Repairing And Upgrading A HP 16533A Scope Card

In the world of oscilloscopes, as in the rest of the test equipment world, there’s always some trickery afoot. Companies will often offer different models to the market at different price points, in an effort to gain the widest possible customer base while also making the most profit. Cheaper, less capable models are often largely identical to more expensive hardware, save for some software or a couple jumpers that disable functionality. [Alexandre] found just this when working to repair his HP 16533A scope card.

Work began when [Alexandre] received his HP 16533A in the mail after a long wait, only to find the trigger functionality was inoperable. This is crucial on a digital scope, so this simply wouldn’t do. After some research online, a post was found discussing which signals to probe to troubleshoot the issue. It noted that corrosion is a common problem on these units, and that occasionally, a certain resistor goes open circuit and causes problems. Initial measurement showed there was still resistance there, but reading closer, [Alexandre] noted this fateful line:

You might not be able to measure it accurately in circuit. 

Removing the 100K resistor from the board, the part was indeed open circuit. After replacement with a new component, the trigger circuit was again fully operational. With the scope still open, it was then a simple job to execute a further resistor swap which gives the 16533A the functionality and range of the higher-spec 16534A model.

It’s very common for oscilloscopes and other test hardware to be configured this way from the factory. Rigol scopes are particularly popular with hackers for this very reason.

[Thanks to jafinch78 for the tip!]

Pluto (SDR) Goes Ethernet

Pluto may no longer be a planet, but it is still a fun software defined radio (SDR) set up from Analog Devices. The inexpensive radio uses a USB connector and looks somewhat like a network connection to your PC. But what if you want to really use it with a network? [SignalsEverywhere] shows you how to do it using a USB network adapter and a USB connection adapter.

Just plugging a USB dongle into the box isn’t sufficient, an extra power supply is required as well as a minor bit of configuration. The IP address will be static so you might want to use an IP that your DHCP server won’t hand out, or reserve the IP on your local network.

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Big, Slow Rotary Machine Has Multiple Uses

A good majority of power tools in the average workshop are all about speed. Drills, grinders, and  sanders all whizz along at thousands of revolutions per minute. Sometimes though, you need to do things slowly. For that, [bongodrummer]’s big rotary machine build might be just up your alley.

The core of the build is an old washing machine, which supplies both the machine frame and its powerful universal motor. While this can be hooked directly to a power source and allowed to spin away, it’s far more useful with some speed control in place. For this, an Arduino is hooked up to a triac circuit with feedback, allowing the speed to be set just so for whatever operation you have in mind. A set of speed-reducing pulleys helps further for getting down into the double-digit RPM while maintaining smooth rotation. There’s even a timer for extended operation, with parts salvaged from an old microwave.

The machine is built with a large rotating platter on top. By placing a clean white screen on top, the platter is great for taking 360 degree photos of objects automatically. This could be of great use in a photogrammetry setup. Alternatively, by fitting a bowl and plough assembly, the machine can be used to mull green sand for casting purposes.

It’s a versatile build that could be used for anything that needs rotation in the vicinity of 50 rpm. You could even play vinyl records on it if you were so inclined. Of course, if you’ve built a record player out of an old washing machine, we’d certainly like to know about it.

Improving A Conference Badge With 3D Printing

The obsession with over-the-top-hardware conference badges means that we as attendees get to enjoy a stream of weird and wonderful electronic gadgets. But for the folks putting these conferences on, getting a badge designed and manufactured in time for the event can be a stressful and expensive undertaking. To keep things on track, the designs will often cut corners and take liberties that you’d never see in commercial products. But of course, that’s part of their charm.

As a case in point, the OLED display on the 2019 KiCon badge is held on with just four soldered header pins, and can easily be bent or even snapped off. So [Jose Ignacio Romero] took it upon himself to develop a 3D printable mount which integrates with the PCB and gives the display some mechanical support. Any KiCon attendees who are looking to keep their badge in peak fighting condition for the long haul might want to start warming their extruders.

The design of this upgrade was made all the easier thanks to the fact that the KiCon badge is (naturally) open hardware. That meant [Jose] could import the PCB files directly into FreeCAD and have a virtual model of the badge to work with. This let him check the clearances and position of components without having to break out the calipers and measure the real thing.

