Friday, April 6, 2012

The purple pirate...

A while ago I found out that a group order/build was going to happen at DorkbotPDX.  While there is no way I could be out there for the party, I do like to support group orders and my old bus pirate (many versions behind) is starting to show it's limits.

Yesterday the mailman brought the happy package and while I wasn't planning on soldering yesterday I get that itch and just had to build it.

The purple pcb (classic Laen) always makes me smile.

A couple of neat things about the way it was kitted out.  First, there was a well thought out page containing layouts/partial layouts with the similar part locations in bold.  This is absolutely makes builds a lot easier. (Although I would have done some of the sequences differently to make a few of the pads easier to access - I suspect that the intent was probably for paste/reflow).

The parts came taped on a few pages with data about the package type, the quantity and the values.  Maybe a bit of excessive tape but all the parts were still in place after the journey.  The pic was attached to a cardboard square separately - well protected.

A ribbon cable, snap on connector, headers also came in the box in a bag with the pcb.

While I did have a couple of ugly soldering pads, and I messed up a cap and a resistor (I had plenty of stock to replace them), I couldn't find any problems visually so I attached the programmer and first time it was the target and programmed without any difficulty. (Yay - the smoke test is always one of those exciting moments of truth).

I was really happy to get the serial connection right away.  This version of the bus pirate uses the pic (PIC 24FJ256GB106) to handle the usb connection directly and I wasn't certain how it would work...  No problems at all (I suspect it will allow higher throughput/lower latency than the ft chips but it will be awhile before I can test that out).

Yeah you can see my ugly soldering here.  I really like the layout on this version.  The bigger pic, the i2c eprom and the inclusion of multiple power supplies is going to make the tool a lot more flexible.

I didn't pay attention to the orientation of the socket because I plan on using other probes and not the ribbon cable...

If you don't have one, you may want to consider picking one up (although I think Ian still recommends the previous version - not certain about that). 

Lots of information at Dangerous Prototypes.