Pin header sizing machine

[Ammon Allgaier] built a tool that can break apart pin headers with a high level of precision. In the video after the break he demonstrates the built-in features. They include an adjustable stop to select the number of pins you’d like in each chopped segment. There’s also a small groove in the input side which the plastic frame of the header rides in. Just insert until it is touching the stop, and push down to break the header at the correct location. A couple of springs return the cutting tooth to its resting position, allowing you to make quick work of chipping up a 40-pin blank. This machine will become a nice companion for that automatic wire cutter.

This is great for single headers but we’ve long been on the lookout for a reliable way to snap off double pin headers. Far too often we make mistakes when trying to use two pair of pliers. If you know of a better way, please share your method in the comments.

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Solar monsters… you know… for kids!

Teaching kids to solder using kits is a fun time, but most of these beginner kits are a bit mundane. Not this one, it’s a solar-powered monster project. The components and their wiring connections are printed on a sheet of paper along with a background for that particular monster. The base of the paper is glued to a block of wood and at each solder junction there’s a copper nail. This way the kids can line up the components, check the picture to make sure the polarization is correct for each, then solder onto the large and stable nail head. As you can see in the video after the break, when the solar cell collects enough electricity the transistor triggers a motor to spin the monster.

But don’t get the idea that kits are only for kids. If you haven’t tried your hand with SMD soldering yet, this kit is for you.

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Update: Atari pause button

The Atari 2600 pause circuit is now available in a kit form. We saw this pause method back in February and the kit uses the same circuit. We don’t really need a kit for this, the board is very simple to throw together. But we do appreciate the detailed installation instructions (PDF) that accompany it. After all, you don’t want to kill you classic gaming rig with a botched install.

[Thanks CPUWIZ]

Headphone tube preamp kit

If you’re curious about tube amps but don’t have a firm enough knowledge base to dive right in you might want to try a kit. [Mark Houston] reviewed one such kit and we enjoyed reading about his experiences. It comes with everything you need save soldering tools, an enclosure, and the final connectors ([Mark] used RCA connectors). There is a full schematic available and the assembly instructions take you through tube matching and using that piece of copper coil you see in the picture to wind your own inductor. Consider trying this primer before you jump into building a single tube, multiple tube, or an amplifier of your own design.

[Thanks Gio]

Intense kit turns Wacom tablet into Cintiq clone

[Lesa Wright] just started selling enclosure kits used to convert a Wacom tabet into a Cintiq clone. You need to start with your own Wacom tablet, there are kits for four different models. You’ll also need to track down some other parts: a compatible laptop LCD screen, controller kit, and some cable extenders. From there, the kit takes over, with several pieces of laser-cut acrylic needing to be glued together properly, then a surprising number of spacers need to be cut from foam board in order to mount everything..

The kits come in at around $225. That might seem a bit steep since you need to bring your own electronics to the party, but have you checked out the price of the original Cintiq? You can expect to drop about twelve-hundred bones on a ready-to-use model. Before you take the dive, you should watch their collection of assembly videos, it’s quite a process.

RGB Keylock Shield

Hackaday alum [Will O’Brien] cleaned up his messy breadboard with an RGB keylock Arduino shield. You may remember this two-part project from last year. It uses buttons backlit by an RGB LED to operate a door lock.

[Will] is still mulling over what type of kit options he will offer. We’re happy to see if the most important part, a laser-cut key bezel, will be available. This makes for a professional looking finish that made the original project difficult to replicate.

STM8S-Discovery: Microcontrollers reach a new low

A complete microcontroller development kit for little more than the cost of a bare chip? That’s what STMicroelectronics is promising with their STM8S-Discoveryseven dollars gets you not only a board-mounted 8-bit microcontroller with an decent range of GPIO pins and functions, but the USB programmer/debugger as well.

The STM8S microcontroller is in a similar class as the ATmega328 chip on latest-generation Arduinos: an 8-bit 16 MHz core, 32K flash and 2K RAM, UART, SPI, I2C, 10-bit analog-to-digital inputs, timers and interrupts and all the usual goodness. The Discovery board features a small prototyping area and throws in a touch-sense button for fun as well. The ST-LINK USB programmer/debugger comes attached, but it’s easy to crack one off and use this for future STMicro-compatible projects; clearly a plan of giving away the razor and selling the blades.

The development tools are for Windows only, and novice programmers won’t get the same touchy-feely community of support that surrounds Arduino. But for cost-conscious hackers and for educators needing to equip a whole classroom (or if you’re just looking for a stocking stuffer for your geeky nephew), it’s hard to argue with seven bucks for a full plug-and-play setup.

[thanks Billy]