Hardware hacking

2017-01-28 00:00:00 +0000

I have been on a mission to relearn and solidify my understanding of DC circuits and electricity. While getting my Computer Science degree the physics and electronic classes were a blast but those neural pathways weren’t connected well. Recent house improvements and home projects goals have prompted need for clear understanding of how to plan, wire, and test basic AC and DC circuits.

A few wonderful resources on this quest have been:

  • Theory of DC circuits - I don’t’ recall where/when I picked this superb book on DC circuits up but it is amazing. Kicks you off in Chapter 1 with “The ancient Greeks discovered two kinds of electricity…“. I love it.
  • resistors for led explains why you need resistors for LEDs walks you through how to calculate it manually with Ohms law.
  • resistors - deep dive - a good deep dive into resistors by the good folks at SparkFun
  • Choosing a Resister - This wonderful instruct-able has a link to the following wizards:
    • LED calculator - calculate what size of resistor a single LED needs for a source voltage.
    • LED array wizard - calculate needed resisters and wiring options a set of LEDs in an array.
  • Resistor Color Code Calculator - handy calculator for reading resistor color codes

What have I been doing so far?

Learning the basics. Walker was nice enough to give me a MAKER Soldering Kit. Not only did this kit provide me a good soldering iron but it also came with some a set of great learning Maker Robot skill badge. My first attempt failed, second worked, and I went back and fixed the first badge. Great fun and amusement. The resulting red robot badge has flashing/pulsing RGB LED eyes that is very festive.

Followed on by building my own fume extractor. That worked out well but wasn’t as pretty as Darbin’s. I appreciated it for the next phase though…

My real kick off project for soldering was putting together a Digital Oscilloscope kit. This was an epic project to tackle. This forced me to sort, test, and solder many different components. Really helped me nail down identifying and testing with a multi-meter resistors. Start to finish it took me about 6 hours to put together a $25 digital oscilloscope. I can see a big improvement when I compare the first few hours of solder connections and the last hour connections. The rough start didn’t cause any issues - I was able to run the thing through the sanity-check flow chart and it booted right up and worked.

Check out the end result bootup video

Happy hardware hacking!