Programmable Game Boy cartridge walk through

We looked at [Gerry's] PLCC based programmable Game Boy cartridge back in May and mentioned that he was working on a how-to video. He did quite a bit more than that. He’s made a PDF version of the instructions but went into deep detail with a collection of four videos on his YouTube channel. We’ve embedded all four after the break. They include an introduction and background about the cartridges, desoldering the ROM chip, preparing sockets and wire, and making the solder connections. Whether you’re interested in this particular hack or not, seeing [Gerry's] soldering practices make the videos worth watching.

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Wire glue

wireglue2

[John P. Barker] writes up an interesting product called Wire Glue. This conductive adhesive is a paint-on alternative to soldering. At first it seems like a bizarre product but we can think of a few uses. Who hasn’t had a solder joint on a free-formed circuit break? One thing’s for sure, we’d recommend throwing a resistor into that LED circuit he’s working on.

Tools: Aoyue 968 3-in-1 soldering and rework station

aoyue968-front

The $10 “fire-starter” is the most common beginner soldering iron. These are simple irons with a hot end, a handle, and little else. There’s no temperature control or indication. Despite their simplicity, they’ll do just about anything. You can solder any legged chip type with this type of iron. We used fire-starters in the lab for years.

Eventually, we wanted a hot air rework tool to salvage SMD parts and solder QFN chips. Aoyue is a relatively unknown Chinese brand that makes soldering stations very similar in appearance and function to Hakko. Aoyue stations are recommended and used by Sparkfun Electronics, something that factored heavily in our decision to buy an Aoyue. Read more about our experiences with this tool after the break.

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PID SMD reflow hot plate

pid_hotplate

[mightyohm] put together a nice piece of lab kit. It’s a PID controlled hot plate. The plate is capable of reaching 500F, hot enough to do SMD reflow soldering. The large chunk of metal has a hole drilled through the center to contain a cartridge heater. A thermocouple is used to monitor the temperature of the plate. Ceramic standoffs separate the plate from the rest of the device, but he still needs to come up with a way to stop the radiant heating. The control box houses the surplus PID controller along with the power switch and solid state relay (SSR).

Making a cold heat soldering iron

cold_heat

Cold Heat soldering irons are pretty cool. They heat up in seconds and cool down just as quickly. [photozz] shows us how we can make one from stuff we probably have sitting around right now. Cold Heat soldering irons work off of resistance, the tip material heats very quickly when electricity is passed through the two halves. Upon assessing what he had lying around, [photozz] realized that graphite would work much the same way.  He modified a regular soldering iron with a new two piece graphite tip, and powered it with an old pc power supply. The end result is quite nice, though it still needs some kind of temperature control.  You may recall seeing other electrical uses for graphite, such as making quick and dirty light.

SMD soldering practice kit


Here’s an interesting kit put together just to help you work on your SMD soldering skills. It’s got 49 SMD LEDs on the front with a programming header and switch jumper. The back has an ATtiny26L and a coin cell. At only 3V, power management is essential; all of the example programs are only addressing one LED at a time (imperceptible to the human eye). If you turn on too many LEDs at the same time, the voltage drop could cause the AVR to reset. Included example programs are a scrolling marque, bouncing balls, and Conway’s game of life. SparkFun has tutorials for regular SMD soldering and using a reflow skillet. The video below shows the kit builder attaching just one LED using the heat and slide method.

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How-To: The Hacker’s Soldering Station


A good soldering station and fume extractor is a must for anyone interested in hacking and modding, but not everyone can afford the expensive professional models on the market. This How-To and the tips within it will guide you through the process of building an inexpensive homebrew fume hood complete with built-in time and temperature controlled soldering station and all the soldering tools you need.

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