Upverter Tour Update – Vancouver Hack Space

Our next stop on the tour was Vancouver!  First I want to thank VHS (Vancouver Hack Space) for hosting our 4th meetup, the space is great and the people are even better, if you are ever in town you should swing by and check it out. I think Tuesday is open house night.

For this one I was flying solo with the goals to connect with our users, get feedback on the future of Upverter and Circuit Maker, and find the words that best describe what we are working on.  I hope everyone had as good a time, I could not have had a better and more engaging time talking about what people are working on and Upverter’s future plans.

So what did we talk about? well we started with what people are working on, like this pump controller for a sail boat! And being a fire thrower on weekends!  As a side note, I love boats and electronics, so I was jealous.  The people that came and the projects that they are making made this event a great time.  Thank you everyone for coming out and sharing.


I got to talk with people about what Upverter is are working on right now, how our engineering team is busy working night and day bringing Upverter and Circuit Maker communities together.  It was exciting to talk to people that had used both, what drew them to try both and how they see bringing our families together to make a better place to build electronics.  I am excited to keep this ball rolling and get the new look Upverter + Circuit Maker joint community live by the end of the year!

Together we we also talked about the future, what we are thinking and discuss what we are cooking up in the lab.  I got the chance to get feedback on the Upverter all in one solution that helps take Ideas and deliver them to your door.  What does that mean?  Well this is were it go tricky, I will need more ink to fully explain, but let me give you an idea of the high level what we talked about.

The first idea we talked about is “automated system design to pcb”, “modular design” or “drag and drop electronics”.  This is making a tool that connects templates together at a functional level, not at the IC level, making it easier and faster to get from your idea to a manufacturable PCB layout.  One aspect that I am excited about it having a fully syncronized System design, schematic and PCB layout!

The next idea that we talked about is integrated manufacturing, having a “print button” that checked the design for errors ahead of ordering, and when it passes, have a fully assembled PCB at your door.  This solves a real problem that I have personally, I cannot wait to make this a reality!

Finally we talked about integrated enclosure design.  Is it be better to auto-generate an enclosure from the PCB design? or should we make the enclosure and generate a board outline from the created enclosure?  both?  we need to start somewhere and we need your help on building what makes sense for you


We are doing the next meetups in the Bay Area, if you are around you need to join us!  I would love to get your thoughts on what future and get to know what kinds of projects you are working on, thinking about or dreaming of making.  Check out when and where we are going next on the Upverter Events Page.

Michael and the Upverter Team!

Design Contest with MikroE


We’ve teamed up with MikroeElektronika to issue a challenge to all hardware designers out there.

Before September 18th, design and submit an innovative mikroBUS™ add-on board. If your project rises above the competition, your board will be manufactured and marketed – it will join the Most Excellent Order of MikroElektronika click™ boards. And you, the champion, will be showered with $6500+ worth of prizes from Upverter and MikroElektronika.


New To Click Boards ?

click™ boards are add-on boards with a standardized mikroBUS™ pinout that make hardware prototyping as elegant as it gets. Each board carries a single sensor, transceiver, display, encoder, connection port or any other sort of chip or module. There are currently more than 130 of them.


From the idea to the final touch, here are things you should consider:

1. Idea: Will your board be useful to end-users? What’s it for? What’s the short term and long term market availability and price of the BOM? Is there a novelty factor to your design and the technology it’s based on?

2. Design: Is the main chip or module used to its full potential? How functional is the layout? (for example, if the click board has a pushbutton on it — is it placed on the optimal position? Did you do your best with routing the board? Did you follow the guidelines of the particular chip or module’s producer?
(the complexity of the design comes to play here)

3. Final Touch: Did you come up with a cool name? Silkscreen illustrations?
Shape of the PCB?

Getting Started…

First, register a starter Trial account on Upverter (takes less than a minute). Then, to make sure your design conforms with mikroBUS™ specifications, fork one of following templates (NOTE: don’t call your board a “click”, that’s reserved for the winner):

There are three sizes you can work with: Small, Medium & Large.  To better understand all the possibilities and constraints of mikroBUS™ download the official spec document: HERE.

Submit your design HERE.


