A die, proper

Well, it’s been some time since I’ve made a die. This is a relatively simple one for a customer. I had some problems with alignment and some mixed up number on my part, but it seems to work adequately. As always, some pics…

So, here is the unpunched pin.

The pin, un-flattened
The pin, un-flattened

And here it is flattened… all while maintaining the angular alignment of the reed and guard.

The pin punched flat
The pin punched flat

initially it was a pain because the material would mash in between the guard and the plate but I solved that. Here are some more pics anyways…

The die open
The die open
The die coming closed on the plate
The die coming closed on the plate
Valve reed and guard in the pockets
Valve reed and guard in the pockets

Well, there ya go. Fun fun.

From start to finish, a cutter.

We had to build a certain cutter for a customer and I figured it’d be neat to document the drawing and then the finished product. This is a cutter I designed and I think it turned out nice.

Conception of the cutter
Conception of the cutter

And here’s some pics of the finished result.

From the side
From the side
Overview of the cutter
Overview of the cutter
Insert Installed
Insert Installed

Anyways, nothing spectacular, but I like to document these kinds of things. 🙂

The new lab, again and a fish light controller

Nothing special in todays update but I figured I’d post a few things for the fun of it. First off I guess is my lab. I’ve been using it for a month or so. A little small, but at least it’s not at work.

New lab as of April 2011

Nothing to write home about I guess, but I feel comfortable here! Anyways, my little project for the day is the fish light. My bulb burnt out in my fish tank and since it was a high UV one I’ve decide to make an LED version. Since I have an array of LED’s I decided to go with some Whit, UV and a few red ones for good measure (I don’t like blue LEDs).


And here’s the breadboard, messy!

the LED driver on the breadboard

The LED’s are driven on 4 channels with PWM output on separate channels. The idea for me is to provide an on-timer for the cycles through the day and to provide a source of UV light for the plants. The diodes are driven by 4 TIP117’s so that each channel (White, UV, Red) can be controlled individually based on whatever profile I want.

Unfortunately I’ve discovered that the number of LED’s that I used is insufficient for use in the tank, not enough light. So I’ve ordered over 500 white LED’s and 150 UV led’s and 100 Red LED’s. I won’t use them all but it’s always good to have LED’s. One issue may be driving all of these LED’s. I have a maximum output of 1A on each of the PNP TIP117’s so an output of about 14W is all I can produce. Hopefully that’ll be enough!

Again LED Array
Again, the LED Array

Anyways, here’s hopin’!

The magic of EDM machines

The other day we were asked to remove a section out of a valve. It’s not a huge valve but milling it would’ve been difficult all the way to the center so we put it on the EDM to blast out the side to make the inside visible. through to the stuff on the inside. Here are the images.

another view
another view
EDMing of valve looking from the top
And a view from the top. gotta love the clean edges with the rough gritty surface.
EDMing of valve looking from the side
Here's a look at it from the side

This was all burned at 150 amps which is max for this machine.

A look as it was being burned, not much to see

Nothing crazy interesting, but I thought it may be neat.

The underrated PIC10F200 (and 202/204/206 as well)

Sitting around looking through my collection of parts during a brief stint of illness I came across my stash of 30 or so PIC10F200’s. These were my entry into the world of microcontrollers. Granted I wasn’t very good at electronics (and probably still not very good) and I found the lowest end microcontroller i could in order to understand them on a more fundamental basis. I found all of the peripherals on other microcontrollers to be a distraction and complicating factor from what I wanted to learn.

batch of 10f200's
My little batch if PIC10F200's, I got more in tubes

Nowadays, delving into 32bit architectures and whatnot, I’ve forgotten about the little MCU’s. Thinking about it they’re still incredibly useful in a myriad of circumstances. Only costing 59 cents or 30 cents at volume, and running at 4Mhz internally these have an amazing range of uses.

