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    element14's The Ben Heck Show

    Join the Ben Heck team every week for amazing hacks! Watch them build and mod community-inspired projects using electronics!

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    Ben Heck's Oscilloscope Throwdown
    Episode 331 - Original Air Date 13-October-2017Watch Full Episode!

    Ben is happy because he's standing in front of a table full of oscilloscopes. Felix wants to know what oscilloscopes are and why they're here.  In this episode Ben and Felix evaluate oscilloscopes from Tektronix, Rohde & Schwartz, and Keysight.  They discuss the differences between the scopes, what they can do, and put them through the paces.

    Ben Heck's Essentials Series 1 - Connectors
    Episode 191 - Original Air Date 25-June-2015Watch Full Episode!

    Ben talks about the different types of connectors, how to use them, how to identify them, how the pin numbering works, pros/cons, best places to use them, and then shows examples of each connector and how to use them in projects. He talks about composite video connectors, S-Video connectors, VGA, DVI, HDMI, and Display Port. He gives a hands on demonstrations of some of the most common connectors and how you might be use them in your project.  Included is an overview of Wire-to-Board Connectors (often called Molex Connectors), Board-to-Board Connectors, D Sub Connectors, Dip Sockets, and Zif connectors.

     

    Ben Heck's Essentials Series 2 - Battery Power
    Episode 198 - Original Air Date 13-August-2015Watch Full Episode!

    In this episode Ben talks about the different types of batteries, the pros/cons, the differences, how to charge them, and what to look out for. He talks about how much voltage your project needs and how much overhead you might need for your voltage regulator, how to use mAh (Milliamp Hour) to choose what battery will power your application, and what a C rating means. He goes over the pros and cons of alkaline batteries, nickel-cadmium/nickel metal hydride batteries, lithium-ion/ lithium-ion polymer batteries, and lead acid batteries.  He does a non rechargeable battery test using a multimeter and gives examples of applications using various batteries.

     

    Ben Heck's Essentials Series 3 - Circuit Protection at Eaton
    Episode 208 - Original Air Date 22-October-2015Watch Full Episode!

    Ben travels to St. Louis to visit Eaton's Electrical Sector and demonstrate the importance of circuit protection. A wire whip test is used to show the magnetic forces associated with fault current, protected and unprotected. With a dead short across it, the wire becomes an uncontrolled electromagnet, forcing itself into the shape of an electromagnetic field. Later, copper wire is vaporized during an arc flash event that tests a short across three phase power. They blow up a standard light bulb to demonstrate the importance of surge protection.

    Ben Heck's Essentials Series 4 - Logic Gates
    Episode 242 - Original Air Date 16-June-2016Watch Full Episode!

    Logic gates are the basis of all electronics and you can use them to make everything. Truth tables are used to show the differences between an AND gate: if both inputs are true, result is true; a NAND gate: if both inputs are true, result is false; an OR gate: if either input is true, result is true; a NOR gate: if either input is true, result is false; an XOR gate: if either input is true (but not both) result is true; an XNOR gate: if either input is true (but not both) result is false and a NOT (inverter) gate: if input is true, result is false.  Next, Ben goes over how resistors and transistors were used to make logic gates in the old days: Resistor-Transistor Logic (RTL). Transistors are the basic building block of all electronics. NPN transistors are used in these examples but they could also use a mix of NPN and PNP. Finally, logic gates are demonstrated using integrated circuits as they are used today. Integrated Circuits combine transistors into a single, easy to use, integrated package. There's the 7400 series, TTL transistor-transistor logic and the 4000 series, CMOS (complimentary metal oxide semiconductor).

     

    Ben Teaches Alyson How to Solder
    Episode 161 - Original Air Date 26-November-2014Watch Full Episode!

    Ben walks Alyson through the basics of soldering by familiarizing her with using a soldering iron and stripping wires. The soldering iron is first used to heat the part, not the solder before bringing the solder to the part. They use an exacto knife to strip wires and by doing so separate wires with increased accuracy. An automatic wire strippers holds and strips the wire with one quick squeeze while tinning and stripping the wire eliminates loose strands. Keeping the ribbon cable ends the same length helps make assembly easier. After ensuring enough solder is used to secure the wires to the board they nip the ends to reduce the chance wires touch something they shouldn't. Ben also shows her how to solder an IC chip to a board. Finally, Ben has Alyson solder using a schematic to allow them to get audio out of the Raspberry Pi compute module.

     

    Ben Heck's Super Soldered Atari 2600
    Episode 226 - Original Air Date 25-February-2016Watch Full Episode!

