Recent updates on the CompuPhase pages

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Recent updates on the CompuPhase pages

 
20 April 2021
New article: Near-Field Probes for EMC testing
Near-field probes, in combination with a spectrum analyzer, are the tools that you use to trouble-shoot EMC problems (notably radiated emissions). This article first describes how you can make good-quality low-cost probes yourself. Following that, it gives some advice in using the probes.
Update of the minIni library
Open source minIni is a programmer's library to read and write "INI" files in embedded systems. minIni takes little resources, has a deterministic memory footprint and can be configured for various kinds of file I/O libraries.

This update includes an example "glue" file that uses file locking for avoiding concurrent access. The example assumes a Posix file interface. Stylistic and portability issues were also addressed.

minIni is an open source project.

Update of VisualPlace
Freeware VisualPlace assists in (manual or automated) PCB assembly. Component placement is extracted from files generated from the EDA suite (notably the Gerber files, the centroid file and the bill-of-materials). The application visualizes the component placement and converts the files (with corrections, where applicable) for further automated processing. Due to a plug-in architecture, VisualPlace works with many EDA suites, and more can be added.

Gerber X3 is now supported: this Gerber extension adds component placement information to Gerber files (replacing CPL files). Support for CircuitStudio was also added. Other new support is for Zebra label printers, the TWS Quadra DVC pick-&-place machine, and Gerber "job" files. Internally, VisualPlace is converted to use the Unicode character set, allowing better internationalization.

VisualPlace is a free application.

This page is also available in Dutch and in German.

All "Large Dome" buttons are now also available with white dome
The USB dome buttons and wireless dome buttons are now also available with a white dome.

This page is also available in German, in French and in Dutch.

New article: Mini-reel for SMD components
The mini-reel is a reel for SMD components on cut tape. The design follows the standard for reels for the essential dimensions (EIA-481). Its outer diameter is smaller, and its capacity therefore as well: about 1/4th of what a 7" reel can hold.
New article: Mini-tray for SMD components
The mini-tray was designed as an alternative to the standard JEDEC tray for semiconductors. It has the same width as a JEDEC tray, but its length is a third of that of a JEDEC tray. Thus, three mini-trays lined up have the same width/length dimensions as one JEDEC tray (the mini-tray is 0.85 mm thinner than a JEDEC tray).
16 September 2020
New product: Battery-free Wireless Button
The “Battery-free Wireless Dome Button” is a palm switch with a large mushroom dome. It has a wireless to a USB receiver (that you insert in your PC), and energy harvesting generator that generates electrical power from the act of pressing the button. The advantage is clear: there is no need to ever worry about recharging or replacing the battery.

This page is also available in German, in French and in Dutch.

New product: USB Input module
The “USB Input module” is a 42×23.5 mm module that allows to capture input from a switch or a sensor, and receive it on a PC or workstation as a keystroke. That is to say, the module operates as a virtual keyboard. The module is configurable with a free utility.

This page is also available in German, in French and in Dutch.

New article: Magnetic PCB holders
This article describes a design for magnetic PCB holders that are quite convenient in both manual assembly and machine assembly of a PCB, and especially so if the PCB has components on both sides. The STL files for 3D-printing of these PCB holders are provided as well.
10 July 2019
New product: USB Pendant Button
A hand-held switch on a USB cable. It can be configured to transmit a key press or a mouse click on pressing. It can even be configured to send one key code on a short press, and a different key code when the button is held down for a second.

This button is available with a red or black button cap.

This page is also available in German, in French and in Dutch.

New article: Debouncing with vertical counters
This is an article on efficiently handling switch bounce in software, for multiple switches concurrently. The article starts by showing the effects of switch bounce and explains the paradigm of vertical counters. Then, it introduces a novel implementation with very low latency.
Update of VisualPlace
Freeware VisualPlace assists in (manual or automated) PCB assembly. Component placement is extracted from files generated from the EDA suite (notably the Gerber files, the centroid file and the bill-of-materials). The application visualizes the component placement and converts the files (with corrections, where applicable) for further automated processing. Due to a plug-in architecture, VisualPlace works with many EDA suites, and more can be added.

This version includes a rewritten Gerber parser, which now includes Gerber X2 support. Other new features are: the outlines of standard packages can be drawn on top of the PCB image, so that you can visually check whether the package fits on the footprint; components can now be rotated by 45 degrees; a new function for inventory look-up for parts in the bill-of-materials. See the release notes for details.

VisualPlace is a free application.

This page is also available in Dutch and in German.

Updated utility: KiCad Librarian, version 1.4
Open source The KiCad Librarian allows to maintain symbol and footprint libraries, as well as make adjustments to individual parts or generate new footprints from a template. It supports the KiCad EDA suite and runs in Windows and Linux.

