Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Not quite dead yet

Almost reached the one year mark without posting, but haven't been idle.  Since my last post I've:
  • Better at lapping
  • Purchased a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)
  • Got a drivers license!
    • Gave me access to industrial auctions and ability to move to bigger place with garage
  • Travel to Russia to play with old ICBMs (one of which has since been launched)
    • (wanted to post a picture with me hugging it and the caption "you can't hug with nuclear arms...but you can hug nuclear arms!")
  • Joined Cupertinker to encourage me to work on a project for Maker's Faire
  • Transferred from the software to the electrical engineering team at work so that I can learn computer engineering / FPGAs
  • And much more...
I'll go through backlog and see what I can post updates on.  FWIW, I have continued to update Silicon Pr0n's wiki and archive areas.

Since my SEM shipped today, seems like a good place to start.  I've been looking for a SEM for a while as I find an increasing number of chips that I need sub-optical imaging on.  I even drove up to northern california for a weekend to check out a Cambridge Instruments Stereoscan 150u.  This is a pretty typical size for these beasts:

This was from Craigslist, but I was also looking at eBay and industrial auctions.
Many were available, but had onerous power requirements (three phase), were too large, or cost too much.   None of these were necessarily a problem but were going to be a big enough hassle that I didn't want to deal with it.

Noisebridge had a ISI TV Mini-SEM that didn't seem to work (although did at one time) and I enquired into getting it with the intention of fixing it up and using it.  Overview:

Ultimately someone else snagged it and its out of the picture.

Eventually I found an ISI Super IIIA on eBay essentially for its scrap price:

Made by the same manufacturer, it looks similar to the noisebridge unit.  It took about 4 months to pack it up and work out shipping but today it was loaded onto a truck and should arrive in a week!

Its the same model SEM that someone else rebuilt.  This model was chosen because it was relatively low cost (about $1200: $312 purchase price + about $900 S/H) and reasonably compact.  It also runs on single phase power (unclear if 110 or 120).  To put its size in perspective, the first SEM's middle piece is larger than the entire setup above.  Granted, it was probably more powerful but this is good enough for now.  I'll post more pictures once it shows up and I start rebuilding it.

If you are in the SF Bay area and are interested in helping fix it up or using it, gimme a ring!

No comments:

Post a Comment