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DIY Weller WSP80 / WP80 Soldering Station

Posted 24th August 2014 at 08:58 AM by googlyone

I have been using a pretty crappy "Dick Smith" soldering iron for - well too damn long. I have always been meaning to get a decent iron. Given the fact that it worked, and I have been using it for close on 30 years (if not more) resulted in me investing my time and money in other things.

I recently bought two WSP80 Weller soldering irons off ebay at a killer price.

These ate just the "pencil" part of the soldering iron, and need the power supply / controller. Which are not cheap.

Looking on the net there are a number of schematics of various weller power supply / controllers. But various bits and pieces were not quire right for the WPS80 that I had.

As a start I am using this...
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This is evidently extremely analogue. Which is quick and easy to design and build, and analogue just warms the cockles of my heart.

The final product is like this......
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Old

Windows volume control settings in dB.

Posted 23rd August 2014 at 11:33 AM by rjm
Updated 27th August 2014 at 06:39 AM by rjm

I suppose everyone has at one point or another adjusted the volume sliders in Windows. The ones that go from 0-100, and you are never quite sure what whether its a boost, or an attenuation, or what.

Some years ago I measured the outputs and inputs using a fixed amplitude .wav file created in audacity and played back through the Onkyo SE-200PCI. I've taken another look at the worksheet I made and I've noticed that the volume settings correspond to very logical, even steps, namely:

100 0 dB
90 -1 dB
80 -2 dB
70 -3 dB
60 -4.5 dB
50 -6 dB
40 -8 dB
30 -10 dB
20 -14 dB
10 -20 dB

or for the mathematically inclined: 20*log(volume/100)

This scale is the same for both the output master volume and the line input, so its probably maintained throughout the operating system.

So now you know.
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Old

Onkyo SE-300PCIe sound card review part II.

Posted 20th August 2014 at 02:18 PM by rjm
Updated 23rd August 2014 at 06:21 AM by rjm

Part I is here.

Setup notes are in part I. Listening system downstream is the Sapphire headphone amplifier and Sennheiser HD-600 headphones. As the SE-300's line output routes though the Windows sound mixer, while the SE-200's bypasses it, it was not possible to keep the headphone amplifier volume at a constant setting between cards. Since I found the built-in headphone amplifier of the SE-300 to be good but not at the level of the Sapphire, only the stereo RCA output is being reviewed here.

Let me begin by saying that Windows is fundamentally an anti-audiophile proverbial dog's breakfast of setting and driver layers (quick, what's the difference between the DirectX and WaveOut sound modules?), and most soundcards are also anti-audiophile in that they cater to gamers and casual listening with a full barrel of virtualization, equalization, and reverb features enabled by default.* No surprise then that both cards require careful setup to sound their best, or,...
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Old

DAC filter for discrete buffer

Posted 14th August 2014 at 11:44 PM by abraxalito
Updated 22nd August 2014 at 03:56 AM by abraxalito

Here's the next experiment - a higher working impedance anti-imaging filter which allows operation without any active voltage gain stage following it. Its also one you can build with Mouser parts - Fastron make inductors suitable for this - substitute their 27mH for the 30mH for only a modest degradation in the FR. Or add a Panasonic 2.7mH in series with the 27mH if you'd like to go the whole hog.

The frequency response is -3dB at 18.5kHz and about -55dB by 24.1kHz. Passband ripple is <0.3dB.

Update - after winding all the coils I realized that I don't have a system right now to slot a full bandwidth DAC into - mine at present is fully activated. So to test out the buffer design's audible qualities I need to build a limited bandwidth DAC (for my bass/mid, up to 3.5kHz). Hence another version of the bass/mid LPF is called for, with the highest possible working impedance. Turns out I can wind a 125mH coil with wire which doesn't break too easily (0.13mm dia)...
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Old

Onkyo SE-300PCIe sound card review part I.

Posted 11th August 2014 at 12:39 AM by rjm
Updated 28th August 2014 at 11:41 PM by rjm

When I upgraded my computer recently I accidentally bought a motherboard with no PCI slots which meant I could no longer use my SE-200PCI card, my main reference source now for some years. Rather than switch motherboards again I figured I'd try Onkyo's latest version which has been out for a while now, the SE-300PCIe. I picked up a used "R2" model for $200.

I mention the price up front because the cost of this thing outside of Japan is astronomical. I've seen asking prices of $450 US! In Japan the retail price is about $300 in most stores. That's still very expensive. Despite the good things I have to say about it, the cost/performance must be taken into account based on the particular price you are looking at paying.

