HQ NextPCB Introduces New PCB Gerber Viewer: HQDFM Online Lite Edition

HQ NextPCB is proud to announce the release of HQDFM Online Gerber Viewer and DFM Analysis Tool, free for everyone. With HQDFM, NextPCB hopes to empower designers with the DFM tools and knowledge to perfect their designs as early as possible, where problems are the least costly.

The PCB manufacturing industry has and still relies on the Ucamco Gerber standard to communicate PCB production to manufacturers, which are often located overseas. While the 2D image format overcomes language barriers, the language of PCB Design for Manufacture is still ambiguous to many inexperienced designers and the division between PCB design and PCB manufacture remains an expensive obstacle leading to missed deadlines, hit-and-miss runs and quick-to-fail products.

“There are still many designers that send off their production files without any knowledge of what the files contain. Resolving issues with the fab house becomes a challenge for both sides without the appropriate tools and knowledge to debug the design, which is something we hope to change for everyone’s benefit,” said HQ NextPCB CEO, Alex Chen.

HQDFM Gerber Viewer is a completely free, online tool for displaying and reviewing PCB Gerber files and OBD++ files. It incorporates HQDFM’s Design for Manufacture (DFM) algorithms which are based on NextPCB’s 15 years of high-reliability manufacturing expertise and current industry standards.

Unlike EDA software’s built-in DRC checks, HQDFM allows designers to navigate and analyze the production files and check for design issues that may impact manufacturing or cause long-term reliability issues. With HQDFM, designers are given a manufacturer’s perspective and have valuable insights into how they can improve their designs.

Based on the free desktop version, the cross-platform, online HQDFM makes the easy-to-use Gerber Viewer function and DFM analysis available to everyone, including Mac and Linux users with no download or installation and no sign-up. Anyone can freely upload PCB production files to the online interface and view their design in seconds.

HQDFM supports X2 and RS-274x PCB Gerber formats, Excellon drill files and OBD++ files and works with Google Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Opera browsers.


– Check for over 20 Design for Manufacture issues
– Navigate your PCB layer-by-layer
– Free downloadable DFM Report for more detailed analysis
– Easy, one-click ordering with HQ NextPCB
– Absolutely free, no sign-up or obligation

What does HQDFM check?

Design for Manufacturability – whether PCB elements are within the capabilities of most manufacturers in the industry, from low cost quickturn services to advanced services:

– Trace width/spacing
– Drill hole/slot sizes
– Clearances to copper and board outline elements
– Special drill holes
– Solder mask openings and more

Design for Cost – detect production difficulties that may cause costs or lead times to increase:

– Drill hole fees
– Testing fees
– Surface finish fees
– Small trace widths/spacings
– Special drill hole fees

Design for Reliability – detect problems that may not affect production but impact the normal operation or lifetime of the boards:

– Shorts/opens
– Missing solder mask dams or openings
– Missing/extra pads, drill holes, annular rings

About NextPCB

HQ NextPCB and HQ Online are the overseas trading brands of Shenzhen Huaqiu (HQ) Electronics Co. Ltd., a reliable multi-layer PCB manufacturer and assembly house. Their capabilities include up to 32 layer boards, blind and buried vias up to HDI 3, custom stack-ups, full turnkey assembly and more via a smart quotation platform with dedicated one-to-one support. Also, NextPCB is offering free reliable PCB assembly for everyone.

Founded in 2009, NextPCB’s passion for fast, reliable and affordable full-featured electronics manufacturing has driven NextPCB to innovate and modernize the electronics manufacturing industry. NextPCB developed and maintains the software HQDFM, a groundbreaking tool for designers to analyze PCB Gerber files and detect design issues. Over 300,000 users around the world already choose NextPCB. Try them for your next design at HQ NextPCB.com and see how they can accelerate your workflow.

Block coding for all modern LEGO® hubs

Endless creativity and fun with smart LEGO® bricks using Pybricks

November, 2023 – Pybricks Headquarters: Today, the Pybricks team presents the first beta release of block coding for all modern LEGO® hubs. For the first time, fans of all LEGO themes can bring their smart bricks together in a single app for endless possibilities and creativity.

