Making unobtainium graphics cards even more unobtainable, [VIK-on] has swapped out the RAM chips on an Nvidia RTX 3070. This makes it the only 3070 the world to work with 16 GB.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because he tried the same trick with the RTX 2070 back in January but couldn’t get it working. When he first published the video showing the process of desoldering the 3070’s eight Hynix 1 GB memory chips and replacing them with eight Samsung 2 GB chips he hit the same wall — the card would boot and detect the increased RAM, but was unstable and would eventually crash. Helpful hints from his viewers led him to use an EVGA configuration GUI to lock the operating frequency which fixed the problem. Further troubleshooting (YouTube comment in Russian and machine translation of it) showed that the “max performance mode” setting in the Nvidia tool is also a solution to stabilize performance.

The new memory chips don’t self-report their specs to the configuration tool. Instead, a set of three resistors are used to electronically identify which hardware is present. The problem was that [VIK-on] had no idea which resistors and what the different configurations accomplished. It sounds like you can just start changing zero Ohm resistors around to see the effect in the GUI, as they configure both the brand of memory and the size available. The fact that this board is not currently sold with a 16 GB option, yet the configuration tool has settings for it when the resistors are correctly configured is kismet.

So did it make a huge difference? That’s difficult to say. He’s running some benchmarks in the video, both Unigine 2 SuperPosition and 3DMark Time Spy results are shown. However, we didn’t see any tests run prior to the chip swap. This would have been the key to characterizing the true impact of the hack. That said, reworking these with a handheld hot air station, and working your way through the resistor configuration is darn impressive no matter what the performance bump ends up being.

Continue reading “Video Ram Transplant Doubles RTX 3070 Memory To 16 GB”

[Andrew] wonders why the SerialUSB() function on the Cortex M3-based Arduino Due is so much faster than Serial() on the Uno or Nano, and shares his observations in this short video. He sets up an experiment with a simple sketch on both boards and uses Wireshark to evaluate the results.

Data is sent in the USB packets in groups of four characters on the ATmega-based boards, but the entire string is put in a packet on the Due board. If you look under the hood, the answer is hiding in plain sight. While the Arduino family of boards connect to your computer using a USB virtual serial port, the ATmega ones have an actual serial connection on-board. For instance, on the Nano there is an FT232RL between the USB connector and the microprocessor (on an Arduino Uno board, a small ATMEGA8U2 is used instead of an FTDI chip, but the concept is the same). On the Arduino Due, the USB connects directly to the SAM3X8E processor.

This concept doesn’t apply only to Arduino boards, of course. On any serial connection between two computers, when a virtual USB device is used on both sides of the link (no actual serial signals involved), the serial baud rate is a fictional thing — data transfer speeds depends on USB alone. We are curious why the packets contain four characters in [Andrew]’s ATmega Wireshark captures — why not 1, 2, or 10? Is this something that can be controlled by the programmer, or is it fixed by the protocol and/or the FTDI chip? If you have the answer, let us know in the comments below. Continue reading “Arduino Serial Vs SerialUSB”

Ever tried to find the data on a mysterious LCD controller that’s kicking around in your parts bin? Well check out this list of various LCD controllers that [Achim] has put together. He summarizes the basic specifications for each controller and includes data sheet links if available (note — the website is in German, although most of the data itself is in English). All in all, he has collected 72 controllers from five different manufacturers, and 46 of them have data sheets. For each controller, he tabulates maximum resolution, color depth, type of interface, and the targeted display technology. For example, here is the entry for the Ilitech ILI9341 TFT controller commonly found in embedded projects:

Furthermore, many of the controllers also have a short video clip showing them in operation posted over on [Achim]’s YouTube channel, where he also has a bunch of quick (less than one minute) videos of all sorts of embedded goodies. We do find this table of controllers to be a little dated — for example, another popular controller used on small color OLED displays, the Solomon Systech SDS1351, is not included. But it is certainly a good resource to bookmark.

We suspect that [Achim] made this table as a result of developing µGUI, a small (only three files) C-language graphics library (see the GitHub repository) he released back in 2015. Do you have any good resources for tracking down unknown LCD controllers? If so, share in the comments below. And thanks to [Dmitry] for sending in this tip.

Continue reading “A Handy Reference For Display Drivers And LCD Controllers”

[Jan Derogee] pulled out his phonograph the other day to hear the 100+ year old wax cylinder warble of “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”, but couldn’t locate the reproducer — this is the small circular bit that holds the stylus and transfers the groove-driven vibrations to the center of a thin diaphragm, which vibrates into the sound horn. It’s easily the most important part of a cylinder phonograph. What do you do when you lose your reproducer? You could search ebay for a replacement, but that wouldn’t be nearly as fun as reproducing your reproducer yourself.

Traditionally, diaphragms were made from mica or celluloid, and the Edison disk phonograph used seven layers of shellac-soaked rice paper. Reproducers typically have a Dagwood sandwich of gaskets surrounding the membrane, but they don’t have to be so convoluted to work — a single strong membrane will do just fine. Just ask [Jan], who made a new reproducer with a 3D-printed case, a hand-pulled glass stylus, and a disposable aluminum foil pan for the diaphragm.

It’s difficult for us to say which part looks more fun — stretching the glass shard over a gas kitchen stove with the flame focused by a stack of wrench sockets, or cutting up a bicycle inner tube and using a car jack to press the aluminum into shape against a 3D-printed mold. The whole video is awesome and you can check it out after the break.

