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17 Jul 2011

element14, the leading online design engineer community, today announced a worldwide distribution agreement with Micrium, a global RTOS leader and a top choice for embedded design engineers. This new agreement is designed to enhance the value proposition of both element14 and its parent company, Premier Farnell, as they continue developing and growing the already extensive supplier group with additional leading technology suppliers to satisfy the evolving requirements of customers worldwide.

This supplier agreement is one of the many enhancements planned for the recently announced element14 knode, the industry’s first tool of its kind designed to help engineers accelerate design and development, and bring products to market faster than ever before. Micrium will extend its product and marketing support to collaborate on new product information through the element14 knode, allowing engineers to easily access Micrium’s increasingly preferred commercial RTOS components to streamline the design process even further.

element14 Announces Partnership with RTOS Leader Micrium - [Link]

17 Jul 2011

pcbheaven.com writes:

I’m really very happy to present this circuit! This is a very special page, and what’s special about it is that this circuit is designed NOT by me, but from a PCB Heaven reader, which happens to be also one of my students in my PIC classes. As a matter of fact, he is my first student… Well, ok, he is my only student :). So, this is the very first circuit page that i host in my site which is designed by a PCB Heaven reader. Special thanks to Panagioti Kalogeri, which you will find him trolling around my site with the id _Pike…

This circuit is the result of an exercise that i asked him to make, in order to practice with the Timer modules of the PIC. The PIC will read the tacho output of a PC fan. The rpm is then translated into a number of LEDs turned-on on the bar-graph. The minimum rpm during which only one LED is turned on is 600 rpm, and the maximum is 1200 – which is also the max speed of the fan. Panagiotis was asked to implement the rpm measurement with the Reverse Frequency Measuring as described here.

PC Fan RPM Bargraph Meter with PIC - [Link]

15 Jul 2011

The ‘Elektor Electronic Toolbox’ (EET) is an iPhone and iPad app totally geared the needs of electronic engineers. Elektor now offers a new version, which now has 29 individual programs. A new addition is a tool for voltage rms calculation. In addition some bugs were cleared and new components added such as USB 3.0 connectors.

EET’s established features are impressive, too: the databases for the component groups identified as bipolar transistors, FETs, triacs, thyristors, diodes and ICs are very helpful in everyday electronics developing. The left part of the display allows you to select a component from a list, based on the type number. For this, simply scroll down with your finger, which is a smooth process on an iPad. A tap with your fingertip and the pin and important electrical characteristics pop up on the right hand side of the screen – all without an Internet connection present. A total of over 45,000 components are listed in the databases. [via]

New version of ‘Elektor Electronic Toolbox’ for iPad / iPhone released - [Link]

15 Jul 2011

Baolab Microsystems has developed innovative, pure CMOS MEMS devices that use Lorentz force sensors to detect the strength and direction of the Earth’s magnetic field. The new 3D Digital NanoCompass™ technology matches existing performance benchmarks for sensitivity, power consumption and package size at dramatically lower cost. An additional unique feature is autocalibration for consistent accuracy.

The new compass chips utilise Baolab’s NanoEMS™ technology, which allows nanoscale MEMS devices to be fabricated using standard high-volume CMOS lines and fully integrated monolithically with analogue and digital electronics. The MEMS elements are defined within the existing metal interconnect layers on the wafer as part of the normal CMOS production process. Conventional 3D compass devices typically use magnetoresistive materials or Hall-effect devices combined with magnetic field concentrators to detect the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field. [via]

Novel 3D digital MEMS compass fabricated in CMOS - [Link]

15 Jul 2011

A new type of fuel could be an alternative to batteries as energy sources and helping to boost the hydrogen breakthrough.

This goal is pursued by the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, the Excellence Cluster of Engineering of Advanced Materials at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and the Energy Campus Nuremberg, by researching a mobility option that provides for the storage of energy in liquids, making it compatible with today’s petrol / diesel supply. These so-called energy-carrying substances (ETS) will be recycled and not consumed. This distinguishes them from the current system of fuel. [via]

Carbazole: The electric fuel? - [Link]

15 Jul 2011

For sure, right now you’re surrounded by electromagnetic energy transmitted from sources such as radio and television transmitters, mobile phone networks and satellite communications systems. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have created a device that is able to scavenge this ambient energy so it can be used to power small electronic devices such as networks of wireless sensors, microprocessors and communications chips.

