I admit it: I'm a total geek. I love electronics, programming, 3D art, vintage Apple hardware, and whisky. I'm always juggling half a dozen projects. I also enjoy documenting it all: my successes, my failures, my experiences... and everything geeky along the way.


 
 
 
 
 

Archives for 2013 | Kevin Rye.net - Main

Kevin Rye

Geek Extraordinaire. Yeh, I said it.

Fixing the 7490 Clock, Part IV

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This 7490 clock has been a thorn in my side for a little over 5 years. It's never run right. It looks great, but it runs fast. Is it time for yet another rebuild, or can I just fix it with a cap or something? Read More...

Tektronix TDS 1012 Oscilloscope

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Dad’s still in heavy “clean out the garage” mode and stumbled upon more tech goodies for me! This time, it’s a Tektronix TDS 1012 oscilloscope!!!! Read More...

The Tesseract Build, Part II

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With the software and hardware for the Tesseract complete, it was time to wrap up the enclosure. I think it came out great, and the kids think it’s amazing. Read More...

MASTECH MS8910 Smart SMD Tester

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I just had to have these SMD tweezers the minute I saw them on Adafruit. For a mere $30 bucks, I’m sure it’s not the best DMM out there at that price point, but I just could’t resist! Read More...

Vintage MASTERVOICE Series II


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The MASTERVOICE Series II is a voice-activated home automation system. It responds to your commands and carries out your requests. With it, you can turn on or off pretty much any light or appliance in your house. Read More...

Vintage FABREX 424 Vice

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Check out what vintage goodie my Dad unearthed in the garage. He had no need for it, so he gave it to me. It’s a FABREX 424 vice made in England. Read More...

ATmega AVRISPmkII Programmer

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The MEGA MINI PCBs haven’t even shipped yet, but I’m all ready to go. I just picked up an AVR mkII programmer for $37.50 from Digi-Key. I have my FTDI programmer as well as my Atmega2560s. Once the PCBs come in, I should be all ready to burn the bootloader and upload some sketches. Read More...

SparkFun's FTDI Basic Programmer

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Once my MEGA MINI PCBs arrive, I’m going to need a way to upload sketches to them. I plan on using the MEGA MINI as a test-bed for my GPS clock. I’ve never soldered or in-circuit programmed an Atmega2560 before. I’d hate to waste $100 worth of tech assembling the GPS clock for it to not work. So I want to make something simple as sort of a practice run. In order to program the board, I’ll need an FTDI programmer. I picked up SparkFun’s FTDI Basic Breakout board for $15 bucks. Read More...

The Tesseract Build, Part I

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After about two weeks, my Tesseract PCBs arrived. I couldn’t wait to put them together. The hardware and software are both complete. It’s just a matter of painting the enclosure and the Tesseract will be complete!
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The MEGA MINI v1.0

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I’d hate to spend a good $40 bucks on the PCB for my GPS clock and find out that I screwed something up, or that I can’t solder an Atmega2560. I figured that I’d spare myself the possibility of wasting $100 bucks worth of hardware and chalk up a mini-board for the Atmega2560. Sort of a “bare bones” MEGA as a test-run. Read More...

GPS Clock Prototyping, Part IV

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I decided to use a 5-way switch the fully control the clock’s menu system. Removing the rest of the buttons required a re-write of the menu system. I first needed to map the whole thing out in order to better visualize what options the menus would use, and what actions would be allowed in each menu. I created a spreadsheet to map it all out. It was then a matter of translating that into code. Read More...

LED Tester

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I’ve made a few devices already that have used 0603 SMD LEDs. 0603 LEDs are beyond tiny and they’re a little trickier to work with when orientation matters. It would be so much easier if I had a quick and dirty means of testing the orientation before soldering one. Read More...

The Tesseract

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I’d like to try my hand and making a Tesseract. I love all the Marvel movies, as well as my kids. So I think they’ll get a kick out of seeing one on my desk. Read More...

