Everything for Electronics

Show issues for


January 2006

Nuts and Volts Magazine

Build your own CanadArm

SUBSCRIBE    DIGITAL EDITION         Purchase This Issue


Features

Don’t Blow A Fuse!

As a retired clinical chemist, bio-engineer with a PhD in experience, one of privileges I have is being sent all over the world with expenses paid. I’m a teaching consultant for both government and non-government organizations, but I often act as a repair technician. (Tough job, but someone has to do it!) If you fix it, you are a hero. If you don’t, no one seems to care as no one else has been able to fix it either. It’s a win-win situation. And you meet a great number of nice people...


The Trainsaver Digital Electronic Controller

The TrainSaver is a device that reduces wear and tear on model train locomotives used in commercial environments. The TrainSaver maximizes the life of the engine by only running the train on timed intervals, and only when people are present to view the train's performance. This reduces the cost of ownership of the train system by increasing the life of the engine. The device also adds synchronized sound effects to enhance the train's visibility to the audience...


Understanding Digital Logic ICs — Part 2

A deeper look at the ‘74’-series of digital ICs, and at various sub-members of its TTL and CMOS families. Part 2


Constant Current Sources - Part 2

Part 1 explained what a constant current source (CCS) is and examined applications in four-point measurements, resistance testing, electrical-contact testing, and temperature measurement using the DR (change in resistance) method. Now we’ll conclude with semiconductor, electrical component, and finally electrochemical applications....


Square Root On A PIC

Square roots have been in use for thousands of years in construction and astronomy. Today, they are also used for computing RMS values, FFTs, and other types of digital filtering, navigation, and more. With more and more smarts being put into smaller and smaller devices, there is greater need to run a square root function on a small, low-power MCU. Typical methods for computing square roots are slow and difficult to implement on a small MCU. They require multiply and divide functions...


Electrically Conducting Polymers

Since the early years of last century, plastics have transformed our lives in numerous ways. Our modern lifestyle would be unthinkable without heavy use of all kinds of different plastics. While plastics have a variety of useful properties, electrical conduction was not counted as one of them. That was until 1986 when a conducting form of polyacetylene — a so-called conjugated polymer — was discovered...


Data Processing Using SCAM - Part 5

Implementing SCAM Explaned: Assembling the Parts With ABEL


Analog Music Synthesizers

There is no doubt that synthesizers have changed the face of music over the past 30 years. Synthesizers’ initial impact was in the area of “academic” music, since their almost brutish size, extreme complexity, and exorbitant cost fairly much confined them to university settings. But as interested experimenters became more familiar with the concepts of electronic music, and the linear integrated circuit revolution kicked into high gear, homebrew analog synthesizers started to pop up..


Is Lithium-Ion Safe?

When Sony introduced the first lithium-ion battery in 1991, they knew of the potential safety risks. A recall of the previously released rechargeable metallic lithium battery was a bleak reminder of the discipline one must exercise when dealingwith this high energy-dense battery system....


Programming The Pocket PC

A typical Pocket PC sports a 200 MHz CPU along with 64 MB of RAM and a 65,000 color LCD — all within a case designed to fit in the palm of your hand. Additionally, these devices usually run a version of Windows CE as their operating system, making it easy for us to develop applications for them, given the right tools...


Spreadsheets - The Forgotten Analog Design Tool

Spreadsheets can be used to perform a number of useful, repetitive, and complex operations.


RADAR And Electronic Warfare Fundamentals

This article presents some of the fundamental concepts of radar and shows how EW (Electronic Warfare) develops from that.


Understanding Digital Logic ICs — Part 3

TTL Basic Usage Rules Part 3


Video Digitizer Choices

This short article won’t accomplish the Herculean feat of bringing you up to speed on everything, but it is an attempt to cut through the marketing trivia, summarize user feedback from the web, and simply let you know what to buy. I’ll also include recommendations for upgrades to your computer to handle video editing. As you read, be sure to refer often to the sidebar on video formats...


Looking At The Other Three-quarters Of The World, Through ORION

LOOKING and ORION are a part of worldwide research efforts to make data from the ocean depths freely and instantly available to land-based research institutions for grid computing...


The Brain-Computer Interface

Popular culture was recently taken for a wild ride in the three Matrix movies, where Neo and his band of survivors plugged their brains into the computer-controlled Matrix to battle evil and save the world. In Minority Report, three ‘PreCogs’ have their brains wired up to record crimes that occur in the future. Science fiction has long been fascinated with the idea of tapping into the human brain...


