Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Deal of the Day - Pay What You Want for the Learn to Code Bundle, includes AngularJS, Python, HTML5, Ruby, and more. ×

Comment Re:Awful lot of money for some big flaws... (Score 1) 37

it became a nice alternative to stencils and ovens

I'm slightly curious about that. If you're already sending your board out to get fabbed, you can get a stencil done at the same time. They cost about a tenner for as many stencils as you can fit on an A4 sheet of transparent film. If you don't need very fine pitch (I did 0.5mm pitch LGA-16 packages no problem), then you can do one at home on a vinyl cutter.

It did take me a while to get the hang of using a stencil though I must say.

Agreed that these days if you have some way to reflow, then getting a stencil at the same time as the board is painless. I'm still getting the hang of applying the paste, so having the machine do it seems a good alternative as it will likely do a more precise job of it. But I won't know until I get a unit of my own.

As I said before, in light of the OtherMill and DIY reflow oven, it's no longer clear what niche the Voltera will fill in my workshop. At the very least it will be cool to have been part of early development of this type of prototyping, which seems like it has the potential to get a lot better with more R&D. Even if I end up selling it or donating to a worthy cause like a school or Maker Space, I don't think I'll have any regrets.

Comment Re:Awful lot of money for some big flaws... (Score 3, Interesting) 37

Full Disclosure: I'm a backer, though not early enough to get an early-bird unit.

I look forward to trying this tech when I finally get mine. I have lots of reservations, but am still happy with my decision. I'm glad they seem to have found a way to paste/reflow boards that are inked. During the Kickstarter is was going to either be able to lay down ink, or paste/reflow. I.e., you could only paste/reflow a traditionally fabbed copper board, not a prototyped ink board that was fabbed by the Voltera. That was a pretty serious limitation, making the unit somewhat bipolar: you could quickly prototype boards in ink but then had to deal with soldering yourself. Once you were more confident with the design to send out for traditional copper boards, it became a nice alternative to stencils and ovens

I can't speak to the resistance issue, but in my mind the other huge limiter is the feature resolution limit. Sure, there's a bunch of things you can prototype within the limits of the Voltera, but you don't have to move much beyond Arduino-class designs to bump against the ceiling. Things like the Intel Edison connector is way out of reach for this thing, and even a DIMM connector (think Raspberry Pi Compute Module) is too dense. They will have some breakout boards for common footprints that are too tight, but that's a half-measure in my book and only adds to the number of things that have to get redesigned on the path from a Voltera prototype to a real board.

In the meantime I went ahead and bought an OtherMill, which can handle much smaller feature sizes, and uses traditional copper-clad boards. You have to connect your own vias, but it will at least drill them for you. And getting the alignment between both sides of the board can be tricky. But I've already done some interesting prototypes with that board, including stencils, and now have a toaster-oven-based reflow box. Had I known about the OtherMill I may not have sprung for the Voltera. Hopefully they complement each other---even if the Voltera becomes mostly a solder dispenser that's a win over what I'm dealing with now.

Comment Re:Children or not (Score 2) 200

Yeah, I got nailed in a neighboring town which couldn't be bothered to do any more than the "when children are present" hiding-in-plain-sight signage. And the school in question was not visible from the road you're on, given it's laterally a full block away, but was apparently close enough to justify the sign. I simply had no idea it was a school zone, and no idea when the school zone hours are enforceable even if I had known. Despite the hard-ass reputation of the local cops for that town, he let me off with a warning.

In the end I had to go look up in the town's by-laws (fortunately web-accessible) to determine what that town's ordinances are for a school zone and what the hours they are in effect. Even with only getting the warning I was feeling entrapped and pretty annoyed.

I'm more and more noticing that my own town seems to actually care about child safety, as the school zone signs are large, with two lights (one above, one below) that alternate in their flashing. It's pretty hard to miss. And all the ones I've seen are actually within sight of the school in question. They do occasionally post a cop at the school to crack down on the inevitable "I'll slow down but not close enough to the school zone speed limit" offenders, which I take to be a good faith effort to demonstrate that they are serious about enforcing speed in the zone.

