Ah, the profound smell of hot solder...the sweet feeling of your singed fingertips...the hotglue cobwebs everywhere...feels like home.

Yesterday I acquired a PIC+eeprom programmer kit (serial) for a number of upcoming projects, and decided that I must start building it... that was at about 2300.

 2007_02_16-picprog-assembly-forestry.jpg  2007_02_16-picprog-assembly.jpg

At 0235 (no pics) all the solder joints looked sufficiently neat and the thing powers up without emitting smoke, so it Must Be Ok. FastForward to this evening.

After the late session yesterday, I had the solder station still set up, the work table was still a mess and I decided to Get More Magic Stuff done.

I have one of these Gadmei Tuner boxes. Why? because I prefer to watch DVDs via the VGA out of my player, which works better (read: at all) if you have a monitor rather than a TV. Thus the need for something that eats HF deviltry and spits out VGA. Hence the Gadmei box. Which is great: it works, was cheap at <60$ and the picture quality is better than my old TV could wring from my very bad roof antenna. The 15" monitor was a castoff from Richard and the combination produces solid 1280x1024x60Hz TV.

But the Gadmei looks crap, has a plastic case (with only a minimum amount of internal shielding for the HF parts), and it drives me mad with its maniacally blinking red LED...in standby! (Must be the advertising industry subtly pushing you to watch more crap TV) When on, the LED is stable on. It also uses a wall wart, 5V 1A (although the thin wires provided would start glowing if it really drew that much current...) and I dislike wall warts, especially the ones (like this one) which come with the wrong prongs and need a converter stack.

However, Dr. Hackall has no fear! (and a soldering station, and a recently installed RCD for the whole house...) So I created the KingstonTV: an old gutted Kingston 10Mbit ethernet hub (ex-EUnet mid-90s vintage) which sports a solid steel case and is oversize for the Gadmei box. This required open-heart surgery, as the Gadmei has IR sensors (and spit LED) in front and connectors in the back, but the Kingston is almost twice as deep. Looking at the power problem, I decided to gut the smallest 5V/1A+ wallwart that I had lying around, which fortunately is just low enough to fit into the Kingston...if one leaves off this wussy 'isolation' stuff.

(haha, only kidding! three solid layers of plastic. I know my RCD works but I prefer not being woken by the fire alarm.)


This is the unisolated test version. The pliers were needed there so that plugging in the fat cable wouldn't move the unisolated power supply guts around to some suitable conducting tools...


The case was too small to put a socket in, so I soldered a 3-strand cable straight in, nicely fixed with cable ties. I even connected a solid case earth, and the net result is safer than the shite originally was!

So the IR sensor needed to be desoldered (I thought that I had fried it, so hard was it to get the desolder braid to work) and put on an extended cable bit. The juice plug in the back was removed, too, and direct wiring (higher-diameter stuff that should survive 5V/1A) was put in.

The kingston case acquired a number of new holes for standoffs to mount the Gadmei Guts, minus the builtin speaker (audio is connected to the Yamaha below anyway) and without access to the command buttons on the box (but that's what remote controls are for).

 2007_02_16-kingston-tv-rear.jpg  2007_02_16-kingston-tv-top.jpg

Visor in place, you can only see the blinking LED if you search for it from the right angle etc. Case closed. I'm happy.

 2007_02_16-kingston-tv-side.jpg 2007_02_16-kingston-tv-installed.jpg
[ published on Fri 16.02.2007 23:50 | filed in interests | ]
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