Archive for May, 2009

Name that Ware April 2009

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

The Ware for April 2009 is shown below. Click the photo for a much larger version.

This is a platitude, but using a flatbed scanner produces awesome results on circuit boards. Somehow over the years I never got around to buying a flatbed scanner that I didn’t take apart, but recently a coworker put an old one up for grabs. I actually wasn’t the first one to claim it but thankfully the first claimant was a Mac-only guy and the scanner only had drivers for the venerable PowerPC Macs. Well, his loss is your gain, at least for wares with only low-profile components. The scans are good enough to image process and use automated image recognition techniques to pull out connectivity; makes me want to delaminate a circuit board and give it a try.

Winner Name That Ware March 2009

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

The Ware for March 2009 is a Philips electric shaver. Context is everything, I guess — the people who guessed electric toothbrush were definitely in the right genre of ware, but John H had the benefit of experience in having taken apart and seen the guts of his own Philips electric shaver. The terminals were the give-away that I tried to include, and John H called them out. Congrats, email me to claim your prize!

Just so you can see some more context, a larger view of the assembly is below.

Nobody guessed how this ware met its end correctly, but that was an oddball case. It didn’t meet its end drowning in water or meeting a high voltage outlet it didn’t like, nor did it suffer a mechanical jam that overloaded the circuits (although those were good guesses). This one met its end quietly charging on my bathroom counter. The beginning of the end, however, was on the cobblestone streets of Italy, I’m guessing. On my way to Roma Termini, I had to run to catch the train, while dragging my suitcase behind me on the cobblestone streets. The shaver was unfortunately packed near the bottom of the suitcase where it would get the full impact of being dragged across a quarter mile of Italian cobblestone. 24 hours later I got home and tried to use the shaver, and it didn’t work.

I shook the shaver around a bit and the motor briefly engaged, so I figured I’d give it a charge. About a half hour later I come back to the bathroom to find that the shaver is smoking hot! I unplug the shaver right away, but it wasn’t cooling off — I feared the battery was in thermal runaway. I stripped off the casing and sprayed the whole thing down with freeze spray (fortunately I keep such things around). When I inspected the device, it turns out that the battery terminals, which are thin sheets of metal spot-welded onto the ends of the battery, had sheared due to the vibration the shaver was exposed to. Probably some intermittent contact was happening such that the charge circuit behaved badly and caused the battery to overheat, eventually causing the large brown scar you see on the waterproof coating of the circuit board.

Sweet Mixes

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Check out caustik’s blog. He’s been posting some sick original mixes there that I’ve been grooving to. Love his stuff, and he’s a very versatile DJ who can craft a good mix out of almost any genre. And he has a post about a bot that can play bejeweled, along with its source code.