Hacked Gadgets Forum

November 25, 2013

CM 360A Solder Pot Review and a Look Inside

at 4:17 pm. Filed under Reviews



I ordered a cheap solder pot from Ebay a few months ago. I didn’t want to spend a fortune since I will only need it 5 or 10 times a year, just to take care of the jobs where using a soldering iron to tin a bunch of wires would be a pain. I had used it 4 or 5 times prior to this review and was very surprised at the quality of case construction, look and feel of the controls, and the speed at which it could melt solder. The only thing I would have liked is the power cable to exit the rear of the case and the on off switch to be pushed up to turn on. As I write this I am thinking the easiest way to solve all of these problems is to have the text on the label printed upside down so that the temperature dial, on/off switch and power cord were naturally positioned on the top. I bet that the guy who designed the case and physical layout was not the same guy who designed the label.

I was expecting to be pleasantly surprised at some nice build quality on the inside, but once the cover came off I lost some faith in the unit. I can see that this was assembled in a hurry like lots of other Chinese products. There is some heat resistant insulation covering the feed wires for the heating element, as you can see in the pictures and video a small sleeve should have been long enough to safely nest itself under the larger sleeve but in this case the wire was too long which left the insulation too short and exposing one of the conductors.

 There are some very poor connections of two very important wires to the small control board. One is the live feed direct from the plug, it is just soldered to the rear of the board onto the fuse holder solder point. It looks like originally it would have been through hole mounted from the front of the board into the same position and a smaller fuse holder (or solder in fuse) would have been used. If this wire comes loose and brushes against the inside of the case you will see a light show for a few seconds before your house breaker trips.

The other very poor connections were on both ends of the heater. There was a push on lug that was poorly soldered to the center terminal of the on/off switch. After the review a small wiggle was all it took to pop it off. When pushed onto the terminal the height of the lug interfered with the back panel, the simply solution was to simply fold the connector over on itself. The other heater connection was to the control board and this was also simply tack soldered to the back of the board just waiting to vibrate loose, looks like this connection also had a lug on it at one time but the lug was simply trimmed to a small nub which was the part soldered to the board.

If anyone is interested the triac used in the design is a BT137-600E. There is line voltage connected to the potentiometer which feels wrong to me but with a quick glance at a similar product, it looks like you can put 250 volts on many of these little pots (such as this one [PDF]). I guess I have seen too many loose adjustment pots with missing knobs which would make me think twice about adjusting them if I knew there was serious voltage on the wipers of the pot.

I also saw a problem with the switch wiring that wasn’t there (in the video). Many of these switches have a common terminal in the center, when the switch is flipped up the center and lower terminals are shorted and when the switch is down the center and upper terminals are shorted. In this case when the switch is in the off position there is no connection between any of the terminals. When moved to the on position neutral is placed on the center terminal which has one of the heater leads attached to it and also an internal lamp connection. The hot for the lamp is connected with a jumper from the fused side of line voltage on the control board.




April 23, 2012

Black and Decker 20V Lithium Drill Review

at 5:09 pm. Filed under Reviews



Thanks to Black and Decker for sending in this 20V Lithium Drill for review. This drill would be perfect for the average DIYer who is tinkering with projects in the basement on the weekends and evenings. It is nice and light so you won’t need to work out at the gym before a session of drilling. That being said, if you are planning on building a deck or putting in a new fence this is not the drill for that. The most exciting claim is that it will hold a charge for up to 18 months. Of course there was no way I could test this claim in the 2 weeks that I have been playing with the drill. 

The LED light is nice if you are using it in a dark corner, it automatically turns on whenever the drill is being used.  A few days ago I assembled a new corner desk for my daughter, this thing was a beast of a desk with poor instructions which meant that 5 or 6 of the pieces needed to be unscrewed and rearranged to work properly. I would have thrown in the towel if I was putting it together by hand. The clutch worked well for this job, I just set it at 3 and drove the screws in until the clutch kicked in.



