Androkavo tests some of the cheap eBay solder against the brand-name stuff; it gets there in the end, but it's surely not the advertized 60/40 alloy and needs to be close to 400° before it behaves itself. Read the rest
Charles Platt's growing series of electronics books are the best I've come across. He explains concepts very clearly, and his illustrations are excellent. His latest book in the series is called Easy Electronics. It covers voltage, resistance, capacitors, transistors, integrated circuits and more. No tools are needed to make the projects. The book is just $5 on Amazon.
The Mag Hand Workstation[Amazon link] by Hobby Creek is a 4.5 Lb steel platform with flexible, magnetic arms that hold delicate objects in place while I paint, solder and study them. Since my side projects involve tiny antiques with itsy bitsy locking mechanisms, I used to have a habit of losing important pieces - but those days are behind me.
My Hydra-like workstation comes with 2 magnetic trays that can be positioned anywhere on the platform.
And because of built in magnets, even if tip the whole thing upside down, everything stays put. The pieces are modular and allows me to set the flexible matrix in any way I want. In fact, the arms and optional Mag Helper can simply be used by themselves when placed on any steel object.
The Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized Linux computer that costs about $30 (some versions are only $10). Because they are cheap, tiny, and versatile, they are an excellent basis for lots of different projects. Creative Projects with Raspberry Pi (out today!) by Kirsten Kearney and Will Freeman is loaded with build instructions, resources, and pointers to a bunch of cool projects: coffee roasters, weather stations, mobile phones, handheld gaming consoles -- 35 in all. The photos are big and clear, and the introduction at the beginning will get Raspberry newbies up to speed.
Arduino is on open-source electronics prototyping platform that lets you make interactive stuff without having a degree in electrical engineering.
For about $25 you can buy a credit card sized circuit board that has input connections (for buttons, knobs, light sensors, microphones, humidity sensors, fart detectors, Internet signals, etc) and output connections (for servo motors, LEDs, buzzers, speakers, stepper motors, vibrators, etc). You write programs on your computer to tell the Arduino how to process the input signals and how to activate the output components. This program is uploaded to the Arduino's microprocessor, making it self-contained. Read the rest
The 555 timer integrated circuit was invented in 1971. Over a billion are made every year, because they are so versatile. Charles Platt wrote of the chip:
It has turned out to be the most successful chip in history, both in the number of units sold (tens of billions, and still counting) and the longevity of its design (fundamentally unchanged for almost forty years). Even now, about a billion 555s are manufactured each year.
In Make: Electronics, I decided to include the 555, because it remains so fundamental. It’s also a wonderful teaching tool, since it can be used in so many ways. If you want to build, say, a reaction timer, using a counter and a couple of logic chips, you’re going to run it with a 555 timer, and you may end up adding a couple more 555s to take care of functions such as delaying the start of the count and locking the display until a reset button is pressed. You can also run a 555 fast enough to generate audible tones, which can be incorporated into a burglar alarm, or you can use it in a combination lock. All three of these projects are included in the book.
Make magazine celebrated the 555 timer and its creator, Hans Camenzind, a few years ago when it featuring a 555 Week on its website.
555s are dirt cheap, too. Ebay sells 100 for $4.
Because the 555 is so fundamental electronics, people honor it by making giant size versions of it. Read the rest
Electronic Football is the only sportsball I've ever liked! This remake is pretty great!
The sounds, controls and rinky-dink electronic screen are back! I am sure I remember there being some kind of passing game in the original, but this running game kept me busy for an hour or so.
Relive the virtual excitement!
Nick from Adafruit writes, "The latest installment of Circuit Playground is here: the letter L.
Learn about how an LED works with Adabot and the Circuit Playground components." Read the rest
I'd not heard of Elektor magazine until today, when I came across this photo of the cover from a 1974 edition. I assumed it was fake. Everything about it seemed like it was created this year - the typeface, the names of the projects, the tagline ("up-to-date electronics for lab and leisure"). Someone has uploaded the issue in PDF format.
Such a groovy magazine!
Joint smoking transistors:
Elektor is still around, but the design is vastly different:
Read the rest
Elektor is a monthly magazine about all aspects of electronics, first published as Elektuur in the Netherlands in 1960, and now published worldwide in many languages including English, German, Dutch, French, Greek, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese (European and Brazilian) and Italian with distribution in over 50 countries. The English language edition of Elektor was launched in 1975 and is read worldwide.
Elektor publishes a vast range of electronic projects, background articles and designs aimed at engineers, enthusiasts, students and professionals. To help readers build featured projects, Elektor also offer PCBs (printed circuit boards) of many of their designs, as well as kits and modules. If the project employs a microcontroller and/or PC software, as is now often the case, Elektor normally supply the source code and files free of charge via their website. Most PCB artwork is also available from their website.
Poking a golden tortoise beetle ("goldbug") triggers the insect's color to change from gold to a red-orange. Inspired by the natural system underlying that insectoid superpower, MIT researchers have developed flexible sensors circuits that can be 3-D printed. Eventually, the technology could lead to sensor-laden skin for robots. From MIT News:
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“In nature, networks of sensors and interconnects are called sensorimotor pathways,” says Subramanian Sundaram, an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), who led the project. “We were trying to see whether we could replicate sensorimotor pathways inside a 3-D-printed object. So we considered the simplest organism we could find...."
The MIT researchers’ new device is approximately T-shaped, but with a wide, squat base and an elongated crossbar. The crossbar is made from an elastic plastic, with a strip of silver running its length; in the researchers’ experiments, electrodes were connected to the crossbar’s ends. The base of the T is made from a more rigid plastic. It includes two printed transistors and what the researchers call a “pixel,” a circle of semiconducting polymer whose color changes when the crossbars stretch, modifying the electrical resistance of the silver strip.
In fact, the transistors and the pixel are made from the same material; the transistors also change color slightly when the crossbars stretch. The effect is more dramatic in the pixel, however, because the transistors amplify the electrical signal from the crossbar. Demonstrating working transistors was essential, Sundaram says, because large, dense sensor arrays require some capacity for onboard signal processing.
Peegar is an Arduinio-style electronics kit that you design programs for by dragging and dropping Scratch-style objects around in a browser; when you're done, the program is converted to a brief snatch of sound that you transmit through the board by plugging a standard audio cable into your device's headphone jack. Read the rest
Produced by Bell Labs in 1973, The Far Sound looks at the latest developments it telephony, electronics, and computers. The intro has Peter Max-ish graphics and a song that sounds like a Partridge Family instrumental.
1973, the year this film was made, was a very exciting time to be at Bell Labs. Telstar was under development. BellComm was about to be spun off, to work with NASA on the moon project. Technologies involving the transistor, laser, and the solar cell were underway. Scientists were just starting to explore what a computer was and what it might accomplish. In the middle of this wave of innovation was the Bell System’s core business—providing telephone service to almost the entire country.
Anker generally makes high quality electronic gear, and judging by the reviews on Amazon, the tiny SoundCore Nano Bluetooth speaker is no exception. It's got a battery life of 4 hours, and can be recharged with the included Micro USB charging cable (which also can be used as a way to connect the speaker to a computer instead of Bluetooth). Read the rest