RETRO Innovations

Archive for November, 2011

One Designer’s Trash, Another’s Treasure

by on Nov.30, 2011, under Miscellaneous, Storefront

PCB Earrings by "The Belle Rings ", modeled by Belinda "Belle" Brain

PCB Earrings by "The Belle Rings ", modeled by Belinda "Belle" Brain

In hardware design, as with any endeavor, one strives to minimize errors.  However, as with anything, some errors are more important to prevent or eliminate than others.  When dealing with microcontroller-based projects, I concentrate on the printed circuit board and components.  Software errors can be fixed after production, but once the hardware and PCB are produced, there are few opportunities for change.

Still, even with doublechecking the design and prototyping, an error crops up every so often.  When that happens, I can’t bear to pitch the boards immediately, so I usually stuff them somewhere in the shop.  You never know, they might have some use at some point.

I recently ran a tiny PCB with “gold immersion” plating, with black soldermask.  Though it contained an error, the board proved visually striking.  I showed them to my daughter, who enjoys pretty items, the smaller the better.  She loves adding castoffs and “trash” items to her collection, and was understandably impressed by the “baby” circuit board.  I told her she might find a use for them, at some point.

Less than a day later, she and her mother had determined the tiny PCBs might make unique jewelry items.  After purchasing some earring hoops from a local shop, she and I created hoop earrings from the small circuit boards.  We then created small storage cards for the jewelry, setting a price for the product, and dreaming up a name for her “business”.  We informed her that once she meets expenses (the boards are free, since I’ve written them off as useless, but the hoops were purchased), the remaining sales income will be hers.  I offered to promote them at the upcoming “World of Commodore” show and then list them in the online store for sale.

If you or someone you care for wants a unique single or set of earrings from “The Belle Rings”, look for them in the store shortly and enjoy!


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X Pander-3 VIC Released to Production

by on Nov.19, 2011, under Hardware Design, Storefront



The X Pander-3 VIC brings the ultimate in cartridge port expansion options to the Commodore VIC-20.  The unit features 3 independently switched vertical ports and a companion horizontal port.  Power, both I/O select lines, and all BLK and RAM select lines can be individually switched on or off, while the I/O select lines can be swapped on the second and third/fourth expansion slot.  Units should be available for sale starting mid-January.

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PS/2 Encoder Units Shipping!

by on Nov.12, 2011, under Hardware Design, Storefront

Fully Assembled PS/2 Encoder with IDC Connector

Fully Assembled PS/2 Encoder with IDC Connector

Both complete and kit-based PS/2 Encoder units are now shipping in the RETRO Innovations store.  We made some last minute firmware enhancements, and are shipping with an upgraded microcontroller, the Atmel ATMEGA168 (16kB of FLASH ROM, the current firmware needs only ~4kB).

The web site will shortly be updated with pinouts and configuration notes.  Stay tuned!

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New Connector in Stock!

by on Nov.02, 2011, under Storefront

12/24 .156" Edge Connectors

12/24 .156" Edge Connectors

Looking for 12/24 .156″ edge connectors for your Commodore user port project or a IEEE interface that will connect to the PET/CBM computer IEEE port? RETRO Innovations has sourced 2,000 units with pins that can be installed in a PCB or soldered to the edge of a PCB.  These connectors do not have the mounting ears, to allow maximum flexibility for fit.  They are in the store for purchase now!

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