Cool Instructables find

Saw TheKingOfRandom’s video on making an emergency generator on Neat stuff! I’ll be adding his YouTube channel to my links.

Happy weekend!



Beat-up by Beats

Warning: long rant ahead.

A little background: Tommy, my oldest son, wanted “Beats HD” headphones for his Birthday back in October. We being the nice parents decided to get them. My first mistake was getting them at WalMart instead of my usual B&M choice of BestBuy for that type of thing. I would have ordered them online, but I put it off too long.

The “Beats HD”s are the over-the-ear type, and one step down from the most expensive models at only $200. I purchased the extended service plan for $9 since they were certainly going to see some abuse.

After about 5 weeks, one of the drivers went out. We took them back to Walmart, and read the return terms posted on the wall behind the customer service counter and found that we could just exchange them since it was within the specified time frame (60 or 90 days, can’t remember). He decided that he wanted to go with the in-ear model instead, and got the “iBeats”, which were half the price ($100) – fine, whatever.

Shortly into owning the “iBeats”, the newest model came out – the “urbeats”. Not sure what the difference is aside from the fact that they are no longer made by Monster apparently. Back we go with receipts in hand and are able to do another exchange, along with a service plan. This time we were told by the customer service person at the big W, that since we’d already done one exchange, and had the exchange receipt with us, not the original, we’d need to find the original if we needed to exchange them again. This didn’t worry me since I’d purchased the 2 year service plans from the start.

A few weeks into owning the “urbeats”, the wire going from the mic/volume pod to the right headphone popped out. Back we go. This time, the big yellow smiley face wasn’t smiling upon us. The customer service person explained to use that there was only a 15-day exchange period (while standing in front of the giant sign that contradicted what she was saying). I also explained that I had the service plan, to which she replied that that doesn’t start until the manufacturer’s warranty stops, which made no sense whatsoever. The little folder you get with the service plan boldly and brightly says “Coverage from Day 1”.
From the website:

I registered the latest ear buds and will have to file a claim of some sort, we’ll see how that works out. I’m sure that will be the subject for a future post.

To summarize:

  • Don’t buy anything from WalMart that you would normally get from BestBuy or Amazon (still can’t remember why I went there)
  • Beats headphones (and probably probably most other “Celebrity” headphones), in my opinion, are over-priced, over-hyped pieces of electronic poo. I know most of the Beats were made by Monster, so you end up paying probably an 80% mark-up for lower-end Monsters. I know it’s hard to talk a kid out of what’s cool, but if they really are into it for the sound quality, they could do so much better for the money. I have a pair of in-ear Altecs with cloth-covered cords that are still going strong after about 4 years of daily use, and they sound better (to me) that the in-ear Beats that we’ve had in the house. For over-the-ear, you can drop a pretty penny, but for my budget, my Skull Candy Hesh models sound better than the Beats HDs did.
  • If I see another device with “Audio by Beats” listed as a selling point, I’m going to go find a dolphin and punch it in the face.
  • Well played Dr. Dre, well played.

Beats suck.


…was blind, but now can see…


Tek 2201 dual channel DSO, original manual, 2 Tek 10x probes – EBay, $149 + shipping 🙂

The seller apparently picked up 6 from the University of Dayton, and it’s in really nice shape.

Everything seems to be functioning fine, could probably use some contact cleaner, and I might look into having it calibrated, but for my needs, it’s more than enough.

Now if my Buspirate from Adafruit would just show up today…

Happy hacking!

Latest projects

Over Christmas vacation, I cobbled together a PCB drill press using my Dremel, some aluminum channel, and other assorted bits and pieces.

I was inspired by this Hack A Day post and took some pictures during the build for a future post.

This weekend, I’m going to drill my first board with it, an Electro-Harmonix Pulsar clone from

I transferred the resist using glossy magazine paper printed on a Brother laser printer, then ran it through the laminator about 10-12 times. The magazine paper method seems to be the only one that works with my printer (go figure), something to do with Brother’s toner.
I’ve tried Press’N’Peel, photo paper, and even parchment paper, all to no avail. They either wouldn’t transfer to the copper, or, with the parchment paper, the toner wouldn’t even stick.

Here’s the result after trimming the board down and cleaning up some traces:


Time to etch and drill!

Update 1: Etched, tinned, and drilled.





Weekend projects

Thanks to the extra-long weekend, I was able to get several projects completed, and/or started.

  • Replaced a toilet flush valve
  • Cleaned off my “workbench”
  • Repaired a guitar amp for a neighbor (bad solder joint on the treble pot)
  • Converted an unused PC power supply to a bench supply with +/-12 and +5 volt (pics below)
  • Made a really good pot of turkey and sausage white chili 🙂

Here’s a few pics of my “new” lab bench power supply:


That blue LED (from the same PC as the PSU) is really bright, might need to put a bigger resistor on it

The blue LED indicates AC/mains status, and the red one indicates front panel voltage power, controlled by the small toggle switch

Nice wiring job (by my standards anyway)

Main power switch

Here’s some references I used to do the conversion:
JumperOne’s tutorial (excellent video as well)
More technical description from Murray State

Next on the list: taking my old home-brew 0-18v variable supply and putting it a new case, roughly the same size as the new one, and adding a digital voltage display.
Happy geeking!


I’m thankful for…

I’m thankful that my hardest decision today will be choosing between a Padron 1964 Anniversary and a Fuente Añejo.

Oh and also for

“…peace, love, and good happiness stuff.”
Steve Vai, “Blue Powder”

Happy Thanksgiving!

MacBook Pictures

Here, as promised, are some pics showing the condition of the MacBook I am selling.