audio devices wirelessly.

The SoundsCape uses an ADAU1361 audio codec that includes that standard Stereo Line Input, Stereo Line Output, and Stereo Headphone Output with Mono Mic In. The codec supplies >98db Signal-to-Noise Ratio for both the inputs and outputs with the outputs supported by 3.5mm stereo jack. There is also compatibility with the LCD display interface. Unfortunately, you would have to choose between this interface and the Bluetooth interface due to General-Purpose I/O limitations on the BeagleBone.

As for the Bluetooth, the SoundsCape provides a Blue tooth 4.0 interface using the PAN1323 module from Panasonic. With it, users will be able to develop streaming by Advanced Audio Distribution Profile, Headset via Hands-Free Profile, and controls with Bluetooth Low Energy.

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The Fin Swims Ahead For Touchless Technology
by Kyle Patrick Cayabyab ▪ 4.8.2014 News


The wave of the future is upon us and technology is making its way into resembling that which we see in science fiction. One of these picturesque developments is that of gesture based technology. This dance-like method of interacting with our devices has seen developments in the forms of Leap Motion, Xbox Kinect, the Nintendo Wii, and more. A team has decided to create their own portable gesture device, with an aesthetic flair to boot.

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Introducing Tech Marinade Guides
by Ryan Sailor ▪ 4.4.2014 Editorial

As a new component of the Tech Marinade experience, we are now introducing informational guides to complement our tech news articles.

Over the next few weeks, we are working to roll out information pages that document every tool and technology available for electronics prototyping to production. Guides will include information on prototyping boards, oscilloscopes, software packages, enclosures, and any other number of items we think you might want to learn about. Think of it as a massive Maker encyclopedia. We hope that this consolidated informational guide will help introduce you to technology that can help you with your projects and make better decisions about the tools you need.

The final format is still undergoing work and there is a lot of content to add. We might open it up to editing in the future, but we feel we need to get the databases primed. It’s an open-ended experience.

Our very first entry is for the Raspberry Pi. Check out the page and tell us what you think!

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