Igor's Blog

Importance of cleaning the internal fans and heatsinks in a MacBook Pro
A few days ago I decided to give my MacBook Pro's internal fans and heatsinks a clean, but before I did that I decided to collect some data on temperatures before the clean out. I knew my Mac has been running hotter than usual lately, I just didn't know how bad it was. I've not cleaned its heatsinks or fans ever since I purchased it back in 2012 (4 years now).
Testing the BYOC Mouse Guitar Pedal
I've written previous posts about Putting together the BYOC Mouse guitar pedal kit and the second part of the kit construction. Further I wrote about painting the pedal case. This post ties everything up and is about how I tested the pedal once it was fully assembled and ready to roll (or distort rather!)
Putting together the BYOC Mouse guitar pedal kit (part 2)
I've started making this BYOC Mouse guitar pedal for a good friend of mine, Ilia Rogatchevski before I went on our round the world trip . I actually had everything finished before departing but didn't want to spoil the surprise by posting this update until I've delivered the pedal to Ilia personally.
Aquarium LED replacement round three
I originally had a go of replacing the CF tube in my aquarium a while back. The first attempt didn't work out too well so I had a second go with a slightly different circuit and new LED strips. Unfortunately even the second time around was met with LEDs burning out and going dull. So I decided to take a different approach this time around and use some car daytime running lights instead.
Putting together the BYOC Mouse guitar pedal kit (part 1)
I'm going travelling soon and will be visiting a good friend of mine and it just so happened that one of his distortion pedals died so I thought that it would be awesome to make a new one for him. After doing some research I settled on the BYOC Mouse Kit. This is how I put it together.
DIY spare parts computer build with a RAIDMAX Anura case
Not long ago I decided to replace my home server with a new one and after repurposing as many parts of it as I could (mostly hard drives) I was left with pretty much everything needed to put together a whole new desktop. At the same time my parents' computer started to play up so this was a good opportunity to put all those spare parts to good use and build a new machine.
Aquarium LED replacement round two
About a month ago I replaced the CF tube in my fish tank with LED strips. It was all good for a while but I noticed a few things starting to go wrong with my first attempt. The LED strips were sagging, the backing glue was just not holding them, and in addition to that all the strips became dimmer and looked like they had some burn in happening.
Replacing the CF light tube for LEDs in my AquaStyle 380 aquarium
We've had our AquaStyle 380 aquarium for some time now and overall it's a great fish tank, however during the warmer months it has one big drawback and that is the CF tube that's used to light it up heats up a fair amount. This makes it difficult to regulate water temperature when it's already hot and of course can and has resulted in fish dying.
Externalising the OdroidXU4 network port
I've been slowly modifying a 4-bay HDD USB 3.0 enclosure to fit an Odroid XU4 to use as a file server. This is the latest modification, the network port from the XU4 is taken and extended to be accessible from outside the HDD enclosure.
Fixing a 3D printer extruder that stopped heating up
I was doing some 3D printing over the weekend and everything was going well until I noticed that the extruder on my Portabee wouldn't heat up any more. At first I thought it was a loose connection so I tried to adjust all the wiring - that didn't help. Since it was already dark and cold outside I decided to leave it. Early Monday morning I managed to get some time in before work to determine what happened. I had a sneaking suspicion that the resistor that's used as a heating element has given out, but what I found really surprised me.
Adding an external power button to the OdroidXU4
My file server project using an Odroid XU4 is coming along nicely and since it's all going into a HDD enclosure that I already have, the XU4 board will not be accessible and along with it, its power button. This article shows how I've added an external power button to the XU4.
Making a multi-piece 3D printed solder spool holder stand
Now that I got my 3D printer working again and that I've been doing more electronics work I realised that having a solder spool holder/stand saves a lot of effort and frustration so I went out to find one on Thingiverse...and did, then 3D printed an absolute failure. This lead me to design something of my own that actually works.
Odroid-XU4 price and boot up times compared between microSD and eMMC
I received my Odroid-XU4 a couple of weeks ago but held off doing anything much with it until I had the eMMC module. Well that module has arrived so I did a quick test to see the difference in boot times between it and a Class-10 microSD card.
