Friday, November 21, 2014

3D Printed Custom Name Plate

I wanted to put my name to my cube and do it with style.

I'd like to thank my brother, Jon Kackstaetter, for lending me his talents in
3D CAD design and 3D Printing. Check out more of his work at

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Free Xbox Games with Gold workaround

EDIT: Now you can start building your Xbox One games library from your Xbox 360. Just go to "Games with Gold" from the Gold tile on Home.

For a while now Microsoft has been giving away free games to their Xbox live gold members twice a month. When the Xbox One came out they included the same deal. You can get Xbox One games for free as a gold member. Originally I thought that you had to own a Xbox One to use this benefit. But one day I discovered that you can "purchase" these free games through their website (

This is awesome because I don't own the Xbox One, yet. So Twice a month I visit and claim my free games for the Xbox One. This way when I finally have enough saved up enough to buy it, I'll already have plenty of games to enjoy. I just wish I discovered this sooner, because I haven't found a way to go back and claim the free offers I missed.

Note: This also works for those that don't have enough hard drive space for all their games. You can still claim your free game and just wait to download it.

Here are instructions on re-downloading online purchases content. (

Friday, August 1, 2014

LED Desk Lamp Hack

Here you can see all the components used in the lamp. It originally used E14 small screw 40w incandescent bulb. And has been modified to use 8 bright white LEDs.

The circuit is pretty simple. I'm using the innards of a 120V AC to 6V DC transformer in series with an 8.2 ohm resistor to power the LEDs. The original 120V AC power cord and switch is soldered onto the 120 V input of the transformer. 
Then I made my own LED grid using 4 white LED pairs in parallel. Then soldered some long wires to feed down through the tube to the transformer. And finally, soldering the LEDs and the 8.2 ohm resistor to the 6V DC output on the transformer.

I used a water bottle lid to separate the LED grid from the metal arm that used to hold the old bulb. This is to ensure nothing would short out.

The final result is a nice warm white light that is just right for illuminating my desk.

NOTE: I had all of this stuff laying around I thought I'd put them to good use. It really isn't necessary to use a 10W 8.2 ohm resistor.

UPDATE: I've since replaced the internal electronics with just a 5V 400ma 120VAC tranformer with no resistor. While it worked before, It was a little too dim for use at my workbench.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Circuit Board Art - Functional Clock

So I did find a clock, that wasn't in use and the mechanism was just a tad bit too big, but I made it work. I think it turned out well. Now it is functional art.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Circuirt Board Art

While Cleaning up I came across some hardware that I'm sure I wouldn't be using in any project. So I decided to make my own bit of art.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Creative Fatal1ty Gaming Headset Hack

I've been using this headset with my Xbox 360 for a while now. But I always found it so cumbersome to use by running an extension from the end of the cable up to where I hold my controller. So about 3 months ago I modified them to be the perfect Xbox headset.

I realize that many of my posts would be much more helpful if they had detailed instructions on how I was able to do what I did. This is one of those times where I wish I had taken more pictures while working on them, instead of just afterwards. I don't even have a decent before picture.

Essentially, I removed the mic plug and cable and soldered it directly into the volume/mic control

The silver adapter, in the right photo above the mic plug, makes it so I can plug it directly into my Xbox 360 controller.

Now the distance from the headset to my controller is perfect with no more extra cables. So much nicer than what I was doing before.

If I ever get my hand on another one I'll be sure to do a How-To step-by-step guide. And if anyone would like me to mod theirs I'll do it for free. Just shoot me an email and we can work out the details.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cell Phone Li-ion battery tester

Li-ion Battery Tester
While working at Macalegin Electronics I discovered that many times we need to verify the charge on a cell phone battery. We have a multimeter but is a little cumbersome to use especially when testing several batteries at once.
So I had the opportunity of designing and building a Li-Ion Battery tester for quick and easy battery charge indication.
It consists of one green LED, one red LED, and adjustable leads.
When the leads come in contact with the battery the LED's will light up as follows:
Green only - the battery charge is ~80% to 100%
Green & Red - the battery charge is between 0% and ~80%. If the green LED is noticeably brighter than the red LED, then the battery charge is between ~65% and ~80%. If the red LED is noticeably brighter than the green LED, then the battery charge is less than ~10%.
Adjustable Leads
Internal Circuit


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pinewood Derby - Propeller powered

A week ago my brother invited me to join him for an Anything Goes pinewood derby race. I have great memories of building these cars with my Dad and wouldn't pass up an opportunity to relive those moments.

First I designed my car in Sketch-Up, and then built the car from a standard derby kit. (see image below)

The hardest part was building the propeller motor stand. I made that part separately and the glued it into place. Before I could glue it I had to drill holes and feed the wires for the motor through the holes.

Then to power the motor I used an old iPhone 4 battery I had laying around. To make the battery easier to use I soldered a new connector on the battery so I could easily plug it into the car and the battery charger. To finish the simple circuit, I added a switch so I wouldn't have to disconnect the battery to turn it off.

And finally, to finish things off I added some tungsten weights to a cardboard cover painted to match the car.

I say the finished product always looks better than the sketch.