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Companies I enjoy doing business with

November 9, 2012 9:20 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

My very old Ungar 8800 soldering stand had a cracked ceramic iron holder from decades of use/misuse. So I went looking for Ungar on the www. They are no longer with us. But I found that they are now owned by Weller....

They are bringing back tubes

November 6, 2012 5:50 pm | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Yes, tubes are coming back. No, not the thermionic space bottles of my youth. These are a different kind of tube. Made of small bits of graphene. Carbon nanotubes. IBM reports on their progress in the area. And it is amazing.

Do ultracapacitors make wind energy a sustainable option?

November 5, 2012 12:27 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

The idea of using wind to create energy isn’t exactly new. The first examples can be traced back to 200 B.C. in Persia – a creation of Heron of Alexandria. That particular device simply harnessed the wind to power a machine, so a case could be made that the first real windmills were built a little bit later, in the 7th century in Sistan, modern day Iran.

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Apple confronts challenge of low-cost tablets with launch of iPad Mini

November 5, 2012 10:48 am | by Adam Leach, practice leader, Devices and Platforms, Ovum | Blogs | Comments

The introduction of a smaller iPad was much expected by the wider tech community. Ovum sees this as a defensive move by Apple to stave off competition from cheaper and smaller tablets introduced by Amazon and Google. Apple faces a tough challenge with the iPad Mini.

Why I don't trust cars that think for themselves

November 1, 2012 10:32 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

Most drivers wouldn't feel comfortable just handing over control of their vehicle to, well, their vehicle, but a new system from Nissan may do just that. The Autonomous Emergency Steering System, as the name suggests, will take over steering in emergency situations in which a crash could be avoided when you remove human error from the equation.

Can video games teach angry kids emotional control?

October 30, 2012 4:00 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Though video games are often blamed for instilling violent instincts in children, the Boston Children's Hospital has developed a game that is designed to do just the opposite. In a recent study published in Adolescent Psychiatry, the children's hospital described a game that they believe will be able to teach children with severe anger issues how to maintain an acceptable level of calm...

Kickstarter, HP calculators, and PCB land patterns, oh my!

October 29, 2012 5:27 pm | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Gabriel of Gabotronics asked me to promote his kickstarter project as time was running out and he had not yet met his goal. Due to some technical difficulties I was unable to get to the project promotion until today. Sorry Gabriel. But Gabriel is not sorry.

Company develops device that fools red-light cameras

October 24, 2012 12:27 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Red-light cameras are a hot-button issue. One side calls them a necessary safety precaution, while the other questions their constitutionality. Not to mention, since the red-light camera are run by big business that occasionally gets paid by the ticket, it seems a little shady.

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Is a pacemaker capable of mass murder?

October 24, 2012 9:05 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

When you are a patient in a hospital, you tend to expect that the electronics are either top of the line or at least functioning correctly. You expect that the devices doctors implant in your body are reliable and safe. These seem like safe assumptions. Unfortunately, you could be mistaken.

Declassified documents describe real-life flying saucer

October 23, 2012 11:32 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

X-Files fans, conspiracy theorists, and the tinfoil hat crowd were right all along! Sorta… In the 1950s, the US government really was building a flying saucer. But it didn’t involve little green men, human-alien hybrids, or David Duchovny; this isn’t what you’d call a "smoking gun."

Power up

October 22, 2012 9:36 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

As the weeks and months go by I am going to be doing a number of hands-on projects. OSH Park will be making boards for those projects available for those of you who want to build something. But it does no good to build something if you don't have power to power it.

The best solution for dealing with space junk

October 19, 2012 2:26 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

There is a lot of junk in space. There’s American junk, Russian junk, Chinese junk, and corporate junk. There are satellite pieces and discarded rocket parts and metal bits. Basically, all the junk is just floating around clonking into other junk and causing general mayhem when they get a bit too close to the stuff that’s not junk.

Could this "shocking" technology save 12 billion dollars a year?

October 19, 2012 9:20 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | News | Comments

One of the biggest challenges in immobile patients is bedsores. Because patients usually end up laying in a bed or sitting in a wheelchair, a lot of pressure is exerted on the skin and tissue over bony areas of the body like the heel, ankle, hips, or buttocks. That unrelenting pressure can often result in bedsores, a difficult- to- treat condition.

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Could NASA help paraplegics walk?

October 18, 2012 9:37 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

NASA has been known to make pretty large contributions to society. But they might have outdone themselves on this one. The agency is currently in the research and development phase for a powered armor suit that could one day allow paraplegics to walk. The suit, called X1, is a robotic exoskeleton designed to be worn over the body to assist in leg movements.

Preparing for the wrong catastrophe

October 17, 2012 9:26 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I was excited by a report at ECN saying that the world matched the hottest September temperature again this past September. Well that got me to thinking. CO2 is still rising and hot temperatures are only being matched? Doesn't the theory run - more CO2 makes the climate hotter? What happened?

F-35 to make Hollywood debut in Superman flick

October 16, 2012 5:32 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

According to Wired, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — the oft-delayed, oft-maligned, “backbone of America’s tactical aviation fleet” — is set to make its big-screen debut in the Superman reboot, Man of Steel. To be sure, this won’t be the first time the JSF has appeared onscreen. A computer-generated F-35 battled The Hulk in this summer’s blockbuster hit, The Avengers.

Filling the gap

October 15, 2012 1:53 pm | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Graphene has been getting a lot of press lately touting it as the electronics material of the future. It is a strong single-layer material with high electron mobility. All good things for a semiconductor material.But single-layer graphene lacks something very important for a semiconductor material: a band gap.

The 10-letter keyboard that will make your head hurt

October 11, 2012 4:50 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

The ASETNIOP keyboard is one of those things that may be great for future generations but will have a tough time integrating itself into the current workforce. The keyboard works on the premise that the traditional setup for typing is structurally inefficient, and you really only need 10 buttons to type

What equipment do you need to skydive from 120,000 feet?

October 11, 2012 8:54 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

By this point, you’ve probably heard that Felix Baumgartner is planning to skydive from 120,000 feet above the earth. For the record, that’s about 23 miles from solid ground. The jump was originally supposed to happen on October 9, but because of 14 mph wind speeds—they needed speeds of less than 2 mph to jump safely

Computer-generated art that doesn't look computer-generated

October 10, 2012 10:09 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I went to a city wide art show this last weekend and ran into the most marvelous artists who does computer generated art that doesn't look like computer generated art - at least not the generic stuff you so often see. His name is Barry Reithmeier. He has a feel for the medium. He uses a tool called Bryce which is currently available for free.

Prevent accidents by making your backseat disappear

October 9, 2012 11:16 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

Crunch. That’s the last sound you want to hear when you’re backing up your car. It is scary. It is alarming. It is NOT a good sound.It’s the reason dashboard cams were invented. Unfortunately, the embedded cameras only show a small portion of what’s behind the car, and accidents still happen.

Solder wicki

October 8, 2012 11:31 am | by M. Simon | Articles | Comments

I like to do projects. I like to do projects that involve soldering. These days that means surface mount. And therein lies a tale. I design my own boards and get them produced by OSH Park they do great work. I try to make the boards easy to solder. To see the little bits when I do do the soldering I use a pair of Foster Grants with 3.25 magnification...

A roundup

October 3, 2012 9:01 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Gabtronicis has updated their micro e-scopes. You may recall I did an article on them a while back. They also have a Kickstarter project to raise money to do more interesting things. Gabriel (the "Gab" of Gabtronics) likes Atmel XMEGA microcontrollers. Daishinku Corporation (KDS) has been very helpful to me with some projects I'm working on...

Why you should support improvements in electric car chargers

October 3, 2012 8:55 am | Articles | Comments

People simply don’t think of electric cars as long-distance vehicles. It’s a car to run down the street and grab some groceries, make the 15 miles commute to work or—like one of my friends—if you live in Hawaii and can’t really drive that far. It’s not an option most people think about for a regular car.

10 must-see posts from September

October 1, 2012 12:28 pm | by The ECN Editors | Articles | Comments

Here’s a rundown of the most read, most popular, most awesome articles for September. They all come with a witty, engaging summary just in case you missed them the first time or want to check up on an old favorite. Keep checking out the Lead and follow us on twitter @ecnmagazine for our most up-to-date articles.

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