To
Rick


ELECTRONICS
This section will report the electronics I am interested. It will not include most computer things.
See the Atari or MTG sections for that.
Electronics is a slowly dying hobby, at a time where tools make it easier than ever. Please subscribe to Nuts and Volts, Elektor, and/or Everyday Practical Electronics. It will help keep them alive. Subscription levels are critically low (to me) for world wide publications.
See the magazines below.

See below for the Schematic and PCB designer software I use.


!!! *** NEW ***!!!
Christmas Trees:20feb2016. And other holiday ornaments and displays. In getting several magazine subscriptions, as a common thread, there is the Xmas tree project in most Dec issues. Now, since they show up at the end of Nov, its usually too late to make the project for THIS year. And most of them do not provide a pcb image any longer. And others make finding the pcbs to buy difficult and/or expensive. So they have to be engineered. With the schematics and pictures of the boards, some can be reverse engineered. I take an image and redo it in a object design program so I can get scalable lines and fills.

Things to remember are that boards are usually made for manufacture and are not usually good candidates for home etching as is. The traces & white isolation line need to be fattened, thru holes need to be bigger and sometimes moved from under other parts. Double sided boards can sometimes be made into single sided by adding jumpers. Make sure the image is sized properly and mirror prior to printing. One test I do is to verify the spacing of ICs and strip connectors is at 1/10th inch(multiple). Or use pin spacing of smd chips.

Over the years, I have collected the following:

WORKING...:RLD(2017):HUGE
2ft X 3ft
I had collected a bunch of multi color electronic bits some years ago. I had them in a stack with back side twinkle micro bulb lights. As I go to sleep many nights I look at it, with Xmas trees in mind, and think I could make a big tree with those. This is not like the other tree projects.

Step 1:Mock-up: I had a 2 ft X 3 ft poster frame I hadn't used yet. I figured I could make a big LED type tree with bits from it. I laid out the bits on the top and found a pattern I quite liked.


Step 2:Base and Layout:
I bought black foam board from a local. I cut it down to the same size as the poster. I used the picture to draw the template. I then put the two together and used a ice pick to punch center holes.
The red and yellow dots are LEDs I used to mark the holes.

Step 3:Paint:I only wanted a hint of tree branches. I used very dark green paint. I figured if I messed up or hated it, I always had the other side.

The paint appears stronger in the photo.

Step 4:Apply:
Then the tough bit. How to align a row of bits so they are all straight?

The bits come apart, Surprise, they are FLASH DRIVES!!! I placed the cover so the ice pick hole is centered, marked the edge, did the other end. The stick was place at the lines. Hot glue adhered the covers to the poster board.
Step 5:Bits Applied:All of the drives are glued on. The base is nine of the drives backwards, with closer spacing. The drive at the top has a USB jack wired in, so I can connect it to a computer or controller some day.


Step 6:LEDS 2:
I first decided to insert and wire up 5 RGB LEDS. This worked well. I really didn't want to wire up a bunch af LEDs for the rest. I then hit upon the idea of using the micro light bulbs from the old case to light most of the bits. So much easier and it works well. Some day, I will replace all of the LEDS with rgb LEDS and a programable light show controller.


Step 7:Power:
The LEDS and micro bulbs run from 3V, and for now will run from batteries.
Step 8:Done!:I have not decided how I will finish this. I may make a frame with my table saw, or I may just cover the back with felt and velcro.

And the template is:...
WORKING...:NutsVolt(2014):Med
3d wire cone style tree-using a pic and a pir.
A 10" tall tree in 3D. This uses a wire frame cone.
I bought my first supply of bright clear LEDs for this one.

Step 1:PCB: I have redrawn the pcb artwork. The traces were too fine for homebrew, which meant spreading the parts out for the traces, and it had too many vias. I also moved the driver transistors to the outside and turned them along circle. Might as well make it look pretty.

Step 2:ETCH:
Step 3:CLEAN:

Step 4:DRILL:

Step 5:SOLDER:It took two tries to get the cone made. I wanted a stronger cone, but the heavy wire just made soldering it difficult. One I changed everything to 18 guage wire, I was actually able to take apart and re-assemble the whole cone in one ecvening.

My way to make round rings was to use a metal funnel, wrap the wire around it, overlap the wire by 1/16 in(a much stronger joint) and solder. Then put back on cone and turned and squeeze until it was circular.
To make the LED strands, I took paper, drew a long line an put 1.25 in marks along it. I put a long wire on the line, solder tinned at the marks, and then soldered the LEDs as closely as possible.

