Everything for Electronics

Show issues for


January 2005

Nuts and Volts Magazine

Anatomy of a Video Signal

SUBSCRIBE    DIGITAL EDITION         Purchase This Issue


Features

Introduction To Filters

This article will be limited to analog filters built with discrete components. Filters can also be made using digital signal processing (DSP) and analog distributed components (transmission lines and resonant cavities).


Scrounging For Parts — A Few Simple Rules

So, you want to fill your hobby electronics drawers with parts galore and don’t have the money to start? Here are a few simple rules to follow that will help you're scrounging efforts stay on the right track.


Getting Started With PLCs - Part 2

Last month, Part 1 provided a basic introduction to PLC programming, and this month, additional information and PLC programming features will be discussed, including a more complicated circuit — the roll-up door opener controller. The first article also left us with a start/stop circuit that did not have a hold-in feature; you had to hold the start button in to keep the motor running, which is inconvenient.


HDTV: Past, Present, and Future

Analog TV’s days are numbered. In a few years, we will likely see an end of analog broadcasts in the major cities. Yet, the average consumer knows very little about HDTV and even HDTV salespeople don’t fully understand the history and technology behind the system. Here, I will provide a brief summery of the history, the basic technology, and potential future for HDTV.


Spaceship One: Effective

This radio exchange is not that far off in the future! On June 21st, I had the opportunity to attend the first public launch of Scaled Composites’ space flying aircraft, SpaceShip One. On October 4, 2004, they won the Ansari XPrize by successfully launching into space from the Mojave, CA Spaceport twice in the span of five days.


Getting Started With PLCs - Part 1

PLCs or programmable logic controllers are industrial grade stand-alone computers that typically do not have monitors, keyboards, or mice attached to them as they operate. A stroll through almost any industrial plant of about any size will usually reveal dozens and dozens of PLCs controlling industrial processes ranging from control of simple conveyor belts up to specialized industrial machinery designed to automate extremely complex manufacturing processes.


Internet And The PCB

The Internet has transformed business in a very profound way. Similar to the impact of the Industrial Revolution, the Internet has generated tremendous opportunities for growth and expansion. It has created an entirely new way of thinking about the concept of business.


The Compucolor II

If the home computer can be said to have had a Golden Age, it ran from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. Back then, there were dozens, if not hundreds, of computers from which to choose. Magazines compared brand-to-brand, operating system-to-operating system.


SUPERCOMPUTING: In The New Millennium

Do you think your computer is fast? It’s a top-of-the-line system with all of the optional bells and whistles, bought at the best store in town, no expense spared, so it should be fast, indeed. However, it can’t be classified as a supercomputer the same way Superman can’t be classified as a mere mortal man.


Capacitors — The Family Tree

There are many different choices when it comes to capacitor types. Find out why and how to tell which one is right for your project.


The PID Controller — Part 3

Construct a fully functional digital PID controller. Part 3


Confidently Using Interrupts In Your Microcontroller Project

Once you’ve become familiar with using interrupts, they will become like the heartbeat of your microcontroller code, the regular rhythm at the core of your project. You’ll find that they aren’t intimidating and you’ll wonder how you ever wrote code without them.


Freeware Linux Hardware Firewall HOW-TO: Have A “Smoothie”

We’re about to cover parts and instructions for creating your own Linux hardware firewall using an old box (computer) and the SmoothWall Express 2.0 firewalling software package.


Video Basics

Although there are many variations and implementation techniques, video signals are just a way of transferring visual information from one point to another.


Data Processing Using SCAM - Part 2

In this article, I describe in detail how the SCAM (Super Content-Addressable Memory) manipulates queries against simple and complex data types. The data is assumed to be stored in a database. This should demonstrate to application programmers and database administrators how the SCAM enhances data manipulation performance compared to traditional computer configurations.


PIC Video - Part 2

Last month, I described the hardware necessary to build a unit that will allow one to do video text overlay with a PIC microprocessor. We will conclude this month with the software programming of the microprocessor, testing the system, and experimenting with the techniques of subliminal messaging.


Generating Analog Waves From Digital Signals

Getting good analog signals out of digital ones can be done fairly easily with a minimum of parts. It does take some programming effort, and high-frequency audio signals require most of the uC clock cycles. However, if you experiment with these two general approaches you will probably find some interesting applications for your projects.


