11 Feb, 2011

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  Ben's Little Projects - Past and Present:

I actually have lots of things I build or fix or change in some way that I could put up here. I just don't have pictures of them... So this page is somewhat incomplete. I don't know if it ever will be... but here's where I have for now.

Obviously, I can't include projects for some of my clients as those designs are proprietary - which is a bummer since some of them are pretty cool. BUT....

If you want to see the kind of stuff I did for the Univ of IL (Champaign/Urbana), click this link.

Sign the GuestBook while you're here!

PIC18F26J11 / TDA5051 PowerLine Modem w/remote control
(Nov. 2010)
This is something I've been threatening my friends I would build for a while for a particular purpose. The PCB has 2 functions wrapped into one.
Without the PIC populated it's JUST a powerline modem allowing a PC to be plugging into the DE-9 power (9pin Serial). This allowed the PC to send data out on the powerline.

With the PIC installed (and all it's relays and open drain outputs),

  • The PIC uses the powerline side as the control console while the DE-9 becomes a remote bridgeable port so the user can talk to a device plugged into the powerline modem.
  • The PIC can control up to 8 outputs (2 with relays) with various features like timeouts, pulse delays, chaining (with delays).
  • Charger PCB.
    King LAA-0325 Repair and Fan Upgrade
    (Aug. 2010)
    A friend gave me a KX-99 Aviation walkie-talkie that had a broken LCD, loose BNC connector and dead battery pack. In repairing the radio that came with a desktop charger (LAA-0325), I found the charger also was broken. Turns out it was the MJE170 PNP transistor. So I replaced it and was back in operation. However, the new battery pack from the KX-99 I refurbed with 2700mAh NiMH's really pushed the charger compared to the original 720mAh NiCd's that came with the radio. So I put in a fan to help keep some of the power components cool while charging. But no fan will do. We want a temp controlled speed on the fan! ;) A silly little circuit with some drilling and some metal punching and presto! Done. Yes, that's an LT1963 Regulator using a 10K NTC Thermistor driving a 12V DC Fan. Viola!
    Charger PCB. View showing open charger and fan placement.. View of charger base (and fan) while assembled. Vent holes drilled on the left side of plastic molding.
    Liquid Cooled Cup Holder for my Jeep
    (Dec. 2006)
    The base cup chamber design...
    Base Cup-Holder.. Base Cup-Holder.. Base Cup-Holder.. Base Cup-Holder.. Base Cup-Holder..

    Cup chamber v1 design: I didn't like it...
    Cup Holder v.1 - I didn't like it.. Cup Holder v.1 - I didn't like it.. Cup Holder v.1 - I didn't like it.. Cup Holder v.1 - I didn't like it.. Cup Holder v.1 - I didn't like it.. Cup Holder v.1 - I didn't like it.. Cup Holder v.1 - I didn't like it.. Cup Holder v.1 - I didn't like it..

    Cup chamber v2 design: This is what I wish would FIT into the car.
    Cup Holder v.2 - This is what I went with..

    Cup chamber v3 design: This is what will really go into the car.
    (no pics yet up here)

    Coolant Reservior: The "tubing only" designs require coolant to be stored and air bubbles to go someplace... so.

    The LED/Temp Sensor Tray. The last image is a ~4MB Movie!
    LED/Temp Sensor Tray LED/Temp Sensor Tray LED/Temp Sensor Tray

    The Cooling unit. Peltier/Fan/Electronics to make it all happen!
    .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
    Linksys WAP11 In a box
    (Mar. 2006)
    Linksys WAP11 in a box. Linksys WAP11 in a box.
    CerfBoard255 1Mx16 SRAM PCB
    (Jul. 2005)
    CerfBoard255 Signal Breakout PCB
    (Jun. 2005)
    Ok, now where did I put those pics...
    Jeep Wrangler Amplifier Deck
    (Apr. 2005)
    Jeep Amp Deck Jeep Amp Deck Jeep Amp Deck
    PIC Based Dual Axis Accelerometer Display
    w/6 Axis capability
    (Dec. 2004)
    ok. It's built. It's fun. The pics are somewhere..
    Atari Tempest ROM4 & Tempest Tubes
    (Sep, 2003)
    Atari Tempest ROM4 w/switch Atari Tempest ROM4 w/switch Ok, this was so easy it's not even funny - but I thought I would list it for those who want to "do it themselves". NOTE: MOUNT THE SWITCH OFF THE END OF PIN 1! I mounted it towards the bottom and the switch bumps into the large connector at the edge of the board.
    PIC Based 4-Temp / 2-Voltage Monitor
    (Sep, 2002)
    Completed Sensor PCB Dallas DS1821 1-wire Temp Sensors Installing the Temp Sensors onto the Processor modules. Sticking the main PCB in the drivebay area. Raw output from the board via RS232. Reformatted output through TCL script for Log-Friendly Manipulations.