The Triode is 100 Years Old This Year

This year (2006) marks the 100th anniversary of Lee de Forest's Audion or first vacuum tube triode. This vast improvement upon John Ambrose Fleming's valve changed the world like few other events since.


The High Voltage PIC — Part 2

Let's build the power supply we designed in part 1and write the software needed to drive the PIC in a freely downloadable version of the C language. Part 2


Elf Turns 30 - Part 2

Welcome back! Last month, we printed the schematics for the Elf 2000 and discussed the operation of every part of the circuit. This month, we’ll print the parts list, talk about the construction and testing of your Elf 2000, say a few words about the available software, and then finish up with ideas for expansion...


Elf Turns 30 - Part 1

It was 30 years ago this month that Popular Electronics magazine ran their “COSMAC Elf” construction project. Unlike its more famous cousin — the Altair 8800, which appeared just a year before — the Elf was a microcomputer project that anybody could afford. In the days when an 8080A chip alone cost $300, the entire Elf could be assembled for something like $80. That made the COSMAC Elf the first microcomputer for many experimenters, especially poor high school students like me...


Choosing A Heatsink

Let's face it — if this article was titled, "Thermal Analysis," you might put off reading it! But choosing a heatsink? Everybody understands what that's all about, right? To make that choice, you have to do a little thermal analysis (gotcha!), but if you can do Ohm's Law, you already know how!


Spacecraft Films Reopens The New Frontier

In early 2006, Spacecraft Films released a six DVD set titled Project Mercury: A New Frontier, containing 24 hours of footage from America’s pioneer space efforts. Coming at the height of the Cold War, this was America’s first attempt to put a man into space — culminating, of course, in President Kennedy’s famous challenge to land a man on the Moon within the same decade...


Biological Organisms and Electronics

As a designer of chemical sensors that monitor harmful gases, I have always been intrigued by nature’s ability to detect chemicals at one-molecule-per-trillion concentration levels. Current chemical and biological detection technology still pales in comparison to the reliable sensory system of a properly trained biological organism in terms of sensitivity and selectivity to the molecule of interest...


Leaving The Cradle

In 1911, Russian space pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovsky famously wrote, “The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever.”


Constant Current Sources - Part 1

This two-part, very applications- oriented article first defines a constant current source, and then shows what it can do for you.


The Magnetic Amplifier

A Lost Technology of the 1950s — Rugged, dependable, EMP-proof, and capable of handling greater electrical powers than either transistor or tube, the magnetic amplifier is a simple device that can be built by anyone.


Data Processing Using SCAM - Part 4

Implementing SCAM: Building The SCAM Basic Blocks.


DSP for the PC

Digital Signal Processing (DSP) has revolutionized how we design and build filters, signal generators, and other audio circuitry. Usually when you think of DSP, you think of specialized processors from companies like Analog Devices, Motorola, or Texas Instruments. However, practically every modern PC has a sound card that allows it to function as an audio DSP. With the speed of modern processors, a PC is up to nearly any audio task where you’d use a traditional DSP chip.” ...


Making Something From Nothing

Radio and vacuum tubes grew up together from their genesis a century ago, but their history was not a clean, step-by-step process. Theory and experiment took turns leapfrogging each other, mixing sudden discoveries and steady refinements. Their story begins in the Age of Steam...


Understanding Digital Logic ICs — Part 4

A close look at the popular ‘4000’- and ‘74’-series of modern CMOS digital ICs and at CMOS basic usage rules in this final installment. Part 4


The High Voltage PIC — Part 1

Build a 200-volt DC boost power supply driven by an 18F2455 Microchip PIC microprocessor. The completed power supply will generate between five and 200 volts DC from a five-volt, DC input. Part 1


Resistors: Types And Applications

An ohm is an ohm, right? Not so fast — there are many different types of resistors.


USB Device Control

USB interfaces are now the dominant port available on PCs, with several available on nearly all machines. With the parallel port nearly gone and typically just a single serial (RS232) port available, simple ways to control devices through USB have become essential...


David Sarnoff And The Birth Of The AM Radio

Sarnoff was one of the pioneers of the era of mass communications.


Understanding Digital Logic ICs — Part 1

The Fundamentals Part 1


Vacuum Tube In Its 100th Year: Same Old Challenges

The engineering challenges of the hot cathode vacuum tube — an invention dated 1906 — are the same today as they were then. The inventing of new, more compact and efficient vacuum-tube designs proliferated madly up until the 1950s, but the art has been frozen ever since.


Vacuum Tubes for the 21st Century

Hard as it may be to believe, there are still some applications today where a vacuum tube is a better choice than a transistor, and even a few applications where transistors simply aren’t an option and a tube is the only choice available.


