07 May 2006

Some cool and not so cool RadioShack toys

I got a 'wireless soldering tool' from RS a week ago, and when I got home I was surprised to see that the tip was broken, so the tool didn't work...
Today I went there to complain and they gave me a new tip, for free.
So armed with that tip, I've decided to test and see if and how it works.
Well, they claim the tip cools down in seconds. That's simply not true at all. It was very hot after 10 seconds, and pretty damn warm a minute later.
In fact, it even melt the plastic on the edge of the tool...
It's effectiveness is pretty much 0. It's impossible to do anything even remotely useful with it, and the whole thing either got broken or it ate my batteries in 5 minutes. They claim you can solder 1K times with a set of batteries. Bullshit!
So if you are thinking to buy one, my advice is to just pretend you bought one, and donate 20 USD to whatever charity you want.

On the other hand, I've seen something really cool at RS: They have some non RC planes, which are supposed to fly up to 91 meters. They were on sale for 5 USD a piece, so I bought 2.
What I really wanted was their motor/propeller set. I assumed they used some battery, but it turned out I was wrong. They had a super capacitor. It didn't have any markings, but after looking on Google some people claim it is 3.3F capacitor.
I am not sure about the polarity, there are no markings or dents to indicate it. I did charge it both ways and it seems to work, but I am not sure if doing so is good.
The only symbol I could find on it was a -(-- thing on the back. Google returned no match for such a symbol (I searched for all kind of capacitor symbols).

What I plan to do with them is use them is connect them with a solar panel and a diode so they will power one of those wireless weather stations, with a remote sensor. This way, I won't have to worry about batteries ever again :)

One of the planes was cannibalized (the other is still in one piece, I want to try and see how it flies first). I took it's motor, and placed it on a rubber band powered plane that I got for like 3 bucks from a crafting shop.
The motor was connected to a 50F capacitor, through a switch, so that I can turn it on and off at will. The original plane had no such switch, and you were supposed to charge it while it was on. I think that was a very stupid idea.

The flight performance wasn't that great. My 50F capacitor charged to a max of 3.5V, open circuit voltage, and it was quite heavy (I think about 15 grams) for the plane to fly properly.
Then another issue is that the center of mass needs to move in order to compensate the capacitor discharge (the motor doesn't spin at the same constant rate).
So what I am going to do is connect 4 small NiMh batteries to that plane, and see if and how it works. If they work fine, I'll post some pictures.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if you remind me more of Inspector Gadget or McGyver. Either way you have some interesting ideas.

8/5/06 02:00  

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