Manos Tentzeris, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and his team used inkjet printing technology to combine sensors, antennas and energy scavenging capabilities on paper or flexible polymers. Presently, the team’s scavenging technology can take advantage of frequencies from FM radio to radar, a range of 100 MHz to 15 GHz or higher. The devices capture this energy, convert it from AC to DC, and then store it in capacitors and batteries.

Capture free energy 24/7 - [Link]

15 Jul 2011


The sheet of paper looks like any other document that might have just come spitting out of an office printer, with an array of colored rectangles printed over much of its surface. But then a researcher picks it up, clips a couple of wires to one end, and shines a light on the paper. Instantly an LCD clock display at the other end of the wires starts to display the time.

Almost as cheaply and easily as printing a photo on your inkjet, an inexpensive, simple solar cell has been created on that flimsy sheet, formed from special “inks” deposited on the paper. You can even fold it up to slip into a pocket, then unfold it and watch it generating electricity again in the sunlight. [via]

Foldable array of solar cells printed on a sheet of paper - [Link]

15 Jul 2011

pyroelectro.com writes:

One frustrating moment in do-it-yourself electronics is when you hit the limit of using ‘wired’ electronics and need to go to wireless. Wireless electronics are frustrating because typically unless you are very knowledgeable you cannot easily build them yourself. This means you either need to study until your eyes bleed or you have to use pre-made modules.
This tutorial will explore how to add and use common remote control car transmitter and receiver pairs in your microcontroller projects. Specifically the received protocol will be translated into information the pic can use to create some output from the remote control’s input.

Quick and Easy Wireless system - [Link]

15 Jul 2011

open-electronics.org writes:

A very interesting feature of Arduino is the great avalaibility of library that make the developer work very simple and fast.Make a Web Server, a Web Client or post a Tweet haven’t difficulty. Try to do the same application with the Microchip’s Stack TCP/IP…. It’s not impossible but for beginner developpers is of course hard. With the Ethernet shield or WiFi shield you can connect your application to the internet world, get information, send email, post data…

Post data? But where? Some site host your data with graphics like the famous Pachube, I also use this service for my projects. But in some case could be useful have the data in a spreadsheet to do operations and evaluate numbers. In this post I want explain the best way to send data on Google Spreadsheet.

How to send data from Arduino to Google Docs Spreadsheet - [Link]

14 Jul 2011

swharden.com writes:

I developed a nifty way to send data from any microcontroller to any PC running any operating system with zero components and hardware you probably already have sitting in front of you.  Traditional interface methods (namely serial port and usb port, both have been referenced on Electronics-Lab) have drawbacks. For serial, you need a level converter IC (like a max232) and an archaic PC with a serial port, or a USB serial port adapter (many of which don’t run on Linux or newer versions of windows), and a crystal specifically chosen for transfer at a certain bit rate. FTDI makes a series of USB/serial interfaces, but they’re expensive and SMT only I don’t feel like paying even more for a breakout board just to communicate with a $1 microcontroller. Also, many ATMEL chips (most of the ATTiny series) don’t have rs232 capability built in, so you have to bit bang it in software (not fun). USB is another option, but requires a crystal and some level conversion circuitry, and isn’t supported by most small/cheap ATMEL chips. It’s built in some simple PICs (like some of the 18F series) but I don’t want to switch architecture just to send a few bytes to a PC! The V-USB project helps ATMEL chips bit-bang the USB protocol, and I’ve gotten it to work, but it’s not easy (their hello world program is hundreds of lines of code), and you have to mess with writing USB drivers or interfacing pre-made USB drivers with OS-specific solutions, it’s not fun either.

I’ve long wished there were an easier way! In this post, I demonstrate a simple way to send data from a microcontroller to a PC (and a more advanced second example showing bidirectional communication) using PC a sound card! Although the one built in most PCs would work, I decided to do it with $1.30 sound cards that are all over eBay. The chip sends pulses of data to the PC and a Python script (which can be run on virtually any OS) listens to the sound card with the pyAudio library and waits for data. When it’s received, it measures distances between pulses and dumps data values to the screen (optionally logging them to a CSV file ready for graphing by Excel or some other program).  A series of calibration pulses precede the data stream allowing the PC to adapt to incoming data at any speed (no specific clock speed or crystal is required).

Although it’s not a refined method suitable for consumer applications, it sure is a useful hack for anyone looking to quickly exchange data between a microcontroller and a PC!

Sound Card Microcontroller / PC Communication - [Link]





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