Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bus Pirate v4 Assembly

     I got lucky enough to get a free PCB from Dangerous Prototypes a little over a month ago. I finally finished assembling it last night. It was my first time soldering SMD components, but it was worth it. I also got to use my homemade hotplate for the first time with no problems. I used this solder paste. I really only used the hotplate for the TQFP (Thin Quad Flat Pack) PIC chip and it worked out very nicely. The rest of the components I hand soldered with a bunch of time, patience, and flux.

     I ordered all my parts from I ran into a problem with their website that really cost me a great deal of time. I ordered (what I thought was) a 10K resistor array. The website stated that it was a 10K array so I put it in my order. When I finally got the part, I was testing it with my multimeter when I realized it certainly wasn't 10K. Turns out they sent me a 100K resister array. I called their customer service number and told them that I received the wrong part and that I am ordering a few more components and I'd like them to check and make sure the parts weren't mislabeled. When I recieved my order a few days later, I got a few more 100K resistor networks. I checked the website and found the problem -- although it was under the title 10Kohm resisitor network, the part number was "CR0603-JW-104ELF". 104, clearly a 100K part. After calling them again they corrected the problem and sent me more 10K resistor networks than I'd ever need. Although customer service was very nice each time I called, make sure to really check what you think you're ordering before you place your order.

     The biggest problem is that, due to my excitement of finally getting a PCB coupon code, I ordered the Bus Pirate v4 -- a new prototype version meant for developers. Because nothing for this project is set in stone, I'm having a hard time finding information about it. I have a programmer, but I don't even know which bootloader I am supposed to use. If anybody has any information about programming this chip, let me know. Also, if a developer happens to want this board, I can sell it at cost of the components -- learning to solder it was worth it in itself.

     I know I'll be getting a user-friendly Bus Pirate v3 with my next PCB code.

Finished and powered on

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Storage Container Shelving System

     The three weeks of spare time I had between vacationing in Ocean City, Maryland and Oregon, I spent my time designing and building a storage box for these storage containers. These have been on sale all Summer (although they were $3.99 each when I bought six for myself). They are rather cheaply made, but perfect for holding electronic components and I bet you won't be able to find anything comparable for cheaper, especially because you'll want to buy a bunch of them because they're so handy. I had them stacked in my room and it was a bear to pick through each of them to find the container I wanted, so I knew I had to build a set of shelves for them. While thinking about the design, I came up with the idea to put a lidded box on top of the shelving system. It will replace the wooden box I made in 7th grade woodshop that wasn't my best work. I documented my build by taking pictures and will go through the process after the break.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Crater Lake National Park

     I am currently on a ten day vacation in Eugene, Oregon visiting with my girlfriend's aunt, uncle, and cousin. From August 2nd to the 4th, we visited Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. It is a 20.6 square mile lake formed from when the volcano, Mount Mazama, blew its top around 7,700 years ago. It has beautiful blue water that comes solely from melting snow runoff. Inside the lake, Wizard Island sits. It is another volcano situated inside Mount Mazama's caldera. Along with the island, the Old Man of the Lake and the Phantom Ship are key points. The Old Man of the Lake is a large tree that floats vertically in the water with only the top few feet exposed. It freely floats around the lake. Unfortunately, it is stuck near Wizard Island and will stay there until a storm moves it away. The Phantom Ship is a rock outcropping in the lake that appears to be a schooner from a distance. See this wikipedia article for more information. I'll attach all the media from my trip below.