At Aperture Labs we have Code Monkeys and Chip Monkeys. Chip Monkeys do the dangerous stuff, while we Code Monkeys sit in our nice safe offices playing with bits and bytes and other things that can’t hurt us…
Now, you’re probably wondering what could possible be ‘dangerous’ in an IT Security business, and that’s a perfectly fair question. How about boiling nitric acid for a start? Or fiddling with circuits that are directly connected to mains electricity? Exactly. Dangerous!
So when head Chip Monkey Zac Franken says to me: “Here are some pretty pictures of chips that I’ve dissolved in some lovely boiling nitric acid”, I am quite happy to be a Code Monkey and to leave the nasty smelly dissolvy stuff to him…
You might ask why you would want to dissolve chips in the first place? Usually, it’s because you are trying to do something like reset a fuse to allow reading/writing of protected areas or probe a data track to observe data being processed by the chip, or even trying to figure out the actual logic of a proprietary chip by viewing and reverse engineering it’s construction.
Amar Bose ’51, SM ’52, ScD ’56, a former member of the MIT faculty and the founder of Bose Corporation, has died. He was 83.
Dr. Bose received his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate from MIT, all in electrical engineering. He was asked to join the faculty in 1956, and he accepted with the intention of teaching for no more than two years. He continued as a member of the MIT faculty until 2001.
During his long tenure at MIT, Dr. Bose made his mark both in research and in teaching. In 1956, he started a research program in physical acoustics and psychoacoustics: This led to his development of many patents in acoustics, electronics, nonlinear systems and communication theory.
The number of electrical engineers in the workforce has declined over the last decade. It’s not a steady decline, and it moves up and down, but the overall trend is not positive.
In 2002 the U.S. had 385,000 employed electrical engineers; in 2004, post dot.com bubble, it was at 343,000. It reached 382,000 in 2006, but has not risen above 350,000 since then, according to U.S. Labor Data.
For sure, there has been a recession, continuing high unemployment, although overall tech employment has been rising.
There are, of course, many occupations in tech that are important to the economy, but electrical engineers are considered among the most important. Electrical engineers are often employed in the development of technologies that can generate new jobs and even industries.
In 2012, there were 335,000 electrical engineers in the workforce, which is an increase of about 25,000 from 2011. But the overall pattern, taken over the years, appears to be trending to a lower number.
How does a transistor work? Our lives depend on this device. When I mentioned to people that I was doing a video on transistors, they would say “as in a transistor radio?” Yes! That’s exactly what I mean, but it goes so much deeper than that. After the transistor was invented in 1947 one of the first available consumer technologies it was applied to was radios, so they could be made portable and higher quality. Hence the line in ‘Brown-eyed Girl’ – “going down to the old mine with a transistor radio.”
But more important to our lives today, the transistor made possible the microcomputer revolution, and hence the Internet, and also TVs, mobile phones, fancy washing machines, dishwashers, calculators, satellites, projectors etc. etc. A transistor is based on semiconductor material, usually silicon, which is ‘doped’ with impurities to carefully change its electrical properties. These n and p-type semiconductors are then put together in different configurations to achieve a desired electrical result. And in the case of the transistor, this is to make a tiny electrical switch. These switches are then connected together to perform computations, store information, and basically make everything electrical work intelligently.
In this article I share a few tips I’ve learned about using the Rigol DS1052E oscilloscope.
Push the knobs
Using the menus
Don’t press auto
Controlling the channels
Use the colored probe rings
Finding the manual
Really excellent tips for this great scope!
The ultimate debugging tool for electronics, this oscilloscope will turn you into a “Circuit Whisperer”. You will be able to peer into the workings of your circuits to better understand them. Difficult problems will suddenly become trivial. We tried many beginner oscilloscopes and found this one to be a perfect balance of price and function: it’s perfect as a ‘first scope’ or as a hacker-space resource to share.
Name that Ware, June 2013. The most interesting thing about bunnie’s june ‘ware of the month’ (its an iPhone 5 board) is the ’50 ohm’ test traces at the outlines of the panel, which look like impedence-testers. cool idea for RF PCB design analysis!
