Everything for Electronics


Newton’s Apple

When I was in junior college, I did an experiment in a physics class that I have never forgotten. It was the classic falling body experiment to measure the acceleration of gravity; 9.81 meters/sec2. I loved carefully adjusting the apparatus and meticulously taking the data, trying to get a result that was as close as possible to the established value. Frankly, I don’t recall how close I got but it was the thrill of scientific inquiry that grabbed me. Now, in this age of computer technology, I thought it might be challenging and fun to see how good I could do in my garage with a fairly simple DIY apparatus.

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.

A Semiconductor-Based High Voltage Utility Power Supply

For those who experiment and build with vacuum tubes, an adjustable regulated benchtop high voltage power supply is essential. Many circuits for such units have been described that themselves use tubes. It’s nice to be consistent, but we can save some bench space and a few watts by using semiconductors in such a unit.

Build an Audio Loop System

The last time I had my hearing aids serviced, I discovered that the devices included a T-mode operational feature. The T-mode (or Telecoil) setting allows you to receive audio signals fed to an induction loop, which is just a wire loop laid on the floor around the perimeter of the desired area. Induction loops can be found in places such as concert halls, movie theaters, auditoriums, churches, banks, and public buildings where PA announcements are common. I decided to build an installation for my home. Here’s how it went.

Build a Radio Pet Tracker

Knowing your pet’s location is invaluable. With modern technology, there are commercial solutions giving accurate GPS location for days on end. However, these options are costly. So, as a useful and educational project, I built my own tracker using a simple radio beacon.

Build the NixieStar Clock

The NixieStar clock is the second timepiece kit I’ve developed. My aim was to have a kit that’s reasonably easy to build with intermediate soldering skills (i.e., minimal SMD components). I also wanted a clock kit that once it was built, any spouse (including my wife!) would accept it on their wall — even with a power cord hanging from it.

REVIEW: Dr. Duino’s Starter Kit for the Arduino Uno

In addition to making breadboarding easier, the new Dr. Duino Starter Kit can be a useful tool in learning Arduino hardware and software design. Getting into microcontroller development for the first time can be a daunting undertaking and anything that can simplify the process will be welcomed by many. Plus, there are many other possibilities for how this kit can be used.

Turn Your Computer’s Sound Card into a Scope

The oscilloscope is my go-to measurement instrument in every electronics project I work on, helping me debug and fine-tune hardware and software projects. In this article, I’ll show how you can get started with a simple-to-use scope you probably already have. Best of all, it’s free! When you graduate from this simple scope, you can purchase a more powerful scope using the exact same user interface. I think the free scope control software, Waveforms, is the simplest to use, most feature-rich pro-level software of any of the available options. Using a sound card as the hardware interface with Waveforms puts a simple yet powerful scope in your hands for free.

Build a Configurable Clock/Timer

This project implements a clock/timer device with several handy features other than just a simple alarm. It utilizes a 16-bit PIC, the MPLab Code Configurator, and a serial LCD.

Build a 3D Printer Filament Scale

One thing you want to check before you start a long 3D print job is to verify you have enough filament on the spool to complete the print. You don’t want to come back to your printer at the end of a two-day run (as I have!) only to discover that the machine ran out of filament and the top part of the object is missing! This project describes a dedicated “spool scale” that provides a real time readout via an Arduino of just how much material you have left.