    Ben takes three chips out of the Atari 2600, puts it on a pcb board, and solders it back together for a complete working system. There are three main chips in the Atari 2600: the 6507 CPU, a RAM/IO IC, and a video driver IC.  Ben demonstrates his technique for soldering all three chips in place on the PCB. He shows you how to solder the data BUS which uses 8 connections for 8-bits.  He solders wiring for the 4 total components on the bus: the CPU, video IC, RAM IC, and the cartridge RAM. Next, he solders wiring for 13 lines of the address bus. Then he begins soldering some passives, capacitors and resistors, needed to operate the chips. Finally, he uses an oscilloscope to ensure the chips are working before attaching the video circuit.

     

    Ben's Surface Mount Soldering Tutorial
    Episode 55 - Original Air Date 16-November-2012Watch Full Episode!

    Ben shares some soldering techniques to take your projects to the next level and save you from a bad experience he had with a circuit board of yesteryear. To demonstrate surface mount soldering Ben puts together the XMEGA Xprotolab from Gabotronics.com. Its a kit that turns into a mini oscilloscope. Its a good project for this because there's different types of components for this such as an OLED screen, integrated circuits, and lots of resistors and connectors. The tools you need for surface mount soldering are solder, desoldering wick, tweezers, exacto knife, magnifying glass, flashlight, and a soldering iron. He starts with the smaller and lower parts first and then attaches the large components such as headers and switches last. The result is a hand soldered surface mount project made without a solder oven or a robot.

     

    Ben Heck's Surface Mount Soldering Tips and Tricks Episode
    Episode 119 - Original Air Date 8-September-2014Watch Full Episode!

    Ben Heck shows you how to solder surface mount components using a homebrew solder reflow oven he made in a previous project. He goes over preparation of solder reflow and circuit boards. He shows you how to place components without using a stencil you may not have and the best way to place them so that they will reflow correctly. He puts the board in the oven and shows you how to fix any errors that may occur. After the board comes out of the oven he shows you to to fix solder bridges and other imperfections. Finally, he hand solders through-hole components because they are better done by hand and have better mechanical retention. He also goes over the pros and cons of both methods.

     

    Ben Heck's Interface Tutorial
    Episode 78 - Original Air Date 26-April-2013Watch Full Episode!

    I2C SPI and  RS-232RS-232 which are common interfaces used electronics projects Interfaces are predefined ways to communicate between electronics For instance when you want a microcontroller to talk to a temperature sensor the way you would do that is through an interface such as an SPI Interfaces allow you to use less I/O on devices with limited I/O such as MCU's and most external devices such as sensors EPROM controllers require some sort of interface I2C stands for Inter-integrated circuit and it has 2 wires including clock and data SPI stands for serial peripheral interface/interchange and it has 3 wires plus one chip select wire  RS-232RS-232 AKA"serial stands for Recommended Standard 232 and it consists of 1-2 wires with no clock I2C will have a master device that has serial clock and serial data lines on it These lines almost always have pull up resistors on them and are attached to a number of slave devices with serial clock and serial data lines of their own Its always based on the device ID the first thing you always send out from the bus To write send the memory address you want to write to then send the data to write To read send the memory address you want the device returns the byte(s requested SPI has three basic connections MOSI(master out slave in MISO(master in slave out SCLK(serial clock output from master and a chip select line for every device on the bus Some SPI devices are enabled by active low others by active high SPI is faster than I2C but it requires chip select lines for every device There's an SPI library in the Arduino software and pretty much any microcontroller you are going to use Finally the  RS-232RS-232 consists of a master device with transmit and receive lines and these lines are crisscrossed with the other device you are using

     

    Ben Heck's Schematics Episode
    Episode 86 - Original Air Date 21-June-2013Watch Full Episode!
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    Schematics are a basic part of any electronics project. Ben goes over the basic symbols used in schematics and shows you how to read them so you can turn it into a working project.  Symbols discussed include lines representing resistors, variable resistor or potentiator, photo resistor, capacitor, diode, light emitting diode, photo detecting diode, NPN and PNP transistors, a switch, a push button, motor, ground, positive voltage, integrated circuit, and battery.  Ben finds a schematic online and wires it up in breadboard form in order to demonstrate how you would turn a schematic into project.

     

    Ben's Let's Try PCB Etching Episode
    Episode 134 - Original Air Date 8-September-2014Watch Full Episode!

    Ben is always looking for new tools and processes to help with all the projects he builds. He's got a CNC mill, laser cutter, and a 3-D printer, but hasn't found a way to whip up a PCB at his shop. He's hand wired many circuits, but this can be tedious. He's designed PCBs in Eagle and sent them off for production at a board house, but this doesn't help when he wants a PCB the same day. In this episode, Ben experiments with three methods of PCB etching and shares the results.

     

    Ben Heck's Battery Charging Circuit
    Episode 156 - Original Air Date 24-October-2014Watch Full Episode!

    Ben uses charging circuits in many of his projects so it’s about time he created his own! Ben uses EAGLE to design the PCB for his circuit and shows each step of the process. Ben uses his “laser paint” technique for homemade PCBs then solders on the parts and tests the circuit. Now he has a ready-made 3.7V charging circuit for upcoming projects!