Hackaday Links: July 31, 2011

Indestructible earbuds

We’re still waiting for our [Lt. Uhura] style earbuds. But until then, can we interest anyone in a set that will stand up to some abuse?

Solder Pot Scavenger

[Felicitus] says we should get a solder pot and use it to scavenge for parts. His method looks pretty easy and it’s cheaper than buying a rework station for this purpose.

Smartphone cooling

Turn all your hacking skills loose to beat the heat. That’s what [Stephanie] did when she added iPhone control for an oscillating fan.

Tunes calculator

Graphing equations and crunching numbers wasn’t enough for [Drew]. He went and figured out how to make his TI-84+ play music off of a thumb drive.


Don’t let anyone out-geek you at company parties. Beef up your arsenal with this resistor color-code necktie. And yes, you can wear it with a T-shirt!

44 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: July 31, 2011

    1. hehe. it’s almost like you’re trolling

      buy some cheap higher end headphones and use a carry case, and they’ll last forever. for my money Sony EX57 are a good balance between price and sound. my pair are a year old and still like new

      1. i have bought those after reading reviews online and the bass sucks on them to be frank
        and i do keep them in a case i just listen to them nearly 12 hours a day at work and 9 hours at home when my geek gets me
        i use headphones probably a bit more and more roughly than the average person

    1. A time machine back to 1974 giant bow ties or is it the camera Angle? Right the standard tie was for the board room, the bow tie for the stock room. The expectation that labor, or tradesmen wear ties on the job has fallen by the wayside. Hopefully the same will happen for ties in general.

      1. You may notice that Doctors, in particular the pediatric variety, often wear bow ties instead of ties. The reason is that babies like to yank on a dangling tie, whereas its a bit harder with a bowtie. I imagine similar annoyances happen with other professions as well. However, I personally think both are archaic and have not much form or function…

  1. Earbuds; have yet to use any. I suppose my cell phone could function as a 2 Gig mp3 player but I never felt the need to

    The solder pot looks to work well, but I already have a propane torch, air compressor, face shield.

    Tie up 2 arduinos or buy a new fan, if one has to have to have the remote control. Different stokes for different folks, but I’d buy the fan.

    No matter how far out a neck tie is,it’s still I neck tie, I avoid them as much as possible.

  2. Word of warning though, re-heating chips ages them pretty fast. If the device is already old, it might not be worth the effort because it will bring things like amplifiers and filters out of tune.

    I’ve done repair work on RF amplifier boards that are built on a thick copper substrate, that have bounced back in testing. You put it on a hot-plate with a heat gun above, quickly swap out the defective parts, add solder, and then slide it onto a peltier-cooled plate. You’re only supposed to do one re-heat on a board because it ages the components 4-10 years worth of use when you fix it.

  3. I don’t get the reasoning behind the ironbuds. I’ve got a pair of Sony earbuds — MDR-NC33 — that are not only excellent in terms of comfort and quality, they also have noise cancelling. And only $10 more than the top end of these ironbuds ($58). Certainly not an unreasonable price for quality earbuds, and I’ve had these for a while now, using them every day, giving them a fair bit of abuse, and never had a problem with them. How about a durable MP3 player? My iPods and other players break far more often than my earbuds…

  4. Solder pot looks super dangerous…molten metal and all. Do they make smaller ones with maybe 1 CM or so of solder depth? I don’t need like 6 FL oz…just a little to give me the rising-heat-localized-reflow effect. Any need for serious ventilation with that, and how does it treat the PCBs sitting on molten solder?

    1. Well the smoke you usually get when soldering is actually the flux. You can’t heat up tin-solder that it becomes gas-state. However, PCBs can emit hazardous gases so ventilation comes in handy (we actually use it, you can see it in the upper left corner when the cam shakes).

      We have quite good results with the desoldered parts, my estimate of 20% of all desoldered parts being broke seemed to be too much – now I guess it’s more like 5 to 10%. Of course, desoldering action could reduce the overall lifetime of the parts, so if you need something that lasts several years, then you should buy new components just to be sure.

      Some parts are less fragile to heat than others; for example, oscillators and crystals are virtually immune (unless you heat them up for a very long time). ElCaps are a bit more sensitive, ICs are somewhere in the middle. As the video is real-time, you can see that we usually don’t take too long to remove the parts, so most of them will be just fine.

      Temperature is 350°C for our pot. Smaller pots usually won’t do the trick, it’s hard enough with our solder pot for some stuff as the component area needs to be covered by the pot.

  5. “i need good bass for meh techno”

    Then you need to listen from something other than earphones. You can’t really produce solid bass from such a small driver.

    But overall, the idea of a modular earplug system is quite sound.

      1. Skullcandy has been proven to be the same cookie cutter buds produced by many low end companies. They’re just re-branded and repackaged at different price points. I don’t want to say they’re worthless, I keep a set at my desk at work, but good headphones they’re not. They’re adequate and better than the junk that comes with devices.

        Just because they throw out lots of bass, does not mean they have good quality sound. In fact, it usually means (especially at their price points) they’re muddying up other frequencies and actually changing the music you’re listening too for the worse.

        Clarity, throughout the spectrum, and true reproduction is what defines a good set of headphones or speakers. Skullcandy has appealed to a demographic that enjoys music with less sound complexity, and that’s all I’ll say about that if you can read between the lines.

        Music that has more than three different frequencies will greatly benefit from something with a little more range and quality than what Skullcandy can offer.