Whether you want to make smart train layouts, autonomous Technic machines, interactive BOOST creatures, or super-precise SPIKE and MINDSTORMS robots, you can do it with Pybricks.

Pybricks is beginner-friendly and easy to use. There’s no need to install complicated apps or libraries either. Just go to https://beta.pybricks.com, update the firmware, and start coding.

And now for the first time, no prior Python coding experience is required. You can code with familiar but powerful blocks, and gradually switch to Python when you’re ready. The live preview makes it easy to see how your blocks translate to Python code.

Meanwhile, more seasoned builders and robotics teams will enjoy advanced features such as color sensor calibration or builtin gyro control for drive bases.

The new block coding experience is exclusively available to our supporters on Patreon. You can sign up for a monthly subscription or make a one-time pledge in our shop for lifetime access.

Python coding remains entirely free and open source, and continues to be supported by a community of developers and LEGO enthusiasts around the world. Improvements are made almost every day, with the lead developers actively engaging with the community for ideas, bug fixes, and brand new features.

So grab your LEGO sets and start coding!

Makeblock mBot Ultimate 10-in-1 Robot Building Kit

In der sich ständig weiterentwickelnden Landschaft der Bildungsrobotik sticht der Makeblock mBot Ultimate als vielseitiges und umfassendes Werkzeug hervor, das die Art und Weise revolutioniert, wie Schüler MINT-Konzepte (Wissenschaft, Technologie, Ingenieurwesen und Mathematik) erlernen. Dieser multifunktionale Roboterbausatz kombiniert Kreativität, praktisches Lernen und technologische Innovation und bietet sowohl Anfängern als auch fortgeschrittenen Nutzern ein tiefgreifendes Erlebnis.

Design und Komponenten: Der mBot Ultimate verfügt über ein modulares Design, das es den Benutzern ermöglicht, den Roboter nach ihren Wünschen zusammenzubauen und anzupassen. Mit über zehn verschiedenen Formen, darunter ein Kettenfahrzeug mit Roboterarm, ein dreirädriges Rennauto und ein selbstbalancierendes zweirädriges Fahrzeug, regt dieser Bausatz die Kreativität an, indem er die Benutzer dazu ermutigt, verschiedene Konfigurationen zu erkunden.

Mit einer breiten Palette von Komponenten wie Motoren, Sensoren (einschließlich Ultraschall-, Gyroskop- und Lichtsensoren), Greifer und einer Vielzahl mechanischer Teile erleichtert der mBot Ultimate ein ganzheitliches Verständnis von Robotik und Programmierung. Seine Kompatibilität mit der Arduino-Plattform bietet eine umfassende Programmierumgebung, die es den Benutzern ermöglicht, tiefer in die Programmierung und Robotik einzusteigen.

Makeblock-Bausätze: Robotik-Bausätze, wie z. B. die mBot-Serie, bieten den Benutzern vielseitige Plattformen zum Bauen, Programmieren und Anpassen von Robotern. Diese Bausätze eignen sich für verschiedene Fähigkeitsstufen, von Anfängern bis hin zu Fortgeschrittenen, und ermöglichen es den Benutzern, die Robotik durch praktische Erfahrungen zu erkunden.

Innovation und Zukunftsorientierung: Makeblock ist bekannt für seine Innovationskraft und entwickelt sein Produktangebot ständig weiter, indem es die neuesten technologischen Entwicklungen integriert, um an der Spitze der Bildungsrobotik zu agieren. Das Unternehmen ist stets bestrebt, Lernende, Pädagogen und Innovatoren zu befähigen, Technologie, Kreativität und Problemlösungsfähigkeiten zu nutzen. Makeblock ist ein Pionier in der Bereitstellung zugänglicher, innovativer und umfassender Robotiklösungen für den Unterricht. Makeblock bietet eine breite Palette von Produkten, Bildungsressourcen und eine unterstützende Community an, um Lernende aller Altersgruppen zu inspirieren, die Bereiche Robotik und Technologie zu erforschen.