March 30, 2012

Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction 2 – Review

at 3:30 am. Filed under Reviews


Remember the first Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction? John Austin is back at it with a new version of the book called Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction 2 – Build a Secret Agent Arsenal. This book boasts over 250 pages of fun builds.

The projects are well laid out as usual, there are lots of great step by step projects with nice black and white pictures. The pictures remind me of the ones that accompany assembly required furniture. You should be able to follow the pictures to build the creations and refer to the documentation if you need clarification.

Chapter 1 is my favorite, it has 8 Agent Sidearm projects. The PPK Tic Tac and the Binder Beretta 92 look great, best of all you probably have everything you need to build these around the house already. The main parts of these two weapons is a box of Tic Tac breath mints, binder clips, paper clips, party balloons, markers and tape.

You better keep a close eye on your office mates book shelf, if you see a copy of this book you better watch your back since you can be sure a sneak attack is eminent. Better yet get your own copy and plan a counter attack. :)

January 29, 2012

SIGLENT SDS1102CM Oscilloscope Review

at 12:31 pm. Filed under Reviews


Our friend Csaba did a great Review of the SIGLENT SDS1102CM Oscilloscope.



Based on the CSV file:

Model Number:                     SDS1102CM

Serial Number:                     SDS00002111512

Software Version:      

Based on the turn on screen:

Software Version:      

Approx. 450USD on ebay.com”

September 8, 2011

SilverCloud Real-Time GPS Tracking System Review

at 8:16 pm. Filed under Reviews


I have been putting this SilverCloud Real-Time GPS Tracking System by Land Air Sea through some testing over the past few months. Don’t let the tiny package fool you, this small box allows you to track anything in real time. You can do tracking on a computer, smart phone or playback the history logs anytime. The main purpose of the SilverCloud system is for vehicle tracking but you could stick this in on your next near space launch and find your capsule with ease. You just need to make sure the area you want to use the unit has cellular coverage and can receive a GPS signal, that is because the device is essentially a GPS receiver which sends the current location to Land Air Sea every 3 seconds using the cellular network.

Thanks to Land Air Sea for sending in the review unit.


July 22, 2011

Unscrewed by Ed Sobey Review

at 6:37 pm. Filed under Reviews


Next time you are working on a laser project that needs a small DC motor or a robot arm that is in need of a few gears make sure you have a copy of Unscrewed by Ed Sobey handy. Most of us makers and hackers have a large pile of used parts (some call them junk boxes), they come in all shapes and forms, old VCRs that got retired, the paper shredder that stopped working properly, your old inkjet printer that has a bunch of clogged nozzles. Lots of people see this stuff as garbage and toss it in the trash, we see it as gold waiting to come alive in a future project. Unscrewed lets us have a look inside these everyday items before we even get out a screwdriver, there is a list of typical items that will be found and how it was taken apart. Now this isn’t a service manual so it won’t help you repair anything, and keep in mind that the bit you might want might be the reason the unit was retired but even with one blown part there will still be a hundred other functional parts ready for the taking! Watch the video below for a look inside the book.

Get the book here.

September 6, 2010

IR Jammer Review

at 8:26 am. Filed under Cool Gadgets, Electronic Hacks, Funny Hacks, Reviews


John Boxall of Tronixstuff is known for his electronic kit reviews, he recently did a hands on build review of our IR Jammer Kit. You have to love his Fluke meter, if you haven’t seen one of these before you might think it’s a meter the size of a display but it’s actually a normal sized meter with a removable display. This would allow the display be placed in a convenient location to view it while the meter and probes are deep inside the system being inspected. The picture below is a shot of the IR LEDs all on, I think this was probably hard to capture since they are flashing very quickly. Of course the infrared LEDs are invisible to our naked eye but this shows a trick to see them which is to view them through a camera.

As John mentions the IR Jammer (infrared jammer) would make a great companion to the TV-B-Gone, his evil plan is to turn off a TV, then jam the TV so that it can’t be turned on. I am thinking that would make for a nice cruel joke. :)

Get your IR Jammer Here.


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