Playing around with the virtual assembly, [Jose] quickly realized that the mounting holes in the OLED display don’t actually line up with the holes in the PCB; potentially why the screen didn’t get mounted on the final hardware. Once this misalignment was characterized, he was able to factor it into his design: the PCB side gets screwed down, and the screen snaps into printed “nubs” on the top of the mount.

Hackaday Editor-in-Chief [Mike Szczys] was on hand for KiCon 2019, and was kind enough to share the experience with those of us who couldn’t make it in person, including his own bout of hacking this very same badge.

A 32-bit Boost for Your 3D Printer

It might not be the kind of thing you’ve given much thought to, but if you’ve ever used a desktop 3D printer, it was almost certainly being controlled by an 8-bit CPU. In fact, the common RAMPS controller is essentially just a motor driver shield for the Arduino Mega. Surely we can do a bit better than that in 2019?

For his entry into this year’s Hackaday Prize, [Robert] is working on a 32-bit drop-in replacement board which would allow 3D printer owners to easily upgrade the “brain” of their machines. Of course, there are already a few 32-bit control boards available on the market, but these are almost exclusively high-end boards which can be tricky to retrofit into an older machine. It should also go without saying that they aren’t cheap.

With this board, [Robert] is hoping to create a simpler upgrade path for 8-bit printer owners. Being small and cheap is already a pretty big deal, but perhaps equally importantly, his board is running the open source Marlin firmware. Marlin powers the majority of 8-bit desktop 3D printers (even if their owners don’t necessarily realize it) so sticking with it means that users shouldn’t have to change their software configuration or workflow just because they’ve upgraded their controller.

The board is powered by a 72 MHz STM32F103 chip, and uses state-of-the-art Trinamic TMC2208 stepper drivers to achieve near silent operation. The board has an automatic cooling fan to help keep itself cool, and with an XT60 connector for power, it should even be relatively easy to take your printer on the go with suitably beefy RC batteries.

Retrotechtacular: History of Sony Mini Doc Bursts with 1970s Style

The 1970s, it was a time when cameras needed film, phones had cords, and televisions masqueraded as furniture. A time where hi-fi systems were judged by the volume knob feel, and thanks to YouTube user [nefesh22] we have a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what the era was like from the Sony corporate perspective in this mini documentary of the company’s history below. The film was originally created for internal use at Sony’s US manufacturing facilities in San Diego, however, now it now can be watched by anyone with an internet connection.

Sony CRT Testing Rig 1970s

Sony’s corporate ethos of allowing its engineers to drive business innovation is on full display here. For instance how in 1950 Sony introduced the first magnetic tape recorder, the G-Type, in Japan and followed that up with the first portable television, the TV8-301, a decade later. Throughout the 1970s Sony became an innovator in the video space. In fact, the Sony Trinitron brand of color TVs garnered so much notoriety in the television industry that the company was awarded an Emmy in 1973. Though the most telling feature is the documentary’s focus on the 3/4-inch U-Matic videocassette format, a precursor to VHS and Sony’s own Betamax videotapes. Highlighting the “superiority” of those VTR systems of the day really does date the film as those hulking decks failed to penetrate the market beyond early adopters and media companies.

It’s interesting to see how hands-on quality assurance testing used to be. Whether it’s glancing at NPN transistors under a microscope, dialing in the focus on a Super 8 camera, or a quick wave of the degaussing wand before a tube leaves the line, each of the QA tasks were carried out by individual employees rather than the automated methods of today. On an unrelated note, the brief overview of the Sony’s on-site “fiefdom” for its young workforce is a reminder that some ideas may be better left in the past… Google’s Mountain View campus anyone? If anything is to be gleaned from this retrotechtacular retrospective is that we could all use a little more wood-grain in our electronics these days.

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Hackaday Podcast Ep18: Faxploitation! Ikea RFID Hacking, Space Ads, Hydrogen Dones, And Blinkies

Hackaday editors Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys gather round the microphone to spin tales from a week of hacks. All the rage are fax-machine-based malware, a hydrogen fuel cell drone, and bringing color to the monochrome world of the original Super Mario Land. There are at least three really cool LED hacks this week, plus Tom’s been exploring space advertising, Maya’s debunking solder myths, and Elliot goes ga-ga for a deep Ikea electronics hack. Closing out the show is an interview with Bart Dring about his exquisitely-engineered string art robot.

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Direct download (68 MB of audio splendor)

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