I had another case where I wasn't let off the hook. Again, this was another "main road, not enough indication the speed zone is in effect", and in this case the zone was so small and the sight lines so short that you all but had to slam on the brakes if you didn't know it was coming, otherwise you were over the limit and they got you. Initially I passed it off as bad luck being in an unfamiliar area during a crackdown period. But I happened to be back that way the next week and saw another unfortunate driver pull over in the same spot. That tells me that particular town is more interested in revenue than child safety.

Comment Re:Why do teens *need* all these drugs??? (Score 1) 133

Agreed. Though I will concede that it is also true that Big Pharma pushes their drugs when they are not needed or could even be harmful. Both extremes are true. There are people who really need these drugs and really benefit from them, and there are evil drug companies that push these drugs on everyone and do harm by doing so. Neither fact negates the other.

And I will readily admit that I have not personally witnessed drug-pushing, overdiagnosis, or the mythical lazy attitude of "just give 'em drugs and it will be easier". If that's truly out there in any quantity, that indeed can do harm.

I have seen parents refuse the drug route when their child could so clearly be helped by reducing their ADHD symptoms, to the point where the social harm of leaving it untreated is heartbreaking to witness. I've also seen people not get over their stigma of antidepressants and suffer needlessly, which is equally discouraging. But, people have to find their own path.

Comment Re:Why do teens *need* all these drugs??? (Score 4, Insightful) 133

Of course extreme cases are a minority. That changes nothing. These kids, the extreme cases, need the medicine. Need.

This is similar to the largely pointless debate on antidepressants in general. Anyone who hasn't had clinical depression has no fucking clue what it's like. I was one the most motivated, self-starter, hard-working, emotionally balanced people out there, until my life circumstances changed immensely in my 40's. It took me a long time to recognize that I had clinical depression, since the slide was so gradual and I never ever could envision myself having this problem. Fortunately the first med I tried was extremely effective, and I was just shocked at how far I had slid once I was more like myself again. Oh the time I wasted while in the fog of depression and not even really knowing it. Life's too short.

The same is true with ADHD. Unless you have kids with true ADHD, you're clueless. I never imagined having to deal with a medication regimen with my own kids. If we could get off this train, we would, but they are essentially learning disabled without them. This is not "kids will be kids". It's a real disability, and ADHD children are very fortunate to be growing up in a time where it can be treated such they can live more fulfilling lives.

Or in other words: "what he said". It's easy to be an armchair Public Health Expert when you aren't affected by the condition in question. Real life is a lot messier.

Comment Re:Learn Microsoft tooling for efficiency (Score 1) 146

Being a wiz at C# under Visual Studio is absolutely useless except for Windows application development. That's a relatively small fraction of all programming activity in the world, yet they act like it's the entire world.

Windows is certainly the favorite target for C# apps, but it's not absolutely useless for everything else. While it's also not the panacea the GP is suggesting, it does encourage and support sound engineering practices, alongside many other languages in the same category (Java, et al).

As for a language representing a small minority of development, yet having a vocal, myopic developer base, one could argue that for many, many languages. C# most certainly does not have a monopoly on that.

BTW, I've done a number of commercial-grade applications in C#, and like a lot of what is has to offer. I also realize that it's one of many options, and would no more suggest C# on a PIC than I would suggest assembly for a web front-end. Lest I be painted as yet another narrow-minded, no-nothing Microsoft apologist (not that that ever happens on Slashdot).

Comment Re:Learn Microsoft tooling for efficiency (Score 1) 146

An environment that's the epitomy of Rapid Application Development. Can you have any non-trivial code working by morning on that thing?

i made no such assertion, but the parent did

Uhhhh... I see no such assertion in the parent either. If by that you mean the "having something working by morning" part. No timelines whatsoever stated or implied. If by that you mean C# being a productive language for RAD environments, then yeah, that's arguably a point he's making.

But its a stretch to the point of being obtuse that you would introduce an embedded environment as required platform in a topic that clearly refers to web technologies. I guess the next time someone deploys a server farm to host a continuously evolving web application using only embedded processors, you're the guy for the job.