Step 6:SHOW:

and the PCB pattern(s):


WORKING...:NutsVolt(2014):Med
small ornament/earring trees from above magazine.
Small, earrings/ornaments, smd using pic processor, thru-hole using color changing leds.

I bought a lot of 270 1206 smd Leds from Amazon for one of the smaller ornaments. Next to get is a batch of slow flash rgb for the other ornament.

Step 1:PCB:

Step 2:ETCH:

Step 3:CLEAN:

Step 4:DRILL:

Step 5:SOLDER:

Step 6:SHOW:

and the PCB pattern(s):


DONE:Popular Electonics(1994):HARD
3 wing standup-using hard-to-find LM3909 Led Flasher chips.
Step 1:PCB: 05may16:I finished the new pcb image masters from the images in the magazine. I used PNP Blue for the resist. I got both sides almost perfect. See making PCBs below.
Yellow touch ups and yellow paint on unetched areas. I added another 2 sided board I needed.
Step 2:ETCH:Three boards etched.


Step 3:CLEAN: Pic 3:Three boards ready to clean and drill.


Step 4:DRILL:Needing alignment-there is a gap between the long sides when two are placed along a steel straight edge....needs sanding.
No Gap!....test all three.
Step 5:SOLDER:Painted. I used vaseline on the solder pads, then painted both sides of the boards green, then cleaned the board. Solder in the parts as below.




Pic 7:Mag Pic

Step 6:SHOW:
and the PCB pattern(s):

DONE:Popular Electonics(1994):Med
standup-using 2 timer and 1 driver chip.
This is a single sided board. The pcb image in the magazine was very fuzzy, so I made one error in redrawing it. There was also an error on the pcb original design I fixed. It works very well.

I did this one slightly different. It was a little squat and boxy for me, so I elongated and thinned as I could without going double sided. Once I cut out the pcb, I drilled the holes, Check the traces for errors then solder fixed any, then I then spray painted it white. Once dry, I scraped the paint off of the hole pads, actually very easy.


Pic 4:Mag Pic
Step 1:PCB:

Step 2:ETCH:

Step 3:CLEAN:

Step 4:DRILL:

Step 5:SOLDER:

Step 6:SHOW:

and the PCB pattern(s):
Two Notes:
Use a 74HC04 driver specified. A 74HCT04 does not work right.
there was an original pcb error I fixed.

DONE:Popular Electonics(1993):Med
3 Tree Ornaments based on Electronic Components.
Med, a collection of three electronic parts ornaments. I've had mine out as wall art for 10+ years. I am also adding a relay part to this.
Step 1:PCB:

Step 2:ETCH:

Step 3:CLEAN:

Step 4:DRILL:

Step 5:SOLDER:

Step 6:SHOW:

and the PCB pattern(s):


DONE:Velleman Tree Kit:
This is a small(4") tree kit I bought at a local electronics store. It sits on a 9V battery.
Step 1:PCB:

Step 2:ETCH:

Step 3:CLEAN:

Step 4:DRILL:

Step 5:SOLDER:

Step 6:SHOW:

and the PCB pattern(s):


Elektor(2012):High
56 white LED Standup Tree. With a twist.
Flat standup tree-using a pic processor chip. The twist is that two of these can be connected together so the animations move between them. Once I finally found them, the boards were sold out. But they were also Expensive! A PDF of the boards is available. The picture is stylized.
Step 1:PCB:

Step 2:ETCH:

Step 3:CLEAN:

Step 4:DRILL:

Step 5:SOLDER:

Step 6:SHOW:

and the PCB pattern(s):


ZL2PD(web):Med
an artistic paint brush style tree.
This is a new version of a magazine article that results in an artistic paint brush style tree.
Step 1:PCB:

Step 2:ETCH:

Step 3:CLEAN:

Step 4:DRILL:

Step 5:SOLDER:

Step 6:SHOW:

and the PCB pattern(s):


Popular Electonics(1994):Hard
Flat tree-using hard-to-find LM3909 Led Flasher chips.

Poptonics(2001):
Step 1:PCB:

Step 2:ETCH:

Step 3:CLEAN:

Step 4:DRILL:

Step 5:SOLDER:

Step 6:SHOW:

and the PCB pattern(s):


!!! *** REVISED ***!!!
Audio/Video Multiplexer(AV Mux):10feb2016. I have been working on this for a decade. It came from Circuit Cellar magazine. My problem was not having a useable parallel port(about 20 signals). So this was on the back burner. Then came along the RF mux from Radio Electronics that I wanted to add in, somehow. In the years since, I have redesigned my version. It now uses a single rs485 link to boards that are controlled with a simple ADAFRUIT Pro trinket 8 bit 16mHz processor. Reduces the overheard and complexity a lot, though I have to learn about pic type programming. Yes, I am using an 800XL to control this setup.

