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January 2008

Nuts and Volts Magazine


Features

Review: Niagara IV Ink Flow System

I have been interested in photography since I was a teenager and I remember the early days of color slide processing. Things have definitely come a long way since then. While the costs of the digital cameras have dropped, the quality of the photos produced has increased. In this series, I will show you how to create some cool electronic projects that will allow you to control your camera in ways you may find very useful. Along with these projects, I will also show you how to use...


Roll The Dice!

A few months back, one of the engineers at Microchip came up with a simple little design using a low-cost, Baseline PIC16F57 microcontroller (MCU). The idea used inexpensive parts such as LEDs and pushbuttons to create an electronic dice board, which the engineer nicknamed microdice, or “µDice.” A basic concept was used for the design — push a button and a value between 1 and 6 is displayed on seven LEDs connected to one of the ports.


WEBSTER: The Mini Web Server

In thinking about conservation, it occurred to me that hosting my personal website on a desktop PC used a lot of energy. Even without a monitor, a desktop PC draws about 120W of power or about 200 KWH a year. So, I designed and built a low power alternative — Webster, the mini web server. There are many uses for Webster-like web servers including...


YouToo Can YouTube And Star In Your Very Own Tech Show

Ever completed a killer electronics project and wanted to share your results with the world? We discussed text-oriented blogging in the August ‘05 issue of Nuts & Volts, and audio podcasting in the March ‘07 issue, but why not add movingpictures into the mix, and launch your own video blog?


A Touch of Spice Part 1

There’s more than one way to create an electronic circuit and make it work. One powerful tool in particular is simulation previously onlyavailable to professionals). With simulation, you can accurately predict the circuit’s performance even before turning on your soldering iron!


Inverting and Non-inverting Amplifier Design Using Op-Amps

This article discusses simulation results for both inverting and non-inverting amplifiers, using the uA741 pp-amp. Additionally, the article highlights how overall amplifier performance is affected by the gain and bandwidth limitations of the op-amp, as illustrated by PSpice simulations. The uA741 operational amplifier is discussed because it is included in most versions of PSpice, so you can easily repeat the simulations on your own...


How To Use The Pushbutton Rotary Encoder

Learn how using a pushbutton rotary encoder can help you design and build better, more user-friendly microcontroller projects.


Making The Defcon 15 Badge

“170 hours ... Two nights of my honeymoon ... Three PCB revisions ... 863,600 total components ... 6,800 hackers ...” Every summer, thousands of hackers and computer security enthusiasts descend into Las Vegas for DEFCON (http://www.defcon.org) — the largest and oldest continuously running event of its kind. It’s a mix of good guys, bad guys, government officials, and everyone in between, all focused on having fun, sharing technical information, seeing old friends, and learning new things...


A Nuts & Volts Designer’s Guide to Reliable Oscillators and Timers — Part 2

Understanding And Designing With The Ever-Useful CMOS Timer


How To Dual Boot Microsoft XP With Vista

Most new computer systems come with Microsoft Windows Vista preinstalled. The Vista operating system provides many new features, but suffers from three shortcomings...


The Secret Life Of A Wire

A perfect wire should conduct a signal without adding noise, attenuation, or distortion. However, this isn't the case!


Hacking The Prius

Go Green and get up to 100 mpg


The Altoidimeter

Do you wonder what altitude your model Cessna made it to on that last flight? Need to know how high up the face of Half Dome you’ve climbed? Wonder how far down it is to the swirling Pacific as you hang glide over Torrey Pines? Sounds like you’re a candidate for a Zlog miniaturized recording altimeter.


The Serial Port Is Dead! Long Live The Serial Port!

You may have noticed the demise of the old serial port King and its replacement by the USB usurper. If you have used the RS-232 serial port to work with embedded systems, you likely mourn the old King and tend to think of the new King (USB) as something of a tyrant — or at least very hard to figure out and use. But with the advent of USB-to-serial adapter ICs such as those from SiLabs and FTDI, we have something to celebrate...


How To Choose An Operational Amplifier

There are probably thousands of operational amplifiers (op-amps) available. But which one is the best for your particular application? Learn how to wade through the jargon and select the op-amp that best fits your needs.


Become A Schematic Fanatic

To experienced tinkerers and electronics gurus, they can be a clear treasure map that leads straight to the intellectual pot of gold that awaits at the end of a project. To novices, they can be a cryptic combination of symbols that might as well be a part of the Da Vinci code. I’m talking about schematics — those wonderfully symbolic diagrams that are supposed to help intrepid tinkerers wire up circuits and populate printed circuit boards (PCBs).


Access Serial Ports With Visual BASICS .NET

No serial port on your PC? No problem! To add a serial port, attach a USB/serial adapter to a USB port. This article focuses on the PC side of serial port communications. I’ll show how to use Visual Basic .NET to access serial ports, including USB virtual serial ports.


HDTV Audio

In the December ‘07 issue, we examined the various ways to hook up pieces of your home entertainment system to your HDTV. We specifically focused on the different video interfaces. We’ll continue now with the choices for passing audio from one device to another.


