Reverse engineering an RGB LED remote

In the quest to add some mood lighting in his basement, [Mohonri] found an infrared wireless remote that is able to control several RGB LED strips. The only problem with this remote is the inability to control it via a wall-mount panel or even a computer. Obviously this would not stand for such a swank basement, so [Mohonri] did the reasonable thing and reverse engineered one of these remotes.

The build started with ripping the remote apart and figuring out how it ticks. [Mohonri] found the small IR LED transmitter and hooked up an oscilloscope to capture some data. After a bunch of trial and error and a big help from relevant documentation he had the entire button matrix – and thus the functions available to the LED strip – available to output via wall panel or computer.

[Mohonri] hasn’t completed his build yet; this was just the reverse engineering and documentation stage. Now, though, it shouldn’t be hard to control the RGB LED strips through an Arduino, a computer, or even an Android/iOS device with a small IR LED plugged into the headphone jack.

Your guide to building a homebrew 6502 computer

If you’ve ever thought about getting down to bare metal and building a homebrew computer from scratch [Garth Wilson] put up a great primer to the 6502, the same CPU found in Apple ][ computers, BBC Micros, Vic-20s, and the venerable Commodore 64 (a 6510 in the C64, but it's close enough).

In his guide to building a 6502 computer, [Garth] goes over all the basics – what you want the computer to do, how to decode addresses, and other important technical requirements for getting a homebrew project running.

If that’s not enough, [Garth] directs his readers to the fabulous forums  where just about every topic is discussed. The guys on the forum have a standardized I2C pinout for the 6502, allowing noobs to easily connect pre-designed keyboards, displays, and storage devices to their projects. There are a ton of tutorials on the site, more than enough to get a homebrew project off the ground.

If you’d like to see what you can do with a homebrew 6502, check out the homebrew projects page featuring a 6502 Nixie clock and CLPD-based 65816 single board computer. There’s a treasure trove of information here, just waiting to be pulled from the vine.

Cruncher: A robotic toy dinosaur dissection

When my children got these interesting and very obnoxious toy dinosaurs last year, I could barely contain my excitement. I knew that one day, they would be on my work bench giving up their secrets. Cruncher is a fairly recent addition to the robotic animal trend that we’ve been seeing the past few years. Imbued with a personality that is a mixture of T-Rex, beagle, and loudmouth jerk, he’s every kids idea of a perfect pet.

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Going from idea to schematic to printed PCB

Building a circuit on a bread board makes life much easier, but eventually you’re going to want a PCB for one of your circuits. Luckily, [Will] from Revolt Lab put up a trio of posts that will take you idea and turn it into a schematic and PCB.

First up is an awesome tutorial on the circuit design program Fritzing. While you won’t find Fritzing on the computer of anyone making a living doing circuit design work – those people usually go for Eagle or KiCad - Fritzing is very easy to use but still has a ton of features. Using Fritzing isn’t very hard, either. [Will]‘s tutorial goes over copying your breadboarded circuit into Fritzing, creating a schematic from the bread board layout, and finally converting that to PCB artwork.

Once you have board artwork for your circuit, you’re probably going to want a real-life PCB. [Will]‘s board etching tutorial goes over the toner transfer method of PCB creation. Basically, print your circuit onto glossy photo paper with a laser printer, put it face down on a copper board, then take a clothes iron to it. If you’re lucky, the laser printer toner will have transferred to the copper making a nice etch resist. To get rid of all that superfluous copper, [Will] used ferric chloride but a Hydrochloric Acid/Hydrogen Peroxide mix will work just as well.

Before you etch your boards, you might want to thing about building an etch tank that keeps all your slightly dangerous chemicals in one container. [Will]‘s etch tank uses a large water container and a few pieces of LEGO to suspend the board in the etch solution. It etches boards a lot faster than laying them face down in a tray, allowing you to go from idea to finished piece a lot quicker.

And so the deluge of resin-based 3D printers begins

It looks like 2012 is shaping up to be the year of the resin-based 3D printer. The latest comes from [Michael Joyce] and is called the B9Creator.  Like other resin printers, [Michael] used a DLP projector to cure the print one layer at a time. The layer height is on the order of 100 microns – crazy for a kit-based printer.

There is a  Kickstarter for the B9Creator where kits are available for $2400 USD. Everything is included in this kit, including the DLP projector and a kilogram of resin. $2400 is much more expensive than even the fanciest melted-plastic 3D printer such as a Makerbot or RepRap, but that’s the price you pay for high-quality prints.

Of course this project comes a month after an earlier, similar, and shadier project called the Veloso 3D printer. The B9Creator promises to be open source once all the Kickstarter machines are shipped out, and [Michael] is very open about his designs and his resin formula – an admirable quality in a maker.

You can check out a load of videos of the B9Creater we found after the break.

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Are your PCBs being tested as claimed?

Florin ordered some PCBs from Iteadstudio, a pcb prototyping service. As part of their service, they claim that all PCBs are tested before they are delivered. However, many have been bringing this claim into question. [Florin] found a complete lack of any markings indicating actual probes had been used on his boards. Though they claim that 100% of the boards are e-tested, they replied to his inquiry somewhat cryptically.

All of the pcb’s have a stripe on the edge,it does not mean they have all been electrically tested ,it is the same as outline .

People on the Dangerous Prototypes Forum have been finding similar results. The company has commented, on this page, that that they will be responding to this soon (back in February)