Some of the work I do, such as soldering components with large thermal mass on multi-layer boards, requires the use of a high-powered, temperature controlled soldering station with fast thermal recovery and lead-free soldering capability. An under-powered 35W soldering station I already own, just isn’t suitable for that type of work. So, I treated myself with a PACE ST-50 80W Digital Soldering Station which came with a composite / cartridge type soldering iron and a standard tool stand. Since the heater element and thermal sensor have been integrated into the soldering iron tip, the thermal transfer is excellent and overshoot is eliminated. The build quality of this station is exceptional.
PACE also offers a smart tool stand that is capable of detecting the presence of the soldering iron. It is called an ISB or Instant-SetBack Cubby (Part #: 6019-0084-P1) and it costs around 100 USD. When the ISB Cubby detects the presence of the TD-100 soldering iron, it waits for 45 seconds and then puts the iron into the temperature Setback mode. Setback Mode means that the temperature is reduced to just below solder melt temperature (176°C/350°F) so the corrosive action of the leaded or Lead-Free solder is stopped, maximizing the life of the tip and minimizing the electricity bill. When the iron is removed from the cubby, the system returns to normal operation within seconds. The mentioned cubby is suitable for ST 30, ST 50, ST 65, ST 70, ST 75, ST 115, WJS 100, MBT 301 & MBT 350 units.
Since ISB Cubby Mini-DIN-3 port has been present on the back side of my unit, I did some research on the soldering iron detection mechanism. I came up with a simple, but reliable do-it-yourself, minimal component and low cost solution. All the information required was provided in this thread on the eevblog.com. I was reluctant to use a simple mechanical switch due to the reliability issues; the iron handle is too light to surely activate the switch every time, moreover switch shorting or burn could occur in the harsh, high-temperature and solder spatter contaminated environment. I couldn’t use an infrared activated switch solution since I didn’t have an IR photo-transistor or an IR LED on hand. However, I could easily find an ordinary white LED diode, a photoresistor (or light-dependent resistor, LDR, or photocell; light-controlled variable resistor), NPN transistor (or bipolar junction transistor, BJT for short), 500K potentiometer (or pot, variable resistor, rheostat) and a Mini-DIN-3 connector cable (a modified Mini-DIN-4, Mini-DIN-7 or S Video Cable can also be used). These are all the parts that are needed for this simple light-activated switch / soldering iron detection circuit.
In this tutorial I will write about how to recognize a fake, copied or cloned HP laptop AC charging power adapter. I believe this is an important subject since low quality Chinese knock-off copies of HP power adapters can potentially overheat or malfunction and present a serious fire hazard. They are usually made from low quality materials, internal circuitry is simple and lacks proper safeguards (over-current, over-temperature and short circuit protection), any kind of product quality control seems non-existent. Power ratings on these things are made up out of thin air since these adapters are not capable of providing near the advertised power. Do not let the appearance of the adapter or even the HP logo on the sticker deceive you, these things are easiest to copy by the counterfeiters, but as you will see; the devil is in the details.
Endomondo or similar Sport tracker applications randomly losing – dropping GPS signal during the workout, when used on Android 5.x Lollipop or 6.x Marshmallow with the screen turned off. Sometimes Endomondo app uses all the available RAM and forces the phone to reboot. This happens even if the “app optimization” in battery menu is turned off. Hard reset of the phone or clean install of Endomondo (tried different versions) also didn’t help.
The workaround described below works with Endomondo for Android, but should also work with other fitness tracking apps if adjusted properly. Disclaimer: It has some negative impact on the phones battery life during the workout, since the screen is not turned off.
A friend of mine brought me this mini PC, based on a ZOTAC GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi motherboard. After freshly installing Windows 7 and all the required drivers from the motherboard manufacturer’s website, I connected speakers and noticed there is no sound output from any of the analog audio jacks. This PC features three jacks on the back and two on the front panel. After opening the Realtek HD Audio Manager, I noticed that analog jacks are all grayed out, which means the Realtek doesn’t detect when a device (speaker or headphone) is plugged in. I tried disabling front panel jack detection in HD Audio Manager and thus force the sound output from front panel jacks, even when device is not detected, no dice.