Basic Analog Power Supply Design (Part 2)

In the first part, we saw that there are three main components to an analog power supply: input power conversion and conditioning, rectification and filtering, and regulation. We examined the first two components and in this article we will examine the regulation aspect. We will concentrate on the basic three-terminal regulators that are cheap and easy to obtain...


How To: Breadboarding

The goal of breadboarding is to mount electronic components on a supporting substrate and make all of the necessary electrical connections that result in a functional electronic device.


OvenFlow 1.0

Ever want to try SMD (surface-mount device) soldering without using a magnifying glass and super steady hands? Production houses use ovens which cost thousands, but it’s possible to do a reasonable job with a regular toaster oven. You just need to control it correctly. Enter the SparkFun Electronics Reflow Toaster Controller...


Access Serial Ports With PICBASIC

This month, I’ll show a companion PICBASIC PRO program for a PIC microcontroller. The program detects received commands, takes requested actions, and sends responses. I’ll also show how to use an RS-422 interface to create serial links as long as 4,000 feet.


How To Trick An Op-Amp

Question: How does one connect a single polarity voltage source to an op-amp that wants to see both a positive and a negative voltage supply? Answer: Read On!


Low-Cost Curve Tracer

There are times when it’s extremely useful to know the voltage-current characteristic of a semiconductor device. Perhaps you’re matching two transistors or you need to determine the characteristic of some unknown surplus transistor...


A Nuts & Volts Designer’s Guide to Reliable Oscillators and Timers — Part 1

Common Problems in the Design of Digital Oscillators and Their Remedy


A Nuts & Volts Designer’s Guide to Reliable Oscillators and Timers — Part 3

Crystals That Make The World Go ‘Round


21st Century Electric Guitar: The Future Is Now

In his epic non-fiction Profiles of the Future, Arthur C. Clarke wrote that when a technology reaches the peak of its design, any changes are evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. And the electric guitar is no exception.


A2D Signal Processing

One of the limitations of many low cost, single supply, analog-to-digital (A/D) converter ICs today is that they have a limited input voltage range. This article discusses various ways to implement input processing to allow these devices to operate in the real world. I use the ADS7870 as an example A/D, but the equations and samples are generic enough so that you can configure the circuits for other devices...


PCB Basics: From Your Brain To A Finished Board

You’ve seen me do it most every month in Nuts & Volts and SERVO. I make them in two-layer form and I make them in four-layer form. I make them as prototypes. I make them as production quality. I identify them with silkscreen legends. I ruggedize them with soldermask. I make them large and I make them small. What is this thing I do that you see in Design Cycle and SERVO every month? The answer is easy. I create printed circuit boards...


Taming Wall Warts

Here is an interesting experiment — try to turn off everything electrical in your home. Turn off the lights, heater, refrigerator, AC, TV, stereo, everything – then go out and look at your power meter.



Projects

Temperature Gauge Project

We will build a temperature gauge for the range 0°C to 50°C using a thermistor in an analog circuit. Why use a thermistor? Two words: temperature transducers. Along the way, we will look at various ideas such as how to linearize a thermistor, the effect of thermistor self-heating, and zero and span adjust in a gauge...


Build A High Power LED Strobe

Shed some new light on your next strobe circuit application.


High Voltage Power Supply Unit

It’s fun to collect and experiment with forgotten technology! But, you’ll need a stable high voltage power supply to get started.


Follow The Flashlight Evolution

During recent years, with the advent of white LEDs, the ubiquitous household item — the traditional incandescent flashlight — is experiencing radical changes. It caught my attention when I noticed the many benefits LEDs can bring about; especially their energy-saving efficiency and the much brighter luminous intensity....


The Big Ear

Ever wish you could build an “audio telescope” that would let you hear things that were faint or far away? Well, this article shows you how to build such a thing. We call it the Big Ear.


Microprocessor Controlled Wood Stove Part 1

Many of us burn wood for the numerous benefits that this fuel may provide. I have been burning wood for many years now and have found that anything that will lighten some of the drudgery from the work involved with this is a distinct benefit.


The Talking Skull Kit

Halloween is a fun time for make-believe and for kids (and adults!) to play “dress up.” It’s a time to make fun of the things that scare us and to have fun being scared. It’s also a time where folks who have a bit of tech-savvy can impress the heck out of their neighbors.


Build The Illuminame

Light Emitting Diodes — or LEDs — have fascinated me since I was a teenager. I have built many projects over the years with them, usually involving blinking or sequenced chase lights using 555 timers and 4017-decade counters. Over the past few years, both the intensity and available colors of commercial LEDs have drastically improved. This includes blue ones that, when combined with red and green LEDs, can make up a pixel of an RGB display..


Butteryfly Broadcaster

MP3 players are great when you are wearing earphones, but wouldn’t it be nice to listen through your home or car sound system? Now you can! Just plug your player into this project and it will broadcast the music to any nearby FM radio.


Microprocessor Controlled Wood Stove Part 2

In Part 1, software and closed loop theory for the wood stove temperature controller was covered. This article will detail the actual hardware of the controller and how everything interacts.


