A look at a Crystal Oscillator Frequency Counter Tester

1A few weeks ago, I had a few crystal oscillators that weren’t working properly so I bought this crystal oscillator tester kit from eBay. It was sort of an impulse buy because I can test oscillators in a test circuit so I didn’t really need this. It’s been a while since I’ve purchased a kit like this so I was excited anyway. The last time I put together a circuit board kit like this was back in my first semester of college!

You can pick up your own here. (Just search the name of it on your country’s eBay if you’re not in Canada.)2The parts were packaged well. Not a single bent component lead.3I admire every circuit board I come across more these days with my work that I do on my own circuit boards. One thing I enjoyed about this board were the wide diameter pads which made it really easy to solder. The board is nice and thick (thicker than 1.6mm I think), and it measures in at 8 x 5.4cm.4After putting this together, it makes me want to start making boards larger than what I’ve been doing so far, which has been bounded by 5x5cm because it’s cheaper to get made than anything bigger. I put in a 9v battery clip instead of the included barrel jack because I never use those.

5Like I said, the soldering was enjoyable because of the size of the pads. I always try to make the pads on my boards as large as possible but it’s usually too tight for space or I’m scared it’s going to come out wrong…
6It works! I tested it with a few good 16MHz oscillators and it’s pretty close, either on the dot or 15.999 as in the image. I also tested that broken oscillator and it jumps around to weird frequencies from 0 to 16MHz.

I hope you enjoyed the look at this kit!

Where are my LEDs?

I haven’t done any work on the old Light Show for a while because I’ve been waiting for some WS2812B LED modules from an eBay seller in China. It’s been so long that I’m thinking of just making my own WS2812B modules. I was hesitant about doing that in the first place since I’ve never used these LEDs before, but, besides the cost, there’s not many reasons why I shouldn’t try. I can get the WS2812B LEDs and capacitors from a local (well, within the province) supplier and the PCBs take about two weeks to manufacture and get here if I pay for fast shipping…

Thanks to the popularity of these LEDs, it’s not hard to find the resources I need. I’d like to try other PCB layouts in addition to the simple single LED board. I think this could turn out to be a really fun project! I will have more to share on this when I get a little more of it completed.

While we’re still on the topic of the Light Show, a few other parts came in for some upgrades. I purchased 5 more pumps which look better than the original pumps. My intention was to have them as spares to replace any of the pumps that don’t perform well, but now I’m considering expanding the number of fountains. The main challenge with that is finding or building a larger pool since the current container is too small for that. I also got some new mosfets in so I can redo the circuit for the pumps. I’ll have to decide how many pumps I’m going to be working with before I get to that…

As a side note, a new PCB design of mine should be here by the end of the week so stay tuned for that as well!

What’s in my cart?

Whenever I buy things on eBay, I tend to buy in waves, ordering a few things at a time. I was looking to get some new tweezers since I’ve been working with SMD components recently and wanted one with larger grips on the component. I ended up picking up four things in total last night.


I have two tools for picking up components. One is a needle nose pliers and the other is a tweezers with sharp pointy ends (cannot compute plural dilemma with “pliers” and “tweezers” :/). I find them both difficult to use when soldering small SMD components so I found this type of tweezers that has a better size and form for handling those small components. I hope that it’ll make SMD soldering a little more pleasant.

minibMy Canon point-and-shoot camera had pretty budget packaging. It didn’t include a data cable so I’ve been borrowing one all this time. I decided to finally get one for dedicating to the camera. You can’t go wrong for $0.99!

microusbI decided to also pick up a new cable for my phone. I don’t know about you, but I hate those USB cables that come with phones nowadays that are thing, have glossy ends, and no tension/strain support. The one that came with my Samsung phone stopped working so I stripped it and started using it for powering projects through via USB power. I have a couple other USB cables that I can use with my phone, though one is too long (for my Logitech mouse) and the other is a bit too short (came with a USB battery, I think). This one looks like it will be just right at 1 meter and I like the grippy ends.

ledsAnd here’s the relevant segue! I did a little tinkering with my Light Show project and showed off a little show snippet that I posted on Instagram. In that one, I was playing around with my new 74HC595 Shift Register boards that allow some PWM control using the Output Enable pins. I’ve never used these WS2812B LEDs before because I’m cheap and have been using “dumb” 5mm LEDs for the Light Shows up to now. The plan is to replace the LEDs on the “towers” of the current light show with these new WS2812 LEDs.

