The Akafugu Blog

日本語はここにあります。

Now available in the store: With GPS, Without GPS.

We showed a demo of this clock at Maker Faire Tokyo 2014 and it is now available in our online shop!

VFD Modular Clock IV-18 SMT edition is a special solder-free kit version of the original VFD Modular Clock . The kit comes with all electronics pre-soldered, but you still assemble the enclosure yourself.

Features:

  • IV-18 8-digit Russian VFD Display Tube
  • Open source mbed based firmware
  • LPC1347 ARM Cortex-M3 64kb microcontroller
  • GPS (option)
  • Four Letter Word
  • Easy to update firmware with no special drivers required (LPC1347 usb bootloader)

Basic version:

GPS version:

Additional information here.

nxp-semiconductors-logo.jpg

We visited NXP’s Tokyo office yesterday and met up with Okano-san and Azechi-san. We had met them previously at Maker Faire Tokyo, and mentioned that we were looking into developing a kit using NXP’s ARM Cortex microcontrollers.

We went to their office to show them our new VFD clock board: VFD Modular Clock IV-18 SMT mbed Edition. This clock is a new experiment for us, a new non-solder kit where all the parts are pre-assembled SMT parts, but the enclosure comes as a kit, so that some assembly is still required.

As an effort to widen our horizons, we’ve been playing around with mbed for the last year or so. The mbed project has been growing a lot lately, and is very popular here in Japan with many domestic contributors. NXP was one of the first participants in the mbed project, and the first few mbed boards were all based on NXP microcontrollers. Since then, the platform has expanded and now includes ARM Cortex chips from several manufacturers. Things like UART access, I2C/SPI, PWM and interrupts work effortlessly across platforms. Other things like DMA and low power modes still require processor-specific code, but we expect this to improve in the future.

The NXP chips were the most viable for us to use for our first ARM Cortex-M kit for several reasons:

  • On-board USB 2.0 with embedded USB bootloader. When you plug the board in and put it in bootloader mode, it simply shows up as a mass storage device where the firmware can be copied into with no other programmer required. This is a huge plus for a kit, since it means that all our customers need in order to change the firmware is a computer with USB.

  • Easy access to a debugger. The mbed development boards all have an onboard mbed interface chip with debugger (CMSIS-DAP). For standalone boards, such as our kit, it is easy to get hold of a standalone debugger in Akihabara. The LPC-Link 2 debugger is available either standalone, or embedded in the new line of LPCXpresso 2 boards (to debug either the internal processor, or an external one). Both are easy to get in our favorite Akihabara shop, Akizuki Denshi.

We started off the project with the LPC11U24 Cortex-M0 32k microcontroller. The emphasis of the firmware was to make something simple to modify, not necessarily something heavily optimized. Just as you’d expect from a framework that aims to abstract away differences between different microcontrollers, you pay for this in a larger binary size than you would get working directly on metal. As we kept adding features to the clock, the code size started creeping up to 32k quickly, so in order to give some flexibility for future customer mods, we decided to bump the microcontroller to a 64k one. The LPC1347 Cortex-M3 64k microcontroller is pin compatible with the LPC11U32, and also supported by mbed.


We also managed to score some swag at the NXP office:

nxp-touch.jpg


We’re aiming to release the new clock within the next week or two. It will be on sale both on our store and on the Amazon Japan store.

Feature highlights include:

  • Open source mbed firmware (you can find it here)
  • GPS module
  • Four Letter Word mode
  • IV-18 display tube
  • Powered from USB (either a computer or a 5V 0.5A or higher USB wall adapter like the type that usually comes with cellphones)
  • Stylish Acrylic enclosure (produced by Emerge+)

日本語はここにあります。

Sat, 28 Feb 2015 13:00 - 18:00

In a collaboration with DMM.make AKIBA we are bringing our popular kit soldering class to the beautiful new DMM.make AKIBA venue.

Come to the class and get hands-on help building our beautiful VFD Modular Clock kit. Many variants are available, and you can choose which one you want to make when you register.

We will provide the kit with all required parts. Soldering equipment and tools will also be provided.


Acrylic case is not included in the price, but we will provide cases for sale at the event.

Register here.

edge_connector

While working on our upcoming non-solder VFD kit we wanted to use a PCI-express connector to connect the tube with the PCB. When we were ready to send our design to a PCB fab house, there was a lot of new vocabulary (bevel, gold fingers) that we needed to understand fully.

In our search we found the following blog over at Eurocircuits: http://www.eurocircuits.com/blog/40-Gold-plating-for-edge-connectors

Blog Archive

  • DEC 18 2014: New example program for 4x4x4 RGB LED Cube
  • DEC 15 2014: Updated Nixie schematics
  • DEC 05 2014: Akafugu Featured in Article about Maker Faire Tokyo
  • DEC 04 2014: Soldering class at Tokyo Hacker Space
  • NOV 27 2014: Black Friday - Cyber Monday Sale
  • NOV 27 2014: New Product - LED Matrix 3x3
  • NOV 26 2014: Maker Faire Tokyo 2014 Pictures
  • OCT 09 2014: Updated Product - FTDI Serial Adapter
  • SEPT 25 2014: Better precision with PCB stand-offs.
  • SEPT 24 2014: Arduino Packages Updated to 1.0.6
  • MAY 21 2014: Explaining CON/con parts for MDC Luna machines
  • MAY 01 2014: New Product - VFD Moduar Clock IV-4 6-digit
  • MAY 01 2014: Golden Week Vacation and Sale
  • APR 28 2014: SO, SOP, TSOP, which is which?
  • APR 28 2014: Updated Product - The Akafugu Nixie Clock 3.0
  • APR 22 2014: Coming Soon - Akafugu Nixie Clock version 3
  • APR 10 2014: Xmegaduino beta5 released!
  • APR 07 2014: DIY tray for MDC Pick and Place machine
  • JAN 05 2014: New Product - Diet Nixie
  • DEC 09 2013: New Product - VFD Modular Clock IV-18
  • NOV 24 2013: New products from Freetronics
  • NOV 06 2013: To customers who bought VFD Modular Clock at Maker Faire Tokyo
  • OCT 23 2013: Halloween Spooky Eyes Decoration
  • SEPT 12 2013: VFDDeluxe Firmware v1.1 Released
  • AUG 20 2013: Vetinari Clock Rock
  • AUG 10 2013: Obon Sale
  • JULY 28 2013: New Product - Cmoy Headphone Amplifier Kit
  • JULY 18 2013: New Product - RGB LED Cube
  • JULY 08 2013: Product updates - VFD Modular Clock and The Akafugu Nixie Clock
  • JULY 01 2013: Visit to Fab Cafe in Shibuya
  • JUNE 04 2013: Alternate firmware for LED Candle
  • MAY 30 2013: VFD Modular Clock Raspberry PI Edition Sneak Preview
  • MAY 01 2013: New Product - IV-22 6-digit VFD Modular Clock Shield
  • APR 17 2013: Akafugu products on display in Osaka
  • APR 16 2013: Raspberry Pi Reference Sheet from Surrey Hampshire Hackspace
  • APR 02 2013: New Product - Vetinari Clock
  • MAR 14 2013: New Product - Four Letter Word Generator add-on
  • FEB 27 2013: Diet Nixie Sneak Preview
  • FEB 07 2013: Reprogramming the VFD Modular Clock
  • FEB 04 2013: VFD Soldering Class Pictures
  • JAN 31 2013: Arduino Spectrum Analyzer
  • JAN 30 2013: Nixie Clock Firmware Issue Discovered
  • JAN 30 2013: Reprogramming the Akafugu Nixie Clock and Simpleclock
  • JAN 21 2013: Nixie clock back in stock
  • JAN 20 2013: Nixie and VFD clock classes at Tokyo Hacker Space
  • JAN 05 2013: Nixie Clock Out of Stock
  • JAN 04 2013: VFD Modular Clock IV-4/IV-17 and IV-6 Shield Pinouts
  • JAN 02 2013: Awesome VFD Modular Clock Case
  • DEC 21 2012: Christmas and New Year Break and Sale
  • DEC 10 2012: New firmware for Simpleclock
  • DEC 08 2012: VFD Modular Clock kit contents update
  • DEC 05 2012: Thank you everyone that visited us at Maker Faire Tokyo 2012
  • DEC 05 2012: Using TWILCD with Adafruit RGB displays
  • DEC 04 2012: Interesting blog - Using an Arduino to program ATTiny chips
  • NOV 28 2012: Preparing for Maker Faire
  • NOV 21 2012: Black Friday - Cyber Monday sale
  • NOV 15 2012: Testing serial devices with Akafuino L
  • NOV 13 2012: New Version 1.0.2 of Arduino Released
  • OCT 29 2012: Nixie Clock enclosure
  • OCT 28 2012: Halloween Sale
  • OCT 17 2012: Teensy 3.0 support for our TWI/I2C products
  • OCT 13 2012: Our shop is now available in Japanese
  • OCT 08 2012: New Nixie class at Tokyo Hacker Space
  • OCT 06 2012: Akafugu at Maker Faire Tokyo 2012
  • OCT 05 2012: Two new schematics added
  • OCT 01 2012: VFD Modular Clock - Problem Fix Advisory and Firmware Update
  • SEPT 30 2012: Akafuino X schematic
  • SEPT 28 2012: Soldering classes at Tokyo Hacker Space
  • SEPT 25 2012: QR-code on invoices
  • SEPT 24 2012: Nixie Clock schematics and firmware
  • SEPT 21 2012: New Product - The Akafugu Nixie Clock
  • SEPT 15 2012: New Product - ProjectBox for Arduino
  • SEPT 14 2012: Suntory Espressoda - review
  • SEPT 09 2012: Sneak preview
  • SEPT 08 2012: Back in stock! VFD Modular Clock - Enclosure - IV-17/IV-4 and TWI 7-seg Display compact stand
  • SEPT 07 2012: From the mail...
  • SEPT 06 2012: VFD Modular Clock Update - Now shipping with IV-4 tubes
  • SEPT 04 2012: TWILCD together with OLED
  • SEPT 03 2012: MENWIZ together with TWILCD
  • AUG 31 2012: Making a Pick & place machine, part 2
  • AUG 22 2012: Tokyo HackerSpace Moving In Party
  • AUG 14 2012: Back in stock! TWILCD and Akafuino X
  • AUG 10 2012: New Product - TWIDisplay 8-digit LCD
  • AUG 09 2012: New Reference Files for VFD Modular Clock, part 2
  • AUG 08 2012: New Reference Files for VFD Modular Clock
  • JULY 20 2012: Summer break
  • JULY 06 2012: Making a Pick & place machine, part 1
  • JULY 05 2012: Microcontroller Reference Sheet SMD v1.0
  • JUNE 27 2012: New Product - Akafuino L
  • JUNE 16 2012: New Product Reviews
  • JUNE 13 2012: USB and serial ports on Arduino Leonardo
  • MAY 23 2012: New Product - DS3231M Real Time Clock Breakout
  • MAY 22 2012: New Product - Simpleclock
  • APR 24 2012: New Products
  • APR 19 2012: 4x40 display and big numbers
  • APR 16 2012: TWIDisplay .net Micro Library
  • APR 09 2012: Avr-gcc 4.5.1, Avr-libc 1.7.1 and delay problems
  • APR 09 2012: Xmegaduino beta4 released!
  • APR 06 2012: New product - TWILCD 40x2/40x4/RGB edition
  • MAR 22 2012: New Product - Smoke Black Acrylic Stand for TWIDisplay
  • MAR 16 2012: New Microchip 25AA02E48 arduino library
  • MAR 15 2012: ATXMega Reference Sheet v1.0
  • MAR 05 2012: TWILCD Compatibility
  • MAR 02 2012: Electronics Reference Sheet v1.0
  • FEB 29 2012: Four Letter Word Generator PART 2 - EEPROM Programmer
  • FEB 13 2012: VFD Modular Clock Review
  • FEB 08 2012: Four Letter Word Generator
  • FEB 02 2012: New version of the Microcontroller Reference Sheet with Arduino-tiny pinouts
  • JAN 20 2012: Xmega Overclocking
  • JAN 10 2012: New Product - Shift Register Breakout Board
  • JAN 05 2012: Now in stock - Akafuino X
  • JAN 02 2012: VFD Clock Updates
  • DEC 22 2011: Opening Hours During the Holiday
  • DEC 20 2011: New Product - TWILCD
  • DEC 17 2011: Now In Stock - Serial and ISP Breadboard Adapter
  • DEC 03 2011: New Products
  • DEC 01 2011: Arduino 1.0 is out
  • NOV 25 2011: Using the Wire library with the Xmegaduino Arduino IDE
  • NOV 20 2011: VFD Modular Clock
  • NOV 15 2011: Meet the Akafuino X
  • OCT 31 2011: Eagle 3D models with EagleUp
  • OCT 01 2011: Microcontroller reference sheet
  • SEPT 28 2011: uA-meter Thermometer