The Path of a Solder Man-Turning AC to DC

Previously in my adventures in soldering, I assembled an FM Radio from a Velleman kit that I bought from Radioshack.  It works great when powered by an AC power adapter and the correct tip type.  My problem is that I had to borrow the adapter from Radioshack to get it to work since I don’t own a 12V adapter myself.  I can’t make an adapter myself at my current level,so the next best thing for me to do is to make a DC adapter.  It is quite easy to make, all you need are a few supplies.

You will need:

a size N Coaxial DC Power Plug

Size N Power Adapter

a snap connector for a 9V battery

Snap connector

a battery holder for eight double AA batteries

Battery holder

-standard soldering tools such as a soldering iron, solder, wire strippers

Step one: Solder the wires to the power plug terminals

Similar to my post on fixing headphones, we shall start by passing the wires through the plastic  hollow.  Once that happens, make sure to solder the wires to the ring terminals of the power plug.  The red cable soldered on the smaller terminal and the ground soldered on the larger terminal.

Solder to terminals

Step two: snap the snap connector to the battery holder

Ensure that the positive and negative connect to the correct snap terminals (it should only fit one way).

Snap to the holder

Step three: Insert batteries and connect to device

Finished!

Insert eight AA batteries in the battery holder.  It should be running at 12V, enough to power on the radio.  Congratulations, the contraption should work!  Try it out and let us know what you think by commenting below.

Google Extension of the Week: Adblock Plus

Up until a few hours ago, I have been using the internet without the use of an adblocker.  What I mean by this is that ever since I was little, I was subjected to constant ads on all the web pages I visited.  Banner ads to the left of me, video pop-ups to the right of me, or was it the other way?  Even worse, I hated those ads that were videos and automatically played whenever I visited that website.  Those websites reminded me why I left Myspace years ago.  The result of these ads caused me constant torment for years.  No more.  Years of anger and sadness are no more as a result of downloading the holy tool called AdBlock Plus.

I use the Google Chrome browser for my internet usage, the following advice will not work for any browser though that does not mean that other Adblock extensions exists for those browsers.  AdBlock Plus is an extension available for the Google Chrome browser and can also be downloaded on the Chrome Web Store.  Extensions are extra features with functionality that a user can apply to Google Chrome.

In the case with Adblock Plus, the extension enhances my browser use by blocking annoying and distracting ads, thus increasing my productivity.  In order to apply the extension to your Chrome browser, download Adblock Plus by finding the extension on the Chrome Web Store.  Once it is installed, you should be able to browse the internet with very little ads.  There will still be ads and that is due to the fact that Adblock Plus allows very few ads that fit a certain criteria to get through the filters.  They do this in order to support content producers on the internet who make their revenue through ads.  I also support many people who produce entertaining content on the internet and would like them to keep producing new content.  If all it takes for me to support them is to view a few ads, then I will do it.  On the other hand,massive ads such as car manufacturers promotions that are everywhere are not something I want to view or support, as such, Adblock Plus will prevent me from seeing those ads.

For those who do not want to view any ads, Adblock will prevent all ads to be viewed, leaving you with pure content.

The only way to see the full effects of the extension is to download it yourself and trying it out.  So have at it.  Let me know what you think about the Adblock extension by commenting below.

Make: Electronics-Let’s Abuse a Battery! (Experiment 2)

In this week’s experiment, I won’t be doing any sort of bodily harm to myself (for those who enjoy seeing me in pain, I apologize and will find some way to appease you in a future date).  Instead, we will be destroying a perfectly good battery by abusing it to the point that it shorts out.

What a short out looks like. Image was found on atbatt.com
Check out their blog for some great content.

For those who do not know what shorting out a battery involves, it is a very dangerous procedure that should not be done unless it is in the name of science.  In a short out, you create a closed short circuit where the flow of electrons go from one end to the battery into the other.  The electricity needs to be used up somewhere (when connected to a lightbulb, light would use up the flow of electricity), but in this short circuit the electric flow goes back to the battery.  In order to rid of its extra electricity, the battery and the wires become extremely hot until there the amount of electricity reduces to the point that it can no longer flow effectively.  I must stress that this short out should only occur in a low voltage battery such as a 1.5V AA.  If you attempt this with a higher voltage battery such as a 12V or a car battery, the battery can either explode, catch on fire, leak acid, or spray acid on your face.  Again, do not attempt this with a high voltage battery.  If you want to follow along you will need:

-2 1.5V AA Alkaline Batteries

-1 single cell battery holder

-insulated alligator clips (at least two)

-a 3 amp fuse

Step 1: Connect the leads with an alligator clip

Simple enough right?  You just want the leads to make a solid connection so that the electrons can flow through the wires and into the battery.

Step 2: Insert the battery into the holder

Congrats! You are halfway there.  The flow of electricity should be starting and within a few minutes the battery should begin heating up.  Now we play the waiting game.

Step 3: Play the waiting game

After two minutes, carefully touch the battery and you should feel it turn really hot.  Don’t let your touch linger or your skin will burn.  If you are sick of waiting for the battery to cool, just remove the alligator clip from the leads.  This should open the circuit and cause the electric flow to stop.  Congratulations.  You now have a useless battery.  You can see if your town has some recycling center for alkaline batteries or you can be like me and save them for slingshot ammunition.

Step 4: Clip the fuse, insert the battery, and wait

Okay, so maybe I did not want to make another extra two steps and just combine the rest into one giant step.  That is alright, I did it because I believe in your technical skills and not because I am lazy.  So you take your fuse and clip one end of each of the battery holder leads to the terminal on the fuse using the alligator clips.  This creates the close circuit we want.  Now insert the battery and play the waiting game. Chances are you didn’t have to wait long.  Check the inside of your fuse.  What happened?