A Deluxe Test Bench Variac

If adding a variac to your test bench isn't in the budget, try building your own. This DIY unit may just fit the bill.


Build a Wireless Weather System: Final Fixes and Options

I had planned on showing you how to add an LCD receiver satellite in this series, but before I do, I need to show you how to utilize the new Maxstream Series 2 XBee modules. Maxstream no longer supports mesh networking utilizing the original XBee modules.


Modification Of A Six Volt Lithonia Emergency Light

Never be left in the dark again with this reliable circuit.


Model Train Switch Control via PC or PIC

This is a project I wanted to do many years ago when I was spending a lot of time and money on my model railroad. I was disappointed by the big, clunky electrical controllers which operated the track switches, and I wanted to have something smaller and more elegant to do the job. A computer control system would have been ideal, but I never got around to designing one. Many years and several designs later, I have come up with two versions of the control system: one PC-based and one PIC-based...


A Low Cost RF Impedance Analyzer

A voltmeter, signal generator, and a few parts combine to make a powerful impedance measuring tool.


Remotely Programmable Power

The recent demise of my bench power supply — a project I built it back in 1987 — convinced me that it was now time to build a new one. The basic design of my original power supply was relatively straightforward; 1.5-15 volts DC, LM317 voltage regulator, adjustable via a potentiometer, and an analog panel meter to display voltage out. My basic power needs have changed very little since then...


Build A Dog Detector

We have several pets in our home, including two dogs. One of the problems we have is the dogs like to sneak into the kitchen and eat the cat’s food. My wife asked me if there was any way we could create some sort of detector that would chirp each time a dog entered the kitchen. Of course, I said yes...


Use Surace-Mount Devices To Build An FM Transmitter

In this article, we will construct a low-power FM transmitter that can be received with a standard FM radio. Along the way, we will look at how varactor diodes work and how to use an inductor that's in the circuit board.


Build A Voice Changer

Build this voice changer circuit to make your voice sound like a Dalek from Dr Who.


Single Chip, Four Channel Datalogger

Use this inexpensive datalogger to sample analog voltages, convert them to digital values, and store the data in non-volatile memory.


Make The Smart Room Air Conditioner Controller

by Tom Fox

A Microcontroller Based Multipurpose A/C Remote Thermostat


Build A Switching Regulator

We’re all familiar with linear IC regulators, especially the three-pin TO-220 package types like the 7805 and the LM317. They’re inexpensive, and their low-noise andfast transient response make them ideal for many applications. Their one drawback is efficiency. For example, a 7805 regulator delivering one amp from an input of 12 volts will dissipate seven watts of heat while delivering five watts to the load. Plus, a large heatsink would be required to keep it cool enough to operate...


A Simple Superhet

This circuit is just about the simplest, fully functional superheterodyne receiver one can construct with just a handful of parts.


Microprocessor Controlled XMAS Tree

Christmas is a great time of year for many of us and provides a great opportunity to share our gifts with one another. Over the years, we have seen a few designs for electronic Christmas Trees, and we created our own design to make as gifts for friends and family alike.


Audio Spectrum Analyzer

The device described in this article is a configurable audio spectrum analyzer. Many of you have probably seen spectrum analyzers on some higher-end audio equipment, as well as within the GUI of many audio deck programs on your PCs. The function of a spectrum analyzer is to view the frequency components of a signal. One way to state the difference between an oscilloscope and a spectrum analyzer is that with an oscilloscope, you see time domain presentations; with a spectrum analyzer...


Household Thermostat Heating/Cooling Control

Build this PIC-based thermostat and heating/cooling control box and take control of your household environment.


Two Add-On Gauges For The Automotive Enthusiast

This article describes two add-on automotive devices. One of these is not found in production cars (to the best of my knowledge), but will be of interest to anyone who seriously wants to know what goes on under the hood. The second device seems to be standard equipment on more and more cars, and — in my home state of New York, at least — insurance companies will give a discount for its use. Both of these circuits can easily and safely be installed in any car...


Microcontrollers Give Slot Cars A Boost

Microcontrollers are used in many different applications — motor control being one of them. So why not put a motor on something fun, like a slot car? This article will show how to turn an 18 volt, brushed DC-motored slot car into a micro-controlled super car using the PIC12F683 microcontroller. We will give the car adjustable speed control (a throttle!!), brakes (Midas doesn’t make them that small), and the ability to read the track and know where all of the turns and straight-aways are....


Precision Stereo Headphone Amplifier

Starting at about $30 in parts for the core amplifier and a weekend of soldering surface-mount components, you can enjoy audiophile sound.


Electromagnetic Coil Gun Project

Most conventional firearms operate by the action of expanding gasses forcing a projectile out of a barrel at high speed. The propulsion for these systems is the detonation of gunpowder that causes an explosion behind a projectile positioned in a tube (barrel) that is closed at one end (the breech). Systems that operate on gunpowder are extremely loud and leave residue in the barrel and action making them prone to malfunction and requiring considerable cleaning efforts for continued use...