Printed Circuits allow miniaturization and the elimination of circuit errors—advantages that cannot be obtained by other methods. Once a pattern or suitable design is established, preparation of a black and white drawing can start. Scales for reduction, for example, 4 to 1, 3 to 1, or 2 to 1, are used. To insure sufficient bonding area of the metal laminate during soldering operations, lines should not be less than 1/32 inch in width when reduced. Line separation should never be closer than 1/32 inch on the final circuit. Figure 19.24 illustrates the drawing of printed circuits.
We wanted to create circuit boards that have curvey traces, meandering paths, and multiple soldermask layers, so we developed PCBmodE (say “PCB mode”), an open source Python software that unshackle us from the constraints imposed by traditional PCB design tools. We use the power of Inkscape — the leading open source vector graphics editor — to achieve any shape imaginable. Together with our powerful back-end tools, we can manufacturable beautifully functional boards.
A team based at Harvard University and the University of Illinois at Urbana have successfully created lithium-ion microbatteries the size of a grain of sand using 3D printing technology.
The batteries, which are thinner than human hairs, could supply electricity to tiny devices such as robot insects, medical implants, as well as some inventions which have lingered on lab benches for lack of a battery small enough to fit the device.
Traditionally manufacturers have deposited thin films of solid materials to build the electrodes. However, while these designs were ultra-thin, these solid-state micro-batteries do not pack sufficient energy to power such miniaturized devices.
The scientists realized they could pack more energy if they could create stacks of tightly interlaced, ultrathin electrodes. For this they turned to 3D printing.
To print 3-D electrodes, the researchers, led by Jennifer Lewis of the Harvard University, created an ink for the anode with nanoparticles of one lithium metal oxide compound, and an ink for the cathode from nanoparticles of another. The 3D printer deposited the inks onto the teeth of two gold combs, creating a tightly interlaced stack of anodes and cathodes. Then the researchers packaged the electrodes into a tiny container and filled it with an electrolyte solution to complete the battery.
This image shows the interlaced stack of electrodes that were printed layer by layer to create the working anode and cathode of a microbattery. [Ke Sun, Teng-Sing Wei, Jennifer Lewis, Shen J. Dillon]
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!
The driver for the Adafruit BMP085 Pressure Sensor has been updated to include more accurate altitude calculations, with user defined mean sea level pressure values and a better conversion formula. We’ve also updated the learning guide to show you how to use the new API and drivers. Adding altitude measurements to your project has never been easier, and now it’s a bit more reliable as well!
Yes, there have been lots of new updates recently. Among them is a new toy I received in the mail today: a NeoDen TM-240A automatic desktop pick and place machine! I’ve kept my eyes on this baby for a quite a while, and finally decided to make a purchase last week. The shipping was very fast: DHL from China, a total of 4 days from shipping to delivery. The package is quite heavy: 65kg with the box, and 45kg just the machine itself. The DHL courier and I moved it together to my workshop.
Today, pretty much everyone has a CPU, a DSP and a GPU, buried somewhere in their PC, phone, car, etc. Most don’t know or care that they bought any of these, but they did.
Will everyone, at some future point, also buy an FPGA? The market size of FPGAs today is about 1% of the annual global semiconductor sales (~$3B vs ~$300B). Will FPGA eventually become a must-have, or will its volume remain relatively low?
We’ll try to answer this question below. In order to see how popular FPGAs could become, we’ll need to discuss what FPGAs are. FPGAs are a programmable platform, but one designed by EEs for EEs rather than for programmers. So for many programmers, FPGAs are exciting yet mysterious; I hope our discussion will help demystify them.
We’ll start with a common explanation of FPGAs’ relatively low popularity. We’ll see why that explanation is wrong – and why, if we take a closer look, we actually come to expect FPGAs to blow the competition out of the water!
This will conclude today’s installment, “Why you’ll buy an FPGA”. A sequel is in the making, titled “Why you won’t buy an FPGA”. There, we’ll see some of the major obstacles standing between FPGAs and world domination.
As a result of visiting Hamfest, I ended up with a laptop to take apart – a fairly new Toshiba Satellite C675D with a broken screen. It’s not a Hamfest if you don’t bring home something to take apart of course! Today we’ll be testing the battery it came with to see if it’s salvageable.The date code says it was made in 11/2011.
Neat! Never thought of using a SMBus reader to salvage an old laptop battery. You could probably use an Arduino or Bus pirate instead of the TI eval adapter.