Simple Arduino 7 segment display example

It appears that there are many different ways to interface a seven segment LED display to the Arduino; the humble 4511, 74HC595 shift register and a multitude of fancy (and expensive) serial ICs such as the MAX7219.

I decided to use a 4511 driver IC for this purpose as it was the only suitable chip I had lying around. It saves a few pins over driving the display directly from the Arduino and also works from a wider voltage range so can be used for driving large display modules.

LED display in action

Read more of this post

McIntosh EF-1080I silent output fix

I recently acquired a McIntosh EF-1080I car amplifier that was almost completely dead. There was a small amount of sound coming from the speakers but it was quite distorted.

With the amp opened up I measured the +/- 26V and +/-15V rails and all were fine. I then concentrated on the muting circuit seeing the problem affected all channels. If you need to open one of these amps, take a note of where each screw goes as replacing them incorrectly can permanently damage the amplifier.

All of the channels in this amplifier model are based around the TDA7295 by ST Microelectronics. This chip features standby mode and muting on pins 9 and 10 respectively. Both must be held high (5v) for the chip to operate.

The power supply section of the amp has a de-thump circuit that pulls these pins low for a small delay at power on and immediately after power off to prevent noises in the speakers. Unfortunately the mute pin was staying tied to ground.

I traced the problem to SMD transistor Q607 that normally switches all of the mute pins. It actually disintegrated while I desoldered it, and replacing it restored the amp to life.

Close-up showing Q607

The transistor bears the marking IY and is  in fact a 2SA1162 general purpose PNP transistor. I replaced it with an identical part, however a friend suggested replacing it with one of a higher current rating such as a FMMT591. The FMMT591 works fine as a direct substitute and has a maximum rating of 500mA so should be a lot more reliable.

Alpine CDA-9826 repair

My brother-in-law has an Alpine CDA-9826 head unit that suddenly died. Apparently the sound went crackly and slowly faded out to nothing. Other than no sound the unit appeared to work perfectly.

Seeing I sold it to him about a year ago I felt inclined to get it working again! It’s a very nice little stereo.

Alpine CDA9826 opened up

Read more of this post

Grep for Windows

Ever since using Ubuntu as my primary OS I’ve missed many of the command line tools when using Windows. However I just discovered Windows has it’s own version of the grep command called findstr.

I’m probably a bit behind the eight ball here but despite it’s awful name, mangled switches and  other Microsoftisms findstr seems to behave in quite a similar fashion to good old grep, enough for basic commands at least.

EM6910 seal replacement

The seal and calc filter I ordered turned up. Here’s what $73 gets:

Fitting was relatively trivial however I did take the liberty of giving the machine a decent clean while I was at it. Read more of this post

Clarion aux input

Here’s a quick and simple project to get a proper auxillary input for your iPod, etc on some models of Clarion OEM stereo.

I’ve posted details on the Projects page.

Coffee machine woes

I recently had to replace the seal in my Sunbeam EM6910 espresso machine. Actually it’s technically not mine but on a long-term loan. For a budget machine it’s quite capable and I like the fact you get ‘big’ features like a full-size, non-pressurised portafilter. Read more of this post