A Deadbugged GPS/GLONASS/Geiger Counter

So you think you’re pretty good at soldering really tiny parts onto a PCB? You’re probably not as good as [Shibata] who made a GPS/GLONASS and Geiger counter mashup deadbug-style with tiny 0402-sized parts.

The device uses an extremely small GPS/GLONASS receiver, an AVR ATxmega128D3 microcontroller, a standard Nokia phone display and an interesting Geiger tube with a mica window to track its location and the current level of radiation. The idea behind this project isn’t really that remarkable; the astonishing thing is the way this project is put together. It’s held together with either skill or prayer, with tiny bits of magnet wire replacing what would normally be PCB traces, and individual components making up the entire circuit.

While there isn’t much detail on what’s actually going on in this mess of solder, hot glue, and wire, the circuit is certainly interesting. Somehow, [Shibata] is generating the high voltage for the Geiger tube and has come up with a really great way of displaying all the relevant information on the display. It’s a great project that approaches masterpiece territory with some crazy soldering skills.

Thanks [Danny] for sending this one in.

37 thoughts on “A Deadbugged GPS/GLONASS/Geiger Counter

    1. Yeah. The first 3/4 of the video you think it’s just some generic background music. Then it fades to himself showing it was him playing the whole time, then fades back without explicit acknowledgement. Smooth.

    1. This remind me of a funny comment from a reportage from german television: “But we are in Russia and people know how to find a way.”

      BTW, did you make some progress with your payphone project? Thank you for posting this on your blog, I didn’t know about the existence of DAA interface modules, very usefull stuff!

      (I hope my english is comprehensible…)

  1. I asked my manager to buy pick&place machine and reflow oven for prototyping but this video make me think again…’do I need them?’ Anyway, I just wish my manager doesn’t have a chance to see that.

  2. Imagine lifting a pad halfway through! I once soldered dead bug style one BGA chip, 0.8mm pitch, 100 balls. Got the device working for about 30 seconds, until the CLK pad decided it was too much. Obviously, it was the only clock input.
    Anyway, crazy and awesome build.

  3. “Dead bug”, “Ugly” (another term I’ve heard used to describe this building style) or whatever you want to call it, that is some incredible work. I don’t think I personally would even try this, though I’m not afraid to try soldering surface mount components for projects.

  4. Do anyone know a place where to buy parts to build custom transformers, like the ones used in the video? I’ve searched Digi-key long ago but it seemed not to have them, or I could not find them

    1. They don’t have a lot of choices, but they are there. You just need the right keywords.

      There are Magnetic Cores and bobbins under “Magnetics – Transformer, Inductor Components” in their catalog.

      I have done some of my own winding/rewinding of unshielded inductors e.g. DO3316 from Coilcraft. Count the turns as you unwind them and then calculate the # of turns that the needed inductance. etc. Made myself some small transformer for isolated supplies that way – one is running my cordless phone.

    1. Nothing like it was absolutely necessary. It also served like some kind of a proof it actually worked for those people that’d be reluctant to believe this mess of wires works, I guess there are people like that =)

  5. Ahh, I wish I still had my dead bug LGA-16 LIS331DLH accelerometer I ripped out of an iPod with a heat gun and cobbled it together with MultiWii. I now know how a wire bonding machine feels.

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