Tag Archives: tutorials

Solder Sucker for Desoldering – New product alert!

Solder Sucker

Solder Sucker

We’re always adding new electronic components, parts and supplies to our inventory. This week, one of our new products is a solder sucker, which is a ‘must have’ for anyone that works with electronics and solder.

Crafted in Germany by Amax, this solder sucker is a pump style solder remover. Use it on heated solder to remove the solder from your boards and components. It comes in the original manufacturer’s packaging with instructions for the use and care of your solder sucker.

Here are some basic desoldering instructions:
1. Heat your soldering iron. Push down on the plunger until it clicks to arm the soldering iron.
2. Clean your soldering tip. Place the soldering tip on the side of the old joint. Apply some fresh solder on the old joint to help the old solder soften.
3. Set the plunger on the solder sucker. Place the tip of the solder sucker on the old joint as close as possible to the soldering tip.
4. Release the plunger by pressing the button.
5. Repeat until much of the old solder is gone.
6. If any of the old solder is left in PCB holes, you can heat the old joint again and using the soldering tip on one side and a miniature flat screwdriver on the other, gently rock the joint back and forth lightly to loosen up the tiny leads on the components.
7. You may need to repeat this process again when there is a stubborn joint.
9. Remove your component carefully; taking care to not damage the board.

Solar energy can help sell your home

Anyone who is trying to sell a house knows that some improvements like adding a new bathroom or a complete kitchen renovation may increase the value of a home however most people might not consider that an investment in solar panels or other renewable energy sources may be another positive investment in their home.

According to a study that was recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), solar photovoltaic (PV) panels added on average between 3 percent and 4 percent to the value of a home. This study, which examined homes in California, suggests that homeowners might fully recover their costs of purchasing and installing solar panels when they sell their home. Since solar panels require very little maintenance and are becoming increasingly more affordable to buy and install, this is another way to increase the resale value and marketability of your home. Some of the most common installations in homes are for water heaters, pool heaters and outdoor lighting. As the technology improves and the cost of solar panels continues to drop, more and more homeowners (and potential buyers!) will be looking for solar energy systems for their homes.

Wired or wireless or both: What is best for small businesses?

Whether you are updating your office’s networking component needs or starting from scratch, there are many things to think about when you are considering wired vs wireless. For starters, ask yourself:

  • How many people are on your network? How about in 2 years?
  • How long will this system be in place? (any moves planned within 2 years?)
  • How fast does the network/internet access need to be right now? How about in 2 years?
  • What kind of files have to be moved across your network right now? How about in 2 years?
  • How fast does this need to be done?
  • Is this a temporary or permanent solution?
  • What is your budget?

Wiring a space can be cost prohibitive – especially if this space is temporary, but if the budget is unlimited, then hard wiring could be the way to go for speed and security. Very often a combination of both wired and wireless are the best solution.


Go Invisible: How to protect your privacy on Facebook

There have been a lot of news reports and discussions surrounding Facebook’s privacy policies. Of course, if you are worried about web privacy, canceling your Facebook account is an option, but since many other sites have joined the Facebook Connect network and are utilizing the site’s tools, you will need a Facebook account to be able to use these sites in the future. Plus, not everyone wants to give up their ability to connect with long lost high school buddies or share their latest baby pics with family and friends.

So what to do?

Fortunately, those that have pushed back at Facebook in the past on privacy issues have forced Facebook to provide tools to make you as stealthy as you’d like to be on the site without being completely invisible to those on your ‘friends’ list.

Here’s a guide for making yourself very close to invisible:

While logged into Facebook:

  1. Select the ‘Account’ tab at the top right corner of the screen
  2. Select ‘Privacy Settings’
  3. In the ‘Connecting on Facebook’ section, select ‘View Settings’ – amend these settings to whatever your comfort level is. If you are not interested in letting new people find you on Facebook, then you should change all these settings to ‘Friends Only’. Know that you will not show up in Facebook searches and no one new can add you as a friend.
  4. Be sure that you have chosen the ‘Friends Only’ settings in the ‘Sharing on Facebook’ section – click ‘Apply’
  5. Select ‘Customize Settings’
  6. Be sure that all the drop-downs are ‘Friends Only’
  7. Disable the option for ‘Include me in “People Here Now” after I check in
  8. Select ‘Edit album privacy’ and change all the settings to your meet your comfort level. You can customize them to even be invisible or visible to certain people by selecting the ‘customize’ option
  9. Back on the main privacy settings page, ‘Choose Your Privacy Settings’, select ‘edit your settings’ in the ‘Apps and Websites’ section in the bottom left corner of the screen
  10. Edit the settings for each of the options (on the ‘Instant Personalization’ page, disable the option to see information)

