Category Archives: Uncategorized

Text Editor Economics

Every year or two I convince myself that I should buy a text editor like Slickedit. After all it’s the self proclaimed “World’s most powerful code editor”, right? And I really liked using it a long time ago in the version 6 days. But that was a long time ago and a lot has changed in the programming world. Can text editors like Slickedit keep up and still provide value?

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Serial Port Silliness

Do you frequently use serial ports without a second thought? All you need is RX, TX and GND for a basic configuration along with some RS232 or MIL-STD-188 drivers for the cable, right? The fact that the bits are transmitted asynchronously is implied. The only difference between a Data Terminal Equipment (DTE) device and a Data Circuit Terminating Equipment (DCE) device is just the connector pinout. At least that’s what I always assumed.

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Solder Demonstration Video

This video shows how easy it is to solder a TSSOP package by hand on a circuit board. I see lots of advice on the net about using really fine solder tips and microscopes, etc but there’s an easier way if you use the right technique. The most important thing is to use the right tip on your soldering iron. I use 1/4in knife tips 99% of the time. Don’t waste money on other fancier tips that are concave because they aren’t an improvement.

Here’s the steps:

  1. Align the part on the pads and solder down 2 corner pins on 1 side of the part. This can take a little time, but it’s important to get it right. I did that in about 1 minute when setting up for the video.
  2. Solder all pins down on the other side. Try to keep a small solder ball on the iron tip and don’t overdo it. I used No Clean 0.020 Tin/Lead. Don’t use lead free unless you have to.
  3. Flux up the pins and touch them up. I used a No Clean flux pen and a wiping motion with the iron. Sometimes you also need to use some solder wick as well to get rid of the big blobs.

I made a video to show steps 2 and 3. The iron is a Hakko 936 set to 650F. I discovered that making soldering videos is hard because the camera is so close to the board that lighting and working around the camera are issues. The video below is my third attempt, but I think I need a little more practice making them.

It’s probably not obvious, but using a bigger tip helps when soldering small parts. That’s because the iron can control the tip temperature better and there’s more thermal mass to heat up the pad. A small tip doesn’t have the same thermal mass and I find that they cool down almost instantly when you touch them to a pad. Now I only use the small tips when the knife tip physically won’t fit.