Monthly Archives: July 2015

Learning From Transparent Microchips

via Hackaday » hardware

Microchips and integrated circuits are usually treated as black boxes; a signal goes in, and a signal goes out, and everything between those two events can be predicted and accurately modeled from a datasheet. Of course, the reality is much more complex, as any picture of a decapped IC will tell you.

[Jim Conner] got his hands on a set of four ‘teaching’ microchips made by Motorola in 1992 that elucidates the complexities of integrated circuitry perfectly: instead of being clad in opaque epoxy, these chips are encased in transparent plastic.

The four transparent chips are beautiful works of engineering art, with the chip carriers, the bond wires, and the tiny square of silicon all visible to the naked eye. The educational set covers everything from resistors, n-channel and p-channel MOSFETS, diodes, and a ring oscillator circuit.

[Jim] has the chips and the datasheets, but doesn’t have the teaching materials and lab books that also came as a kit. In lieu of proper pedagogical technique, [Jim] ended up doing what any of us would: looking at it with a microscope and poking it with a multimeter and oscilloscope.

While the video below only goes over the first chip packed full of resistors, there are some interesting tidbits. One of the last experiments for this chip includes a hall effect sensor, in this case just a large, square resistor with multiple contacts around the perimeter. When a magnetic field is applied, some of the electrons are deflected, and with a careful experimental setup this magnetic field can be detected on an oscilloscope.

[Jim]’s video is a wonderful introduction to the black box of integrated circuits, but the existence of clear ICs leaves us wondering why these aren’t being made now. It’s too much to ask for Motorola to do a new run of these extremely educational chips, but why these chips are relegated to a closet in an engineering lab or the rare eBay auction is anyone’s guess.


Filed under: hardware

An NFC implant to open doors and unlocking PCs

via Dangerous Prototypes

nfc_implant

Fred over at the 430h forum shared another project using his NFC implant and an MSP4305529 to unlock his PC:

I recent completed the prototype of my LoginNFC project. It’s a combination of MSP430 acting as a USB keyboard (and CDC serial for configuration) and a TRF7970A NFC reader. The prototype was done with a F5529 LaunchPad and TRF7970A Booster – along with a ferrite antenna to improve the read range.
It’s working well and I did a small write-up here

Via 43oh forum.

Project info at Fred’s project page.

Check out the video after the break.

msp430F5529

Return of the Turbine!

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

(Check out part 1 and part 2 if you are just tuning in.)

Now that robot season has finally slowed down, I have a little more time to give the turbine some much needed attention. It now has something that resembles an electrical system. It is still pretty crude but there is enough to see if this puppy will make fire!

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For now I am simply controlling each component manually with a serial terminal. Once I prove everything is working I will begin coding the actual control system. Here is a basic block diagram of what I am trying to control with an Arduino Pro Mini

My Crude Diagram

I have been having difficulties getting the engine to light. From rusted fuel pumps to sticky valves, I have been having a heck of a time getting all the cobwebs out of this beast. Initially I tried to run the engine off kerosene and two small aircraft batteries. The batteries didn’t have the juice and I made a nice kerosene puddle out back. To make things easier on myself I’m tried to start the engine off propane. It’s only slightly sketchy (thats how I explained it to our new facilities manager). I also got some huge batteries to quench its insatiable thrist for current.

Here is a quick video of our startup attempt and a quick tour of the engine (spoiler, it went well). We got the engine to self sustain a burn but my propane rig just isn’t big enough to bing it up to full power.

Next step: Get it running on kerosene. Then, likely get a noise complaint ticket soon after.

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WIFI Mains Power Dimmer / Switch with CBDBv2

via Dangerous Prototypes

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 MAINS Power Dimmer / Switch Module project by Tracker J:

Now it’s about time to talk also about what many of you has asked for: DIMMING!
It’s a total different story, little bit complicated but, as you will see, not so hard to understand.

