Volumetric Circuits

5869061407871295021Building a circuit Manhattan style with small bits of copper and solder is a skill all its own, and building a prototype dead bug style is close to a black art. [Anderson] is taking it to the next level with his volumetric circuits. Not only is he building a free-form circuit that’s also a one-bit ALU, he’s also designing software to make these sort of circuits easy to design and build.

[Anderson] is calling his 3D circuit design software Pyrite, and it does exactly what it says on the tin: creates three-dimensional, grid-aligned physical circuits. Automating the construction of a circuit  is not a trivial task, and soldering all these components together even more so.

With the first prototype of his software, [Anderson] entered the schematic of a simple one bit ALU. The resulting layout was then carefully pieced together with solder and hot glue. It didn’t work, but that’s only because the schematic was wrong. Designing the software is still an incredible accomplishment, and now that [Anderson] has a rudimentary system of automatically designing free form and dead bug circuits, there are a lot of interesting possibilities. Ever wonder if the point to point wiring found in old radios was the most efficient layout? [Anderson] could probably tell you.

You can check out a few videos of [Anderson]‘s work below.

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Hand soldering BGA parts should be a circus act

Okay, we think it’s questionable when people say they have no problem soldering QFN packages, but BGA? Granted this chip has far fewer balls on it than many, but it’s still quite impressive that [Xevel] was able to solder this BGA breakout by hand.

The chip you see above is a TMP006 infrared temperature sensor from TI. [Xevel] picked up the part but didn’t want to break the bank when prototyping by buying a proper PCB to host it. There are only eight conductors on it, arranged in a grid with 0.5mm pitch. That didn’t seem to scare him off, as the video after the break shows him connecting each to a conductor on a hunk of stripboard.

[Xevel] mentions that this is a dead-bug style project. Usually you glue the part upside down when using that technique, but it needs line of sight to get an accurate temperature reading so he first cut a hole in the substrate. We’d bet he’s using wire-wrapping wire to make the connections. It’s a very fine solid core wire which is perfect for this kind of work.

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Got Dead Bugs In Your Stereo?

It happens to the best of designers, spending untold amounts of time designing a complex device just to find out that you missed a trace, or you couldn’t rout something to something else. As time marches on its becoming a bit less common to pop open a commercially produced device and see a little jumper wire or 2 flying across a pcb, or a resistor straddling an IC.

But when [Ilektron] opened up a Yamaha Dolby Pro Logic receiver to scavenge for parts he saw a very big “oops” and a even wilder fix. The maker took a pair of relays, flipped them “belly up” and hot glued them into place on top of a pair of ICs. Then the mess was “dead bug” wired to the circuit using insulated and uninsulated bus wire, contacts were then reinforced / insulated using more hot glue.

This is one of the most hacky fix we have seen in a commercially produced product, but we would love to hear your amusing horror stories of “WTH did they do?” So join us in the comments after the break.

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