Giving an ATX bench supply the case it deserves

Your bench supply doesn’t need to look sad just because you’re using an ATX power supply instead of a commercial product. Follow [Ian Lee's] example and you could have beautiful wooden enclosures for the tools in your own shop.

The woodworking skills used here aren’t all that advanced, but you need to have a knack for it so we suggest running some test pieces before you start the actual build. [Ian] ran a dado for the front and back panel in each piece of the wood sides. At each corner the inside of the the pieces were mitered at 45 degrees. To put it all together he laid the pieces end to end on a the work bench, then applied painters tape to the outside of the joints. This holds the joints together so that he can flip the collection over, apply glue, and then start hinging the sides into place. It’s almost like rolling up a box.

As with other ATX supply projects we’ve seen [Ian] designed this so that the PSU can be swapped out later if necessary. Instead of wiring his own cable harness he used an ATX breakout board. To get the interface layout he wanted he mounted the banana jacks separately and just ran jumper cables back to that board.

Resizable ARM dev board; just take some off the top

[Bob Alexander's] most recent project is a hack saw resizable ARM breakout board. He wanted to start using more ARM microcontrollers in his projects and went for a breadboard friendly design. It uses a 40-pin dip package, but if you need the horsepower but not the I/O you can literally cut it down to size. We might recommend grabbing some tin snips, which can cut through a PCB like butter, but to each his own.

The board is based around an STM32 chip. You’ll find a crystal oscillator for the system clock, and a clock crystal if you need it. On the other side of the chip he included a footprint for a voltage regulator. This setup provides a remarkable range of input voltages, accepting from 2 to 3.6 volts without the regulator, and up to 16 volts if the regulator is present. He designed a package footprint that can be easily bridged if there’s no SMD part there. Just make sure you insulate that pad if you are using one with a conductor on the bottom. He explains this in detail in his writeup.

You’ll need a programmer to work with the board. He uses an STM32 Discovery Board for this but there are quite a few other options out there too.

[Scot] whips up breakout board for his ARM breakout board

[Scot Kornak] got his hands on the new STM32 Discovery Board. He got his as a free giveaway, but at only $18 he probably would have picked one up anyway. His one complaint about the device is that he dual pin-headers which break out the ARM processor’s pins are not the most convenient for hooking up external components. He decided to make his own breakout board which would give him a more robust solution for the components he uses all the time.

The protoboard that he chose as a base is quite interesting. It’s made for interfacing DIL pin headers just like the ones on the STM32F4 Discovery board. Each row of the dual header is carried down the board perpendicular to those headers. [Scot] cut the traces underneath the STM32 board to isolate the right and left sides. He then added RS232 hardware to one side, while including another pair of DIL headers to break out the rest of the unused pins.

This is all he’s got so far, but there’s plenty of room on the base board to add more as the need arises.

DIY breadboard modules for easy prototyping

[Rajendra] got tired of building the same basic circuits time and again on the breadboard. He decided to build some simple, modular circuits on protoboard and make them easy to interface with the breadboard. As you can see, he ended up with seven modules that make prototyping faster and easier.

At first glance some might not seem all that beneficial. For instance, making a board for an 18-pin PIC microcontroller into a single-in-line form factor would seem like you’re actually wasting breadboard space when compared to the DIL package of the chip. But consider that the oscillator and its capacitors, reset button, and programming header are also on the breakout board and will not have to be built in place. There are also several I/O boards, one with five buttons, another with an LED bar graph, and a set of LEDs with a SIL resistor package on-board. These modules can be plugged into a breadboard and wired up with jumper wires, or connected directly to the same rows as the microcontroller module.

Making a 3D printer work wirelessly

Looking for more ways to enhance his 3D printer, [JJ] decided to make it wireless. He got his hands on some $10 Bluetooth modules and figured this would be just the thing to make the link with his laptop.

They came as surface mount modules, so the first thing he had to do was develop a breakout board that he could patch into his Ultimaker 3D printer. This provided a nice opportunity as he needed to do some level converting to make the 3.3V module play nicely with his 5V CNC electronics. The first version of the board turned out well but he had really a poor communications range. The second version, which is pictured above, hangs the module’s antenna off the edge of the breakout board and works a lot better.

We’ve embedded a clip after the break that walks through the development of this board. [JJ] shared the Eagle CAD files as a megaupload link, but we’ve also mirrored the file after the break for your convenience.

[Read more...]

Cutting out your own breakout boards

[Caleb] needed to use some surface mount components when prototyping. Instead of buy a breakout board he made one himself without doing any etching. The process he shows off in the video after the break uses copper tape to layout the traces for the board. It’s quite an interesting method which requires a sharp knife and a steady hand.

He used regular protoboard as a substrate and applied a layer of copper tape on the side without copper pads. From there he poked holes for the DIP pin headers. Now it’s time to do some cutting. [Caleb] removed the band of copper that would fall in between the pins of the surface mount device. He then tacked it in place with one dot of solder and drew the traces from the part to the pin headers. After removing the part he cut out the waste in between each line he drew with marker. What he’s left with is a set of thin traces that connect each pin of the surface mount component to the corresponding through-hole pin header.

This is very time-consuming, but then again so is soldering jumper wires to small-pitch components.

[Read more...]

Surface mount breakout boards

We got a hold of some DS3232 RTC chips in a 20-pin SOIC package. We’d like to have one that is breadboard compatible for easy prototyping but when we searched for SOIC20W breakout board artwork we found none. We used Eagle to design our own and you can see the finished product above which we made using the toner transfer method and cupric chloride.

You’ll find the artwork after the break in case you need to make your own breakout board some day. If you know of surface mount breakout board artwork that is freely available please leave the link in the comments for future use, or send it to us on our tips line and we’ll add it to the post.

Incidentally, the DS3232 is the same as the DS3231 used in the ChronoDot but with the addition of some SRAM. We’ll let you know if we come up with an interesting project for it.

Update: We added 28 SSOP to DIP artwork submitted by [Paul Dekker]

[Read more...]

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