Microchip -Ever Wonder Whats Inside?

We take electronics for granted in todays society. Microchips are in everything! Computers, TVs, Smart Phones, Microwaves even your car! If it plugs in and turns on there’s a good chance a microchip will be inside.

Have you ever wondered what is a microchip?  I don’t want to cover the history of chips or integrated circuits (IC)  in this article, however lets leave it as miniaturized electronic components on a die that is encased in a plastic shell. The components are  usually transistors and millions of them can be on a die to compose a single chip.

Microchips
Finished Chips

Here is a great example of some “dead bug” socket style microchips. 

EPROM Chips
Vintage EPROM style chips

These are older microchips and the there are a few where you can actually see the die through a small window. These chips were know as EPROMs and were programmable!

Actual Microchip Die!

This is the inside Die Chips found in sophisticated IC’s. The die was fully processed and the next step was to bond gold wires to the different connection points on the IC die and connect them to pins on a plastic IC package. This step was not done.

60 ICs
ICs in their carrier

These are fascinating to study under a strong magnifying glass or microscope. Great for making “electronic jewelry”, study and training.

I was lucky to get a few to share and I’m offering them in my online store basically to cover what I paid for them.

Each order will have about 60 die, I tried to mix them up a bit so there is more that one style to look at.

Magnifaction
Up close and personal with an IC die

If you’re interested, get them while they are in stock – GeekGearStore 

Microchip Cary Case
Microchip Cary Case

Again these are perfect for electronics class and can be used as a teaching aid. Very cool to study!

Again I have a number of these in stock at my online store. Don’t miss out, once they are gone I probably will not be able to get more!

Actual IC Chip Die – What a microchip really looks like!

Thank you for reading my blog!
-Joe

 

 

 

 

Building A Budget Gaming Computer During Quarantine

Who would have thought sitting home daily with my two kids during the Covid-19 crisis would lead to the kids each wanting a gaming computer. After pricing out what a “pre” made gaming computer would cost it was decided to build our own on a budget. The goal : How powerful a computer could be built for under $1000.

Gaming computer parts

The debate was on, which parts to spend money on and what parts could we save some cash.

Processor – AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (3rd Generation) $155.00
Ryzen 5 3600
Ryzen 5 3600

It was decided the 3rd generation Ryzen 5 3600 processor would be used. The Ryzen would give great performance at a budget price. At the time of this post the Ryzen was down to $155 on Amazon (I paid $175)

 

MOTHERBOARD – MSI B450 gaming Plus Max $110

Finding a gaming computer motherboard proved to be a challenge. I would guess due to the shutdowns in China, and higher demand (I’m not the only one building a gaming computer) many motherboards were out of stock.

MSI Motherboard
MSI Motherboard

You are going to want to look for a mother that supports the AMD Ryzen 3000 series. I original purchased an MSI Gaming Plus Max and it was broken out of the box. Then I went with an ASRock motherboard, only because it was in stock and it too was broken.  Finally  I found an MSI B450 Gaming Plus Max in stock and it was $110. Since I purchased the board the price has increased to $215 on Amazon. Keep searching and you will eventually find a good board in the $125 range. Continue reading “Building A Budget Gaming Computer During Quarantine”

1940’s Zenith Radio Restomod

Old radio enthusiast please don’t send me hate mail after reading this blog. I know many of you will frown on what I have done to this 80+ year old radio. I promise you this Zenith will get tons more use in its current condition rather than in original form.

The project consisted of gutting the original electronics from the radio and replacing them with newer more modern tech. Resulting in a working radio that still has the spirit of the original.

Parts List – Hardware
MS Surface

An older Microsoft Surface Pro 3 – I don’t recommend you go out and purchase a surface for this project. Re-purposing and old laptop, or tablet is ideal to keep the cost down. I’m sure you could even use a Raspberry Pi with an external display. I just happened to have an old Surface that needed a new job. Continue reading “1940’s Zenith Radio Restomod”

The Superior Instruments Dynarometer 1260 Vintage Electronics Restoration

I am still trying to figure out the back story on this restoration project. What I do know is this is a Dynarometer Model 1260, under the bezel of the meter movement is says Superior Instruments Co, New York NY made in USA. I am not sure if these were sold as a kit or even the exact model year. If I was to guess I would say 1950’s give or take a few years.

A friend was tossing this out so I adopted it and decided to keep it from the landfill. It was dirty and quite rusty. After a through examination to make it operational again would be virtually impossible, however restoration as a piece of art would be the second best thing.

TOOLS YOU CAN USE

Continue reading “The Superior Instruments Dynarometer 1260 Vintage Electronics Restoration”

Working from home? Put that extra monitor to good use!

If you have been mandated by the government to work from home due to the Covid-19 outbreak and would like to be a bit more productive, it may be time to look in the basement or attic for that old monitor you just couldn’t throw away. I personally find it way more productive to work on two or more displays at a time and hopefully you will too.