After trying a few more drivers; the latest driver directly from Realtek and a native Microsoft High Definition Audio Device driver, I concluded this is a hardware problem. I tried measuring audio jacks with a multimeter; no short circuits and no open connections relative to the motherboard. The fault lies in an on-board Realtek ALC662 IC chip or its circuit. I could try replacing the ALC662 IC, but since I don’t have one in stock, I opted for a second best option – replacing or bypassing the on board audio chip with an external USB sound card or DAC. Since an external USB sound card sticking out of the USB port would impact the portability of this mini PC to some extent, I decided to tear it apart and connect it directly to the unused USB header on the motherboard.
Below is a picture of the finished product – an external USB sound card or DAC, modified to fit inside of the computer case and connect directly to spare USB header on the motherboard.
When clicking on an internal link, Firefox doesn’t scroll to the position of the anchored / hashtag / # element, during the first page load. Instead, it jumps to the middle or to the bottom of the page. If user clicks inside of the address bar and presses Enter, Firefox then scrolls to the correct position. Problem only occurs when link is not on the same page as the anchored element. If both are on the same page, Firefox scrolls to the correct position. Bug is not present in other browsers.
Example: If you click on link – GetGui DC charging adapter with ammeter New tab opens and Firefox should scroll directly to the element with ID “getgui-current-measuring-adapter”. Instead it scrolls to the middle or to the bottom of the page, as seen in the screenshot below.
Problem occurs because Firefox tries to scroll to the anchored element before the page is even loaded and the element is actually created. Since it can’t locate the anchored element, it scrolls to the middle or to the bottom of the page.
When the laptop’s battery doesn’t work as expected, there are ways to test it, without buying a new battery and later finding out, the problem lay in the laptop’s battery charging circuit. There are a few possible scenarios – battery’s capacity could simply drop below the designed rate over time, battery protection circuit could be activated, the laptop’s charging circuit could be faulty, communication paths between the laptop and battery could be open, charging power adapter could be faulty or not supplying enough current to charge the battery or a signal pin on power supply adapter could be broken and thus not properly identifying itself to the laptop.
For charging different laptops I use an universal laptop charger ( 230V AC -> 12-22V DC ). It features a USB port which I have no use for. What I could really use is a current meter, permanently connected to the charger, for laptop diagnostic purposes. One could really benefit from knowing laptop’s current consumption during different stages of startup. Connecting the amper or current meter to the power supply is easy, the issue is the current meter operates on a 9V battery which drains pretty quickly if you use it a lot. Solution would be to power the current meter from the same power supply instead of the battery. It could be powered from the unused USB port, but since the port outputs 5V, output needs to be converted to 9v. Of course that output could only be used for powering devices with low current consumption. By calculating the maximum power delivered by a typical USB step-down converter ( 0.5A * 5V = 2.5W ) we can then, by inverting the power formula, conclude the highest output current would be 2.5W / 9V = 0.28A. 0.28A is sufficient current to power a simple current meter without over-stressing the buck converter.
The use of flux is essential when soldering electronic components. By removing impurities such as dirt, oils and oxidation, it helps to achieve a stronger solder joint. The contaminants could be removed by mechanical or chemical cleaning prior to soldering, however, high temperatures required during the soldering process would cause an element to re-oxidize and thus prevent a successful solder joint. There are essentially three types of flux – water soluble flux, no-clean flux and traditional rosin flux. Rosin flux is highly corrosive so it needs to be removed after soldering, still, why would you want to remove a no-clean flux residue? There are a few reasons:
gummy residue prevents test accuracy when doing in-circuit testing
it prevents an adhesion of conformal coating
to improve the cosmetic appearance of the board
to prevent dirt buildup
The homemade flux remover is able to remove the rosin based, non-rosin based and no-clean flux. It works better than some commercially available products and it doesn’t leave any residue when used properly. It can be used on circuit boards and on most of the plastic parts (discoloration may occur on some plastics).