Pädagogischer Wert: Eine der herausragenden Eigenschaften des mBot Ultimate für die Nutzung im Unterricht. Er dient als außergewöhnliches Lernwerkzeug für Studenten, Pädagogen und Hobbyisten gleichermaßen. Durch seine benutzerfreundliche Software und Programmierschnittstelle können die Benutzer grundlegende Programmierkonzepte durch grafische Programmierung erfassen oder zu textbasierten Programmiersprachen wie Python übergehen, um ihre Fähigkeiten weiter zu verbessern.

Die Vielseitigkeit des Roboters ermöglicht es den Benutzern, ihn in Aktivitäten einzubinden, die von einfacher Hindernisvermeidung bis hin zu komplexen KI-Anwendungen reichen. Dank dieser Anpassungsfähigkeit eignet er sich für eine Vielzahl von Alters- und Fähigkeitsstufen und fördert so eine interaktive Lernumgebung.

Praktische Lernerfahrung: Der mBot Ultimate bietet einen praktischen Ansatz zum Lernen, der zum Experimentieren und Problemlösen anregt. Durch das Zusammenbauen und Anpassen des Roboters werden nicht nur mechanische Konzepte gelehrt, sondern auch das kritische Denken und die Fähigkeiten zur Fehlersuche gefördert. Die Benutzer können die direkten Auswirkungen ihrer Programmierung auf die Aktionen des Roboters beobachten, was das Verständnis von Ursache-Wirkungs-Beziehungen bei der Programmierung fördert.

Schlussfolgerung: Im Grunde ist der Makeblock mBot Ultimate mehr als nur ein Roboterbausatz. Seine Anpassungsfähigkeit, sein pädagogischer Wert und sein praktischer Lernansatz machen ihn zu einem herausragenden Werkzeug im Bereich der Bildungsrobotik auf Augenhöhe mit z.B: LEGO MINDSTORMS oder VEX Robotics Produkten.

Ob im Klassenzimmer, in Robotik-Clubs oder im Kinderzimmer, der mBot Ultimate inspiriert und befähigt Enthusiasten, die unendlichen Möglichkeiten der Robotik und Programmierung zu erkunden

ABB is the first manufacturer to provide intuitive, block-based no-code programming for all cobots and six-axis industrial robots

  • First-time users can program their collaborative robots and industrial robots for free within minutes
  • System integrators and experienced users can develop, share, and customize sophisticated programs for application-specific features

ABB Robotics has expanded the scope of its free Wizard Easy Programming software for collaborative robots to include all six-axis industrial robots running on an ABB OmniCore™ controller. This makes ABB the first robot manufacturer to offer an easy-to-use no-code programming tool for cobots and six-axis industrial robots. This lowers the barriers to automation for early adopters and provides ecosystem partners and integrators with an efficient tool to support their customers.

„If we want to promote and advance the use of robotic automation on a global scale, we need to address the challenges and opportunities of the industry,“ says Marc Segura, head of the robotics division at ABB. „By adding our six-axis industrial robots to Wizard Easy Programming, ABB Robotics is responding to the skills shortage and increasing demand from manufacturing companies for simple and easy-to-use programming software for their robot fleets.“

Create robot applications without prior training

Wizard Easy Programming uses a graphic, drag-and-drop, no-code programming approach designed to simplify the development of robotic applications. The software allows both first-time and experienced robot users to create applications in minutes – a task that typically requires a week of training and another week of development work. Since its launch in 2020, Wizard Easy Programming has been used in a wide range of applications in conjunction with ABB’s YuMi, SWIFTI™ and GoFa™ collaborative robots.

Wizard Easy Programming, previously available for ABB’s collaborative robots, is now available for all of the company’s six-axis industrial robots. (Image: ABB)

The software offers users the opportunity to create complete programs for applications such as arc welding or machine tending without prior training. An intuitive graphical user interface allows you to customize existing programs and pre-programmed blocks to control various actions – from robot movements to signal instructions and force control – for added flexibility.

Efficiently generate specific codes for specific applications

Wizard Easy Programming also includes Skill Creator, a tool that helps system integrators and experts create custom, application-specific wizard blocks for their customers. Skill Creator simplifies the creation of new blocks for highly specific tasks such as machine tending and welding, but also for difficult applications such as medical tests. Ecosystem partners who develop accessories such as grippers, feeding systems and cameras will have access to a digital tool that allows them to share product-specific functionalities regardless of the type of robot to be used.

