Introduction: GAINER V1.0.0

About: An associate professor, currently teaching interaction design and prototyping at the Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences (IAMAS). Previously he worked for a major digital musical instrument company...

GAINER is a reconfigurable I/O module for education. GAINER environment consists of a hardware I/O module, a firmware for the module, software libraries for Max/MSP and Processing and optional hardware modules (called "bridge"). For details, refer to the following URL:

Step 1: Check Components

The BOM (bill of materials) list is available at

If you purchased all components, please check to make sure before starting to assemble.

Step 2: Mount Resistors

At first, bend leads of each resistor to fit holes of the PCB (printed circuit board). Then insert leads of a resistor into holes near by resistor icon named R1 or R2, then bend the leads again to stabilize. When you are done inserting all resistors, solder each lead one by one, then cut extra portion of each lead.

Step 3: Mount Ceramic Capacitors

Once you have monted all resistors, let's mount ceramic capacitors. C1, C2, C4 and C5 are all ceramic capacitors. Please note that C2 has a different capacitance (0.01uF, marked as 103) than other capacitors (0.1uF, marked as 104).

Step 4: Mount LEDs

Before mounting LEDs, let's check polarity. Place the longer lead of a LED on the left side, then insert the LED into the PCB facing the same direction. The LEDs must be inserted in the correct direction.

Step 5: Mount an IC Socket

Insert an IC socket into the PCB. Before soldering all the leads, solder two opposite corner leads to
fasten the socket as shown in the second picture. Once you have checked the IC socket is fixed by the two leads, solder other leads. Then mount an electrolytic capacitor (C3).

Step 6: Mount a USB Socket

Mount a USB socket as shown in the picture. For the four small holes, please be careful not to bridge leads. For the two large holes, please put enough solder paste to make sure the socket is fastened on to the PCB.

Step 7: Mount Single Row Header Pins

To mount single row header pins, I strongly recommend you to use a breadboard to fix the pins in proper angle. As is the case with the IC socket, solder two pins first, then solder other pins.



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    10 Discussions

    correct me if im wrong, but basically this device ca be used to program/reprogram IC's. also, the BOM is kinda skewed, i mean it shows .371 of a circuit board. WTF??

    3 replies

    Hi, I'm sorry, but I don't understand what "i mean it shows .371 of a circuit board." means. Could you please let me know how this phrase means? Best, Shigeru

    Sorry about the awkward wording... Well I went to the Bill of Materials you linked to, and I saw that the circuit board, which cost around 42 dollars, was listed in the amounts column as ".371". That made absolutely no sense because it should have said 1 circuit board. anyways, it's just me being picky. You didn't answer my question of whether this module could be used to reprogram I/C chips to work in other projects. -Recon506


    12 years ago

    Browsing all the old projects and finding some gems back here! I just picked up a "serial wombat" and it looks to be very similar in concept -- a programmed microcontroller that'll probably never run independent of a PC, rather it acts as an I/O expansion. The wombat seems aimed at a newbie crowd though.

    1 reply

    Hi, Thank you very much for your interesting comment, and very sorry for big delay in reply. As you pointed, Serial Wombat project seems to be really interesting. I just ordered one for me. ;) Best, Shigeru

    Electrolitic capacitors, like the LEDs, also need to be soldered in the correct orientation. In this case, the capacitor should be soldered with the long leg to the left side of the board, and with the white vertical stripe to the right of the board (if you are facing the board so that the button is at the bottom). Talking of the button - it should also be soldered in this step!

    Remember the IC notch! Both ICs and the sockets the plug into have a semi-circular notch at one end. This is used as an orientation guide, to see in which direction the IC should be plugged into the socket. In this case, make sure to solder the socket with the notch facind the USB-connector end of the PCB.

    Brilliant! I am really excited about this project. I use MakingThing's Teleo modules with Max/MSP already, but this looks to be a great way for artists who aren't afraid of soldering guns to get a little closer to building their own tools (besides being less expensive). Speakings of soldering, that little FTDI USB module looks like a bit of a challenge--is this something students new to electronics can reasonably expect to make? And there'll be more in the way of tutorial material soon? Love the Breadboard Band!

    1 reply

    I'm very glad to know that you are interested in our project. :)

    About soldering, you are correct. The UART-to-USB chip is SSOP package, so it might be a little bit difficult for beginners. I soldered by myself for few prototype boards, but I asked the PCB manufacturer to
    solder 50 boards. I'll add tutorial material for soldering SMDs.

    Anyway, I opened the GAINER forum. If you have time, please leave comments or suggestions.