How do they do that?
Reverse engineering is one of the most challenging and rewarding endeavors in electronics. I’m talking about replicating the functionality of a device that you’ve seen or read about but that’s too expensive or otherwise unavailable.
There's been an odd movement in the music electronics industry toward hand-wired and point-to-point circuitry. We're talking terminal strips, solder tabs, and discrete components — no circuit boards or chip carriers.
Is it necessary to break-in speakers for them to reach "full fidelity," or is it just a manufacturers ploy to get customers used to their speakers so they won’t return them?
Make History: Keep a Logbook
Notes, sketches, and snapping photos of your circuits/projects can be a time-saving reference, as well as historical documentation for yourself and others.
The Internet of Things
Since the birth of the Internet, there has been talk of total connectivity — between people, people and their possessions, and things to things. Today, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a practical reality in many settings.
Can’t Get There From Here
Children and younger adults often have an easier time picking up microcontrollers, relative to someone with years of experience with analog circuits. This is — in part — because they have no legacy knowledge to get in the way
A MAKER’S DOZEN: Designing Around Failure
I just finished a major production run of simulators for training physicians on how to examine the eye. Based on my failure rate, I'd say that a proper maker's dozen is 13.5 units. But, when it comes to DIY, it's not really a "failure rate" but a learning opportunity.
Change the World
Take your knowledge of electronics — whatever your level of expertise — and focus it towards solving a meaningful problem. Go ahead, change the world. I dare you!
Indestructibles: The Lure of Tube Audio Equipment
My Sony integrated amp with copper chassis and huge toroidal transformers was a tour de force in my audio setup before the power mains took an indirect lightning hit. Because the microcontroller was fried, I couldn’t even get the unit to power up.
Designing For Others
If you’ve ever designed and built an electronic gizmo for someone else, you know that once the device leaves your sight, anything goes.
A fundamental application of electronics is transformation — from power supplies that transform AC to DC to microprocessors that transform binary code to text, graphics, and sound.
Truth in Specifications?
A recent book project of mine revealed manufacturers were either intentionally or unintentionally misleading consumers with product specifications that were confusing, incomplete, or simply false.
Teardowns of electronics devices can be an excellent means of learning how to design circuits for the real world, as well as an inexpensive source of parts for your construction projects.
Instead of working with individual ICs and passive components, cost- and time-conscious engineers design and construct prototypes by working at the system level using function-specific modules.
Are You An Innovator?
There is no one correct path to becoming an innovator. By mastering experimental fundamentals, you’ll be in a better position to innovate.
The microMedic Kit
This is a review of the microMedic Contest Kit, designed to support the 2013 microMedic National Contest sponsored by the US Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (http://www.tatrc.org) in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon Entertainment Technology Center and Parallax, Inc.
My latest kit, a hybrid preamp, makes an affordable, high-quality guitar amplifier that provides real 'tube sound' that even the best all solid-state preamps can only approximate.
With the recent rise in global competition for technology and manufacturing jobs, professional associations, labor organizations, and political groups in the United States have begun to emphasize the need for innovation...
As highlighted by several articles in this issue, green innovation — using energy efficient alternatives to fossil fuel and other methods of minimizing the release of carbon in the environment — has bubbled to the surface of our social consciousness. Increased gasoline prices at the pump, US military involvement in the Middle East, and maneuvering of political parties in preparation for the upcoming presidential election, have reinvigorated the green energy product and service industry..
Biologically Inspired Robots
Developers of biologically inspired robots borrow from systems and methods found in nature with a goal of producing a more efficient, capable, or cost-effective robot than would be possible through traditional means...
The projects in this issue of Nuts & Volts address a range of interests, from rocketry instrumentation and weather, to thermal management and instrument calibration standards. Although the relevance of standards is most evident in Doug Malone’s article on building a voltage reference, each of the projects is a tribute to the necessity of standards in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of electronic circuitry and instrumentation...
Continue reading to learn how to build a simple robot designed to travel over steel or iron surfaces — a magnetic inchworm — with a few servos, a pair of neodymium magnets, and an R/C system...
In this issue of Nuts & Volts, we’re fortunate to feature several excellent articles, including Jeff Mazur’s introduction to digital broadcasting and Paul Kafig’s discussion of thediscrete Fourier transform (DFT). Both topics represent sea changes in the evolution of electronics, but through very different mechanisms...