Category Archives: Other

IEE FLIP Alphanumeric Display Works!

I picked up some of these really neat VFD alphanumeric displays at a surplus shop while at Maker Faire. After acquiring the datasheet from the manufacture, I decided to test them with the built in test mode. I have already started writing the code to run the display and will be posting the code and datasheet when it is done.

Maker Faire San Mateo 2012 Recap: Part 3

Chris and I started Sunday off by looking at some 3D printers.

Look a 3D printer not made of wood!

Series A Prototype printer.

Bay Area 3D printer people.

The Ultimaker has some interesting X-Y axis that enables it to go super fast. Print quality from this machine wasn’t the greatest however.

This little robot was trying to not get stepped on as it raced through the crowd.

The Wild Thumper robot platform has some really cool suspension!

Nerf Gun shooting robot.

Now this is what I need. A small scale pick and place machine. All DIY.

The new Arduino line up was at the Atmel booth.

Arduino Due actually exists! Though the sticker price is way high at $110. Way to much for a bare bones Arm M3 Cortex board.

This robot was all alone off to the side. Looks so sad.

Really neat kit car.

Land Sharks!

A bunch of R2 units. They had lots of moving parts and could probably be a stand in replacement in a Star Wars movie.

Even the insides look like how it should.

Some kid was driving this rover around and trying to run over people.

This guy had to be over 12 feet tall.

Steam powered paddle boat.

The steam engine on board.

A steam punk’s wet dream.

It spits fire! It is not Maker Faire unless something spits fire! I was standing around 50 feet away and the heat was intense.

Hover DeLorean!

It works. Almost ran me over taking this picture.

Electric powered Mazda 5.

Gyro Copter. This vehicle was very impressive and well built.

A guy walking around making “music” with this contraption.

How to be a TSA agent.

Ben playing a text based adventure game.

Pedal Carts.

A cool bicycle clock. All the gears worked to reduce the speed and time the clock correctly.

All powered by a little motor on top.

Back at the hotel. Chris looking for the Solar Eclipse.

There it is!

At Jeri’s Show and Eat dinner after Maker Faire. Ben printing with his portable printer.

Bonnie played Super Mario Bros. on my NES portable and beat the game!

Congratulations! Well that wraps up my Maker Faire trip to San Mateo!

Maker Faire San Mateo 2012 Recap: Part 2

This is Part 2 of this years Maker Faire trip to San Mateo, CA. After leaving RoboGrrl’s booth since she wasn’t there, Chris and I started to look at some 3D printers.

Dual extruder! This was a direct drive model. It was on a Maker Bot.

I took some pictures so I could figure out how the X and Y axises where designed.

Cardboard Trojan Horse. Was standing at the AutoDesk 123D booth.

6 Beagle Boards communicating to each other and splitting up the HD video to extend the displays. There is a single master Beagle Board that tells the other ones which frame to display. This keeps it all in sync.

At the Ti booth they where very impressed with my msPROBOT. Here is BlueHash from the 43oh.com forums holding up the robot.

Here is the majority of the projucts that the 43oh.com store sells.

A guy had Steve Wozniak’s card. Lasered out of stainless steel.

The Ti EVALBOT. So much robot in such a small pacakge.

Beep.

An old County Faire classic game upgraded with lasers.

Cool display in the Dangerous Prototype Booth. No one was manning the booth so we walked on.

Bryan with 8bitlit. He made the Mario Coin lights and just recently interfaced a Xbox controller to the Sphero by bridging the connection with a computer.

A cool robot and/or computer case.

Showed off the NES 3D printed case to some 3D printer makers. They where impressed.

Ran into Jeri and her awesome C64 Bass Keytar.

“I WILL DESTROY ALL HUMANS…OPPS DID I RUN OVER YOUR FOOT? I AM SORRY.”

Jeff the mighty ohm!

Some super low cost 3D printers.

FRAKING CYLONS!

A full on Viper simulator.

Alyson, Ben’s Camera crew.

Me in my DO OR DIODE Radioshack shirt.

My Super Boost cell phone charger charging a i-Phone 4.

Ben on the left and Tom from Google on the right.

That is it for the first day of Maker Faire! Stay tuned for the next part.

X-Tronic SMD Hot Air Rework Station #4040

First an announcement! I just added a Tools section to the site. The goal is to help new hackers and hobbyist find inexpensive but good equipment.

