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Ask HN: What's the Hacker News of hardware?
110 points by EXueBRJ9d on April 15, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 46 comments

I was wondering the same question because I have an EE degree and am annoyed there is no website that spews interesting content for my profession. Maybe Planet Analog or EEVBlog forum? It's very hard to find great tutorials.

I would argue that this website covers both hardware/software in the natural proportion of hardware:software developers. If I had to guess then that would be 1:30.

Why is it 1:30? Because hardware developers have way more at stake than their software counterparts. One injection mold costs $8000, one PCB assembly run costs $12000, one PCB costs $900 and one week, one wafer costs $400,000 and six months. So there are just a lot less hardware developers than there are firmware/software ones.

Look at the distribution of posts on the HN two front pages 9 Software optimization (compilers, language features) 9 Business/ IP 6 Other 5 Cutting Edge software like AI 4 Information Security /Privacy 4 Show HN or similar (a product or dev tool) 4 Historical Computers 3 Non-Technology news 3 Design 2 Other Technology news 1 Ask HN

Only 17/50 of those are actually pure software posts. (Software optimization, Cutting Edge software like AI Design) The rest would likely be on a hardware website too.

Software changes much faster than hardware. Software can be acted on by individuals and posted on HN by individuals, not just companies/universities with $1m research labs. But when new hardware comes out that is intellectually interesting, like IBMs quantum computer, or an ESP8266, or Google's Tensor Computer Units, you'll bet you can find it on HN.

> It's very hard to find great tutorials.

Reminds me of a comment I saw on reddit:

"Verilog/SystemVerilog are not languages many people write about online. Reading Synopsis documentation and occasional seminars are the best of what you can get."


As someone trying to learn Verilog better, it's frustrating.

JCooley @ Synopsys was great help on Usenet in the early 90s. I don't know what's up about that now.

EDIT: But still ... the tooling is pretty stable. I don't know that I would turn to an HN-like community to help me put a (frankly, pretty vanilla) module on a CPU bus from the Broadcom family. I know how to do that. You can go down the stack (at which point everything is proprietary) or you can go up the stack (at which everything is software). No?

John Cooley is still active. http://deepchip.com/about.html

From that link:

DeepChip.com is a 20 year old clearinghouse where semiconductor chip designers contribute data-intensive papers and articles of first-hand evaluations and production benchmarks of commercial EDA tools.

John Cooley at or (508) 429-4357 edits the content of both ESNUG and DeepChip.

Sweet! It's good to hear. He was always so super-helpful both on Usenet and directly when I was at Moto Semi way-back about 20-or-25-or-so years ago. Of course, Moto is gone, and I've moved on, but it's good to hear a knowledgeable war-horse is still still around to guide, mentor, inform and design.

Knowing that warms my heart. Thank you.

I think there's a good answer to the OP's question (assuming the OP means a community for professional hardware engineers or people interested in that level of sophistication.)

> hardware developers have way more at stake than their software counterparts

This is related, but software is fungible so more of the customization happens there. How many iPhone designs are there vs apps in the app store?

I'm a software engineer with interest in hardware, but I'm interested in something more than news about interesting new hardware tech. HN has more for software engineers. As someone not in the field, where do I find discussion about best practices in the industry for testing and verifying digital hardware designs? I have some project ideas about using an FPGA as a PCIe device. That seems daunting. There are a few examples out there, but they hardly teach understanding. Suitable hardware can be hand for a few thousand, well in the range of a hobbyist. Where can I go find people doing this kind of work?


Check out "bbs.elecfans.com". 4 million posts in "Engineer Workplace".

Articles include the problems of being obsolete at age 30, and a comment that Huawei is "cleaning up" the staff over 34. There's an online course on how to become an embedded systems developer by writing your own RTOS, and what questions Huawei asks in interviews. Somebody wants help with their square wave generator, which is producing a poor waveform. Somebody else wants to know how to drive a 12V brushless DC motor 300mA 2000 RPM. Nobody posted a useful answer, which is disappointing.

All in Mandarin, of course, but that's what Google Translate is for.

I would say subscribe to a couple subreddits. The level of discussion is not as to the point as I find HN tends to have (which is a good thing in my opinion), but there are quite a few different ones with varying levels of discussion and acceptance. So I wouldn't expect the HN version of hardware there, but something different.

To start you off, I subscribe to the following:







Note that there subreddits related to a specific product where discussion focuses on that specific hardware. They tend to by hobbyist, but that's as close as you can get.



Not exactly like HN, but http://hackaday.com focuses on small hardware projects and news.

The cross-section of articles on HaD are indeed quite good. However, the comments to those articles are often best avoided.

YMMV, I've been regularly impressed with the quality of posts on hackaday. I find there are some very knowledgable posters who will often add great value to a given article. That said I may happen to only be interested in the articles that tend to attract higher quality comments, and miss much of the trolling that happens elsewhere on the site.

Indeed, there are quite a few trolls and toxic folks there, some of whom I've seen here as well. There's one guy in particular who trolls any article about the Raspberry Pi, calling it the "Pee" and droning on about how terrible a platform it is even though he owns several of them.

That said, I've seen (and participated in) some great discussions in the comments from time to time, especially the ham radio related ones.

...and the 1st post on their homepage is about Python :)

Just looked, and this is not true. The Python article is the second link in the horizontal news scroll at the top. Nearly everything else on the page is hardware.

