7805 on a SNES Motherboard
7805 is at the heart of a Super Famicom / Super NES

When I made the AddOhms Tutorial on Linear Regulators, I made a comment about the 7805. I said it may be one of the most important Integrated Circuits (ICs) ever made. That’s a bold statement. The 555, 805,  or 7400 might all qualify for such a distinction. My feeling about the 7805’s importance is because it is a chip that is still popular today. It is used, or at least was used, in so many applications. And it is the heart of many 5V digital systems.

Including the Nintendo Super Famicom (and I assume the US SuperNES).

This picture is from an SFC I disassembled to repurpose the case. While taking it apart, the 7805 caught my attention because it was attached to a shield as a heat sink. Also, I find it fascinating that it is one of 3 or 4 through-hole components on the entire system. As you can see from the picture, it needs some cleaning. I might post more pictures later.

baldengineer's IoT Internet Of Nothing
IoT: Internet Of Nothing

IoT (n): Internet of Things

  1. Things that connect with the internet, to share information.
  2. Devices that communicate with each other.
    1. No wait. Nothing does. It’s the Internet Of Nothing!

It continues to amaze me how few Internet of Things (IoT) devices actually communicate with each other. Isn’t Internet connectivity suppose to make it EASIER for things to talk? Computers have been communicating with the Internet for 45 years. Why can’t Light Bulbs from two manufacturers do it?

At some point someone has to come along to “fix” this situation. What is that solution going to look like and how much longer do we have to wait? Let’s get out of the HealthKit era of things talking to each other.

Additive Manufacturing
Additive Manufacturing (aka 3D Printing) Infographic

While I was attending a material science conference, I learned the value of listening to something new. The paper I came to see was finished, and the next was about to start. It was titled, “Additive Manufacturing.”

I almost left!

What a dull phrase, right? Well, I was stuck in the middle of a row with four people on either side of me. So I decided, it was a good time to catch up on Reddit. What I didn’t realize is “additive manufacturing” is what almost everyone else in the world calls “3D Printing.” Plus, this presenter was talking about doing it with metal!

When you think about it, most extrusion-based 3D printers are laying down material one layer at a time. In other words, they are manufacturing an object by “adding” material. See the connection? Most people probably lump 3D-printing into rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing into a “real” production process.

One more story.

At SXSW one year, I attended an event held by Shapeways. Objects they made were all over the venue, and they looked incredible. Plus, some were for sale. My favorite? Super Mario Bros related stuff. Do a search for “Mario” in Shapeways marketplace for some neat things to add to your desk.

 

 

Never trust an autorouter
Autorouters Suck: Autorouter: 0. Baldengineer: 1

I am not a fan of relying on the Autorouter in EAGLE — or any PCB CAD software for that matter. When laying out a board, I’ll use the autorouter to get an idea if the part placement is going to work or not. In this case, I was reminded how much autorouters suck! Even after running for while, the autorouter could only route up 50% of the nets (signals).

Never Trust The Autorouter

As Chris Gammell‘s T-Shirt Says, Never Trust The Autorouter.

It only took me about 20 minutes to start over and finish the manual layout. I still want to clean it up a little, but over all, I beat the Autorouter.

What is the board anyway?

In January I visited Tokyo on my annual work trip. While there, I ran over to Akihabara to check out a used media store called Traders. The multi-level store (like all those in Tokyo) sold used video games and movies. Each floor featured different platforms. My favorite was the 2nd floor which was all retro 8, 16, and 32 bit systems. Piles of Famicoms (NES), Super Famicoms (SNES), Mega Drives (Genesis), and other systems were all around. In the middle of the floor were racks of cartridges.

While there I picked up a couple of Rockman (Mega Man) carts, Super Mario brothers, and even Adventure island.

A US-based NES can play Famicom games since the basic hardware is the same. However, the pin outs are slightly different. Also, US-based NES systems look for a lock-out ship (CIC) that Famicoms don’t have. Fortunately I ran across a project that uses the ATtiny (AVRCICZZ) to emulate the lockout chip. So armed with that and some pinouts, I’ve created an adapter.

Keep subscribed, after a few more touches, I’ll post the EAGLE files as an Open Source Hardware (OSH) project.