In following the internet chatter about the FTDI bricked-chip dust up some months ago I came across mention of a Silicon Labs USB-Serial chip, the CP2110, that worked a bit different. The device enumerates as a regular HID device and uses a standard OS driver rather than a manufacturer specific one. Being a HID device, there is no COM port. Instead you link a library into your application that knows how to engage the standard HID driver to talk to the chip in a serial-like fashion. In effect, this moves the driver from the OS to your application.
So I grabbed some of the chips and made up an OSHPark board that implemented the minimum passives and broke out the pins. Tonight, during Builder’s Night Out, I finally got around to soldering it up. The worst part about the CP2110 is that it is a 4mm x 4mm QFN with a 0.5mm pin pitch. I used the space’s 50W laser to make a solder paste stencil out of some of the giant roll of 3 mil mylar we have. My first go at it with one pass of the solder paste squeegee didn’t put down enough paste on the QFN and my second go with 3 or 4 passes in orthogonal directions put down too much solder paste. There is probably a middle ground there.
Anyway, I used the space’s Zallus reflow toaster oven to reflow that second paste attempt and wound up with a number of the QFN pins shorted together. (I should have wiped the paste off and looked for that middle ground.) To fix the shorts I used the space’s hot air rework gun to pull the QFN chip off. That allowed me to solder wick the pads to a point free of shorts and then use the hot air gun once again to put the chip back. I over heated and burnt the tantalum caps and the LEDs in that rework process. So I used the hot air gun to remove those components and then hand soldered replacements back on to the board.
The moment of truth came when I plugged the freshly soldered board into my laptop’s USB port. I fully expected it to say “over current limit”, but to my delight it happily installed the HID driver! I’m looking forward to trying out the link library.
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 pre-assembled circuit board and LCD touchscreen.
We 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 the next time I’m at the space. I just plain ran out of 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 Tuesday (Feb 3rd, 2015). So if you’d like to see it run in person stop on by the space on Tuesday at 7PM!
I have a space heater with a thermostat built in, but it is terrible. It has a huge deadband and will click on and off enough to trip itself on occasion. So I’m building my own. It will PWM with the SSR and will have and external temperature sensor. An Arduino will run the whole thing.
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.
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.
Milwaukee Makerspace is going to participate in this years Bay View Pumpkin Pavilion! In this video we show a quick and dirty mockup of some of the components that would go into an animatronic scarecrow.
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:
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)
September 27-28 at Wisconsin State Fair Park, the same weekend as Harvest Fair. Admission is free. Maker Faire Milwaukee's Call for Makers is now open.
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