Archive for the 'Hacks' Category

Cue-Cat Surgery

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Well, I’m back, my friends, and with more fun than ever! I have this cool little barcode scanner that looks like a cat, and was distributed at RadioShack and with issues of Forbes Magazine with the intention of allowing people to get information on an item just by swiping its barcode! Well, the idea tanked, and Digital Convergence, the company that marketed these hoobywhatties went down with the ship! So, I just use mine to inventory things in my homemade web script, called BarcodeDB… check it out!

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Anywho, a while back I decided to add a switch so that the CueCat isn’t on all the time, since the red LED gets annoying after a bit.. All the connections to this CueCat is in-line with the keyboard, over P/S2 cable, and on the board of the cuecat, all connections from this cable comes in on a 6-pin plastic connector which goes with a 6-pin header on the PCB.

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After many bad soldering attempts, the plastic connector sorta.. melted, and the wires had to be cut and soldered to the pins. Mind you, the pins are pretty close together, and is not much fun. So, I decided to use an IDE cable, and make my own connector!

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I cut the IDE cable with an X-ACTO knife heated by a blowtorch, and you can split the ribbon cable with your fingers. (Give yourself a pin’s space when cutting: so if you are cutting a 6-pin connector, cut right inbetween the 7th and 8th pins, because the heat from the X-ACTO melts plastic around it) I simply tinned the ends, and soon, I was able to begin attaching the wires that come from the PS/2 cord.

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Ah, but wait, Max, where do these wonderfully coloured wires go? Well, my friends, I wrote up a nice slip of paper, detailing these.. details. Pin 1 refers to the pin near the silkscreened “1″ on the board… you’ll find it.

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Found them? Good! Allow you need to do is solder the wires together!

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(I apologize.. this picture was taken before I properly soldered the yellow and silver wires.. all the others were out of focus) Now, if you are like me, you have a switch planted in the top of your CueCat. Now, Max, you ask, how do I make the switch work? Well, grasshopper, given that you have soldered wires to your switch contacts, like I (if not, no biggie.. just do.), you can simply solder the brown wire to one side and the other switch contact’s wire to the first pin wire on the IDE cable.

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All good? OK! Well, all there is left to do is put tape on the wires (I ran out of electrical, so I used painter’s tape)

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All there’s left to do is box it back up! Make sure to put the plastic lenses back where they came from, otherwise our feline friend won’t work so well..

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And the black plastic cover on that, too.. Tuck the cable in its little niche (takes some squeezing)

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And box it up!

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Does it work, you ask? Well of course! Anything I do is always a success! This image…

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Was shortly followed by this image…

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Which may lead you to make a conclusion about this project! Good luck, and happy hacking, guys!

Paperclip Ingenuity

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

So, the second tech rehearsal of the drama club’s play just happened tonight, and we had received a wireless body-pack-style microphone, but the receiver that came with it didn’t have any antennas included in the box. We were oblivious to the problem until, mysteriously, that microphone didn’t work! (Go figure!) So, we realized that there wasn’t an antenna, and I immediately asked, “Anyone have a paperclip?” My question was answered by laughter, until they realized I was serious. The antenna connector was BNC, so I slipped the bent paperclip into the center ring. Up shoots the signal meter. Hell, it probably did a better job than the stock Shure antenna :)

Inter-magical!

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

Ok, for any of you out there with an Intermatic SS7 lights timer (as described in this blog post) that has failed on you, fear not! For you, who is oh-so-lucky to find this post of mine, have discovered the solution!
So, anyways, what you want to do is release the 4 tabs that connect the front portion of the timer (out of the socket, of course). If you look at the front half (remove the PCB; it’s not glued or anything, just sitting there by tension). Do you notice those two tiny springs by where the battery tabs come in? Remove those, and replace them with tiny wads to aluminum foil, or something else conductive to bridge the gap between the battery-caddy pins and the contacts on the PCB. Re-install the PCB, snap it back together, and hit “ON” and hear the timer click to life!