Relocation Assistance

If you program PICs in assembly language, it is a good bet you use MPASM — Microchip’s free assembler/editor/simulator. It’s also a good bit that you write one big file that maps out the program in the PIC’s memory.


Convergence 2004

When Nuts & Volts asked me to cover Convergence 2004, I said no problem. I usually go there every couple years and I was due to visit again. The show had some very interesting items for the Nuts & Volts reader. First though, let me tell you what Convergence is, in case you aren’t familiar with it.


The PID Controller — Part 2

A complete analog PID system. Part 2


Review: Performance Electronics For Cars

Performance Electronics for Cars from the publishers of SiliconChip


Wirespondence!

The magnetic wire recorder, ancestor to the tape recorder, had undergone great development during World War II. By the late 1940s, wire recorders were available in consumer equipment.


The PID Controller — Part 1

In this first of three installments, we will answer the “why” questions and also lay a foundation to better understand what a PID controller is. Part 1


Data Processing Using SCAM - Part 3

In this article, I adapt some logic and mathematical algorithms for associative processing using my SCAM. I describe how those algorithms are executed in the SCAM in terms of hardware operations. I also show how to calculate the execution time of each algorithm to evaluate the SCAM performance.


Excellent Circuits with Excel

Using spreadsheets to simulate digital circuits.


I Love My Heils!

My love affair with Heils has raged on for more than a quarter century! When I stepped into that audio store in 1973 and heard the Heil Air Motion Transformer (AMT) loudspeaker for the first time, I knew that I was hearing music as it was meant to be heard — crystal clear and as smooth as glass! Fortunately, the AMT is still available today, continuing to bring beautiful sound into the world.


Blog

Your New Home on the Internet Awaits


Taking the Teeth Out of Bluetooth Phracking

Paris Hilton’s hijacked phone notes, hot pics and movies, and celebrity contact info got her unwanted and undeserved notoriety. The incident also brought broad visibility to a blossoming dilemma: like computer data, our increasingly computer-like mobile phones’ contents can be hacked.


Data Processing Using SCAM - Part 1

In the first two articles of this series, I will describe the organization of SCAM and show how it manipulates different data types and queries. The third article will describe some associative logic and mathematical algorithms, and will elaborate on performance issues and calculations relevant to SCAM. The fourth article will be dedicated to the realization of SCAM building blocks using ispLEVER tools. The final article will cover assembling those building blocks into a FPGA device using ABEL h


The Field Effect Transistor

A Necessary Device for the Modern IC


The Solar Alternative

A solar cell (sometimes called a photovoltaic cell) is basically a large diode. Just as a photodiode (or even, for that matter, a regular glass-walled diode like a 1N914) will produce a voltage when exposed to light, so will a solar cell.


Using The 4007UB CMOS Digital IC

Ray Marston takes a detailed look at the 4007UB CMOS IC and explains how it can be used in a wide range of useful digital and analog applications. If you are unfamiliar with modern CMOS, the very best way to learn about it is by experimenting with the inexpensive 4007UB IC.


PIC Video - Part 1

Video Text Overlay With a PIC Microprocessor



Projects

Build a Geiger Counter - Part 1

A Geiger counter produces an audible click and blinks an LED each time it detects a radioactive particle. Typically, the counter clicks 10-20 times a minute due to normal background radiation (which is less than 80 millirem/hr) and — although the device is sensitive enough to measure background radiation — it is not suitable for measuring radon gas.


Side-Scrolling LED Display

For this article, I will discuss an electronics project that uses an old Gameboy Color as a microcontroller to drive and control the side-scrolling LED stock ticker shown in Figures 1 and 2. The LED stock ticker consists of 105 x 7 dot matrix LEDs that are cascaded into a 50 x 7 LED screen. The whole project is wire-wrapped and running at a frequency much less than eight MHz.


Start Your Own Casino

Build an Electronic Roulette Wheel/Dice


Stamp Pong

When I got my first computer in the early 80s, there was an immediate attraction. Hours and hours of playing turned into weeks and weeks, which turned into months and months. I was hooked. Once I had the language down, the first thing I wanted to do was write a game. For my first game, I thought big...


The AVR HyperTerm

Are you looking for a programmer that fits in your wallet? It’s here! Figure 1 shows a tiny device programmer that is only the size of a business card, but can be used to program Atmel’s many AVR microcontrollers (MCUs).


