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Programming, tinkering – Lionel Lemarié

Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category

Project: Frankenphones (update)

Posted by llemarie on October 14, 2007

Well, that didn’t take long. It took less than a week for the inevitable to happen. The duct tape stopped sticking and the right driver came loose, rattling about. That and the blue-tack holding the charging connector stopped tacking. I feel let down by the DIYer’s best friend. I used hotglue this time to hold the driver in place.

I got some comments in Portuguese saying that there weren’t enough pictures of the process anyway. It’s a bit late now for that, but while I repaired the rattling I took some more pictures: flickr.

In the pictures, we can see the irreparable damage I did to the first bluetooth module I had. Because of that I had to replace it ):

We can also see the neat little on/off button. I didn’t even have to drill for it, it simply uses the hole for the old wire. Convenient.

See my original post for details about the headphones.

Posted in Bluetooth headphones, Projects | 1 Comment »

Project: Wired to wireless headphones

Posted by llemarie on September 29, 2007

The aim of this project was to get a decent pair of wireless headphones, without breaking the piggy bank. I’m talking decent, as in comfortable, good bass, good treble, good listening distance, battery lasts all day, etc… Not decent as in you think you can recognise the tune if you concentrate hard to ignore the hiss and bend your head towards the emitter – I got a £80 pair of Sony RF headphones like that for free from work a few years ago, I felt ripped off.

More recently, I bought a pair of behind-the-head Logitech Bluetooth headphones which were of reasonable quality, but not great. The ear pieces were pretty uncomfortable with my glasses too. The last drop was when the band snapped, like it did for many others.

There was nothing for it, if I wanted some decent sound and comfort, my trusty pair of £10 Sony padded headphones seemed the only way to go, but the long wire was driving me mad. So I started working on… the Frankenheadphones!


A pair of El-Cheapo Tesco-Value headphones for the looks. They’re nice and black, and sit nicely on the head. They’re a bit tight so you can mosh without losing them too. Perfect. Awful quality, squeaky, rattly, quiet – but not to worry!

The Logitech Bluetooth headphones with the snapped headband.

My trusty Sony padded headphones – good sound quality, loud, deep bass! Perfect for techno, rock, classical. Sucks for rap music, but that’s not a hardware problem.


It took a while to get this project working. I started several months ago and slowly progressed through the different stages. First I opened the Logitech headphones. I was as subtle as a toddler with a mallet and tore the plastic to pieces and made a mess of it. I liberated the PCB Bluetooth module intact though and got it working on the speakers outside of the case. That’s where I made my first mistake: I unsoldered all the wires (having made diagrams, that was fine), and the charging connector which was too big to fit in and I intended to replace. But then I didn’t have the right tips for the solder iron to solder small wires to the very small contacts on the board. After a lot of hassle I manage to get some wires to stick solidly to the contacts. That was my second mistake. We’ll get back to that.

I then opened the Tesco headphones, removed the stereo wire and stuffed the Bluetooth module in there, the large battery, ripped the surface-mount on/off switch and soldered a couple of wires to a switch screwed in to the side of the case (through the hole of the stereo wire to hide it, cunning!), soldered the speakers and tried it. It worked! So far so good.

Then I took apart the trusty Sony padded headphones, got the good speakers out, fitted them in the Tesco case in place of the rubbish ones which I dremeled out, held them in place with obligatory duct tape, fitted the padding on the ear pieces and closed the thing back together.

It worked! For a whole 30 minutes I enjoyed high quality wireless music with padded comfort. Then the battery ran out and the second mistake I mentioned bit me in the derriere. The wires soldered to the board to charge the battery were not protected enough and I must have pulled a little too hard while plugging them in and the wires came out… with a piece of the PCB still attached!

Ruined! After all that. The project was ruined. No matter what I tried, the board was beyond repair, I just could not charge the battery anymore.

Luckily I was able to procure a replacement pair of broken Logitech headphones from a colleague in exchange for sushi. I could then open the headphones a lot more carefully this time by unscrewing the case instead of ripping it apart. I did not unsolder the charging connector and decided to fit the board in the headphones with the cumbersome connector instead. Put it all back together, tested, closed it. Tested. Charged it. Took it to work.

Victory! I’ve been using them all day and they are very comfortable, excellent quality, easy to charge, lasted all day. The only problem I had is that the charging LED is not visible so I cannot tell when they are finished charging; I might have to remedy that.

I’ve already bought my next wireless victim: Motorola HT820 + PC850 usb adapter, $30. I need to find the good quality headphones to take apart now.

See the pictures on flickr.

Posted in Bluetooth headphones, Projects | Tagged: | 49 Comments »

Rubik’s Cube Solution

Posted by llemarie on September 3, 2007

These are my notes for a solution for the Rubik’s Cube. Click for larger resolutions.

Enough said.

