You probably have heard of the committee and every now and then the activity pops up on the site again: the SHOCK hobby evening. It sounds epic, but what is it exactly?
The SHOCK (“Scintilla’s hobby commissie voor knutselaars”) supports the Electronic hobbyist at Scintilla. We organize the occasional hobby evening in the Westzaal, where all the fancy equipment of the Westzaal is available for you. SHOCK activities last the entire evening, so you can prototype and solder to your heart’s desire! You can work on your own projects with fellow students around you and not be locked away in your small room suffocating from dangerous lead fumes because it is too cold outside and you don’t want to open your window. In your room you also don’t have the awesome help fellow Electrical Engineers can give you. Maybe you need some insight in your class-D amplifier design or your Arduino code is not working and you don’t know why. At such an evening you can also awe at the crazy projects others have, like somebody making a machine that can detect weeds with a camera and kill them with a strange taser system. And don’t you have all the components for your project or did you just blow up that import part of your circuit? No problem! Often there is a STORES representative present that can sell you the stuff you need.
And now you are thinking: I want to attend such an awesome evening, but I don’t know what to build… Well, you always have friends or the internet for ideas. But if the internet gives you a sensory overload from all the cool stuff that is presented there, SHOCK has you covered. Because this year, we will start selling project kits we developed! Two kits have already been finalized, the Bus Pirate and the portable soldering iron.
When you hear the name Bus Pirate you would probably think of some Johnny Depp dude riding a bus while singing shanty songs and drinking rum. Well sorry to disappoint you, but that’s not it. Maybe this piece of tech is not as weirdly interesting, but it is a nice piece of equipment every Electrical Engineer should have. A Bus Pirate is what some people call a hacker’s multi-tool that can talk to all sorts of electronic stuff. You can flash chips and talk to them with all sorts of protocols like I²C, SPI and UART. It has a measurement probe that can measure up to 6 Volts and it can measure frequencies up to 40 MHz. It even has a function generator and power supply on board. And everything is controllable via a serial terminal on your PC. It raises the thought why the faculty still has the MyDAQ. The best part of the Bus Pirate is a fully opensource design. This gives way to a lot of custom firmware and code that can be used with the Bus Pirate. The second project that will be available at the hobby evening is a portable soldering iron. Maybe you have heard of the TS100, a soldering iron that is fully user programmable and can either work with laptop power supplies or just run from a LiPo packs. As SHOCK we thought: we can do that! So some work later there was a beautiful design. We used Weller RT tips because they are very good quality and the heating element and sensor are very close to the tip, what makes for quick heating times (5 seconds!) and accurate tip temperature. The tips are low energy, they already reach high temperatures at 40 Watt. And because these are very popular tips there are a lot of different types available. The soldering iron will be controlled with an attiny5 microcontroller, which can be easily programmed using a cable that is included with the kit. It was some challenge to figure out how to get to the attiny5 because it has a limited number of pins. But luckily the Weller tips connect with a 3 point 3.5mm jack, so with a 4 point 3.5mm connecter on the PCB this can be used for programming and controlling the tip! The kit will be available at the STORES not too long from now for around €40 (while the original Weller soldering station for those tips costs €350). At a hobby evening these kits will even be available with a discount! And of course, there is help from the SHOCK when building one.
With every project we are bringing out we try to schedule a couple of evenings in which you can work on the project, so you don’t have to plan that yourself and your cool new project is not going to end up as a nice bookshelf ornament collecting dust. This year we expect to have three projects available with approximately 2 evenings per project. After the projects are launched at a hobby evening we hope to make them still available as soldering kits at the STORES. We’ll see you soon at the hobby evening with you own awesome project or a nice kit that we have made for you!