Surface Mount Rework Tools – Workbench Wednesdays

element14 Presents on YouTube
2019-03-27

In this element14 Workbench Wednesdays episode, I review tools provided by Weller which are suitable for surface mount soldering. Through-out the soldering series, I have been using mini-projects to see how the gear works. Making this particular video was special to me. The subject was a TI-85. Back when I was a kid, one of my first soldering projects was to replace a capacitor in the TI-85. At the time, all I knew is that the change would make it run faster. I didn’t know why I just knew it worked.

Today, I now know that capacitor was part of an RC oscillator for the Z80 CPU. It clocked the processor. By putting in a lower value, such as 2.2 or 4.7 pF, the calculator would speed up. The trade-off, of course, is that it means the batteries drain faster! But hey, before someone created Zshell, this was the only way to make Breakout run fast.

Of course, the focus of the episode is the gear from Weller. So please, hit-up element14 and check that stuff out. You can also find the polls I mention at the end of the video there.

Watch, Comment, and Vote on element14

Soldering Tool Upgrade Paths

element14 - Workbench Wednesdays
06-FEB-2019

Right after the digital multimeter, or DMM, a soldering iron is a must-have tool for electronics work. Like most tools, there is a vast variety of options available. In this episode of element14’s Workbench Wednesdays, I look at a range of instruments from Weller. They offer everything from a cheap $10 “fire starter” (sorry, it is what we call them!) all the way up to a full-blown surface mount rework station.

Whether you don’t have a soldering iron or you have a  $100 station, this video will show you options to consider when thinking about an upgrade.

After you watch the video, head over to element14 and tell me for you favorite solder tips! (Or your most burning questions!)

Send James your Solder Tips

 

 

Answering BJT questions with Karen on element14’s The Learning Circuit

element14's The Learning Circuit
2019-01-02

Over on element14, Karen hosts The Learning Circuit. It is a tutorial show geared towards learning STEM basics. So far she has covered subjects like soldering, diodes, and how to make a DIY electromagnet. She did a great job on introducing BJTs and how they work. While I thought she provided a clear explanation of the internal workings, some members of the element14 community still had questions.

She invited me on to revisit BJTs and transistors to (hopefully) clarify the connection between how transistors physically work and how to use them.

 

What is the Apple IIgs? – AddOhms Live Clip

Bald Engineer Twitch Channel
2018-11-18

Watch What is the Apple IIgs? Highlight | AddOhms Live from 

During a live stream, I was asked: “What is the Apple IIgs?” In this AddOhms Live Twitch Clip, I answer the question.

The Apple IIgs was the last of the highly successful Apple II line of computers. The “GS” stood for “graphics” and “sound.” Compared to previous Apple II computers, the IIgs was a fully 16-bit machine. When connected to its proprietary RGB monitor, it rendered a gorgeous display. Sadly, not much software took advantage of the improved graphics and sound capabilities. The IIgs was fully backward compatible with the older 8-bit line of Apple II computers. Its compatibility was so good that most IIgs users only used it in the compatibility mode.

How did the Apple IIgs achieve backward compatibility?

The IIgs contains an ASIC called the “MEGA-II.” (Which has nothing to do with the “Mega” Arduino boards.) It includes all of the individual logic chips from the original Apple II design as a single IC. Well, in addition to that IC you also need to add a CPU, RAM, and a ROM.

In my opinion, the Apple IIgs is best of the Apple IIs. In fact, of computers in that era, it is my overall favorite. When I got the IIgs, it replaced my previous pick: a Macintosh SE/30.

Signetics Write Only Memory 25120 Datasheet

1972

Signetics 25120 Page 1-torn

Signetics started as an IC manufacturer. In 1975 they were bought by Philips Semiconductors, which is now NXP. Interestingly the address in the datasheet, I think, was the original site. Today, it’s home to a Lowe’s Home Improvement Store. According to this Wikipedia article, it was created by John “Jack” Curtis. Apparently, it was included in a real Signetics catalog as a joke! Imagine that happening today. Additional information about the joke is available on sigwom.com. (Which may be written by Jack himself, not entirely sure.)

Download Signetics 25120 WOM Datasheet

 

Op Amp Circuits by Bob Pease

TI (Formerly National Semiconductor)
September 2002

TI AN-31 Torn Paper

Op amps are one of the most versatile ICs in electronics. A purely analog device, they can be used for amplification, summing, integration, and a whole host of other circuits. AN-31 from Texas Instruments is 32 pages of op amp circuits. (Note: this document was created before TI acquired National Semiconductor.)

Even more amazing is that the author is Bob Pease. If you never heard of Mr. Pease, please spend a few minutes right now reading this TI page dedicated to him. His contributions to electronics are nearly immeasurable. (Sadly, he was involved in a car accident after attending the funeral of his equally famous engineering friend, Jim Williams.)

Download AN-31 from TI

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Wolfenstein 3D on Gameboy Color

http://www.happydaze.se
23-OCT-2016

Wolfenstein 3D defined the FPS genre in a way no one could have predicted. Just like the Gameboy defined portable gaming in a way no one could have predicted. Cartridge based computing and gaming offered something that disk (or disc?) based media never could: additional hardware.

The most famous example of additional hardware is the “SuperFX” chip that debuted with the SNES game Starfox. (It was in used in others in addition to a successor.) Most NES cartridges had other hardware too: mappers, sound generators, additional ram, etc. (more…)

If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel

Josh Worth Art & Design

A tediously accurate scale model of the solar system

scrolling scale model of solar system

When I was growing up, I watched a lot of Star Trek. Over time I’ve looked into other Sci-Fi series. The occasional hit, like the reimaged Battlestar Galactica, caught my attention. But, for me, the voyages of the Enterprise defined “space” to me. Or the stories on Deep Space Nine. (There are no other Star Treks.)

Seeing a new alien or planet each week warps (see what I did there?) your mind to think that space is relatively small. But when you consider it takes almost 500 seconds for the light to travel from the Sun to the Earth, you begin to realize space is freaking huge.

That’s why this scrolling model of the solar system is so fantastic. It offers a unique sense of how “big” the universe really is–at least our solar system. Check it out on joshworth.com.

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s 4th Nerdist Interview

Neridst Podcast
20-SEP-2016

You are probably familiar with Neil deGrasse Tyson. He is as brilliant as he is entertaining. That fact is why I was so excited when I saw his name pop-up on my queue for the Nerdist Podcast.

Nerdist Podcast

In the past, I suggested some electrical engineering podcasts. The Nerdist isn’t like those. Hosted by Chris Hardwick, each episode includes an interview. As the podcast’s name suggests, most of the guests have some roots in today’s nerd or geek culture. So while not an engineering podcast, there may be the occasional guest that interest you.

4 Great Things Neil deGrasse Tyson on Nerdist Said

This episode was the first time I took notes while listening to the Nerdist. Here are four quotes I captured, that make listening to the entire episode worthwhile.

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3 Way Camera Shoe

Thingiverse.com
17-JUL-2016

DSLR Shoe AdapterWhen recording videos for either baldengineer.com or, more often, AddOhms, I need at least two things attached to my camera. I used a Canon T5i. The two devices I need to have connected are a shotgun microphone and a wireless receiver. In the past, I just let the remote’s wireless receiver dangle. That really bothered me.

I’m still surprised this DSLR shoe adapter didn’t already exist on Thingiverse. Anyway, I created one. Head over to Thingiverse to download it.