[Learnelectronics] purchased some near-field EMI probes for his tiny spectrum analyzer for about $5 on sale. Could they be any good at that price? Watch the video below and find out.
The probes arrived as a kit with four probes: three circular ones for sensing the H field and a stubby probe for sensing E fields (although the video gets this backward, by the way). There’s not much to them, but for the price, it probably isn’t worth making them yourself if your concern is the cost. Now, if you just want to make your own, we get that, too, but don’t expect to save much money.
Continue reading “Near Field EMI Probes: Any Good?” →
Anyone who has done any amount of 3D printing with SLA printers is probably well aware of the peeling step with each layer. This involves the newly printed layer being pulled away from the FEP film that is attached to the bottom of the resin vat. Due to the forces involved, the retraction speed of the build plate on the Z-axis has to be carefully tuned to not have something terrible happen, like the object being pulled off the build plate. Ultimately this is what limits SLA print speed, yet [Jan Mrázek] postulates that replacing the FEP with an oxygen-rich layer can help here.
The principle is relatively simple: the presence of oxygen inhibits the curing of resin, which is why for fast curing of resin parts you want to do so in a low oxygen environment, such as when submerged in water. Commercial printers by Carbon use a patented method called “continuous liquid interface production” (CLIP), with resin printers by other companies using a variety of other (also patented) methods that reduce or remove the need for peeling. Theoretically by using an oxygen-permeating layer instead of the FEP film, even a consumer grade SLA printer can skip the peeling step.
The initial attempt by [Jan] to create an oxygen-permeating silicone film to replace the FEP film worked great for about 10 layers, until it seems the oxygen available to the resin ran out and the peeling force became too much. Next attempts involved trying to create an oxygen replenishment mechanism, but unfortunately without much success so far.
Regardless of these setbacks, it’s an interesting research direction that could make cheap consumer-level SLA printers that much more efficient.
(Thumbnail image: the silicone sheet prior to attaching. Heading image: the silicone sheet attached to a resin vat. Both images by [Jan Mrázek])
When a friend of [Tom Verbeure] came into possession of two HP 33120A 15 MHz function/arbitrary waveform generators, he could not resist giving them a try. Although not exactly high-end units, the HP 33120A makes for a pretty nice unit for a home lab. During the first test run, however, [Tom] discovered that one of the units had a dead output, which made it rather useless. Undeterred, [Tom] set to work diagnosing it, helped by the repair manual and full schematics.
While the cause was quickly tracked down to the general area around an exploded MLCC, fixing the fried Zener diode that may have initiated the short on the -15V rail revealed an unpleasant surprise. To [Tom]’s horror, he saw a portal to Hell itself open when part of the PCB caught on fire due to an internal short. After making sure to capture a video of this event, he then proceeded to use a thermal camera to track down the hot spot and uses a drill to remove the short.
While one can argue with the use of a drill to remove shorts on inner layers of a PCB, ultimately the fix was effective. A look on the schematic and comparison with the functioning 33120A unit later, all it took was two bodge wires to restore functionality. After this event, [Tom]’s friend gave him the repaired unit as thanks, and definitely not because [Tom] had begun to refer to it as ‘his precious’.
This crawlspace crawler FPV robot is a fairly simple build. [Jeff G] bought a boxy chassis kit with frame, motors, and wheels, mounted lights and camera, and we get to see it in action (video, embedded below).
As always, the details are where it’s at, and his overview covers most of the high points. [Jeff] went for relatively slow 60 RPM motors so that he’d have plenty of grunt. The FPV setup is particularly simple – he bought a cheap Flysky i6 transmitter and receiver, and an Eachine TX05 all-in-one camera and transmitter. An interesting choice was a USB UVC video receiver so he can watch the footage on a computer, tablet, or a cell phone, which means he didn’t have to shell out for expensive FPV goggles. We also love the sticks-and-zip-ties used as feelers, letting him know when he’s about to get stuck, but that also serve as a visual frame for the camera.
The FPV Contest just came to an end, and we’ll be announcing the winners soon! If you find any inspiration there for your own project, [Jeff]’s simple basis here should get you started on the right track.
Continue reading “The Crawlspace Crawler” →
Lithium-ion and lithium-polymer rechargeable batteries have given us previously impossible heights of electronics power and miniaturization, but there’s a downside they have brought along with them. When a battery pack has to contain electronics for balancing cells, it’s very easy for a manufacturer to include extra functions such as locking down the battery. Repair a battery, replace cells, or use a third-party battery, and it won’t work. [Zolly] has this with a DJI Mavic Mini pack, and shares with us a method for bypassing it.
The pack talks to the multi-rotor with a serial line, and the hack involves interrupting that line at the opportune moment to stop it telling its host that things are amiss. Which is a good start — but we can’t help hacing some misgivings around the rest of the work. Disconnecting the balance line between the two cells and fooling the Battery Management System (BMS) with a resistive divider seems to us like a recipe of disaster, as does bypassing the protection MOSFETs with a piece of wire. It may work, and in theory the cells can be charged safely with an external balance charger, but we’re not sure we’d like to have a pack thus modified lying around the shop.
It does serve as a reminder that BMS boards can sometimes infuriatingly lock their owners out. We once encountered this with a second-generation iBook battery that came back to life after a BMS reset, but it’s still not something to go into unwarily. Read our guide to battery packs and BMS boards to know more.
Continue reading “Fool A Drone With A Fixed Battery” →
By now it’s probable that most readers will have heard about LastPass’s “Security Incident“, in which users’ password vaults were lifted from their servers. We’re told that the vaults are encrypted such that they’re of little use to anyone without futuristic computing power and a lot of time, but the damage is still done and I for one am glad that I wasn’t a subscriber to their service. But perhaps the debacle serves a very good purpose for all of us, in that it affords a much-needed opportunity for a look at the way we do passwords. Continue reading “The Problem With Passwords” →
Browsing the thrift stores will net an amazing array of old cameras for dirt cheap prices, meaning that a film enthusiast can have plenty of fun without wasting money they could spend on the film itself. Unfortunately many of the more interesting cameras are those which use film long out of production, leaving the photographer with a need to improvise using a more modern film that’s still in production.
[Nicholas Morganti] has just such a camera, a Polaroid Big Shot, a 1970s instant camera designed for portrait work, for which the Polaroid 100 film packs are sadly a distant memory. Leave it on the shelf? Not likely, he’s adapted it to work with Fuji Instax 210, a readily available and cheap instant film.
Polaroid 100 and Instax 210 are almost the same size, but are not close enough for a direct fit. An Instax cartridge can be persuaded to fit into the Big Shot, but it’s a tight fit that puts strain on the aged Polaroid hinges. Even then the Polaroid rollers and photo ejection system are very different from those in the Fuji, so it involved a workflow in which the cartridge had to be unloaded in a darkroom between shots and processed through a real Fuji camera for the final picture.
His eventual solution takes a less camera-straining tack, still requiring a darkroom but taking an individual unexposed frame from an Instax pack and placing it in the Big Shot on an adapter plate. The result is a usable if a little cumbersome workflow for vintage Polaroid pictures, something plenty of instant photography enthusiasts will be thankful for. If you’re one of them, you might like to read our look at the process.