Not every application needs a microcontroller, yet often times they're used in a project unnecessarily. I’ll show you two examples of circuits that don't use a micro, but are often built with one, and explain some of the logic and theory behind these circuits.
Over the years, I have accumulated a bunch of chips from before the era of true PCs when computers with names like Altair, KIM-1, and Cosmac ELF were popular. I’ve been looking for a way to use them in new projects, so I designed a system around a 40-pin PIC16F887. I figured this would put some of my historic chips to work and be a great learning tool for understanding how a microcomputer works.
I can hardly imagine an electronics enthusiast without some sort of test bench. This can be as simple as a folding table and a couple of hand tools, along with a cheap DMM (Digital MultiMeter). Or, it can be as elaborate as a spare room just loaded with TE and a full complement of tools and accessories to go with it.
Signal generators are devices used to make the signals used in testing and troubleshooting of radio receivers and other circuits, so are of primary interest to almost everyone interested in electronics.
I love restoring old electronic equipment. A while ago, I was excited to find a vintage Heathkit EC-1 analog computer for a reasonable price on eBay. It definitely needed a little TLC. Here’s how I brought it back to life.
In the US, the DC volt is legally defined by the Josephson array — a super conducting quantum device with a highly repeatable output voltage. Banks of standard cells and temperature-stabilized zener diode references are used by the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) to calibrate DC meters for scientific and industrial customers. So how is the AC volt defined?
How many times each day do you pick up a probe to measure a DC voltage? The meter reads, say 4.65 volts, and we usually accept it without question. But just what is a volt and how is it maintained? Here's a fascinating look at the search for increasingly more accurate methods of building a “standard volt.”
It’s not all that often that a new piece of hardware comes along that immediately captures the attention of the builder community. The ESP8266 is the newest example of this. It’s only about the size of a nickel, yet contains a powerful 32-bit microcontroller and a Wi-Fi interface, plus you can buy it for around $4.
The Raspberry Pi represents a breakthrough in low cost computing power. Get a piece of this popular DIY action by learning how to cook up your own RPi to start experimenting with.
With the wild fluctuations in fuel prices over the years, world concern over global warming, and simply the idea of creating new and more sustainable technologies, immense interest and progress continues in the world of battery development. Perhaps one day soon we’ll have a battery that displays no “memory” effect; can be completely discharged or overcharged without harm; and require no complex computerized management system. This battery could even prove so durable it will be immune to damage from vibration and not break down chemically over time. In operation, such a battery might also routinely outlast the very vehicle or machine it was designed to operate in! Lastly, we could complete our wish list by adding in the impossible: low materials toxicity, simple construction, and, of course, good energy density. Does such a battery sound like too much to hope for? Thomas Edison didn’t think so.
As an experimenter, I use wall warts all the time to power circuit boards, microcontroller boards, and even finished projects. However, during the checkout phase of a new circuit, wall warts present a problem. How do you measure their output when they’re plugged into a board or project box?
Order a years' worth of Nuts & Volts on CD-ROM. In easy to store, portable, searchable, PDF format.
A fun take on an old favorite - Build this Entertaining and Educational Digital LED clock and learn “Charlieplexing” to control 180 LEDs.
The Macchiato Mini Synth is a fun, great-sounding, easy-to-use versatile little 8-bit synthesizer that fits in the palm of your hand.