Many of the options listed above are explained in detail by Facebook. However, their goal is to make their site very accessible for both their users and the advertisers that pay to get your information through applications and widgets so they encourage you to share all information by making the defaults very liberal. By limiting the information that Facebook is eager to provide to other users, the search engines and advertisers, you are gaining greater control over who sees your private data. For a regular everyday user that just wants to connect with family and friends, taking these steps returns Facebook much closer to its original purpose.

Survey finds that web users are sloppy with passwords

A new survey commissioned by Webroot confirms that web users are still putting their identities at risk by not employing some simple strategies for password safety and protection.

So what did the survey reveal about web users and why are these findings an issue?

40% have shared passwords with at least one person in the past year

Sharing passwords with a trusted friend or family member may seem like a non-issue because you trust the person you’re sharing it with, but they may leave it lying around where someone not so trustworthy may pick it up.

About 40% of people use the same password to log into multiple sites

Using a password on multiple sites can create a problem because if your password is compromised on one site, the potential exists that multiple accounts could be in jeopardy.

Nearly 50% never use special characters (e.g. ! ? & #) in their passwords

Adding a special character is a simple step that can be used to make it that much harder for someone to guess your password. Another easy to use technique is to substitute numbers or characters to spell out words.

redridinghood becomes  r3dr!d!ngh00d

For example changing the ‘e’ ‘i’ and ‘o’ in “red riding hood” to numbers and characters makes it virtually impossible for someone to guess at it even if they know the name of your favorite childhood book.

20% have used a significant date, such as a birth date, or a pet’s name as a password

In the past, that may have made it easy for only people that knew you to use that information but today that information is often publicly visible on social networks where it can be accessed by almost anyone.

Besides the above tips, it is recommended that you change your passwords periodically and don’t allow your browsers to store passwords for you.

Following these recommendations can save you time and save you money should someone try to hack your accounts.

What is a MOS-FET?

Mos-FETMOS-FET, which is an abbreviation of Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor, is a very important kind of transistor. Many IC’s are constructed of arrays of MOS-FETS on a tiny sliver of silicon.

They are very small, easy to manufacture and many MOS-FETS consume a small amount of power making them an excellent choice for many applications.

It is the most common type of transistor available for either digital or analog circuits, replacing the bipolar transistor which was much more common in the past.

The word ‘metal’ in the name is actually now a misnomer because what was originally the gate material (often Aluminum) is now more often a layer of polysilicon (aka polycrystalline silicon).

Make a 9V headlamp head flashlight

Here’s an easy project that simple enough for electronic beginners, plus the supplies required are probably laying around your house or workshop.

Could you buy the same thing for just a few dollars more? Sure you could, but you’d miss out on the satisfaction of assembling this project all by yourself.

Here’s what you need:
2 high intensity white LEDS (you can use other colors if desired)
small perf board
2 470 ohm resistors
toggle switch or slide switch
9V battery snap
9V battery
small project box (you can use an Altoid tin)
electrical wire (about 2′ total)
soldering iron
hot glue
electrical tape

For full assembly instructions, you can view the pages here:

How to Jailbreak an iPad

Jailbreaking an iPad

If you have an iPad, you may be intrigued by the thought of jailbreaking it.

Jailbreaking a device permits you to install and use third party applications and utility programs. In the case of a jailbroken iPad, you would be able to then run apps like Adobe Flash which is not available through the Apple OS, or access files like you can on a PC. One app that caught my eye was the multitasking app which would allow you to run multiple programs without having to save/close them. Another great app called Wi-Fi Sync gives you the flexibility to sync your iPad with Wi-Fi – no plugged in USB required.

Of course, jailbreaking the iPad is not without risk (the number one concern would be warranty) but PCWorld.com has put together the definitive guide to jailbreaking your iPad. In fact, PCWorld’s guide is so complete, it even gives you instructions on how to revert back should you get cold feet (or have to go back).