Button Breakout Board

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I came up with the idea that it would be cool to have a little button breakout board that I could quickly pop on to my breadboard when I suddenly found myself in need of some buttons. Instead of scrounging for buttons and resistors and taking up a whole ton of space, I could just simply connect a "mini keyboard" to the breadboard and be up and running in seconds. Read More...

GPS Clock Prototyping, Part III

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I decided to ditch the IR remote in my GPS clock in favor of buttons. Once I had all the IR code implemented, I realized that it just wasn’t the way to go. Instead of the IR remote, I’m basically going to include a keypad on the clock that pretty much mirrors the functionality of the remote. Read More...

Arduino Mega 2560

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With the weekend upon me, I was eager to continue writing the code for my GPS clock. I had already identified the need to continue developing on an Arduino Mega 2560, but I’d need to order one if I was to move forward. Rather than order one from SparkFun, I grabbed a Mega 2560 from RadioShack on the way home from work. Of course, I paid an extra $10 bucks “going retail”, but it’s a small price to pay to have it in hand for the weekend rather than waiting a week for it to arrive via snail-mail. Read More...

GPS Clock Prototyping, Part II

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It’s been a few months since I worked on the GPS clock. I couldn’t nail down exactly how I wanted it to work. I had a few ideas floating around, as well as a list of what features I wanted to include. However, in order to build the clock without compromises, I would have to overcome several hurdles. Considering I was already juggling a few other projects, I figured it was best to shelf it until I had a clearer vision of exactly how I wanted it to work and how I’d pull it off. Read More...

Old-School PS/2 Trackball

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I swung by my friend’s parent’s house the other day to hook up their new TV. While I was there, the mom asked me if I had any use for this old mouse she dug up. I immediately noticed the PS/2 to DB9 adapter on the end and knew it had to be super-old. Read More...

8" Floppies Galore

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I found a bunch of 8” floppies in a box of garbage. I figured I’d take them home rather than see them go in a landfill. That, and I just love vintage computer stuff! Read More...

Starbucks Weekend Goodies

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I found my self at the mall today. On the way out, I decided to grab a cup of coffee for the road. I wasn’t at all expecting to walk out with anything other than a venti Pike. Read More...

Wolverine Negative Digital Converter

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I successfully digitized my parents medium format negatives using a DIY homebrew contraption. They came out great. The next step in digitizing the family photo library involves scanning all the 110 and 35 mm negatives. My HP flatbed scanner has a slot for doing negatives, but it’s very slow and cumbersome. It would take me years to scan all the negatives that I have to do. I needed something faster. I hopped on Amazon and looked at the negative scanners they had. Read More...

Guitar Hero Parts

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My kids had a Guitar Hero guitar that was falling apart. I was about to toss it out when I though to myself that I should tear the thing open and salvage some parts from it.
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Digitizing Medium Format Negatives

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I’ve decided to scan our entire family photo library. I got my parents to mail me all the negatives for all our family photos. The 35mm negatives aren’t a problem, it’s the large “medium format” negatives that need a good solid hack. Time to build a lightbox! Read More...

Mini 7-Segment Clock, Part IV

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It’s been a good month since I submitted my PCBs for version 1.1. It seemed to take forever for the PCBs and acrylic to come in this time. I was so happy to finally put this guy together and complete the project. Read More...

DAZ Studio 3D Modeling

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I've been wanting to get into 3D modeling for years but the software needed to do it is crazy expensive. I’d love to use Poser. It looks amazing, but it’s $300 bucks. I could never justify the $700 price tag for ZBrush either. I found DAZ Studio yesterday. It's amazing. And it's free! Their whole deal is to give you the software for free with the hopes that you'll buy content and plugins, etc. Sounds like a good business model because I can see myself getting hooked on this. Read More...

Bootloading ATmegas with my Bare Bones Arduino Board

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I hopped on eBay and found that you can get Atmega328s from China for $2 a pop. Rather than spend over $30 bucks ordering them from SparkFun, I ordered a 5 pack from eBay for only $10.50. You can’t beat that! I crossed my fingers and hoped that they weren’t fakes. I’ll just have to burn the bootloader and find out.
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Mini Audi Amp - Version 2 Build

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I last left off with my Audio Amplifier PCB being a total bust. Well, not a total bust. It probably works, but I’ll never know. I’ll never be able to solder the super-tiny 8SON package that I put in version 1. Once I received the larger 8MSOP version from DigiKey, it was obvious that it was the size to use. It definitely looks like I’ll have less difficulty soldering it by hand. Read More...