This is a Japan-only product, so the web site is Japanese:

main page (gallery)

The basic specs for the stereo line output is 120 dB S/N A weighted, 24/192 capable, 0.3-88kHz -3dB for the 2 channel stereo...
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Old

Hexasupercap

Posted 30th July 2014 at 09:06 AM by abraxalito
Updated 9th August 2014 at 12:30 AM by abraxalito

Here's a hexacap built with 10F caps, so the total capacitance is 610F. The individual caps have ESRs varying from around 30mohms to 60mhoms - I weeded out those above 60mohms with the aim of getting the ESR (and hence total impedance) below 1mohm for all audio frequencies.

The caps are rated at 2.7V which is plenty enough for powering a stack of TDA1387s. Just they take a while to charge up - with around 500mA being fed in the voltage takes almost an hour to reach 2.7V from cold. I've been forming them up and the leakage current seems to be stabilizing now, around 30mA, or 0.5mA per cap.

Update - I've installed this beneath a stack of 6 TDA1387s and been listening for a couple of days. The long and the short of it is there's now no going back to 'conventional' caps, supercaps are here to stay in my DAC designs. The improvement in SQ is rather hard to describe in words - its lower colouration to the LF which might be described as improved 'weight' or 'authority'....
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Old

Keyboard Short Cuts: Copy, Paste, Cut/Delete, Undo

Posted 30th July 2014 at 06:00 AM by SyncTronX
Updated 30th July 2014 at 06:06 AM by SyncTronX

There are some simple keyboard short cuts
that have been around for a while and work.

You may already know them some of us might
not. They were originally used in the Apple
Computer interface and have been held over
on the windows computer too.

After you select an item by clicking it
or clicking and dragging, then do
one of the following: Undo, Cut, Copy, Paste.

The actions are performed with the keyboard keys,
the lower left side and above the space bar.

The keys are Z X C V .

Use one of these keys with the Ctrl key.

Ctrl + C Copy
Ctrl + V Paste
Ctrl + X Delete
Ctrl + Z Undo

The Ctrl key is located in the lower left corner
of the keyboard.

Use the rolling press to make this work.

First press Ctrl with the little finger, left hand,
hold it down,
then press C key with middle finger,...
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Old

Doing interesting things with electronic keyboards

Posted 30th July 2014 at 01:44 AM by fas42
Updated 30th July 2014 at 11:24 PM by fas42

Provoked into Yet Another Project, fiddling with the Yamaha PSR-6700 Portatone we bought over 20 years ago, for my wife to have fun with. This is a solid unit, quite heavy, well thought of even now, with 76 keys - was top of the range, and was the best sounding of the brands and models we looked at the time, in that type of thing. Sometimes called an arranger keyboard, because it can do fancy backing accompaniments, the one-man band thing ...

For those who are not into such, this is an all in one box, very sophisticated synthesizer with internal amp and speakers. Think of it like a reasonable hifi system, where the source material is computer generated, and can get as fancy and realistic as one wants, especially these days. Even in bygone decades remarkable music was created using such devices - Peter Gabriel's well thought of 4th album, Security, was based extremely heavily on sounds from the Fairlight CMI, an Australian made pioneer of this technology.

As...
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Old

Cheapest 32bit CPU to date...

Posted 22nd July 2014 at 07:22 AM by abraxalito
Updated 22nd August 2014 at 04:17 AM by abraxalito

These Cortex M0 modules are 14rmb on Taobao, just over $2 a pop, with more number crunching speed than my first ever PC (40DMIPs).

The CPU is the STM32F030, a 48MHz devuce with limited I/O (I2C, SPI) in a 20 pin TSSOP. The going rate for this chip is 2.4rmb ($0.40).

I have an idea to build a DAC with a handful of these little beauties carrying out some of the filtering.

Update - a price drop just happened on Taobao to a similar board, now down to 9.9rmb - http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=...32&ns=1#detail

Pic attached of this mind-numbingly affordable board.

Aliexpress has the boards I bought now, priced at $6.20 but this includes 'free' shipping - http://www.aliexpress.com/item/stm32...701304725.html
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Old

First prototype PCB-based hexacap

Posted 21st July 2014 at 11:59 PM by abraxalito

Seeing as building hexacaps with wire is very time consuming, I'm investigating ways to get the production cost down. Here's my first attempt at a PCB hexacap, using 2oz copper - I did the layout on EasyEDA - Web-Based EDA, schematic capture, spice circuit simulation and PCB layout Online

Once I've ironed out the minor errors on the groundfill I'll make the PCB public so anyone can order up their own. There are 127 caps on this board giving a 50Hz capacitive reactance just under 8mohms.
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