The Wart Remover

The Wart Remover originally came about by accident. I had a local infection, which was thought to be “hiding” from antibiotics, and so I sought to treat it with Crane frequencies — a range of electrical frequencies which supposedly destroy specific microbes.


Simple Shaded Pole AC Motor

As early as 1821, Michael Faraday demonstrated that continuous rotary motion could be produced by passing a DC (Direct Current) current through a wire in the presence of a magnetic field.


The Ever Shrinking µC - PART 2

If, after reading Part 1 last month, you’ve been wondering why there are two PIC10F206s on the Little Bits Development Board, here’s part of that answer: The inverter pair we just implemented can be tested by simply moving jumpers carrying the desired logic levels between the inverter inputs and watching the inverter outputs on the LEDs.


Pool Timer

About a year ago, when I created a floating pool light and shared it with readers, I received a number of positive responses. Around the same time, I also developed a pool timer. I’ve since refined the project and developed a new prototype, which I’ve outlined here.


What The L Is It?

Check Inductors Quickly With a PIC-Based Meter That Also Measures Frequency


The Flying Marbellos

Click!... Whirrr... Hummm... Bang! These are the sounds of "The Flying Marbellos" - a rolling ball sculpture with marbles and small metal "bugs" to run the Stamp controlled show.


Build An RC Car On The Cheap

Versatile Circuit Allows For Personal Customization


Build An MP3 Player Platform - Part 2

Last month, we looked at the hardware and software for our MP3 player project and presented the schematics. This month, we’ll talk about the actual construction, testing, operation, and possible modifications.


PIC-based Motorcycle Gear Indicator

A while back, a friend of mine with a Suzuki Katana motorcycle sent me some plans he pulled off the Internet for circuits that would tell him what gear his motorcycle was in while he zipped down the highway. Since I’d helped him with some other electrical and electronic projects for his bike, he figured I could build one of these for him. I looked over the schematics he had found but wasn’t too impressed — most were for “strip gauges” which lit a different LED for each gear...


In The Blink of an Eye

In an otherwise dark room, a short flash of light is used to capture the stop-action photos you see on the pages of this article. The short duration of the flash is what provides the stop-action, and a strobe tube can produce a flash duration of about 1/1,000 of a second. This is fast enough to capture still images of exploding objects and events of similar velocity.


Measuring the Speed of Light

Most people know that light travels at around 186,000 miles per second in a vacuum, but that speed is really incomprehensible. This project will allow you to measure the speed of light simply and inexpensively, as the basic parts cost well under $20.00.


High Stepping Automatic Coil Winder

Have you ever thought of a project where you needed to position an object with great precision? Maybe you wanted to build a precision milling machine or maybe a computer plotter. My introduction to precision positioning came about from a need to wind wire coils for solenoids. Coils are used for all kinds of electrical applications – from solenoids for electromechanical actuators to coils for electric motors.


Simple Circuit Breaker

Even though there are fuses in the car, resetting a circuit breaker is a lot easier than buying and replacing a “one-time-use” fuse. This circuit is simple, uses a handful of readily available parts, is completely electronic, and has a very fast cut off time. A picture of the completed circuit breaker and remotely located FET/Rsense is shown in Figures 1, 2, and 3. Also shown is the completed project PC board. This application is used in a high-amp, low voltage DC supply.


Instant Replay

Add A Digital Recorder To An FM Radio


The Midi-Nator

I have been a fan of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) since the 1980s. The idea of controlling musical instruments from a computer has always seemed cool to me.


Battery Analyzer for RC Power

This battery analyzer project is designed to test the “health” of battery packs used in radio-controlled vehicles to drive their motors. An effective way to test the health of a battery pack is to place a normal operating load on a fully charged pack, and then record the voltage levels while it is discharging through a test load. The information produced from the recorded data will create a graphical “discharge curve” that can be used to examine its performance level and determine the health of


Small DC Motor PWM Speed Controller

Get Your Motors Runnin’ For Train Sets, R/C Cars, or Robots.


The Computer Geek’s Ultimate Timepiece

If you want a clock that really attracts attention, this unusual project will be a big hit. It’s easy for any self-respecting computer geek to figure out how to read this clock in a few minutes, but others will simply be baffled by what seems to be a random pattern of lights.


