In our previous article on Ball Grid Arrays (BGAs), we explored how to design circuit boards and how to route the signals coming out of a BGA package. But designing a board is one thing – soldering those chips onto the board is quite another. If you’ve got some experience with SMD soldering, you’ll find that any SOIC, TQFP or even QFN package can be soldered with a fine-tipped iron and a bit of practice. Not so for BGAs: we’ll need to bring out some specialized tools to solder them correctly. Today, we’ll explore how to get those chips on our board, and how to take them off again, without spending a fortune on equipment.
There are very few legal ways of obtaining ROM files for video games, and Nintendo’s lawyers are extremely keen on at least reminding you of the fact that you need to own the game cart before obtaining the ROM. With cart in hand, though, most will grab a cart reader to download the game files. While this is a tried-and-true method, for GameBoy games this extra piece of hardware isn’t strictly required. [Travis Goodspeed] is here to show us a method of obtaining ROM files from photographs of the game itself.
Of course, the chips inside the game cart will need to be decapped in order to obtain the pictures, and the pictures will need to be of high quality in order to grab the information. [Travis] is more than capable of this task in his home lab, but some work is still required after this step.
The individual bits in the Game Boy cartridges are created by metal vias on the chip, which are extremely small, but still visible under a microscope. He also has a CAD program that he developed to take this visual information and extract the data from it, which creates a ROM file that’s just as good as any obtained with a cart reader.
This might end up being slightly more work especially if you have to decap the chips and take the photographs yourself, but it’s nonetheless a clever way of obtaining ROM files due to this quirk of Game Boy technology. Encoding data into physical hardware like this is also an excellent way of ensuring that it doesn’t degrade over time. Here are some other methods for long-term data storage.
In the last few decades, building engineers and architects have made tremendous strides in improving the efficiency of various buildings and the devices that keep them safe and comfortable to live in. The addition of new technology like heat pumps is a major factor, as well as improvements on existing things like insulation methods and building materials. But after the low-hanging fruit is picked, technology like this smart occupancy sensor created by [Sina Moshksar] might be necessary to help drive further efficiency gains.
Known as RoomSense IQ, the small device mounts somewhere within a small room and uses a number of different technologies to keep track of the number of occupants in a room. The primary method is mmWave radar which can sense the presence of a person up to five meters away, but it also includes a PIR sensor to help prevent false positives and distinguish human activity from non-human activity. The device integrates with home automation systems to feed them occupancy data to use to further improve the performance of those types of systems. It’s also designed to be low-cost and easy to install, so it should be relatively straightforward to add a few to any existing system as well.