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]
Last week a team from Keio University took one of our geiger counters for a drive. That was a test run for our slightly more elaborate set up, the first test of which happened this weekend. Rather than taping the counter to the window and taking photos (a method which worked fine btw) we’ve developed a bit of a self contained kit we’re calling the bGeigie since it’s something like a little bento box. We dropped off sensor equipment to volunteers in effected areas and took some measurements at schools around Koriyama that we’re a bit concerned about (including one reading of over 50µSv/hr near a kindergarten playground).
Radiation Data Collection in Fukushima – [Link]
If You’re Going To Kill It, Open Source It! @ MAKE… [via]
Another week, another company killing off a giant product after spending millions of dollars and years developing. Back in 2009 Cisco bought Pure Digital Technology’s Flip. Gadget fans and makers were puzzled by this; phones were just about good enough to start beating the Flip. Now, it’s heading for the landfill.
Some companies fail, some kill off product lines that are not profitable, but in the end, where does all the knowledge go? Nowhere, usually. In a world of disposable everything, is it time that we demand companies do what’s good for humankind in addition to the bottom line?
If companies are going to just kill something off, why not open source it? Some companies do just that, and others, like Nokia, will promise open source (Symbian, dead product) and then quickly reverse itself, locking it up. Pictured above, a Nokia coffin.
In this article I’m going to share my collection of products that no longer exist but should (or could) have been released as open source projects. Part of the goal is for you to post the ones you’d like to see “open sourced” as well. My list includes some familiar favorites, like the Sony humanoid robots, to some old timers like Ricochet wireless cards.
If You’re Going To Kill It, Open Source It! – [Link]
While reading through Charles Platt’s excellent book Make: Electronics, I came across this nice little circuit for making a gentle pulsing LED. I built it for fun, and was struck by the “humanness” of the pulse, but couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Later I found a heart-shaped tag on some pants I had bought, and well, this is the result. I opted to use mainly scrap parts salvaged from various sources. I liked the hacky recycled feel that gave it.
I took Charles’ circuit, and added a second LED for some symmetry. The bob under the pendant is the power source. The pendant’s chain is part of the circuit, so the clasp becomes the on-off switch.
Beating Heart LED Pendant – [Link]
If you’d like to try your hand at turning on a lathe, but don’t want to shell out for a machine, how about printing your own EZLathe? Paul writes: [via]
So I’ve built a complete mini lathe system I’m calling the EZLathe… Fully 3D Printable except a small motor, and a couple pieces of cheap electronics. And able to do small wood turning jobs, or small pieces of pretty much anything.
3D-Printed Lathe – [Link]
This device attaches to dishwasher to tell what state the contents are in. She writes: [via]
I’m absentminded in general, but especially when it comes to the dishwasher. I can never remember whether the dishes are clean, whether the machine needs to be run, or emptied, or whatever. I needed a solution to this problem. My first thought was to hang a flippable sign on the door that said “clean” on one side, and “dirty” on the other. Simple, logical, functional. My second thought was, “What?!? That’s dangerously under-engineered. I can make something much more ridiculous than that.”
This contraption is the result.
Introducing the Dish-O-Tron 6000! – [Link]