First Place:

1. 5x winning click™ board and a special commemorative plaque for bragging rights, and the winning design gets manufactured and marketed.
2.  A one year Upverter Standard account (valued at $499/month)
3. mikroC, mikroBasic or mikroPascal compiler license of choice
4. “Easy” board of choice
5. clicker 2 board of choice
6. Arduino UNO click shield, Pi 2 click™ shield, mikroBUS™ cape
7. An hour of hardware design consulting with Upverter engineers via phone/Skype

Second Place:

1. mikroC, mikroBasic or mikroPascal compiler license of choice
2. “Easy” board for architecture of choice
3. A Design review from Upverter engineers
4. An hour of hardware design consulting over phone/skype

Third Place: 

1. mikroC, mikroBasic or mikroPascal compiler license of choice
2. clicker 2 board for architecture of choice
3. An hour of hardware design
4. consulting with Upverter engineers via phone/Skype


Submitting Your Design
Remember — only one mikroBUS™ add-on board from this competition
will become a click™ board. To increase your chances, you can submit
as many designs as you like. Terms and conditions apply.

Send all submission through the official contest portal –> HERE

Good Luck To All!

FirstBuild Circuit Design Challenge


Upverter is partnering with FirstBuild to launch a circuit board design challenge for the home appliances of the future.  Challenge participants design circuits on the Upverter platform, and winners receive a cash prize as well as a year’s professional subscription to Upverter.

FirstBuild and GE Appliances previously released the green bean maker module which provides a USB interface and Node.js SDK to several major GE appliances.  This challenge offers hardware engineers the opportunity to extend, iterate or replace the functionality of the green bean module, and offer their own vision of the future of home appliance technology.


FirstBuild is a partnership between General Electric and Local Motors to create a new model for the appliance industry.  Be sure to check out FirstBuild’s Upverter projects for inspiration!

Upverter sponsors Nodebots Day

Upverter Node Bots Day

“We’re going to get together, collaborate and hack.”

Jason (@_jden) told us about the Nodebots Day earlier this week and we thought it was a great idea to help newcomers to hardware. So we’ve teamed up with the team at Nodebots to “hook you up with some great stuff for you introduction to the world of hardware”.

How does it work?

Create an Upverter account, design an Arduino compatible board and if you submit your project within the first 20 we will build it and deliver it to you at the Nodebots Day on July 27th.

Make sure you submit your designs by Thursday 18th.

Want more info? Check this out or ask us using #hwintro on Twitter.

Good luck!

The Instagram of Toast & Our Best Hackathon Yet!





































We just wrapped up our best hackathon yet. Across the board we blew past our goals. I think it goes without saying that hardware is back. Hackers & inventors are everywhere and they are working very hard to make your world a better place.


First off, I need to thank Y Combinator and all of our peers in YC alumni companies that helped make this event happen. Without them this hackathon just wouldn’t have been possible.

A few months ago I was having a coffee with Paul Graham in Palo Alto. I was bragging about the latest release of Upverter and how it was now possible for us to host hardware hackathons, having hackers design hardware in hours instead of weeks (a huge requirement for a hackathon). I told him how awesome our other hackathons had been. Paul stopped me and said:

Wait, wait, wait… You can finally do all that? Do you want to do a hardware hackathon at YC?


We agreed that it’s still very early in the hardware renaissance, and that small communities need a focal point. We agreed that we should all be trying to help and if we could help in any way, it would be in getting everyone together in the same space and providing that focal point.

It turns out a hackathon is the perfect way to do that.


Over the last 2 months we’ve been working to make this hackathon happen. It all came to a head on Friday when three members of the Upverter flew team down to Mountain View, rendezvoused  with about 20 other mentors, worked out out the flow of the event, got almost no sleep, showed up at YC at 7:30 (the morning one… ugh), and kicked off the biggest event we have ever thrown.


We spent the first 30 minutes frantically setting up power and network for ~200 people. 300+ outlets, 40 power strips, 15 extension cables, and 3 wireless networks…


About 50 team leaders start showing up. We go on a deep dive through the tools, the event, the workflow, judging, food, how to get help, and how to design hardware.


Leaders start soliciting team members and chasing down ideas. Ideation hits full stride. Teams start forming up.




The event kicks off. We all go through the entire event flow and logistics talk. We do a round of Q&A, and we wrap up with a 10 minute countdown to finish ideation & team building.


GO! With all but 2 hackers grouped into teams and all ideas tabled, the hack starts.


Lunch is served! (BBQ… Which is delicious!) Other than a lack of utensils everyone gets fed without a hitch.


1 hour left!


PENCILS DOWN! After 8.5 hours of solid hacking we break for dinner


DINNER IS SERVED! (Chinese.. Also delicious, and a bit spicy!)


