Surface Mount Soldering for the Hobbyist

Once again, a hack-a-day post has me all excited.


Can you solder something this small? Yes you can! There’s a new, very detailed, instruction set available. Get nearly professional results on your hobby bench!

Also good: The whole Instructables site, and hack-a-day’s soldering station tutorial.


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.

Shortcut to Repository

You can create a desktop shortcut to a repository location with tortoise using the following command in a shortcut:

TortoiseProc.exe /command:repobrowser /path:"url/to/repository"

I wonder what else you can do with TortoiseProc? Update. Revert. Export. Createpatch. Otta be able to create some cool deployment scripts this way. Documentation.


Free VMWare Infrastructure

Install VMWare ESX3i on a USB Key

  1. Open VMware-VMvisor-InstallerCD-3.5.0_Update_2-103909.i386.iso with 7-Zip.
  2. Extract install.tgz.
  3. Open install.tgz in 7-zip.
  4. Extract /usr/lib/vmware/installer/VMware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0-67921.i386.dd.bz2
  5. Extract VMware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0_Update_2-103909.i386.dd from VMware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0-67921.i386.dd.bz2 uxing 7-zip.
  6. Download dd.exe version 0.5 from <a href="

  8. Execute ‘dd –list’.
  9. Find USB Key in list, mine looks like ‘?DeviceHarddisk3Partition0’.
  10. Execute ‘dd if=VMware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0_Update_2-103909.i386.dd of=?DeviceHarddisk3Partition0 bs=1M –size –progress’.
  11. Unplug the USB flash drive (Warning: If you forget to unplug the flash drive from the PC you might lose the data on your hard drives the next time you boot!)
  12. UAttach the USB flash drive to the machine you want to boot (Warning: If ESX Server 3i recognizes local drives, you might lose the data on it, so make sure you don´t need it anymore or unplug all hard drives!)
  13. Turn the machine on and make sure the USB flash drive is selected as boot device
  14. Watch ESX Server 3i boot
  15. Configure
  16. Enjoy!


VI Toolkit – For scripting with powershell or others.
Enable remote ssh to ESX3i
esExpress – VMWare backup (maybe compatible in September


Running VMWare Server 1.x on Vista 64 / Server 2008

VMWare 1.x doesn’t have signed drivers, which the x64 versions of Windows require. But there’s a fix documented in the VMWare Forums involving the use of a Signed Driver Requirement Prevention Driver called ReadyDriverPlus.


CSLA Templates

It’s pretty easy to make a class into a template. Not everything get’s magicified, but it works and saves time. There’s some discussion of this in this forum post



If your data access methods open multiple database connections in a Transaction scoped csla method, you’re going to get MSDTC errors (hopefully! since if you don’t you’re dev machine has too much good stuff on it and then you’re going to get the transaction controller errors later when you deploy.). There are two solutions to this: 1) (quick and dirty) eliminate the Transaction scopes. This doesn’t do good things for data integrity, but it prevents problems. 2) share the connection and transaction. This requires some extra code. (see this forum post). This may be in later versions of CSLA than the 2.0 documented in my book, but I’m waiting on the 3.5 book rather than having to buy all the supplements AND a new book in the fall.



Spoo is/are (the plural of spoo is spoo) small, white, pasty, mealy critters, rather worm-like, and generally regarded as the ugliest animals in the known galaxy by just about every sentient species capable of starflight, with the possible exception of the pak’ma’ra, who would simply recommend a more rigorous program of exercise. They are also generally considered the most delicious food in all of known space, regardless of the individual’s biology, almost regardless of species, except for the pak’ma’ra, who like the flavor but generally won’t say so simply to be contrary. Spoo are raised on ranches on worlds with a damp, moist, somewhat chilly climate so that their skin can acquire just the right shade of paleness. Spoo travel in herds, if moving a total of six inches in any given direction in the course of a given year can actually be considered moving. They stay in herds ostensibly for mutual protection, but the reality is that if they weren’t propped up against one another, most of them would simply fall down. They do not howl, bark, moo, purr, yap, squeak or speak. Mainly, they sigh. Herds of sighing spoo can reportedly induce unparalleled bouts of depression, which is why most spoo ranchers wear earmuffs even when it’s only mildly cold, damp, wet and dreary outside. If there is any life-or-death struggle for dominance within the spoo herd, it has not yet been detected by modern science.

Spoo ranching is one of the least regarded professions known. Little or no skill is required, once you’ve got a planet with the right climate. You bring in two hundred spoo, plop them down in the middle of your ranch, and go back to the nearby house. Soon you’ve got more. When it comes time to cull out the ones ready for market (the softest, mealiest, palest, most forlorn-looking spoo of the pack), little physical effort is required since they’re incapable of rapid movement without falling over (see above). They do not resist, fight, or whine; they only sigh more loudly. When spoo harvest time comes, the air is full of the sound of whacking and sighing, whacking and sighing. Even an experienced spoo rancher can only harvest for brief periods of a time, due to the increased volume of sighing, which even the sound of whacking cannot altogether erase. (also see above) Some have simply gone mad.

Spoo are the only creatures of which the Interstellar Animal Rights Protection League says, simply, “Kill ’em.”

Fresh spoo (served at an optimum temperature of 62-degrees) is served in cubed sections, so that they bear as little resemblence as possible to the animal from which they have just been sliced. Spoo is usually served alongside a chablis, or a white zinfandel.

Further information on the care, feeding, eating and whacking of spoo can be found in the second edition of the Interstellar Guide to Fine Dining.


Making my dumb Microsoft Streets and Trips GPS work on my Mac

1) Download Prolific PL2303 Driver for Mac OS X. Install.

2) Edit /System/Library/Extensions/ProlificUsbSerial.kext/Contents/Info.plistChange idProduct and idVendor numbers to match those you get from the Apple System Profiler. Use the decimal values, not the hex ones.

3) Reboot. /dev/tty.usbserial should exist now.

Similar instructions at:


Use Google Maps and Firefox with OS X’s Address Book

Mac OS X Hints has a hint describing how to create an applescript plugin for Address Book to get Google Maps of your addresses.