Posted in Projects, Rubik's Cube Solution | 3 Comments »

Project: Papercraft skull

Posted by llemarie on September 1, 2007

Sarah, my favourite wife, kindly requested that I make a pink glittery papercraft skull from skull-a-day for a friend of hers. How could I say no?

Full resolution on flickr.

See the original non-glittery white skull I did a few days ago.

Posted in Papercraft skull, Projects | Leave a Comment »

Project: Cardboard stereo amp and speaker

Posted by llemarie on August 16, 2007

A quick post about an old amp I made 10 odd years ago when I got my first PC (being a Mac fan before that). It’s a 5.25″ stereo amp with volume control to use one of the slots at the front of the PC tower.

I’m still using it as my main means of listening to pandora.com while I’m tinkering. Its most reliable feature is the regular hiss that requires a slap to get rid of it. One day I’ll get around to resolder the contacts inside to make it sound a little nicer, but then it’ll lose a little of its charm.

Strictly speaking, the case is cardboard not the amp, but let’s don’t argue about minor details. There’s a single speaker, so it’s not entirely necessary to have a stereo amp, but that way it’s future proof, right ?

See all the pictures in the flickr set.

Posted in CardboardAmp, Projects | 3 Comments »

Project: Papercraft skull

Posted by llemarie on August 16, 2007

Papercraft skullThere is a PDF on skulladay.com to make a great little skull with an articulated jaw.

I made a couple out of ordinary printer paper and a proper nice A4 card. It looks like it would make a great little head for a puppet, or a robot ?

View all the pictures in the flickr set.

Posted in Papercraft skull, Projects | 4 Comments »

Project: 50p coin ring

Posted by llemarie on August 11, 2007

Coin ringInspired by Bre’s Weekend Project again, I decided to spend a night making a ring out of a 50p coin. A night. Right.

In a nutshell, you take a pre-1964 90% silver US half-dollar, hold it on its edge and gently tap it with a light hammer. You rotate the coin as you tap around the edge for an hour or so, until you’ve flattened the thing to a ring shape. Then you drill the middle out, Dremel the sharp bits, polish the surface, and offer it to your WAG as you pretend you had to choose between the ring and a new laptop but you went for the ring.

My first mistake was to use a 1977 heptagon shaped 50p coin, 75% copper and 25% nickel – hardly jeweler quality. I couldn’t have chosen one of the new light 8 gram from 1997, no, I had to pick an old 13.5g block of compact lead. Then I didn’t have a clamp, or a decent drill, or a Dremel. All in all, I spent all week banging on the thing.

I’m very pleased the the result though! It’s nice and smooth on the outside, but rough enough that no-one will ever doubt that I made it myself (: The text “Elizabeth II” and “1977” is still on the inside, along with “pence” (the 50 is half gone, does that make it worth 25p ?)

See all the pictures on the flickr set.

Thumb ring

Posted in 50p Coin Ring, Projects | 1 Comment »

Project: Duct-tape wallet

Posted by llemarie on August 7, 2007

This is an old entry but seeing as how I’m still using this wallet a year later, I think it’s fair that I should post about it.

Inspired by Bre Pettis in his Weekend Project, I set off to make my own wallet entirely out of Scotch. While the end result looked strangely similar to the one Bre presented, I followed his instructions only loosely. I started off following closely, but quickly found out that it wasn’t as simple as it looked and that I could take some shortcuts. Not all the shortcuts were wise, but it turned out ok in the end.

Posted in Projects, Wallet | 3 Comments »

Project: Oscilloscope clock

Posted by llemarie on August 5, 2007

The finished clock

I just finished building a great kit I ordered recently from dutchtronix. It’s an AVR kit that outputs the signals to display a working clock on your oscilloscope in X-Y mode. It works wonderfully!

The microcontroller is the Atmega Atmel 168, same as used with the Arduino. That’s really convenient because I have a few spares lying around, so I’m hoping to use this kit and reprogram different microcontrollers to display different things in vector graphics.

Building the kit itself was really easy, all the components are standard. The only little difficulty was to power the thing in the end. It requires a steady 5V and I had to cut a USB cable to get my laptop to provide to power. The site has schematics to build a the power supply, so I’ll get the additional components, they don’t come with the kit. It will be useful to build the serial cable too, to reflash the firmware to the more recent 2.6 version, which has an improved user interface.

The author was kind enough to send me the asm source code. I’m hoping programing the atmel in C using the arduino will be fast enough to make my changes; if not I might need to come up with plan B.

You can order the kit from dutchtronix.com.

See the pictures on the flickr set.

Building the kit in 22 seconds:

Posted in Oscilloscope clock, Projects | 3 Comments »

Nothing to see yet !

Posted by llemarie on August 5, 2007

I haven’t started writing yet. In the meantime, see my current projects:

Oscilloscope clock: Google pages.

Bluetooth headphones: Flickr.

More to come soon !


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