Monday, November 22, 2010

Have you ever been so angry you soldered a USB cable to something?

I have the SAD. This isn't so much LOLcat speak but admitting that between September and late February being me is kind of a roller coaster. I'm fine, I'm fine I HATE THAT PERSON WHO DID SOMETHING TO ME MANY YEARS AGO COMPLETELY INCONSEQUENTIAL IN THE OVERALL FLOW OF LIFE AND I NEVER MENTIONED IT TO THAT JERK FACE, I'm ok, etc etc. In March I'm usually back up to having a great time and picking up and doing lots of stuff, I feel that if you know me through September/February and still want to talk to me by March I owe you a drink, or a cupcake.

My private brain care specialist recommended a SAD Lamp because it couldn't hurt. The latest theories are that the more expensive really bright full spectrum bulbs mostly cause your iris to constrict, which cuts down on the amount of light coming in the eye. The tilting of the earth changes the angle of decent for the rays of light from the sun causing them to travel further and filter out some wavelengths which are more or less described as blue. (I recommend the chapters in Bad Astronomy for a good explanation of why the sky is blue and the seasons). Blue (more or less) LED's are now pretty cheep so more affordable SAD lamps that are less bright are available. I was shown one that was "cheep" and "small" which was $150 and iPad sized. I found one for $40 that was iPod sized.

It was of course a piece of junk. Out of the box the buttons made the clock dim and I don't know if it was by design but it would turn it's self back on 10 minutes after turn off. Then it stopped working as soon as I threw out the original box.

My SAD light made me ANGRY. I wasn't surprised though. I know how cheep electronics are. I was kind of expecting it, just not so soon.

So instead of wallowing and blaming un-named engineer, I ripped the board out and plugged the LED array right in to my most available 5v power source: USB. And then the bad solder job on the board broke, so I'll have to hit it with my iron tomorrow.

The board is kind of neat now that I know a little bit of what I'm looking at. There is a mini inverter for an EL back lit display. There are 4 smt resistors that go to some transistors right before it goes in the LED array. I think they are a R2R digital to analog converter that control the LED brightness. Most of the solder points have blobs and components are snapping off so I know that it wasn't long for this world anyway.

I want to next cut some traces on that board and hook up an arduino to have some features and control. After that I want to build the spectromiter from MAKE and see if the LED wavelength is as advertised and then what the intensities of wavelengths are during the season.

And with that, the joy of a simple hack and some daydreaming has gotten me though another day.

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