  6. What is the temperature like for the solder pots? It looks like a nice easy way of getting components off but I’m wondering if it’ll cause damage due to overheating.

    The video shows him just holding the PCB against the pot and removing the components one by one so the later components will have been heated up a lot more. When soldering you’re not supposed to have the soldering iron on the joint for too long because of this risk. If you can’t make the joint properly then you have to wait for it to cool down and try again.

    1. Yes, the risk to damage parts is existant. usually parts don’t break immediately, but their lifetime is reduced when applying too much heat. See my comment above; usually you will want to use those parts for test stuff, not for projects which will last years. Then it’s better to buy new stuff. But for doing a proof of concept, breadboard stuff etc they will do fine.

  7. I just pledged my $94 (extra $8 for shipping) for 2 sets of the audiophile Ironbuds (one set for me and one set for the wife, she breaks all her earbuds, and occasionally mine as well)… I think it’s a great idea having everything modular, if anything goes bad on them, you’ll only have to replace that specific section of cable or part, not the entire set…

    Sadly the Android/iPhone version (with volume control and microphone) isn’t available yet… Oh well, not a big deal… I can’t wait to get em and see how they compare to my, much more expensive, Sennheiser CX 880I buds. I’m not expecting miracles but if the sound quality is close enough, they may just replace the Senns for day to day use.

  8. Pant stripping gun works wonders stripping components from old computer boards, and I’ve *never* had a heat damaged IC or SMD from this.

    Free components – yay! (Mind you, the Ardious crowd will actually have to learn some electronics to use them, :evil grin).

  9. RE: Earphones

    I’m very surprised at the lack of tech specs on the earphones, I cannot find ANYTHING to do with the actual specifications, let alone freq response or SPL, the 2 major ones. Kind of weird considering they bloat how their designer worked for big sound company. I’m not going near them until I know what’s in them.

    1. The specs aren’t on the website because they haven’t been finalized yet, they’re still sourcing and testing drivers, connectors, cables and other stuff for the earbuds, trying to find/use the best they can while staying within budget… When they finalize the earbuds, they’ll be posting the spec sheet on their website here:


      But, for $47, you really can’t go wrong for a single set of their highest end earbuds… That amount wouldn’t even get you a mediocre set of earbuds from any other company, let alone one with a fully modular design with kevlar wrapped cables.

      1. Ah, missed that. Hmmm, Lets hope they release info soon, Im still not going to commit until i get more info. For instance, whats the diff between the deluxe and audiophile ones… There are really good $50 headphones out there. The other thing is, my current ones are brilliant, very strong, AND really thin. They roll up into a tiny coil and fit easy in my pocket. I have had some kevlar coated ones before, its really just something fancy to coat it with, it dosnt really provide anything else. Have you ever had a set of headphone where the cable had broken?

    1. yes they do
      they create less resistance at the connection site and rotating the connector wont make as much “fuzzle” in the sound
      we did tests with this freshmen year deciding what connectors to go with to wire the new video room

  10. i like my plantronics but i’ve ran ATLEAST 10 pairs into the ground
    they last 4 or 5 monthes and then the cable fails somewhere
    im at the point where i am going to go out and buy some jackhammering ear muffs or similar and some high quality drivers(or maybe some dirt cheap drivers from a pair of pc speakers, driven at low power) and connecting them to my head with awg 18 or thicker wire

    plantronics audio 90, evolved into audio 350 and now they have something new
    after having to replace some 5 pairs of audio 90s on warrenty, they listened to me and improved the wire in the 350(direct replacment in “basic” full size gaming headset)
    but i abuse headsets, good wire is key to me

    can you buy all components individually?

  11. Repairable high quality earbuds are a good idea, but going from one connector to SIX? Six times the possibility for bad connections. And the extra hanging weight of not only the connectors but the heavy-duty cables would likely make them pop out more easily, and/or make your ears sore with extended use. Ears are sensitive! I’ve discarded as many earbuds/earphones because they were uncomfortable to wear for more than a few minutes, as I have because of failure.

    This is really overkill anyway. If the idea is to make them repairable to protect an investment in a high quality earbuds, it could be done far simpler and cheaper; without extra weight and failure points. Make the earbuds so they can be opened with a screw; instead of a sealed assembly as is typical. Sell replacement “Y” cables with integrated strain reliefs that mate with the earbud casing, and with a tiny two-pin female header on the each end. Plug the header into the mating male connector inside the earbud, line up the stress relief, close the case, and you’re done. Although there is still an extra connector, it can easily be smaller than a 2mm barrel connector, and is no longer subject to external strain. You no longer need separate right/left cables, adapter block, and device cable.

    1. Say what you will…

      I’ve got a favorite pair of Sony earbuds which do exactly what I want them to do.

      They were neither expensive, nor inexpensive, for their performance (I paid about $50 for them).

      I like them a lot, but I’m afraid to use them much because I don’t want to break the absurdly-thin wires that tie the bits together and lose their use forever.

      If they had detachable (and user-serviceable, or at least replaceable) cords using industry standard connectors, though, I’d use them all the time: Worst case is I’d be out a bit of cash for a replacement cordset.

      As it is, however, when the cable breaks the headphones break. And since this model is no longer in production, and other current models are of vastly different design, I’d then have to replace them with something altogether different (which I’m not inclined at all to do, as (again) I rather like this set).

      -Please- give me six easily-repaired mechanical connections and a replaceable wire on a set of earphones which are not of objectionable sound quality.

      Serviceability FTW.

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