Received my Odroid-XU4 from JiffyShop
I've been waiting to get my Odroid-XU4 for some time and finally ordered it from my local distributor, JiffyShop. The package arrived very quickly but I was somewhat disappointed with what was in the box.
DIY indoor apartment grow light wiring
One of the problems of living in a high rise apartment is not getting enough sun for your plants. We've been trying to keep a largish plant in the bedroom for atmosphere and better quality of air but all of them have suffered with leaves drying out and the plant not looking too happy. So I decided to attempt to fix this by adding some grow lights. Here's what I did.
Hacking the Aurora LED Color Light Cube Chromatography Glass Clock Kit
I loved the Aurora LED Color Light Cube Chromatography Glass Clock Kit that I put together not long ago, apart from one 'feature'. That feature is the beep it emits on the hour. The beep is not subtle by far and the first time I heard it I thought an alarm went off somewhere in my apartment. There is a way to switch it off of course but my clock is plugged into a USB hub connected to my laptop so whenever I disconnect that the clock loses power and when connected again the beep is back (yep that setting is not saved).
Red power light flashing on RaspberryPi, OS not booting
Some time during the week I noticed my digital photo frame stopped working. It uses a Raspberry Pi model A to run the jPhotoFrame software and sometimes the screen fails to turn back on after going to sleep overnight. This time the problem was different however. I noticed that the red power light on the Raspberry Pi was constantly flashing.
How ShenZhen2U stacks up as a low budget PCB fab
Just before Easter I've put together a PCB of a flashing LED Easter Bunny. I was working with tight timelines and only had just over 2 weeks before Easter came around and I wanted the PCB in time for the break. I knew that Oshpark would not be able to turn around that quickly (postage to Australia) so I looked for alternatives and found ShenZhen2U. Overall I have to say that ShenZhen2U is fantastic! Read on for details.
Rewiring a Singer 201k Sewing Machine
I've had the Singer 201k sewing machine for quite a long time now, originally bought it from a lady that claimed it didn't work, but with a bit of oiling up it started going again. This machine always had dodgy wiring and I've never done much about it, until now. The last time I went to use the machine I noticed that a fair amount of the wiring was frayed and looked like it would short out at any moment, it was becoming a danger to use, so I decided to rewire all the bits that I could get access to.
Good Friday Electronics fun Easter Bunny LED PCB Kit IBEABU-01.0
I really liked the Christmas Tree LED kit so decided that for Easter I'll also try and put something together along the same lines. Sadly I could not find such a kit in existence so decided to create my own! Before I get into the details check out the finished product...
Finally checked out the Edison style LED light globes and they rock
Edison style light globes are cool without any doubt. Over the recent years they gained popularity in many a craft beer bar too. Back in 2013 I even built a really cool looking Vintage style Edison light bulb table lamp. So what's the problem with traditional Edison bulbs that prevents them from being used everywhere? Well they consume a large amount of power and if you're going to power dozens of these, your electricity bill will go through the roof. Luckily there is a more efficient solution to this: LED faux Edison bulbs.
Assembly: DIY Aurora LED Color Light Cube Chromatography Glass Clock Kit
I've bought this kit a while ago and just left it there due to lack of time to assemble it, but now I've finally been able to put it together and I really like the way it looks. This kit is not for the beginner and you will definitely need SMD soldering gear, but the end result is awesome and totally worth it.
Australian Consumer Law and my horrible experience with VideoPro and SynergyAudio
I bought a Cambridge Audio AVR-551R A/V receiver close to 3 years ago and right on the 2 years, 11 months mark it broke. Under the Australian Consumer Law Consumer Guarantees it was reasonable for me to seek a remedy from Video Pro, the retailer that I purchased this unit from. As it turned out, the store staff had no intention of following the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and further to that the supplier, Synergy Audio, also tried to avoid meeting their obligations. It was only after I pressed the point that they were violating the ACL that I was able to get some reasonable response both from Video Pro (the retailer) and Synergy Audio (the supplier).
