Monday, 9 July 2012

Getting the M-Audio Fast Track II working in Ubuntu Studio 12.04, the unnecessarily hard way

As a hobbyist guitar player, I like to record parts here and there to aid in song composition (read: filling my hard drive with completely unrelated 13 second riffs).  Getting tired of the noisy signals I was getting by feeding my guitar in through unbalanced cables to an ancient, generic soundcard, I figured it was time I catch up to the rest of the world and get a USB soundcard.


My initial test was with an MBox Mini 2 from digidesign - looks like a decent unit and was recommended in high esteem  from a friend of mine:
"I'm a big stupid asshole jerk and won't work with linux lolfag"

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Mac MagSafe T-Charger Repair


A friend of mine came to me with a broken Laptop charger for her Mac.  "LOL APPLE SUXXX" I told her.  "At last! An opportunity to get a new computer!!" I informed her. But she insisted I help repair her trendy piece of garbage.  Oh well.

She had already completely diagnosed the problem, which was nice.  More importantly, she didn't come up with some bat-shit crazy idea of why it was broken, which is usually what happens when non-technical people reach beyond their grasp. The problem here being that the MagSafe charging connector had a bad connection to the cable: she had to wiggle it to get it working, and had been doing so for quite some time.

Trendy charger, Reproduced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MagSafe

Usually this is a simple fix - cut out the sketchy section of wire and re-attach the connector.  However, as I'll soon detail, it got a little more complicated.

I began by undressing the sexy, sleek charging connector.  This involved slicing it's trim and toned sides with a Box Knife, and peeling back its clothing with my teeth a small jewelers screwdriver.

Let me take that off for you...

The next step involves removing tiny, little pins that are presumably inserted by prematurely born dwarf-children.  Despite me not having one of them handy to remove it, I used a bent paperclip.  You can see the pinholes on the white connector.  Removing these little bastards allows you to remove the magnetic bit:

MacGuyver points++
Normally, you would slice off the plastic casing above, and desolder the power connections to remove the head.  The Apple gods had other plans for me tho:

When God gives you Apples, get a new God.
Part of my friends problem, is that her year or so of wiggling actually broke the connections to the power pins themselves!  At this point I began to pray for dainty, newborn asian child hands.


As it turns out, it's really trendysexyfresh to put a PCB inside the connector.  At least I assume so, because its literally stupid as fuck. Why not put that little circuit inside the laptop, and enjoy a simpler connector?  Probably so that people are forced to buy more $70+ power adapters.  Which is probably sexy, considering you get to go into sleek, specially-designed outlet stores for your replacement....

A PCB inside the connector? Buncha jerks.
Unfortunately, I was too busy soldering miniature pins to a crowded PCB to take more pictures of the process.  But I assure you, it sucked.  After that hour+ of fine soldering, it remained to reattach the head to a different spot on the cable:

Shown above: the easy part

Replace the plastic insulation shroud with some electrical tape, and reinsert the tiny pin things:





And finally, wrap up the repair with a shimmering new coat of electrical tape.

Voila!

And thats how its done! 


-T

PS, fuckyouapple

Monday, 16 April 2012

Nixie tube, arduino tomfoolery

Is there anything cooler than Nixie tubes and arduinos?  The objective answer is no. When I stumbled across some discarded physics lab equipment featuring these elusive, glassy beauties. I knew what I had to do.

The discarded junk gods also granted me 11 working relays, and a high voltage (~250V) DC power supply to injure myself play with. Given that I dont have any 250V-capable semiconductors handy, I decided it would be interesting to pursue a relay-based design.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Guitar amp modding

Sometimes that buy off Kijiji wasn't all that it was cracked up to be, and you wind up with a $40 footrest.  Sometimes, though, you will not take this laying down, and will do your damnedest to polish a turd.  This is one of those times.  Enter, the Nova:

 Fig 1: A piece of junk funk?

This thing boasted an acceptable clean channel, but the "Overdrive" on it sounded something like Inuit throat singing being piped through a colostomy bag.  This thing sucked out loud, even for $40.... that's saying something.
So, instead of shelling out for a distortion pedal, or even being sensible enough to throw out this shabby thing, I decided to take the geekiest route possible and modify it into something acceptable.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Junk Monitor Repair...?

As an active packrat and avid DIY-guy, I often take it upon myself to fix busted junk that I come across.  This usually treats me pretty well.  Today, as I stumbled across this beauty, I couldnt resist:

Fig 1: Magic pornography box needs repair

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Various workshops online

Follow this link to access materials for various workshops I have done with UMIEEE.  I hereby decree them published under the CC BY-NC-SA license

Stuff you will find:
  • MSP430 tutorial materials
  • C language programming tutorial
  • a shoddy linux primer
Enjoy!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Light Bottle

I found myself restless and extremely hungover one day.  Not to be one to sit in bed and rest, I decided inhaling solder fumes for a few hours might make me forget about the sins against my liver.


I decided to start by building a string of parallel LEDs.  Figured it would probably lead somewhere interesting...

MOSFRUIT

For my Digital Systems Implementation class, I was tasked with making a MOSFET out of something that is not a MOSFET.

I was scratching my head over what to make this thing out of while grocery shopping, and came across some small watermelons.  The delicious result:


It operates as such:
  • Watermelon N-channel
  • Kiwi P-Channel Wells
  • Pineapple insulation layer
  • Canteloupe Gate/metal connections
MOSFRUITs let you control a large amount of deliciousness with a small amount of effort.

Biznass Boombox

In preparation for the Decentralized Dance Party, I decided to make a business-themed boombox most righteous and true.  Find below the buildlog...

First, I set out with the plan to construct this out of the following:
  • A solid briefcase (not soft-leather)
  • A battery-powered boombox
  • Speakers of some variety
  • Some sort of stylish speaker cover
Finding a briefcase for cheap was not an easy process... but I eventually haggled one out of a local flea market regular for $30.  Kind of steep, but not horrible.  The boombox was a donation of a former roommate, and the speakers were picked up at a local thrift shop

Here we see a dry fit of the speakers on the briefcase, as well as a collander to make a slick speaker-cover.

Apartment finding script

Need to find an apartment?  Turnover times got ya down? Throw this bash script on a cron job and never miss a posting again!

Requires: *nix, mailx, cron, an apartment agency that lists their vacancies online.

Click "Read more" for the code listing

Webcam mouse interaction in X11

After taking a class in Computer Vision not so long ago, I often find myself straining to think of a cool project that takes advantage of what I have learned.  Finally, after a solid week of banging my head against other schoolwork, I decided I should take a break and code up something fun.  In other news, I have no idea what fun is.

My initial goal was to take input from a webcam, track the users finger, and use it to move the mouse cursor.  Pretty ambitious!   Although the finger is still a long ways off, I have it tracking red rings.  Code available here.