CP2110 Breakout Board


In following the internet chatter about the FTDI bricked-chip dust up some months ago I came across mention of a Silicon Labs USB-Serial chip, the CP2110, that worked a bit different. The device enumerates as a regular HID device and uses a standard OS driver rather than a manufacturer specific one. Being a HID device, there is no COM port. Instead you link a library into your application that knows how to engage the standard HID driver to talk to the chip in a serial-like fashion. In effect, this moves the driver from the OS to your application.

So I grabbed some of the chips and made up an OSHPark board that implemented the minimum passives and broke out the pins. Tonight, during Builder’s Night Out, I finally got around to soldering it up. The worst part about the CP2110 is that it is a 4mm x 4mm QFN with a 0.5mm pin pitch. I used the space’s 50W laser to make a solder paste stencil out of some of the giant roll of 3 mil mylar we have. My first go at it with one pass of the solder paste squeegee didn’t put down enough paste on the QFN and my second go with 3 or 4 passes in orthogonal directions put down too much solder paste.  There is probably a middle ground there.

Anyway, I used the space’s Zallus reflow toaster oven to reflow that second paste attempt and wound up with a number of the QFN pins shorted together. (I should have wiped the paste off and looked for that middle ground.) To fix the shorts I used the space’s hot air rework gun to pull the QFN chip off. That allowed me to solder wick the pads to a point free of shorts and then use the hot air gun once again to put the chip back. I over heated and burnt the tantalum caps and the LEDs in that rework process. So I used the hot air gun to remove those components and then hand soldered replacements back on to the board.

The moment of truth came when I plugged the freshly soldered board into my laptop’s USB port. I fully expected it to say “over current limit”, but to my delight it happily installed the HID driver! I’m looking forward to trying out the link library.

Classes and Collaboration lead to Happy Makers – Part 2

This a follow up post to this one. I’ll list a few more ongoing classes and collaborative build efforts at our space.

Ceramics 101

This class is required before working in the ceramics and pottery area. It teaches you the general rules of housekeeping and basics of materials used in this process. Class details here.

Polymer Clay Basics

This class is designed to give you an overview of the Polymer Clay process. This medium can be used to make a wide variety of small accessories and jewelry pieces.


Felisha has been introducing the addicting process of wood turning to many makers. The beginner class covers tools, sharpening, turning spindles, basic work holding strategies, and finishing. By the end of the class each person will have completed a bottle stopper!  Students actually learn on Felisha’s professional machine at Our Daily Salt. Class details here.

Trash to Cash

Tom had an ingenious scam idea to clean the makerspace. He shows you how to take a pile of junk and determine what has value and how to take it to the scrap yard and get cash for it! The money made from recycling is used to improve the space.

Keep your eyes open for more classes on the mailing list!

Annual Meeting Coming Up!

Ah…it’s that time of the year again – the time to pick new board members. This coming Tuesday, March 3rd, we’ll being nominations for the following positions:

  • President
  • Treasurer
  • Communications
  • Secretary
  • Operations Director

If you’re interested in giving back to this awesome community, please consider running for one of these positions or nominating someone you hate trust.

These (5) positions will be filled on March 17th and then we’ll begin nominations for the (2) At-Large board members. In summary, see this graphic courtesy of Brant.




Classes and Collaboration leads to Happy Makers

If I could summarize a makerspace with one phrase, it would be a, “place to share you skills.” This post lists a few ongoing classes and collaborative build efforts at our space.

Electronics 101

Held for the first time last night, Marvin was excellent enough to teach Electronics 101 based on the lectures found here. A lot of our class attendees have can built circuits using existing schematics but don’t always understand the theory. This class hopes to bridge some of that gap. The class will be held every other Monday for the next 3 months. Next class should be on March 2nd at 7PM.