As [Jan] notes in the video and on the project site, the glass stylus should really be made from borosilicate because it’s harder than regular soda lime glass (that’s why they often make vaccine vials out of it). Regular glass will work and takes much less time and gas to reach the pull-able stage, so that’s what [Jan] used in the video, but it will wear out much more quickly. Fortunately, this was a temporary solution, because as soon as [Jan] made a replacement, the missing reproducer showed up.

Continue reading “Reproducing A Reproducer: Servicing A Cylinder Phonograph In The Year 2021”

Starting projects is easy. It’s the finishing part that many of us have trouble with. We can hardly imagine completing a project after more than a decade, but seeing the breathtaking results of [J-P Metsavainio]’s gigapixel composite image of our galaxy might just make us reconsider. The photograph, which we highly suggest you go check out in its full glory, has been in progress since 2009, features 1250 total hours of exposure time, and spans across 125 degrees of sky. It is simply spectacular.

Of course, it wasn’t an absolutely continuous effort to make this one image over those twelve years. Part of the reason for the extended time span is many frames of the mosaic were shot, processed, and released as their own individual pieces; each of the many astronomical features impressive in its own right. But, over the years, he’s filled in the gaps between and has been able to release a more and more complete picture of our galactic home.

A project this long, somewhat predictably, eventually outlives the technology used to create it. Up until 2014, [Metsavainio]’s setup included a Meade 12-inch telescope and some modified Canon optics. Since then, he’s used a dedicated equatorial mount, astrocamera, and a Tokina lens (again, modified) with an 11-inch Celestron for longer focal lengths. He processes the frames in Photoshop, accounting for small exposure and color differences and aligning the images based on background stars. He’s had plenty of time to get his process down, though, so the necessary tweaking is relatively minor.

Amateur astronomy is an awesome hobby, and the barrier to entry is lower than it might seem. You can get started on a budget with the ubiquitous Raspberry Pi or with the slightly less practical Game Boy Camera. And if you’re just interested in viewing the cosmos, there are options for building your own telescope as well.

[via PetaPixel]

There are at least two ways of making parts that fit together exactly. The first way is the Cartesian way, and the machinists way. Imagine that you could specify the size of both the hole and the peg that you’d like to put into it. Just make sure your tolerances are tight enough, and call out a slightly wider hole. Heck, you can look up the type of fit you’d like in a table, and just specify that. The rest is a simple matter of machining the parts accurately to the right tolerances, and you’re done.

The machinist’s approach lives and dies on that last step — making the parts accurately fit the measure. Contrast the traditional woodworker’s method, or at least as it was taught to me, of just making the parts fit each other in the first place. This is the empirical way, the Aristotelian way if you will. You don’t really have to care if the two parts are exactly 30.000 mm wide, as long as they’re precisely the same length. And woodworkers have all sorts of clever tricks to make things the same, or make them fit, without measuring at all. Their methods are heavy on the jigs and the clever set-ups, and extraordinarily light on the calipers. To me, coming from a “measure carefully, and cut everything to measure” background, these ways of working were a revelation.

This ends up expressing perfectly the distinction between accuracy and precision. Sometimes you need to hit the numbers right on, and other times, you just need to get the parts to fit. And it’s useful to know which of these situations you’re actually in.

Of course, none of this is exclusive to metal or wood, and I’m actually mentioning it because I find myself using ideas that I learned in one context and applying them in the other. For instance, if you need sets of holes that match each other perfectly, whether in metal or wood, you get that precision for free by drilling through two sheets at one time, or by making a template — no measuring needed. Instead of measuring an exact distance from a feature, if all you care about is two offsets being the same, you can find a block of scrap with just about the right width, and use that to mark both distances. Is it exactly 1.000″ wide? Nope. But can you use this to mark identical locations? Yup.

You can make surprisingly round objects in wood by starting with a square, and then precisely marking the centers of the straight faces, and then cutting off the corners to get an octagon. Repeat with the centers and cutting until you can’t see the facets any more. Then hit it with sandpaper and you’re set. While this won’t make as controlled a diameter as would come off a metal lathe, you’d be surprised how well this works for making round sheet-aluminum circles when you don’t care so much about the diameter. And the file is really nothing other than the machinist’s sandpaper (or chisel?).

I’m not advocating one way of working over the other, but recognizing that there are two mindsets, and taking advantage of both. There’s a certain freedom that comes from the machinist’s method: if both parts are exactly 25.4 mm long, they’re both an accurate inch, and they’ll match each other. But if all you care about is precise matching, put them in the vise and cut them at the same time. Why do you bother with the calipers at all? Cut out the middle-man!

Want a closer, in-depth look at E3D’s motion system and tool-changing platform? [Kubi Sertoglu] shared his impressions after building and testing the system, which comes in the form of a parts bundle direct from E3D costing just under $3000 USD. The project took [Kubi] about 15 hours and is essentially built from the ground up. The system is definitely aimed at engineers and advanced prosumers, but [Kubi] found it to be of remarkable quality, and is highly pleased with the end results.

E3D Motion system and toolchanger, with four extruders

We first saw E3D’s design announced back in 2018, when they showed their working ideas for a system that combined motion control and a toolchanger design. The system [Kubi] built uses four 3D printing extruders for multi-material prints, but in theory the toolheads could just as easily be things like grippers, lasers, or engravers instead of 3D printing extruders.

One challenge with tool changing is ensuring tools mount and locate back into the same place, time after time. After all, a few fractions of a millimeter difference in the position of a print head would spell disaster for the quality of most prints. Kinematic couplings are the answer to being sure something goes back where it should, but knowing the solution is only half the battle. Implementation still requires plenty of clever design and hard engineering work, which is what E3D has delivered.

Want a closer look at the nitty-gritty? Check out E3D’s GitHub repository for all the details on their toolchanger and motion system.