by Suzanne Deffree:
The holiday season is in full swing and you may still have a few people to check off your gift-giving list. If you’re at a loss for what to buy the open-source-focused engineer or maker in your life, take a gander at these 8 open-source gifts.
In this list you’ll find out-of-the-box devices, kits, and components for DIY designing, some starting as low as $19.99, with others topping $2100. Be sure to share your own open-source favorites in the comments section and let us know what you think of the ones we’ve included on this list.
8 open-source holiday gifts - [Link]
by w2aew @ youtube.com
The Humanalight is a simple single-cell flashlight kit that will produce usable light, even from a “dead” AA battery. Circuits like these are often called a Joule Thief. This term has been applied to just about any circuit that allows you to boost the voltage from nearly depleted batteries for some other low-power application – such as lighting an LED. Strictly speaking, a Joule Thief circuit is an Armstrong style blocking oscillator that uses a bifilar wound transformer and relies on the saturation characteristics of the core to produce oscillation. This flashlight uses a simple two-transistor relation oscillator. A description of the circuit is given, and its operation is examined by viewing the waveforms on an oscilloscope. The proceeds from the sale of this kit benefit the “Ears To Our World” charity which provides self-powered radios and other technology to rural, impoverished and remote regions of the world.
Circuit Walkthrough: A single cell LED light - [Link]
MUNICH — At Electronica last week, the LED manufacturer Everlight introduced what it claims to be the world’s first colour-temperature tunable LEDs in a simple chip on board (COB) package.
After brightness dimming, tunable color temperature is a feature that allows end users to tune the warmth of the light they receive. Typically, this feature is implemented through the use of multiple LEDs binned from cool white to warm white, behind a diffuser.
With its CHI3030 27V/29W series, Everlight claims to have a very compact solution, with LEDs packaged behind concentric layers of phosphors offering different color temperatures of white. Depending on how much warm white or cool white you choose to light up, you can get a precise color-temperature mix.
New LEDs offer tunable color temperature - [Link]
by Hanne Degans @ phys.org:
At this week’s IEDM 2014, held in San Francisco, California, nanoelectronics research center imec demonstrated an ultra-low power RFID transponder chip. Operating at sub 1V voltage and realized in thin-film transistor technology (TFTs) on plastic film, the chip paves the way for universal sensing applications, such as item level RFID tagging, body area networks (BAN) and environmental monitoring, that require prolonged remote autonomy, and ultimate thinness, flexibility and robustness.
One of the major drivers of the semiconductor industry is the Internet of Things (IoT). Market studies envision a society where billions of autonomous sensor nodes are seamlessly integrated into objects, in the environment and on human bodies, operating independently for months, interacting with each other and connecting to the internet. This IoT is expected to improve and enhance daily-lives through smart houses and smart cars, personal health monitoring and much more.
Ultralow-power RFID transponder chip in thin-film transistor technology on plastic - [Link]
Evaluation samples of STMicroelectronics’ STM32F446 range of MCUs are now available. These devices feature ARM Cortex-M4 based processing units with compact 256 or 512 KB on-chip Flash options and 128KB RAM with built-in memory-extension interfaces, extended connectivity and communication capabilities.
The MCUs use ST’s proprietary ART Accelerator, smart architecture, advanced Flash technology and an embedded ARM Cortex-M4 core to achieve a performance of 225 DMIPS and 608 CoreMark at 180 MHz executing from embedded Flash.
The interface capabilities allow simultaneous communication via multiple interfaces which cater for interactive industrial, scientific, medical, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications, while the advanced process technology, together with dynamic voltage scaling, extensive clock gating and flexible sleep modes offer significant power savings.
The STM32F446 from STMicroelectronics - [Link]
A California-based start-up called NanoLambda have developed a low-cost ($10) spectrometer sensor chip called Apollo which makes possible a wide range of new sensing applications. The sensor is capable of measuring individual wavelengths of light and is accurate to 1 nm with 10 nm resolution.
