Quick fixes for SMD population problems


Here’s a collection of tricks to get over some surface mount prototyping issues the next time you find yourself in a bind. But first we have to address the soldering atrocity seen on most of the components above. [Rxdtxd] admits he’s using a firestick for soldering his SMD parts. The non-brand 40W iron is just about the worst thing he could be using (well, we guess a candle would be worse). Try to overlook those joints and enjoy his solutions to a couple of other problems.

First up is what to do when you lift a fine-pitch trace like would be found on a TQFP footprint. The fix for this is to grab a junked transformer and use a bit of the enameled wire from the wrappings as a jumper. The wire is quite fine, and the insulation will burn off when soldered which means you don’t need to strip it first.

The second and third tricks both deal with resistors. As you can see above he placed two 1K resistors on a single resistor footprint to make his 2k resistor. The 0603 packages were both soldered standing on end, then connected with a lead from a through-hole component. The other resistor hack piles five components on top of each other to build resistance in parallel. This is not a great idea as it will fail over the long-term, but it will get you though the prototyping stage as long it doesn’t require precise tolerance.

One Kindle launcher to rule them


Ask around and chances are you can find a friend or family member that still has their early generation Kindle but doesn’t use it anymore. There are quite a number of different things you can do with them, and now there’s a single Launcher that works for all models of hacked Kindles. KUAL is the Kindle Unified Application Launcher.

Loading the launcher on your device does require that it be Jailbroken/Rooted, but that’s really the entire point, right? Once on your device the system is easy to configure. Menus themselves can be customized by editing the XML and JSON pair for each list. The screenshot on the left illustrates some of the applications you might want to run. We could see a VNC viewer being useful, and everyone likes to have games – like Doom II or the entire Z-machine library – on hand when they unexpectedly get stuck somewhere. But MPlayer? Does anyone actually use their ePaper device to watch videos?

BASH games


Get serious about your shell scripting skills and maybe you can pull this one off. It’s a game of snake played in a BASH shell. It seems like a coding nightmare, but the final product turns out to be organized well enough for us to understand and took less than 250 lines of code.

[Martin Bruchanov] started on the project after pining for an old DOS game called Housenka. It’s another version of the classic Snake game which we’ve coded ourselves and seen in several projects including this head-to-head version using musical recorders as controllers. When using a terminal emulator capable of ANSI sequences the game is displayed in color using extended characters.

We give [Martin] bonus points for the way he wrote about his project. It describes the mechanics most would be interested in, like how the user input is captured and what drives the update function and food generation. The rest of the details can be gleaned by reading through the code itself.

Introducing The Deconstruction: a collaborative experiment


The goal of The Deconstruction is to bring people together (physically and digitally) to share ideas, collaborate, create, problem solve, and have a good time.   The event is open to anyone, anywhere, of any age and skill level.

If you enjoy a bit of good competition and feel like taking on a little bit of a challenge, you should definitely check out The Deconstruction. This event pits a bunch of teams from all over the place against each other in a timed hack-a-thon.  The whole time they are building their project, they’re broadcasting live using their webcams too.

If this brings to mind the Red Bull Creation contest, it is because the root idea is from the same guy [Jason Naumoff], but this is NOT a RedBull thing. When I met with him last year in New York, he clued me in that he was working on something much more open ended and inclusive.  The Deconstruction is that thing. He explained that they’re really hoping to reach out to families, clubs, and high school groups as well as the usual hackerspaces.

Join up, make something cool, have fun.

Military steals idea of anyone who ever tied a cellphone camera to quadcopter


Check out the toy this solder is using. It’s a tiny remote-controlled helicopter. The thing comes in a kit that includes a small tablet through which the nose-mounted camera image can be viewed. These are in use in Afghanistan by the UK Military. The purpose is to help protect foot soldiers by allowing them to perform discrete reconnaissance. What would you pay for this type of life saving technology? How does $31 million for 160 units sound? For that price we expect eight propellers and a cinema quality camera.

The drone is manufactured by Prox Dynamics. They’ve been in development since 2008 and you can bet that a lot of that time went into making it “inaudible” which is the main difference we see between this and hobby-built versions. For now you’ll have to deal with trying to make your own since they will only sell to the government.

The best we can do for you when it comes to video of the thing is prototyping footage from 2009 (after the break). If you have a link to a newer clip we’d love to see it in the comments.

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Web connected treat dispenser appeases the pets


[John] was looking for a project for his newly acquired Raspberry Pi and decided to include his dog in the fun. although his finished project looks a lot like an old time camera, it’s actually a web-connected treat dispenser that uses his dog’s email address for dispensation.

Let’s take a look at the hardware from top to bottom. There’s a camera with a eagle’s eye shot of his furry friend waiting for treats. The cylinder below that is the motor which drives the treat dispenser. You can see the chain tensioner on the back which connects the motor to the tube dispenser in the center of the box. Just above that outlet is the character display which gives feedback to anyone watching the dispenser. Nearing the bottom is a hopper that catches the treats, then flips over to dump them onto the floor. And finally at the bottom is a slot for the Raspberry Pi which drives everything.

Most of [John's] projects revolve around CNC work. In addition to the demo video found after the break there’s a second that focuses on CAD design. About half way through that clip he gives us a close-up tour of all the hardware.

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Learn a little assembly language for the 6502 processor


Evern wanted to write your own Atari 2600 games? This won’t get you quite that far, but it will teach you the very basics. It’s an assembly tutorial for the 6502 processor. The nice thing is that you need nothing more than your browser to participate thanks to the embedded JavaScript emulator which acts as assembler, machine, and debugger in one.

The 6502 was in a lot of early equipment. In addition to the previously mentioned Atari they can be found in the Commodore 64, Apple II, and the original NES. You can even find folks building their own computers around the chip these days (most notable to us is the Veronica project). The guide starts off slowly, providing a working program and challenging the reader to play with to code in order to alter the outcomes. It moves on to an overview of registers and instructions, operators and branching, and culminates in the creation of a simple game.

[Thanks Mathilda]