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Solder of fortune ( yeah, sorry, that was a horrible pun ) megapost

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Woah. Today was another long day at the Hackerspace. It's 2:30 AM and I'm finally finished for the day and heading to bed. Just to write this post and it's finally sleepy time. This entry will be quite picture heavy, so those of you who are on 33.6kbps modems may want to take that into account ;). Seeing as it was a long day, the entry will probably quite long - a fair warning. You will however see a whole process of making a PCB, so maybe that's something cool enough to warrant reading through all of this ;)

First of all, guys at the Hackerspace shown me how to properly solder. Since I prefer to do my C64 work on the original machine, as opposed to the emulator ( the 'vibe' is different ;) ), I really wanted to set up one of the Commodores I have at home so that I can code on it. Unfortunately, using the plasma TV was right out, as the monitor cable for C64 is horribly short, and the 42" screen is not something you want to look at while sitting 1 meter from it. Because of that I was forced to code only on emulator. That isn't half bad, as rendering for example those fractals that I described in http://www.gamedev.n...ered-rendering/ took about 15 minutes on 2000-3000% speed of the original machine. Realising how long it would take to render those on real Commodore makes me shudder. Anyways, back to what I was talking about - even though it's slow, it's more awesome, and I want to code on it. So I got my hand on an old, small TV set that I could possibly connect to. The only problem, it didn't have S-Video output, and I had only cable with that output for C64.

Enter soldering! Quick google led me to pinouts.ru, site with hardware pinouts, cables schemes and connectors layouts ( according to their main site). The website had even a full pinout for the exact adapter I was looking for: http://pinouts.ru/Vi...er_pinout.shtml . After quick consult with Ben ( yeah, I guess I should start paying him tantiems or something biggrin.png ), I understood what I need to connect where, I looted my box with old parts for cables, sat down and soldered. Here's my creation:


I am quite proud of it, as not only this is the first adapter that I made, but also it is first really usable thing that I created when I needed it, not just for fun. Guys at the HS shown me how to use multimeter, and I checked the cables - all seemed well. I tested it with connecting my Wii through it to the plasma TV, and the image was crystal clear. Sound was also good. SUCCESS! \o/. Unfortunately, it seems that my small TV that I want to use as a monitor for C64 can't be changed to get signal from SCART/EURO without a remote. That is a major setback, but I guess it's also an opportunity - I'll need to get my hands on some IR LED, find the datasheet for the remote in the internet, and emulate its behavior somehow, probably on some Arduino smile.png.

Now that I started to solder and desolder ( is that even a word? if not, how do you call that activity?) , I went on a rampage. I salvaged any electronic parts that I found in our /dev/null - our bin for anything unused, with primary target being LEDs for my POV display. I found two juicy equilizer displays with plenty of colorful LEDs and cannibalized them. I also acquired quite a few resistors and other usable parts. Yeah, I know those are incredibly cheap, but it's really nice to have start budget of 0.0. It's always easier to make decision to start spending cash on a hobby that you know you're really into.

That or I'm just making excuse for being cheap and lazy tongue.png

Where was I? Oh yes. I got some parts for my POV display. The first prototype was just a CD that I put on top of a small DC motor, to test if it spins fast enough. And honestly, it did. After that I drilled some holes in it, soldered couple LEDs to it , attached them to breadboard with resistors and checked if they worked. And yes, they did. Here's how it looked:


To be quite honest the LEDs didn't work as the machine was spinning, due to the cables cutting through the air like bunch of whips. The prototype obviously needed some work ;).

After thinking it through and talking about it with my friends, I decided to replace the CD with a printed prototype board. It wouldn't have any fixed routes ( except for one ), so I could solder in and out things as I saw fit, start with prototype and grow bigger from that. I launched Eagle, a really cool CAD software that allows you to design boards. Btw: I use free version, which has a limit on board size, but the size that I get with it (100 x 80 mm ) is easily big enough for my needs right now. Anyways, Here's the printed schematic that I quickly put together, already on paper:


The dark circle in the middle will be place where brush with current will connect to the board - shaft of the motor will go through the very middle of the board and have ground connected to it, that I will connect back from board through a brush as well. It's not really circular, but I hope that won't cause much problems. Eventually, when I'll be designing dedicated PCB for this, it'll have proper shape. After the print was finished, I cut a piece of board that was bit bigger than the surface I printed, cleaned it properly, and put it through laminator couple times. After the mask got properly stuck, I put it into water for 5 minutes, took the paper off, and landed with this beauty ready to be etched:


Well, seems like the transfer process wasn't perfect, but it was good enough for my needs. Another thing I realised was just how freakin' small I made the holes. It was obvious that it'll be hard to solder properly with that tiny copper surface. Nevertheless, I was happy. The board was ready to be etched, I just needed to drill a hole in the side, and off to vat of blue magical chemicals it went:


*blob* *blurb* *bloop* it went for couple minutes, etching away the unprotected parts of copper, leaving only those that were covered with paint. Accidentally, the sign on the vat says 'do not drink'. It's smart, regarding we're dealing with CRAZY people in Hackerspace ohmy.png. I would know, I'm one of them ;). Anyways, the vat did its job and couple minutes later I cleaned the board from the protective ink and had it in my hand - a real life, hand made by me ( well, some parts of it anyways ) PCB. Sweet! It may be not perfect, it may have some problems, but it's my baby ;).


Now only to drill OVER 9000 holes. Sheesh. Since it takes ages, I only drilled bunch of them to put necessary pieces in, I'll drill more as it's needed. And yeah, the sockets are so incredibly small that soldering is basically putting a bunch of soldering iron more or less connecting two dots you want to join, and then adding some more. And more. And more. With my noob soldering skills you end up with such hideous results:


But again, I'm not bothered by that, as it WORKED:


Yay, blinkenlights!

Join me next time, when I'll be hopefully adding the rotation to the device, maybe even add some small controller that will make the lights blink to make pretty patterns!
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