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Electronics

This blog described electronic components that can be used to support or interface to nanodevices.

Analog parts kit

morreale Monday 04 of February, 2013
Embedded.com has posted a short article about an analog parts kit from Digilent Inc. The kit contains op-amps, voltage regulators, instrumentation amps, current monitor, accelerometer, magnetic sensor, temperature sensors, voltage reference, resistors, capacitors, transistors, and FETs for around $60.

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Electronic stuffed toys

morreale Saturday 29 of December, 2012
Adafruit has introduced a new line of playground circuit plushies dolls to teach kids about electronics. The line includes
  • Cappy the capacitor
  • Connie the transistor
  • Hans to 555 timer IC
  • Billie the Blue LED
  • Gus the Green LED
  • Mho the Resistor
  • Ruby the Red LED
Each doll is about $10. They are so cute!

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Partsim

morreale Thursday 15 of November, 2012
Partsim is a new online simulator that lets you create a schematic and runs SPICE simulation on your designs. The BOM is linked to Digikey so you assign Digikey part numbers to your simulation models. It looks very handy.

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RIP Hans Camenzind

morreale Wednesday 22 of August, 2012
EE Times has short article commemorating Hans Camenzind who invented the 555 Timer and recently past away. There are a lot of links to interviews and to his books which I added to my Amazon wish list. The article indicates that 1 billion 555 timer circuits are built every year (hard to believe) and there many videos about 555 timer circuits posted every year as well.

Electric vocabulary

morreale Tuesday 17 of July, 2012
James Sheils gives this short TED talk on the history of our Electric Vocabulary. I did not know, for example, that Benjamen Franklin devised the term battery as reference to canon batteries on early sailing ships. These ships fired their canons all at the same time. Franklin reasoned that his array of charged cells also all discharged at the same time. Oh ya, charge and discharge refers to charging and discharging of muskets.

Diodes

morreale Monday 16 of July, 2012
The folks over at Evil Mad Scientist posted a article about some vintage diodes found at the Silicon Valley Electronics Flea Market. I did not know that old timey diodes could be interesting. I should check my old parts draw and see what's there.

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Arduino at TED

morreale Sunday 01 of July, 2012
Arduino fans check out Massimo Banzi TED talk on open hardware. I had the chance to teach a teenager and an adult electronics using in part an Arduino Uno kit. It was a fabulous experience for everyone. I was amazed that everything worked without a lot of debugging. The software development system just worked which is just unreal in my experience. Bravo to the Arduino team.

FreeCad

morreale Wednesday 27 of June, 2012
FreeCad is 3D drawing tool that can be used to create 3D models of boxes, heatsinks, and other electronic packaging items. The 3D models can then be made through online fabricators like Ponoko.

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Multisim SPICE simulator

morreale Wednesday 27 of June, 2012
Analog Devices and National Instruments have released an Analog Devices specific version of Multisim a SPICE Simulator. Multisim is based on Electronic Workbench, and can be downloaded for free.

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Electronics design webinars

morreale Friday 01 of June, 2012
Design News has posted a web page listing microprocessor, sensor, control, lighting, MEMs, and test webinars as part of Digikey's 180 days of Education Program in it's continuing education center. The lectures are 45 minutes long, and are free but require registration to view. Past lectures are available for view as an archive.

Arduino kits

morreale Thursday 31 of May, 2012
I just got an Arduino Uno microprocessor kit to help teach electronics to a couple of folks. I really liked the the YourDuinoRobo1 board because it has extra connectors pins to make it easier to connect sensors to it using three wire GVS cables so it effectively has a sensor shield built-in.

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A sensor shield looks like this (for a complete list of shields try Arduino Shield List

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The value for the Robo1 board, shield, cables, sensors (electronic bricks) was very very good, but I did not think it would arrive in time from China, so I ended up getting the Adafruit ARDX - v1.3 Experimentation Kit for Arduino (Uno R3) - v1.3 (see photo below) over the SparkFun kit because it was a little cheaper (actually I did not think that the SparkFun kit had motors or servos since they were not shown in the pictures but they are in the description). If this project goes well, I'm very tempted to get the Electronic Bricks Starter Set: Optional YourDuinos, Optional Box.

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I got a sensor shield too to make it a little easier for first timers to connect to sensors and motors. My goal is to get things going first and explain on how it worked so they can modify it and change as they see fit.
The shield board is the SainSmart Sensor Shield V4 Module for arduino Duemilanove UNO Mega2560 ATMEL.

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This sensor shield board fits on the Arduino Uno and has extra connectors so you stack another shield board and use what ever pins are still available. I ran the Servo sketch example on pin 9 and the Tower Pro SG90 servo moves as expected with this board combination.

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I plan to incorporate these boards with Squishy Circuits and hot glue and stir stick building techniques from RobotGrrl. If there is time I'll try to include some simulation using CircuitLab and some 3D CAD with SketchUp.

Sewing tech

morreale Thursday 26 of April, 2012
Professor Leah Buechley from MIT give this interesting talk about making electronics and technology exciting for everyone in this video. She opts for soft substrates like fabrics and papers, and conductive inks and threads to build circuits. These materials make it easier for more people to build things than using traditional materials. The LilyPad Arduino is specifically designed to be sewn into garments using conductive thread for example. Her website High-low Tech provides other cool examples of this technology approach.

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Web schematic tools

morreale Tuesday 06 of March, 2012
CircuitLabs has a cool web based schematic capture and simulation tool that allows circuits to be shared with friends on the web. I could see that it would be a great way to teach electronics.

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Packaging guide

morreale Wednesday 25 of January, 2012
The Swedish Institute of Production Engineering Research is sponsoring the The Nordic Electronics Packaging Guideline web site. The site has a handy introduction to wire bonding that I found useful. There are guidelines on flip-chip, polymer bonding, chip scale packaging, ball grid arrays, and multi-chip modules.

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Ball bond

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Wedge bond

Hi-low tech

morreale Friday 20 of January, 2012
The MIT Media Lab has posted the Hi-low Tech web site that shows how to integrate high and low tech materials into projects. The site has a variety of projects including quite a few using textiles and fabrics with electronics.

EveryCircuit

morreale Monday 12 of December, 2011
Igor Vytyaz has written a SPICE circuit simulator for Android called EveryCircuit. There is a video review of this app on YouTube, and it looks really cool and easy to use. EveryCircuit is available on the Android Market for $10.

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Engineering TV

morreale Friday 09 of December, 2011
I was looking for some info on test equipment and found myself at Engineering TV. This is an interesting idea. The videos seem to be of a reporter talking to a company product rep on the floor of a conference expo. The reporter interviews the person demonstrating a piece of equipment or new product. The information content varies a bit on how good and knowledgeable the report is at asking good questions.