Hackaday Links: January 24, 2012

Open source engraving

[Scott] wanted to do some v-carving with a CNC router, but couldn’t find software to generate GCode that didn’t cost hundreds of dollars. He ended up doing the sensible thing and wrote his own that will generate tool paths from CXF fonts. We’ll be bookmarking this for when our router project is done.

Improving Genesis sound output

Dissatisfied with the sound output on his Sega Genesis, [Drakon] installed a few mods into his console. How much could it really affect the sound? Listen to the video. The changeover happens at 0:50. Impressive. Now if only the chiptune scene would get into Segas.

Yes, we did, and now we’re seeding

Here’s an alternative to Thingiverse: The Pirate Bay has a new category for 3D-printable objects. The best file so far? A 1970 Chevelle. US Copyright law does not protect (most) physical objects, so it’s not illegal. Honestly, we can’t wait for somebody to take this to the courts; It’s sure to be an interesting case. Somebody upload a ship hull design and give the EFF a buzz.

Just be glad it’s not a QFN

[Mikey] was pulling a PDIP ATMega8 out of a socket with pliers and a screwdriver and broke the RESET pin. Ouch. He fixed it by soldering on a lead from a resistor. We’ve all done this before, but [Mikey]‘s results look really good. Here’s the gallery.

This might be fake

If you want a second analog stick for your 3DS, you could wait a month and buy a Circle Pad Pro, or install a PSP analog stick. We’re not sure how this would work – the Circle Pad Pro works over IR, and we’re not seeing an IR transmitter on this build. Here’s the source if anyone wants to give this a shot.

A very detailed reflow oven build

smd-solder-reflow-oven

If you do a lot of SMD soldering, a reflow oven is the fastest and most efficient way to get all those tiny components attached to your PCB. [Frank Zhao] saw the reflow ovens we featured here over the last few weeks and figured he might as well show off his rig as well. We’re certainly glad he did, because his very thorough writeup is a great stepping stone for anyone looking to construct a reflow oven of their own.

Like many others, he started off with a used toaster oven, modifying it to be controlled directly via the power cable rather than the oven’s dials. He built a small PCB to regulate the oven, which features an ATmega32u4 and thermocouple to keep the temperature in check. Control of the heating element is done using a solid state relay, for which he built his own heatsink.

He studied the reflow profile of the solder he would be using, programming the microcontroller to regulate the heating/cooling process without requiring any user input, aside from turning the oven on.

Check out the video below to see a brief overview of his system, and be sure to swing by his writeup to take a look at all the build details. There are a handful of additional videos along with plenty of pictures there, walking through each step of the process.

[Read more...]

Video: Soldering our PIC development board

For those of you who followed along with our Eagle CAD series, here is the final payoff where we assemble the circuit board that was designed. In this video, [Jack] explains where things will go on the board and then shows you how to solder the parts. For the advanced folks out there who haven’t moved to solely surface mount parts when you can get away with it, he shows an easy way to solder the processor, which is a TQFP-44 part. This can seem like a daunting task but it really isn’t.

If you would like to make your own board like this, you can find the files here. Please note that although this board shouldn’t have any issues, we haven’t tested it ourselves yet. [Jack] is going to do some videos about a different topic for a few weeks but will pick back up with this board again when they are done.

Video is after the break. [Read more...]

One-man SMD assembly line shares a lot of tips about doing it right

Need to use that antiquated hardware that can only be connected via a parallel port? It might take you some time to find a computer that still has one of those, or you could try out this USB to Parallel port converter. It’s not limited to working with printers, as the driver builds a virtual parallel port that you should be able to use for any purpose. But what we’re really interested in here isn’t the converter itself, but the build process. [Henrik Haftmann] posted a three-part series of videos on the assembly process, which you can watch after the break.

The build is mostly surface mount soldering with just a handful of components that need to be hand soldered. The first of his videos shows him stenciling solder paste onto the boards. From what we can see it looks like he built a nice jig for this using scrap pieces of copper-clad which match the thickness of the PCB, and hold it and the stencil securely in place. There’s a bunch of other tips you can glean from the videos, like the image seen above. It’s a clamp that holds the PCB and USB jack together while they are soldered.

If you’re ever thinking of assembling a bunch of boards you should set aside thirty minutes to watch them all.

[Read more...]

How to add modular tools to your soldering platform

[Patenomics] has had some trouble finding a suitable place to work on projects in his tiny apartment. Lately he’s taken to using the stove top as a soldering platform and was looking for ways to protect the stove while adding functionality. He built this soldering platform from a couple chunks of pegboard and some hardware store parts. He’s in for under $15 and has a really functional platform that may be worth adding to your solder station.

The two pegboard pieces are held in place by threaded rod and some nuts. This hardware also lends itself to adjustable feet so that you can make the platform level and stable. The holes in the top and bottom sheets line up to receive and securely position some additional tools. Here you can see that bendable copper pipe keeps some alligator clips right where they’re needed, but future plans include adding lights, clamps, and lasers.

This makes a nice work platform to go along with your other portable electronic bench tools. But if you’ve really got the itch, you’ll eventually outgrow all of this and then it might be time to find yourself a hackerspace to join.

SMD Soldering with Gas

[desimon] had a wanted to use some accelerometer chips, but their 3x3mm 16-VFQFN packages made it pretty darn hard to solder by hand. While there are endless ways to approach this, we found this one peculiarity interesting from his use of a gas torch, though it is pretty much hot air reflow.

A PCB for the tiny devices is etched and tinned, the pads have a healthy but not overdone amount of solder applied to them. A liberal coat of flux, rough alignment of the chip and a few gentle passes from the torch and the hobby grade solder melts while the surface tension pulls everything into final alignment.

Having personally used a hot air gun a number of times (and also burning my hand about the same number of times) the localized heat of the torch does make more sense, and there is virtually no heat up time for it either, though it appears just as easy to scorch the board. It is a live flame so be careful!

Electronics tutorial two-fer: soldering skills and wires

electronics_tutorial_twofer_soldering_skills_and_wires

There is a plethora of electronics tutorials scattered about online. Sometimes it can be hard to separate the good ones from the bad, and the enlightening from the misinformed. We recently came across a pair that we found helpful, and thought they would appeal to anyone starting off in electronics.

In this video tutorial, [Dave Jones] at the EEVblog covers soldering, detailing good practices and common mistakes to avoid when working with through-hole components. As the second video in a series he picks up where part one left off, excitedly demonstrating the ins and outs of good soldering skills.

Hackaday reader [grenadier] is working on a series of beginner’s electronics tutorials, and this week’s entry covers wiring. He discusses wire types, gauges, and even provides a nifty self-computing chart that calculates power loss based on the length and gauge of the selected wire. Before wrapping things up, he briefly touches on fuses and the pitfalls of choosing wire that’s not up to the task at hand. While you’re over there looking over his tutorial, be sure to check out the Junkbox, there’s plenty of awesome stuff to be had!

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