The Antique Wireless Museum

For anyone interested in electronics, its history, and development, a trip to the Antique Wireless Association Museum is a must. Featured are some of the most unusual and rare exhibits of wireless, telegraph, radio, and television ever assembled.



Projects

An Auxiliary RC Control Unit

An obvious solution would be to use a second transmitter/receiver system on a different frequency. At our field, this is not a viable solution because only a limited number of units are allowed to be airborne at the same time.


Interface Your PC To A Portable Digital Multi-Meter

The RadioShack 22-812 multimeter is one of the most popular meters you will encounter. It touts many features found on much more expensive meters, one of which is an RS232interface. When I first saw this meter, my geek alarms started ringing. Wow! Just think of what I could do with a digital multimeter with a RS232 interface...


Build A High Speed Photo Flash Trigger

During the early 1930s Harold “Doc” Edgerton, a faculty member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), started experimenting with strobe lights, better known today as electronic photo flashes.


Optoelectronic Gift Wrapping

How about handing her a Valentine’s Day present that contains a raised heart surrounded by a bright red halo and plays Let Me Call You Sweetheart at the same time, or giving your favorite person a birthday gift wrapped in ribbons of blue electroluminescent wire with a lit LED panel name tag. An anniversary gift wrapped in silver paper and covered with 18 illuminated white tea roses is sure to please, as is a Christmas present enclosed in a seasonal tin adorned with a wreath of lights...


Restoring The Philco PT-44 Antique Radio

This article chronicles the restoration of a 1941 Philco model PT-44 vacuum tube radio shown in Photo 1. As I worked on this radio, I often found myself wondering who owned it. What did they listen to? Did this radio deliver the original radio broadcast of President Roosevelt’s address to Congress, “Yesterday, 7 December 1941 — a date which will live in infamy ...”


Back To The Future With Nixies

Unlike LEDs and LCDs, Nixie tubes are pretty objects made of glass that display glowing numbers or letters — perfect for “count-downs.” Their visual appeal has been embraced by moviemakers who have employed Nixie tubes as count-down devices of bombs about to explode...


Simple 100x Microphone Amplifier

As many of us have discovered the hard way, the output of a good microphone is weaker than any other kind of audio signal. If you want to use your stereo amplifier as a PA system, or view your speech on an oscilloscope, or use a high-quality dynamic mic with your computer’s sound card, you need more amplification...


Long-Range Stereo Microphones

Friends, birders, electronics enthusiasts, lend me your ears so that you may listen to faraway sounds using these easily built long-range stereo microphones.


Nine Volt Function Generator

This circuit produces a sine wave, square wave, and triangle wave of nine volts amplitude. There are three sections to the circuit: power supply, sine wave generator, and the square wave and triangle wave generator.


Panorama Mania

Like to shoot panoramas with your hand-held digital camera, but don’t like the final “stitched” results? Cure hand-held problems with this easy-to-build, two digital camera panorama shooting platform utilizing a modified infrared remote.


Octal Logic Probe

When prototyping with single chip computers like the PIC, SX, etc., it is often necessary to determine if multiple outputs are correct. So, I created an octal logic probe that can be plugged directly into a prototyping socket to view eight adjacent pins at once. Several can be used to monitor the complete chip...


A Simple Digital Tachometer

I bought a used Nissan pickup truck a few years back that had absolutely no bells or whistles on it when it rolled off the assembly line. I wanted to make some “improvements” to the engine, and I wanted a tachometer to help assess the results (for better or worse). The add-on tachometers available in auto parts stores didn’t appeal to me, mostly because I knew I could make one myself if I put my mind to it. What I really wanted was a digital tachometer...


Weather Projects For The Electronic Enthusiast

Two easy undertakings for individuals who like electronics and who also like to watch the weather are presented in this article. Essentially, they are “nuts” and mostly no “volts” projects.


Interface Your PC to an LED Sign - Part 3

I was doing a robotics show and needed a way to both attract contestants and display contest results. I had seen a couple LED signs and decided one would be perfect for this kind of application. My only requirement was that the cost had to be reasonable and the sign needed to be easy to transport and hook up...


Integrating the CMUcam - Part 2

A while back, I was researching sensors for a project I was working on when I came across a little device called a CMUcam. The CMUcam is a low-cost vision sensor developed by Carnegie Mellon University ([url=http://www.cmu.edu]http://www.cmu.edu[/url]). The CMUcam has both an RS232 level interface, as well as a TTL level serial interface so you can connect it to your favorite microcontroller or directly to a PC...


