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Assembly of the uCurrent Gold: reflow soldering!

In this post, I am going to discuss an exciting new skill that I learned this past weekend: reflow soldering. I used this technique to assemble a uCurrent Gold device. I previously talked about the uCurrent Gold by Dave Jones from EEVBlog in this post and the design improvements I added to the PCB. Some time passed and I now (finally) have all the tools and components to assemble this little device.

Reflow soldering is a soldering process that allows many components to be soldered to a PCB in one go. Contrary to using solder wire and a soldering iron, this process works by dispensing solder paste onto a PCB, placing components on the PCB and subsequently reflowing the PCB in an oven to create the mechanical and electrical connection between the PCB pads and component leads. I’ve been assembling ClockSquared Mini prototypes using hand soldering techniques and to be fair, it is quite annoying and difficult to get right. Reflow soldering makes the assembly process easier, quicker and less prone to errors.

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uCurrent Gold PCBs (manufactured by PCBWay)

Recently, I have been developing a watch (miniature) version of ClockSquared. One of the main challenges for this device is to achieve good battery life while not making the watch excessively large or hard to use. This can be achieved by taking various power-saving measures that I will discuss in a future post, but what I will discuss today is way to actually verify that the watch’s power consumption is sufficiently low while in use and while in “sleep mode”.

Dave Jones, the author of EEVBlog, developed a great little device that enables the user to measure electrical currents (in ampere), all the way from the pico scale to the base scale. The main advantage of this device is that it does this with very low burden voltage, a concept which is nicely explained by Dave Jones himself here, or by Andreas Spiess here.

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Development of ClockSquared Mini

Summer break is here, and with some time to spare I decided to challenge myself with a project that I call “Clocksquared Mini”. It is Clocksquared, but in a tiny wristwatch package. This gives rise to a major challenge, as everything has to be shrunk down approximately ten times from a 300x300x50 mm to an approximately 35x35x7 mm package. Moreover, running everything off a tiny battery whilst maintaining an acceptable battery life also turns out to be quite difficult.

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ClockSquared schematic now available

There have been no website updates this past year, which, I must admit, is a bit boring. However, during that time, I was busy travelling around the world. That definitely was not boring!

I am writing because I have been working to improve ClockSquared. I am working on a complete redesign of its internal parts, including the electronics. The new design will use a single PCB to accommodate all electronics including LEDs, Arduino, RTC and other peripherals/modules.

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The M&Ms/Skittles sorting machine is now open source!

Ever since I published my candy sorting machine, I have received many inquiries about the source code and STL files that make it come alive. I have now (finally) created a Github repository through which most of the necessary files are available for download for free.

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Track aircraft using ADS-B and Virtual Radar Server (VRS) on a Raspberry Pi

In this guide, I will explain how I set up the software application for an ADS-B receiver on a Raspberry Pi. I will also explain how to set up a Virtual Radar Server (VRS), which is a visual display of the received and decoded aircraft data.

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De weg naar Mars van SpaceX

SpaceX, een Amerikaans ruimtevaartbedrijf onder leiding van Elon Musk, is hard op weg om bemande ruimtereizen naar Mars mogelijk te maken. Waarom? Musk is van mening dat het maar saai is als wij als mensen voorgoed op aarde blijven. Zijn doel is om geavanceerde raketten en technologie te ontwikkelen die ruimtevoertuigen herbruikbaar maken, wat de weg vrijmaakt voor een toekomstige kolonie op de planeet Mars.

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Hoe was Nieuw-Zeeland?

Zoals beloofd, een followup over mijn reis naar Nieuw-Zeeland! Na een ontzettend lange en vermoeiende reis en drie aparte vluchten konden we eindelijk zeggen dat we in Nieuw-Zeeland waren. Ondertussen stond mijn familie al een uur op het vliegveld op ons te wachten, maar de douanecontrole maakte het er ook niet beter op. Ik was aardig benieuwd – familie die ik meer dan 9 jaar niet had gezien stonden opeens gewoon naast je. Erg bijzonder.

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Reis naar Nieuw-Zeeland

Eind september ontstond thuis het idee om rond de jaarwisseling een reis van ongeveer een maand naar Nieuw-Zeeland te maken. Nieuw-Zeeland is een enorm eind vliegen, welgeteld 18.500 kilometer, en daarom kost zo’n reis ook een berg geld. Er moet dus wel een goede reden zijn om te gaan.

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