This release is made compatible with KiCad 5.x, including support for the new “rounded rectangle” pad shape. A new feature is recursive search for libraries. Several issues that were found since the earlier release have been fixed.

The KiCad librarian is an open source utility (Apache license version 2).

19 June 2018
Update of the Termite serial terminal
Freeware Termite is a simple RS232 monitor, with plug-in support to allow for various extensions. It is now at version 3.4.

New in this release is the ability to filter data that is forwarded between two ports. Bugs that were found since the last release were fixed; notably: Termite now handles backspace characters by erasing the character before the cursor.

Termite is a free utility.

Updated utility: KiCad Librarian, version 1.3
Open source The KiCad Librarian allows to maintain symbol and footprint libraries, as well as make adjustments to individual parts or generate new footprints from a template. It supports the KiCad EDA suite and runs in Windows and Linux.

This is a bug-fix release; it corrects several issues that were found since the earlier release.

The KiCad librarian is an open source utility (Apache license version 2).

New product: Illuminated Dome Button
The “USB Dome Button” is a large mushroom/dome button that a PC or workstation detects as a USB keyboard —with just one, configurable, key. It can be used as a general actuator, or as an emergency stop button, or for quiz games (the button is compatible with common quiz software). Various models and colours are available.

This page is also available in German, in French and in Dutch.

25 October 2017
New product: Wireless Dome Button
This robust, sealed, industrial quality dome button transmits its key code over a wireless link to a USB dongle. Up to six buttons can be connected to a single dongle.

This button is available with a red, black or yellow dome. It can optionally be fitted on a tripod, or fixed to a table or wall.

13 June 2017
Updated utility: KiCad Librarian, version 1.3
Open source The KiCad Librarian allows to maintain symbol and footprint libraries, as well as make adjustments to individual parts or generate new footprints from a template. It supports the KiCad EDA suite and runs in Windows and Linux.

Notable new features in this version are: an integrated VRML viewer for the generated 3D models; the filtering (searching) of footprints is improved in speed and flexibility; the templates for the packages that have an exposed pad or thermal pad, were updated so that a large exposed/thermal pad is built from a matrix of multiple small pads.

The KiCad librarian is an open source utility (Apache license version 2).

Update of the pawn scripting language
Open source The pawn scripting language has been updated. Notable changes are: the ability to create a graph of the automatons (state machines) and the events in a script, via the Graphviz utilities; and various improvements in the support for configurations of specific hosts or devices. A full history is in the summary of recent changes.
New article: ICSP programming tool/adapter
This tiny adapter enables In-System Programming of the NXP LPC1000 and LPC2000 microcontroller series using the tag-connect cable and an FTDI TTL-232R-** interface cable. It may also apply to other microcontrollers that use ICSP.
16 January 2017
Update of the pawn scripting language
Open source The pawn scripting language has been updated. The major new feature is that the IDE ("Quincy") is now multi-platform. Full history of changes is in the summary of recent changes.
Update of VisualPlace
Freeware VisualPlace assists in (manual or automated) PCB assembly. Component placement is extracted from files generated from the EDA suite (notably the Gerber files, the centroid file and the bill-of-materials). The application visualizes the component placement and converts the files (with corrections, where applicable) for further automated processing. Due to a plug-in architecture, VisualPlace works with many EDA suites, and more can be added.

This is a maintenance release, with various improvements in usability, up to date EDA support (KiCad), improved scanning heuristics and improved import of the bill of materials. See the release notes for details.

VisualPlace is a free application.

This page is also available in Dutch and in German.

New product: low-cost panel-mount USB Pushbutton
The “USB Pushbutton” is a large pushbutton that is a low-cost a alternative for the industrial USB Dome Button. This button must be build into a (control) panel. The button is illuminated and compatible with common quiz software.

This page is also available in German, in French and in Dutch.

20 July 2016
pawn Blocks: visual programming
The pawn Blocks Designer is a new application for visual programming in the pawn language. This article gives a brief introduction and a video demonstrating embedded programming in an easy, graphical way.
10 June 2016
Starling audio player, model H0430
A new model is added to the "Starling" series of solid-state, programmable audio players for exhibition centres, scale models and public address systems. Model H0430, features an integrated power amplifier, so that it can directly be used with passive speakers. Switches, sensors and detectors are very easily connected to this model.

This page is also available in German and in Dutch.

4 April 2016
New product: USB Dome Button
The “USB Dome Button” is a large mushroom/dome button that a PC or workstation detects as a USB keyboard —with just one, configurable, key. It can be used as a general actuator, or as an emergency stop button, or for quiz games (the button is compatible with common quiz software). Various models are available.

