Minimalistic Circuit Design

[David Terrill], whose exploits we have covered before, has shared with us his techniques for building circuits without a prototype or bread board. [David] managed to incorporate a Dual D flip-flop at the heart of the circuit, as well as an impressive number of transistors, diodes, and other passive components. Unfortunately, the circuit diagram is a little low resolution to really make out the real function, but based on the components, our best guess is a two-output blinking circuit. Maybe for an encore, someone out there will build a circuit built entirely around a battery so that it can be a self-contained system.

Let us know if you have a better copy of this schematic, or a guess at what the circuit does!

Comments

  1. nave.notnilc says:

    reminiscent of freeform BEAM robotics.

  2. Edward says:

    That looks beautiful! Am I weird?

  3. Matthew says:

    I think it’s quite purdy, too. Ever searched google for photos of wiring closets? Some are practically orgasmic.

  4. Skitchin says:

    You guys look at this and see beautiful. I certainly appreciate the skill involved, but when I look at it, I think soldering burns and extreme frustration :P. Imagine all the space that was saved making this in 3 dimensions rather than laid out flat on a circuit board.

  5. GMan says:

    I look at it and think “What a pain in the keester to mount, debug or repair”.

  6. 3ldon says:

    I have built switch mode power supplies from scratch like this, then sealed them in custom sized copper boxes filled with oil.

    Extreme frustration pretty much sums it up, but it was cheaper and more rewarding than buying high power density smps’ back in the day.

  7. DerAxeman says:

    This guy should look into using some surface mount components too. He could really shrink the size.

  8. Dennis Booth says:

    I would like a viewable copy of the schematic…
    Dr.Booth@gmail.com
    http://bomarc.org

  9. vaevictus0 says:

    the 7474 has all the 2nd D flipflop I/O’s to ground, and the following on the first D:
    pin 1 is CLR,
    pin 2 is D, wired to pin 6 Q’
    pin 3 is CLK
    pin 4 is PR tied to VCC
    pin 5 is Q out
    pins 8-13 tied to 7 GND.

    The first bus of the transistors is Vcc, but after that i get lost in the resistors and etc.

  10. alvare says:

    errrrrr but I always solder like that, especially when making DC power supplies, the capacitors and the bridge go right in the transformer output wires.

  11. In the same spirit, here’s a 556 (pair of 555)’s wrapped with passives. Wires lead to a solar cell and a tiny speaker. The whole thing wedges above the lightbulb in my old refrigerator. If the light stays on for 2 minutes, the speaker buzzes. One 555 is the delay, the other is the buzzer.

  12. spiderwebby says:

    it’s… beautiful

  13. Skitchin says:

    @Camille Goudeseune: Awesome! Now if I had built one of those a month ago I would have saved some dairy products. Fridge got left open over night and I didn’t think it was going to come back to life, some strange noises and 2 hours later and the fridge was working again. Would really enjoy some additional photos!

  14. @Skitchin: Glad you like it. Click on my name in this comment for a tarball of all 6 photos.

    The passive components were random junkbox finds. Layout was improvised one component at a time.

    Be warned that the packing tape covering a cheap photocell will eventually melt, when contacting a lightbulb.

  15. Joshua says:

    Like building missiles guiding systems in the 60ties, as highly integrated circuits where unaviable and you had to fit it into a cylindric shape.

  16. Andr0id says:

    Looks a lot like the 1960′s solid state tubes from EE.
    http://www.nmscientific.com/images/t643FlipFlopOpen.JPG

  17. Acedio says:

    “Maybe for an encore, someone out there will build a circuit built entirely around a battery so that it can be a self-contained system.”

    You mean an iPhone? ;)

  18. Sean says:

    They may not be freeform, but Sijosae has some amazingly small and beautiful headphone amps: http://www.headphoneamp.co.kr/ftp/sijosae/Gallery/

    Check out this one:
    http://www.headphoneamp.co.kr/ftp/sijosae/Gallery/A47/A47-2a.jpg

  19. DB says:

    @DerAxeman: I’ve just finished an astable mv. built with SMDs, 1206 for the resistors and SOT-23 for the transistors. The caps and LEDs were toaster-ovened off of whatever board they used to be on. It took about 4 hours to build, and ended up about the size of a dime, and not much thicker.

    To me, it’s not as visually impressive as the Terrill’s work, since most SMD parts are black. I’ll stick to toaster-oven reflow for future work.

    There’s a pic. at http://home.earthlink.net/~drbarrall/

  20. Robert says:

    Is it a pager motor walker a la Mark Tilden and solarbotics.net? Are the two rectangles in the bottom right of the circuit the motor connections?

  21. Rolan says:

    I used to make stuff like that and then to make it even more difficult to troubleshoot.. encase the whole thing in hot melt glue.

  22. jwscholar says:

    Wow… that is AWESOME! :D

    Inspiring, even… I might try that for a circuit I’ve been gathering parts for.

  23. Iv says:

    Now do the same in SMD ;-)

  24. DB says:

    @Iv: Don’t bother until there are some more colorful SMDs. I’ve made a simple circuit including a battery, some pics are on posted, just click my name.

  25. vic r says:

    We use to call them cordwood modules, or welded wire modules. A piece of mylar top and bottom with holes allowed very large circuits to be built. Component leads were left long on the bottom layer for pluging into large circuit boards which then could be plugged into mother boards. Quite common in the old days.

  26. yet another old guy says:

    This was (circa-1970s) commonly called “dead bug” construction, and is pretty much the same as (1915-1960) vintage bread-boarding, minus the plank of pine (aka the bread board).

  27. walt says:

    the site has been updated with a description and more pictures. the circuit adds din sync to a drum machine that was thought to be unsyncable. he’s still not giving up the schematic.

  28. Leef_me says:

    Years ago there was a hand-held frequency meter construction project in Popular Electronics (IIRC). It was made of DIP package parts that had the packages glued together with model cement and then the connections were made with thin insulated wire. The readout was made of 7-segment displays. Then layers of acrylic plastic were glued to form the case.

  29. joe says:

    Great post! I have learned something useful information here.

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