Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Laser Pointer Shenanigans: Part 2

Since the last post about my laser pointer endeavors, I've done a few (minor) things. Well, minor in actual work involved, but major in the grand scheme of things.

Soon after I broke open the last laser pointer and played around with it, trying to get it to work again, I realized that I may have overestimated the complexity in trying to remove the unessential parts to a basic laser pointer. Apparently, the metal housing that the small piece of circuit board connects to is essential in making the laser work and preventing it from breaking into several much smaller, more useless pieces.

Pictured Left: DOING IT WRONG----------------------Pictured Right: Doing it right :)

About a week after the first failed attempt to isolate the usable part of the laser, I stumbled upon another crappy key chain laser pointer (~$2 including tax) while getting a few things from Micro Center. After a few careful minutes I freed the laser (intact) from its original case and to my delight, it actually still worked when hooked up to its recommended 4.5 volts.

I'm hoping to try and make some light graffiti with my digital camera at some point so my plan for the laser is to replace the current press-button with one of less physical resistance and to remount the laser in a more comfortable, easy-t0-handle casing that will allow me to use AAA batteries so it will basically last forever (at least compared to the LR44 batteries that it came with).

Busted Headphones

I was looking through my drawers a few days ago and I came across a box of miscellaneous electronic parts. I noticed a pair of old over-ear headphones that someone in the family had said only worked in the left ear, so I wanted to see if I could fix them because otherwise I would have viciously cannibalized the headphones for parts (dissect the broken ear to learn how it works and save the audio cable and working ear for future projects).

Once I had stripped the broken headphone of it's casing, I saw that the problem was in a broken plastic piece. This piece would have normally kept the supporting heavy wire (which goes over the head to transmit audio and for structural support) in place had broken off, allowing the heavy wire to move around enough to break both of the soldered joints for the headphone. After confirming that the only repair needed was some re-soldering (by testing the headphones with alligator clips), I made the repair using a small additional length of wire so the heavy wire can still jiggle around slightly but so that the wires won't break away again. Yeah, it's kind of half-assed because I didn't actually fix the plastic piece, but it's not noticeable from the outside and I'm fairly confident that the same problem won't resurface later on.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Laser Pointer Shenanigans

I was about to sit down and get to work on a backlog of calculus homework when I saw my old laser pointer and thought, "hmm, I should get my laser pointer working again" and in the true spirit of procrastination I immediately dropped my pencil and picked up my multi tool and key-chain laser pointer, something that I had picked up about five or six years ago at a flea market while on vacation. It's not that the laser is broken or anything, it's just that those pesky LR44 batteries aren't that common and I can't be bothered to pick them up since they barely last anyway.

The laser itself is nothing like I had expected. It's actually a very simple design: battery(+)->push button->resistor->laser->battery(-).

So far, the laser pointer is in about 8-10 pieces on my desk, but I really should get back to work so pictures and description of what I'm planning on doing later.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Programming for the Zune HD

Well I got a Zune HD, and after extensively playing with all of the fun features for a few months, I'm thinking about learning C# to program games/applications for my Zune myself. As of right now, I'm able to use XNA Game Studios 3.1 with the Zune extensions to deploy my own code to teh device, but Microsoft hasn't yet opened up the device fully to developers (so no access to WiFi or 3D features) although I can't see that as being a limiting factor since I've only just begun to learn C#. I'm hoping they do open it up at some point though, since I know there are a lot of very capable developers who would love to take advantage of Tegra and distribute their apps officially through some sort of online store.

I'll post updates on any programs I make (along with source code etc) as I chug my way through tutorials and other open source code.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Natal Optimist - Twitter

If you've been following the gaming scene for the past year or so, you've probably heard of Microsoft's Project Natal (name may or may not be pending since it's already been named one of the best inventions of 2009 by Time along with plenty of coverage from around the net). I'm not sure if it's the gamer or geek in me that prompted the creation of NatalOptimist, but I'm looking forward to more news/tech demos within the next year regardless.