Basic Electronics category

Transistors- The 70-year-old invention that changed the world

First transistor made in 1947- Point contact transistor

Its been 70 years since the fundamental building block of electronics was created, and it has been getting smaller, and better since then. The invention that won the Nobel prize for John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley in 1956 revolutionized electronics and made it into the IEEE milestone list. Before 1947 computers used vacuum tubes, which could be several inches long, consumed massive amounts of power, and needed to be regularly replaced. Nowadays, billions of transistors can fit in the area of a single vacuum tube, can last for many years and are a lot more efficient.

What is a transistor? For computing, basic binary logic operations are needed in order to perform calculations, so the objective of both vacuum tubes and transistors was to toggle the device between on and off position (1 or 0). A transistor is made from semiconductor material (usually silicon or germanium) capable of carrying current and regulating its flow. The semiconductor is doped which results in a material that either has extra electrons (n type) or has holes in the crystal structure (p type), and the transistor is made from a combination (layers) of both of these types. When current is applied, electrons can go through the different layers allowing energy to flow. Transistors can work as a switch or an amplifier depending on how it’s configured.

In 1965, the intel co-founder formulated Moore´s Law which states that every 2 years the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles. Since then Gordon E. Moore has been right, but soon the law will no longer be true which will lead to either a slowdown in technologic advancement or a new golden era for engineering where a new technology will replace transistors and a race to make it better and more efficient will again begin.

Transistors have powered 70 years of advances in computing, and it all started with the point contact transistor made by three scientists who changed history. However, other ways must be found to make computer more capable, but the problem is not just making smaller transistors, but also about the time it takes for information to get from one side to another. Transistors can be found in cellphones, computers, cameras, electronic games, and pretty much anything electronic that performs calculations, so if transistors stop advancing so will all these devices. Perhaps, consumers won’t feel the impact right away, but scientists in need of fast processing and super computers will.

[source]

Learn Arduino Easily with The Arduino Inventor’s Guide

Are you looking for Arduino tutorials? Already over-whelmed by the guides and videos available on the internet? Sparkfun is making Arduino and electronics easier for you with its new book ” The Arduino Inventor’s Guide”!

First of all, the authors of this book , Brian Huang and Derek Runberg, are both working in the department of Education at SparkFun Electronics. Since they are experienced in electronics and educating engineering in schools, they are working towards making electronics easy and fun.

In fact, this 10-project guide is a project-packed introduction to building and coding with Arduino microcontroller. With each hands-on project, total beginners learn useful electronics and coding skills while building an interactive gadgets. Accordingly, this guide is within the introductory-level educational series introduced by No Starch Press and Sparkfun.

“We wanted to share the magic that happens when you build something interactive with electronics,” says Huang. “The goal is to teach real, valuable hardware skills, one project at a time,” adds Runberg.

Content of the book

  • Introduction
  • Electronics Primer
    101 electronics
  • Project 1: Getting Started with Arduino
    Blinking an LED
  • Project 2: A Stoplight for Your House
    A miniature traffic light
  • Project 3: The Nine-Pixel Animation Machine
    An LED screen that displays animated patterns and shapes
  • Project 4: Reaction Timer
    A fast-paced button-smashing game to test your reflexes
  • Project 5: A Color-Mixing Night-Light
    A light-sensitive, color-changing night-light
  • Project 6: Balance Beam
    A challenging ball-balancing game
  • Project 7: Tiny Desktop Greenhouse
    A temperature-sensing mini greenhouse with an automated fan and vent
  • Project 8: Drawbot, the Robotic Artist
    A motorized robot that you can control
  • Project 9: Drag Race Timer
    A racing timer for toy cars
  • Project 10: Tiny Electric Piano
    A tiny electric piano that you can actually play!
  • Appendix: More Electronics Know-How

Reviews

The Arduino Inventor’s Guide will appeal to the gadget freak as well as those who like to put their own spin on things.” —Microcontroller Tips

“This is probably the best Arduino starter book out there! I highly recommend it for every library and classroom.” —Sequential Tart

To sum up, the book is available for $30 on No Starch Press as a printed book and for $25 as an Ebook. In addition, you can check this page for more insights. Also download Project 2: A Stoplight for Your House, and the sketches, templates, and diagrams used in this book.

How to Select a Voltage Regulator

Sanket @ octopart.com tipped us with his latest blog post about voltage regulators and how to select them.

All electronics projects need power. Power can come from either stored energy in a battery, or directly from mains AC voltage or DC power from renewable sources such as solar energy. Power Management ICs (PMICs) help manage the power requirements in a system including scaling voltages, battery charging, and DC-DC conversion. Choosing the right PMIC can make a difference in whether the final product becomes successful or not.

How to Select a Voltage Regulator – [Link]

Edgefx Kits, Get Your DIY Project Kit Now!

Aiming to bridge the gap between the academics and industry in electronics, communication and electrical sectors, Edgefx Technologies was born at 2012 as an online store for project solutions.