The portable usb monitor

The simplest way to add an additional screen to your laptop or desktop computer is to plug in a USB portable display. This type of display is easy to install, easy to move from computer to computer, easy to travel with and reasonably priced.

My personal favorite is the ASUS MB169B+ 15.6″ display. 
ASUS Portable Monitor

This display is simple to install, powered by the USB port so there is no power brick to worry about and is super light weight and is about as thick as a pencil. Best part its under $200 at Amazon

The only problem is at the time I wrote this post they were in and out of stock and difficult to find, and if you could find one in stock shipping lead times were over 10 business days.

Recycle the monitor you have

If you don’t want to go out and purchase a second display for you laptop or computer you may be able to simply recycle what you have on hand. The tricky part is making sure you have the correct cables and adapters to connect the monitor to your laptop or workstation. Continue reading “Working from home? Put that extra monitor to good use!”

Dell Latitude E5550 Battery Replacement

In the office we tend to buy Dell Desktops and Laptops. In my opinion they are no better or worse than any other brand and are priced competitively. Normally we have a 3-4 year cycle moving old equipment out and new equipment in. This one E5550 has been hanging around for whatever reason and was feeling slow. I originally popped the back cover to upgrade to a SSD and noticed the battery was in bad shape and needed to be replaced.

E5550 Battery Replacement

From the looks of it, two of the cells out gassed and have a belly. This is very bad since the battery capacity is obviously reduced. It is also dangerous to the hardware since the added pressure from the battery could damage the system board or cause the case to crack.

E5550 BatteryE5550 Battery

Where to purchase a suitable replacement?

Continue reading “Dell Latitude E5550 Battery Replacement”

Exchange Server Tip – Allow all users to see each others calendar

I work for a mid sized accounting firm and collaboration is an important part of making our group efficient. Mangers need to peer in on their staff calendars and the staff also like to see where there managers are. Exchange calendars are easily shared, however most staff members either don’t know how to do it or forget to allow access.

First step – set up a group in active directory

If you already have a group with all users in it you can simply use that. Otherwise access active directory and create a group (like the one below) and add all your users to it.

(GROUP)-Shared_Calendar
Share your calendar the manual way

You can easily have each user do this in Outlook. Simply access your calendar then click Calendar PermissionsExchange Calendar Permission Continue reading “Exchange Server Tip – Allow all users to see each others calendar”

Does anyone remember the floppy disk punch / notcher?

Floppy disks are all but a memory for most. They have gone the way of the tape cassette and VHS tape. I can remember back in the late 80’s and early 90’s shopping Radio Shack for 5 1/2 disks to feed my Commodore 64 1541 disk drive. The only issue was the 1541 could only write one side of the disk, so the backs of the disks were wasted. Disks were expensive a 3 pack would run $15 or more!

Floppy Disk
Wow Expensive!

 

As luck would have it, a creative person would develop a solution to alleviate some of the pain my 15 year old self was suffering due to my full allowance going to floppy disk procurement.

 

The 5 1/4 Disk Punch!

Continue reading “Does anyone remember the floppy disk punch / notcher?”

Emerson 888 “Atlas” Nevabreak Pocket Radio

I was cleaning out the closet again and stumbled across this Emerson 888 Atlas radio. It was given to me by my grandfather and according to the internet it was released by Emerson in 1958/59.

An over view of the Emerson 888 ATLAS
Atlas 888
The Atlas 888

It is amazing how technology has changed in the last 60 or so years! This radio was capable of tuning the AM band radio stations using 4 AA batteries.

It boasted 8 transistors, and said it was a pocket radio. Pocket? It is way too large to fit in any pocket. Think Mr. Spock’s tricorder. The radio came with a leather carry case with a strap. Continue reading “Emerson 888 “Atlas” Nevabreak Pocket Radio”

Best Desktop PC Battery Backup

Depending on where you live in the world continuous power without disruption can be an issue. Here in the United States we are lucky to have a power grid that works great most of the time. However, on occasion equipment fails and your power can be disrupted. Do you need a Battery Backup to help keep things running in the event of a failure?

Battery backups have been around for many years and come in many different sizes and capacities. In this article I would like to focus on the backup you would use for your desktop PC.

TOP BATTERY BACKUP CHOICE:

Over the years I have found APC to be the superior choice in battery backup systems. They make very large units to cover the server room and small units to backup the desk top environment as well.

Think of a backup unit as an emergency spare tire that will allow you to safely pull over to the shoulder. When sizing a unit, it should give you sufficient time to save your work and shutdown gracefully.

APC Battery BackupI have found this particular unit – APC BE600M1 600VA to be perfect for desktop workstations. 5 outlets are battery backed, while 2 are surge protected only. This will give you plenty of room for your PC, multi monitors, router and wifi. In my testing 600VA can keep the average PC running for an additional 15min after the power has failed. Plus the unit is very affordable running for under $60 at Amazon. The best part is this unit features a USB port than can keep your phone or tablet topped off during the power failure!
Continue reading “Best Desktop PC Battery Backup”