Electronic Rocket Launch Control

In this article, I will show you how to build an electronic launch control with the Athena microcontroller.


Build An MP3 Player Platform - Part 1

Ever have the desire to build your own embedded MP3 player? Maybe you just like to listen to music and want to do it with a gizmo you built yourself, or maybe you don’t like the user interface on your commercial MP3 player and are sure you could design a better one. Or maybe you want the ultimate recorded voice for your robot project, or how about a fancy doorbell that plays an entire song? Or record an assortment of different dogs barking and connect it to your burglar alarm?


Building a Pulse Generator

Design, Troubleshoot, and Calibrate Electronic Circuits


Sort Your Electronic Components By Voice

How to Create a Resistor Color Code Calculator Using XHTML + Voice.


USB 16-Bit AD/DA Converter

Build a USB soundcard for your Desk PC or Laptop


Game On!

USB Interface for Under $20.00


The Ultimate Utility Meter - Part 1

In December 2001, I wrote an article in Nuts & Volts called the “Digital Utility Meter.” It was a great success and many readers built the meter. I think the reason it turned out so well was the fact that I used the meter to aid in many of my own projects.


Build a Geiger Counter - Part 2

In the March 2005 issue, we completed a fully functional basic Geiger counter. This month, we have a few cool enhancements to add on.


Universal Relay Board

This universal relay board will allow you to drive a 12V DPDT relay using heat, cold, light, dark, sound, logic-level voltages, and just about any varying resistive output sensor you can think of.


Calculating Current Limiting Resistor Values for LED Circuits

The key to maximizing LED life is limiting the current that runs through it. This is frequently done with a simple resistor whose value is calculated using Ohm's Law. This article reviews how to apply Ohm's Law to single and clustered LED circuits.


The Poor Man’s CNC Milling Machine

Wouldn’t you love to have a fancy computer-controlled drilling and milling machine so you could make whatever part you needed? Wouldn’t you love even more to have the money one of those machines cost? Well, I don’t have either, but I do have an occasional need to fabricate a simple part or drill a custom circuit board.


Spoke Signals

You will be the center of attention when you ride by on your bicycle with this cool gizmo attached to your wheels. With the use of LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes), you can make patriotic images appear to be suspended in air as your wheels spin. This construction article describes “Spoke Signals” — a series of three LED virtual image generators for your bicycle.


A Whimsical Doorbell

The use of radio frequency (RF) control for switching devices is becoming increasingly popular. The project described here uses RF control to actuate a zany, whimsical doorbell. The electronics involved in this circuit can be used to control more practical projects, such as a garage door opener, appliance turn-on, wireless home signaling (paging), and remote sensing.


The Ultimate Utility Meter - Part 2

Last month, we assembled and tested our Ultimate Utility Meter (UUM). This month, I will show you how to operate the UUM.



Columns

The Design Cycle
by Peter Best
A PIC-based Wi-Fi Development Platform
Does that new laptop of yours have built-in wireless Ethernet local area network (LAN) capability? How about that new portable digital assistant (PDA) you just purchased? Does it have wireless Ethernet LAN capability, too? It seems that everything these days is wireless — except the things that you really want to be wireless.

Personal Robotics
by Mike Keesling
LEGO My ...
LEGO® has become something of a household word. If you grew up in the 50s or later, you probably owned a set or hoped to, in any case. It is not only a part of our culture, but also has international appeal. LEGO started out making small wooden toys in the 1930s. They slowly grew, adding plastics to their repertoire of materials.

In The Trenches
by Gerard Fonte
Project Engineering Taks
There are a series of steps that are usually followed in most engineering development cycles. It’s important to know what these are and what they entail, and this is especially true for the new engineer or new engineering business venture (independent consulting). This month, we’ll go over these basic steps and explain what they consist of and why they are important.