I will post pics as I progress.

But first, I needed a switch matrix to control things, at first. I could not find simple diode encoder circuit on the net, so I designed my own, in three tries.
Diode matrix schematic.
Then came the rack board with the monitor, switch board, 800XL, and power supply mounted.

Front A. - - - Interior A.


LED Head: 18Nov2007. Once of the electronics wall art/ornaments I have built from Electronics Now July 1994. The one thing I never liked is that it spends too much time frowning. How I resolved that and fixed errors in the schematic and pcb is Here.

Visible Relay: I loved the Electronics Ornaments in the Dec 1993 Radio-Electronics magazine. I thought it could use a couple more in that line, so I have designed the first..an electronic visible RELAY. I hope to get this in Nuts and Volts magazine. An AVI(11 megs) of the Visible Ornaments I built here(Includes my LED Head) here, and AVI(9 megs) of my Visible Relay is here. The article has a confusing mix of using +5 and +12 volt supplies. I have only ever used +5(my relay only uses +5). I will have Relay boards and kits soon at MTG. The only link to Ornaments and Glitter Globe was at e-clec-tech.com, but they look to be gone.

2600 512-in-1 cart: My interest in Atari lead me to find info and a pcb for a 2600 game console 512(programs) in 1 cart. But the pcb was in MS Visio format. What a pain to extract out. I had to go over and redo both sides to something I could make a circuit board from. Here is the resultant image PCB. BUT NOT THE ONE I ACTUALLY USED! I replaced the small adress hex switches with more robust versions. The main site is here. I am not doing this any longer. I want to do something much more up to date.

Making PCBS:The method I use most uses the PNP Blue sheets. I use an Object Editor Program to recreate the pcb with scalable objects. I start by useing an image for the background that I size so .1pin spacing of ICs fits. Then I use layer tabs for lines(side 1), lines (side 2). I add project labels to each layer so I have text that must read right when printed(bottom layer text is reversed while drawing). Things to remember for home made boards is to never put thru holes under other parts. Make the traces as wide as will reasonbable fit. Hairline traces will disappear. Keep traces between IC legs to a minimum. Once its all done, I turn on only 1 layer, make lines black, and copy all layers to another page. I convert it to an image 16 color/600 dpi, and print. Then I do layer 2. I edit and reprint until both sides look and fit right.

Applying PNP BLUE:

Soldering in the parts:On a single sided board its very easy. Just make sure the joints are all good. On a double sided board, you start by soldering the thinest parts first. Solder in any ICs last when ever possible. Sometimes it is not. For all thru hole parts with leads, make sure that you solder the lead on sides that have traces connected to the pad, it may be either layer or both. For parts that cover the hole, you take a thin wire, feed it through the hole, fold down along the trace(s), and solder to the trace(s)-not the pad. Then insert the part and solder the pin side to the pad. If you have a part with higher current, add a feed thru via alongside the pin when designing the board.


GAL BLASTER: My interests lead me to wanting to do some GAL burning. I didn't need an expensive burner handling 30000 numbers. Just a dozen common types. I finally found GAL BLASTER. But the image was a low rez. The eagle schematic had errors. The pcb image had parts on top of others. Sigh. Spent time cleaning it all up. The resultant images are here. The main site Here
Oct07:Still working on this. There seemed to be some major errors in the schematic and pcb. Mostly works, but the programming voltage is always .02xx. Looks like the output of the d/a chip is tied to +5 volts instead of the op amp. Sigh. Don't like working on and fixing some one elses project. And apparently few have tried to make it.
(18nov07)Well, digging deeper shows the DAC can be connected in reverse to make it a voltage stepper. So the schematic and pcb are right. Fixed a trace(sigh) and now I get 9.5V at the the programming pin. Too low. But can't read a gal. Looks like data pin 1 has a fault.

Fixed that I think. Only problem is the programming voltage never gets above 9.5. Sigh. Can't tell if I am actually reading gal data even. What does a blank gal look like?
(2011)I have redone this schematic without the voltage stepper, etc. Instead, I am making a target board for the gal I want, and it programs the variable voltge out with a resistor. Will find the time to make one day.

