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Michael R Colton

Self-taught Engineer & Designer -
More Electronic than Human

American Fork, Utah, USA
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michael-r-colton

Things I've Built

Flying Turkey

I proved conclusively that turkies can fly, but that they have poor aim: http://hackaday.com/2010/11/26/thanksgiving-turkey-quadcopter-shenanigans/

Halloween Ghost Tiltrotor

Built a tiltrotor flying ghost, out of trash basically. It was pretty fun. I should build another one. https://hackaday.com/2010/10/31/even-more-halloween-links/

MaxRotor

I designed a quadcopter for the use by bombsquads. I thought it was a pretty cool idea so I tried to KickStart it. Check it out: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1703258614/maxrotor-open-source-plug-and-play-modular-quadcop

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esot.eric wrote 07/23/2016 at 20:52 point

Howdy, yo! Thanks for the follow!

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vu2icc wrote 05/16/2015 at 13:06 point

Congrats Micheal on funding rising successfully on time for PSDR. Hats Up !

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Mark Grennan wrote 02/12/2015 at 21:57 point

Hi Micheal, Congrats on making your KickStarter Goal!
Do you have updates to the BOM for easy sourcing?  

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Mark Grennan wrote 11/21/2014 at 16:33 point
Hi Michael, I don't know better how to communicate with you. My copies of PSDR2 boards came in. ( http://www.w5tsu.com ) Still working on the parts order. I'm building a re-flow oven at this time. And, I'm still working on a way to convert the PADS CAD art to a more open source format. So far the vendors of CAD software have been UN-helpful.

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Darryl Smith VK2TDS wrote 11/13/2014 at 21:41 point
Congratulations. Great work from all of us at TAPR

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DainBramage wrote 11/13/2014 at 20:17 point
Congratulations on your third place win, Michael. I was hoping you'd get first, but third is definitely nothing to sneeze at!

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Mark Grennan wrote 11/11/2014 at 18:29 point
The CAD work is done in Mentor Graphics PADS. I'm guessing it is expensive? Their website doesn't list a price and only points you to vendors. It looks like (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_EDA_software) PADS only exports to ODB++. Very few other tools use this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_EDA_software).
Do you know of any conversions? Any thoughts on moving to a more open source friendly tool?
I have written PADS sales for some support on this issue. I'll post my results.

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Michael R Colton wrote 11/11/2014 at 19:01 point
Yes, unfortunately PADS is quite expensive. I have access to it through my job. I believe it's about $7k per seat. I used it because it's what I use all the time. I am comfortable and proficient at it. It also has some features that were not available in Eagle (last time I used it) that are very important for a dense layout like this. I don't have any experience exporting ts files to other packages, and I don't really expect much there, PADS doesn't even maintain compatibility with older versions of itself.

It did occur to me to move to something a little more open source friendly, but it would have slowed me down quite a bit. I also think that MOST people are never going to alter the CAD files. I do provide PDFs of the schematics, and gerbers for the PCBs (as you know).

Honestly, I'm not sure what the best way to proceed here is. Eagle isn't really open source either, just more hobbyist friendly. I don't have any experience with KiCad. That also raises the question of what to use for the 3D CAD. Solidworks, which I use, is also expensive. I'm not aware of any open source tools that really compare to it.

It doesn't seem like there is an easy solution to this one.

Now that I think about it, didn't Altium just make their tools available for free/cheap for open-source projects?

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Mark Grennan wrote 11/11/2014 at 21:35 point
Yup, exactly as I expected, you used what you know. And, Please don't slow down. Use what you know. When needed we will find a way...

My answer from PADS sales was as expected. "Unfortunately translation is not a fun option. There is a 30 day PADS ES free download on PADS.com that should be able to open your file, from there you might need to redesign.... "
I even ask Dave of EEV-Blog, as an Altium user, if he could help. He replied "Altium is very poor at exporting I'm afraid. The latest can only import Eagle, not export. No KiCAD at all."

I guess those of us wanting work with your project will have to have a discussion of tools. Eagle? KiCAD? Maybe one of the Online PCB design sites. That would be great for OpenSource projects like this.

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Michael R Colton wrote 11/11/2014 at 22:01 point
That's right, there is a PADS viewer (not sure if that's the ES thing you mentioned above) that will work for inspecting the design.... it's something, anyway. http://www.pads.com/downloads/pads-pcb-viewer/

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Mark Grennan wrote 11/11/2014 at 21:54 point
I wrote Altium to see if they do OpenSource project support. Maybe they would like some OS love.

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DainBramage wrote 11/07/2014 at 20:55 point
Michael, I would love to have an opportunity to test out your PSDR2, but I lack the skills to build and program one from the board level up. Do you plan on doing any kind of beta testing, and if so, how could I get involved with that?
Thanks, DainBramage aka N1RKW

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Michael R Colton wrote 11/11/2014 at 19:03 point
I do plan on making fully assembled units. But I don't really have plans for beta testing, per say. It has not escaped my notice that you have been one of my earliest and most vocal supports though. When I get things geared up, I'll see if I can make something happen.

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DainBramage wrote 11/11/2014 at 21:00 point
Thank you kindly. I appreciate your consideration.

