USB microscope used for soldering very small things

solder

Lasik eye surgery is pretty common these days, but there are of course easier and cheaper ways to solder SMD components. [techpawpanda] wanted a video camera to see what was going on when he placed and soldered very tiny components on his board, but commercial SMD video cameras were terribly expensive. He wound up using a USB microscope to place and solder these tiny parts, and we’re thinking his SMD soldering station is the bee’s knees.

[techpawpanda]‘s video-based SMD station is built around a USB microscope available at the usual online retailers for $40. This camera is mounted on a wooden base with a USB hub allowing the camera to be plugged in along with a few USB LED lights and a USB fan for a rudimentary form of fume extraction.

The results are impressive – even at 11x magnification, [techpawpanda] can put paste on pads and place even the smallest SMD parts. All this in a device that is small enough to fit in a shoe box, or be tucked neatly away whenever it is not needed.

Breaking the new Neo Geo handheld wide open

neo

In case you weren’t aware, there’s a new Neo Geo console on the block. It’s called the Neo Geo X and brings back more than a few pains of nostalgia for classic arcade games of the 90s. After receiving their brand new Neo Geo portables, members of the Neo Geo forum decided to do a teardown on one of their newest consoles and found something interesting: this thing was made for hacking.

Officially, the Neo Geo X will get new games released on SD cards. The first run of these consoles – the gold edition – have 20 games preloaded onto the system convientently stored on a microSD card buried underneath the screen. After looking at this microSD card, forum user [Lectoid] discovered the 20 preloaded games and the bios for the system, all completely unlocked and ready for hacking.

Already a few forum members have  the AES Unibios running on this tiny portability Neo Geo, giving them the capability to play every Neo Geo game ever made. Since the Neo Geo X uses the same processor as some other handhelds, there’s great hope for completely unlocking this new console and running emulators on it.

[Prusa] interviews a whole bunch of RepRappers

prusa

Any time a media outlet or conference wants an expert on 3D printing there are two people to turn to. The most famous is [Bre Pettis] of MakerBot. The other is an awesome guy named [Prusa], designer of the most popular RepRap and possibly the most popular 3D printer of all time. He’s been putting his fame to use by interviewing all the big names in 3D printing and putting them all up on his YouTube account.

First up is [Kliment], RepRap core dev and creator of the Sprinter firmware and Pronterface host.

[Ruben Lubbes], RepRap community guru, tells [Prusa] about his collection of RepRap parts from famous RepRappers. It sound like a quite interesting collection that’s probably very valuable from a historical perspective. Who knows, in a few years it could be as interesting as [Gutenberg]‘s first printing press or [Tim Berners-Lee]‘s NEXT cube.

Next up is [Tonokip]. He developed the original Tonokip firmware, the firmware that all major RepRap firmwares are based on.

[Prusa] also interviewed [Jordan Miller] a.k.a. [jmil] of the Philly hackerspace Hive76 and the University of Pennsylvania. He made his name in the RepRap community for 3D bio printing.

Wrapping up the most interesting people, there’s also an interview with [Sound], developer of the Slic3r firmware. We’ve seen an interview of [Sound] before, and this interview continues the earlier one by talking about multiple extruders and how awesome the RepRap community is.

Lastly, and unfortunately, is a short video of [Prusa] interviewing me at the world Maker Faire last September[Prusa] is a huge fan of Hackaday, so this interview is just two guys being star struck at each other.

Actually, the 2012 World Maker Faire had the largest number of current and former Hackaday alumni in one place ever. A group interview of  [Ian] (now of Dangerous Prototypes), [Phillip Torrone] (Adafruit), [Phil Burgess] (Adafruit), current Hackaday boss man [Caleb] and myself would have been awesome. We’ll try harder next year.

You can check out the good videos after the break.

Engadget trying out some crowd-funding

eng-insert-coin-logo-article-1356645135

Engadget has decided to give this whole crowd-funding thing a try with a competition called Insert Coin. This is part of an upcoming event called Expand that is supposed to let us get inside information on gadget construction and conception. This actually sounds refreshing compared to the giant commercial that other tech conferences can be (This is why Hackaday has never returned to CES).

Insert Coin is a contest that has hardware at the forefront. If you qualify, you could win $25,000 for your device as well as $1,000 to come show it off at their event.

[Read more...]

Bluetooth hack for Serioux Panda speakers

bluetooth-powered-panda-speakers

[Bogdan] received this set of Serioux Panda speakers as a gift. I turns out that they sound very good and he decided to make them more useful to him by converting them to work as Bluetooth speakers.

To begin with he bought the cheapest A2DP device he could find. This is the protocol that identifies a Bluetooth audio device. The unit is designed to provide a Bluetooth connection for a set of headphones. He patched into the headphone port on that board, but also wanted to keep the option of using the Panda speakers’ line-in. To do this he added a 1k resistor to each of the audio channels. A connection was made from the 5V rail of the speakers to power the Bluetooth module rather than leaving it with its own battery.

Speaking of batteries, the Panda speakers can run from three AAA cells. This battery compartment was a perfect place to mount the add-on hardware. But the speaker can still be powered from a USB connector. Above [Bogdan] is using a portable USB power supply.

Make your own machinable wax

wax

No matter how easy it is to throw a piece of metal or plastic onto a tool and start making chips, the price of materials does add up. [rawkstar320] has been using machinable wax – a very hard wax that is up to the task of being cut with tools spinning at thousands of RPM – to reduce his material cost, simply remelting every part with a mistake. This wax can be made at home, it turns out, and [rawkstar] is glad to walk us through the process.

The creation of machinable wax begins by melting a few pounds of paraffin wax in a home deep fryer. Machining pure paraffin would gum up the works of just about any machine, so [rawkstar] throws a few plastic polyethylene bags into the already melted wax.

After casting and cooling, these blocks of wax are ready to be surfaced with a tool and milled into any part [rawkstar]‘s workshop is capable of. As a bonus, all of the chips produced from this wax can be recycled and melted down again making for a somewhat renewable material that is perfect for prototyping or casting.

Nerf Sentry Gun for the Apocalypse

nerf-sentry

If you’ve ever wanted to shoot someone with a Nerf gun, but just didn’t have the energy to get off the couch, this hack may be for you. It’s also a good way to ward off zombies if another apocalypse, Mayan or otherwise, is on the horizon.

Although the effects are very cool, as seen in the video after the break, the method for making this setup was quite simple. The requirements for this project were that the gun could not be permanently modified, and everything had to fire automatically. These restrictions may have contributed to the simplicity of the design as many of us would start breaking things before we had to.

Instead of some elaborate hack, the trigger was tied back in the firing position at all times. A relay was then used to interrupt the power supply to the mechanism allowing an Arduino equipped with an infrared sensor to automatically control the firing. The setup is explained after the break, but skip to around 1:55 if you’d rather just see the guns in action. [Read more...]

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