Mushrooms!

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We cut a tree down a few years ago, so the roots must be starting to decay. We had a week of intense heat followed by a period of rain, so it’s been pretty humid and gross out. The perfect mushroom growing conditions. Read More...

GPS Clock Prototyping, Part I

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A while back I picked up a SparkFun 128x64 LCD and an Adafruit 66-channel GPS module to have a go at making a GPS clock. The great thing about setting the time and date via GPS is that I won't have to put any buttons on the clock. It'll set itself!
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Photo Restoration Project, Part I

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I’ve been commissioned by my mother-in-law to put together a book of old family photos. She was impressed with my work on the last one I did for my wife. Can you blame her? That thing looks AMAZING! Unfortunately, a lot of them aren’t in any condition to be showcased in a book of “favorites”. They will all, for the most part, need some sort of photo retouching. Read More...

Vintage Drafting Supplies

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I unearthed some of my Dad’s old drafting supplies. It’s amazing I’ve had these as long as I have and I haven’t really used them. I’ll have to try my hand at drawing something with these leads. Read More...

A Close Look at a '70s Pico Chip

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I was digging through my memory box when I came across this old plate of chips that my Dad gave me years ago. These are back from the Pico days. Who knows what they are? Could be calculator microcontrollers, could be from an Accutrac turntable. Read More...

Do You Keep a Memory Box?

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Look at that! What a treasure trove of goodies! Most of this stuff is from my childhood. There’s been a few recent additions, but most of it is as old as I am. Usually when I add something, I just open the lid, toss it in, close it, and forget about it. I don’t really go through it. I do that maybe every 5 years or so. I sit down with it and thoroughly go through it and take a walk down memory lane. Read More...

Vintage AVO Meter No. 8

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This is the Model 8 Avo Meter. My Dad gave it to me. He’s had it forever. Another vintage goodie rescued from the garage.
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I Was on the Cover of Electronic House in 1987

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In 1987, we were interviewed by Electronic House magazine. I was 12 at the time and had been very much into electronics and computers for years. The magazine people fell in love the minute they saw my room. I had a TI-99/4A and a Commodore 64 next to my bed. In 1987, I guess that was unheard of for a kid. I loved a good game of Spy Hunter, but I also loved programming in BASIC. They loved my room so much, they put it on the front cover.
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It's Time to Retire the Lighter Collection

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I started collecting Zippo lighters in 1993. Here you see the collection in its heyday when I still lived with my parents. You can’t exactly have all that stuff set up when you have a wife and 3 kids. Who has the space? I consider myself lucky I still have a computer room. Anyway, Apple’s releasing a new Mac Pro this fall and something tells me I’m going to need a spare $3 grand. Time to eBay the lot of it!

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Speak & Spell: Keepin' it Old School!

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My kids got iPad minis for Christmas. They absolutely love them. They never put them down. I figured they’d get a kick out of my Speak & Spell. I wanted them to see that the Speak & Spell was my iPad of the day and that as simple as it was, it was as good as it got. Read More...

Recharging a Disposable E-Cigarette Battery

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My wife buys these cheap disposable e-cigarettes. You're supposed to toss them when they're dead, but I know for a fact these use lithium rechargeable batteries, or else they wouldn't be able to supply the right voltage and current to last "800 puffs". The only question is….can you recharge the battery?
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Reading the Temperature from the DS3231 & DS18B20

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One thing that I definitely want to add to Rev 2 of my LCD clock is the ability to display the temperature. I found out that since the DS3231 has a temperature compensated internal crystal, you can poll it for the temperature. I wondered how accurate it would be. What good is displaying the DS3231’s temperature if it runs 10 degrees over ambient? There was only one way to find out. Read More...

