How To Read Electrical Schematics

In the past few years I’ve received a few emails from people asking me to do a video on how to read schematics. Schematics are like a road map for an electrical circuit with lots of lines and symbols that can be confusing to the untrained eye. They are actually not that hard to decipher if you know what all those symbols mean and what the components do. In this week’s video I’ll explain some of the more common symbols and when you’re through watching you’ll have some basic knowledge about schematics.

Here’s a couple of good links with more info on schematics:

Reading schematics for beginners

Understanding schematics

Enjoy the video and…
keep on hackin.

Salvaging Electronic Components

For years I’ve been salvaging electronics components from discarded and broken devices. It’s not as hard as you might think. All you really need is a soldering iron, some solder wick and a bit of patience.

Solder wick is just braided copper wire with a bit of flux on it. You place the strand of wick on the solder, heat it up with the soldering iron and the molten solder will “wick” onto the copper. When you lift it the solder comes with it and you can then remove the component.

In this week’s video I’ll demonstrate this and other ways to remove components from circuit boards.

Keep on hackin…

Liquid Tremolo With Glass Cleaner

The DeArmond tremolo of the 50s is a unique guitar effects box. It uses a small canister with an electrode inside. It’s filled with Windex which, along with the electrode, serves as the potentiometer that modulates the tremolo effect. The outer part of the canister is connected to ground and the inner electrode is connected to the guitar audio signal. The canister gets gently rocked back and forth via an eccentric wheel spun by an electric motor. As it rocks to and fro the liquid inside sloshes to and fro covering and uncovering the electrode. When the electrode is immersed in the liquid the signal is attenuated to ground.

DeArmond tremolo

Here’s a great video of the internal workings:

When I first saw this tremolo I knew I just HAD to try building one. After the usual brainstorming I hatched a plan. Of course, that plan took a very different turn a few times on the way to a working prototype. It uses a small gear motor salvaged from a Roomba vacuum to spin an eliptical wheel which wiggles the canister back and forth. When more voltage is applied the motor speeds up and so does the tremolo effect.

The prototype.

liquid tremolo prototype 003

The canister of Windex with the electrodes installed.

liquid tremolo prototype 004

It’s a good proof of concept prototype. I’ll be doing more with this project in the future.

Enjoy this week’s video and…

keep on hackin!

4060 Timer Brake Light Flasher

It’s a new year with new projects! This first one kind of ties in with the Sabre Cafe project. It’s a brake light flasher that can be used on a car or motorcycle. I’ll be mounting this one up on the Sabre. It’s a circuit that uses a 4060 timer chip. The 4060 is an excellent integrated circuit for timing applications. Its ten active high outputs can give time delays from few seconds to hours. With a minimum of external components, it is easy to construct a simple but reliable time delay circuit.

It’s a fairly easy chip to use with tons of documentation available via a quick internet search. Here’s a few links to help you get started:

4060B Timer Circuits

This brake light flasher kit came from Tayda Electronics. Cost is only $7.99 and well worth it. The parts come to you in a few days time in a nicely packed box and you get an email with a link to the instructions PDF file.

It’s a pretty easy build and the only extras I had to supply were solder and a plastic enclosure for everything. Build time was part of an evening and installation on the bike was a snap.
Below you’ll find the project video, a parts list and a schematic.

Happy New Year and…

Keep on hackin!

4060 Data sheet:

Parts: K104 3 rd Brake Light Flasher
1x MJE2955 PNP transistor (T0220)
1x 10K resistor 1/4W
1x CD4060 Binary counter 1x 220K resistor 1/4W
1x Red LED 3mm 2x 1K resistor 1/4W
1x 8 amp glass fast act fuse 5x20mm 1x 500K Trimmer Pot 6mm
1x 5×20 fuse holder 1x 16 pin dip socket
1x 0.1 uf ceramic cap. 1x 1N4148 diode
1x 1 uf 25v electrolytic cap. 1FT 24 awg Blue solid wire
1x 47 uf 25v electrolytic cap. 1FT Red wire 18 awg stranded
1x 10nf ceramic cap. 1FT Yellow wire 18 awg stranded
1x preformatted project board (a15) 1FT Green wire 18 awg stranded
1x Heat sink (a60)
1 small project enclosure