Presentations begin. 60 seconds per team, tell us the problem/idea, what you wanted to do, what you actually did, and show us some design files or prototypes.


Presentations end. Judges confer. Hackers mingle.


Awards! Prizes!




Cleanup finished! High fives all around! Upverter locks up and heads out for an exhausted pint


Some numbers to paint a picture of who this event touched:

  • 10K+   Pre-event reach
  • 300     Applications
  • 200     Invitations (limited by space)
  • 132+   Attendees
  • 32       Submitted hacks
  • 30       Presentations
  • 23       Mentors
  • 11       Awards

1st Prize: Tactilus

The Tactilus is a haptic feedback glove for interacting with 3D environments. A series of cables applies pressure to the wearer’s fingers to resist their motion in response to pushing against a virtual object. When can I get my hands on one?

Runner Up: Baby Rocker

Why rock your baby to sleep yourself when you can have a robot do it for you? Prototyped with an electric can opener, the baby rocker rocks your baby gently to sleep with the push of a button in a mobile app.

Most Marketable Award: DIYNot


The DIYNot is a plug that goes in-line with any of your AC appliances (that draw 2 amps or less) and gives you the power to switch it on or off via a microcontroller (not included). The simple schematic give it an excellent part to prize ratio.

Vision Award: Circuit Checker


Circuit Checker is a tool for verifying the construction of your electronic devices. It analyzes files in the Upverter Open JSON Format and calculates the expected impedance at several nodes in the layout. The designer then uses the device to measure impedance at the calculated points and verify the construction of the device.

Presentation Award: Picture Toaster

The Instagram of Toast. Send it an image, and this magical toaster will burn it into the surface of the greatest thing ever invented – sliced bread. Jam and butter not included.

Utility Award: Window Blind Controller


We’ve all been there – the streetlights shine into your room at night and prevent you from sleeping, but if you close them, you’ll miss the sunrise and sleep in ‘till noon. Not with the Window Blind Controller! This handy device clips to your blinds and opens them automatically as morning approaches.

Assistive Technology Award: Walkmen

The Walkmen  is an ultrasound virtual walking stick with haptic feedback for guiding blind and otherwise disabled people while they walk.

Wearable Technology Award: Body API


For the quantified self enthusiast who needs more than a step counter, the Body API is a comprehensive metric-gathering device that gives you the data you need to min/max real life.

Student Award: SeeTheLight


The $1500 price tag on Google Glass got you down? For students on a budget, these glasses made of laser-cut MDF help you find north by lighting up one of the embedded LEDs that most directly faces Santa’s Workshop. There’s no built-in video camera, but those are kinda creepy anyway.

Corportate Shill Award: Electric Imp / Twitter M&M


A candy dispenser upgraded with a sleek and sexy Electric Imp. It dispenses M&M’s in response to tweets, making it an invaluable addition to introductory psychology classes everywhere. Did we mention it was made by the team from Electric Imp?

Best Lockitron Knockoff Award: Spark


It’s like Lockitron for your lights! This ATMega-powered light switch adds Wi-fi to your home switches, giving you the power to prank your friends, confuse your neighbours, throw wicked lightswitch raves, and even do useful things like making sure you didn’t forget to turn your lights off.

Upverter Honorable Mention: Prism

These guys built themselves a Google Glass knockoff in 9 hours, complete with embedded display and gesture-based interactions, and didn’t even get an official award. We can’t stop talking about how cool their project is, though, so we’re giving them an Upverter Honorable Mention. Great work guys!

Participating Companies

Thanks again to everyone that helped out!

Upverter Workshop at the University of Toronto Semaphore Lab

On Thursday, Feburary 7th, Upverter headed up to the University of Toronto Semaphore Lab to run an introduction to electronics and Upverter workshop.

In the morning, we went through the basics of how the design cycle for electronics works, and how to do schematic capture, PCB layout, and product lifecycle management in Upverter. Everyone walked through the design of a basic schematic and PCB.

For the afternoon, we headed upstairs to Semaphore Lab and worked on a variety of projects. Many attendees had ideas for what they wanted to build, and Upverter helped them choose parts, draw schematics, and design PCBs. We even used the lab’s PCB mill to do some rapid prototyping directly from Upverter!

Some of the projects included analogue audio effects, a 555 timer based synth, and a temperature monitoring system for home brewing. We had a great time helping people make their ideas into hardware on the Upverter platform.