Magic Smoke

As you might know, there is a bit of magic smoke in every electronic part. It’s this smoke that makes it work. If you release it, the part obviously won’t work anymore – a painful moment that tinkerers, makers and professional engineers probably experience more often than they like to admit.

I invite you to experiment until your circuits release that very magic smoke. Hopefully some of the projects I did serve as an inspiration to you.


Interrupts and Windows in the year 2020

In times of Corona, I’m also working from home. Next to my gaming PC in its beautiful PowerMac G5 case is my workstation that I use to develop C++ on and that heats my flat with its up to 250 Watts (GPU excluded). To make the situation a bit less boring, I have my speakers playing music most of the day via my gaming PC and Windows 10. For days, my listening experience was disturbed by small crackles and pops that occur irregularly every ten seconds to multiple minutes.

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Nubert nuPro X-4000 Teardown

After my old big speakers slowly died and just took up too much space, I looked for smaller active speakers. In a for me rare occasion, I did online shopping and ordered different pairs of speakers home. In this environment, I tried to do a blind test to find which speakers fit my home, budget, taste of music and technical requirements best. So I ended up with a pair of Nubert nuPro X-4000.

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On the choice of a cross-platform GUI framework

Sysiphos in search of a UI framework It’s the year 2019 and for reasons beyond this post, the author is looking for a cross-platform desktop GUI framework. John Novak’s “Cross-Platform GUI Toolkit Trainwreck, 2016 Edition” contains a big list of options with his own opinion. I valued his openness on the aesthetic qualities of the different GUIs. It surprised me that there are actually so many options, even though I could rule out most of them quite quickly.

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Hugo: Thank you!

For one and a half year here, at the “magic smoke” blog and home page. It serves me well: Updates are frictionless, built speed is still decent, the whole experience is fine. Even though it’s pretty basic and you have to build many things on your own, I still like it. Especially since they even provide FreeBSD binaries! Yay, thank you very much. Even building Hugo on your own on FreeBSD works fine.

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A tale of unexpected oddities of Windows' x64 calling convention

As a pragmatic C++ developer with a few decades of experience in computers, I cherry-pick features and concepts that make sense to me from so-called “modern” C++ and mix them with traditional, proven concepts like OOP and low-level knowledge about the architecture I’m targeting. In my private “toolbelt” codebase, that means that I totally embrace the concept of non-owning references to things. In the old days, these were plain pointers and people nowadays frown upon them.

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TS-100 with USB-C and USB-PD

Half a year ago, I built a cable for my TS-100 soldering iron to plug it to a USB-C/USB-PD-capable power supply, giving me a portable 45 Watt soldering iron. Since then, I got quite used to the comfort of having a small soldering iron and I only rarely get my Ersa iCon from the closet. Nonetheless, having to plug the USB-C cable into the power bank and the adaptor cable and the adaptor cable into the soldering iron was a bit tedious.

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Ruideng DPH-5005 with USB-C

I’m still on my trip to upgrade random devices to USB-C. Thinking about my trusty but heavy bench power supply (Gossen Konstanter), maybe having a small, lightweight power supply with USB-C would be a good idea. I mean, the Konstanter is really nice and quiet, but it’s huge. So I gave the fashionable power supply modules from Hangzhou Ruideng Technology a try. My model, DPH5005, offers 50V/5V on input and output and is a combined buck/boost regulator.

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Xiaomi Power Bank 3: Very hot, literally

Since I’m on the way to USB-C all the things, I missed a portable electron pump, err power supply. Newer models soon reach the power levels of old power tools. 45 Watts should be enough, I thought. I chose a manufacturer that has a reputation to lose, in the hope that this would prevent me from getting a device that would set fire to my home. So I chose the Xiaomi Power Bank 3, model: PLM07ZM.

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A comparison of USB-C cables for charging speed

USB cables differ greatly with regards to their resistance. Too big a resistance can prevent devices from working or make them charge slowly. So, what about USB-C cables? I took my power bank, some USB-C cables, two USB-PD trigger PCBs, a multimeter and a small electronic load, put all of them together and devices a small test setup: First, measure the open circuit voltage at the end of the cable.

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