Wizard Easy Programming is pre-installed on all cobots and new six-axis industrial robots running ABB’s OmniCore controller. The leading robot controllers of the OmniCore family are characterized by an energy saving potential of 20 percent on average and a high degree of future-proofing – thanks to integrated digital connectivity and over 1,000 scalable functions.

More information about Wizard Easy Programming is available here.

ABB bietet No-Code-Programmierung mit Wizard Easy Programming ab sofort auch für Industrieroboter

  • ABB stellt als erster Hersteller intuitive, blockbasierte No-Code-Programmierung für alle Cobots und Sechsachs-Industrieroboter zur Verfügung
  • Erstanwender können ihre kollaborativen Roboter und Industrieroboter kostenlos innerhalb von Minuten programmieren
  • Systemintegratoren und erfahrene Anwender können anspruchsvolle Programme für anwendungsspezifische Funktionen entwickeln, mit anderen teilen und anpassen

ABB Robotics hat den Anwendungsbereich seiner kostenfreien Software Wizard Easy Programming für kollaborative Roboter um alle sechsachsigen Industrieroboter erweitert, die mit einer ABB OmniCore™-Steuerung laufen. Damit ist ABB der erste Roboterhersteller, der ein einfach zu bedienendes No-Code-Programmierungstool für Cobots und sechsachsige Industrieroboter anbietet. Dies senkt die Automatisierungshürden für Erstanwender und stellt Ökosystem-Partnern und Integratoren ein effizientes Tool zur Unterstützung ihrer Kunden zur Verfügung.

Die bisher für die kollaborativen Roboter von ABB verfügbare Software Wizard Easy Programming gibt es ab sofort auch für alle Sechsachs-Industrieroboter des Unternehmens. (Bild: ABB)

„Wenn wir den Einsatz von robotergestützter Automatisierung auf globaler Ebene fördern und vorantreiben wollen, müssen wir die Herausforderungen und Chancen der Industrie angehen“, sagt Marc Segura, Leiter der Robotics-Division bei ABB. „Durch die Erweiterung von Wizard Easy Programming um unsere Sechsachs-Industrieroboter reagiert ABB Robotics auf den Fachkräftemangel und die steigende Nachfrage von Fertigungsunternehmen nach einfacher und benutzerfreundlicher Programmiersoftware für ihre Roboterflotten.“

Roboteranwendungen ohne vorherige Schulung erstellen

Wizard Easy Programming nutzt einen grafischen, Drag-and-Drop-basierten No-Code-Programmieransatz, der darauf ausgelegt ist, die Entwicklung von Roboteranwendungen zu vereinfachen. Mit der Software können Erstanwender ebenso wie erfahrene Roboternutzer Anwendungen innerhalb von Minuten erstellen – eine Aufgabe, für die normalerweise eine Woche Schulung und eine weitere Woche Entwicklungsarbeit erforderlich ist. Seit seiner Einführung im Jahr 2020 kommt Wizard Easy Programming in Verbindung mit den kollaborativen ABB-Robotern YuMi, SWIFTI™ und GoFa™ in einer Vielzahl von Anwendungen zum Einsatz.

Die Software bietet Nutzern die Möglichkeit, ohne vorherige Schulung komplette Programme für Anwendungen wie Lichtbogenschweißen oder Maschinenbeschickung zu erstellen. Über eine intuitive grafische Benutzeroberfläche lassen sich bestehende Programme und vorprogrammierte Blöcke zur Steuerung verschiedener Aktionen – von Roboterbewegungen über Signalanweisungen bis hin zur Kraftsteuerung – anpassen, was ein Plus an Flexibilität bietet.