General considerations:
There are several types of dimmers generally available. These are used for resistive, and inductive loads, such as incandescent,cold cathode and low voltage (inductive) lamp sources. Note that not all electronic transformers used for low voltage lamps are suitable for dimming by Triac or Thyristors dimmers. In case of Thyristors you need 2 of them as Thyristor is a Unidirectional device and because AC power flows in both directions!

Project info at ESP8266 projects.

Check out the video after the break.

The MagPi issue 36 is here and we’re in print!

via Raspberry Pi

It’s with an almost rude amount of excitement I can announce that issue 36 of the Official Raspberry Pi Magazine, The MagPi, is here!

It’s bigger and – dare I say it – better than ever too, with 100 pages of amazing projects, interviews, features, tutorials and reviews.

Click the pic to buy the print edition from the Swag Store today & have it delivered to your door.

Click the pic to buy the print edition from the Swag Store today & have it delivered to your door.

It’s not just here in the virtual – download your free PDF edition today – sense, though. It’s also here in the physical – take me to the smallest room of the house – sense too.

As of today UK readers can pop to a local branches of WHSmith or their local newsagents and buy the magazine RIGHT NOW for £5.99.

US readers will be able to pick it up from Barnes & Noble or Micro Center in two short weeks (or just grab a copy from the Swag Store).

Click to see everything in the current issue

Click to see everything in the current issue

One of my favourite articles from #36 is Minecraft Splat, which is a multiplayer Raspberry Pi-remake of Nintendo’s modern classic, Splatoon, made in Minecraft Pi. Martin ‘Minecraft‘ O’Hanlon (of stuffaboutcode.com fame) kindly agreed to give it a shot for us and he delivered in spades. If you enjoy that, you’re sure to love Adventures in Minecraft, which he co-wrote with The MagPi’s Technical Editor David Whale.

#36_Minecraft Splat

Subscribe today!
If you’d like to subscribe to the print magazine it’s really rather easy. All you need to do is call +44(0)1202 586848 or visit The MagPi Subscriptions site.

You can save up to 25% on the cover price and have it delivered to your door before it even hits store shelves. If you order while the first issue is still on sale, you’ll get issue 36 sent out straight away. 

Also, if you’re a teacher, after school club leader, part of an educational scheme or simply want to horde as many issues as possible (we don’t mind), you’re entitled to a massive discounts on multiple copies. Please let us know and we’ll be happy to help.

It’s free – now and forever
Finally, it’s very important for me to stress that The MagPi is a Creative Commons publication. This means it’s free to download and share in PDF format.

Why bother buying it at all? Well, like the Raspberry Pi itself, all the proceeds of The MagPi magazine are channelled back into the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a UK charity dedicated to making affordable, programmable computers available to everyone, all over the world.

We think it’s important that children and adults from all walks of life have access to the internet and applications, and have the opportunity to learn to code if they want to. We hope you feel the same way.

The Raspberry Pi makes all of this possible and I very much hope The MagPi Magazine helps make it fun.

The post The MagPi issue 36 is here and we’re in print! appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

NExuS project

via Dangerous Prototypes

IMG_20150708_204853

Adam over at Maniacal Labs has written up documentation on his NExuS weekend project:

My main desires for this build was that the NES look completely stock and unchanged from the front and that original, unmodified, NES gamepads worked via the original gamepad ports. Fortunately, this turned out not to be too bad. First, I needed all the extra parts that would allow me to break out power, network, and video for the Nexus player, and to hook up some extra peripherals. Some I already had lying around, some I had to order but for all parts, these are the exact items:

  • microUSB to microUSB Extension Cable
  • IEC320 C7 Socket
  •  Ethernet Coupler
  • 8″ HDMI Extension
  • Right Angle microUSB Cable
  • microUSB Ethernet Adapter and USB Hub

Also needed were:

  • NES Gamepad Hookup PCB (more on this below)
  • M4-0.7 screws (10-16mm length)
  • Printed brackets (more on this below)
  • 16 AWG Wire
  • Female 2-prong socket end
  • Hot Glue
  • Quick Set Epoxy
  • Low Grit Sandpaper

Project details at Maniacal Labs project page.