Arduino 101

Lance and Chris have taught two Arduino 101 classes in the last 3 months on Saturday mornings using the excellent Digilent chipKIT Uno32 boards donated by Microchip. Details are on the wiki. The class starts from what an Arduino is, helps you with IDE installation, and you upload your first program to blink an LED! Watch out for upcoming 101 classes. I have heard whispers of an 102 offering as well…

Blacksmithing: Make your own Trivet

This class first describes, “What the Hell is a Trivet?” Then over 3 hours Dan walks a beginner through safety, forge operation, and basic blacksmithing. In addition to these awesome skills, you end up with a unique gift for a loved one. More details here.

Glass Etching Workshop

This multi-skill collection class is one of my personal favorites. After Pete’s initial class offering, Lexie has taken on the torch. In this class, you learn how to cut your mask in vinyl. You learn the software and hardware skills required to operate a vinyl cutter. You transfer the vinyl to a glass mug and sand blast the exposed areas. You end up with a beautiful product that also makes a great gift. Class details here.

Tesla Coil Build Club

A few members will start meeting on the second Sunday of each month to make a Singing Solid State Tesla Coil. The build will be based on this style. We’re all looking forward to see what they come up with.

I will list a few more classes in another post.  Not to mention, there is so much learning, teaching, and collaboration that goes on every single day. So come on down and learn from us or teach us something.

Gimbal Hack

Well, it would be awesome if I had a sweet drone to fly around so I can take some awesome videos.  Even if I had one I’d probably crash it.  I don’t have one, but I did get my hands on a sweet Tarot GoPro gimbal.  If you didn’t know, gimbals are devices that use active feedback to cancel unwanted pitch and yaw. I’m not a good cameraman, so I need this if I want to take some decent video for a Kickstarter project I’m working on.  The gimbal is supposed to take 7-16 volts, but I hooked it up to a power supply at the makerspace and found out that it can function at 5V, which is great since I have some spare USB power banks.

The high tech gimbal hardware was combined with my low-tech “block of wood and random rods I found in the makerspace” technology. This hack took about 20 minutes, and I’m pretty pleased with the results.



Weekly Maker Spotlight #7 – Brad Felber

bradfelberHow did you first find Milwaukee Makerspace?

Doors Open Milwaukee

Why did you decide to join?

Get out of the house once a week and learn how to make things for my two young daughters.

What do you do at Milwaukee Makerspace?

Learn new skills.

What would you like to tell others about Milwaukee Makerspace?

It’s a great place to get ideas on making.

What do you plan to work on in the next few weeks?

An Aldo Leopold bench.

Weekly Maker Spotlight #6 – Emily M.

emily-mHow did you first find Milwaukee Makerspace?

I heard a lot about Milwaukee Makerspace while I was in undergrad at UW-Milwaukee. I had complete studio(s) to work in though, so never made it down to the space until after I had graduated. I finally got a membership through work so I could make things for my job.

Why did you decide to join?

I needed access to equipment and knowledgeable people that I was sorely lacking after exiting academia.

What do you do at Milwaukee Makerspace?

I make devices, prototypes, and templates for work. So far I’ve gotten to work with the laser cutter, 3D printers, powder coating equipment, metal shop and finishing areas.

What would you like to tell others about Milwaukee Makerspace?

There’s something for everyone at Makerspace, and there’s always people willing to lend a hand or a brain to get your project done.

What do you plan to work on in the next few weeks?

I’m currently working on a measuring device for work that will help us measure the length and girth of custom garments that are near impossible to accurately measure. I would also like to get back to the jeweler’s bench and get going on a couple of personal projects.

New machines are about to come online!

In addition to making things, many of our members like making machines that make things! We should have a functioning vacuum former, a 4’x8′ CNC Router, and a 4’x8′ CNC Plasma Cutter in the the next couple of months. While the vaccum former was acquired from an auction, the other two have been built at the makerspace over the last year and a half from scavenged materials. The frame and the rails for the plasma cutter were used in a perfume bottler in a past life. We can’t wait to see what our members will make from these awesome machines!

A few pictures of the above mentioned equipment can be found below:

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