Optical spectroscopy is a very powerful non-invasive diagnostic technique and has been used for decades in many fields including health care. However the equipment cost using traditional methods of spectrum analysis has limited its area of application to professional use only. Using the company’s nano fusion technology NanoLambda have fabricated a sensor from thin nanofilter arrays which reduces the size and cost to about 1 % compared with traditional sensing equipment. The sensor’s sensitivity bandwidth can be defined in the manufacturing process and even allows detection in the infra-red region. The small physical size of the sensor makes it ideal for use for unobtrusive, wearable health monitoring applications.
Spectrometer-on-a-Chip - [Link]
by Michael Mayes @ edn.com:
Although temperature is a fundamental aspect of our lives, it is difficult to measure accurately. Before the era of modern electronics, Galileo invented a rudimentary thermometer capable of detecting temperature changes. Two hundred years later, Seebeck discovered the thermocouple, a device capable of generating a voltage as a function of temperature gradients in dissimilar metals. Today, thermocouples as well as temperature dependent resistance elements (RTDs and thermistors) and semiconductor elements (diodes) are commonly used to electrically measure temperature. While methods for extracting temperature from these elements are well known, accurately measuring temperatures to better than 0.5ºC or 0.1ºC accuracy is challenging (see Figure 1).
Temperature-to-Bits converter helps solve challenges in sensor measurement - [Link]
Lattice Semiconductor has developed two power-saving IP cores intended for use in smartphones and mobile devices. Known as ‘Voice Solution’ the two IPs are: Voice Command supporting hands-free and always-on applications, and Voice Recognition which improves the user experience by enhancing security and reducing false trigger inputs. They essentially act as a processing front-end, allowing the main processor to remain in low power dormant mode until voice commands have been processed and recognized by the Lattice Voice Processor.
Lattice FPGA Voice Processors - [Link]
by Raffi @ en.code-bude.net:
Today we’ll be talking about Captain Herrmano’s Mystery Box, a piece of hardware that I built over a year ago. But what is this box, what does it do, who was it built for and who is this Captain Herrmano anyway? This will be the topic of this article.
What is Captain Herrmano’s Mystery Box?
The box is a so-called “reverse geocaching puzzle”. The inspiration for this project was a reverse geocaching box built in 2009 by Mikael Hart. Unlike Mikael’s version of the box, it’s not enough to simply find and visit the target place. To unlock the treasure of Captain Herrmano, the player has to solve more tasks.
The special thing about this box is that it interacts with the player, and not just via text – it also has sound and light feedback, as well as other means of communication. But more about that later.
So who is this captain anyway? Captain Herrmano is an old pirate, whose spirit guards the chest and guides the player through the challenges. The chest, in turn, contains the pirate’s treasure.
Captain Herrmano’s Mystery Box – a Reverse Geocache - [Link]
by Mark (Moonyoung) Lee & Kevin J. Wang:
What is seeing without feeling? The field of Virtual Reality has recently been gaining much attention, with the Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard paving the path of visualizing a world that is not physically there. But what if the virtual reality experience could be enhanced by incorporating tactile sensing? The Haptic Glove we developed accomplishes just that – without seeing the physical structure of the object, you will still be able to feel the presence of virtual objects.
The goal of the project is to create an exoskeleton on the forearm arm that provides tactile perception for the user. The volume of the virtual object will be emulated based on the intensity of a light source that is placed inside a black box. Depending on the relative brightness of the source to the phototransistors that are mounted onto the exoskeleton, a distance between the user’s hand and the light source can be determined. By varying the brightness of the LED light source, the size of the virtual object will vary. To provide the tactile perception, servos mounted on the exoskeleton provides a pulling force, preventing the user’s fingers from reaching closer to the light source. In addition to the resistive force that act against the fingers’ movement, there are also flat surfaces at the tips of the exoskeleton that will flip up to make contact with the user’s fingers, which actually provides the sense of touching a real object.
Feeling the light in a whole new way - [Link]