If you make a lot of prototyping, especially with SMD components like myself you need to make for each design its own pcb. With SMD’s the one layer design usually isn’t feasible and since the component pins doesn’t run trough the board  the double layer approach results in many vias, even for a simple schematic you can have 50 of them.

Off course everybody can order from the factory trough hole plated pcb and they are off the hook, that is the professional solution and for the end product I do the same. But that costs more, there is a lead time and if there is some error on the board or on the schematic, you need redesign and order another one.

I personally use home-made double layer pcb’s for my prototypes, with photo method and some design constraints like track width, spacing,  clearance, the results are quite good.

Double layer pcb home made vias

Yes, that’s nice but it has a lot of vias, and can be painstaking  to make the connections for each via by running  through a thin wire, soldering one end then soldering the other end, cutting down the excess, because for each via you have to handle the wire, the soldering iron, the cutter resulting a great “overhead”. I admit this was my solution and took hours to make each via separately, until somebody showed be a clever trick, but that’s enough talking, here are the pictures:

You need some thin copper wire:

You need some thin copper wire:

First anchor one end of the wire by soldering to one side:

First anchor one end of the wire by soldering to one side:

Run through the vias(like sewing) the wire:

Run through the vias(like sewing) the wire: Run through the vias(like sewing) the wire:

Solder each end:

Solder each end: Solder each end:

Start cutting as close as possible(on each side):

Start cutting as close as possible(on each side):

The result:

The result

Nice, round bumps 🙂

Nice, round bumps :)

And after soldering the TQFP package:

And after soldering the TQFP package:

As you can see, the vias underneath the TQFP doesn’t cause any problem, although more attentions is needed when soldering. Fast and simple, hope you get the spirit and start tinkering.

DIY Mp3 Player Based On PIC16F877

This pocket sized mp3 player is based on Microchip PIC16F877 and comes with both C and Assembly source code but the C code version has more features and stability. The mp3 player was designed to work with compact flash cards up to 100 gigabytes. For decoding it uses the VS1001K chip and for conversion it uses the built in DAC. The principle of operation is not very complicated, the PIC reads the CF card and once it finds a file it clocks the card 512 times per sector sending all the information one byte at a time to the decoder chip. The decoder gets a valid stream of data and sound comes out of the built in DAC. The project doesn’t have a display or a fancy menu, it’s just a plain simple mp3 player.

DIY Mp3 Player Based On PIC16F877: [link]

June 26th, 2009

DIY Holy Toaster

Diy Holy Toaster

Hallelujah, brothers and sisters! Praise the Lord! How many times have you thought you don’t have enough holiness in your life? How many times you wished you’d do more than just saying Grace before dinner? Well, now you can do something about that! Yes, with the help of the Holy Toaster, you can turn every meal into a God-worship ritual. Forget going to church! Holy Toaster is the s***!

This is an open source project that will transform your common toaster into a sacred device – a Jesus toast maker. Using two stainless steel inserts that block the toaster’s radiation in certain areas, your usual toaster will now have the bread come out with the face of  Holy Jesus, The Son of God. It will improve your daily meals and will bring godliness closer to you with every bite.

As mentioned in the title, this is a Do-It-Yourself project and for those who own or may operate a laser cutter it is fairly simple to upgrade their toaster into a divine toaster because the SVG and DXF files are available for download and free for use with any purpose or profit. Godly. Now you can impress your grandma when she comes visit.

For others that wish to have their breakfast enlightened by Lord Jesus and don’t have a laser cutter available, there is still hope! If you live in the US you can purchase the Holy Add-on of Light. Foreigners will also be able to order it the near future. Careful with the sharp edges and with the pliers when you install the holy inserts into the now holy toaster. And you’re good to go!

This project made me think of other things that could be upgraded with holy spirit. Like pasta in the form of a cross with a little Jesus on it or pizza with a big mozzarella cross and a Jesus made of salami. Possibilities are endless, really.

DIY Holy Toaster: [Link][via]

DIY Holy Toaster
June 10th, 2009

DIY 2 Axis Joystick

Diy 2 Axis Joystick

Most gamers are certainly familiar with the joystick, used in all sorts of video games from the early days of television video games back in the late ’60s. Being a very intuitive device, the joystick is also used in cranes, trucks or other machinery, especially in an industrial environment. Moreover, the joystick is used extensively in the aeronautics industry, to control an airplane’s ailerons.

Quite simple in design, the joystick usually has 2 axes of movement, similar to a mouse, moving along the X axis with left or right signals and along the Y axis with up or down. Its simplicity as a piece of hardware is the reason why it can be made using parts from all kinds of devices. Here’s an example of such a joystick, built from an idler wheel of an old VCR.

Besides the idler wheel, this joystick has 4 microswitches and a spring and it’s installed on a piece of sheet steel. The idler wheel has a metal shaft which, combined with the spring, serves as the actual “funstick”. The metal is drilled and the shaft is inserted into the hole with the convex side of the washer facing down, so the shaft rolls against the metal when it is moved. Putting the spring between the metal sheet and the flat side of the washer turns the shaft into a joystick, having it return back to the center position after it is released.

The switches take some fine tuning to adjust properly, because the hole should stop the shaft from moving and not the actuator of the switch. But after the switches are set up correctly you have a working joystick ready to be attached to a front panel. More details and pictures of the VCR joystick are available in the link.

DIY 2 Axis Joystick: [Link][Via]

March 9th, 2009

Arduino and Google calendar

arduio and google calendar

This is a real DIY project, hack your old alarm clock, connect it to the Arduino board, write some Phyton script to access your Google calendar and download the data to the Arduino. This will result in a versatile alarm clock, which the author named Larmie.

The alarm clock uses the LM8560 , if your clock has other IC then you must adapt the project, otherwise with the step by step explication it is easy to replicate the Larmie. You can use any calendar software, but I think the Google calendar is the best choice, because you can set your alarm remotely.

The downside of this device is that you need to run your PC all the time, it would be nice to use the Ethernet shield with TCP/IP stack and access directly from Arduino the calendar. Also it would be great if beside the plain 7 segment display some LCD display would show the reason why you should wake up at 6am.

Arduino and Google calendar: [via] [link]

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