[Lab] Frozen Electronics!

Aurelius R maxrowsell at gmail.com
Wed Jan 15 23:35:57 EST 2014

Hi everyone!

I know that most of you don't know me very well, as I haven't made it out
to ModLab too much. I've been working away in my home lab over the past few
months and life has been hectic.

I just wanted to let everyone know about two cool things I'm working on!

The first thing is my new video blog and website, called Frozen
Electronics. I have it all set up at http://frozenelectronics.com and my
YouTube channel is called Frozen Electronics as well. It's aimed at
beginners to intermediate level electronics hobbyists and makers. It's only
just on it's baby feet, but over time I'm planning to grow it and do a lot

The second thing is that, in conjunction with my website, I'm designing two
cool boards. One is just called the "Frozen Board", and it's essentially an
ATtiny13A/ATtiny85 breakout. However the real value will come in the manual
(which is turning into a damn book!!) that comes with it. I've sorta
code-named it the "anti-Arduino" -- not that I have anything against
Arduino, but in order to use the Frozen Board you actually have to learn
raw C, and I will show the user all sorts of cool projects to do with the
board. The idea is to get to know your ICs at a different level -- having
more control means being able to do more. I've always really loved the
ATtiny13 -- it's a small 8-pin DIP package that packs a lot of punch. The
ATtiny85 even more so! For such a small IC with only 1K of flash, you can
do a HUGE amount of stuff with them. They're one of the most underrated and
underused ICs in the Atmel family, and I want people to discover smaller
boards :)

I just got the first three prototype boards back from OSHPark, and they
work beautifully! I will have a spare, which if anyone is interested might
end up being donated to the lab. Of course, when they are actually fully
produced, I will drop off a few of them along with the manuals I'm writing
so that beginners to microcontrollers can just pick them up and go. I've
always learned well through a visual/hands-on approach and that's what I'm
aiming for. There will also be a video series to go along with the boards.

The other (third thing I guess, I lied before :P) is going to be a function
generator for intermediate level hobbyists. There seems to be a huge
disparity when it comes to waveform/function generators. There's the super
cheap, crappy DDS boards that you can get on eBay for $30 or $40, and they
usually only do sine to 25MHz, and square and triangle to much less than
that. Not to mention the actual performance is much, much less than that.
At the other end of the spectrum, you can get a 'cheap' function generator
starting around $500 to $600 for a half-decent one that doesn't do
arbitrary waveforms. If you want arbitrary functionality, you're easily
cracking $1k to $2k minimum.

So I'm designing the Ice Crusher, another little pet project that will
hopefully end up being made in some quantity. It will be based around some
Analog Devices chips, and should be able to exceed the specs I've listed
above. It will also be less expensive (ideally) than the crap eBay DDS
gens. The chips I'm looking at are about $10 in one-off quantity, so most
of the price will be for that. Everything else on the board shouldn't
exceed $20, so I'm aiming for around a $30 price point. If I can get orders
in quantity (maybe through Kickstarter?) that will bring the price down and
also increase the feature set a bit.

Anyway, I don't want to take up too much of your time. Just wanted to let
everyone know about these little pets of mine :)

Take care and hope to see you guys soon! I'll have to bring some stuff down
to ModLab some night -- my Commodore 64 synth is pretty much done now.
Peace, Love, Empathy

Alexander Max Rowsell
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