Boldport Club project #1 — make sure one is yours!

The Boldport Club — a monthly subscription to electronics projects — has been very well received. We now have over 85 members, even before we shipped our first project! We're getting ready for delivering our first project to members: a tribute to Bob Pease and an electronics discovery kit based on his LM331 chip.

An engineer and an artist?!

The famous quote from Robert Allen Pease

Bob Pease was an analogue design expert and technical writer of legendary status. He had the unique ability to communicate very technical topics in a relatable style, character, and authority, and thus becoming an educator to generations of engineers. One of Pease's most memorable sayings was 'My favorite programming language is... solder', which captures so much of our love for electronics and creating things with our minds and hands.

The original 'Pease'. I made only50 and mostly given them away...

A couple of years ago, I designed a tribute to Pease, which was one of the first boards that I've created with PCBmodE. I've not sold the board widely — I only made 50 and most of them I gave away — but it was always a board that got attention. When I considered which of my designs should be the first to be sent to Boldport Club members, it had to be this one.

Now updated to a 'second edition', the board is based around Pease's LM331, a voltage to frequency converter chip. The circuit on the board is a light intensity to frequency converter, exactly as shown in Figure 20 of the datasheet. (There's an extra bit for flashing an LED with the output.)

The schematic for the circuit is drawn on the back of the board for easy reference, and either through-hole or surface-mount components can be used (the kit only contains through-hole components, though).


The contents of the kit. Each kit comes with two instances of the PCB.

It's a 'discovery kit' since you should figure out how to tweak the values of the components to do different things. You may need to use different components, and you're likely want to consult the datasheet for how the chip works. Maybe even connect it to a scope! Power can be applied through the USB connector or through the holes on the other side. There's even a handy ruler, and a keyring if you want to carry the board with you.

As usual, this board is open source hardware, and the design files for both the PCB and package are here. The full album for this kit is here. And here's a video of the board in operation

So here's the deal: we're shipping this project to members of the Boldport Club at the beginning of March. If you're not a member by then you won't get this project, as we don't repeat projects or send new members old projects (members can still buy old stock while it lasts, though). We're building a limited amount of this special project, so we suggest that you hurry :)

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