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TGI: The TEENSY Graphics Interface

The February and March 2018 editions of Nuts & Volts featured my article detailing the Arduino Graphics Interface (AGI) project which described a general-purpose hardware and software platform that could draw graphical objects onto the face of any analog oscilloscope. A reader challenged me to see if the AGI concept and software library could be ported to the newer and faster TEENSY 3.6 processor. This article describes the new and improved TEENSY Graphics Interface project that implements a fully operational “CRT Clock” as a working demonstration of a TEENSY based graphics platform.

Mass Confusion: The End of the Kilogram as We Know It

This November, in Versailles, France, representatives from 57 countries are expected to make history. They will vote to dramatically transform the international system that underpins global science and trade. This single action will finally realize scientists’ 150 year dream of a measurement system based entirely on fundamental properties of nature. The International System of Units — informally known as the metric system — will change in a way that is more profound than anything since its establishment following the French Revolution.

Can You Trust Your Voltmeter?

Sometimes I wonder which of my portable digital voltmeters I can trust — the B&K, Fluke, or Amprobe. Usually, they’re pretty close but it bugs me not knowing whether they are right on the nose. Fortunately, these days, there are a number of very accurate voltage reference circuits that you can build or purchase for a few dollars.

How Phased Array Antennas Work

Phased arrays have been used for years in military radars for long range detection of missiles. They’re also widely used in military and commercial aircraft radars and some satellites. These phased arrays are expensive, but today thanks to new technology and higher frequencies, phased arrays are smaller and more affordable making them practical for new wireless devices. This article is an introductory tutorial on this special antenna type you need to know about.

Filter Design Software

Filters are one of the most important and widely-used circuits in all of radio at any frequency.  Understanding how they are specified and used will make you a better electronics designer, whether you build your own or simply buy them from a vendor.

Electronics as a Portal to Other Hobbies

Electronics as a hobby is unique in that it touches upon just about every other technology or area of potential interest, from photography to cycling. Don’t feel you need to stick with pure electronics. Get out of your comfort zone and explore some of the many related technologies.

Filter Basics: Stop, Block, and Roll(off)

A casual observer might think that wireless systems consist primarily of filters connected by the occasional bit of circuit. Block diagrams of transceivers often include as many filters as any other function. This is true at the system level, just as it is at the circuit level — and many circuits behave in a filter-like way, whether intended to be a filter or not! That makes understanding filter basics important for wireless success.

Seven Common Ways to Generate a Sine Wave

The sine wave is a naturally occurring signal shape in communications and other electronic applications. Many electronic products use signals of the sine wave form. Audio, radio, and power equipment usually generates or processes sine waves. As it turns out, there are literally dozens of ways to generate a sine wave. Here are some popular methods you should be familiar with.

Build an Analog-Style LED Clock — Part 1

Driving LEDs using the lowest possible pin-count is a common challenge for folks creating projects with microcontrollers. Complementary LED drive, also known as “Charlieplexing”, allows a large number of LEDs to be controlled with a relatively small number of I/O pins.  This fun digital LED clock project is a hands-on example of how Charlieplexing can be used to stretch your “pin budget”!

Working with High Voltages

There are lots of circuits for generating high voltages out there, but what about the “gotchas?” Learn how to be safe and smart when working with these potentially dangerous types of projects.