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Some thoughts about unused/wasted pins on Gadgeteer sockets


#1

If you take for example the Button module, you can see that it’s using only pins 3 & 4 on the socket (except power/gnd, of course). That means that pins 5 to 8 (and 9) are unavailable for any use.

Since button module has only one connector, it can’t be “expanded”. What about putting another IDC connector on it, much like the expander ?
This way we could connect another module that may use the free pins.

Here I’ve talked about button module, but it’s almost the same thing on some other modules : as soon as you plug it on the mainboard, you loose all the pins of that socket.
One other example that comes to mind is socket #7 on the Hydra : it has 3 PWM pins. Fine. But one module plugged in it will “eat” the 3 PWM, even if it’s using only one of them :frowning:
You see what I mean ?

And I’m not talking about chaining modules here but only keeping unused pins available for something else.

Of course, this has some implications in application dev because you will have to manually assign the “extra-pins” and not rely on the graphical designer for anything after the first module.

What do you think about this ? Should I take a blue or red pill and/or go back to sleep ? :think:


#2

A type of “Y cable” should be doable…

Basically you’d have a lead from the board to a little expansion board. This board has three sockets on it - in parallel - so one in and two out - and so you would be able to “fan out”. Like you say, you’d have to keep track of your pin assignments.

I think there may be some electrical problems with this - especially with high speed signals because each cable that fans out, and isn’t terminated, becomes an antenna back into the system.

I know this will sound critical, but the current arrangement is good for learning and “typical” prototypes, but it becomes less practical for “real” developments. I guess it’s a matter if understanding for what purpose Gadgeteer is positioned and don’t try and use it beyond what it was designed for.


#3

Doesn’t the Extender and eBlock modules give you what you need for this more advanced scenario? The whole idea behind Gadgeteer is that the “pins” become “sockets” and users do not have to be concerned with individual pin usage. If you need to separate out the pins this way then I think a custom module/circuit is in order so as not to confuse the plug standard.