Starbucks Kati Kati Blend

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For the 4th of July holiday, my wife and kids have gone to a friend’s house for an extended 4-day weekend! You know what that means! Tinker, tinker, tinker! I picked up a bag of Starbucks’ new Kati Kati blend to fuel my weekend. There’s no stopping me!3 Read More...

Mini Audio Amp, Take 1… and 2

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My mini audio amp practice boards came in. I wasn’t too sure if I’d be able to solder the TPA2005D1 chip or not. Rather than waste $45 on the LCD Clock V2 PCB and make a mess of it, I figured it would be a good idea to make a practice board based off SparkFun’s breakout board. If I can’t solder the part by hand, then I’ll just incorporate SparkFun’s audio amp breakout into my clock PCB as a daughterboard. Read More...

Starbucks Cup Sleeves and Gift Cards Collection

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I’ve been “holding on to” every Starbucks gift card I’ve ever be given since 2004 along with every different sleeve that I’ve spotted since 2007. Always “holding on to”, but not “collecting”. (If that makes any sense!) But today, I’ve officially starting collecting them! Read More...

Mini 7-Segment Clock, Part III

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I received my Mini 7-Segment Clock PCBs. I’m pretty excited to put one together. I think it’s going to look pretty cool, as tiny as it is. Read More...

Vintage Calculators

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My Dad, forever bestowing upon me vintage goodies of days gone by, happened across a small stash of vintage calculators he’d been holding on to for a good 40 years. Read More...

Component Pin Sizer from SmallRoomLabs

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SmallRoomLabs sell some great pin sizers on Tindie. They’re only $2 bucks a pop, but if you buy both as a set you can save yourself a dollar. They’re definitely something you need to keep around. Read More...

Parts on the Cheap - eBay Hong Kong

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Don’t get me wrong, I love SparkFun and Adafruit and all those guys, but there’s definitely something to be said for buying in bulk. There’s definitely also something to be said for buying in bulk from Hong Kong! True you have to wait an extra week, but it’s so worth it to save this kind of money. Read More...

E-Paper Clock Final Assembly

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My E-Paper boards finally arrived. I wasted no time in putting one together. I was really excited to see if I got everything right. Needless to say, I totally nailed it! It's so awesome putting in that last piece, powering it on and seeing all your hard work pay off!

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LCD Clock Version 2 - Design Decisions

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I was really pleased with the way that my LCD clock turned out. Being my first Arduino project, I was a little nervous that it wouldn’t work, but I totally nailed it! There were a few trials and errors in making a stand for it before I figured out how to make a laser-cut enclosure for it. In the end, it turned out great and it works like a charm. So, how can I make it better? Read More...

Mini 7-Segment Clock, Part II

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I left off last time needing to write some code for the alarm setting feature. After a couple of hours of tinkering, I figured it out. It seemed like a nice idea at the time, but once I saw it implemented, I realized it’s not worth it.
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Mini 7-Segment Clock, Part I

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SMD soldering can be a little tricky, so I figured the more I do, the better I’ll get. I decided to go ahead and push on with the mini SMD 7-segment clock. After a few little projects like this, I should be a master in no time!
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Laser Cut LCD Clock Enclosure: Take 2

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If you remember, the first attempt at getting a front panel laser cut for my LCD clock didn’t work out so well. I don’t think it was a tolerancing issue. I think I just screwed it up.
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E-Paper Clock Prototyping, Part III

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I shelved the E-Paper clock for a few months so I could finish up some other stuff. (Bare Bones Arduino, RGB Night Light, SpeakJet Board, and the 7490 Clock.) That stuff’s all been wrapped up, so it’s time to switch gears back to the E-Paper clock and wrap it up. Read More...

Free Parts!

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My twins just had a birthday and they received 6 of those cool birthday cards that play a greeting. I spent a good $40 bucks on the SpeakJet board, but Hallmark somehow managed to do the same thing for $3 bucks, and squeeze it into a card? What’s in there?
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The SpeakJet Board


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If you’ve been following along, you know that I picked up a SpeakJet chip about a month ago. It’s a pretty cool chip. It didn’t take long to realize that it would make for a pretty cool R2-D2 project. Read More...