Q&A
by TJ Byers
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.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2005
Events, Advances, and News

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
You Can’t Touch That : Non-Contact Access Control
Okay, what’s going on with the card? You’ve probably seen them — they’re everywhere. The cards in question contain technology called radio frequency identification (RFID). Even if you haven’t heard of RFID, you may have been unknowingly exposed to it. RFID tags can be as small and nearly as thin as a postage stamp and are often used to track package movement in retail stores (big companies like Wal-Mart, Target, and others are adopting the technology). Drug companies are even putting RFID tags i

Micro Memories
by Edward B. Driscoll, Jr.
2001 - Hal’s Odyssey
Perhaps the most influential computer was one that never actually existed: HAL 9000, the star of Stanley Kubrick’s magnum sci-fi opus, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Let’s Get Technical
by James Antonakos
Flash Conversion - Super Fast
Analog-to-Digital Conversion

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
Ping… I See You
Let’s start from the beginning. Why should we even bother with conditional compilation? Well, it depends, really. If we’re going to write a program that will never (yeah, right ...) need to run on another BS2 family module, then we don’t need to bother. What if, however, we want to share our cool program with a friend who uses a different module?

Q&A
by TJ Byers
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.

In The Trenches
by Gerard Fonte
Rules and Rule-Bound Behavior
Rules are part of everyday life and human nature. They are necessary and useful; however, rules can be confining, and this is especially true when rules are applied without any consideration for context. There are all types of rules: social, personal, business, technical, and biological. The important common aspect of these rules is that you don’t have to understand them to obey or enforce them.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2005
Events, Advances, and News

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
Updates on Modifying Cameras for Digital Control
I’ve been experimenting with cameras since my last column, and this month, I have some updates on three camera topics: modifying other cameras, adjusting the focus on fixed focused cameras, and IR imaging.

In The Trenches
by Gerard Fonte
A Primer On Quality
Quality and quality control are important to the success of any product. Designing and producing a quality product is not accidental. In this column, we will examine those factors that are necessary for creating and manufacturing a quality product. We will also briefly touch on the ISO 9000 quality standards.

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Back To The Bands - Part 2
Refer back to the December issue for all of the details. In this article, I will describe my experience with the QRP30 transmitter and the QAMP30 optional power amplifier.

Personal Robotics
by Mike Keesling
Basic Language Comparisons
As we approach middle age, we often try to re-assert our youth. For some, this manifests itself as an overwhelming need to buy a red Corvette, sunglasses, and possibly trade in the old wife for one with that “new wife smell.” For geeks like me, we remember the old days when a computer was powerful if it had a video screen, mass storage was something you did with an audio cassette, and Basic was this remarkable language that allowed you to make your computer do amazing feats...

The Design Cycle
by Peter Best
Mastering The Art Of DSP
Digital Signal Processing (DSP) is an art that has been applied to most every aspect of our everyday electronic existence. Your stereo’s CD player probably employs DSP technology and, if you own a fancy wireless home telephone, it will also most likely call upon the services of DSP.

Q&A
by TJ Byers
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.

Just for Starters
by Mark Balch
Staying Cool
Small oversights can get you into trouble when you’re working with electronics. One factor to consider in every project — big or small — is ensuring that components do not overheat.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2005
Events, Advances, and News

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
The Sheer Joy of Experimenting
Thankfully, most of my experiments since that fateful day have had better results and my dear mom smiles more than she fears for her first-born’s life. You’re probably wondering by now where in the world I’m going with this; well, let me tell you.

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
Adapting Cell Phone Battery Cells for Near Space Use
Due to the extreme cold of near space (NS), hobbyists must be careful when selecting power sources for their NS craft. On one or two occasions, I have lost track of a NS craft, apparently due to cold batteries. To reduce this risk, most of us involved in amateur NS use lithium cells, which can be rated to -60° F.

In The Trenches
by Gerard Fonte
Analog To Digital Conversion Considerations
This month, we'll examine the error sources and problems that occur when the necessary attention to detail is ignored.

Let’s Get Technical
by James Antonakos
Hop, Skip, and Jump
Everyone seems to be jumping onto the wireless networking bandwagon. With more and more devices going wireless, the airwaves are constantly filled with numerous digital “conversations.” For ordinary, law abiding wireless users, the congestion is handled using a wireless protocol that allows for reliable communication in a noisy, competitive environment.

Q&A
by TJ Byers
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.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2005
Events, Advances, and News

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
Timing Is Everything
It wasn’t very long after the BASIC Stamp and other BASIC language microcontrollers appeared that advanced users started asking about using interrupts. Well, neither the Basic Stamp family nor — to my knowledge — any of the micros in the same class supports true interrupts...

Q&A
by TJ Byers
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.

