Archive for the 'Geekiness' Category

National Semicondictor NSN66 LED Displays

This is half a quick note for my own reference, half a note for anyone else who might happen across one of these, and half a note to let you know, dear reader, that I’m not dead…

The NSN66 (and, I suspect, very similar NSN66A) is a very old-school six-digit seven-segment LED display manufactured by National Semiconductor back in the early 1970s. I’m not sure what they originally found use in, probably radios. Obsolete for several decades, the global electronics marketplace is such that you can find them new, today, without a whole lot of difficulty, and without paying too much money.

There are several places online that sell ’em, still, and with a bit of searching you can even find the datasheet, which will tell you it was introduced around 1973, is a 1/8th-inch common-cathode red GaAsP display, that each segment is 3.0V, and draws an average 5ma, with the max rating per segment being 60ma, a pulse width of 10ms, and a viewing angle of +/-60 degrees off-axis.

What nobody seems to tell you is the pin assignments.

Well, if you were looking for that, here you go…

The display module has a row of seventeen holes on 0.1″ centers. Holes 0, 10, and 16 are unconnected.

With the somewhat standard notation that the top is segment A, the top-right is segment B, the lower-right is segment C, the bottom is segment D, the lower-left is segment E, the top-left is segment F, and the centre is segment G, the pinout, viewed from the front, is:

NC | C | 1 | DOT | 2 | A | 3 | E | 4 | D | NC | G | 5 | B | 6 | F | NC

(As the datasheet points out, on the NSN66, there’s only a dot on the fourth digit on the NSN66. I’m not sure if the NSN66A has a dot on every digit or not.)

These are very neat, very small, extremely retro displays well-suited for all sorts of improbable projects. The weird single dot limits its functionality in many regards, but, well, there’s probably a reason they’re plentiful… and cheap…

Published in: Geekiness | on July 6th, 2012 | No Comments »

Did You Hear the One About the Goat?

Or, indeed, the other one about the goat?

I figured I’d mention here two recent electronic publications of mine that might be of interest to a couple readers:

At the beginning of April I published a romantic comedy novella called “All The Wrong Reasons”. It’s a tale of awkwardness, misunderstanding, humor, and a goat. In a nutshell, it’s the story of a dangerously genre-savvy young idiot and the woman he desperately wants not to fall in love with. Hijinks ensue, and all that kind of thing.

Just another typical story of mine, really. 🙂

You can get it at Amazon or Kobo or iTunes or Barnes and Noble or at Smashwords in all those formats and more.

Spurred on by a reader’s request (and egged on by my own Imp of the Perverse) I then wrote and published “Midnight’s Tale”, which tells the story of the goat in All The Wrong Reasons. My tenth published ebook, it’s a finely-crafted piece of belles lettres Serious Literature about life, love, and livestock.

It’s available at Amazon and at Smashwords in all the various ereader formats. The one person who’s bought a copy so far found it extremely compelling, apparently. You’d probably like it, too…

Published in: Geekiness, General | on May 25th, 2012 | No Comments »

Reviving Old Raleigh 3-Speed Pedals On the Cheap

One of my relatives recently decided to take up bicycling. While this is good, because exercise is a good thing, blah blah blah, I was tasked with both finding them a suitable bicycle, and ensuring its functionality.

Their criteria was fairly simple: It had to be a diamond frame (i.e. a “men’s bike”), it had to have upright handlebars, and it could have no more than five speeds. (I have no idea why, either. I just do what I’m told.)

My criteria was a bit more complicated: It had to actually fit them, it had to be in decent mechanical shape, it had to not use a buttload of proprietary-sized parts or need obscure proprietary tools to work on, and it had to not be a super attractive theft-magnet, because they are probably only going to use a cable lock, not a u-lock, and we’d both feel bad if it got stolen.

I almost wavered on the last one – there was a gorgeous 1950s BSA three-speed on Craigslist, fully restored, for $150 – but in the end I persevered, and we wound up with…
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History | on May 20th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Some Things Maybe Shouldn’t Be Recycled

China takes a lot of crap on environmental grounds, and rightly so, but you do have to admire their entrepreneurial spirit when it comes to recycling, especially of electronics. One country’s trash is another country’s treasure.

It doesn’t get talked about a whole lot, but there’s a thriving industry in China that salvages and recycles electronics – and a whole other thriving industry that sells or re-uses the recovered material. Semiconductors are a popular bit of booty. Need some long-obsolete chips? Someone in China probably has a drawer full of ’em, desoldered from junked equipment.

All those cellphone LCDs that Arduino folks and other electronics enthusiasts like to play around with? They’re not spare parts being sold by service centers – a huge number of them are recovered from broken phones.

And that, in a way, brings me to the subject of today’s post: Solar chargers.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on May 2nd, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Dear Amazon: What Do You Have Against Cleams, Anyway?

Earlier this week, I purchased some rechargeable batteries from Amazon. These batteries, in fact.

They arrived today.

Do you pay much attention to the packaging your merchandise comes in? I do.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on March 15th, 2012 | 2 Comments »