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Dimitar Tomov wrote 11/07/2014 at 20:52 point
Hi, Michael. My name is Dimitar Tomov and I'm an Embedded Developer. Have great experience with embedded systems and especially bare-metal firmware. Also with every day getting stronger Embedded Linux Kernel Development. In one word: Do You want support :D ? Oh, I use mainly STM32 for bare-metal projects, most of them are F4/DSP based; and everything for Linux based ones, literally everything - currently working on Haswell-EP embedded project. Fastest way to contact me is on Twitter. Good Luck with the project and be well

BTW: I was trying for the past whole hour to find a way to contact you, but I wasn't successful. Why didn't you give e-mail, twitter or something. I didn't look hard, but I tried everything that i can think that was quick for over the internet communication. It's Friday night by me therefor trying only the quickest searches :D

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Mark Grennan wrote 11/07/2014 at 19:26 point
Michael: Did you order parts from Digi-Key? If so, Do you have a BOM ID for the set or Kit?

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Michael R Colton wrote 11/07/2014 at 19:29 point
I did order from digikey, but... I guess I've never shared a Digikey order... Anyway, with Digikey's excel BOM importer, it's pretty painless to import the whole thing. I think there is one or two parts that don't come from Digikey, so they'll get flagged.

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Mark Grennan wrote 11/07/2014 at 19:45 point
Yup. Digi-Key fond 89 of them. I'm still working through the import of the xml BOM. What quantity did you order in. Did you have problems with oneses?

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Michael R Colton wrote 11/07/2014 at 19:53 point
I only had enough money for a single build. No problems with oneses.... well I think I had a few parts that had a min. of 10, but I think maybe I corrected that for the PSDR2. Either way, it probably wouldn't add more than a dollar or two to the cost.

I usually like to order at least one or two extra of 0603 sized parts, in case I lose them, but I didn't this time. Thankfully it worked out. (.....Well there was one cap, but I was able to pull it off the PSDR1)

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Mark Grennan wrote 11/06/2014 at 18:48 point
Michael: I'm working with HackRF. I'll be ordering PSDR boards from the Github gurber files soon. Anything I should know?

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Michael R Colton wrote 11/06/2014 at 19:45 point
I'm sure I entirely understand your question, could you clarify what you are asking? Also, if you are going to order PSDR2 PCBs, let me know before you do, I have a few extra ones.

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Mark Grennan wrote 11/06/2014 at 20:51 point
Yes. My winter project to to build a PSDR2 both to use and to code/hacking on. I'm working with HackRF / GNURadio now. As an old EEE and Ham I'm using it to build my math skills. I wanted to make sure us are not days away from PSDR3 or something.

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Michael R Colton wrote 11/06/2014 at 21:04 point
That sounds great. No, I'm not days away from a PSDR3. Months maybe? The PSDR2 is pretty good, much more usable than the PSDR1. The PSDR2s major shortcoming right now is transmit power and filtering, so be aware of that. If you are mostly receiving, it's pretty good.

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Mark Grennan wrote 11/06/2014 at 21:23 point
That will do for now. The HackRF only has ~ 100mw output. Enough for testing and sort distance transmits. My Project site for this project is www.w5tsu.com.

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Thomas wrote 11/07/2014 at 07:00 point
Michael,

can I order the PCBs from you?
I am very interested in starting the project soon!

VY73
Thomas
DK1EY

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Mark Grennan wrote 11/07/2014 at 16:16 point
Sure. I placed my order through Seeed yesterday. The minimum order board count is 10. This will leave me with a few. Watch my W5TSU.com page for the progress. When they come in I'll send you a couple.

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Michael R Colton wrote 11/07/2014 at 19:31 point
Oh, thanks! I was going to send you some, but you beat me to it. I think you may be the first person to order the PCBs themselves. What color did you get? The PSDR2 was supposed to be red (and ENIG) but they couldn't do that for me in the time I had available.

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Mark Grennan wrote 11/07/2014 at 19:42 point
Green. The order was painless. Just uploaded the Zip and it was done. Parts are a bit more fun.

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Michael R Colton wrote 11/07/2014 at 19:28 point
Thomas: Yeah, I think we can make that work. Give me a few days, but you are now on the list.

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Thomas wrote 11/07/2014 at 22:13 point
Great!

Thanks a lot!

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Joel Bodenmann wrote 11/05/2014 at 16:46 point
Hello Michael,

I just came across your PSDR project and I am very amazed by it. This really is a great piece of work!
As I read you are searching for an alternative GFX library solution. Please allow me to suggest uGFX ( http://ugfx.org ). The library really fits perfect for your purpose.

As I am the founder and maintainer of the project, please feel free to contact me whenever you have any questions about it. I'm more than happy to help where I can to make your project even more successful :)

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Michael R Colton wrote 11/06/2014 at 19:02 point
Hi Joel, does ugfx address low level performance? Like setting up DMA for more efficient transfers to the display? At this point, that's my primary limitation. Though for some of the functionality I have in mind in the future, it would be nice to use a library and not have to reinvent the wheel.

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Joel Bodenmann wrote 11/12/2014 at 16:58 point
Michael,

Please excuse the late reply.
uGFX does fully allow you to use all the low-level performance boosters that you have - such as DMA or even hardware based drawing acceleration.
In fact, that actually is the main goal of the project. Every single feature has been implemented so the available system resources can be used as efficient as possible.

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thomas wrote 10/28/2014 at 14:16 point
Michael: This is an excellent project. Just published a post about PSDR on my blog: http://swling.com/blog

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DainBramage wrote 10/27/2014 at 23:37 point
Good luck in the judging, Michael. I'm rooting for your project, let's just hope that the judges feel the same way about it. :)

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roelh wrote 08/26/2014 at 17:42 point
Hi Michael,
Thank you for the skull for my Spectrum Analyzer !

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