A Tale of Three Soldering Iron Controllers

[ZL2PD] needed to replace an old Weller soldering station and decided not to go with one of the cheap soldering stations you can find all over the Internet. He has a long story about why he had to design his own controller, but you never have to explain that to us. He kept detailed notes of his journey and in the end, he built three different controllers before settling on one.

He started with a Hakko hand piece that uses a thermistor for temperature measurements. The first iteration of the controller had analog controls. He wasn’t happy with the number of parts in the design and the simple LED display. That led him to replace the controller with an ATTiny CPU and a use a serial LCD.

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ATtiny Hacks: Infrared guidance and navigation

After [trandi] got his hands on a cheap R/C helicopter he realized the difficulties in actually flying a remote control helicopter. Instead of giving up, he decided to reverse-engineer the infrared protocol and then build a decoder around an ATtiny that would send commands to another microcontroller using a serial connection.

The remote’s communications protocol was decoded with the help of a Freeduino and an IR remote analysis sketch [trandi] found on the Arduino website. After importing the data into Gnuplot, there was enough data to write a sketch in Processing to visualize the infrared pulses.

After figuring out the protocol of his remote control, [trandi] built a tiny circuit to decrypt the IR commands and send them over a serial link to another microcontroller. The ATtiny45-based build doesn’t take up very much space on the perfboard making it very easy to mount on any robot of his choosing. He ended up connecting it to a Lego NTX brick allowing him to use the helicopter remote with any Lego build he can dream up.

[trandi] invested a lot of work around a cheap remote control; if the remote broke, all would be for naught. This was remedied with an IR beacon that replicates the function of the remote. The beacon is based on an ATtiny13 and can serve as a stand-alone beacon for autonomous robots or can accept serial commands from a computer. Not a bad build if you ask us.

ATtiny hacks: Roll 2d6 with an ATtiny

A pair of 6-sided electric dice (original in Dutch, here’s the Google Translate link) was sent in on the tip line for our ATtiny hacks theme. We really appreciate the simplicity of the circuit; it really shows how the complexity of discrete components can be cut down with a simple microcontroller.

The circuit is very simple – An ATtiny26 serves as the core of the project. Fourteen LEDs are connected to fourteen pins on the micro. The tiny26 might be a bit overkill. With Charlieplexing, we suspect this build could have been completed with an 8-pin micro like an ATtiny25. The code for the build (written in BASIC with BASCOM-AVR), board files and schematics have all been posted.

We’ve seen a few electronic dice builds before. this build uses an ATmega328 in a hugely overwrought circuit. Compared to what can be done with a 555, the ATtiny26 build provides a very nice middle ground.

Thanks [Roeland] for sending this in.