Build A Four Transistor Metal Detector

Want to be a treasure hunter? By discerning subtle changes in frequency, this design is capable of detecting coins to a depth of three to four inches. The circuit can sense a soda can at a depth of six inches and metal pipes at an even greater distance. The unit is powered by two 9V batteries in series. The detector has a current draw of approximately 9 mA at 18 VDC. As a result, the batteries should last a long time...


Holiday Lights Revisited

Even if you don’t share my enthusiasm for “blinky lights,” you’ll find some interesting nuggets of wisdom from my school of hard knocks to boost your next construction project.


The Freeze Fountain

An associate sent me a link to a cool video on the Internet that showed water droplets moving upward toward the spout. No, this wasn’t on Art Bell’s website and had nothing to do with Nikola Tesla, zero point energy, or the so-called Hutchison Effect. But it had everything to do with real science known as temporal aliasing a.k.a., the “stroboscopic effect.” Wikipedia explains a machine employed toward this visual phenomena as “... an instrument used to make a cyclically moving object appear...


Psychedelia II

This color organ has both hardware and software (firmware) components. What is different about this design is that all of the frequency selectivity is provided by digital filters in the digital domain and the output devices are now low voltage super bright LEDs



Columns

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2008
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2008
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2008
Events, Advances, and News

In The Spotlight
by Marvin Mallon
An Interview With Gary Johnston
Managing Director, Jaycar Electronics

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Antenna Achieves Near-Perfect Performance
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2008
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2008
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2008
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2008
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2008
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2008
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2008
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2008
Events, Advances, and News

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
Assembly Language Programming
When I started programming microcontrollers (MCUs), assembly language was the only real choice. I didn’t even know what a compiler was. Now, it seems many beginners and even experienced programmers tend to fear — or at least try to avoid — using assembly language. I will admit that the latest variety of C compilers and Basic compilers make programming much easier, but I still feel it is necessary for a programmer to understand enough about assembly language to write a simple program...

Personal Robotics
by Vern Graner
Ping Pong Printer
In the December issue, I told you the story of The Ponginator — a 20-foot tall ping pong ball shooting, video screen sporting, light blinking, sound-blasting robot that the Robot Group built for Maker Faire in Austin, TX (Figure 1). The Ponginator was quite a hit, firing eight ping pong balls hundreds of feet out over the crowd every 30 minutes or so. Each ball was custom printed with the logo from The Robot Group and Maker Faire (Figure 2). Though a big success, one thing that sorta snuck up...

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
The Power Of Networking
For an actor attempting to make his way in Hollywood, the word “networking” takes on a whole host of meanings. It’s a crazy business, really, and what most of us find is that those with the same goals, e.g., becoming an established actor, are not abundantly helpful to each other (a few are downright malicious). So, “networking” — actor to actor, that is — is mostly bupkis in my book. Now, I do have a “Hollywood” network, but the only actors in it are very well established, if not particularly...

Personal Robotics
by Vern Graner
ROBOBENCH : Putting the CrustCrawler AX-12+ “Smart Arm” To Work
It’s inevitable. When working on a project at your workbench, at some point you’ll wish that you had a third hand. When you’re holding together two parts that need to be soldered or you need a screwdriver but you don’t want to take your eyes off of some small parts to reach for it, an extra hand would be awfully uhm ... “handy.”

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Avoiding Tuition At USB University
I have a love/hate relationship with USB. I love it because it is convenient and user friendly. I hate it because understanding the underlying processes of USB can be difficult. Think about this. You don’t have to know the down and dirty details of how a PIC ALU (Arithmetic Logic Unit) works to employ a PIC in a microcontroller-based application. So, why should we have to know so much about USB to put it to work for us?

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
The Software-Defind Radio Is Real
Reading Hardware for Software Makes for the Ultimate in Versatility

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
Pulse Width Modulation
Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) is a common term in today’s microcontroller (MCU) world. What PWM is and how you use it are the subjects of this column.

Getting Started With PICS
by Ron Hackett
Getting Started with the PICAXE-28X1 Microcontroller
In essence, the PICAXE-28X1 is like a 28X on steroids. It’s pin-for-pin compatible with the 28X and all the 28X commands will function correctly on a 28X1. In other words, if you have an existing 28X circuit, it will function exactly the same with a 28X1 installed. This is a good thing, because Revolution Education considers the 28X to be obsolete and has discontinued it. Amazingly, the new 28X1 is about the same price as the old 28X...

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
Putting The Brakes To It
Even if you’ve never been to Los Angeles, chances are that you’ve heard of the 405 freeway. This infamous chunk of 10-lane hell extends from the San Fernando Valley south through the west side of Los Angeles, past LAX, and all the way down into Orange County where it reconnects with Interstate 5. The 405 spent some time in the news a few years ago for all the gun play associated with “road rage.” As a Los Angeleno who frequently travels the 405, I smile at everybody...

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Firmware You Can Touch
I can remember as a kid I used to build simple little transistor circuits that would activate a relay when someone touched the doorknob to my room. My “DO NOT ENTER” adventures were far more exciting than the circuitry involved. As I recall, the base of the transistor was hung out to dry and connected to the doorknob with a loop of wire. When someone (my pesky little sister, for instance) injected noise into the transistor base via the doorknob, the transistor would turn on and pass current...