Schematic and PCB designer software.
For the longest time I did all of the design by hand. Having software on the PC greatly eases the design phase, particularly as my stuff gets more complex. There are 2 programs that are mostly used to do this EAGLE and EXPRESSPCB. Both have free versions.

EXPRESSPCB is the software I use. I think its free only. And a little more user unfriendly. There are two programs, the schematic designer where you draw the schematic first using logic parts. And the PCB designer where you literally have to redraw the entire schematic over again using physical parts. You place the parts where you want them. Then you run wire traces(set to .03 inch or so) to every pin you used in the schematic. While an autorouter would be nice, it has a great feature where it can highlight all of the pads that are connected together in a netlist from the schematic. Its very easy to create custom parts. Almost all I use I have created because I want parts with pads big enough for homebrew making and user soldering. It is easy to create pcbs larger than 6 x 6 inches, the average size for hobbyists that have to use through hole parts. Schematics can cover several sheets, one sheet does not hold much. I would like a few features in the software: align parts/even spacing, group change of traces or pin pads, free rotate of parts. Creating a prototype pcb involves displaying top and bottom layers, getting a screen cap, loading into an object editing program, and recreating the pads and traces again. Adding in alignment triangles so the two sides align. Then print and edit till its right.
I have now done three orders for circuit boards with them and I rate them A++!. Software is now XP and higher. I rate the software a B+. If they had a $49 enhanced version, I'd buy it. Note that there have been no major enhancements in too many years. It needs fully rotatable parts urgently. It is a PITA to have to create a new part for each angle. You can't even create a clock face with LEDs around the perimeter without juggling the pads! I am looking into alternative programs.

Eagle has several paid versions as well. This was the first software I played with. It looks to be a bit better in that it has an autorouter for the pcb traces. Part creation in the light version wasn't available, but now is. However, I can't give this one high marks for the hobbyist/minimal user due to several limitaions. Mostly, the largest pcb you can create is about 2 x 3.5 inches. Fine if you are using .5mm pin pitch smd parts, but not for through hole-its only big enough for a couple of chips. And only one schematic sheet. Fine for the tiny board, but nothing else. If you use this freebie for anything commercial, you have to pay a $49 registration fee. Which gets you nothing. No bigger board. To get that will cost you between $400 and $600. Far too expensive for the hobbyist plus. I don't think I could ever sell enough boards to pay for this. The $49.00 version should get an enhanced hobbyist+ version. The stuff I did in Eagle I have now redone in EXPRESSPCB. I only use this software to export/print stuff done by others. I then recreate it in EXPRESSPCB. They have versions for major OSes. I rate the software a D.

PCBPOOL is a pcb service I have not even looked at. They are based in Ireland.

Nuts and Volts Magazine
A long time favorite of mine. Has a lot of hobbyist articles. Didn't succumb to all adverts like others.
Jun07:Still the best. But don't like the new format. I actually liked scanning the text classified adverts, that section is now gone. So is the fun. So is my advertising. Wonder what the thousands of others did.
Circuit Cellar Magazine
Was a long time favorite of mine. Has a lot of hardware articles-but leaves a lot to the builder. Has become more of a Engineering digest. I only buy issues that appeal to me now.
Radio Electronics / Electronics Now / Potronics
all now deceased. Sigh.
I want to catalog the really great stuff one day.
Project Boxes
A photo of many of the projects in the works. Most are awaiting time and parts.

ELECTOR....
I really like this GB import. Has a lot of great projects, classes, tutorials, kits, and PCBs. Usually bi-monthly, but is my favorite.
Electronics World
is another good GB magazine.
Jun07:Well, WAS. I eventually tired of it. Not enough electronics.
MAKE....
I really like this one too. If you like making stuff your self, this is a great choice. Has a sister pub, called Craft. They also do Maker Faires through out the year. These are the most overwhelmingingly(sic) fantastic events one could go to.
EveryDay Practical Electronics
is a good GB mag.
June07:Well, WAS. I have gone back thru the last 4 years and have only found 6 or so really good projects. Most are "everyday". Few are fantastic, such as the USB Power Injector(Dec06) I built. Does have a lot of nice articles on using PICs. So instead of spending $80+ a year, I now get it from the web for $16 a year. Really don't like reading pdf magazines, but for this it works o.k. (They get a sub, I'm saving trees)I'll print what I need.
Retro Gaming
is a good GB mag on older computer and games sytems. Jam packed. With cover CD.
Jun07:I dropped this one too. I decided I had enough info on the systems I really like.