This Festive season I blinged my sliding doors with some LED strips for that extra Holiday cheer
I was doing a clean up at the apartment and came across a couple of rolls of 3528 and 5050 LED strips that I bought and never used. The 5050 strip was quite short but water proof and the 3528 wasn't water proof but was fairly long. I decided to use the 3528 LED strip underneath my sliding doors to spruce up the balcony this Festive season.
Assembling the Christmas Tree Flash LED Electronic DIY Learning Kit (SKU180142)
I had the Christmas Tree Flash LED Electronic DIY Learning Kit (SKU180142) laying around for a while but due to work commitments was only able to put it together this weekend. The kit is very easy to assemble, but it does have quite a few components to solder on.
Utilising all of the Teensy 3.1 connections by adding dupont wires on the bottom facing pads
Teensy 3.1 is a great piece of hardware but if you need to use pads on the bottom facing side of the PCB you will have to get a soldering iron out. I did just that with mine. I used a bunch of female-female dupont cables cut into two and connected them to the pads on the bottom of the Teensy.
A clear acrylic case for the DSO138 digital oscilloscope
The DSO138 digital oscilloscope that I've put together recently is a nice kit but it lacks a case and it's always nice to have an LCD display protected. I decided to do something about that and make an acrylic case on my laser cutter, before it stopped working anyway.
Putting together the SMD version of the DSO138 DIY Digital Oscilloscope Kit
I ordered the DSO 138 Oscilloscope Kit from Banggood.com recently so that I could practice my SMD soldering. The kit has finally arrived and I put it together. Overall I must say that the quality is quite nice, there was one pre-soldered IC on the PCB and the LCD was mounted to a breakout board already. The instructions were quite straight forward, except for the SMD soldering part. Please note that you will need SMD soldering gear to assemble this kit.
So I bought a cheap Chinese 40W CO2 Laser Cutter and it's actually OK (Part 3)
This is the third part of this article, in case you missed them, check out part 1 and part2 before you read on. Those parts run through the unboxing and setup of the machine and also mention some of its faults. This part focuses on connectivity and software.
So I bought a cheap Chinese 40W CO2 Laser Cutter and it's actually OK (Part 2)
If you've missed the first part of this article, you can find it here. This part covers some of the faults I found with the laser cutter and how I set the whole machine up.
So I bought a cheap Chinese 40W CO2 Laser Cutter and it's actually OK (Part 1)
I've been tossing up the idea of either getting a new 3D Printer or a Laser Cutter and then I came across Flux3D which could do both to some extent. After nurturing the idea for about a month I decided that I didn't want to mess around with another 3D Printer until they were easier to use so went for the Laser Cutter. After a number of quotes (some going into tens of thousands of dollars) I hit up eBay and found that for just $550 AUD I could buy a desktop sized laser cutter. I was sceptical, but I went for it. Read on for my experience.
Raspberry Pi in a NES Case wiring revisited
It's been more than two years since I posted about my Raspberry Pi in a NES Case. That article was spectacularly successful, gaining attention from LifeHacker and shortly being copied across many other blogging sites. Over the past two years I've had many people ask me about the details of the wiring and I must admit some of it was a bit flaky in my original article. So even though I've shelved this project, I dug it out, took it apart again and took a more detailed look at it.
Second DIY 4 Digit LED clock assembled, in blue, in time for Father's Day
Back when I bought my DIY 4 Digita LED Clock Kit, I picked up two - one red and one in blue. Unfortunately only one case was shipped with that order. With days to spare before Father's Day, the missing case finally turned up. I put the blue version of the clock together much faster this time, but I also took a different approach to how I soldered it.
LCD breakout and HI-LO level shifter boards off for fabrication
After my 1.38 inch round LCD modules arrived, I was finally able to verify that my Eagle library fit the correct dimensions. I soon got started on the design of the breakout board as well as the level shifter board so that the LCD module can be interfaced to a 3.3V Arduino device. After lots of pointers on electronics from a mate and many questions being answered by Tim from Pi Watch about the LCD module itself, I had the boards ready.
RaspberryPi Model A+ arrived from Element14
The RaspberryPi Model A that I used to connect to my USB monitor has been playing up recently so I decided to get a replacement. I didn't need anything fancy since it is going to be used as my a picture frame again so I ordered a Model A+ from Element14. A few days later and it was in my mail box.