Micro Memories
by Edward B. Driscoll, Jr.
The Atari 2600
Remember the 1970s? Vietnam, Watergate, stagflation, polyester, bellbottoms, John Denver, gas rationing, Saturday Night Fever, and other events that made that decade, at least in retrospect, seem like 10 disheartening, frustrating years. But a few lasting bright spots emerged, as well. The personal computer was one of them.

Q&A
by TJ Byers
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 TJ Byers
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.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2005
Events, Advances, and News

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
Tricks And Treats With LEDs
October — it’s finally here! It’s time to build (okay, finish building) our Halloween displays — whether they’re used in yard decorations or in a full-blown, professional haunt. Nothing adds spooky ambience like a candle in a darkened room, but candles can be dangerous — unless you build them yourself and substitute the coolness of LEDs for the heat of an open flame.

Q&A
by TJ Byers
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 TJ Byers
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 TJ Byers
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.

Let’s Get Technical
by James Antonakos
The Root of the Problem : Performing Integer Square Roots
When I first began playing with microprocessors, the initial eight-bit CPUs had limited eight- and 16-bit addition and subtraction capabilities, but could not multiply or divide. I always had to write an eight-bit multiply subroutine when I needed one.

Personal Robotics
by Dave Prochnow
Me And Mini Me
Gosh, it’s tough being a mad scientist these days. There are no good secret agents left to torment (Bond, who?), you can buy lasers at virtually any strip mall, and everybody’s far too busy for world domination. So what’s an evildoer to do?

Micro Memories
by Edward B. Driscoll, Jr.
The Computer That Took Man To The Moon
Even though the last Saturn V flew some 40 years ago, the Apollo moon landings remain one of mankind’s greatest engineering efforts. What makes them even more impressive was the era in which they were designed.

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
A BS2px ADC Trick and a BSI Controller Treat
The BS2px is the latest edition to the BASIC Stamp microcontroller line. In addition to increased speed, the BS2px adds two new commands that give the programmer access to features available in the core SX microcontroller: CONFIGPIN and COMPARE.

Q&A
by TJ Byers
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.

Let’s Get Technical
by James Antonakos
Making The Illusion Real
In my last article, I challenged myself to duplicate the interesting patterns created by five small LEDs mounted on a spinning disk (Figure 1). My three-year-old daughter does not know that I have taken her $10 toy apart to assist in my investigation, so I may end up in a miniature doghouse (or possibly even Clifford’s) if I cannot get the original device, or my creation, working.

Personal Robotics
by Mike Keesling
Bouncing Ideas Around for a Ball Bouncing Robot
The bug has been stirring in me for quite some time. I rued over doing a giant, 22’ long robotic centipede with 36 cheap electric drills. I considered doing a seven-joint-per-leg biped, and even a 10-legged scorpion. After several days of incessant moaning at work, my co-workers suggested that I build a one-legged hopper. Now, I have done some stupid things on a dare, and although I am mad, I most certainly am not crazy.

Micro Memories
by Edward B. Driscoll, Jr.
The IBM PC and Its Continuing Repercussions
In the 1999 made-for-cable movie, “Pirates of Silicon Valley,” the filmmakers chose to illustrate how significant a 1980 meeting between Bill Gates and IBM was by having John Di Maggio, the actor playing Steve Ballmer (Gates’ longtime lieutenant), walk out of the scene, up to the camera, and tell the viewers that this — this! — was the most important moment in computer history.

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
The Sounds Of The Season
A few months ago, one of my Texas prop building friends — an exuberant guy named Vern Graner — told me about a cool MP3 player module from Rogue Robotics called the uMP3 (micro MP3) that was BASIC Stamp compatible. It turns out that Vern is right: the uMP3 player is cool, it is BASIC Stamp compatible, and thanks to recent efforts at Rogue Robotics, it’s even easier to use with BASIC Stamps — including the Prop-1 controller.

Let’s Get Technical
by James Antonakos
Optical Illusion and the Light Emitting Diode
My three-year-old daughter recently became fascinated by a small hand-held electronic toy that spins a disk round and round very quickly (see Figure 1). Light emitting diodes (LEDs)mounted on the edge of the disk turn on and off in all sorts of interesting patterns. Those familiar with my background in electronics will recognize that I cannot stand idly by, watching this $10.00 toy flash its lights at me without beginning to think about how to do it myself.

