Electrical engineers at the University of Michigan have built a device that can harness energy from vibrations and convert it to electricity with five to 10 times greater efficiency and power than other devices in its class. And it’s smaller than a penny.
This new vibration energy harvester is specifically designed to turn the cyclic motions of factory machines into energy to power wireless sensor networks. These sensor networks monitor machines’ performance and let operators know about any malfunctions. [via]
Most powerful millimeter-scale energy harvester – [Link]
This tutorial describes in very detail about the basic structure of a monochrome LED dot matrix and how static characters and special symbols are displayed on it with a microcontroller.
Basics of LED dot matrix display – [Link]
LOGIC CHIPS. Whenever you have 3.3V logic and you want to interface it with 5V logic, you need to take care so that you don’t shove 5V into a 3V input. We’ve found an easy way to do that is to use a level shifter such as a 74AHC125 or CD4050. The ’125 has 4 buffers and can be tri-stated, the 4050 has six buffers. Both can take 5V input on any pin if the chip is powered with 3V so effectively it converts down. Much faster than using resistors (almost no slewing) and works even if you end up using 3V on both sides. A good example of this is in our oled breakout board which is a 3V part, but easily wired up to talk to an Arduino which is 5V.
adafruit.com writes: [via]
Converting an Arduino to 3.3V – All official Arduinos run on 5 volts, which for a long time was the ‘standard’ voltage for hobbyist electronics and microcontrollers. But now the coolest new sensors, displays and chips are 3.3V and are not 5V compatible. For example, XBee radios, and SD cards and acellerometers all run on 3.3V logic and power. If you tried to connect to them with 5V you could damage the internals of the accessory. We use chips like the CD4050 to do level conversion but if you are using a lot of 3.3V devices, maybe you’re just better off upgrading the entire Arduino to run from 3.3V! To do that, we will replace the regulator so that the DC barrel jack for a 3.3v type, and then reconfigure the 5V usb power line so it goes through the regulator as well.
Converting an Arduino to 3.3V – [Link]
Poor Man’s LCD Touchscreen Breakout Board… Patrick writes – [via]
If (like me) you like to move around when you code (couch/coffeeshop/bed/etc), then you’ll want to build a breakout board for your setup. I soldered the level shifter IC (4050, required for 5V microcontrollers) and some stackable headers to a perfboard, then screwed the screen & perfboard onto a project box’s lid. I also added two screws to hold a full-sized arduino board in place, when it’s hooked up.
Poor Man’s LCD Touchscreen Breakout Board – [Link]
Modern Microprocessors – A 90 Minute Guide!… [via]
WARNING: This article is meant to be informal and fun! Okay, so you’re a CS graduate and you did a hardware/assembly course as part of your degree, but perhaps that was a few years ago now and you haven’t really kept up with the details of processor designs since then.
Modern Microprocessors – A 90 Minute Guide! – [Link]
Circuitguy shares some tips for reading datasheets. There’s a lot of good advice in here, and it’s well worth checking out. He writes:
“Datasheets Lie.” I’m sure we’ve all said it before. I’ve said it myself, and I still catch myself saying it. Just because we say it, it doesn’t mean it’s true. Most datasheets are, in fact, very accurate and representative of the part. Sometimes you have to read all the lines to find the truth between the facts.
Datasheets (Don’t) Lie – [Link]
Microchips still changing the world… [via]
Consider this the golden jubilee for silicon, the world’s favourite metalloid. Today marks the 50th anniversary of a U.S. patent for the modern integrated circuit, more commonly known as the microchip, the technical cornerstone of the modern information age.
It’s unclear whether to celebrate or mourn, since no single invention has made so many aspects of life simpler and more complicated at the same time.
The name on the 1961 patent belongs to Robert Noyce, who would go on to found the microchip giant Intel. But as is common in invention circles, Noyce didn’t get there alone. In the late 1950s, Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments -the father of the pocket calculator -came up with the first patented integrated circuit on a wafer of another metalloid called germanium.
Noyce, working in parallel on the East Coast, used a far more common substance: silicon. It is a superior electrical conductor, though it needs to be refined to extreme purity, and up until that time, there was no easy manufacturing process to do so. However, that obstacle was soon cleared, and whereas both men were content to be called co-inventors of the microchip, only Noyce earned the honorific Mayor of Silicon Valley.
Happy 50th… Microchips still changing the world – [Link]
Getting Started with Arduino (in Praise of Adafruit) @ Continuations. Albert writes – [via]
I am currently reading James Gleick’s “The Information,” which I highly recommend (more on that in a separate post). In it is a wonderful chapter on Babbage and Lady Ada Lovelace, which makes it clear how amazing her insights into what we would call programming were by placing them in their historical context. What does any of this have to do with Arduino? Well, I ordered our Arduino kit from the wonderfully named Adafruit in New York which was founded and is run by Limor Fried.
I can wholeheartedly recommend the entire experience. Ordering off the site is easy and fulfillment was incredibly speedy. The basic Arduino Experimentation Kit contains everything you need to get going and do so without any need for soldering. It comes with a simple plexiglass platform on which you mount the Arduino board with a couple of screws and next to it a breadboard which has an adhesive backing. All of this is accomplished in minutes. The instructions that come along are clear and easy to follow. The cut-out wiring diagrams are in color and fit the bread board perfectly.
Getting Started with Arduino – [Link]
On April 26th 1961, the silicon integrated circuit was patented by Robert Noyce (No. 2,981,877).
Robert (Norton) Noyce was a U.S. engineer and coinventor (1959), with Jack Kilby, of the integrated circuit, a system of interconnected transistors on a single silicon microchip. He held sixteen patents for semiconductor devices, methods, and structures. In 1968, he and colleague Gordon E. Moore cofounded N.M. Electronics, which later was renamed Intel Corporation. Noyce served as Intel’s president and chairman (1968-75), then as vice chairman until 1979.
Src: Today in Science History
Robert Noyce – [Link]