Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Third Party Wired Xbox 360 Controller Review

For years I had been looking for the adapter to use my wireless Xbox 360 controllers on my gaming PC. I'm a frequent thrift shopper, so I assumed one would pop up at some point during my thrifting adventures. I was wrong. What did appear was a third party, completely unbranded, wired Xbox 360 style controller. Perhaps the next best thing? Let's find out!

At first glance it looks like a blue Xbox 360 controller, but upon closer inspection the illusion falls apart. The main giveaway is that the center button is all chrome, with no logo or X in the center. Once plugged in the lights around the center button are a bit weak and cheap looking. The overall feel is ok, but you can quickly tell the plastic isn't up to the same quality as the official Microsoft Xbox 360 controllers.

It appears to be molded straight from the official wired Xbox 360 controller, but it just feels slightly off, maybe because I'm more familiar with the wireless controller than I am a wired one. The buttons all have a really nice tactile response like my official wireless controllers, but the triggers are where things came to a halt. Where the official triggers glide in and out smoothly, the no brand wired controller has a noticeable shift, although it doesn't seem to affect the operation of the trigger, it just feels off.

As with nearly everything I review I have to say this was used, so its condition at the time of purchase is all I have to go by and sometimes that's unfair. I will say that I've left this controller plugged into my gaming PC for quite a while now and use it for any game I possibly can. Would I prefer an official wired or even the adapter to use my official wireless controllers on my gaming PC? Yes! For now though, this thing sure beats the living hell out of the Snakebyte controller I bought a few years back!


Recently I took this controller apart to fix the frayed wire (as seen in the picture above) and while doing so I found that both triggers had one side of the piece that holds them in place broken off. Cheap plastic? Rough usage by the previous owner? I can't tell, all I can say is that now know why the triggers are a bit wonky. Again, it's not as good as an official 360 controller but it's still a perfectly serviceable controller to use for PC gaming.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Velleman VTDESOL3U Desoldering Pump Review

Although far from a professional I have been tinkering with soldering more and more frequently for the last ten years. One thing that quickly became a problem was finding a proper way to remove things without messing up the solder pads, and trust me I've ruined far too many items by improperly removing a component and having the solder pad disappear completely.

For something small like a resistor or capacitor I could just heat up each solder joint and wiggle it loose, but what about things like ICs or transistors or something with short leads? That lead me to buy a super cheap desoldering pump. Very quickly I found the skill it takes to heat the solder, get right down onto the melted solder and suck it up without leaving yourself with just a tiny amount that can now never be removed is well beyond me. I feared my only alternative was a super expensive desoldering gun or pump, until I found out about the Velleman VTDESOL3U.

I had a few extra bucks in Amazon and decided to take the chance. When it arrived I plugged it in and waited for it to heat up. Mine was smoking quite a bit on first heat up, as well as mine takes quite a few minutes to fully heat up, but once it's ready to go it's well worth the investment. The tip that comes with the Velleman is a bit bigger than I'd like it to be and sadly there are no currently know alternatives, but with a little foresight you can loosen the joint, wiggle the part of the component you're aiming to desolder and suck up enough solder from the joint to make it easily removable in the end.

My first impressions with the Velleman desoldering pump were just how cheap the plastic feels, but that's only the plastic. After a few uses mine was spitting solder back out at me when I would push down the plunger. I figured it was time to check the pump reservoir, which was impossibly difficult to remove. After an email to their customer service I was advised to use a small screw driver to pry it open, and upon doing so everything worked out better than I expected.

After using the Velleman VTDESOL3U quite a bit I find it to be an amazing investment. If you can afford a professional desoldering station or gun, you may find this to be a bit lacking, but for someone who has fiddled about for years trying to find something that does exactly what the Velleman desoldering pump does, I find it to be a great addition to my tools. Small hobbyists who may not have much money, or need, to invest into a professional desoldering method would benefit greatly from this product. It's cheap, it's functional and it gets the job done.