Once you’ve hacked your iPad, be sure to avoid the iPad updates from Apple since your device can be reverted to the non-jailbroken state. Should that happen, you can jailbreak your iPad again after the update is installed.

PCWorld – How to Jailbreak an iPad

Turn your old PC fans into mini wind generators

pc fanHere’s a great project that you can do either to experiment with wind turbines or to generate some energy! While the amount of energy produced is not overwhelming, this project can sure get your brain moving in the right direction.

The best thing about this project is that you probably already have everything you need lying around:

  • Thick plastic bottle
  • Old PC fan, bigger the better!
  • A few feet of small wire
  • A piece of wood about 1.5″ square and around 20cm long
  • Two lengths of steel tubing that slide inside of each other, about 1/2″
  • 6 Schottkey diodes
  • Epoxy
  • Super Glue
  • Zip ties
  • An old CD

You can find the full instructions including video here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Upcycle-your-old-PC-fans-into-mini-wind-generators/

If you want to have a kid-friendly wind turbine kit that already has all the pieces you need, we sell one of those. Our kits come with full instructions and all the materials needed to try your hand at creating a source of renewable energy – a wind turbine. The kit also comes with different experiments you can try with your wind turbine once it’s assembled. Great project for summer for the kids!

Application information for Allen Bradley resistors

Allen Bradley resistors are one of the best sellers on the West Florida Components web site with good reason.

The following information has been compiled to aid in the everyday selection and application of Allen-Bradley hot molded resistors. The statements should be helpful in evaluating the use of all types of AB hot molded resistors in broad general terms, and are not to be interpreted to be precise or exact.

A comprehensive list is made of the standard normal resistance values in their available tolerance categories, the rated continuous working voltages for all hot molded types, the part numbers, and color codes – all information provided for all values from 1 ohm to 100M ohm, taking into account the available range of values for each type (as of 1985).

Allen Bradley Resistors

Allen Bradley Resistors

1 – Low value resistors exhibit less change due to humidity, temperature and voltage than high value resistors.

2 – Resistance changes due to increase in moisture content are always positive.

3 – Resistance changes due to humidity are temporary, and, in the case of Allen Bradley resistors, are reversible.

4 – Change of resistance which has occurred due to humidity may be essentially eliminated by conditioning the resistor at 100°C or by dry storage.

5 – The effects of humidity may be minimized by operating the resistor with as little as 1/10 rated wattage load.

6 – Resistance change due to load life is permanent and usually ultimately negative.

7 – Resistance change due to load life can be minimized 1% – 2% in many thousands of hours by 50% derating period. The same result can be attained by limiting the maximum operation surface temperature of the resistor underload to 100°C. Permanent resistance changes as a result of storage of temperatures below 100°C are negligible, even for extended time periods.

8 – Resistance change due to soldering is positive and may be permanent if the resistor has excessive moisture present in its body. It can be greatly minimized if resistors are dry at the time of soldering.

9 – The temperature characteristics of Allen Bradley resistors is positive above +80 and below -10.

10 – The temperature characteristics of Allen Bradley resistors is negligible from -10°C to +80°C.

11 – The voltage characteristic (negative) and the temperature characteristic (positive) of Allen Bradley resistors tend to cancel one another in an Allen Bradley resistor in an average operating conditions, where both significant voltage and elevated temperature are present.

12- The heat sink to which a resistor is connected affects its rating. Resistors operated in multiple should be derated unless adequate heatsinks are provided.

13 – The quality and reliability of Allen Bradley resistors is the same for, and independent of, any resistance tolerances shown on the resistor.

14 – Years of accumulated experience have shown that Allen Bradley hot molded resistors are unequaled for uniformity, predictable for performance, appearance, and freedom from catastrophic failure. Allen Bradley resistors are made by an exclusive hot molding process on automatic machines developed, built, and used only by Allen Bradley. There is such complete uniformity from one resistor to the next, million after million, and long term in-circuit performance can be predicted with usable accuracy. When used according to published ratings and recommendations, Allen Bradley hot molded fixed resistors will not open circuit nor exhibit erratic changes of resistance value. They are probably the most reliable of all electronic components.

This information was taken in part from the Allen-Bradley corporation reference book dated 1985.