    My first version of this was LCD based. I changed my mind so I could hook the unit to a computer to log the temps every so many minutes. The screen shot on the left shows the raw output as seen from a direct serial connection. The shot on the right is after I pass it through some TCL code to make it more log-file friendly. I suppose I could have formatted the output from the sensor directly into what the TCL code does.. but then the sensor isn't as fancy. So... anyway - if anyone wants the 'C' code, feel free to send me an email.

    Empeg LED Modifications
    (Sep, 2002)

    The empeg actually has room for T-1 sized LED's inside the push-switches. Just add the R-Pak (I used 500ohms for a total current of 10mA @ 5VDC. Now I just need to get the transluscent buttons from Brian's Empeg Button Page.

    Empeg Fan Kit
    (Aug, 2002)
    Extra photos from Mark Lord Extra photos from Mark Lord Extra photos from Mark Lord

    The 1st pic is actual temp controller. (A prototype that still runs in my Empeg today.) There is a more "kit friendly" version now in the Gizmo's section for anyone else with an Empeg who'd like to purchase one. The LCD display is just the mPU that's going to set the chip. This was just an exercise to show me the chip correctly operating. After that, you can see where I put the unit and the pads near the power connector where I connected to +12vdc. This mod is supported by HiJack for the empeg which can be found at Get version 3.04 or later. The schematic is located here. Enjoy!

    "Empeg" MP3 Stereo for the Jeep
    (Feb-Mar, 2001)

    One of the coolest gizmo's you can put in your car... unfortunately, no longer made. But check 'em out at or
    Custom Made Jeep Speakers for my '97 Jeep Wrangler
    I made these from Radio Shack 6x9 Carpet Covered Cabinets, Jensen 120Watt 2way (Whizzer) Speakers, 1" U-Bolts, some Tie-Down straps and a sections of, yes it really is, conduit from Home Depot painted black courtesy of Rust-Oleum. They are wired up to the Amps show above.
    The LiteBrite Board ('97) This is one of my favorite nonsense gizmo's right now. It's run by a set of TCL programs on my Unix Server that display, Time/Date, Weather, Local Airport Data, APC UPS Data, CallerID and completed SETI@Home Work Units.
    PIC Programmer (for the project above) in a custom case. (early '99)
    PIC Based 4-Line Temperature Display (early '99?) (taught myself 'C' on this project)
    Here ya go Marty!
    FM Transmitter WBEN as it were (ho ho ho)
    (early '99?)

    This was made with an MPX96 available from North Country Radio by Bill Sheets. A most excellent sounding unit unlike the crap that Ramsey Electronics sells for more money!! Buy the MPX96!!
    Video Game Conversion Cabinet
    (Top row is the control panel
    bottom row is the whole thing)

    Joust (Arcade Game) Board Set
    Had to mount and wire. Joy!(Nov.13,99)
    NTSC Video Sync Splitter (circa 1990)
    (This was a bet as to how many posts I could get on this box)
    Laser Power Supply
    (circa 1987??)
    Stereo Decoder for TV. (Circa 1986?)

    This went into the Fischer FVH-810 VCR I had... Any TV stations in Stereo would be decoded accordingly. The decoder used a Broadcast FM Stereo Decoding Chip (LM1800) retuned for the 15.75KHz carrier that was used for TV. FM Radio uses 19KHz for it's pilot carrier.

    Ben's First Power Supply - 12VDC (circa 1983)
    Ben's first Atari Accessory (circa 1983)
    It's a Joystick Port Breakout Box!

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