F1200 Low-noise Digital IF VGA with FlatNoise

The F1200 of an IDT is a digitally controlled intermediate frequency differential variable gain amplifier that adjusts the gain either dynamically or as a one-time channel gain setting. The device has extremely low noise figure over the entire gain control range. It is packaged in compact 5×5 Thin QFNs with 200 ohm differential input and output impedances for ease of integration into the receiver lineup with IF frequencies up to 300MHz.

The device has exceptional DNL and INL simplifying digital compensation. It has extremely low Harmonic, IM2, and IM3 distortion that is necessary to drive an ADC directly in an IF sub-sampling application. The F1200 acts to enhance system SNR when VGA gain is reduced. The F1200 noise figure (NF) degrades only slightly (NF slope ~ -0.16 dB/dB) over a 13 dB control range while holding the output IP3 approximately constant. The resultant improvement in noise can enhance the system SNR up to 2 decibels at low gain settings relative to a standard VGA.

This design is used in either transmitter or receiver to add an adjustable gain element to the signal chain by increasing or decreasing the attenuation value. Other applications include base station, diversity receivers, digital pre-distortion, μ-wave point-to-point radios and public safety receivers.

F1200 Low-noise Digital IF VGA with FlatNoise – [Link]

The World’s Smallest 4x4x4 RGB LED Cube


HariFun @ instructables.com has build the smallest 4x4x4 RGB LED cude which is less than 1 square inch in dimensions and uses 64 SMD RGB LEDs. The guide goes through the assembly and programming of the cude using an Arduino board.

The World’s Smallest 4x4x4 RGB LED Cube – [Link]


Isolated Digital ON/OFF Switch for AC load


ON/OFF AC load Controller project offers simple On/Off Switch Control with two tact switch.


  • Input supply – 12 VDC @ 40 mA
  • Output – upto 500 W – 230 VAC
  • Onboard tactile switch for ON/OFF control
  • Opto-isolated Triac based design
  • Power-On LED indicator
  • Power Battery Terminal (PBT) and Terminal pins for easy input / output connection
  • Four mounting holes of 3.2 mm each
  • PCB dimensions 44 mm x 86 mm

Isolated Digital ON/OFF Switch for AC load – [Link]


555 Timer Teardown


Ken Shirriff has done a detailed teardown of the popular 555 timer IC. Let’s take a look inside this little chip:

Given the popularity of the 555 timer, I thought it would be interesting to find out what’s inside the 555 timer and how it works. While the 555 timer is usually sold as a black plastic IC, it is also available in a metal can, which can be cut open with a hacksaw revealing the tiny die inside.

555 Timer Teardown – [Link]

ESP8266 Breadboard Adapter


Markus has designed a single-sided ESP-12/ ESP-07 breadboard adapter that uses easy to find SMD parts and has on-board voltage regulator.


* Fits ESP-12 and ESP-07 module
* Single-sided self-etchable design
* Few, cheap parts in SMD
* Breadboard-style – one row on each side accessible
* Vin >4.5V (max. 7V) input possible with 3V3 onboard voltage regulator (with two capacitors 10µF)
* Power-indicator LED
* (Schottky-) Diode as reverse polarity input protection possible (solder 0 Ohm resistor or just connect the two pads for no protection)
* RST, CH_PD, GPIO0 with 4k7 pull-up resistors on board (resistors can be omitted if remote access of those GPIOs is needed)
* GPIO15 with 4k7 pull-down (see above)
* Tactile switch connected to GPIO0 to get into flash mode
* Single post for 3.3V output near voltage regulator

ESP8266 Breadboard Adapter – [Link]

Six boards for rapid IoT development


Robert Thompson @ nxp.com blog discuss about six IoT developement boards that are good start points on the field.

Established companies and emerging start-ups are putting a stake in the Internet of Things ground, an opportunity with estimates of 50 billion devices connected by 2020.

Standing in the way for many companies is the increasing complexity of technology inside connected devices. Shortened design cycles further fuel pressure felt by designers — the shelf-life of an IoT device is similar to a smart phone, from 12 to 18 months. If your new or updated product isn’t first out the door, another product will take its place.

Six boards for rapid IoT development – [Link]

200 chip definitions everyone should know


Andreas Olofsson @ parallella.org has compiled a long list of acronyms used in the chip industry. If you would like to be an expert on IC field, take your time and check it out.

Given how important chips are to modern society EVERYONE should understand and appreciate how they are made. Every field has its own set of terms, jargon, and acronyms (engineers love acronyms!). As you would expect, chip design is no different. If you are new to chip design, it might take you a few days to read through the Wikipedia entries for each one of these 200 topics.

200 chip definitions everyone should know – [Link]

An S/PDIF Sound Card Using PCM2906


joesugar @ ceworkbench.wordpress.com has designed a S/PDIF Sound Card using the PCM2906 IC.

In the belief that I’d rather build than buy I decided to update one of my previous projects, a PCM2904 based sound card, to include an S/PDIF interface. The update was a cinch because TI has a pin-for-pin replacement for the PCM2904 (the PCM2906) with an S/PDIF interface. All I had to do was replace the audio jacks with fiber-optic transmitter/receivers connected to the appropriate pins.

An S/PDIF Sound Card Using PCM2906 – [Link]


OpenDrop – Digital Microfludics Plattform


An open source digital microfludics platform from GaudiLabs, that is also available on github:

OpenDrop is a new design for an open source digital microfludics platform for research purposes. The device uses recent electro-wetting technology to control small droplets of liquids. Potential applications are lab on a chip devices for automating processes of digital biology. How ever the present design should also open the technology to other field and allow experimentation to find new applications. Including the field of art, music, games and education.

OpenDrop – Digital Microfludics Plattform – [Link]

PWM dimmer for LED lighting


Lukas Fassler has published a new project, a DIY PWM dimmer for LED lighting. The dimmer can handle 100W@12V and is controlled by a single potentiometer.

I have recently moved to a new apartment and was looking for a PWM dimmer to control some 12V LED strips. I thought that should be easy enough nowadays but it proved more difficult than I thought. All I found either didn’t meet my requirements, were uggly or expensive. So I decided to build my own, tailor-made to my needs.

PWM dimmer for LED lighting – [Link]