Hobbyist’s Experiment Creates a Self-Soldering Circuit Board

Long-time Slashdot reader wonkavader found a video on YouTube where, at the 2:50 mark, there’s time-lapse footage of soldering paste magically melting into place. The secret?
Many circuit boards include a grounded plane as a layer. This doesn’t have to be a big unbroken expanse of copper — it can be a long snake to reduce the copper used. Well, if you run 9 volts through that long snake, it acts as a resistor and heats up the board enough to melt solder paste. Electronics engineer Carl Bugeja has made a board which controls the 9 volt input to keep the temperature on the desired curve for the solder.

This is an interesting home-brew project which seems like it might someday make a pleasant, expected feature in kits.

Hackaday is impressed by the possibilities too:
Surface mount components have been a game changer for the electronics hobbyist, but doing reflow soldering right requires some way to evenly heat the board. You might need to buy a commercial reflow oven — you can cobble one together from an old toaster oven, after all — but you still need something, because it’s not like a PCB is going to solder itself. Right?

Wrong. At least if you’re Carl Bugeja, who came up with a clever way to make his PCBs self-soldering…. The quality of the soldering seems very similar to what you’d see from a reflow oven…. After soldering, the now-useless heating element is converted into a ground plane for the circuit by breaking off the terminals and soldering on a couple of zero ohm resistors to short the coil to ground.

It’s an open source project, with all files available on GitHub. “This is really clever,” tweeted Adrian Bowyer, inventor of the open source 3D printer the RepRap Project.

In the video Bugeja compares reflow soldering to pizza-making. (If the circuit board is the underlying dough, then the electronics on top are the toppings, with the solder paste representing the sauce that keeps them in place. “The oven’s heat is what bonds these individual items together.”)

But by that logic making a self-soldering circuit is “like putting the oven in the dough and making it edible.”

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As GitHub Retires ‘Atom’, Open Source ‘Pulsar’ Continues Its Legacy

In June GitHub announced they’d retire their customizable text editor Atom on December 15th — so they could focus their development efforts on the IDEs Microsoft Visual Studio Code and GitHub Codespaces. “As new cloud-based tools have emerged and evolved over the years, Atom community involvement has declined significantly,” according to a post on GitHub’s blog.

So while “GitHub and our community have benefited tremendously from those who have filed issues, created extensions, fixed bugs, and built new features on Atom,” this now means that:

– Atom package management will stop working
– No more security updates
– Teletype will no longer work
– Deprecated redirects that supported downloading Electron symbols and headers will no longer work
– Pre-built Atom binaries can continue to downloaded from the atom repository releases

Fortunately, in 2014 GitHub open sourced the code for Atom. And according to It’s FOSS News:

A community build for it is already available; however, there seems to be a new version (Pulsar) that aims to bring feature parity with the original Atom and introduce modern features and updated architecture….

The reason why they made a separate fork is because of different goals for the projects. Pulsar wants to modernize everything to present a successor to Atom. Of course, the user interface is much of the same. Considering Pulsar hasn’t had a stable release yet, the branding could sometimes seem all over the place. However, the essentials seem to be there with the documentation, packages, and features like the ability to install packages from Git repositories….

As of now, it is too soon to say if Pulsar will become something better than what the Atom community version offers. However, it is something that we can keep an eye on…. You can head to its official download page to get the package required for your system and test it out.

Like Atom, Pulsar is cross-platform support (supporting Linux, macOS, and Windows).

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New Hampshire Set To Pilot Voting Machines That Use Open-Source Software

According to The Record, New Hampshire will pilot a new kind of voting machine that will use open-source software to tally the votes. The Record reports: The software that runs voting machines is typically distributed in a kind of black box — like a car with its hood sealed shut. Because the election industry in the U.S. is dominated by three companies — Dominion, Election Systems & Software and Hart InterCivic — the software that runs their machines is private. The companies consider it their intellectual property and that has given rise to a roster of unfounded conspiracy theories about elections and their fairness. New Hampshire’s experiment with open-source software is meant to address exactly that. The software by its very design allows you to pop the hood, modify the code, make suggestions for how to make it better, and work with other people to make it run more smoothly. The thinking is, if voting machines run on software anyone can audit and run, it is less likely to give rise to allegations of vote rigging.