This is my experience with the X-Tronic SMD Hot Air Rework Station #4040. It is a dual hot air and solder station. I ordered it on Amazon for $140. I chose the X-Tronic over similar stations in this price range for the fact that it has a dual LED read out of the temperatures and had a better looking/more comfortable soldering iron. It also comes with a 1 year warranty against any faults or problems with the unit.

This is what the station looks like right out of the box. The finish of the unit is not perfect but acceptable. I would not expect Weller or Hakko type quality for $150.

Here is the soldering iron. It is quite comfortable to hold but it could use a little more weight to it to balance out the cord. Still better then a radio shack iron by a long shot. I have heard it takes Hakko tips so that is a nice plus of the unit.

Speaking of tips, the X-Tronic comes with a wide variety of tips but I generally only use a small pointed tip. It also came with 4 different size nozzles for the hot air gun.

The hot air gun is fairly basic but it gets the job done and the plastic feels pretty nice. It has a good texture to it. The nozzles slip over the end and are tightened by screwing the clamp down. A bit annoying that it isn’t tooless.

The soldering stand is again basic but gets the job done. It came with a sponge but I use a brass cleaner so I chunked it. It has a good weight to it but could use some rubber feet on the bottom.

Before use you have to remove 3 silver screws from the bottom of the unit. These are located under the piece of tape. The screws hold the air pump in place during shipment and NEED to be removed before starting the unit. Damage may happen if they are not removed.

The X-Tronic #4040 is a very good piece of kit for the money. I so far have not had any problems with it. The soldering iron and air gun heat up quickly. The soldering iron has plenty of power behind it so the temperature does not drop when you are soldering a big heat sink or power connector.

All in all I would definitely recommend the X-Tronic to a hobbyist.

MGC 2012 Recap and Welcome Back!

Hello! It has been awhile since I have posted but there is a valid reason for that. I graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Electrical Engineering last December and have been looking for a job. Around the end of February I took an offer to be a Communication Technician for MarkWest Energy. My job will be expanding and maintaining the wireless system that controls the operations. I started on April 2nd and have been getting everything lined up.

With that all taken care of I can finally get back here.

The Midwest Gaming Classic (MGC) was a huge hit this year. Loads of fun meeting up with friends over at the BenHeck forums. I was in the BenHeck Experience room with Chris Kraft running his 3D printer and showing off how to design in 3D space with AutoDesk 123D. Was allot of fun and I will defiantly make it again next year (maybe buy a pinball machine to!).

John (triton) from the BenHeck forums moving some equipment into the room early Saturday morning.

Ben trying to fix Bill Paxton Pinball. A glitch in the code caused a solenoid to lock open which unleashed the blue smoke. Bill Paxton Pinball was operation again after a coil was sourced from the vendor tables.

Chris Kraft’s 3D printer that he built. We used it to print a variety of things at the event.

My setup in the room. I borrowed a BenHeck members LCD display and mirrored what I was making. Here I was designing a laptop external harddrive case. To the right you can see the display that I have been designing. I finished it and gave it to Ben. Chris now has it .

The 3D printer printing the first layer of the bottom half of the harddrive case.

Andrew (blueshirt) rocking the BenHeck Zombie Pinball (which is not blue) shirt.

About 30 minutes into the print job. Almost done with the bottom.

Jason (wallydawg) doing Sega Nomad display swaps. Really cool mod that really makes the Nomad an enjoyable portable.

Bill Paxton Pinball up and running again.

Bottom half of the harddrive case is finally printed completely.

Top printed. It slides into the bottom half via a slot.

Showing how it slides in.

Printing a pinball bracket. This is for a servo motor if I recall.

Sandwich on top of the Amiga Monitor?

As I said before MGC was allot of fun. Lots of gaming, pinball, and general goof. If you are in the Midwest region of the states then you should definitely swing by next year if the world doesn’t end this December.

I am going to be posting allot more regularly now since I don’t have to worry about being unemployed. I will be posting more tech related stuff (new parts, projects, microcontrollers) that is happening in the industry. This will be a slight departure from what I have been doing with the site but I think you readers (all 5 of you) will get more out of it.

Thermistors…Linear? How to make them so.

In my last video I showed off Lab 7 for EE445L which was the digital thermometer. To measure the temperature I used a thermistor which is a resistor that changes resistance based on the temperature.

These are non linear devices which make it a pain to get accurate readings directly.

More information on Thermistors: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermistor