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Kits for Kids

July 30, 2007 7:57 am | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Comments

As a youngster I enjoyed wiring up circuits with knife switches, lamps, buzzers and large dry cells. While in high school I made frequent trips to surplus-electronics stores in New York City and ordered components from mail-order supply houses. My projects included a 4-bit binary adder -- built from switches and relays -- and a tic-tac-toe machine. I also built my share of kits from Knight, Eico and Heath. My friend Bill Kuhn designed and built relay-logic learning machines.


To Extend Battery Life, Use Two Processors (Not One)

July 25, 2007 5:44 am | by John Dixon, J. B. Fowler, Zack Albus and Adrian Valenzuela, Texas Instruments | Comments

When system designers must extend battery life, many believe one chip uses less power than two. The reasons seem straightforward: Chip-to-chip communications consume more power than on-chip communications, and two chips will inevitably have more transistors and thus more leakage than a single chip with equivalent functions. But power-saving design techniques often turn conventional wisdom on its head.

IC Power Management Requires a Careful Balancing Act

July 20, 2007 7:56 am | by Arvind Narayanan, Product Director, Magma Design Automation | Comments

As the electronics industry moves to new IC-fabrication technologies, chip designers must deal with tighter power specifications and with new power constraints. In large and complex designs, implementing a reliable power network and minimizing power loss have become major challenges for design teams.


The great motivator

June 26, 2007 11:01 am | by Aimee Kalnoskas, Editor-in-Chief | Comments

My neighbors, who live almost a hundred yards and up a hill away from me, love their SUV’s, monster trucks and electricity. During the Christmas season, the illumination from their myriad of Christmas lights and blow-up, lighted lawn Santas and Frosties alone allow me to keep my flood lights off for most of December.


Distribution and the Evolving Web

June 26, 2007 8:06 am | by Rob Birse, Vice-president of Marketing, Allied Electronics | Comments

If you spend time on the Internet, you may have noticed a subtle but important shift in the way web sites are beginning to interact with visitors. Web sites that feature static content have faded away and are being replaced by interactive web sites that engage the user. This recent shift in content — termed Web 2.0 — reflects the idea that the web is moving into its next generation of interactivity.  The electronic component industry is certainly not exempt from this recent web trend.  Many distributors have already done a considerable amount to beef up their web sites in response to engineers’ changing preference of obtaining information on the Internet in recent years. As distributors are quickly learning, they must do even more to keep engineers engaged and returning to their web site


Optimizing the Power Switch in High Voltage Applications

June 26, 2007 5:59 am | by Peter Blair, Zetex Semiconductors | Comments

Small high voltage loads are found in abundance. Be they actuators, motors, solenoids or transformers, power supply or power conversion circuits, all are subject to the relentless quest for better energy efficiency, improved reliability and reduced cost and footprint. For the power switching element within such loads, these technical demands appear to manifest themselves as simply “increased switched power density!” In practice, how can this be best achieved?


Power Supplies Aim for Efficiency and Economy

June 25, 2007 12:10 pm | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Comments

We all have read about the push for better use of energy, whether expressed in improved vehicle gas mileage, higher efficiency in appliances or energy conservation at home. The need for increased electrical efficiency extends down to the power sources that supply energy to large computers, servers and even PCs.

Serial Buses Free I/O Pins

June 25, 2007 11:14 am | by Jon Titus | Comments

More times than designers might like to admit, they wish for just one more I/O pin on a microcontroller. Three chip-to-chip serial buses can help overcome I/O pin limits. The following information provides a quick overview and points you to sources of more information.


Q & A with Stephen Wong

June 18, 2007 10:33 am | Comments

In this Interview Stephen Wong, Regional Director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) for the Americas, discusses the state of distribution in Hong Kong and touches  on key topics such as the impact of China's membership in the WTO, RoHS and Hong Kong's strategies to strengthen their global position.


Diamond Visions

June 4, 2007 9:19 am | by Aimee Kalnoskas, Editor-in-Chief | Comments

What does the Society for Information Displays (SID) and Dodger Stadium have in common? A lot of displays and the fact that I was at both venues on the same day last month, giving me a unique opportunity to see the digital signage on the show floor and in action at the ballpark. Having attended hundreds of trade shows and not one single baseball game until that point...


SIDEBAR: Give ZigBee The Sniffer Test

June 4, 2007 8:50 am | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Comments

Now that you have plans for a ZigBee network, you should think about how you will debug and test it. After all, you may have dozens of nodes and lots of information passing between them. Enter the sniffer. Basically, a sniffer listens to all ZigBee communications and puts the information in a format that can help you determine what transpires on your network

Wireless Chip and Module Resources

June 4, 2007 7:53 am | Comments

Wireless Chip and Module Resources

Managing Bluetooth Profiles: A Billion Served

June 4, 2007 7:50 am | by Greg Burns, CTO, Open Interface North America | Comments

In January 2007, Bluetooth SIG, the member-supported trade organization that defines and enforces Bluetooth wireless technology standards, celebrated a major milestone -- total worldwide shipment of Bluetooth chips surpassed the one-billion-unit mark. Since to make Bluetooth work there must be a Bluetooth protocol stack either embedded on the Bluetooth chip or running on a host processor that communicates with the Bluetooth chip, this milestone also celebrates the shipment of over a billion Bluetooth protocol stacks.


RF Modules Rule the Waves

June 4, 2007 7:31 am | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Comments

Every electronic product seems to come with a wireless link. My neighbor's sprinkler system includes a wireless unit that lets him sit indoors and program his watering times and sequences. A variety of chips and modules from many manufacturers makes it easy for engineers to drop a wireless link into new and existing designs. Many of those devices conform to the IEEE-802.15.4 specification for a wireless personal-area network (WPAN) that accommodates low data rates, short-range communications and low-power operations. But in some cases, non-standard chips and modules work just as well.

An Introduction to RapidIO

June 4, 2007 7:07 am | by Tom Cox, Executive Director, RapidIO Trade Association | Comments

Years ago, designers involved with high-performance computer systems realized the parallel-bus structures found in most computers had run their course. New computer systems, such as those based on VME64x, move data across switched-fabric networks. Unlike a bus that connects all boards to all signals, a switched-fabric network routes communications through switches. Thus communications can take one of several high-speed paths and no longer create a bus bottleneck. In this context, "fabric" implies a point-to-point network that designers can "scale" to accommodate thousands of nodes. But a fabric does not imply the use of a specific hardware or software architecture.



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