Oscilloscope, Part 2 (PCB)

A few weeks and a few swearing sessions later…

The layout is complete and has no shorted nets.


2 layers PCB. Probably going to get it manufactured by Olimex.

This is my first board ever, so I’m guessing there are tons of errors everywhere. lol.

All the surface mount caps are the same type (0.1uF ceramic). I used through hole capacitors for the other few because SMD capacitors tend not to be labeled… the labels would be too small to see anyways.

2 connectors on the left are BNC (oscilloscope probe connection). Goes to analog frontend (the part without ground plane), then the programmable gain amplifier (U1), then 2 ADCs (U3 U4), then FPGA (U6). U10 is the 25MHz oscillator for the FPGA. U5 is the DAC used to set voltage offset. U7, U8, U12 are voltage regulators. U11 is charge pump doubling inverter to generate negative voltage for amplifiers. U9 is USB interface chip. The connector on the right is USB-B.

In case you are wondering, most of the holes (181 holes!) are vias (connections between the 2 layers), not for soldering components. So no, I won’t be spending the next 20 years of my life soldering this board =P.

Next step, throwing a pile of money at Digikey!! (very exciting)

Actually, I think I will solicit some feedback from random forums first.

The layout file in gEDA PCB format –

Feel free to poke around.

On Debian/Ubuntu, do “apt-get install geda”, and “pcb board.pcb”.

I don’t think gEDA runs on Windows. Sorry. Some people reportedly have successfully built it on Windows, though.

Ooh, shiny!

A friend of mine, who prefers to stay anonymous for personal security (duck!), drew this.

(click for full image, or mouseover to be enlightened!)

She may not have her own exhibition at the art gallery yet (a post on my blog is almost as good), but this is very promising talent!

It’s the minor league for xkcd.

If you are the author of xkcd and wants her to join you, or wants to sponsor a young promising artist, or just want to have a good time, call her at

Satisfaction guaranteed.

RIP, ><((((>

It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.

– Batman

Nevertheless, I believe something that has been representing me for so many years deserves at least a blog post for its retirement.

2003 – 2010 (aged 7)
My registered trademark, the “><((((->” MSN display name, will be no more. So long, and thanks for all of the one fish.

It’s about time to move on.

It has been faithfully representing me on MSN ever since grade 7. Only the number of fins have ever changed, and that was accidental. I’ve also changed its swimming direction once, and exactly 1 person noticed =P (or at least told me they did).

I believe it was a modified version of some random ASCII art I found on the internet to match my online pseudonym (cyberfish), which has served me just as long.

I will probably change it in the next few days (I sign in from 4-5 places… so it takes a while to change them all). So take a picture with it, give it a hug, or even just a stare, while you still can :).

The pseudonym, though, is here to stay, fortunately (for me) unfortunately (for it). Probably for life.

I’m not sure where the “cyberfish” came from. I think I just grabbed 2 random words from a dictionary, and stuck them together, hoping it will give me a unique identifier, and after 50 years, I’ll be able to google it and see nothing but my own stuff. Nope, lots of people are using it too.

People have said it’s girly. And I agree.

Girls are cool. I like girls. They are pretty (the pretty ones are).

Beauty and the Beast

I may not be the beast, but she sure is the beauty =D.

Just got my Nexus One! It’s gorgeous.

Similar specs to iPhone 4 (5MP camera with auto-focus, a bunch of sensors, 512MB RAM, 1GHz ARM CPU, etc), without the Communist Apple touch.

Can change the battery, has SD card (instead of way overpriced internal memory), has native msn client, has flash, and you can actually decide what you want to run on it =P.

Going to use it with Wind’s cheap data plan =D ($35 total for 500MB/month is amazing)

Got it without contract for some big pile of money. The Xperia X10 can be had for almost free with Rogers 3 years contract, but I don’t like contracts, and I don’t like Rogers (or any of the big carriers for that matter). Wind may not have cute animals on their site, but their attitude sounds so much better. They actually make sense.

It’s funny that I’m into smartphones because I don’t really talk on the phone all that much. About 2 seconds a day calling my mom to pick me up, and a few hundred texts a month to my dear friend Cindy about… things that you wouldn’t want to hear about. And then there are the occasional tennis invitations that always end up nowhere for some reason… But otherwise not much at all!

I use my phone as anything but a phone. I’m thinking about using a phone without a plan… hmm. I wish they would just sell data =P. Otherwise it will just be an expensive ebook reader.

Trivia: Linus Torvald, the “inventor” of Linux, also got a Nexus One! He is very picky about phones, and only buy phones that run Linux.

Blogging about Blogging about Blagging

In my not so humble opinion, blogs are the second most significant invention in the history of mankind, after sliced bread.

When I first started blogging about 5 years ago (?), it was very different. It felt like an obligation. To readers. To “trends” (it was a trendy thing to do at that time, when everyone had Xanga, instead of Facebook).

I tried hard to be interesting, to not bore my readers to death, to have “something” to write. It wasn’t for myself. It was for “readers”. As if my blog really had any significance to anyone else.

Ended up writing about the weather every other day, and about how I have nothing to say the rest of the time, and things I pretended to care about, pretending to sound thoughtful or profound by copying and pasting quotes from nowhere. Then I pretended to be interested in some people’s blogs and leave comments hoping they will do the same because number of comments was a measure of personal worth, like how number of Facebook friends is now.

I’m not sure how I survived through that, but those were the dark days. That’s not the kind of blogging I am talking about.

As you can clearly see from this post, I have given up on trying to be interesting a long time ago (are you STILL reading?! =P). And obviously, my writing hasn’t improved one bit over the last few years.

It feels so much better. Now that I can write about what I really care about, and not worry about what people think (don’t count the number of “about”s in this sentence!). It almost feels like an extension of my consciousness (no, this is not an attempt to sound profound. Just a display of my confusion).

I don’t even proof-read my posts anymore.

I always feel a lot better when I put things down on paper (err. keyboard). Happy things, sad things, ugly things. Whether people read it doesn’t really matter.

And I just lied. If whether people read it or not doesn’t really matter, I could just write in a diary or something.

It does matter. It’s the feeling of sharing that brings relief and happiness. Knowing that someone somewhere on the internet is reading this post makes writing it so much more interesting.

And I know a few of my friends DO read my blog, instead of doing a million more interesting things they could be doing. And I would love to say I don’t care since that sounds so much cooler. But I do. I do get excited when I find out people read my blog.

So thank you 😀 :D. You have changed me. A little part of me is made out of you (how right does that sound?).

If you have never tried blogging, try it some time! (and remember to link me) It’s a whole new world.

Smoking marijuana would give you similar experience, but blogging is legal almost everywhere, not just in BC :). Equally addictive, though.