Consider the lowest end of the low end, the 10F200. Now it only has 256 words (12-bit wide instructions) and 16 bytes of RAM. It has 3 I/O and one input only pin. Now in a world of Arduinos and large pin count microcontrollers running at 40+Mhz , it may seem like this thing has no use but I beg to differ.

Today I was tinkering around with the little unit today and I was recalling some of the things I imagined I could do with the limited hardware. So today I wanted to see how well it could produce sound. Now this little thing is trivial for most MCU’s, simply output an appropriate square wave. My goal though was to produce a warble and program it in a C compiler. This was very easy and achievable.

The little sound circuit
The little sound circuit I was working on... using a LM2904 for amplification.

Now, granted, it’s not a very complicated circuit, but I found it to work admirably. The compiled code took up only 36% of the ROM and 38% of the RAM. That’s with 2 16 bit counters and an 8 bit function variable. it also used delay functions. Of interest to note though, I tried using floats, no go, the libraries filled up the ROM like boom!

Anyways, here are some used I dreamed up for the PIC10F200 over the years. They are mostly in support roles but I think they’re equally as useful as any other role within a project, especially given the MCU’s small footprint and low price. The applications I’ve thought up are as follows, keep in mind we only have 3 IO and one input.

  • A dice game: I actually created a prototype of this some time ago based on the idea that this would be my business card. It was simply a set of multiplexed LED’s (six in total) on a PCB that would show like the face of a dotted die. one input was used and the other three were for the IO. Bringing the IO to an input mode would turn off the leds.
  • Two button debouncing: Using a microcontroller for debouncing has been my favorite way to debounce inputs on a button. By using an internal count on the MCU you can simulate a charging/discharging capacitor and provide threshold values to simulate a ‘dead zone’
  • A little robot: Using the two output for motor control and the two inputs for sensing, you could potentially make a simply robot. the only problem with it may be the limited ROM for logic routines, but I suppose that’s the challenge.
  • Timer Lamp: The 10f200 has just enough IO for two buttons and two outputs (I = On/off, I=Timer function, O= LED out, O=Relay for lamp). my old project with a timer lamp was done with a PIC16F505 (a limited MCU in its own right) but the 10F200 would’ve done the job quite admirably.
  • Dimmers on AC lamps: This example is used by microchip extensively to promote the device, it is one of the many uses of this device.
  • Sound generation: Like I did today, it seems like a pretty worthwile use of the chip. Cheap and easy. small size also helps with the surface mount varieties.
  • One-wire wake up: You could use it as a separate node to watch a data line for signalling on the one-wire protocol. I have used this to fire up LED’s in a specified pattern and duration. With the SOP package tou can solder it directly to the LED and data line in a bizzaro single package.

Anyways, the uses are endless for such a limited but inexpensive device. I have no idea why such a limited device captivates my imagination but perhaps it’s the small size that makes it interesting and uncomplicated design and use.

So, for your troubles of reading a wall of text. Here’s a neat photo of an old diode for your perusal.

Neat picture of a diode
A bonus picture of an old school diode. Gotta love the little spring inside holding the junction together.

Little LCD tester

Well, after some playing around and getting my electronics feet back, I’ve finally rediscovered some passion. This little project is something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time. Basically it’s an HD44780 LCD tester. A very simple device but if you’re like me, when you receive an LCD in the mail, you want to be able to see the device in it’s glory.

The board inside the LCD tester
The board inside the LCD tester

I just made it with a PIC16F690 MCU and some random components. The output is of course the LCD but also two LEDs. The unit has provisions for the backlight though it’s just straight 5v out, you have to worry about resistances when you hook it up.

The button on the back of the unit basically prints extra 20 character long strings so you can see how the memory is addressed and see how things scroll over in printing.

Anyways, here are pics:

Finished unit from the back
Finished unit from the back. 5v barrel connector and a toggle switch for power
The unit from the front
The unit from the front. just the LEDs and the pinouts. Also note the knob on the top for the pot. that's for adjusting contrast.
The text out
The text out. this one on a 2004 lcd

Well, there we go. This will be a handy little device for testing whether any of them are any good.