The Spark Gap Podcast - Episode 28

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Show Synopsis

Karl and Corey talk with Andrew Retallack from Crash Bang Prototyping about moving past the Arduino.

Crash Bang Protoypes

For links to Andrew’s articles and blog posts check out Crash Bang Prototypes!

Also, Andrew can be found on twitter at @crashbang_proto

Andrew’s Project


This is Andrew’s newest project. It looks fantastic!
Go check out his great blog post about the Toadstool

Kicad Related

ToadStool was created using KiCad. Andrew found it a lot easier to use after getting adjusted to its workflow.

He also used KiCad’s 3D Engine, Blender, and Wings 3D to make the 3D models of ToadStool.

Andrew, Corey and I all really like Chris Gammel’s Kicad site:

His contextual electronics kicad training videos are also great. Look for the one inspired by our show. ha!


The T-board is another great protoyping platform designed by Andrew.
One of its goals was to help people move past the Arduino.
Definitely worth your time looking into it!

Andrew’s Projects in Print

The first “Beyond the Arduino” article in the series on Nuts & Volts

The T-Board was featued in Elektor Magazine

Platforms mentioned in the episode

Arduino and AVR Related

I asked Andrew what kind of performance increase you can get from writing raw C versus using the Arduino libraries.
Here is an article looking into digital IO speed when using the Arduino libraries:

AVR Programmer’s and Debuggers

Andrew started out using a USBasp programmer.

He has since moved on to using an Atmel ICE debugger.

MSP430 Related

Energia has “the goal to bring the Wiring and Arduino framework to the Texas Instruments MSP430 based LaunchPad.”

This is the MSP430 website I mentioned. Looks like they are combining with some other TI platforms though.

I mentioned some MSP430s use Ferroelectric Random Access Memory (FRAM)

TI Low Power RF chips

Andrew has his own unfinshed project which for a bit used a CC110L RF BoosterPack

I did a project using a CC430F6137 RF Microcontroller. It went okay..

Making Electronics in South Africa

PCB Fab Services

Andrew used SeeedStudio’s PCB service.
It took Andrew a long time to get his PCBs, but the prices aren’t bad.
Apparently they send your PCBs to you on the back of a horse drawn wagon.

South African Hackerspaces and their projects

There are plenty of people in South Africa doing much more interesting things then myself.

House4Hack - South-African Hackerspace based just outside of Johannesburg

Robohand - 3D printed prosthetics

3D Print a Lawn Mower? Okay!

How to Crowd Fund in South Africa?

Well there is no kickstarter in South Africa.
We brought up IndieGoGo and Crowd Supply as two possible alternatives.