Watch crystals are amazing devices. Typical 32KHz clock crystals are very stable in frequency if you can keep them close to their turnover temperature. If you can hold the crystal to within 1 degC of the turnover temperature, it is +/-.04 ppm from the frequency at turnover.
Quite a few of the member states (colloquially known as "Dictators 'R Us") of the UN want to change the rules of the game. The Internet Game. They want to be able to shut down Internet traffic at will. And they want to do it legally. Whatever that means in the context of nations. Anyway, here is what they ( the miscreants) are proposing.
I recently came across a site (no link will be provided for reasons that will be obvious shortly) that proposed that engineers design products for sustainability (how long is that?). They also propose going one better for really advanced products. Those would be products that pose no risk to society.
On a list I belong to (which prefers to remain anonymous), there has been a long discussion on how to terminate lines on a PCB that uses parts with fast rise times. Of course, circumstances vary and it depends on the rise time, but for rise times on the order of one nanosecond (TTL, AHC, LVC, etc), a resistor from 22 to 50 ohms in series with the source seems to work well.
M. Simon, freelance writer extraordinaire, shares some of the things he's thankful for this holiday. "A few of the things I'm thankful for this holiday. In quasi random order": Atoms, electrons, protons, neutrons, Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, Thomas Edison and his assistant Nikola Tesla....
I count several popular science fiction writers as friends. I share a political/whimsey blog with one of them, Sarah Hoyt. I was visiting Sarah's personal blog, and the question of the future of nanotechnology — given the upcoming fiscal cliff — came up in the comments. Sarah was of the opinion that the technology would be delayed indefinitely.
Time and timing have been long term interests of mine. Especially so since I got my start measuring tenths of a nanosecond in 1967. I was looking around the www for information on time and frequency and came across a group of amateurs interested in time standards. One of the favorites of these amateurs is buying surplus rubidium clocks on ebay and bringing them to life.
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....
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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...
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...
I have been big on flywheels for electrical energy storage for quite some time. So it was quite a disappointment to me to hear that high tech flywheel company Beacon Power did a Solyndra and reneged on a government loan because it could not finance its debts from income.
My last column on alternative energy, A blow to wind energy, evoked more than a few complaints. For an engineering magazine writer a number of people thought that I was light on the numbers. So lets do some numbers. For that we will need a baseline. What is the cost of electrical energy in America these days? The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the average cost of electricity in the US is 13.5cents per kilowatt hour.
Physics World reports some spectacular advances in turning graphene-based semiconductors into real-world logic chips. Graphene will do some real good for us logic guys because of its carrier mobility. It is over 140 times that of silicon. Plus its heat conductivity is about 10x that of metals like copper and aluminum, and its resistivity is about 2/3rds that of copper at room temperature.
For all you random number lovers there is some excellent documentation on the www about linear feed back shift registers. LFSRs are a way to produce quasi random numbers without too much effort. Why quasi random? Well one number is excluded (all ones or all zeroes) depending in whether you use the XNOR or XOR function for computing your random number.
I have been interested in computers with stack architectures for a long time. I wrote a bit about one of the latest versions at ECN a while back: Testing The GA144 Eval Board. For those of you not familiar with the subject I thought it might be a good idea to present some resource material.
As some of you may remember, I was having some trouble with the Atmel programming tools. Their Studio 6 assembler and simulator are excellent. But their chip programmers leave one or two things to be desired. Well I'm going to do the usual hardware guy solution. I'm going to hit the pins used for programming with lightning bolts.
My local paper says that the wind energy business is likely to slow down in 2013. They explain that it will be bad for a local manufacturer that makes parts for the turbines and who also makes machines to make the parts. When you make 10 ton hubs for the turbines it is best to make them as close to the installation site as possible. Otherwise the shipping costs can ruin your profits.
I have started a number of new projects. One of them is designing a simple Forth for the ARM processor. To do that I needed a simple guide to the ARM Assembly language. I like this one written by Peter Knaggs and Stephen Welsh. Peter is quite active in the Forth community, but that was just a coincidence (I'm a big Forth fan in case you didn't know).
Life can be interesting - way more interesting than I like. I downloaded the driver for the Adafruit programmer I bought. I installed the driver required and I got stuck. My PC doesn't seem to recognize the programmer. Since the "power good light" is controlled by a pin on the programmer according to the schematic, I plugged in the board I wanted to program (MCU10 Developer)...