Voltlog #287 – Switching From Eagle To Kicad

Welcome to a new Voltlog, today I’m gonna talk a bit about my process of switching from EagleCad to Kicad. So i’ve been an EagleCAD user for years, I’ve practically learned how to do pcb layout in eagle cad so there is that emotional attachment to a piece of software because it’s what I used while developing this skill. And to be honest there wasn’t any better alternative years ago, Eagle was the first decent piece of cad software to offer a freeware license and it quickly became popular for hobbyists. It didn’t have all the bells and whistles of the expensive software like Altium or Candece but it did the job while being user friendly.

Since it quickly became popular for makers and hobbyists it also meant there was an abundance of support on the forums as well as many user generated scripts and libraries freely available. It was similar to the popularity Arduino got but it was never open source and if you needed some extra features like 4 layer layout or pcb sizes larger than 8x10cm you needed to pay for a license.

Voltlog #257 – ESP32 PIR Motion Sensor With Deep Sleep & MQTT (revB part2)

In this video I’m gonna show the second revision of my esp32, battery powered PIR motion sensor. This second revision contains some optimizations to improve deep sleep power consumption as well as to fix some of the errors I had the first revision of the pcb.

Voltlog #240 – ESP32 PIR Motion Sensor With Deep Sleep & MQTT

Welcome to a new Voltlog, in this video I’m gonna show you how I designed and built this board which functions as an esp32 based, battery powered PIR motion sensor. So I started by designing the circuit, I used some common building blocks, I added the ESP32 with it’s bypass caps, some test points and the programming circuit with auto-reset, I then added some connection points for the PIR sensor, an RGB LED because why not have a nice way to signal this is one of those very small digital RGB leds, it’s just 20x20mm, it’s connected to 3.3V even though it’s only rated for 5V so I’m hoping this is going to work even on 3.3, it’s also worth having a temperature/humidity sensor to also sense that in whichever room the node will be placed and finally the power supply circuit which is a simple low dropout regulator with an 18650 battery as the input.

I did not include a battery charger circuit on this module, because I wanted to keep things simple, I’ll have a battery socket so I can just remove the 18650 cell and charge it separately plus the whole circuit should run in sleep for extended periods of time giving me a long operating time so i wouldn’t have to charge the battery too often.

Once the schematic was finished I did the board layout in a hurry so it’s not exactly pretty or optimized

but I tried to move the esp32 antenna to the side, to place the PIR sensor in the top side as the module will probably sit vertically, I tried to place the temperature sensor in the bottom side to keep it away from any components that might get hot and also placed some isolation slots for the same reason.

You should check-out revB of this board, I made some improvements present in the video below.

Voltlog #229 – What’s The Smallest Digital RGB LED?

Welcome to a new voltlog, today we’re talking about RGB LEDs. Everyone knows and probably uses digital RGB LEDs these days because they’re convenient, you only need a single pin to control then, they can be chained one after the other creating long addressable RGB strings, you don’t have to worry about driving them with constant current, in fact they even have digitally controlled brightness settings so they’re pretty convenient.

Since these are digital, they have a built-in controller chip, and if we take a closer look at one of these LEDs which comes in a 5050 package, we can see the driver chip and the 3 LEDs red, green blue with their corresponding bonding wires. There are two popular drivers chips the WS2812 and the SK6812 and each of these might have different revisions as well. The WS2812 was the original one on the market and then the SK6812 appeared and is considered a clone of the WS2812 but brings some improvements. The SK6812 has doubled the pwm frequency at which it drives the LEDs which is always welcomed as it helps with reducing flicker and also the timing requirements are a bit tighter but existing WS2812 libraries should work fine with the SK6812.

Voltlog #128 – LM338 Constant Current Regulator Circuit

Welcome to a new voltlog, today we are building a very simple constant current regulator based on the LM338 linear regulator. This is a very robust and stable classical regulator that is being manufactured by many big names like ST and TI, it has quite a high output current  rating of 5A continuous, it even comes in a TO-3 can package but today we’re going to use a TO220 which is more commonly available.

To make a constant current regulator out of this, is very simple, the datasheet gives us the circuit we need to use and we only need a low value resistor to do that plus the optional input bypassing cap which is 0.1uF. We’re going to use this formula to calculate the value of the resistor, so the output current is equal to the Vref divided by the value of the resistor.

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Voltlog #39 – 60W Dummy Load Reverse Engineering

In this video we’re discussing the dummy load again but this time I reverse engineered the dummy load schematic and I discuss it’s basic theory of operation. Check the video description for a link to the pdf schematic.