Living in North Texas. I have been seeing plenty of electrical arcs lately, due to the unprecedented storms we have been having through the month of May. A few of these arcs have been destructive — one of our sound system amps at our church started billowing out acrid smoke about the same time that we had a very close lightning strike, another local church took a direct hit a few weeks ago, and just the other day my friend Roger KE5YTA lost a radio power supply due to a very close strike. Another friend, Don AE5DW in Louisiana took a direct strike two weeks ago and basically lost everything electronic in his house.
555 Timer IC (Wikimedia Commons photo)
Aside from the sights and smells that lightning and electrical arcs can create, they usually make a loud and obnoxious noise. That’s why I was impressed when I saw the DIY Plasma Speaker on Instructables today. Instructables member [tanner_tech] used a classic 555 Timer IC and a flyback transformer, high-voltage mosfet, and a fast diode from an old TV to make music. Literally, you plug in any sound source and it creates (surprisingly) high quality audio from about a one inch high voltage electrical arc. Visit the Instructable here and watch his YouTube video below — if you want to skip the technical stuff the music starts at about 3:10. Then you just might want to go back and watch the technical stuff.
Thorsten Singer’s FM Radio with LED Bargraph Frequency Display. Nice looking project!
Another gem from Instructables here. This time it’s an FM Receiver with a custom LED Bargraph frequency display, brought to you by Instructables user Thorsten Singer. The bargraph is cool and all, although I would probably add digits to the display to make it more tunable. However, it’s a very well thought out project and nicely constructed, and it is something that you could use every day, so it gets points here. Even the hand drawn schematic is classy.
TEA 5767 FM Receiver Module (image source: banggood.com)
Other than adding a digital display (I’d even go with a four digit LED display in lieu of an LCD, just to add class and glow to the panel). I’d probably also add a dual LM386 amplifier circuit for the output. This thing is so cool I may actually build one!
There is a short YouTube video below that shows the operation of this receiver.
Front panel display from Pascal Foglietta’s Arduino-controlled Solar Battery Charger Controller
So I was cruising Instructables again today. Once in a while, while weeding out the fairly boring crap like the thousand-and-one uses for Sugru or 3D printing an entire person, you find a real gem. While I am not a tree-hugger by any remote stretch of anybody’s imagination, I am a ham radio operator, and having a good source of DC power away from any kind of commercial hookup can be important, and I have been interested in solar and battery projects on-and-off for quite a while.
Stripboard for Pascal Foglietta’s solar charge controller
Pascal Foglietta from Sydney, Australia has put up an article–er, Instructable–about his Arduino-controlled solar battery charger controller that is a real work of art — not only the finished product itself (the protoboards, display, and enclosure are extremely professional-looking), but the documentation that goes along with it. The instructions, illustrations, and schematics makes this project better suited for a magazine like Make: Magazine or Nuts and Volts than an Instructables article. And while I’m getting sick of hearing about the Internet of Things (where everything you own needs to connect to everything else that you own), this project does a nice job of putting all of it’s data in human readable form on the Internet.
Here are the specifications of Pascal’s project (after the jump): Read more
I admit it. I cruise Instructables. And once in a while I find something worth learning about. Last night, for some reason I clicked on “Change led color on the Logitech G502” by “markor1.” I do not own a Logitech G502 mouse, nor will I probably ever own a Logitech G502 mouse, and if I did I probably wouldn’t want to bother changing the LED color.
But I saw this picture and I thought it was a good solution to desolder a tiny surface-mount component:
Desoldering an SMT component using a soldering iron and a copper wire (picture by “markor1” on Instructables)
It’s an elegant solution if you only need to do this a few times.