With the attention back on the Light Show, I also want to do more experimenting with the fountain pumps. For starters, I will be swapping out the current 5v power supply with a 9v power supply. The pumps are rated at 6v so we’ll see what happens. I also want to work on a better nozzle design. I believe I was getting somewhere with the secondary nozzle design on the holiday light show, so for the next try I will make the openings slightly bigger and see where that takes me. With these changes, I don’t expect to rush into an actual choreographed show as I have in the past. The focus will be on one thing at a time. Stay tuned!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

More RGB LEDs!

As I mentioned in my last post, I ordered some things off of eBay from China. I ordered most of the things around the same time so they should all be coming in this week if there’s no delay through customs. Today, I got my RGB LEDs.IMG_0329I suppose you could build “1 Lamp” out of 100 RGB LEDs… 😉
IMG_0333I ordered 50 clear and 50 diffused RGB LEDs which were bagged separately and placed in a little blue box. The diffused LEDs will be used in the upcoming light show.

IMG_0336This was a quick test to see how they look against the material I will be using in the next light show. The one of the left is the clear lens LED and the one on the right is the diffused LED. It’s hard to get a good picture, but I can say that I’m satisfied with how bright they are.IMG_0338Here’s an updated picture of my LED container. I’ll eventually move out those 620Ω resistors to make room for more of the 220Ω resistors since I’ve pretty much transitioned to use 220Ω exclusively for LEDs. (The first ever batch of LEDs I ever ordered from China came with those 620Ω resistors so it was a while before I started using 220Ω.)

So that’s it! The rest of the things coming in are just some resistors, capacitors, and oscillators. They will be used to finish up my ATmeag328p Breakout Boards. I’ll probably make another New Parts post with all of the packages together. (New Parts refers to the blog category – Check it out on the sidebar!) I personally enjoy seeing components unpacked so I hope you like these posts. Thanks for reading!

200! (eBay update)


This is the 200th post on the blog! Every time I hit some kind of milestone with the blog, I feel excited because it gives me a chance to step back and see how far I’ve come with the blog. It doesn’t really feel like more than a year has gone by since I started posting, so it seems odd looking back and seeing things like my Solidworks models or the Arduino robots.

The project in the picture is a project I did in April where I made a counter with an Attiny85 and a couple shift registers on a perfboard. To program it to display 200 for this post, I used my Attiny85 Programmer/Breakout Board, which is a recent project. Like I said in a recent post, I love it when projects work with each other, even better when they’re that different in age.

I’ve listed a bunch of items eBay. For this 200th post celebration, I’ve just dropped all prices. This sale will last through the weekend, though some prices will probably stay. I hope you’ll find something you like!

I’ve got some more PCB updates which will hopefully happen in the next week or two. I’m waiting on two designs in the mail which should be arriving in that time. I’m also continuing work on Rev B of the Attiny85 Programmer and Breakout Board. I hope to get back into the fountain show project soon too.

Thanks for visiting!

Done with eBay

I’m vowing not to use eBay anymore, though that may just be because I can’t afford to invest in any of my projects right now. Since these were my personal projects for mainly my entertainment and curiosity, I was never really in a rush to get parts. That’s why I was so tolerant of the long shipping times from China. This wasn’t always the case, though.

For my final college project, I, along with a classmate, created a sorting machine. It was originally going to use a barcode scanner to differentiate the items to be sorted. Where else but eBay would I look for such a thing? So I searched eBay and found a reasonably priced one from the States. Long story short, it doesn’t arrive. The seller abandoned eBay and didn’t not respond to any emails so the process to get my money back through a PayPal claim was smooth because of their disappearance. I found another barcode scanner shipped from a nearby city… I’m not sure if it was broken or I just didn’t know how to use it but I couldn’t get it to work so we swapped it out for a pressure sensor. We still got our A+ though.

Another eBay incident was actually my first of the three bad experiences on eBay. It was actually the original LEDs I’ve been using for my light show projects. I believe it was a batch of 100 assorted LEDs coming from China. They didn’t arrive so they sent out a new batch. That one did arrive so I guess it wasn’t a big deal. But still, I should have learned something from it.

And finally the most recent case. I ordered some jumper wires from China (which I eventually purchased from Dipmicro). It doesn’t arrive in 30 days so I send them a message. They reply in the worst broken English I’ve read in a while, saying something to the effect of having to wait another week before I can get a refund or reshipment. The problem with that was PayPal was giving me a deadline before the 40 day mark to file a claim. I figured it was just $2 so I would see what would happen. 40 days later, I send them a message and they promise a refund. It’s been a week and I still haven’t seen those $2. And guess what? They’ve abandoned their eBay store.

So I’m done with eBay. There are other distributors out there that I’ve already used and will go back to when I need to. It may be more expensive to do so, but it’s just not worth the potential headache.