Researchers Steve Dunn at Queen Mary University and James Durrant at Imperial College London have been experimenting with a new design of thin, flexible solar cell made from zinc oxide. Manufacturing costs of the new cells will be significantly lower than conventional silicon based technology. The only disadvantage is their poor efficiency; just 1.2 %, a fraction of that achievable with silicon.
The material also exhibits piezo-electric properties, nanoscale rods of the material generate electricity when they are subjected to mechanical stresses produced by sound wave pressure. Sound levels as low as 75dB, equivalent to that from an office printer, were shown to improve efficiency. Durrant said “The key for us was that certain frequencies increased the solar cell output, we tried our initial tests with various types of music including pop, rock and classical”. Rock and pop were found to be the most effective. Using a signal generator to produce sounds similar to ambient noise they saw a 50 % increase in efficiency, rising from 1.2 % without sound to 1.8 % with sound.
New Solar Cell Shows a Preference for AC/DC - [Link]
Active analog filters can be found in almost every electronic circuit. Audio systems use filters for frequency-band limiting and equalization. Designers of communication systems use filters for tuning specific frequencies and eliminating others. To attenuate high-frequency signals, every data acquisition system has either an anti-aliasing (low-pass) filter before the analog-to-digital converter (ADC) or an anti-imaging (low-pass) filter after the digital-to-analog converter (DAC). This analog filtering can also remove higher-frequency noise superimposed on the signal before it reaches the ADC or after it leaves the DAC. If an input signal to an ADC is beyond half of the converter’s sampling frequency, the magnitude of that signal is converted reliably; but the frequency is modified as it aliases back into the digital output.
Designing active analog filters in minutes - [Link]
This is a 7 segment clock displaying HH:MM:SS using PIC16F84A and 4017 digital IC. Complete source files are included.
PIC16F84A Digital Clock - [Link]
Video from SOS webinar – The use of oscilloscopes in practice - [Link]
By Bill Schweber:
In a wireless design, two components are the critical interfaces between the antenna and the electronic circuits, the low-noise amplifier (LNA) and the power amplifier (PA). However, that is where their commonality ends. Although both have very simple functional block diagrams and roles in principle, they have very different challenges, priorities, and performance parameters.
How so? The LNA functions in a world of unknowns. As the “front end” of the receiver channel, it must capture and amplify a very-low-power, low-voltage signal plus associated random noise which the antenna presents to it, within the bandwidth of interest. In signal theory, this is called the unknown signal/unknown noise challenge, the most difficult of all signal-processing challenges.
Understanding the Basics of Low-Noise and Power Amplifiers in Wireless Designs - [Link]
Saelig Company, Inc. announces the availability of the new PicoScope 2000 series oscilloscopes, which are 80% smaller than their predecessors, similar in size to a passport but ¾” thick. Connected to a PCʼs USB port for power and communication, they offer bandwidths up to 200MHz, making them ideal for field use while offering the performance of benchtop scopes. They feature a sample rate of up to 1GSa/s, with high-speed streaming of data up to 1MSa/s, enabling data captures of up to 100 million samples in length. The series incorporate a built-in 100MSa/s or 1GSa/s waveform generator, PicoScope 2000 series oscilloscopes can produce standard signals such as sine, square, and triangle waveforms with programmable sweep, and can also act as a 12-bit 20MSa/s full-function arbitrary waveform generator that can reproduce sampled signals – a very useful feature.
The free PicoScope software delivers an uncomplicated high-resolution visual display, and it incorporates a range of advanced signal processing features: spectrum analyzer, automatic measurements with statistics, channel math, reference waveforms, multiple scope and spectrum views, and serial protocol decoding for I2C, CANbus, SPI, I2S, and UART. Example code is also supplied for those users who want to develop custom applications in C, Visual Basic, LabView, etc.
A Software Development Kit (SDK) is also included, which allows scope control using custom or third-party software. The SDK and PicoScope are Windows-compatible, and example programs in C, Excel and LabView are also provided.
The included PicoScope software for Windows harnesses the PCʼs processing power, storage, graphics and networking capabilities. The user interface is easy for novices to learn, but professional users will find many advanced features including spectrum analysis, persistence display, automatic measurements, advanced triggers and channel math capabilities. Users can download software updates, feature extensions and improvements free of charge.
Made by Pico Technology, Europeʼs award-winning oscilloscope adapter manufacturer, the PicoScope 2000 series is supplied complete with two passive x1/x10 probes and a carry case. They are available now with a 5-year warranty starting at $260 from Saelig Company, Inc. their USA technical distributor. For detailed specifications, free technical assistance, or additional information, please contact Saelig 1-888-7SAELIG, via email: email@example.com, or visit www.saelig.com
NEW PicoScope 2000 series oscilloscopes - [Link]
Ben writes -
I have finally been successful in creating a conductive, clear layer of indium-tin oxide on a microscope slide. In this video, I show the process and explain how sputtering works.
Intro to sputtering (process to create clear, conductive coatings) - [Link]
FT230X charger detection investigation. Baoshi writes:
I bought some FT230X (FT230XS) USB-USART bridge chip recently for a new design. FT230X is not only cheaper than the traditional FT232RL, but also offers a new fancy “USB charger detection” function. This interests me because I’m quickly running out of desk space and power socket. I wish the new device to be solely powered by USB and/or battery.
FT230X charger detection investigation - [Link]
Dr. Megan Smith and [krazatchu] have cooked up a circuit board to control Christmas lights. It’s Arduino compatible, based on the Mega328 and has a microphone, audio line in and a light sensor. It can switch 7 strings of lights with the ULN2003 transistor array. It also has Infrared for communications, to work with a TV remote or to talk among themselves to coordinate lighting events (it will be using some code from firefly project: http://www.lumipendant.com/ )
Hack ur Baubles – A circuit board to control Christmas lights - [Link]
Keyboard, display, sensor or other device can be connected by means of Bluetooth modules even without cables.
Many times, it´s more practical to have devices interconnected wirelessly. Whether we need a simpler transfer of values from some sensor or a more complicated data communication between two devices, Bluetooth modules will manage it without a long development. Bluetooth technology with their range of 10m or up to 100m (Class 1) usually suit to many purposes where a cable connection is undesired or even impossible.
Bluetooth modules from company Rayson are based on various Bluetooth chips from a renowned company CSR, which determine main features of a given module. On stock we keep several types for example the favorite BTM-112 (Class 2) or BTM-222 (Class 1). Modules contain their own firmware, so it´s not necessary to know a functionality of given Bluetooth chips in detail, but for the most of applications it is sufficient to use configuration commands sent via UART port.
Versatility of modules is mainly in the fact, that they are able to transfer virtually any data, that´s why they can be used for controlling of peripherals, audio transmission etc. and everywhere, where there range and data transfer speed of Bluetooth protocols are sufficient.
Where a cable can’t, a Bluetooth can - [Link]