Sunday, April 28, 2013

Homebrew Solder Fume Extraction System

Over the past year I have been slowly building a solder fume extraction system. It has been a slow project because there was no real push for it. I have been doing a lot of soldering lately and decided that it was time to wrap it up and blog about it.

This system is based upon a vacuum cleaner. I am using a vacuum that goes by the trade name Shop-Vac. They are well known for their tremendous reliability on construction sites and other rough applications. I chose this vacuum because I assumed it would be up to the task of extended run times under medium to high load.

Here are a couple of pictures of the completed system:
The lab side of the completed fume extractor.
The garage side of the fume extraction system.
Here is a video demonstration:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Creating a Glass Circuit Board

I was inspired by CNLohr to create my own glass circuit board. I decided to create a 2D LED matrix because the layout is simple enough to fit onto a single sided board.

I decided to take a different approach than CNLohr took. Rather than adhering a layer of copper to the glass and etching out the traces, I used copper tape and glued each trace to the glass. Unfortunately this takes away the printed aspect of PCB manufacture but it allowed me to complete the project using parts that I found in a local craft store.

Here is a picture of the completed project.

Completed Project
Here is a video demonstration:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Graphing the Links between Articles on Wikipedia

One of my summer projects last year was to graph the links between Wikipedia articles. I was inspired by the Wiki Wars concept and wanted to see if I could programmatically beat the game. I used C# and the Mono .NET runtime to build a Wikipedia pathfinder.

Here are a couple of graphical representations of the results. They make great wallpapers!

My Current Wallpaper
A Zoomed Out Link Graph

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Designing a Window Manager for an AVR Microcontroller

I have been experimenting with the uVGA-II VGA controller for the past couple of weeks. It is an amusing piece of hardware that is capable of drawing graphics onto a VGA framebuffer. The VGA controller takes care of line drawing algorithms and helps to hardware accelerate the drawing of geometric primitives (squares, circles, triangles, polygons, lines).

Once I realized the power of this hardware I decided to implement a window manager like you would expect on any standard desktop PC. I have used a mouse for user input to the system.

Close-up of the Default Configuration
The default system boots with three applications: Theme Manager, Audio Player and Window Factory. The Theme Manager is used to modify the colors of the system theme, the Audio Player is used to playback some audio files stored on an SD card and the Window Factory is used to create new windows for the purposes of demonstration.

Slightly Blue Theme, More Windows
Here is a video demonstrating the system.