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
More Surplus Success
I may have mentioned my friend Brian once or twice. Brian’s a great guy — a super smart IT professional by day and a bring-down-the house DJ by night. When I lived in Dallas, Brian was a tad jealous because I had Tanner (geek heaven) within minutes of my home. So, I move back to Los Angeles a couple years ago and no more Tanner for me (and I miss them). But, what do I have? That’s right! All Electronics — another gate into geek heaven. Brian was beside himself; what luck I have with my proximity

Personal Robotics
by Vern Graner
A Preview Of The New Digiencabulator
Many of us have read about (and drooled over!) some of the amazing gadgets the major names in robotics development have displayed over the last couple of decades. Just watching the DARPA Grand Challenge has shown us high-end “LADAR” laser range finders, massive multi-processor computers, and custom-written fuzzy logic based AI computer vision systems...

Personal Robotics
by Vern Graner
Virtual Robotics
Can you work with robotics if you don’t have a robot?

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
SX/B 2.0
About four years ago, Ken Gracey — the crazy cat who runs Parallax — decided that it would be a good idea to provide a free BASIC language compiler for the SX microcontroller family. The BASIC Stamp had been around for some time and there were a lot of power users — myself included — that would benefit from such a beast. The goals were pretty simple: Make it PBASIC-like (though not necessarily source compatible), easy to use in the SX-Key IDE, and allow it to be a useful learning tool...

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Q&A
In this column, I answer questions about all aspects of electronics, including computer hardware, software, circuits, electronic theory, troubleshooting, and anything else of interest to the hobbyist.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Q&A
In this column, I answer questions about all aspects of electronics, including computer hardware, software, circuits, electronic theory, troubleshooting, and anything else of interest to the hobbyist.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Q&A
In this column, I answer questions about all aspects of electronics, including computer hardware, software, circuits, electronic theory, troubleshooting, and anything else of interest to the hobbyist.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Q&A
In this column, I answer questions about all aspects of electronics, including computer hardware, software, circuits, electronic theory, troubleshooting, and anything else of interest to the hobbyist.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Q&A
In this column, I answer questions about all aspects of electronics, including computer hardware, software, circuits, electronic theory, troubleshooting, and anything else of interest to the hobbyist.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Q&A
In this column, I answer questions about all aspects of electronics, including computer hardware, software, circuits, electronic theory, troubleshooting, and anything else of interest to the hobbyist.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Q&A
In this column, I answer questions about all aspects of electronics, including computer hardware, software, circuits, electronic theory, troubleshooting, and anything else of interest to the hobbyist.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Q&A
In this column, I answer questions about all aspects of electronics, including computer hardware, software, circuits, electronic theory, troubleshooting, and anything else of interest to the hobbyist.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Q&A
In this column, I answer questions about all aspects of electronics, including computer hardware, software, circuits, electronic theory, troubleshooting, and anything else of interest to the hobbyist.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Q&A
In this column, I answer questions about all aspects of electronics, including computer hardware, software, circuits, electronic theory, troubleshooting, and anything else of interest to the hobbyist.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Q&A
In this column, I answer questions about all aspects of electronics, including computer hardware, software, circuits, electronic theory, troubleshooting, and anything else of interest to the hobbyist.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Q&A
In this column, I answer questions about all aspects of electronics, including computer hardware, software, circuits, electronic theory, troubleshooting, and anything else of interest to the hobbyist.

Smiley’s Workshop
by Joe Pardue
Smiley’s Workshop 2: Your First AVR Program — C’ing With Cylon Eyes
Write and compile our first C program using our AVR Learning Platform. Part 2

Smiley’s Workshop
by Joe Pardue
Smiley’s Workshop 5: There are 10 types of people. Those who get binary and those who don’t.
Binary logic, bitwise operators, and more. Part 5

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
Expirements With Sound
It would be more than fair to say that I’m a light sleeper. To be honest, I don’t think that I have ever slept for more than a couple hours at a stretch. Don’t get me wrong, I tie a few of those stretches together each night (well, most nights) so that I’m rested in the morning, but I’m certain that I have never slept all the way through the night. I’m not talking about tossing and turning, mind you, I’m talking about full wake-up — usually at the end of a vivid dream or nightmare...

Smiley’s Workshop
by Joe Pardue
Smiley’s Workshop 1: Introducing the AVR C Programming Workshop Series
Why C? - Why AVR? - Quick Start Guide for the AVR Learning Platform Part 1

Smiley’s Workshop
by Joe Pardue
Smiley’s Workshop 4: Teaching a Butterfly to Talk
More C syntax, a bit about libraries, and teach your Butterfly to talk. Part 4

Smiley’s Workshop
by Joe Pardue
Smiley’s Workshop 3: C Types, Operators, and Expressions
AVR port input and output, and add an eight-bit DIP switch to our learning platform. Part 3

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
The Nearsys Flight Computer
My first near space flight computer transmitted all of its data to ground stations and recoded none of it onboard. As a result, I had a huge mission log to wade through and edit after each flight. It got so bad that it took longer to put the flight and science data into shape than it took to fly the mission. So this month, I’ll introduce you to the flight computer that I’m currently usingto operate my near spacecraft. It avoids these problems by transmitting only position reports to ground...