Comment Re:Learn Microsoft tooling for efficiency (Score 1) 146

Choose whatever language you want. None of you are even competitive with me when I choose C# under Visual Studio with a notebook full of pseudocode.

gee, that's great. now get your code running on MSP430 and PIC32. Can you have it working by morning?

Gee, that's great. An embedded processor with 2-16K of RAM using C. An environment that's the epitomy of Rapid Application Development. Can you have any non-trivial code working by morning on that thing?

Comment I can only imagine this... (Score 2) 956

I have that kit waiting patiently in a drawer for my 12y/o to get the initiative to build it. They even have some cool ideas on wrapping dowels and routing the "defuse" wires through them to make it look like dynamite sticks. Clearly I would tell him never to bring that to school. But now, I'd have to worry about some friend coming over, seeing it and telling his parents. One can only imagine a similarly damaging misunderstanding taking place.

Seems we have already lost the war...

Comment Re: Naw, it's Doctors (Score 1) 696

It's better to be alive and hated by all motorists than it is to be dead.

Yup, or as I like to say, "if they're pissed off at me, that at least means they can SEE me". Which is the primary objective for a bicyclist in traffic---getting the vehicles to even notice that you are there.

Anyone is capable of seriously injuring a bicyclist by accident if they simply aren't aware that there is a problem. It takes a real psycho to injure a bicyclist intentionally. I'd rather play the odds that most drivers on the road are not in the latter category, even if I annoy them to some degree.

Comment Re:Cyclists DON'T obey the law! (Score 1) 696

In NH, signalling turns for a bicycle is NOT required. It's one of the very few exemptions to the traffic code for a bicycle. A bicyclist is required to signal turned *only* if it does not endanger the bicyclist to do so (as parent has pointed out, removing a hand can be a big deal).

So while certainly more cyclists should exercise more caution in turn signaling, any time you see a cyclist fail to do so is not automatically a violation.

Comment Re:Cyclists DON'T obey the law! (Score 1) 696

Used to live in Boston and NYC. Plenty of assholes who think they own the road in both cities, on both sides of the equation. But I'll posit that just like how you don't notice the majority of the non-assholes behind the wheel that are not a danger to themselves and others, you also don't notice all the bicycles who *do* know how to share the road, usually with larger vehicles with no interest in sharing.

Comment Re:Cyclists DON'T obey the law! (Score 3, Insightful) 696

Ummm, excuse me, but I fucking do obey the law. I stop for stop signs and stop lights. I yield to higher-speed vehicles when safe to do so. I signal turns. Even though I shouldn't have to, I light myself up like a christmas tree with bright flashing lights and reflective material so that you cannot help but notice me (a motorist should be watching for bicyclists just like they watch for cars, but the reality is that they don't, so I give them a helping hand). Occasionally I may "take a lane", which confuses and sometimes pisses off motorists who think I should always be safely 50 fifty beyond the curb. Sorry, I'm a vehicle with all the rights and responsibilities of any other vehicle. Look up your state traffic code to find this out. It is far safer for me to merge into slow-moving traffic (and therefore be seen) than to cower in the right. I represent no more of an obstruction than if I were a car in front of you, Less so as once traffic starts to move again I will move to the right and give you passing room. I will *always* take a lane when I have to turn left and there is a left-hand-turn lane. Just like other cars do. And I do it cautiously, safely, but assertively so that it is clear what I intend. It is by far the safest thing to do (for all the above reasons), and presents no more of an incovenience than a car doing the same thing, beyond the driver getting pissed off by the flawed dogma that "bicycles do not belong on the road". So yes, you've got your free-for-all folks on the road, but that should be a matter of enforcement, to give those bozos a serious reality check. Not only are they endangering themselves and other, but they endanger those of us who take cycling seriously yet have to deal with the road rage inspired by their irresponsible behavior. So please don't lump us all in the same box. Those of us who follow the rules are the ones you don't notice. But we are there and are in plenty supply.

The best way to avoid responsibility is to say, "I've got responsibilities."