The effort to make voting machines more transparent is the work of a group called VotingWorks. […] On November 8, VotingWorks machines will be used in a real election in real time. New Hampshire is the second state to use the open-source machines after Mississippi first did so in 2019. Some 3,000 voters will run their paper ballots through the new machines, and then, to ensure nothing went awry, those same votes will be hand counted in a public session in Concord, N.H. Anyone who cares to will be able to see if the new machines recorded the votes correctly. The idea is to make clear there is nothing to hide. If someone is worried that a voting machine is programmed to flip a vote to their opponent, they can simply hire a computer expert to examine it and see, in real time.

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Fintech Giant ‘The Clearing House’ Joins Open-Source Patent Protection Powerhouse OIN

The Clearing House, a banking association and payments company owned by the largest commercial banks in the U.S., has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN) — the world’s largest patent nonaggression consortium. ZDNet reports: The OIN has long protected Linux and Linux-related software from patent aggression by rival companies. With the increase in patent troll attacks, the OIN is also defending companies from these assaults. You may not think financial companies and banks are subject to such attacks. I mean, TCH’s roots go all the way back to 1853. Think again.

As Keith Bergelt, CEO of OIN, said in June, “The most sophisticated and compelling global banking and fintech companies have essentially become technology companies that employ open-source software to deliver their services at scale.” Further, patent trolls “appear to be targeting them for this reason, along with the fact that financial services companies have not historically been active patent filers.” That’s because, historically, they’ve purchased most of their tech from third-party vendors.

That was then. This is now. Today, financial institutions generate more tech in-house, so they’re more concerned about being granted patents, building patent portfolios, and related patent issues. Indeed, these days fintech businesses have their own Fintech Open Source Foundation (FINOS), the financial sector branch of the Linux Foundation. So, Bergelt said in a release Wednesday, “Advancements in financial services and fintech increasingly rely on open-source technologies. As the most experienced payment company in the US, and a keystone for the financial services industry, we are pleased that The Clearing House is committed to patent nonaggression in core Linux and adjacent open-source technologies.”

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Linux 6.0 Arrives With Support For Newer Chips, Core Fixes, and Oddities

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A stable version of Linux 6.0 is out, with 15,000 non-merge commits and a notable version number for the kernel. And while major Linux releases only happen when the prior number’s dot numbers start looking too big — there is literally no other reason” — there are a lot of notable things rolled into this release besides a marking in time. Most notable among them could be a patch that prevents a nearly two-decade slowdown for AMD chips, based on workaround code for power management in the early 2000s that hung around for far too long. […]

Intel’s new Arc GPUs are supported in their discrete laptop form in 6.0 (though still experimental). Linux blog Phoronix notes that Intel’s ARC GPUs all seem to run on open source upstream drivers, so support should show up for future Intel cards and chipsets as they arrive on the market. Linux 6.0 includes several hardware drivers of note: fourth-generation Intel Xeon server chips, the not-quite-out 13th-generation Raptor Lake and Meteor Lake chips, AMD’s RDNA 3 GPUs, Threadripper CPUs, EPYC systems, and audio drivers for a number of newer AMD systems. One small, quirky addition points to larger things happening inside Linux. Lenovo’s ThinkPad X13s, based on an ARM-powered Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, get some early support in 6.0. ARM support is something Linux founder Linus Torvalds is eager to see […].

Among other changes you can find in Linux 6.0, as compiled by LWN.net (in part one and part two): – ACPI and power management improvements for Sapphire Rapids CPUs – Support for SMB3 file transfer inside Samba, while SMB1 is further deprecated – More work on RISC-V, OpenRISC, and LoongArch technologies – Intel Habana Labs Gaudi2 support, allowing hardware acceleration for machine-learning libraries – A “guest vCPU stall detector” that can tell a host when a virtual client is frozen Ars’ Kevin Purdy notes that in 2022, “there are patches in Linux 6.0 to help Atari’s Falcon computers from the early 1990s (or their emulated descendants) better handle VGA modes, color, and other issues.”

Not included in this release are Rust improvements, but they “are likely coming in the next point release, 6.1,” writes Purdy.

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