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Roll Your Own FPGA Design
To really get to know a microcontroller, CPLD, or FPGA, one may take the programming and hardware design knowledge gleaned from a factory-generated development kit and apply it to a unique personal application. We’ve paid our dues with a factory Xilinx FPGA development board. So, our goal this month is to get down and dirty with our own Xilinx XC3S50A FPGA design...

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
PICKIT™ 2 Command-Line Option
I have good news for all the users of Microchip Technology’s PICkit 2 programmer who want to use it with an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) other than Microchip’s MPLAB® IDE. Microchip has released a DOS command-line option for the PICkit 2, and I’ve successfully used it with the MicroCode Studio IDE from Mecanique (http://www.mecanique.co.uk) and microEngineering Labs’ PICBASIC PRO™ sample version (http://www.microengineeringlabs.com)...

Personal Robotics
by Vern Graner
The Peanut Butter Monster Detector
Build this robotic bedside companion to help ease your child’s nighttime fears.

Personal Robotics
by Vern Graner
DORKBOT People Doing Weird Things With Electricity
So, you’ve been working on your electronic masterpiece for a few weeks (months?) and it’s finally finished, so ... now what? Where can you go to show off your little beauty, the child of your imagination, the fruits of your labor? How about Dorkbot?

Personal Robotics
by Vern Graner
The Probotix Fireball V90 CNC Router
In this month’s issue, we construct the PROBOTIX FireBall V90 CNC router from a kit and then put it through its paces.

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Moving Past The 2X16 LCD Display
Does your microcontroller project need to convey a bit more information than a standard 16 x 2 LCD can handle? If so, one of the best ways to establish a data communications session between a microcontroller-based deviceand human eyes is to pipe the human-to-device and device-to-human chatter through an RS-232 connection that you establish between the microcontroller’s USART and a personal computer’s serial port...

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
Monitoring Input Signals
In this month’s column, I want to introduce a common topic involving sensing or measuring input signals. A wise, experienced engineer recently suggested I point out that all MCU projects involve three basic parts...

Personal Robotics
by Vern Graner
Robo Spin Art
The venerable spin art machines popularized in the 1960s and 1970s created funky, psychedelic artwork many of us remember from the carnivals and county fairs of our youth. Simply put, “spin art” is created when paint is dropped on to a rotating paper, allowing centrifugal force to make streaks of color. The RoboSpinArt machine updates this concept by making spin art attractive to the so-called “joystick generation” of today while also adding on features to the original design.

PICAXE Primer
by Ron Hackett
Playing Music and Watching Lights
In the first installment of the PICAXE PrimeR, we took a look at the 08M’s music making capabilities and used the super simple “play” command to play “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” This month, we’ll expand our repertoire by exploring the “tune” command, which will enable us to play any tune we choose. As I mentioned last time, there are nearly 1,000 tunes available for free downloading at the Revolution Education website (http://www.rev-ed.co.uk/picaxe/)...

PICAXE Primer
by Ron Hackett
Experimenting With The IR Multi-Board
This month, we’re going to continue our exploration of PICAXE IR capabilities, which we have divided into three basic categories...

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Roll Your Own WiFi Spot
This month, we will build a very useful data communications device that is right at home with just about any of today’s laptops, PDAs, and personal computers. Depending on your intended application, our easy-to-build PIC-based data communications device can transfer data using its serial port or its WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) capabilities. If you prefer to exclude Windows and Linux from your data communications network, the device we’re about to discuss also has the ability...

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Ten Things You May Not Know About Bluetooth
Bluetooth is a very familiar name these days if you have a cell phone or laptop. It is a wireless technology that has been around a while and probably can be credited as the start of a whole boat load of short-range wireless technologies. But even if you have heard the name, you may not really know all about it. Here are 10 facts that will update your knowledge of this hot wireless method...

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
A Discerning Touch
I had the pleasure of taking last month’s Xilinx/Microchip capacitive touch sensing prototype hardware on the road to Abel Elementary School in Sarasota, FL. The occasion was Space Day, which is an annual space-science event sponsored by the Lockheed Martin Corporation. Over 150 fourth and fifth grade fingers touched the tin touch sensor, which was insulated by and tied down to a desk with a piece of cellophane tape I scarfed from a teacher’s desk. Thanks to a CleverScope and my Lenovo laptop...

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
PIC32MX Internal Addressing
I recently saw a sign that read, “Everything is hard until you figure out how to do it.” As an adversary of all things complex, I grinned to myself as I passed the sign by on the highway. The PIC32MX is a prime candidate to fall into the spin of the highway sign writer’s sage observation. However,someone on the Microchip PIC32MX team saw that same sign somewhere along the way as the road that leads to the understanding and application of the PIC32MX is paved with easy to use C language macros...