Spezifische Codes für bestimmte Anwendungen effizient generieren

Wizard Easy Programming beinhaltet zudem Skill Creator – ein Tool, das Systemintegratoren und Experten dabei hilft, benutzerdefinierte, anwendungsspezifische Wizard-Blöcke für ihre Kunden zu erstellen. Skill Creator vereinfacht das Erstellen neuer Blöcke für hochspezifische Aufgaben wie die Maschinenbeschickung und das Schweißen, aber auch für diffizile Anwendungen wie medizinische Tests. Ökosystem-Partner, die Zubehör wie Greifer, Zuführsysteme und Kameras entwickeln, erhalten Zugang zu einem digitalen Tool, mit dem sie produktspezifische Funktionalitäten unabhängig von der Art des zu verwendenden Roboters teilen können.

Wizard Easy Programming ist auf allen Cobots und neuen Sechsachs-Industrierobotern vorinstalliert, die mit der OmniCore-Steuerung von ABB laufen. Die führenden Robotersteuerungen der OmniCore-Familie zeichnen sich durch ein Energieeinsparungspotenzial von durchschnittlich 20 Prozent und eine hohe Zukunftssicherheit aus – dank integrierter digitaler Konnektivität und über 1.000 skalierbaren Funktionen.

Mehr Informationen über Wizard Easy Programming stehen hier zur Verfügung.

IDS NXT malibu: Camera combines advanced consumer image processing and AI technology from Ambarella and industrial quality from IDS

New class of edge AI industrial cameras allows AI overlays in live video streams

IDS NXT malibu marks a new class of intelligent industrial cameras that act as edge devices and generate AI overlays in live video streams. For the new camera series, IDS Imaging Development Systems has collaborated with Ambarella, leading developer of visual AI products, making consumer technology available for demanding applications in industrial quality. It features Ambarella’s CVflow® AI vision system on chip and takes full advantage of the SoC’s advanced image processing and on-camera AI capabilities. Consequently, Image analysis can be performed at high speed (>25fps) and displayed as live overlays in compressed video streams via the RTSP protocol for end devices.

Thanks to the SoC’s integrated image signal processor (ISP), the information captured by the light-sensitive onsemi AR0521 image sensor is processed directly on the camera and accelerated by its integrated hardware. The camera also offers helpful automatic features, such as brightness, noise and colour correction, which significantly improve image quality.

„With IDS NXT malibu, we have developed an industrial camera that can analyse images in real time and incorporate results directly into video streams,” explained Kai Hartmann, Product Innovation Manager at IDS. “The combination of on-camera AI with compression and streaming is a novelty in the industrial setting, opening up new application scenarios for intelligent image processing.“

These on-camera capabilities were made possible through close collaboration between IDS and Ambarella, leveraging the companies’ strengths in industrial camera and consumer technology. „We are proud to work with IDS, a leading company in industrial image processing,” said Jerome Gigot, senior director of marketing at Ambarella. “The IDS NXT malibu represents a new class of industrial-grade edge AI cameras, achieving fast inference times and high image quality via our CVflow AI vision SoC.“

IDS NXT malibu has entered series production. The camera is part of the IDS NXT all-in-one AI system. Optimally coordinated components – from the camera to the AI vision studio – accompany the entire workflow. This includes the acquisition of images and their labelling, through to the training of a neural network and its execution on the IDS NXT series of cameras.

fischertechnik Smart Robots Pro  – Robotik-Paket für angehende Entwicklerinnen und Entwickler

Mit der Produktneuheit Smart Robots Pro bietet fischertechnik ein spannendes Komplettpaket, das nicht nur kreatives Bauen fördert, sondern auch Programmierkenntnisse vermittelt. Das Set wurde für Kinder ab acht Jahren entwickelt und ist seit September im Handel erhältlich. 

Das fischertechnik Set Smart Robots Pro enthält alles, was  junge Technikbegeisterte brauchen, um zwölf faszinierende Modelle zu bauen, zu programmieren und zu steuern. Egal, ob es sich um den Fahrroboter mit Hinderniserkennung, das Karussell mit Blinklichtern, die Temperaturregelung mit Ventilator  oder die Alarmanlage handelt – mit dem fischertechnik Smart Robots Pro können Programmierkenntnisse auf- und ausgebaut  werden.  

Ein Highlight des Konstruktionsbausets ist der BT Smart Controller. Dieser Controller verfügt unter anderem über vier Eingänge für digitale oder analoge Sensoren sowie zwei Ausgänge  für Motoren oder Lampen.  

