TEasy Strike craziness

I haven’t made a blog post in a while here, been a bit backed up. So I’ll post up what I sent to the strike devices development team the weekend my first run of the TEasy Strike’s were finished.

aaaaaaand go.

This weekend was ridiculous. I spent the better part of saturday behind safety glasses while I dremeled, drilled, and soldered my way to a good position for production of the new boards.

Friday I was told the boards were ready for pickup, so I left work early and got to the assembly house about 15 minutes before they closed. I was presented with a gigantic box, which I later opened to find this:

Perfectly packed were my 150 boards, extra parts, and 50 bare PCBs (which turned out later to be more like 60 for some reason, I’ll need to count the full number of boards later). I nervously unwrapped one of each type of board. These guys supplied the PCBs, so I was really curious how the final quality would be. I was SERIOUSLY impressed, the silk screen, placing job, and overall quality was amazing.

The panel they made up for the job:

It’s a 6x configuration, 3 of each type of board. The ONLY issue I have is that they’re V-Scored, which is cheaper but leaves a rougher edge that I’ll want to sand down if I don’t want people telling me they got FR-4 splinters >.<

The color is fucking phenomenal, these guys are really good. I counted 10 panels, they must have given me extra because a few of the boards didn’t pass E-testing. The ones that don’t pass are marked with a big ass X in sharpie across them. When getting things assembled, having the PCBs E-tested saves you SO MUCH HEADACHE, so if they don’t include it, it might be a good idea to ask how much it would cost. These guys included it into the fabrication price 🙂

Now the fun begins. I needed to make a template for each version of the board, so like before I pasted 2 on top of each other, but this time around I needed to cut them and route out some parts so that when things are smashed together, the components don’t get in the way. Another good reason this needed to be entirely SMT.

The templates turned out a little convoluted, but made sense to me. They’re 3 layers now instead of 2 and I’ll show you why.



Side shot:

I had to cut out a bunch of the side of the board, making it really hard to get a good space to clamp the template down to the actual PCB I’m assembling. The top layer of the template is a large piece that gives me the area to clamp, as well as spreads out the pressure so things are evenly compressed. I used some of the E-Test failures for the top layer, the other layers are 2 boards are specific to the type of TS I’m putting together.

It sounds like a huge pain in the ass, and it really is, but there’s no other good way to populate the pogo pins. I’ve talked with the assembly house and they think they can handle populating them in my next order. So now all I need to do is sell all of these guys so I can eventually do that, lol.

Here’s the final product, not usually one to toot my own horn, but this thing is fucking awesome.

I also found some issues with my new test fixture when programming via ISP, so I decided to power-forward my ISP with a simple mod:

Now I can program the target board without needing an outside power source 🙂

Test Fixture Fun v2.0

So in anticipation of the new board coming in a few weeks, I used the last prototype to finish off a final test station. My last one was pogo-pin based, and as “cool” as that one was, it just wasn’t efficient enough. You’re probably thinking “well all you have to do is press it down on the pins and turn it on, that’s about as simple as it gets.” Well, that’s true, and not true.

The last fixture had flaws, one of which is that aligning the pins for every board I’m testing can be a huge pain in the ass, especially when the holes are hand drilled. They’re close to being dead on, but not close enough for me to be happy about having to look under the board to double check if I’m on correctly or not. The second flaw is the testing itself, which it really only allowed me to power it up, and of course update the firmware via USB. The issue I have with this is that:

1. It didn’t allow me actually program the bootloader into the on board MCU very well since that meant an extra step prior wherein I had to power the board while using the other hand to click in windows, which doesn’t work well when I’m trying to push the board down on to pins.

2. It didn’t allow me to test any of the signals, only whether there was a blatant malfunction.

To fix this, I did a quick re-design and approached it a different way. My new board supports a 20 position breakout header for signals, while retaining a terminal for the main power and USB signals. Using these properties I wanted to make this one have a few options.

