‘Born-to-die’: this device will self-destruct in 60 seconds.
Electronic devices that biodegrade to order could lead to huge medical advances. And the Pentagon, through Darpa, is investing heavily in ‘born-to-die’ technology too…
From Bits To Atoms by Quinn Dunki.
I’ve been a software developer for quite a while. When you spend long enough inside a particular world, it’s easy to wind up with an ever-narrowing perspective. You start seeing everything from a software point of view. As the saying goes, when your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat every problem as NP-Complete. Or something. I forget how that goes.
Anyway, the point is, it’s always good to broaden one’s horizons, and solve as many different kinds of problems as possible. To that end, I started to get into hobby electronics recently. The journey has been very enlightening in a number of ways.
Great post, read more.
We’ve updated our CC3000 library and tutorial with details on using SmartConfig!
SmartConfig is the special functionality in the CC3000 that allows setting the SSID and password settings without having to type or re-program the module. Any iOS/Android device can be used to set the configuration – solving the annoying deployment problem of how to set the connection details for a new device.
Keithley 172A vintage multimeter.
Another ebay find- a vintage Keithley 172 multimeter. The datecodes on the parts range from 1978 to 1984, placing the final assembly somewhere in mid-1980s. It seems fully functional, but could use a bit of a calibration to regain its past precision.
For those interested, here is the user/service manual for the unit.
Explanation of how kilowatt-hour meters work (electromechanical)-
I take apart an electromechanical power meter and describe how it uses magnetic fields to measure power consumed.
Understanding the Z-80 Processor’s 4-bit ALU
The 8-bit Z-80 processor is famed for use in many early personal computers such the Osborne 1, TRS-80, and Sinclair ZX Spectrum, and it is still used in embedded systems and TI graphing calculators. I had always assumed that the ALU (arithmetic-logic unit) in the Z-80 was 8 bits wide, like just about every other 8-bit processor. But while reverse-engineering the Z-80, I was shocked to discover the ALU is only 4 bits wide! The founders of Zilog mentioned the 4-bit ALU in a very interesting discussion at the Computer History Museum, so it’s not exactly a secret, but it’s not well-known either.
I have been reverse-engineering the Z-80 processor using images from the Visual 6502 team. The image below shows the overall structure of the Z-80 chip and the location of the ALU. The remainder of this article dives into the details of the ALU: its architecture, how it works, and exactly how it is implemented.
Super Simple 50+ kHz Logic Analysis with ATtiny2313 and FTDI Friend
While banging my head against the wall with debugging my PS/2 keyboard thingy, I really wished I had a dedicated logic analyzer (preferably with PS/2 decoder, but even raw binary data would’ve been fine). So I decided to try out a long hatched idea – combine an ATtiny2313 and FTDI for some unlimited-length logic capturing with a PC.
Long gone are the days of parallel ports and serial ports. Now the USB port reigns supreme! But USB is hard, and you just want to transfer your every-day serial data from a microcontroller to computer. What now? Enter the FTDI Friend!
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Here’s a contest tip shared by Caleb Kraft over at EEtimes — they are giving away a really nice Tektronix scope for the best repair/redesign tale. And Caleb added: “I’m really looking forward to hearing what people send in. That and I freaking love giving things away.”
What does Dr. Victor Frankenstein have in common with engineers? You know you know the answer: It’s the ability to bring back objects from the dead. The doc’s most famous example is that big monster, of course, but who knows what else he reanimated in his lab? Frankenstein’s toaster? Frankenstein’s microwave? The list is likely to be endless.
Like a modern-day engineer, Frankenstein didn’t just throw out a crappy product or demand his money back when something didn’t quite live up to his expectations. No, sir, he applied his technical prowess and problem-solving ability to fixing it.
So, in honor of Dr. Frankenstein and Halloween, Tektronix and EE Times have teamed up to recognize this special ability of engineers and mad doctors to get things to work. And as our thanks for the countless products you help keep out of landfills each year, we are giving away a Tektronix MS02024B scope worth $3,650 to one lucky engineer. The winner will be announced on — you guessed it — Oct. 31, 2013.
All you have to do is describe a situation in which a product didn’t quite live up to expectations (or outright failed), and you successfully repaired, redesigned, or even reanimated it.
… Need a sample to get your gray cells working? Check out The case of the flat panel TV scream, in which an intrepid engineer scores a free 36-inch panel flat screen TV by knowing how to fix it….
Bode Plot on an Oscilloscope
Maybe you’re learning about filters and want to see the how your filter responds in the 10Hz to 1MHz range. This guide will show you how to make a low frequency ‘spectrum analyzer with tracking generator’ using a few cheap modules and an oscilloscope — Based off of a video done by Dave Jones over at EEVBlog. Dave does a great job going into the theory, so check out the video if you want to see how it works! He will also show you how to set up the scope.
Not actually elusive*, as this happens on a regular basis inside your phone, computer and nearly everything else with a clock or carrier, but I thought it would look cool as a GIF, so I made one.
This is a PLL achieving lock in an 8x multiplier circuit after a frequency shift. I could watch this all day.
*- can actually be elusive if you’re not familiar with loop filters.
Oh, My, God, Becky! Look at that load resistance. It is so BIG!