In The Trenches
by Gerard Fonte
Human Nature - Part 1
In my column, I often refer to human nature. I think it’s time to take a closer look at what actually constitutes human nature. This is important because engineers, as a group, are generally more interested in things than people. However, dealing with people in both personal and business settings is essential.

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Wireless Mesh Networks
Today, what computer is not networked? If it is not connected to the Internet via a dial-up, broadband cable, or DSL modem, it is connected to a local area network (LAN), which, in turn, is connected to one or more other networks. And, LANs are not restricted to offices — they are also in many homes.

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
A Radio That Thinks
An Introductory Look at Software-Defined/Cognitive Radio

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
Getting Hot, Hot, Hot
Like the BASIC Stamp, the Maxim/Dallas DS1620 has been around a long time and has been a big part of my temperature-based projects. Yet in all this time, I had never explored the high-resolution use of the DS1620. “High resolution?” you ask. Yeah. With just a little bit of extra work, we can get temperature resolution to 0.05 degrees Celsius (0.09 degrees Fahrenheit) from our old stand-by. How is this possible?

In The Trenches
by Gerard Fonte
Tips and Techniques Revisited
Engineers are often called upon to fabricate and repair equipment themselves. Unfortunately, for many engineers, their only exposure to hands-on work was from laboratory exercises in school. This month, we’ll look at some practical approaches to common problems. For experienced hobbyists, some of these may seem obvious.

Q&A
by TJ Byers
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.

Personal Robotics
by Mike Keesling
The Ball Bot
To recap, a simple description of the Ball Bot would be “a two-axis inverted pendulum.” The operative word here is simple. In its implementation, it is three belt-reduced, encoded motors driving some Omniwheels sitting on top of abasketball — with a bunch of inertial sensors and a DSP thrown in for good measure.

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
The Parallax PBD - Freedom to Create
When I first started working for Parallax my boss, Ken, handed me a big development board and said, “See what you can do with this.” The board was, of course, the original NX-1000, and Ken and I went on to create StampWorks around it. Even after StampWorks, the NX-1000 never left my desk; it was the perfect “playground” for my experiments, and many of my projects forthis column originated on the NX-1000 development board.

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
The Well-Dressed Astronaut
Today’s Space Shuttle spacesuit doesn’t make a good spacesuit for planetary exploration because of the differences between working in weightlessness for a single mission and working on a dusty, gritty planet with gravity for months on end.

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
The Thermal Test Chamber
Got a new item for near space that you want to test? Simple tests on the ground can ensure that your design functions well in near space. This way, failures identified during a test can be corrected before a near-space flight (where a failure can lead to the loss of a near spacecraft).

In The Trenches
by Gerard Fonte
Software Development
From time to time, most engineers are required to develop software. Some have training for this and others don’t. Sometimes the training is inappropriate for the task at hand. This month, we’ll look at approaches and considerations that are important in developing good software.

The Design Cycle
by Peter Best
Focus On The Flash (Atmel AT49LV1025)
Integrating large FLASH and SRAM into microcontroller designs has become a must-know technique with the advent of microcontroller-based LAN devices. Sometimes an EEPROM just isn’t enough to hold all of those web pages you want to serve from your little PIC-based or AVR-based web server. If you’re collecting data, a large FLASH part is nice in that you can store away those accumulated readings and retrieve them intact, even if the batteries go bye-bye on your microcontroller-based data collection

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
Wireless technology comes in all shapes and sizes these days. Radio Frequency Identification or RFID is one of them. You have probably seen the initials RFID and didn’t really know what they meant. Yet, you may already be using it.

In The Trenches
by Gerard Fonte
Managing Engineers
This article is going to be somewhat different from the past ones. Instead of addressing a topic that is directly applicable to engineers, I will look an important indirect topic.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2005
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2005
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2005
Events, Advances, and News

Micro Memories
by Edward B. Driscoll, Jr.
Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum Finds a New Home
The article that inspired this series of Micro Memories columns first ran in the July 2001 issue of Nuts & Volts, and featured Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum, then located in rather Spartan quarters — a Quonset hut located on the Moffett Field airbase in Mountain View, CA.