Um die Programmierung der Modelle anschaulich und leicht  verständlich zu gestalten, kann Smart Robots Pro mit der ROBO PRO Coding Software verwendet werden, die kostenlos zum Download in den jeweiligen App Stores bereitsteht. Diese Software ermöglicht es den jungen Entwicklerinnen und Entwicklern, ihre Modelle mühelos grafisch zu programmieren und  zu steuern. Das didaktische Begleitmaterial, das über die E Learning-Plattform verfügbar ist, unterstützt den Lernprozess der Kinder und erklärt auf leicht verständliche Weise die Grund lagen der Programmierung.  

Das Set ist nicht nur ein Spielzeug, sondern ein Bildungswerkzeug, das Spaß und Lernen miteinander verbindet. Es fördert  die Kreativität, das Problemlösungsdenken und die technische Kompetenz junger Menschen. Gleichzeitig bietet es eine unterhaltsame Möglichkeit, die Programmierkenntnisse zu erlernen.  

„Wir freuen uns, mit Smart Robots Pro ein innovatives Produkt auf den Markt zu bringen, das die nächste Generation von Technikenthusiasten inspirieren wird“, sagt Marc Schrag, fischertechnik Vertriebsleiter für Deutschland, Österreich und die  Schweiz.  

Smart Robots Pro ist seit September erhältlich (199,99 Euro,  UVP) und verspricht  stundenlangen Spielspaß und Lernen zugleich. Weitere Informationen und Produktbilder sind auf der fischertechnik Website  zu finden unter www.fischertechnik.de.  

Robot plays „Rock, Paper, Scissors“ – Part 1/3

Gesture recognition with intelligent camera

I am passionate about technology and robotics. Here in my own blog, I am always taking on new tasks. But I have hardly ever worked with image processing. However, a colleague’s LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robot, which can recognize the rock, paper or scissors gestures of a hand with several different sensors, gave me an idea: „The robot should be able to ’see‘.“ Until now, the respective gesture had to be made at a very specific point in front of the robot in order to be reliably recognized. Several sensors were needed for this, which made the system inflexible and dampened the joy of playing. Can image processing solve this task more „elegantly“?

Rock-Paper-Scissors with Robot Inventor by Seshan Brothers. The robot which inspired me for this project

From the idea to implementation

In my search for a suitable camera, I came across IDS NXT – a complete system for the use of intelligent image processing. It fulfilled all my requirements and, thanks to artificial intelligence, much more besides pure gesture recognition. My interest was woken. Especially because the evaluation of the images and the communication of the results took place directly on or through the camera – without an additional PC! In addition, the IDS NXT Experience Kit came with all the components needed to start using the application immediately – without any prior knowledge of AI.

I took the idea further and began to develop a robot that would play the game „Rock, Paper, Scissors“ in the future – with a process similar to that in the classical sense: The (human) player is asked to perform one of the familiar gestures (scissors, stone, paper) in front of the camera. The virtual opponent has already randomly determined his gesture at this point. The move is evaluated in real time and the winner is displayed.

The first step: Gesture recognition by means of image processing

But until then, some intermediate steps were necessary. I began by implementing gesture recognition using image processing – new territory for me as a robotics fan. However, with the help of IDS lighthouse – a cloud-based AI vision studio – this was easier to realize than expected. Here, ideas evolve into complete applications. For this purpose, neural networks are trained by application images with the necessary product knowledge – such as in this case the individual gestures from different perspectives – and packaged into a suitable application workflow.

The training process was super easy, and I just used IDS Lighthouse’s step-by-step wizard after taking several hundred pictures of my hands using rock, scissor, or paper gestures from different angles against different backgrounds. The first trained AI was able to reliably recognize the gestures directly. This works for both left- and right-handers with a recognition rate of approx. 95%. Probabilities are returned for the labels „Rock“, „Paper“, „Scissor“, or „Nothing“. A satisfactory result. But what happens now with the data obtained?

Further processing

The further processing of the recognized gestures could be done by means of a specially created vision app. For this, the captured image of the respective gesture – after evaluation by the AI – must be passed on to the app. The latter „knows“ the rules of the game and can thus decide which gesture beats another. It then determines the winner. In the first stage of development, the app will also simulate the opponent. All this is currently in the making and will be implemented in the next step to become a „Rock, Paper, Scissors“-playing robot.

