Welcome!

Welcome to my humble website, home to, mostly, retro video gaming projects! My real name is Nick, and my online alias is Bucket Mouse. I started messing around with electronics projects around 2009, and I started documenting them in the summer of 2013 (on Blogger), but because I’m such a busy person I take my damn good time updating these projects. I migrated my work to WordPress in 2017. The original title of the site was The Poor Student Hobbyist, but I figured a name change was in order.

To give you an idea of the breadth of equipment I use for my projects, I’ll go through in detail all the tools and parts I’ve acquired over the years.

My Equipment

Here are some pictures of my workbench.

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The heart of the workstation: a soldering/hot air station (the 852D+), and a variable power supply. The power supply I got from my old job (it’s a bit flaky, but it was free) and I got the soldering station from eBay. I’ve since upgraded the power supply as well.

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Here’s where I keep my parts. I bought this parts storage cabinet here. I’ve since bought a second one and mounted it on my wall. Parts in this cabinet include discrete parts, like resistors, capacitors, and diodes, as well as a bunch of various ICs that I’ve collected, like voltage regulators, logic gates, and microcontrollers (ATMega328s mostly). I also have a handful of drawers for more specific projects, like servos and rechargeable batteries, and of course many drawers of miscellaneous parts. Most of my parts come from Digikey or Mouser, but some parts can only be found on eBay or AliExpress – especially the new old stock parts for some of these retro projects.

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Here are the rest of my tools – miscellaneous things that I use A LOT. First and foremost, SAFETY GLASSES. Seriously. Have you ever had a blob of solder hit your eyeball? No? Want to keep it that way? Then you better wear these. You’ll look like a dork (and your significant other will make fun of you) but it’s better than going blind.

Wire strippers (yellow) and flush cutters (red) are also very handy. Similarly handy, but not pictured here, is my collection of ESD tweezers. These are indispensable – I use them for bending pins and forming wire, as well as placing parts on or in boards. Next, a multimeter. Nothing fancy required, but extremely helpful measuring steady state voltages and continuity between points or pins on a project. And of course – loose wire. You can never have too many wires! For quick breadboarding or testing, I just use the cheap 24 or 26 gauge breadboard wire, but for any finished project I want to make, I use 28 or 30 gauge kynar wire. The insulation won’t melt as easily when soldering. Along with wires, you’ll need solder as well – I recommend actually getting some higher quality solder, not just the cheapest stuff you can find from China. I got some for $2 and it really wasn’t worth it. Buy some highly-rated solder from Amazon or something and save yourself some headaches. Leaded solder is easy to work with, and melts at a lower temperature, but you probably wanna refrain from eating it. I also have lead-free solder, but it does melt at a higher temperature and can be more annoying to work with. And, of course, flux! I normally just use a flux pen to help solder smaller joints or surface mount parts. And finally, for dealing with plastic housing or 3D printed parts, I use X-ACTO blades and a Dremel for cutting.

Now onto some more expensive tools. These are optional, but very helpful if you have access.

This model of oscilloscope wasn’t too expensive, and it’s good enough for anything you’d probably be doing. Here’s the link to the scope, this thing is pretty nifty, and having four channels is amazing, especially for the relatively lower price. Again – this isn’t a necessity, but it’s hard to live without one after you’ve used it. I bought it originally as a gift to myself, that I justified with the fact that I had a few classes coming up that would be easier if I had an oscilloscope to work with.

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Another extremely useful piece of equipment is a 3D printer. I bought myself a Prusa Mini. This thing is amazing, and very easy to use. I use it for so many random things for my projects – like a SNES door stopper so I can put my cartridge PCBs in the slot easier. Once you have a 3D printer, you’ll find a lot of things that can be made easier with a little plastic doohickey.

So there’s a summary of my workbench. There are a few more specific pieces of equipment and parts I use, but I cover those in the other posts. I hope to add more projects that I’ll be working on in the future – other things I’ve made are a Skittle Sorting Machine, a handheld Raspberry Pi gaming system that plays games up to the N64 era, a binary clock, and a bunch of other various smaller-time projects that are mostly just concepts I have yet to grow into full implementation. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!