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
Even Mo’Midi
About two years ago, I did a couple columns on MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) using a BASIC Stamp 2 microcontroller. Our experiments at the time were limited to sending MIDI data. These articles generated a lot of interest, and the most pressing question has been, “How can I receive and process MIDI data in my project?” The fact is that it’s very tough to do that effectively with a BASIC Stamp, but now that we’re equipped with SX/B, we’re ready to rock … and roll …

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2005
Events, Advances, and News

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
The Magic of Antennas
If you really want to know what makes any wireless application work, it's the antenna. Here, we'll summarize some of the most common types and make you aware of what an antenna really is and how it works.

Micro Memories
by Edward B. Driscoll, Jr.
Micro Memories: The Yamaha CX5M: The Music Computer - 80’s Style
These days, recording music on a PC is a surprisingly straightforward affair. You don’t even need to be much of a musician: just layer various loops to taste and you can start making music.

Let’s Get Technical
by James Antonakos
The Zilog Z8Encore! XP Microcontroller
A few months ago, I received an email from .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) announcing a special offer of only $9.95 for their new Z8 Encore! XP 4K Series Development Kit. Like any good (or helpless) electronics shopper, I cannot resist a bargain like that, and promptly ordered a few kits to play with (one for me and a couple for my teaching colleagues).

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
The Space Elevator
Today, payloads are hurled into space on (still) expensive rockets. To get the best performance, these rockets push their design to the limit. And, as a result, considerable time and many people are required to build and prepare a rocket for launch. It’s the cost of paying salaries that makes rocket launches so expensive; rocket fuel is actually cheap.

Personal Robotics
by Mike Keesling
Hey, Mikey Likes It!
A Review on the Hexcrawler HDATS

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2005
Events, Advances, and News

In The Trenches
by Gerard Fonte
Hiring And Firing
As engineering departments grow, engineers are often promoted to management positions, or at least assume management responsibilities. When those responsibilities include hiring engineers and technicians, new managers can be challenged by the difficult assignment. Even more challenging are the times when workers must be eliminated from the department because of financial concerns, or poor performance or behavior. This month, we’ll look at the factors involved in hiring and firing.

In The Trenches
by Gerard Fonte
Recognizing and Encouraging Good Ideas
Engineers and engineering managers are always at the leading edge of technology. New ideas are potentially very valuable.

In The Trenches
by Gerard Fonte
Teaching and Training
Because engineers create new things and new ideas, other people have to be instructed in how these new things and ideas work. Naturally, it falls on the engineer to do the teaching and training. Understanding what is necessary and expected of you when you talk to a group of people can be helpful.

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
BalloonSats
The BalloonSat program is an effort by the Space Grants of several states to capture the interest and imagination of college — and in some cases — high school students through a space flight experience. BalloonSats are miniature near spacecraft. They are limited in weight and carry only a simple data logger, sensors, and small camera. Students can quickly construct and test BalloonSats. BalloonSats carry no tracking equipment, therefore, they’re carried as cargo on an amateur near spacecraft.

In The Trenches
by Gerard Fonte
Human Nature - Part 2
This month, we'll take a somewhat more serious look at human behavior than last month and examine what motivates people and how to understand why people act as they do. We'll see that once you learn the underlying principles of behavior, some seemingly absurd actions can actually be normal and expected.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2005
Events, Advances, and News

The Design Cycle
by Peter Best
Creating a Monster - Micro64 Style
Back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth (when I programmed my first microcontroller), an embedded programmer working with microcontrollers had very little in the way of program Flash and on-chip SRAM. In fact, the first microcontroller I learned to program only contained 512 bytes of EPROM (that’s right ... EPROM not Flash) and 24 bytes (count them again, 24 whole bytes) of SRAM.

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Internet Telephones
By now, you have all probably heard of Internet telephones, or IP phones as they are sometimes called. They are also known as voice over Internet protocol or VoIP phones. In fact, you may already have one if you are one of those early adopters of high tech stuff. If you don’t have one, you can almost be sure that a VoIP phone is in your future. Let’s take a look at how these phones work.

The Design Cycle
by Peter Best
DIY Easy Ethernet/Frame Thrower
If you want to put your favorite microcontroller on a LAN, you’re going to have to provide the microcontroller with an Ethernet interface. The same goes for that little microcontroller you want to talk to over the Internet. It’s relatively easy to design the hardware part of the Ethernet interface, but it’s a bit more complicated to put the logical IP architecture into code behind the Ethernet hardware design.