WordPress was great, but it’s time to get my hands dirtier. All the old posts (and some new content!) can now be found at

It’s drinking the water!

I have a list of life goals, and somewhere on that list is ‘use a drinking bird toy to solve a problem’.  I leave it to you to judge what insight this offers into my character.
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Of or pertaining to cake

In my research group there is something of a tradition to make novelty cakes for the farewell gatherings when someone leaves. I’m not going to lie to you: this is a tradition invented and driven by two of us and tolerated by the others.

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Fixing a Broken iPod

A little while back I was tasked with repairing an (out of warranty) 2nd generation iPod nano. The play/pause button didn’t work, which is particularly debilitating because without it you can no longer:

  • Play
  • Pause
  • Turn it off until the battery runs out

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A couple of months ago I explained how to access and interpret the video signal from the original grayscale Gameboy. My image reconstruction at the time was done in a graphing program with some saved data. Good for a proof of principle, but a little bit lame as far as applications go.

Let me show you where I was actually headed with this project:

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‘Unlocking’ RS232 output from your multimeter

There is a band of products within the handheld multimeter market which, regardless of the manufacturer, are all based around an IC family from Taiwanese manufacturer CyrusTek. You can see this in Dave Jones’ multimeter teardowns – nearly all the units he opens up have a CyrusTek IC running the show. So in terms of feature sets they are all on a fairly level playing field; the price spread mostly comes from build & component quality and the user interface design.

If you read the datasheet for those ICs – the ES519xx series – you’ll make the interesting observation that they all do RS232 compliant output. So a vast number of multimeters – quite possibly yours – are capable of serial communication, but most manufacturers don’t break it out to the front panel for you. Read more of this post

Garage door opener

Here’s a quick description of a project that’s a few years old now. My parents have an automatic garage door, and it has some lights that come on when the door is operated. One of the lightbulbs had blown while I was visiting, so I was up a ladder sorting it out.

As evidence that I’ll never be a professional electrician, while doing this I managed to accidently short a section of the control board to earth with a screwdriver. Read more of this post


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