North Coast News

Testing homemade fluxes
2019 Jun 13th

Testing homemade fluxes

In the last four articles (start here) I've gone through a lot of the technicalities of flux: what's in it, how it works, and how to make your own. Now, let's bring it together and try out all these experimental fluxes.What about the solder?The…

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DIY no-clean-style flux
2019 Jun 6th

DIY no-clean-style flux

My two previous DIY solder flux formulations are both designed to be cleaned away after use, with alcohol or with water. In both cases the cleaning is more or less necessary: traditional resin leaves a sticky residue that will attract water, and…

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Make your own water-wash flux
2019 May 30th

Make your own water-wash flux

The current trends in electronics are to smaller and smaller surface-mount components; lead-free solder alloys and a diversity of surface platings; higher temperatures which mean soldering must be faster to avoid component damage; and avoiding tox…

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Homemade traditional resin flux
2019 May 26th

Homemade traditional resin flux

For most of the history of electronics, rosin has been the main ingredient in electronic solder flux. Anybody who learned electronics Back In The Day™ will be familiar with the piney smell of solder smoke. In this second article of the series…

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What is flux?
2019 May 24th

What is flux?

The details of soldering are always popular discussion topics in synth DIY fora: what kind of soldering iron should I use for building something like a Coiler VCF kit? What temperature? What kind of solder? And that last topic, in practice,…

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Driving LEDs digitally
2019 Apr 15th

Driving LEDs digitally

In the last entry I described the electrical requirements of LEDs and how to drive them in the context of analog circuitry. When you want to indicate information with the brightness level of a single LED, as in my Transistor ADSR where the LED dir…

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LEDs and analog drivers for them
2019 Apr 8th

LEDs and analog drivers for them

Light-emitting diodes! They're all over our electronic equipment; but what are they all about, really? The underlying concepts are simple, but there are a lot of frequently-asked questions that show there's confusion among hobbyists about how…

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Building a telephone ring booster
2019 Mar 22nd

Building a telephone ring booster

I recently switched to a new cable Internet modem, because the cable company (which provides my home Internet service) assured me that the package that came with the new modem would be cheaper for the same service compared to what I'd been payi…

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Green modular, part 5:  Behind the scenes
2019 Mar 20th

Green modular, part 5: Behind the scenes

In this final part to the green modular series I'll talk about environmental and related issues associated with the modular business, going beyond the manufacturing of the modules themselves. We began this series with RoHS and there may be a temp…

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Green modular, part 4: Wood, and toxic waste
2019 Feb 22nd

Green modular, part 4: Wood, and toxic waste

In this part of the Green Modular series, I'd like to talk about wood, and toxic waste. Part 1 focused mostly on saving energy; in parts 2 and 3 I wrote about metals, and some of the environmental issues related to metals are caused by their t…

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Green modular, part 3:  More metal
2019 Jan 29th

Green modular, part 3: More metal

The RoHS "big three" metals I talked about last time occupy a lot of attention of synthesizer manufacturers because we have specific legal obligations we must meet regarding those metals; but many other metals are also used in building synths, a…

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Green modular, part 2: the big three metals of RoHS
2019 Jan 18th

Green modular, part 2: the big three metals of RoHS

In this second part of the series on modular and the environment, I'm going to look at metals. Modular synthesizers are made of many different materials including wood, plastic, and glass, but a significant part of the mass of a synth (or any ele…

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