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You Don’t Have to Be an Engineer to Design Your Own Electronic Circuits

Most of you have at one time or another thought about designing your own electronics. The thing stopping many of you is the fact that you realize you’re not a “real” graduate engineer. Well, so what? You don’t have to have an EE degree to design. You can do your own design with a little direction. Here’s my approach to it, so you can give it a try.

Nextion Touch Screen Display — Part 3

Back in Part 1 of this series, we designed a simple Nextion display screen and got it to do stuff. However, the look was rather droll. In this installment, we’ll use the Nextion in a special application (building a small engine ignition timing controller) and make the screen sizzle.

For IoT Projects, Call JSON

Internet-of-Things (IoT) projects that use sensors, actuators, displays, or controllers can easily communicate through an MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) server, or broker. The MQTT standard lets devices publish and subscribe to specific topics. When they use the JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) format to exchange information, software can easily interpret or parse it. In this tutorial, I'll explain how to create and parse JSON messages.

Microcontrollers, Software, and You

Most of us have invested some time in learning those things we want or need to do. Learning how to program is no different, and it can be an extremely satisfying endeavor. Seeing a device respond to code you wrote is, well, intoxicating in a good way. My goal is to create an interest in exploring microcontrollers and encourage you into investing $5 and some of your time into that exploration. I honestly think you'll enjoy the journey.

LEDs for Operational Status and Troubleshooting

Even when a circuit functions as it’s supposed to, it’s not always easy to tell what it’s doing. Plus, waiting for an output (especially if there’s a long delay involved) is not always practical. Conversely, if a circuit does not function, the only means to find out what’s wrong is to troubleshoot it with either a multimeter or oscilloscope. Wouldn’t it be great if the circuit itself could tell us more directly what’s wrong?

A Discussion on dBs and RF Power Meters

This article discusses basic theory on the decibel unit and its role in electrical measurements of power, etc. It also describes the construction of an RF power meter which in the past has been difficult to use and expensive to own. With the breakthrough of new ICs in recent years, most of the former problems and expense have been eliminated. This is a simple and inexpensive unit to build, but has the accuracy, resolution, and dynamic range that was only obtainable in lab quality test equipment a decade or so ago. This kind of test equipment is almost mandatory for amateurs, radio frequency work, or test equipment calibration. Also, when built as described, it’s a very professional looking piece of gear that anyone would be proud to display on their test bench.

Nextion Touch Screen Display — Part 2

In the first article, we downloaded the Nextion IDE, built a couple screens with various objects, and tested it in simulation. For this installment, we’ll actually be loading software onto a real Nextion TFT display and interacting with a PIC16F1824 microcontroller programmed with ME Labs PBP3 BASIC software. Finally, it will be tested on a breadboard.

The Story of the Transistor

Life would not be the same without the transistor, which was invented just over seven decades ago. It is considered by researchers and historians to be the most important invention of the 20th century, leading to groundbreaking advances in computing, communications, medicine, and practically every technically related field. In this article, we’ll examine the contributions of the personalities and organizations involved, as well as the impetus that led to this landmark invention.

Nextion Touch Screen Display — Part 1

Touch screens are fast becoming the “standard” for use in your homebrew projects. One of the more popular ones is the Nextion unit. In this first installment of a tutorial series, we’ll download the Nextion IDE Editing Software, load several prefabbed objects, and check our work on a simulator.

An Elegant Approach to Design a Variable Voltage Divider

A voltage divider is probably the most common electronic circuit. Despite its simplicity, it can be a design challenge for many folks, particularly beginners. This article presents a fast and accurate way to design a variable voltage divider with minimum math.