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Welcome To the land of CPLD
If you’ve been following Design Cycle, you know that we do lots of neat stuff with Microchip’s family of PIC microcontrollers. When a new variant of the PIC goes public — such as the PIC32 — we most always need to ride the learning curve to figure out what we can do with the new part. That’s what Design Cycle is all about. And, yep. I’m setting you up for something new. And, nope. This time it’s not a PIC...

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
Near Spacecraft Recovery Systems: Part 2
LAST TIME, we sewed a parachute canopy, so this month we’ll add the shroud lines and spreader ring to complete it. Then, we’ll wrap up with an electronic recovery device that you may want to add to your parachute. Are you ready?

Personal Robotics
by Vern Graner
Habitat For Hobbies (Part 2)
In this month’s column, I’ll complete the series by showing my own workspace (it’s only fair, after all), sharing a bit of my design approach, and announcing the winners of the Workbench Design Challenge!

Personal Robotics
by Vern Graner
A Droid Of Your Own
Is it possible to buy a “kit” of R2-D2 parts and make your own full-sized replica R2-D2 droid? Nope. Is it possible to find a group of talented builders and crafters who are passionate about building droids and who will go to great lengths to help you create your own? You betcha!

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
A Femto in your Future?
What the devil is a Femto? I suppose it had to happen sooner or later. With indoor cell phone usage as poor as it often is, it was inevitable that someone would come along to solve that problem. And here it is — the femto cell. It just could be one of the next big electronic purchases you make.

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Six Things You Should Know About Wireless
Wireless started changing the world just after it was invented by guys like Marconi, Tesla, and others in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And that change is still going on. Here are a few wireless developments maybe you didn’t know about.

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
Near Spacecraft Recovery Systems (Part 1)
It’s awesome to receive data from your near spacecraft at an altitude of 85,000 feet. Moreover, chances are good that if the sky is clear, you’ll even see its balloon as a tiny white dot in the sky. At this altitude, the balloon is 20 feet across and expanding as it rises. Shortly though, that white dot in the sky disappears. Now it’s up to the recovery system to bring your near spacecraft safely home...

Personal Robotics
by Vern Graner
Power Flowers
As I am still in the process of summarizing the great feedback I received from folks about the Habitat article, I’m not quite ready to publish Habitat for Hobbies Part 2. Instead, I’ve decided to take a different approach this month and present a simple robotic project that should be within the grasp of most electronic hobbyists. The idea is to create some neat moving effects using a single servo motor andsomething many of us have lurking in a cabinet in the kitchen...

PICAXE Primer
by Ron Hackett
Good Intentions and “Faux” PC Boards
It’s funny how things sometimes get away from me. My original intention for this month’s column was to present an introduction to the many new and powerful features of the PICAXE-28X1 processor but, as I started to elaborate on the details of some of these features, it began to feel like information overload...

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Introducing the 32-bit PIC!
I can still remember fiddling with my very first PIC project, which was based on (at that moment in time) the brand new and unbelievable PIC16C54. I don’t recall ever complaining about the size of the PIC16C54 SRAM or its 1 µs instruction cycle time. And, I don’t recall ever filling up a PIC16C54’s program memory as we all programmed in assembler back then. As time passed, I quickly “outgrew” the PIC16C54’s limited I/O system (12 I/O lines) and moved up to using the “bigger” PIC16C55 device...

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Managing The Real World
No matter how powerful a microcontroller may claim to be, a microcontroller by itself cannot do everything in a real-world, I/O-oriented embedded system. For instance, I don’t know of any microcontroller that can directly drive a one ampere resistive or inductive load directly from one of its I/O pins. That means if you’re working on putting together a microcontroller-based system that will interface to motors and relays, a great deal of your design time will be expended on the I/O interface...

PICAXE Primer
by Ron Hackett
Build The PICAXE IR Multiboard
This month, we’re going to develop and test our first I/O device for use with the PICAXE-28X1: an 08M-based, multi-function infrared board capable of implementing the entire range of PICAXE IR communications.

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
Getting Started On Your Holiday Gift List
With the holidays looming, I wanted to pass along a holiday shopping list that you can pass on to your loved ones who don’t have a clue what to get for you.

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
2007 SPACEWARD GAMES (Part 2)
The Spaceward Foundation is an educational 501(c) (3) non-profit dedicated to the creation of the space elevator (see the March ‘08 issue of Nuts & Volts). But the Spaceward Games isn’t just about space elevators; it’s about developing the technology that will kick-start our migration into the solar system. This month, I want to conclude my report on the most recent Spaceward Games by describing the solar racing and ultra-strong materials competition — the other half of their challenge...

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Wi-Fi Makes Internet Radio Wireless
One more option for the radio enthusiast: You just don’t know how lucky you are. Just think of all the options you have in listening to radio. There are the old standbys like AM and FM stations that most of us still listen to mainly in the car. There are thousands of stations nationwide and dozens in your local area. Then there is the newer HD radio that puts digital broadcasts into the AM and FM bands for higher fidelity, better noise, and fading immunity, and more station choices...