Truly 1.38 inch TFT1P2477-E Round LCD Modules (R61505V) arrived
I've posted an Eagle Library for the 1.38 inch round LCD modules that I've ordered. These have finally arrived in the mail today. I can now verify that the Eagle device I've created matches the pin dimensions so I can go ahead with making my breakout board!
Eagle Library for 1.38 inch 30PIN TFT Round Colour LCD R61505V
I've found an interesting project, The Pi Watch (also here) that used a relatively cheap round LCD display. There didn't seem to be too much information about this display, but I did manage to find its data sheet online. Tim, the creator of The Pi Watch has also been quite helpful regarding pin outs of this LCD, however one thing that I was missing in order to start my own project was the Eagle device library. Since I couldn't find one online, I just created my own. The download link is further down.
Assembling the DIY 4 Digit LED Electronic Clock Kit
While I am waiting to put together all the work on my upcoming clock project, I decided to get something simple to assemble. I ordered one of these DIY 7-segment display clock kits on eBay, it is also available on sites like banggood.com. The kit took under an hour to make and overall I was very impressed with the quality and would recommend it to anyone from beginner to advanced as it is a fun and useful little project.
Nixie Clock failed super capacitor replaced, time is saved once again
The Nixie clock that I assembed back in 2013 has been acting strangely lately, the GPS was not working and every time it lost power, it would reset the time. This was driving me a little crazy so I decided to investigate.
Replacing the Cambridge Audio AVR551R with Marantz NR1605
My Cambridge Audio AVR551R finally died this morning. After doing some troubleshooting by turning it completely off, unplugging everything, then plugging everything back in and turning it on, it still didn't work. I tried to do a factory reset on it to no avail either (hold down the BD/DVD and Analog Stereo Direct buttons until RESET appears). In light of this, I went to my local AV store and got a Marantz NR1605 receiver to replace the broken CA one. Here are my first impressions with the unit, overall I have to say it is light years ahead of the AVR551R.
Use a Sony Bravia TV to power a RaspberryPi 2 running Plex
I've had an ageing Apple TV 2 for quite some time now, it's been running the aTV Flash (Black) software to stream from my local file server, although that setup was mostly working fine, I was noticing a lack of features, so I've decided to replace the ATV2 with a Raspberry Pi 2 and Plex and to make it all run by drawing power from the TV itself.
RaspberryPi 2 and a swish new case from RS Components
I received my new Raspberry Pi 2 last week and had a chance to play around with it on the weekend. In a nutshell, I am impressed. Both the raspi and the cases available have come a long way since the initial release of the original Raspberry Pi. It doesn't feel like a hacked-together amateur device any more. It looks and feels professional, the finish is fantastic and it performs really well.
OctoPrint SerialException: device reports readiness to read but returned no data
I've started getting this SerialException error when using OctoPrint every time after starting a 3D print. This problem would only manifest itself when printing, I could use the toggle buttons to move the extruder around on all the X, Y and Z axes, could manually extrude, etc. At first this really baffled me, but then I realised what the problem was.
Fitting a SATA USB 3.0 HDD enclosure into the modified SGI Octane case
Now that the HDD enclosure arrived, I could continue the modding of the Octane case. This case is going to hold the HDD enclosure only, no computer components, its sole purpose is to be a complement to the other Octane that I modified that I use as my home server.
The MiniDrive for 15 inch rMBP now in Red - Shiny!
The first MiniDrive that I got, I was not so happy with, but now I've had the chance to use the new version with a red end cap and I have to say that I am impressed with the improvements. I would recommend this one over the earlier revisions, the manufacturing process looks considerably moved towards a better direction and it looks great too. If you don't know what this is, it's an SD card adapter that fits flush with the Mac and aims to provide an easy way to expand onboard storage.
Parrot Flower Power - a bluetooth wireless sensor for your plants - review part 2
This is part two of the Parrot Flower Power review. In the first part of the review I talked about the actual device itself, in this review I am going to concentrate on the software that makes it all come together. The app will only run on iOS for now, there is an Android version in development, but it's not ready yet. There are limitations on which device it will run on too, you will need one of iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 3, iPad mini, iPod touch 5th generation or later iDevices.
