Tools: Aoyue 968 3-in-1 soldering and rework station

aoyue968-front

The $10 “fire-starter” is the most common beginner soldering iron. These are simple irons with a hot end, a handle, and little else. There’s no temperature control or indication. Despite their simplicity, they’ll do just about anything. You can solder any legged chip type with this type of iron. We used fire-starters in the lab for years.

Eventually, we wanted a hot air rework tool to salvage SMD parts and solder QFN chips. Aoyue is a relatively unknown Chinese brand that makes soldering stations very similar in appearance and function to Hakko. Aoyue stations are recommended and used by Sparkfun Electronics, something that factored heavily in our decision to buy an Aoyue. Read more about our experiences with this tool after the break.

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Tools: Smart Tweezers

st-v

We’re big fans of surface mount parts. SMD components are cheaper, take less board space, and don’t require drilling; all the coolest new parts are only available in SMD packages.

Smart Tweezers are an advanced multimeter tool specifically designed to test and troubleshoot SMD circuits. It automatically identifies resistors, capacitors, and inductors, and displays the relevant measurements. Advanced Devices sent us a pair of Smart Tweezers to review. We used them while building our last few SMD projects, read about our experience with this tool after the break.

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Xbox 360 first impressions

xbox desk

I feel the need to include a disclaimer before getting into this: I don’t own an original Xbox, I own a Playstation 2, I consider myself a casual gamer, I’m a fan of Open Source and not Microsoft.

I purchased this box on the first day because early versions of consoles are generally easier to modify. With the PSP ver. 1.0 it was easy to run homebrew code, but with each successive firmware version, Sony makes it harder. The original Xboxes that are being sold now make it almost impossible to run Xbox Linux because of a hardware change.

Before we get to my experiences, here are some links that you might find interesting.

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