No, he's right. I changed it after I saw his comment.

http://anandtech.com is where I get most of my retail hardware news in the PC and portable space.

https://hackaday.com/ is good for hardware hacking, though it leans heavily towards Arduino and Raspberry Pi platforms. Most articles that aren't about one of those platforms tend to be about retro-computing, 3D printing, repurposing hardware, and similar topics.

https://phoronix.com is great for Linux-specific hardware reviews, and is worth a subscription; Michael Larabel is one of the hardest working people on the Linux news scene.

sci.electronics.design on Usenet is quite helpful. I've been able to get help there with obscure problems in switching power supply design.

Because all the clueless people have dropped Usenet, it's mostly people who know what they're doing. comp.lang.* groups remain useful.

r/electronics is rather lame. Current top articles:

* Join fellow redditors in delivering happiness to one another around the globe! (AD)

* Interesting7805 at the heart of a Super Famicom (SNES).

* Organization Tip: Old Cassette Cases w/ Labels to Keep Parts Sorted!

* Modded Gopro clone sees through Blu-Ray player

* NJ based Components Distributor with NO minimum order quantity (AD)

Not too helpful.

Electronics people usually get Electronic Design magazine. Mechanical engineering people get Machine Design. (Those are free. New Equipment Digest arrives whether you asked for it or not.)

I like http://www.cnx-software.com (which, despite the name, is more about hardware than software) and http://www.linuxgizmos.com.

I've found that at the forums for Raspberry Pi and other hobbyist gadgets, folks will go off on a tangent about hardware news, often enough to make it interesting.

A strange difference is that for me, software news is much more actionable than hardware. Somebody has to turn a new hardware development into something like a breakout board, often with support software such as drivers, before I can really do anything with it. The stuff that I can support myself, such as peripheral IC's and analog components, doesn't evolve as quickly.

I suppose one could say that software also requires support software (such as Python wrappers) before I can use it, but that seems to happen more quickly.

HN is not limited to software. Hardware news are posted here sometimes and no rules prohibit it.

Indeed, and it may just reflect the relative levels of interest in software and hardware. I think it was attributed to Bill Gates, the early realization that for every person interested in creating hardware, there are 100 people interested in creating software.

The author probably wants a HN-like site where most of the posts and comments are hardware. That's definitely not HN where those are uncommon.

I feel like the IEEE should have a forum on their site. Currently the closest thing outside of Spectrum and their various journals is probably their Facebook page, which is just a Facebook page.

IEEE Collabratec is a weird social networking thing that they have. I think it is trying a little bit too hard to be LinkedIn except LinkedIn is already LinkedIn.

vTools Events is really great but it is obviously intended for organizing face-to-face meetings, workshops, etc.

I do agree that IEEE should just host a phpBB forum (or similar) on their site. Perhaps have a subforum for each Society and Affinity Group and also subfora for various Regions/Sections.

Personally, I visit hackaday.com almost daily. It contains a bit of hardware news along with a bunch of interesting projects (called hackaday.io). Main focus of the website is modding of HW and SW though

Im curious to know what you find out on that. One resource you might enjoy is Jack Ganssle's Embedded Muse. Go through back issues. He and his readers have all kinds of neat tips from tools to firmware tricks. I remember one there and today on Schneier blog was talking about noticing specific analog problems through sound from the waves they leaked. They didnt have equipment onhand so tuned an AM radio or something to it. Most isnt that exciting but those gems slip in there.

Maybe you should aim for something more precise, such as forums about microchips, or keyboards, or soundsystems (there has to be great ressources about those, I have friends who build their own to throw big raves), etc.. I started getting into microbiology and chemistry as I started brewing beer (I'm just here because my roommate is a webdev and I'm interested in entrepreneurship, I can't remember how to code a loop in python and couldn't tell you the difference between AC and DC), and there's nothing great specifically about those sciences. However there are great forums (facebook groups and subreddits in particular, with a good mod team they can be great platforms) for brewing (both professional and home-scale), growing mushrooms, theory behind drug synthesis/purification, and probably a lot more stuff I barely know about.

I would say https://hackaday.com. It doesn't match the format exactly (i.e. story voting w/ aggregated scores for weighting to front page) but it is in the spirit of HackerNews.

Forum, but quality quite okay and if new hardware arrives it gets discussed.


Certainly not popular as HN but it does have some community:


That doesn't fit the main topic. However, I'm glad you shared it because it's awesome. Even the subset of hardware people that are mainly tinkerers should appreciate it.

Almost all major hardware news are submitted on this Hacker News as well.

eetimes and semiengineering as well as r/hardware (although it's a lot less technical) can be interesting

https://lobste.rs/ is similar to HN, but has tags, so you can limit your scope to hardware: https://lobste.rs/t/hardware

It's true but we have barely any hardware news over there either. There's some cool projects in embedded, emulators, etc you might see on occasion. You're not going to learn hardware for the most part. There's also very few commenters in general much less for hardware.

So, it's a nice, high-signal, tech-focused site that a subset of HN readers will enjoy. It's not the site to get hardware advise or HDL from.

There isn't as much of a pop culture around hardware, hence less news.


Good question! We need one! HardOCP used to have some things... And the very first high-end/professional HW benchmarking websites were inspiring.

I think if we could get a couple engineers from each HW manufacturer from different departments to help put together articles, then I think one as entertaining as HN could be built. People just don't hash out HW specs like they used to - and we need a resurgence via an injection of top-skilled onslaught articles written by the actual innovations of today. I'm happy to help coerce them to participate in such an adventure - if some of you will help me :)

This reminds me of https://www.reddit.com/r/Ram/ and the idea of a DRAM subreddit that deals with DRAM like DDR3 and DDR4, hopefully with DRAM experts.

That subs front page has a ton of spam, which was submitted a year ago, so I wouldn't suggest it.

EDIT: On further inspection I think that sub is about the truck 'RAM' and other things.

The point is to take over the subreddit. alienth is one of the mods.

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