From play to everyday use

At first, the project is more of a gimmick. But what could come out of it? A gambling machine? Or maybe even an AI-based sign language translator?

To be continued…

Geek Club and CircuitMess Launch a NASA-inspired DIY Perseverance Educational Space Rover Kit

After a series of successful Kickstarter Campaigns, Geek Club and CircuitMess launch their most ambitious project yet – a NASA-approved AI-powered scale model Replica of the Perseverance Space Rover  

Zagreb, Croatia – October 31st, 2023. – Today, Geek Club and CircuitMess announced their Kickstarter space exploration campaign designed to teach children eleven and up about engineering, AI, and coding by assembling the iconic NASA Perseverance Space Rover, as well as a series of other NASA-inspired space vehicles.

This new space-themed line of DIY educational products was born out of both companies‘ shared vision to aim for the stars and to take their fans with them. The Kickstarter campaign starts today, October 31st, and will last for 35 days.

The collaboration was a logical union of the two companies. Both companies create educational STEM DIY kits that are targeted towards kids and adults. Both share the same mission: To make learning STEM skills easy and fun.

“For decades, the team and I have been crafting gadgets for geeks always inspired by space exploration,” says Nicolas Deladerrière, co-founder of Geek Club. “Inspired by Mars exploration, we’ve studied thousands of official documents and blueprints to craft an authentic Mars exploration experience. The product comes alive thanks to microchips, electromotors, and artificial intelligence. Imagine simulating your own Mars mission right from your desk!”

Geek Club is an American company that specializes in designing and producing DIY robotics kits that educate their users on soldering and electronics. They focus primarily on space exploration and robotics, all to make learning engineering skills easy and fun for kids, adults, and everyone in between.

“We have successfully delivered seven Kickstarter campaigns, raised more than 2.5 million dollars, and made hundreds of thousands of geeks all around the world extremely happy,” says Albert Gajšak, CEO of CircuitMess. “In a universe where space and technology are constantly growing, we’re here to ensure you’re never left behind.”

The new product line consists of five unique space-themed products:

  • 1. The Perseverance Space Rover Kit

This kit is designed to be an educational journey into programming, electronics, robotics, and AI. The model comes with four electromotors, six wheels, a control system with a dual-core Espressif ESP32 processor, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity, a sample collection arm based on the real thing with two servo motors, a Wi-Fi-connected remote controller, and support for programming in Python or via a Scratch-inspired drag-and-drop visual coding environment.

Alongside the Perseverance Space Rover, you’ll be able to get more iconic space vehicles:

  • 2. The Voyager: A DIY kit made as a tribute to NASA’s longest-lasting mission, which has been beaming back data for an incredible 45 years and counting.
  • 3. Juno: A solar-powered DIY kit celebrating the mission that gave us the most detailed and breathtaking images of Jupiter.
  • 4. Discovery: A DIY kit honoring the legendary space shuttle with 39 successful orbital flights under its belt.
  • 5. The Artemis Watch: A sleek, space-themed wrist gadget inspired by NASA’s upcoming Artemis space suit design. The watch is a programmable device equipped with an LCD display, Bluetooth, and a gyroscope.

The Perseverance Educational Space Rover Kit is available for pre-order now on Kickstarter, starting at $149.

No previous experience or knowledge is needed for assembling your very own space rover. The kit is designed for anyone aged 11+  and comes with detailed video instructions.

You can visit the Kickstarter page here.

Robot-based automation: 3 tips for a time and cost-efficient implementation

Why no-code & low-code tools have become indispensable in robotics

Using robots is almost always worthwhile for companies. They can reduce labor costs, relieve employees, and make production more flexible – because the required batch sizes are becoming smaller and production processes more individual. In addition, a robot or cobot offers another major advantage: it can work without breaks and fatigue, thereby increasing product quality and reducing scrap.

