How To Find Replacement Parts When Model Numbers Don’t Match

[Sharad Shankar] repaired a broken TV by swapping out the cracked and malfunctioning image panel for a new one. Now, part-swapping is a great way to repair highly integrated modern electronics like televisions, but the real value here is something else. He documented his fix but the real useful part is his observations and guidance on how to effectively look for donor devices when the actual model of donor device can’t be found.

The usual approach to fixing a device by part swapping is to get one’s hands on two exact same models that are broken in different ways. But when it comes to consumer electronics with high turnovers — like televisions — it can be very difficult to actually locate any particular model once it’s no longer on shelves. [Sharad Shankar]’s broken TV was a 65″ TCL R646 purchased in 2021, and searching for a second 65″ TCL R646 was frankly like looking for a needle in a haystack. That’s when he got a visit from the good ideas fairy. Continue reading “How To Find Replacement Parts When Model Numbers Don’t Match”

Is This The World’s Smallest Multichannel Voltmeter?

The instrument which probably the greatest number of Hackaday readers own is likely to be the humble digital multimeter. They’re cheap and useful, but they’re single-channel, and difficult to incorporate into a breadboard project. If you’ve ever been vexed by these limitations then [Alun Morris] has just the project for you, in the world’s smallest auto-ranging multichannel voltmeter. It’s a meter on a tiny PCB with a little OLED display, and as its name suggests, it can keep an eye on several voltages for you.

At its heart is an ATtiny1614 microcontroller on a custom PCB, but for us the part we most like lies not in that but in the prototype version made on a piece of protoboard. There’s considerable soldering skill in bending surface mount components to your will on this material, and though these aren’t quite the smallest parts it’s still something that must have required some work under the magnifier.

All of the code and hardware details can be found in the GitHub repository, and for your viewing pleasure there’s a video showing it in action which we’ve placed below.

Continue reading “Is This The World’s Smallest Multichannel Voltmeter?”

FLOSS Weekly Episode 784: I’ll Buy You A Poutine

This week Jonathan Bennett and Dan Lynch talk with François Proulx about Poutine, the Open Source security scanner for build pipeline vulnerabilities. This class of vulnerability isn’t as well known as it should be, and threatens to steal secrets, or even allow for supply chain attacks in FLOSS software.

Poutine does a scan over an organization or individual repository, looking specifically for pipeline issues. It runs on both GitHub and GitLab, with more to come!

Continue reading “FLOSS Weekly Episode 784: I’ll Buy You A Poutine”

Passive Diplexer Makes One Antenna Act Like Two

Stay in the amateur radio hobby long enough and you might end up with quite a collection of antennas. With privileges that almost extend from DC to daylight, one antenna will rarely do everything, and pretty soon your roof starts to get hard to see through the forest of antennas. It may be hell on curb appeal, but what’s a ham to do?

One answer could be making one antenna do the work of two, as [Guido] did with this diplexer for dual APRS setups. Automatic Packet Reporting System is a packet radio system used by hams to transmit telemetry and other low-bandwidth digital data. It’s most closely associated with the 2-meter ham band, but [Guido] has both 2-meter (144.8-MHz) and 70-cm LoRa (433.775-MHz) APRS IGates, or Internet gateway receivers. His goal was to use a single broadband discone antenna for both APRS receivers, and this would require sorting the proper signals from the antenna to the proper receiver with a diplexer.

Note that [Guido] refers to his design as a “duplexer,” which is a device to isolate and protect a receiver from a transmitter when they share the same antenna — very similar to a diplexer but different. His diplexer is basically a pair of filters in parallel — a high-pass filter tuned to just below the 70-cm band, and a low-pass filter tuned just above the top of the 2-m band. The filters were designed using a handy online tool and simulated in LTSpice, and then constructed in classic “ugly” style. The diplexer is all-passive and uses air-core inductors, all hand-wound and tweaked by adjusting the spacing of the turns.

[Guido]’s diplexer performs quite well — only a fraction of a dB of insertion loss, but 45 to 50 dB attenuation of unwanted frequencies — pretty impressive for a box full of caps and coils. We love these quick and dirty tactical builds, and it’s always a treat to see RF wizardry in action.

Amber Compiles To Bash

It certainly isn’t a new idea to compile a language into an intermediate language. The original C++ compiler outputs C code, for example. Enhanced versions of Fortran were often just conversions of new syntax to old syntax. Of course, it makes sense to output to some language that can run on lots of different platforms. So, using that logic, Amber makes perfect sense. It targets — no kidding — bash. You write with nice modern syntax and compile-time checks. The output is a bash script. Admittedly, sometimes a hard-to-read bash script, but still.

If you want to see the source code, it is available on GitHub. Since Windows doesn’t really support bash — if you don’t count things like Cygwin and WSL — Amber only officially supports Linux and MacOS. In addition to compiling files, Amber can also execute scripts directly which can be useful for a quick one-liner. If you use Visual Studio Code, you can find a syntax highlighter extension for Amber.

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Nuclear Fusion R&D In 2024: Getting Down To The Gritty Details

To those who have kept tabs on nuclear fusion research the past decades beyond the articles and soundbites in news outlets, it’s probably clear just how much progress has been made, and how many challenges still remain. Yet since not that many people are into plasma physics, every measure of progress, such as most recently by the South Korean KSTAR (Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research) tokamak, is met generally by dismissive statements about nuclear fusion always being a certain number of decades away. Looking beyond this in coverage such as the article by Science Alert about this achievement by KSTAR we can however see quite a few of these remaining challenges being touched upon.

Recently KSTAR managed to generate 100 million degrees C plasma and maintain this for 48 seconds, a significant boost over its previous record from 2021 of 30 seconds, partially due to the new divertors that were installed. These divertors are essential for removing impurities from the plasma, yet much like the inner wall of the reactor vessel, these plasma-facing materials (PFM) bear the brunt of the super-hot plasma and any plasma instabilities, as well as the constant neutron flux from the fusion products. KSTAR now features tungsten divertors, which has become a popular material choice for this component.

Researching the optimal PFMs, as well as plasma containment modes and methods to suppress plasma instabilities are just some of the challenges that form the road still ahead before commercial fusion can commence.

Continue reading “Nuclear Fusion R&D In 2024: Getting Down To The Gritty Details”

Using A Spring As A Capacitive Touch Button

When [Daniel Eichhorn] designed the Pendrive S3 project, he wanted to use an off-the-shelf USB enclosure but also add a button for the user to start certain actions. Drilling a hole into the enclosure would be an option, but decided a touch sensor on the top of the enclosure would be much more elegant — not to mention better at keeping dirt and moisture out. To bridge the 6.3 mm spacing between the PCB and the top of the enclosure [Daniel] used a small, 7 mm PCB-mounted spring.

The spring used to create a capacitive touch sensor. (Source: JLCPCB parts)
The spring used to create a capacitive touch sensor. (Source: JLCPCB parts)

Although capacitive sensing works with just about  anything that’s electrically conductive, it’s important to get the conductive element as close to the user’s digits as possible. Using a spring here has the advantage that when the enclosure is closed up, the lid will push down onto the spring, which will not only compress slightly, but also provide the best capacitive sensing experience when e.g. the enclosure flexes or warps over time on account of always being pressed against the inside of the lid.

While hardly world-changing, this is another neat design tip when you’re looking to turn more surfaces into touch controls. Just keep in mind that capacitive sensing is notoriously fussy and any trace and spring are also excellent antennae for stray EMI. Nobody likes random capacitive button inputs, after all.