Fixing the 7490 Clock, Part III

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I’m so happy this clock is finally complete and ticking along accurately. It’s been so long. It’s nice to see all this time, money, and hard work finally pay off with such a nice looking clock. Read More...

Fixing the 7490 Clock, Part II

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Several months ago, I set out to finally fix the old 7490 clock that I designed back in 2008. I got busy with some other projects, so it’s been sitting on the back burner. I used a cheap crystal and a crude setting circuit to set and run the clock. The crystal module put out a 1 Hz signal that, through a series of buttons, I would steer through to the seconds, minutes, and hours section of the clock. The problem was that the signal that the crystal module put out was pretty lousy. I figured it was time to revisit the 7490 clock and see if I could use a microcontroller to improve the design. Read More...

Laser Cut LCD Clock Enclosure: Take 1

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Although I was pretty happy with the wooden DIY stands that I made for my Arduino LCD Clock, I thought they looked a little too homebrew. I was looking for more of a “finished product” kind of look. I imagined something fashioned out of acrylic. That didn’t work. I threw around the idea of getting some acrylic laser cut, but I didn’t know the first thing about doing it. Read More...

RGB Night Light Build

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I finally received the 30 RGB LED breakout boards that I designed for my RGB Night Light. Time to get my build on! Read More...

Fun With the SpeakJet Chip

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I’ve been wanting to play with the SpeakJet for a while now, but I just couldn’t justify the $25 that it sells for. It’s not SparkFun’s (sometimes marked-up) price, it’s $25 bucks pretty much wherever you can find it. I spent $99 on the SparkFun Hot Air Rework Station, so I figured I’d go for broke and add the SpeakJet to my order. Read More...

3-Way Nav Switch

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I picked up a cool little SMD 3-way nav switch breakout board from SparkFun in the hopes that I’d be able to incorporate it into my E-Paper Clock design. Read More...

SparkFun Hot Air Rework Station

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I’ve been wanting SparkFun’s Hot Air Rework Station since last Christmas, but I had so much stuff on my list that I felt bad adding it. Now that I’m planning on doing some serious SMD work, it was time to bite the bullet and pick one up. Read More...

ATtiny Programming Shield

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After a few failed attempts at making a home made PCB for my ATtiny Programming shield, I decided to go ahead and upload my Eagle file to OSH Park. Read More...

Adafruit SMD Book

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I’m planning on making a really small 7-segment LED clock. I plan to make it really small by making the switch to SMD parts. I’m basically using this project as a learning tool for SMD development. Read More...

RGB Night Light

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With my Bare Bones boards assembled and my RGB LED Night Light proof of concept complete, it’s time to get serious with the Night Light project. Read More...

Bare Bones Arduino v2

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Although I’m pretty happy with the way my Bare Bones Arduino boards came out, they could be smaller. I give you…version 2! Read More...

DIY Cable Management

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The cables under my credenza were getting a little unwieldy. Time for some DIY cable management. Read More...

Fun with RGB LEDs

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The SoundBox was a fun project. I learned a lot from it. But it’s a one trick pony and a total waste of the $30 worth of tech I ended cramming into that custom enclosure I made. It would be a shame to waste such a nice looking enclosure. Since I’ve been playing around with the ATtiny, I thought it would be cool to cram it full of RGB LEDs and make a cool rainbow-colored night light for the kids’ room. Read More...

Bare Bones Arduino PCB Build

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The Bare Bones Arduino PCBs that I ordered from OSH Park came back. It took 13 days to turn them around. It always seems like such an eternity! Read More...

Etching at Home: Take 2 (FAIL!)

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Board etch FAIL. The toner transfer method is a no go, at least not with my laser printer anyway. Read More...