You may be asking what the purpose of the fuse is.  The fuse acts as a safety mechanism that prevents the circuit shorting out by opening the circuit.  Take a good look at your fuse.  On the inside, you should see some sort of metal S.  Electricity travels through the metal S and into the battery, then repeats.  The fuse we used can only withstand a current of up to 3 amps.  If the current is over 3 amps, the metal S melts which doesn’t allow electricity to travel through the circuit,  causing the circuit to become open.  Fuses are very great because it prevents your expensive items from exploding in case a short out ever occurs.

App of the Week-Psykopaint

This week’s app is surprisingly not found on the Amazon App store but instead is found on the Chrome Web Store.  Do not confuse this with the Google Play Store, the Chrome Store is accessed through the Google Chrome Browser.  Like all apps, the apps available on the Chrome Web Store enhance the user’s experience using the Google Chrome Browser.  For this week, I explored the app called Psykopaint.

An example of the brushes available

Psykopaint is a very fun app that lets users upload a picture of their very own or a picture available from the picture library and manipulate it into make a brand new creation.  You start out with the picture you chosen and a brush.  Remember, you are not painting a picture, you are altering the picture you chosen using a standard brush with various options/styles.  The brushes act as a filter tool that changes the pixels of the picture to mimic a painting style of famous artists.  Such artist styles are Guillaumin, Munch, Pissaro, Sisley, Cezanne, Degas, Seurat, Bazille, Renoir, Monet, and Van Gogh.

Once you select the brush, you paint over your picture using the filter tool and watch as your previous picture is warped/changed into a painting that looks as if a master painter made it themselves.

An example of the pic before alteration
Picture altered with a Van Gogh brush
Example of the Monet brush

Once you alter the picture, you are given the choice to save the file on your computer or host it on some other website.  One feature I do not enjoy about this app is the Psykopoints system.  In order to use other tools such as a spray can, you must first spend the app currency called Psykopoints.  You can earn these points by recommend friends or buying the tool using real money.  If you use the saving feature of the app, you can save in a small resolution for free or save a higher resolution pic in exchange for some Psykopoints.

Overall, the app is interesting to use and a great way to spend your leisure time.  All you need in order to start using it is to download the Google Chrome Browser, dowload the Psykopaint app, and make your own account on their website.  I strongly suggest downloading it for free to try it out.  If you don’t like it, hey, just uninstall the app.

What is your favorite app/program to use in manipulating pictures?  Is it Photoshop or is it an unknown program?

Prepare to relive the charging nightmare

This image was found on the Mobile Fun Blog. Check out their cool stuff by clicking the picture.

Right now, I have six different mobile device chargers in my desk drawer.  Three are for cell phones, one is for a bluetooth, another is for a Nintendo DS, and the last is for an Mp3 player.  They are my old comrades, the friends I depended on to keep my electronic tools alive.  All use different tips yet they all do the same thing, charge my mobile devices.  Go back 3 or 4 years, and you might remember the massive mobile device battlefield.  Chargers, chargers everywhere.  If you had a phone, you needed a charger.  Had an Ipod?  You would need a different charger for that.  What about a bluetooth headset to go with your phone?  Again, you will need a different charger for that. Do you get the picture?  In the past, almost every single phone manufacture used their proprietary charging tip.  Samsung had their own flat tip, LG had a similar flat tip with smaller surface, Sony had a strange design going for their Sony Ericsson models, and we of course had Apple with their classic Ipod charger.

Micro USB to the left and Regular USB to the right.
Pic was found on ulyssesonline.com
They have some good stuff on Apple and Linux.
Click on the pic to visit the site.

Nowadays, things are a bit better.  Many phone manufactures such as Motorola, Nokia, and Samsung have agreed to use a standard phone charger, resulting in the fabulous Micro-USB tip that I personally love.  But that was then, and now we the same problems will occur again soon.  In the Nov. 12-18 2012 issue of Businessweek, Olga Kharif warns the readers about new technologies causing the same problems we experienced 5 years ago.  About a year ago, manufacturers such as Powermat began selling technology that allowed consumers to charge their cellphones without using a power plug via a wireless pad.  Although I personally found this idea fascinating, existing phones needed to buy an extra case capable of receiving a charge through the charging pad.  As such, the devices did not become popular enough to gain traction.

An example of a wireless charging pad that did not gain traction.
Pic taken from Amazon.com, click the pic to view product or maybe even buy it.

With new technologies, manufactures have vowed to begin selling wireless charging accessories as well as build phones with built-in wireless charging capabilities.  Great news right?  No more buying expensive cables because the pins broke from too much roughhousing, right?  Wrong.  Powermat, Google, and Samsung all are developing their own wireless charging technologies and guess what, they are all different from each other.  Buying a phone that uses one technology will not ensure that it will work on another wireless charging pad.  In addition to those three companies, LG Electronics, Energizer, and Nokia have made an alliance to promote Qi, which is another wireless charging technology that is already installed in some phones.  Soon, we will see new wireless charging technologies and we will experience the same problem we had five years ago, the lack of a standard.  Which company will prevail will be anyone’s guess, but till then the only winners will be the phone manufactures developing these technologies.

What about Apple?  Recently, they have come out with the Iphone 5 that has the new lightning cable to charge the phone.  So far, there has been no news as to whether Apple will make its own wireless charging technology or support an already existing technology.  Whichever decision Apple makes, you can be sure that Apple’s input will have tremendous weight in deciding the wireless charging standard.

What are your thoughts on the lack of wireless charging standard?  Do you support the use of just one universal wireless charging technology or are you more in favor of the regular cell phone cable chargers?  Give us you input by commenting below.