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
The 2007 Spaceward Games
Within a couple of decades, the United States will be reaping the benefits of a new space transportation system. It’ll be a green and affordable system capable of carrying tons of cargo daily into Earth orbit and beyond. Its affordability and reliability will initiate the full exploration and exploitation of our solar system. However, to reach this future, a couple technologies must first mature. This month, we’ll see how the Spaceward Foundation is helping to develop the two key technologies...

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
The 700 MHz Spectrum
If it weren’t for spectrum, there would be no wireless. The good news is that spectrum does exist. The bad news is that there is a finite amount of it. Spectrum is sort-of like real estate. There is only so much land on earth so it too is finite. When you use it all up, then what do you do?

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Building A CPLD Development Kit
Pour some distilled water on that dried up soldering tip cleaning sponge and fire up your soldering station. In this edition of Design Cycle, we are going to tie down that Xilinx XC2C64A CPLD you see in Photo 1 onto the ExpressPCB printed circuit board we’re beginning to put together in Screenshot 1...

PICAXE Primer
by Ron Hackett
Getting Started With Stripboard Circuit Construction
If you have been reading the PICAXE Primer or any of my articles in Nuts & Volts and SERVO Magazine, you know by now that I am very partial to working with breadboard circuits. I think they are by far the fastest and most flexible approach to building and debugging a PICAXE-based circuit, or any small circuit for that matter. However, sooner or later you may want to construct a circuit that is more reliable and “permanent” than a breadboard circuit...

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
Near Space Applications Using The PICAXE Microcontroller (Part 2)
The PICAXE-08 is a great microcontroller for small applications that don’t require a lot of I/O pins or memory. This month, we’ll look at two more small near space applications that are perfect for the PICAXE-08 and PICAXE-08M. The first is a programmable camera timer that replaces the standard 555 timer circuit used in most BalloonSats. The second is a cut down device that ensures the timely termination of a near space mission and the separation of the balloon’s fragments. So, let’s see what...

Personal Robotics
by Vern Graner
Habitat For Hobbies (Part 1)
Just as most biological entities require A specific habitat to flourish, hobbies such as robotics and electronics need a place to live and grow. Specifically, the hobbyist workbench.

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
Getting Started With The PICBASIC™ Pro Compiler And MPLAB® IDE
Email feedback has made it clear that there are many who would like me to go back and cover how to get started, as the title of the column suggests. Though I’ve covered this in many previous columns, much has changed, and there are still some beginner topics I have not covered.

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
It’s in the Cards
It seems like at least once a year — and usually around this time of year — I remind myself (and you) that it’s okay to experiment. In fact, experimenting for the sake of experimenting is absolutely worth doing and we should all make time in our schedules for experimenting that doesn’t require or expect any specific results. Why? Well, we all get caught up in our dramas and the things that need to happen right this second, and oftentimes we spend more energy than required...

In The Spotlight
by Marvin Mallon
An Interview with Ray Bellantoni
Vice President of Marketing, Jameco Electronics

Departments

New Products
by Nuts & Volts Magazine
New product reviews

Developing Perspectives
by Bryan Bergeron
Please visit our Developing Perspectives blog to read the full article and comment.

Developing Perspectives
by Bryan Bergeron
Please visit our Developing Perspectives blog to read the full article and comment.

The Circuit Development Process
by Bryan Bergeron
There’s a deep sense of satisfaction that results from developing, building, testing, and ultimately using a circuit of your own design.

Modular Designs
by Bryan Bergeron
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.

Transformations
by Bryan Bergeron
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.

Developing Perspectives
by Bryan Bergeron
Please visit our Developing Perspectives blog to read the full article and comment.

Clean Power
by Bryan Bergeron
While clean power is frequently equated with green power, it can also refer to AC power free from spikes, dips, surges, audio, and RF noise., I recently learned the hard way that one of the precautions commonly taken to assure uninterrupted, clean power can take down your computer and potentially devastate your entire workshop.

Developing Perspectives
by Bryan Bergeron
Please visit our Developing Perspectives blog to read the full article and comment.

Developing Perspectives
by Bryan Bergeron
Please visit our Developing Perspectives blog to read the full article and comment.

Developing Perspectives
by Bryan Bergeron
Please visit our Developing Perspectives blog to read the full article and comment.

Developing Perspectives
by Bryan Bergeron
Please visit our Developing Perspectives blog to read the full article and comment.

Finding Your Tone
by Bryan Bergeron
Most of the projects described in Nuts & Volts can be built with readily-available, relatively inexpensive components. However, when it comes to tube-based projects, it’s a different matter.

Developing Perspectives
by Bryan Bergeron
Please visit our Developing Perspectives blog to read the full article and comment.

Developing Perspectives
by Bryan Bergeron
Please visit our Developing Perspectives blog to read the full article and comment.

To Solder or Not
by Bryan Bergeron
As a young ham radio enthusiast, I was taught that, when it comes to high-current DC or any RF connection, use solder, regardless of the connector design. I was told in certain terms that crimp-on connectors were at best short-sighted time savers.