Building the Inthinkerator Mk I, Part 1

tDCS is basically passing a low DC current through your brain. Apparently, depending on where you put the electrodes, you can get many types of benefits.

Better mood, heightened situational awareness, and 2x faster learning? They all sounded like upgrades I must’ve bought in some game I played long before in my youth, but now for the cost of just a few electronic components, I could get them in real life!

So what do I do? I sit on the idea for years and do absolutely nothing.

One night, while lying down in bed, I considered the long list of what I had to learn: marketing, design, making money, new mindsets, new things for programming and who knows whatnot.

And I thought: given that practically nobody else is using tDCS, and that it’s cheap and has a potentially large payoff (with enough research), I must be stupid to not jump on this opportunity.

So I got up and took action.

Equipment

The cheapest soldering station I could find on Amazon was a Velleman VTSSC50N for 60 EURs.

It’s no Weller (that would’ve been 100EURs at least): the instructions told me to secure the stand by putting a screw through the plastic base, which had no hole drilled into it. And the plastic base has clips to attach to the main station, but they don’t fit. Nevertheless, when it comes to actually soldering something, it didn’t give me any problems. What else do you really need?

Velleman VTSSC50N

Inthinkerator Mk I: Electronics

Reddit post
Schematic+Design Document

Inthinkerator Mk I Circuit Diagram

One of the reasons why I’m building the Inthinkerator (besides saving lots of money) is that electronics is huge fun, especially translating a schematic into actual board layout.

It’s like a crossword puzzle, only with more possibilities, more interesting constraints, and more qualities you can optimize for, and infinitely more practical.

Things I Learned About Using Stripboard

Board Layout Guidelines

When designing a board layout, you need to know how the final product should look like. Where should the wires come out, which way should the knobs turn and face, where is the LED going to point… always optimize for this first before other things, like serviceability, using as few components as possible, compactness etc.

Otherwise the possibilities are infinite, and designing without constraints is a surefire way to get nowhere.

Components on the Underside, Soldering on the Top/Copper side

solder-undersideI first heard of this technique when Googling tips for stripboard prototyping. At first it seemed like a great way to confuse which pin was which, but I found it actually made a lot of sense.

In fact, I think you’re supposed to do it this way. It’s simply easier to cut the copper and solder things without a large potentiometer or teeny resistor getting in the way.

I also remember pulling on a wire too hard once and ripping off part of the copper strip. This won’t happen if you do it this way.

You’re Supposed To Cut The Copper Strips

You’re tying your hands behind your back if you don’t. Serial connections between components are more common than parallel.

My Victorinox Soldier was useless for the task. A common safety box cutter knife made a much deeper, more precise cut.

Shortcuts are useful!

See that resistor flying above the other one? Yea, I dare.

Hairspray For Annoying Flies

While I was thoroughly enjoying myself figuring all this out, a fly came in through the window. It’s the annoying, ADD type that just also happens to be very loud.

Being the consummate insect torturer that I am (my career started when I found maggots eating my kale), I tried a cig lighter, but the sparks scared him off before the flame could. Finally, an Instructable suggested hairspray.

At first, it didn’t seem to work. But after a few minutes, I noticed there wasn’t quite so much buzzing. Then I noticed he was flying up the wall and suddenly falling down like a stone. It was quite amusing to watch.

After a few more minutes, I heard another short buzz at my feet. It was the omniscient fly, now reduced to just standing on the floor. It was easy to kill then.

I highly recommend hairspray for flies and other buzzing annoyances (except for bees, love them).

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