This page is also available in German, in French and in Dutch.

New product: solid-state audio player DM440
The DM440 is a solid-state player for background music. It can be used for streaming audio, but more importantly: it can play fully scheduled music from its memory card, with full automatic gain control (to level the volumes of different tracks), professional cross-fading, and logging which tracks actually played at any specific time (because the DM440 supports multiple playlists, selectable by the end user). News, weather and traffic information may be fetched via a network connection and inserted at the appropriate times. General music updates occur daily at a scheduled time.

This page is also available in Dutch.

Update of VisualPlace
Freeware VisualPlace assists in (manual or automated) PCB assembly. Component placement is extracted from files generated from the EDA suite (notably the Gerber files, the centroid file and the bill-of-materials). The application visualizes the component placement and converts the files (with corrections, where applicable) for further automated processing. Due to a plug-in architecture, VisualPlace works with many EDA suites, and more can be added.

This is a maintenance release, with corrections and enhancements in version control support (Subversion), OCR and footprint scanning accuracy, and support for EDA suites. See the release notes for details.

VisualPlace is a free application.

This page is also available in Dutch and in German.

7 December 2015
The site layout is improved for smartphones
The entire site has been adapted to give a better appearance and easier functioning on devices with a small screen, such as smartphones.
New article: Configuring a micro-controller for low-speed USB communication
A recurring message that we are reading about microcontrollers with USB support, is that they only support USB full-speed, but not low-speed —we have been reading this both in forum messages as well as in knowledge-base articles of the microcontroller manufacturers themselves. However, as a matter of fact, support for full-speed implies support for low-speed —you cannot design a USB device controller that only supports full-speed. Wiring a USB device controller for low-speed appears to have become "lost knowledge". This article shows you in detail how low-speed must be wired and configured, and why it applies to every USB device controller of every brand.
Updated utility: KiCad Librarian, version 1.1
Open source The KiCad Librarian allows to maintain symbol and footprint libraries, as well as make adjustments to individual parts or generate new footprints from a template. It supports the KiCad EDA suite and runs in Windows and Linux.

Notable new features in this version are: a synchronized view of two libraries, to allow for easier comparison. A few templates (for footprint generation) were added as well.

The KiCad librarian is an open source utility (Apache license version 2).

Update of VisualPlace
Freeware VisualPlace assists in (manual or automated) PCB assembly. Component placement is extracted from files generated from the EDA suite (notably the Gerber files, the centroid file and the bill-of-materials). The application visualizes the component placement and converts the files (with corrections, where applicable) for further automated processing. Due to a plug-in architecture, VisualPlace works with many EDA suites, and more can be added.

Notable new features in this version are: user-defined colour rules for the bill-of-materials report, an improved footprint browser, an improved OCR engine & interface, integration with Subversion (version control), and improved pick-&-place machine support (notably support for the Neoden TM-245P). See the release notes for details.

VisualPlace is a free application.

This page is also available in Dutch and in German.

6 January 2015
Updated utility: KiCad Librarian
Open source The KiCad Librarian allows to maintain symbol and footprint libraries, as well as make adjustments to individual parts or generate new footprints from a template. It supports the KiCad EDA suite and runs in Windows and Linux.

Notable new features in this version are: an ability to filter footprints or symbols on keywords, improved documentation, and bug fixes (especially in the support of s-expression libraries).

The KiCad librarian is an open source utility (Apache license version 2).

Update of VisualPlace
Freeware VisualPlace assists in (manual or automated) PCB assembly. Component placement is extracted from files generated from the EDA suite (notably the Gerber files, the centroid file and the bill-of-materials). The application visualizes the component placement and converts the files (with corrections, where applicable) for further automated processing. Due to a plug-in architecture, VisualPlace works with many EDA suites, and more can be added.

Notable new features in this version are the support for assembly stages (for assembly lines with multiple stages), OCR of silk-screen image for recognizing designator labels and footprint positions, an interface to PCBSynergy, an improved footprint browser & layout editor, the ability to print (barcode) labels in the for items in the bill of materials, and revised documentation. See the release notes for details.

VisualPlace is a free application.

This page is also available in Dutch and in German.

Update of the SYLT Editor
Freeware The SYLT Editor is a self-contained utility to create or modify SYLT frames in an MP3 track (or, more accurately: a SYLT frame is inside an ID3 tag, which in turn is prefixed to an MP3 track). A SYLT frame contains text (e.g. the lyrics of a song) plus time-stamps attached to each line, word or syllable. Versions of the SYLT Editor are available for Microsoft Windows and for Linux.

New features in this version are a new lyrics display window, and support for recent versions of Microsoft Windows.

VisualPlace is a free application.