  • Modular like the last one (USB plug)
  • 20 pin signal access
  • The ability to not only control the power and main function lines, but also actually test the individual signals as well as a final run-through

So I ran to radio shack and picked up a few things, one of which included 30 gauge kynar wire. I’ve used it at work before, and it’s helpful in some ways but really irritating in others. It saves a boatload of space if you’re planning to route a lot of wires in a very small area, but stripping it requires a bit of finesse. I’ve heard of people just prepping the pads and allowing the backshrink of the insulation to kick in while soldering, making the stripping process not needed. I didn’t have much luck in that, so I just stripped every end.

Eventually I laid out how I wanted things and soldered it all together, I ended up with this:

Looks pretty snazzy on top, but that’s because I wanted to keep all the wires underneath as much as possible. Check out the ugly truth to this little guy.

Power and Ground routed with 26 gauge, the rest is 30 gauge. The 3 toggle switches are for the main power control and power up functionality of the new board. The breakout is for the signals, and the little button on the right is connected to the Test MCU that runs a program which cycles through all of the connected signals, allowing me to pull up the controllers applet in Windows and get immediate feedback on all lines. The 2 small outgoing wires head to the terminal of the new board for pass through of the USB data lines.

One huge issue I had with this is that the large mess under the board left this thing kind of fragile, so I added one final requirement…

  • Make it rugged enough to endure the hectic nature of testing a crapload of boards in a single sitting.

So another trip to radio shack, some nylon stand offs I had laying around, and about an hour of dremel work landed me this guy. When I step back from it I’m actually pretty proud of it. For a test fixture it looks pretty snazzy and pretty god damn rugged too. I’m not going to accidentally tear any wires, hell I could throw it against a wall and I think it would survive.

When the new boards come in I’ll be ready for them now, and should be able to run through them (testing wise) pretty damn quickly now.

MC Cthulu Mod for Leththeashesfall

Small update, this time it’s another commission from a local. He requested a mod from me on behalf of his little brother as I understand it. He wanted a 360 to MC Cthulu + RJ45 mod with cables for USB (360/PS3/PC), PSx, and Game Cube.

This was the first time doing a full MC mod. I’ve read about it multiple times and understood it very well going into it, but as it’s the first time I didn’t have a process down to get it done to my liking. To make it worse it was a MadCatz SE stick, which doesn’t leave me with a whole lot of breathing room. Nevertheless he needed it in short time so I ordered all the parts and got right to it.

I followed This tutorial, done by rtdzign. It’s well written, and it allowed me to get through the parts that I wasn’t entirely familiar with. In particular, the 3 PCBs attached to each other was an easy to understand thing, but I hadn’t yet crimped cables for this mod before, and his tutorial was really helpful in figuring out the “standard” wiring people are using with it, and it let me fly through the crimping process.

The only tool I lacked was a hole saw for cutting the opening for the pass through RJ45 jack. Since I didn’t have it (and the ACE Hardware on my way home didn’t either), I decided to make this a to part mod. The first night I soldered everything together and tested it all out. It surprisingly only took me about 3 hours from start to finish to splice everything together, with maybe another hour extra of crimping and testing my set up/cables.

This is how it all turned out:

After this was all set, I finally got tired of the fact that nobody had a nice forstner 24mm drill bit so I opted for a 15/16″ Spade bit, which is normally used for wood but I figured it couldn’t hurt.

I won’t lie, I got it mostly cut out (and accidentally cut the opening a little too close to the top of the case) and then relied on about 20 minutes of dremel work to get everything to play nice.

Oh well, after fanagling it a little I ended up with the jack in place:

Parts required:

1 x Toodles’ MC Cthulu

1 x Imp Kit

1 x RJ45 pass-through jack

3 x System controller cables and 4 x RJ45 crimp ends (1 for the outgoing connection)

Works on multiple systems, switch between the major systems with the LS/DP/RS switch:

LS/DP = Xbox 360

RS = Everything else (it switches to the Cthulu side of things)

Return top


Hope everyone had a good time at EVO. I know I did!