04 July 2015 - comments
- tags: tools
Up until last year, owners of thermal cameras were the envy of everyone. Luckily, with the launch of Seek Thermal, Flir One and Flir One V2 recently, that's no longer the case. Thermal cameras are now affordable and they're already being applied in a variety of hobbies. Our focus is on use in electronic design and debugging, so we won't be looking at dogs, deers, houses or make thermal selfies.
Seek Thermal XR is an improvement over the original version, in that it has adjustable focus. This comes with the disadvantage that is has a narrower field of view, but in our case, it doesn't matter. The smallest focusing distance appears to be somewhere around 12 cm, which allows us to get decent detail even for 0402 footprints, in spite of the low resolution (206 x 156). Macro mode was only possible with the original version if an additional lens was used.
14 April 2015 - comments
- tags: tools
After doing a lot of reading online and considering various types of microscopes, I finally decided to go for one that's made specifically for this sort of job. One that allows you to easily solder or do various mechanical tasks under it and that doesn't cost as much as a car.
The obvious choice was AmScope, which are well priced and have a big range of options and I almost went through with buying from them, but I live in Europe and the price of shipping + import taxes can't be ignored for such an item. A bit more digging around revealed that there are several online microscope shops in the EU and a few more brands popped out, like Optika and BTC. What I found was that the industrial line of microscopes looked strikingly similar across all of them and there were even some no-name ones being sold, that looked exactly the same. I figured there must be at least one company in China that's making them and that all these companies are probably rebranding, so I set out to find the OEMs in the hope of getting a better deal.
26 January 2015 - comments
- tags: tools
I've been planning for a while to build a tracking generator for my spectrum analyzer, but because time seems to be a rare commodity these days, I had to look for some quick alternatives that could get the job done. I had a crack at building several noise sources, but was not too happy with the result and since I didn't want to spend too much time on it, I went ahead and purchased one of those cheap noise sources from eBay.
They currently sell for about 20 pounds and they're advertised to work well up to 1.5 GHz. I need a lot better than this, but for my current project it was enough.
When buying a noise source, keep in mind that they can't replace a tracking generator. The power of the signal generated by the noise source will be spread across the entire spectrum, so every time you reduce your RBW, the displayed signal level will also drop, since less power will make its way inside the filter. It's easy to get fooled by this, so if you do get a noise source, make sure you're aware at all times of the total power that's present at the spectrum analyzer input, so you don't exceed the maximum limits.