Jan 26 2015

Interview with a Scammer

TechSupportI had a refreshingly honest discussion with a “Windows tech support” phone scammer who admitted to me he was a criminal and tried to justify himself.

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Jan 14 2015

Blueprintf – A Bluetooth Serial Monitor

blueprintflogoOne way of debugging microcontroller-based projects is to send messages out the UART serial port. Then, a UART-to-USB interface can feed the messages into your PC for display. But I wanted a small, portable device for viewing serial data without a PC, and I wanted it to use my cell phone or tablet for its display. Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 07 2014

Triple-Sensor Mailbox Alert

IncomingMailI built a triple-sensor mailbox alert to tell me when there is mail in my mailbox for me.

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Nov 01 2014

Punch Card Printing Plate Pencil Holder

Punch Card Printing Plate Pencil Holder

40 years ago, everyone hated “IBM cards”. I remember folding, spindling, and mutilating them out of spite. Now, they’re an object of nostalgia. When I got my hands on one of the actual printing plates that was used to print the cards, I had to treat it with the respect and dignity it deserved. So I made it into a pencil holder. And I have some extras so I’m selling them.

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Oct 23 2014

My Brother’s Math Calendar


My brother, a longtime math enthusiast (I’ve even seen him calculate logarithms in his head) has created an interesting math calendar for 2015 and is selling it on Amazon.

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Oct 08 2014

MultiSIM BLUE Review


msb-whyI was excited when I saw that Mouser was coming out with an apparently unlimited PCB CAD program. I’m not excited anymore. Check out my review at my other site, PCBShopper.

Jul 05 2014

A UI Parable: The Smartphone Phaser

Phaser on a smartphoneLast night, I had a dream that I had the latest Starfleet-issue phaser – and it was integrated with my smartphone. The result was truly a nightmare.

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Apr 03 2014

Finding the Cheapest PCB Manufacturer


I’ve built a website, PCBShopper.com, that lets you quickly and easily compare prices from several different printed circuit board manufacturers.

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Nov 24 2013

Hacking a Heating Pad


My wife and I have a heating pad on our bed. In the winter, we turn it on an hour before we go to bed. When we get into bed, we leave it on until we warm up. But if we fall asleep before we turn it down, we’ll wake up a couple of hours later, overheated. Clearly, we need a technological solution.

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Nov 06 2013

Heathkit Hack #3: Improving the ET-3300 Breadboard

I use a Heathkit ET-3300 powered breadboard for my prototyping. But setting it up has always been a chore in itself. I need to run wires from the power supplies to the power buses, which is messy (though admittedly not nearly as messy as the rest of the circuit will be) and often add voltage regulators, since the Heathkit’s power supplies of +12V, -12V and +5V are more appropriate to the 1970s than the 2010s. So I made a power distribution board that addresses these problems.

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