E-Paper Clock Prototyping, Part II

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I was having some trouble formatting the strings for the time and date. I kept ending up with extra zeros at the end. I posted a question over at the Arduino forums and someone suggested dumping the strings in favor of the sprintf() command.
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Etching at Home - A Dry Run

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It’s been a good 12 years since I’ve etched my own board. I’ve been meaning to give it another go for some time, but it can be rather time consuming and the end results just don’t hold a candle to professionally made boards. I needed some parts from Jameco, so I tossed some Etchant powder into my order while I was at it. I’ve used the liquid in the past, but the powder was cheaper. I figured I’d give it a try. Read More...

Bare Bones Arduino

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Back in January when I discovered the SoundBox PCBs were junk, I kicked around the idea of making a bare bones Arduino board in favor of dedicated PCBs for simple spur-of-the-moment projects. Firing off a quick project would then just be a matter of code. Read More...

Playing with the ATtiny85

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Since I finished the Word Clock, and I'm waiting for SparkFun to send me a new e-paper display, I figured it was a good time to start playing around with the ATtiny85s that I picked up a few months ago. Read More...

Completed the Word Clock

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I finally nailed it. I finished the Word Clock. OK, I lied. It’s 99% complete. Read More...

Completed the SoundBox

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Finally! At long last! The SoundBox is complete. Read More...

E-Paper Clock Prototyping, Part I

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I know it’s been a month since I picked up the e-paper display, but I’ve been so busy with other projects. OK, let’s see what this thing can do… Read More...

Arduino LCD Clock: New GUI

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Was I happy with the GUI for my 16x2 LCD Digital Clock? Sure. I did what it needed to do. It displays the time and date. It displays the time in 24-hour mode. Why? Because it was easy. If I wanted to display the time in 12-hour format, I’d have to massage the numbers a bit. Read More...

Started the Word Clock PCB Build

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After 18 days, my Word Clock PCBs finally arrived. Man, does it take forever for them to turn around a board! Read More...

SoundBox Boards Are a Bust!

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It happens to the best of us. You design a board. Wait for the board. Get the board. Assemble the board. Board doesn’t work. Read More...

E-Paper Display

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I needed to pick up a few more parts for the Word Clock. I’m still waiting for the PCBs to come in, but I already identified the need for a few more switches and connectors to finish it up once the boards come in. I figured while I was at it, I’d shop around SparkFun for some cool parts to be used in future projects. Read More...

Free Junker Laptop

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My sister-in-law recently picked up a new MacBook Pro. She gave her old laptop to our niece to kick around. She ended up getting it back when it started falling apart. When I found out she was ready to throw it in the trash, I opted to take it off her hands. It’s got “photo frame” written all over it. Read More...

Fixing the 7490 Clock

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I made a really nice looking clock back in 2008 using nothing by 7490 TTL Decade Counters. Despite the fact that it came out really nice, it never really worked right. Read More...

DIY Breadboard Upgrades

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I added an LED and a USB breakout board to my breadboard. Now I can just plug the board in using any 5V USB adapter. The LED will flicker (or go out) if I’m shorting something out. It’s good to have some visual feedback that the board is powered up. Read More...

Dad, can you fix my penguin?

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My 6 year old has a penguin that lights up and projects stars on his ceiling when he goes to bed. He stepped on it and broke the button. He asked me, “Dad, can you fix my penguin?” Read More...

Finishing the Word Clock Display

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With the Word Clock display’s electronics complete, it’s time to make the baffle and the overlay. Read More...

Completed The Word Clock PCB

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I completed the PCB for the Word Clock last night, but I slept on it for the night before submitting it. It’s a good thing too, because I thought of something else. Read More...

Started the Word Clock

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Since I finished the LCD Clock, build a few stands, and finished the SoundBox PCB, it was time to start the Word Clock. Read More...

Another Clock Stand

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With Christmas around the corner, I thought that the first clock based on a microcontroller that I built would make an excellent present for my Dad, since he’s the one that inspired my interest in electronics. I finished up the clock just in time. He loved it.

Since I had three boards made, I also assembled a clock for myself. I didn’t have time to make stands for both clocks, so mine had to wait. Until now…
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SoundBox PCB

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I completed the circuit for the FartBox. It’s time to put the wraps on a PCB and send it out to be fabbed. Read More...