Edgefx provides practical skill building solutions to the engineering students in the form of Do It Yourself (DIY) project kits. These kits support wide areas of electronics and communication, and also the latest trends like IoT, Android, Arduino, Raspberry Pi and many more.

Edgefx kits are easy to use and self-explanatory. They come with hardware and training material in the form of extensive audio-visuals and can be purchased online.

The company has grown to have a very strong focus on customer service, quality and morale of the staff and most of all, a passion for what we do. And although we’re a team of almost 30 right now, nothing about us is corporate. We don’t have multiple tiers of hierarchy. The vast majority of our employees work on the front lines, taking care of our customers or shipping items out of the Edgefx Fulfillment Centers.

The website contains more than 200 projects in about 15 different categories. Kits prices range from Rs. 1500 to Rs. 50000 (~ $23 to $750). In addition to the project kits, Edgefx also conducts practical workshops in colleges and schools.

School students, starting from 8 years old, can opt for school electronic projects that empowering them to innovate. It includes three basic level STEM kits and one intermediate level kit. All of these kits are edutainment and fun, with real time applications using latest technologies, and also can create multiple experiments.

Each basic kit has a three project inside, these projects are:

  • Security protection for museum items
  • Touch controlled fan
  • Touch me not LED warning
  • Bike theft alarm
  • Upside down  indicator for fragile item
  • Toll gate auto light LED
  • Security area protecting alarm
  • Auto door opening motor
  • Human detection under debries

The intermediate kit is an Arduino project kit. This project is designed for digital sensors solder-less Arduino projects on breadboard. It will light flasher of different color light on single LED each time on sensing finger swipe with the help of IR obstacle sensor. Also, the project makes different unique sounds on sensing each time.

Beginners Arduino Project Kit

So, if you are searching for some project kits you have to visit the Edgefx store, explore the kits to find the project you want to make and then order it. In the end, don’t forget to share with us your experience once you buy and use the kit!

Integrated Load Switches versus Discrete MOSFETs

Alek Kaknevicius @ ti.com discuss about load switches and the advantages of intergrated switches over discrete ones.

The most common approach to load switching solutions is to use a Power MOSFET surrounded by discrete resistors and capacitors; however, in most cases using a fully integrated load switch has significant advantages. While both discrete and integrated load switching solutions perform the same basic function (turn on and turn off), distinctions exist, such as the transient behavior and total solution size. This application report highlights many drawbacks and limitations of a discrete switching solution and discusses how they can be overcome with an integrated load switch.

Integrated Load Switches versus Discrete MOSFETs – [Link]

What Is Household Ground?

Image source: RimstarOrg Youtube channel
Image source: RimstarOrg Youtube channel

RimstarOrg published an interesting video on his Youtube channel to demonstrate why In north America you can find 3 holes in the electricity socket; which are hot, neutral and ground.

Image source: RimstarOrg Youtube channel
Image source: RimstarOrg Youtube channel

The hot wire goes to a breaker-panel and then to electricity grid and finally to a transformer somewhere. While the neutral line is connected with a bar in the breaker-panel and goes directly to the electricity grid and then to the transformer. Mostly, these wires’ colors are respectively black, white.

Breaker-panel — Image source: RimstarOrg Youtube channel
Breaker-panel — Image source: RimstarOrg Youtube channel

To understand why having a ground in household appliances is important, the video explained a use-case; a microwave-oven with 3 wires electricity plug where the electricity flows between the hot and the neutral, while the ground is connected to the external case. However, if the hot wire isolation gets damaged and attached to the case, the grounded case will make a low resistance path for the electricity. This will protect you from an electric shock because the electricity in this low resistance path will be very high forcing the breaker switches off.

Image source: RimstarOrg Youtube channel
Image source: RimstarOrg Youtube channel

Having a ground in the electrical system can play a role in the places where lightning can occur by forming a discharging path for charged cases in your house.
To understand more about household ground and other different meanings and applications of earth and ground watch the complete video below:

 

Source: Adafruit Blog

Simple circuit indicates health of lithium-ion batteries

Fritz Weld @ edn.com proposes a simple circuit to check li-ion battery health. He writes:

Lithium-ion batteries are sensitive to bad treatment. Fire, explosions, and other hazardous condition may occur when you charge the cell below the margin that the manufacturer defines. Modern battery chargers can manage the hazardous conditions and deny operation when illegal situations occur. This fact doesn’t mean, however, that all cells are bad. In most cases, you can replace the discharged battery and increase your device’s lifetime. Figure 1 shows the circuit for testing battery packs.

Simple circuit indicates health of lithium-ion batteries – [Link]

Simple circuit indicates a low battery

@ edn.com writes:

The Design Idea in Figure 1 indicates a low-battery condition in an audio test instrument that is powered by four AA cells. As the instrument was otherwise an all-discrete design, this same approach seemed more in keeping with the spirit of the project than the use of a single-sourced integrated circuit.

Simple circuit indicates a low battery – [Link]