With modern robot systems, almost all processes can now be automated. Usually, robots take over simple, dirty, monotonous, physically demanding, or even dangerous tasks. However, with the right hardware and, above all, software, very complex or particularly demanding tasks, so-called „Advanced Robotics“ applications, can also be solved. Examples of this include the assembly of flexible and bendable components such as cables, wires, or hoses or force-controlled surface processing.

When teach points can be transferred from the real robot back to the programming software as well, such a solution seamlessly integrates into the commissioning process and saves unexpected effort; Source: Ridvan – stock.adobe.com

Following the no-code/low-code trend, there are various software solutions on the market that enable graphical and therefore simplified and faster programming. The advantage is that no special programming skills are required. The portfolio ranges from manufacturer-specific solutions to independent offerings that can be used to program robots from different manufacturers with one single software. Especially in the latter case, experts recommend using tools that automatically generate native robot code for the particular robot controller instead of controlling the robot arm via a separate IPC.

In the first case, users remain flexible when it comes to adjustments or optimizations during operation and avoid a lock-in effect, as they can continue to program the robot in the traditional way using line code even without using the software.

Whether with external engineering tools or line code, there are factors on the path to robot-based automation that users often underestimate and therefore do not pay enough attention to. How to avoid three of the most important stumbling blocks will be briefly explained below.

No-code/low-code tools simplify and speed up robot programming thanks to their template-based approach; Source: ArtiMinds Robotics GmbH


The time required for programming an application is usually not underestimated, but there are other pitfalls in this phase: for example, process tolerances and variances that have not been taken into account or the increased complexity when incorporating sensors or establishing a communication between the robot and a PLC. In addition, programming a system is often a tailor-made and complex solution that is difficult to adapt. Moreover, programmers often have their own style, which can make the resulting code or program difficult to understand and modify for other programmers. At this point, the market supports the user with the aforementioned no-code/low-code solutions. For example, with pre-defined function blocks, programs can be constructed and structured in a clear and understandable manner for others. Process tolerances and variances can also be automatically compensated, analyzed, and optimized by using the right software. If the corresponding interfaces are already integrated, the effort required to connect sensors or set up a PLC communication is also immensely reduced.


A rule of thumb states that the cost of the robot itself is only about one-third of the initial cost of the cell, and experience shows that around 45 percent of the typical costs are incurred during ramp-up. This is because users often underestimate the time required for commissioning. Although the system is programmed offline and simulated throughout in advance, differences between theory and practice often become apparent during commissioning.

Thus, despite good preparation, the process can take significantly longer than planned, and adjustments and changes can quickly become expensive In addition, factors that were not apparent during digital preparation now need to be addressed on-site during commissioning. This makes this phase difficult to calculate. With consistent tools, the ramp-up can be implemented in a controlled manner and without great loss of time, so that this phase does not become a cost driver. It is important to combine simulation, programming, sensors, and data analysis in one single software package. This way, the engineering chain becomes consistent without the user having to compromise on functionality.

Programs can be structured and made traceable using pre-defined function blocks. Before commissioning, the process can be simulated as realistically as possible in a 3D simulation environment and tested; Source: ArtiMinds Robotics GmbH

This makes changes and adjustments faster, more flexible and easier. With ideally automatically generated robot code and the ability to transfer teach points back from the real robot into the software, such a solution integrates seamlessly and optimally into existing commissioning and maintenance processes. This also offers the greatest flexibility in terms of online and offline programming, allowing the user to choose the best option and easiest way for the respective task.


Even when the robot is running, there is still a danger that is often not considered: Over the system runtime, numerous changes in general conditions can occur that require adaptation of the programming.

These can be vibrations and shocks, for example caused from forklifts or other machines, wear and tear of tools, replacement parts that react differently than the previous components, changes in workpiece batches, and the space available in the hall or a change of the operating personnel. Changed lighting conditions and temperature conditions or the difference between a cold-started and warmed-up robot can also have an impact.

Software that standardizes and simplifies programming allows the user to react simply, quickly, and flexibly to these and many other changes and to make necessary adjustments in the program itself. If the worker uses a tool that also makes changes or the resulting consequences visible early on in terms of forces, cycle times, or defects and quality, it becomes easier to analyze and derive possible optimizations, which makes the user best prepared.

A guest article by ArtiMinds Robotics