Tag: gadget

  • Tim Tears It Apart: Kidde KN-COB-B Carbon Monoxide Alarm

    Of course it happens this way: stuff works for you, but breaks as soon as you have guests and drives them crazy. In this case, the missus and I were out of the house having a baby and her folks were in to hold down the fort. A carbon monoxide detector had failed in the…

  • Tim Tears It Apart: Honeywell R8184 Oil-fired boiler controller

    Its official designation is “R8184 Intermittent Ignition Oil Primary”. “But Tiiiim! That sounds booooorrrring. Why this thing, and not one of those fancy cloud-enabled thermostats containing more RAM than the desktop computer you had in college and not less than five processors capable of running Angry Birds at a playable framerate?” Yes, excitement-wise this one…

  • Tim Tears It Apart: Sensitech TempTale4(R) data logger

    One of these devices appeared in a large shipment of temperature-sensitive raw materials at my work, amid a pile of dry ice chips. While I don’t know the MSRP or actual retail price of this gadget, the shipper packs one in with every order and tacks on $60-70 for it as a line-item; nonreturnable as…

  • A new feature: “Tim Tears It Apart”!

    So, as you might have guessed, I’m an electronics engineer, and I like to tear things apart – especially gadgets. I don’t usually post about it, because a) someone else has probably already posted a teardown of that gadget, and b) I’m lazy as balls. But then I realized a good teardown is not all…

  • AllElectronics “Mystery Infrared Device” with LIRC

    NOTE: This device is no longer sold; rescuing this information before it disappears from various caches. Description of the device from AllElectronics: Our best guess is this is an infrared receiver/ transmitter for use with televisions or other remote-controlled equipment. Made for OnCommandâ„¢, it consists of a small black box, 2″ x 1.95″ x 0.6″…

  • Fun with cheap TV-tuner dongles and Software Defined Radio (SDR)

    So, last week I joined the bandwagon of exploring software-defined radio (SDR) via one of those super-cheap Chinese TV tuner USB sticks. In a nutshell, the idea of SDR is that, rather than the traditional approach of building dedicated radio receiver hardware for each possible RF band and modulation type (here’s your AM radio, here’s…

  • Notes to myself: Using EnergyMicro EFM32 with GCC open-source toolchain

    The EFMs can be used with many different toolchains after installing EnergyMicro’s “Simplicity Studio” package, which includes board/chip support packages and some code examples. EnergyMicro’s application note AN0023 has an overall good overview of setting up an Eclipse + GCC (CodeSourcery) toolchain. Nevertheless, in attempting to replicate this process on my Win7 system (work PC;…

  • Computer-controlled RGB LED Buckyball

    Everyone and his brother has built LED cubes before, and while they are unmitigatedly awesome, I wanted to try something a little different. As far as I can tell, nobody has made an LED buckyball before! And of course, the requirements for such a large, sparse shape are a little different. In a typical LED…

  • Fixing an Acer AL2216W LCD Monitor (Delta DAC-19M010 power supply, bad caps)

    There are several dozen of this model of monitor at my work since last year or so; the other day I found one on top of the dead electronics plunder pile recycling bin, looking brand new. Googling the model # and terms such as “problems” or “repair” or “won’t turn on” revealed pages of discussion…

  • Slam Stick: dissected!

    Woot! It sounds like a gadget I designed will be featured in next month’s EDN magazine (Prying Eyes column). This must be some kind of ironic career turning point: I landed a job by reverse-engineering other peoples’ stuff; now people reverse-engineer my stuff.

  • UVLO, Comparators with hysteresis (now with 20% more equations!)

    The Mosquino board is intended to operate from very low-power sources, such as RF, vibration energy harvesting and small thermal gradients (e.g. body heat). Although the ATMega and the rest of the circuit can be put to sleep at < <1uA once they have reached legal operating voltage, many semiconductor circuits fail this test with…

  • Optical Mouse Hacks: 2D Micropositioning using cheap mouse cameras

    Optical mice work by pointing a tiny cheap camera at the surface of your desktop, tracking the motion of ‘interesting’ points in the surface texture (woodgrain, imperfections, highlight/shadow) as the mouse slides around over it, and converting this to an X and Y motion. An LED is used to light the surface beneath the sensor,…

  • Weatherball

    Last night I finished throwing together a workable version of the Weatherball, currently displaying a color code at the end of my flagpole to indicate whether tomorrow holds any interesting weather. Apparently cities and radio stations have been doing it since the 1950s, but now I have my own! The data is grabbed from the…

  • And these points of data make a beautiful line…

    (and we’re out of beta, we’re releasing on time… Err… deliverable code freeze will happen monday morning, or wednesday afternoon (due date), or before 50% of the devices are sealed up for delivery with the code already on them, whichever comes before the last bug is found. [Especially if the bugs are discovered in hardware,…

  • smallfish@tech

    So yeah, that particular work project just keeps getting better. Today I got this in my email from the manufacturer of a critical component, reaffirming my personal “If it’s not in-stock on Digikey, I do not specify it in my design” policy. […] The <display> is on hold. There are no technical reasons but it…

  • It’s a mean old bitch and it has stupid name, bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch

    So, I got an email back today from a contractee, whereupon I learned: 1) A technology I created, which I envisioned as having significant pro-consumer subversive uses, will instead be used as a carrier for evil (“hey, can it collect usage data to sell to credit-card companies every time they use it? That would be…

  • Blinkenlichten RGB LED controller: protocol / firmware (1.2)

    This is the protocol spec and PIC10 firmware download for Das Blinkenlichten (1.2). This version improves handling of the ‘Identify’ command by end devices. Backward compatibility to 1.1 is not affected. I don’t have pretty datasheets, application notes, timing diagrams, or much example code / pseudocode, but I’m sick of sitting on this thing until…