Electronics Project Fun



I am always interested in the actual building of cool technology. There are so many cool applications of electronics that just aren’t mass-produced. We should be able to make them ourselves.

It’s amazing how much the internet has made this possible.

Groups of people band together to share a 155 inch panel of printed circuit board, each using several square inches for their own panel, and each only paying a fraction of the cost of getting a custom piece made for them. ($2.50/square inch!!) So, how can you get your board designed?

Well, you could use a pre-designed, open source circuit design. Or you can use free software like CadSoft Eagle. If you do use the free software, you’ll need some instructions on how to convert Eagle files to the Gerber format used by the manufacturing folks.

Now you’ve got a circuit board, but how do you attach components to it? Well, you can solder, but that takes, like, FOR-EV-ER. I just discovered you can use something called a Hot Air Rework Station.


This is a hair-dryer-like device which uses a blast of hot air to liquefy the solder paste you’ve put on the pads of your circuit board, fixing the components to it. This makes it possible to solder on surface-mount components without too much pain. Beautiful! Maybe slower than wave-soldering, but definitely a great hobbyist option.

The amazing thing is that you don’t need expensive tools to do your manufacturing. With a little effort you can use a $30 hot plate as a soldering station.

The internet is a great place to learn more about making electronics!


  • Hack a Day – daily project ideas and news.
  • Gold Phoenix – get a 155 inch panel made for $100.
  • SparkFun – project ideas and tutorials, as well as parts.

News from lake MLP

I’m continuing my progress into the wonderful world of Ruby. It’s such a mind-bender. It’s like a meta-language. Programming it is like writing a language for your program to be written in. The simple stuff is fast and easy. The complex stuff is mind-bending. There’s a page on Ruby Central with some good stuff on creating your own container classes. Good stuff for UI controllers. Another book I need to mark is Hashes are Cool: a note on how to use hashes and their role in ruby method overloading.

I’m still working on the idea of inversion of control/dependency injection/testability for my CSLA classes. After some thread searching, I figured out I need to watch DNR TV Episode 60 with Rocky! It looks like he covers exactly this kind of stuff in there! For the archives here’s some discussion on returning a ‘no results’ object from a CSLA query. I may also find a use for LINQPad sometime soon. Steve Eichert has some thoughts on automatic setup for DAL unit tests.

Yesterday’s big task was building some firewalls for a VOIP VPN. I discovered that I was going to have too many troubles getting IPSEC working, so I bit the dog and learned how to get OpenVPN going on PFSense. It wasn’t so bad, except for getting the routes to show up on each device as they should.

I must remember to tell my old man how to decline doing tech support. His mother is killing him with stupid mac problems.

I just bought CodeRush! Developer Express has the stupidest credit card validation ever, but I think I’m going to be happy with my shortcutty goodness. I must spend some time learning it better.

Link of the day

I just discovered that I really like Yahoo! Widgets. It’s embarrassing how much better it is than Vista Gadgets. It’s not much better than Apple Dashboard, but the widget selection is probably better.

I’ve also been seeing some stories on NuevaSync it looks to be an Exchange Activesync gateway implementation for Google Calendar, Contacts, and (coming soon) Mail.

ASP.NET health monitoring is something I should be using in all of my apps. Why the hell is it not turned on in studio? Codeproject also has an Excel interop library that should be useful. Also there is a C# wrapper for the google static map api. I also found a dll linker for .NET. Finally combined assemblies. Now I just need to use Cruise Control and automate my builds.

I also wanted to know about Low Carb Diets and Pregnancy. I found a number of articles that are interesting on the low carb subject. JESUS! I just found an article documenting a study that says CARBS KILL THE BRAIN CELLS THAT STOP HUNGER!