Zallus Reflow Oven Controller

zallus run completeA few months ago we noticed a Kickstarter being run out Milwaukee for a pretty nifty looking reflow oven controller by Marquette student Nate Zimmerman. We love to support makers in their endeavors and as it happened none of our members had ever gotten around to converting a toaster to reflow. This, despite the fact that a number of us regularly design and build surface mount boards.

So, a few of us got together and backed Nate’s Revision 2 controller kit. The kit came in last week, I picked up a cheap toaster on clearance, and this past weekend we installed the kit into the oven.

From the kit installer’s perspective Nate’s kit couldn’t be simpler. A supplied SSR is inserted in series with the main AC line, and a K-type thermocouple is fed into the oven cavity. Both items connect up to a preassembled circuit board and LCD touchscreen.

zallus runningWe fired up the oven and ran it through its paces right from the touch screen. It performed great right away. There were no real issues. I did manage to install the display upside down, but that will take 5 minutes to flip when next I’m at the space. I just plain ran out of time this time. Next time I’ll also be able to play a bit with the PC software, but it was great that the controller fired up and ran right away without having to mess with the PC at all.

So now the space has a nice profiling reflow oven! I am looking forward to using it! I know one member already has a board lined up to go this Tues (Feb 3rd, ’15). So if you’d like to see it run in person stop on by the space on Tues. at 7PM!

Working on singing pumpkins

In a recent visit to the makerspace, I was able to assemble a couple of shields targeted at my Singing Pumkins project where an Arduino drives animatronic pumkins in time to music.

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The shield with the large heat sink is a 20W car amplifier that will take the output from the wave shield and send it to some speakers. The larger shield is a riff on Laday Ada’s 12 Channel PWM controller. The difference is that this one is in a shield format and includes a DC to DC converter that will bring the 12V of the car battery down to the 6V maximum of the PWM chip.

I only just had enough time to assemble the boards, not test. But, hopefully,  I’ll have everything thing working correctly.

RN-42 Carrier V2

Some time back I posted about my RN-42 Carrier Board. The RN-42 is an inexpensive surface mount bluetooth modem. I made a board that converts it to through-hold and exposes a number of the features of the RN-42 that other carrier boards do not.

There was a small error in the original boards: the status LEDs were connected to ground when in was the intent of the RN-42 designers that I connect the LEDs to Vdd. In response to some inquiries about the board, I’ve made a revision of the board that addresses this problem. Here are the updated Gerbers, NC Drill and original Diptrace design files.

Curiosity EDL Party at Bucketworks this Sunday

Blow off your Monday and come watch the edge-of-your-seat landing of the Mars Curiosity rover! Help us celebrate its successful landing or weep inconsolably with us if it splatters all over the Martian surface! We’ll get together, talk a little about some of the ways we’ve seen both success and failure in Mars exploration in an effort to provide context, and then settle down to watch NASA TV report on the telemetry stream that will indicate success or failure.

If you don’t know, the EDL cycle for the Curiosity rover is insane. Landing this rover will be an amazing accomplishment. Check this video:
Mars Curiosity Video

Register for this free party here: http://mslparty2012bw-estw.eventbrite.com/  Ya, its pretty late, but you didn’t want to face Monday Aug 6th anyway did you?

I’m sure there will be a hangout as well. Check back here updates on that.

 

 

PCB with Lasered Paint Resist and Fast Sponge Etching

TomG shows how he etches PCB boards using paint, a 25W laser cutter, Muratic Acid, 30% H2O2 and a sponge. Much frothing ensues.

The technique is a neat one, given the presence of a laser cutter, because it can take you from copper clad to etched board in a pretty quick amount of time.

One note, the Muratic Acid is actually from a pool supply store, not Home Depot. It is, of course, dangerous. Wear safety goggles, use gloves, use in a well ventilated area. (The acid smells like a punch to the nose, don’t inhale it)

Maker Faire Detroit is coming up!

Maker Faire Detroit 2012
Maker Faire Detroit 2012 is rapidly approaching. If you haven’t been to one, you need to go. Maker Faires are amazing gatherings of some of the most interesting and creative makers around. To-scale fire breathing dragon sculptures, colossal sized Mouse Trap games, micro jet engines, super fast Power Wheels racers, ferro-fluids, and so, so much more. And then of course there is the Henry Ford Museum with it amazing collection of automotive technology.

On April 17th, 2012 at 7PM we’ll have Suzanne Fischer, Associate Curator of Technology at the Henry Ford Museum here at the space to talk to us about the Maker Faire Detroit. Come on by and learn more about it! As always, Tuesday evenings are free and open to the public!