Maker Ranger–Round up

Maker Ranger didn’t get blogged well as a project, due to a very challenging project in the time I had to execute it in.

This post is to round up some of the missing information and photos from that project.

The project also got a good write up here:


The two wheels show each player, which animal they need to find in “the wild”, buckets full of animals represent the wild. The potential ranger must place the animal in the health scanner to check its health. The RFID tag in each animal ensures the player chose the correct animal.

The animal scanners do a cools led chase sequence as the animals are scanned and the player returns them to the wild.

The players must hit the big industrial button to be assigned the next animal to find.

One successfully finding and scanning the health of a pre-set number  of animals, one player wins, but both have “I’m a qualified Maker Ranger” stickers printed for them.


Families got very competitive over being the first to complete and much fun was had, with queues all day at the fairs we attended.


Repair Samson Meteor Microphone PCB

How to fix the Samson Mic where USB has come off the PCB.

Opening the Samson Microphone

First step is to remove the volume control. Get a firm grip and pull it out of the microphone as shown.

Samson Metor Remove Volume Control with pliars

Next open the microphone body. There are two screws, one on each side of the body, unscrew these. The screws go through lugs that descend from the upper microphone body down into the lower body.  When you have taken the screws out, be very careful at the next step as the two halves are connected by small tiny wires. The top and bottom should now separate by pulling them apart (no twisting needed). Do this gently and be ready to support both parts as the mic body is HEAVY and if allowed to drop it will pull all the wires off the PCB leaving you with lots more work to do!

Taking apart the Samson Metor Microphone Body



In the above photo you can see that the LED PCB support is already missing, this is due to this microphone having being tampered with previously. Yours should have two black hex PCB support pillars between the LED PCB and the other vertical PCB behind it for support.

From now on work very hard to not flex the wiring too much as you work, and don’t allow any force on the wires, they are all tiny and badly soldered by the factory, so they just break off too easily. The black pillar has a large peg in one end and a smaller peg in the other that locates into the whole on the PCB. Use screwdriver or similar to ease the smaller peg out of the whole, one side at a time to get the LED assembly free. Its a difficult balancing act between flexing the PCB too much and needing to get some force to get the thing out. I have not figured out a better way of dealing with this yet.

Samson Meteor light guide

Samson Metor Light guide and PCB support

Samson Meteor LED PCB wiring

samson Meteor LED PCB

The LEDS are on the PCB as shown in the last of the above photos. Over the PCB is placed the T shaped light guide, basically a tube of clear plastic that directs the light from the PCB LEDs to the outside via the hole in the case. I’ve included a photo of  the back of that PCB, should your wires ping off and you need to know the connections. The T shaped bit locates over the PCB LEDs using the pegs on the bottom of it and the associated holes on the PCB.

The microphone cable has come away in the photo below, it should go between the bodged resistor pcb on the chip and the pad where it is shown attached to in the photo.


samson Meteor pcb connections to microphone capsule

I include this photo in case anyone needs to reattach after dropping the microphone when disassembling it…

samson other

The above photo shows the very odd positions that I think the microphone attaches to the board. Mine were broken off so I can not be 100% certain this is correct, if anyone has an intact microphone and can verify this for me, do comment below. Soldering one wire to the lower point on the PCB and the other to the exposed wire as shown worked for this microphone though.

Now the top board with the headphone jack on it, is a daughter board, connected by two connectors to the board below it. Simply lift it up to take it out. Below you can see the daughter board, and the board below that it plugs into, after they were removed from the mic body.

IMG_9671Samson Meteor Daughter board

Now take out the cross head screws that hold the main board into the body, you can see them here, should be three of them. The main PCB can then be removed.


Now we have the PCB out with the USB connector sheered off the PCB. Clean up the PCB pads that the connector solders to. Don’t worry there only seems to be four pads used.

Main PCB for Samson Meteor Microphone, missing USB socket

Put some solder on the pads then clean it off, do the same for the pins on the connector. Then paint some liquid flux on the PCB pads, position the connector, use blue-tak to keep it in position if required, then solder the pads with plenty of solder, let the pins all get joined up. Then use copper braid wick to wick off the excess solder until you have the perfect joint and the pins are no longer connected together. See YouTube for guide videos on surface mount component replacement for help.

Replacing the USB socket on the Samson Meteor Microphone

Then re-assemble. Take care to line up the pins of the daughterboard before pushing it into place, you don’t want one of the pins missing its hole!

As this mic had a missing PCB pillar for the LED board, and the spacing seemed wrong, I just hot glued it into place.

Samson Meteor hot glue the LED board into place


To put the top back on, locate the lug as shown below, so it is above the volume control, ensuring the side lugs go back into place correctly.


The ribbon cable that connects to the volume control PCB is fragile, after re-soldering it on both sides I got a working microphone!

Liverpool MakeFest 2016

It was a pleasure to exhibit at Liverpool MakeFest last weekend. We were made to feel very welcome and the venue was amazing. The MakeFest took over the central library in Liverpool. The library has ultra modern architecture with floating walkways in the sky and an amazing roof terrace overlooking the city.However the building retains some of the original oak rooms with really traditional reading rooms.

We were swamped with visitors from opening to after closing! People were queuing to have a go of our sticker critter and cognitive mirror.

Liverpool MakeFest Maker Badge 2016 showing liverbird and word maker

For this show, I reprinted the critter nose in yellow that gives a much more distinctive face. I also improved the messaging and animations on the LCD screen. This has resulted in a speed improvement as the critter no longer has to wait for the messages  on the screen. As one of the things that visitors seem to be amazed by is the speed the sticker is produced, this should make them even more impressed. This show also uses the self peeling sticker option on the new ebay Zebra printer. This means the visitors don’t have to rip the sticker off, that resulted in no jams and less messing..

I also updated the Pi Win IoT to the latest insider preview version, that seemed to produce some performance improvements.

Sticker Critter with designs people have made in background

The sticker design was updated with the branding for this faire. Below were some of the designs people came up with.

Designs on the design board for Liverpool MakeFest 2016


Visitors making designsReading RoomView up from ground floorReception