Friday, January 6, 2012

Best Commercial White Wire Hack I've Seen

As an electronics tinkerer, I often take apart old electronics to salvage a nice audio pot here, a button there, etc... In my tinkering, I often come across white wire hacks, such as a wire after the fact soldered from one point to another, or something of the likes. Today I was taking apart a nice standard def analog Yamaha receiver that someone donated to my cause. I came across the most ridiculous white wire fix that I've seen in a commercial product to date. Did I mention that this is a nice expensive Yamaha product?

The Hack - Dead Bugs in a Yamaha RX-V890 Natural Sound Receiver

Unfortunately the receiver was already in pieces by the time I noticed the hack. Here is the hack:
Do you see it? Gosh, I wish I had a camera that took better macro pictures. Let's try another picture to see if you can see the hack. Click on the pictures to get a clearer view.

Do you see it now? There are 2 relays dead-bugged with hot glue onto two ICs, 'Pass the Pigs' style. Bus wire is soldered to the relay pins down to the IC pins (most visible in the last picture). Hot glue keeps the wires and parts in place. I think those three sideways caps (most visible in the first picture) are part of the hack as well.


As far as hacks go, this one is really well done. I'd hope so, because some poor soul probably had to fix thousands of these. I'd also hope that it was done well because this is an expensive piece of equipment. Regardless, it isn't what I was expecting to find taking apart this receiver. Who knows what other commercial products have crazy hacks!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Compile Code for the mbed from the LPCXpresso IDE

Recently I found myself working on an robotics system with an mbed. I was offline, and didn't want to use mbed's IDE for development. Plus, I already had LPCXpresso running on my computer. Browsing around, it seemed fairly simple to compile code for the mbed from LPCXpresso. Basically, after setting up a project with the correct target processor (in my case the LPC1768), follow these simple steps.

The Steps to Build a Binary File for mbed from LPCXpresso

  1. Build your project
  2. Browse in the Project Explorer to 'Debug' folder of your project where the .axf file can be found
  3. Right click on the .axf, then select 'Binary Utilities->Create Binary'
Pretty simple, eh? You should now see a .bin file with the same name as your .axf file that you can now throw onto your mbed via the USB Mass Storage Device bootloader already on the mbed. Great, now what about automatically building the binary file when you build your project? Easy enough!

The Steps to Automatically Generate a Binary File for mbed from LPCXpresso

  1. Open your project properties (can be done by right clicking on your project in the Project Explorer, and selecting 'Properties' from the popup menu)
  2. In the treeview on the left, select 'C/C++ General'->'Settings'
  3. Select the 'Build Steps' tab
  4. Remove/delete the '#' character in the Post-build steps Command box (thus uncommenting the already included command for generating a binary file)
  5. Repeat for all configurations desired, apply changes, and you're done!
Now, when you build your project in LPCXpresso, you will be left with a .bin file in the Debug folder that you can throw and run on an mbed!