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Low power, low-cost testing

May 4, 2012 12:29 pm | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I'm sure some of you were wondering about the board I described in A Beauty. What is it for? It is an electronic load of sorts for power supply testing. Low power (under a watt) power supply testing. The principle is simple. You apply a pulsing load to the power supply and watch its response.

A beauty

April 20, 2012 11:18 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

The picture is of a board I had made by the DorkbotPDX board service. It is a beauty. The gold plating is not guaranteed but depends on what others who use the service pay for. Dorkbot puts a number of boards on a panel in order to get a pretty good price.

Resource One

April 13, 2012 9:31 am | by M Simon | Blogs | Comments

I was looking around the 'net and came across the name of someone who worked on the design of Resource One. I logged on to Resource One in '74 (it was part of a hitch hiking trip with my girlfriend, and still wife, from Carbondale, Illinos to the West coast). There were 12 terminals around the Bay Area hooked up to an old SDS mainframe by modem.


Number nine

March 30, 2012 4:57 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

A while back I wrote up how to make A Perfect Divider which divides a voltage by 10, 100, 1,000 etc. using mostly very common resistors (100K, 10K, 1K etc.) with only two uncommon resistors to make a resistance divider that divides by decade increments.

From prototype to volume

March 19, 2012 5:18 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

David Jones has a very good video up on YouTube about how to go from a working prototype to high volume manufacture. The video is a bit over 50 minutes long so be prepared to put some time in. The information is oriented to the novice...

Forth is getting institutionalized

March 16, 2012 5:42 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

GreenArrays, a company I have written about extensively is opening an on line institute for those who want to learn more about how to program and use their chips. They call it the Array Forth Institute. First time log-in is fast and simple.

Notes from the electronic underground

March 9, 2012 4:19 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I was hanging out at the FreePCB blog where commenter gnuarm suggested DorkbotPDX for production of hobby boards. The production process is not hobby grade. You get a solder mask on both sides, silk screen (legend), and a 6/6 process.

Gerbers: Food for designers

March 5, 2012 7:49 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

In my search for good tools that don't cost too much (I like free) I have found an excellent tool for viewing Gerber and drill files. Those are the files produced by most PC board design software and required by most board producers to produce boards.



February 2, 2012 4:02 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I'd like some genius to define sustainable. Could we count something that we can keep doing for 100 billion years - beyond the death of the Universe as we currently understand such things - as sustainable? How about a billion years?

A Lovely Radio

January 18, 2012 9:23 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

The kit is designed to teach radio theory. If you want a general theory of superhetrodyne radios I think the Radio Amateurs Handbook is better because it covers the theory in both a more detailed and more general way. This kit does go into some detail...

Xprotolab Live

January 3, 2012 4:24 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

A while back I wrote about one of the cutest test instruments I have ever seen. An oscilloscope that can fit in your watch pocket. Since I wrote that I have been looking at the Xprotolab manual...

In Training

December 21, 2011 4:01 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I'm starting to get a feel for Altium Designer. After a few hours with ignorance painted all over my face I have started to find my way. What I found most helpful was their tutorial page that has their manual sectioned in 20 pdfs plus an index pdf.

High On Altium

December 16, 2011 4:40 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I have been looking for some new board layout software for a while. I do love the ExpressPCB interface but it kind of locks you into one board making company, not counting the delightful but limited FAR Circuits. A few days ago an ad for Altium flashed across my screen.


Good Politics

December 12, 2011 4:39 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I don't normally do politics here but this is too good to pass up. And it is relevant to the work we all do. According to Wired Magazine and Senator Scott Brown himself, the Senator is sponsoring a bill to help little guys raise capital the same way the big boys do.

An Oscilloscope That Fits In Your Watch Pocket

December 9, 2011 4:39 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

The oscilloscope kit that Gabriel of Gabotronics sent me would fit in your watch pocket if you don't mind the pins. Or if you keep it in its electrostatic protective foam. The point is that it is a really small oscilloscope (1" X 1.6") suitable for embedding in your next project.

I Love The Sound Of Hetrodyne Whistles

December 7, 2011 5:57 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

As I promised in Engineering Power Adventures I have evaluated a kit for budding engineers from age 8 and up. The kit was kindly provided by the fine folks at Elenco. It is their Snap Circuits 300 Experiments kit. Actually you can probably do more than 300 experiments with the kit.

Some More Tools I Like

December 5, 2011 4:23 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I was discussing my ECN article Some Tools I Use with the guys on the TinyCAD list and they suggested that I look into FreePCB for PCB layout. I did and it looks like a wonderful tool (I have just downloaded it and haven't had a chance to use it yet).

Engineering Power Adventures

December 1, 2011 4:56 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

First let me say that the design of the XP15K power supply kit by Elenco is a very functional design. It does what it is supposed to do. It is the engineer behind the soldering iron (me) that needs some adjustment.

Solid State Radio

November 29, 2011 5:16 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I belong to a vast underground of secret parts lovers. To wit the 365 pF air variable capacitor. Singles and duals. With ball bearing shafts and vernier control dials. I get all jiggy thinking about them and the smell of newly machined phenolic.

Some Tools I Use

November 22, 2011 6:02 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Operating an engineering shop on an extreme budget isn't easy. I have to watch my pennies. Let alone nickels. So here is what I use for schematic capture. TinyCAD. They don't have a lot of parts in their library but, making parts is easy. And the price is right.

Testing The GA144 Eval Board

November 16, 2011 8:14 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

The folks from GreenArrays were kind enough to send me a GA144 evaluation board. I have had it for about a month. I have taken my time because I was also rebuilding my shop while evaluating the board. And building a little gadget for testing. So now down to work.

Smart Grid Security?

November 14, 2011 3:57 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Can some one please tell me the point of making our electrical grid more hackable than it already is? And please. Don't tell me about "security". Security is only a delaying tactic. Some one who wants to can figure out how to defeat it.

Fast Start With GreenArrays Software

October 17, 2011 9:01 am | Blogs | Comments

There are no doubt some diehards (like me) out there who have been playing around with the GreenArrays Software Suite (free download), but with all the things you need to learn (it seems like all at once) it is pretty tough sledding.

GreenArrays Is Having A Contest

October 6, 2011 5:50 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Green Arrays in conjunction with Schmart Board announced a hobbyist board for the Green Arrays GA144 chip. Things have progressed some since that announcement was made. You can now buy the mounting PC board and the GreenArrays GA144 chip together...

GreenArrays and SchmartBoard Make the GA144 Chip Accessible to Experimenters

September 29, 2011 4:46 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

GreenArrays, the makers of the GA144 chip, announces an OEM partnership with Schmart Board that will allow hobbyists and experimenters to get in on the fun provided by playing around with a chip with 144 cores that can do around 90 billion instructions per second...

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