Parrot Flower Power - a bluetooth wireless sensor for your plants - review part 1
Continuing the plant theme, I've finally spent enough time with the Parrot Flower Power to give it a proper review. In a nutshell, this little unit has a few sensors that monitor the soil moisture, pH levels, temperature and light levels. The device then sends this to your iOS device (Android version coming soon) which analyses the data, shows you charts of the readings and gives you tasks to do like water your plant, if it detects the need.
Review of The Mini Drive for 15 inch rMBP
I've been thinking about getting the Nifty MiniDrive for a while so when I finally decided to go and get one, their website what completely broken, so I went searching around and found that there are replicas of this out already. I decided to go for a replica to see how it stacks up. Incidentally as I write this now, the 15 inch rMBP Nifty MiniDrive is not available. The replica I went with is called "The Mini Drive".
Vintage style Edison light bulb table lamp
I came across these amazing 12cm Edison style light bulbs recently and originally wanted to hang them from my ceiling but that was no possible so I thought that I'd make a table lamp to serve the same purpose. The result...amazing. Check it out.
PiBee: Combining a Portabee 3D printer with a RaspberryPi for remote WiFi 3D printing
I've had to shift my office space twice in the past two months and one of the things I hate are the tangle of wires that you got to deal with all the time, so I decided to use my spare RaspberryPi to control my 3D printer (Portabee) to reduce at least some of the wire clutter. These are the results: in a nutshell, it works great!
Custom SGI Octane light bar
When I modded my SGI Octane, the light bar was not working properly because it had some burned out bulbs in, which I fixed, but I wasn't too happy with the result. It took a bit of time, but I finally got a lightbar that I am happy with and all I had to do was design a PCB and some custom fittings, solder the components in and 3D print the fittings. The new light bar sports four bright white LEDs that make the whole bar light up.
3D Printer, Faraday cage and filament spool holders
I've had my 3D printer for about a week now, there were and still are some teething problems with it, but I'm fixing them one at a time. So here are the main issues I had so far and the solutions I found for them: filament spools unwinding in all crazy directions and fluorescent lights giving off electromagnetic interference and crashing the printer.
Reviving the SGI Octane Lightbar for use with an ATX motherboard
Since I've built my SGI Octane Hackintosh, the lightbar in the case was not working properly, I've finally had all the components arrive in the mail to give it a new life.
Assembling a Nixie Clock - Sven DCF / GPS Nixie clock kit - Video
I've put together a video of the making of the Nixie clock.
Converting a SNES controller to connect to a NES controller port
When I built my Raspberry Pi NES emulator box, I used the original NES case, so that meant the controllers were plugged into the NES controller ports. At the time this was fine, but it also meant that I could not play SNES games.
Using the 12v port on a Dell U2713HM monitor to power a LED Strip
There are a number of Dell monitors that support the SoundBar attachment, however since I didn't get this accessory (already have a Bose sound system), the monitor has a 12v port free. Although Dell doesn't specify it, this port can be used to supply a constant 12v to power whatever device you want to plug into it. There is also a bonus, when the monitor is in standby or is turned off, the 12v power is cut as well.
Raspberry Pi in a NES Case - Part 2 - Connecting the controllers and finishing up
This entry follows on from the previous entry: Raspberry Pi in a NES Case - Part 1 - Wiring up the front panel and external connectors
Raspberry Pi in a NES Case - Part 1 - Wiring up the front panel and external connectors
Raspberry Pi is a great project computer, it's cheap ($35), runs Linux (or Risc OS) and has lots of resources available aroudn it.
Assembling a Nixie Clock - Sven DCF / GPS Nixie clock kit
I got the Sven DCF / GPS Nixie clock kit for my birthday. This is a kit that comes with all the components including the PCB and the Nixie tubes. It doesn't have a power supply, so an external one is needed.
Building a Mac Pro Hackintosh - Part 1 - Stripping the case and adding front panel wiring
For a long time I worked on laptops only (my MacBook Pro that I bought in 2009), now that I wasn't travelling so much and had the option of being able to play some games, a desktop seemed like a more attractive option.

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