Micro Gust Thermal Anemometer (MGTA)

At Geller Labs, we use LM399s in our high performance, low cost voltage standards for hobbyists, schools, and amateur scientists as the 01HS high stability option. Even with its special thermally insulating cover, all of our products using the LM399 are contained within an enclosure — such as a plastic box — to further shield the LM399 from room air currents.


An Electronic Slide Rule

In 10 years, your computer will be in the landfill, but your slide rule will be operating just as fast as it did in 1700. As an engineer from the 1970s, I have a nostalgic place in my heart for those pre-electronic computer mechanical calculators...


Power Line Frequency Monitor

The frequency of the power coming into your house is 60 Hz, right? (at least it is in the US). Everybody knows that right? On a mailing list that I read regularly, there was recently a long, heated discussion about frequency stability of the AC power that's in our houses...


Design Your Own Crystal Oscillator

If you would like a circuit that is useful in obtaining a high-accuracy, low distortion RF source capable of driving a 50 ohm load, then you’ve come to the right place. The circuit in Figure 1 is the schematic for a common collector series tuned Colpitts crystal oscillator.


Chip Music Composing Simplified

Use a microcontroller to produce the frequencies needed to play specific musical notes and generate their tones.


“Mail Delivered” Detector

This handy gadget will end those many unfulfilled trips and indicate via a lit LED and/or sound alert that your mail has been delivered. After you pick up your mail, you simply press a reset button and your Detector is ready for the next day’s mail delivery.


Build the Pocket Marquee Badge

The Pocket Marquee Badge is an easy-to-build construction project for anyone looking for an attention-getter to take to conventions, meetings, or parties.


Build The Sound Lab Mini-Synth Sound Synthesizer

This article will show you how to build a very cool analog sound synthesizer. You will learn about analog sound generation, have a great project building experience, and have hours of sound synthesizing fun. I would say that the difficulty of this project is somewhere between an intermediate and advanced level.


The Perceptron Circuit

This article will show you how to build your very own electronic analog neuron, named the “Perceptron.” Creating a single neuron may not seem earth shattering in the grand scheme of things, considering that your brain has over 1010 of them! However, a neuron is the fundamental building block of intelligence.


Microcontroller LCD Interface, A One-Chip Solution

LCDs range in size and capability, from the typical wristwatch display, to medical EKG monitors and advanced aviation-cockpit displays. Character (non-graphical) LCDs can be easily incorporated within microcontroller designs, as seen in Figure 1. This article provides a low-cost, one-chip solution for interfacing a microcontroller to an LCD...


A Wide Range Period Counter/Totalizer

Add another “mighty weapon” to your arsenal of bench test equipment. There are many situations where this build-it-yourself period counter has advantages over your frequency counter.


A Digital Capacitance Meter

I needed a capacitance meter. However, I couldn’t justify the high cost. So, I decided to build my own.


Monitor Indoor/Outdoor Temperature And Relative Humidity With One Device

Using a 16F870 PIC, a two-Line LCD display, and two Sensirion SHT15 temperature/humidity sensors, you can build this handy, portable, battery-powered device which will give you easy, accurate simultaneous temperature and relative humidity readings inside your house and outside your window.


Build An East-West Compass

Nicole Kidman and Mel Gibson live down under. Does that mean we live up over? We learn at an early age which way is down. Down is where your feet are when you walk and down is the direction you fall. Gravity dictates the downward direction. If you found yourself aboard the International Space Station, you would be in zero gravity and couldn’t tell up from down...


Stand-Alone DDS Unit

Direct Digital Synthesis (DDS) is one of the more prevalent methods used to generate a frequency agile signal today...


The Creation of the Thereping

The “Thereping” is a digital musical instrument that plays sounds based on a combination of the position of your hand and some pushbutton switches.


LED Weather-Proof Rubber Enclosure

A short time ago, I was working on a small digital project hat required the use of circuit-status indication lights outside of the building that the device was installed in. LEDs, of course, were the appropriate choice for these indicators and, because of obvious weather conditions, etc., I had to use some sort of “weather-proof” enclosure for the LEDs. On my workbench was a package of those very common pencil-topper erasers that are simply inserted over the end of a pencil....


Climate Controller

After building a temperature and humidity display — which confirmed my suspicions that my workroom really was making me hot (32° C) and bothered (85% H) — I decided that the answer was to control my environment. Thus, the Climate Controller was born.


Build This Cool Interface To Work With Your Exercise Bike

One form of low impact exercise is an exercise bike, however, as with any exercise, we are more likely to do it on a regular basis if we can stay motivated. As a software and hardware developer, I decided to create an interface to one of my exercise bikes. Before I started, I set out with a few requirements.


Programming The 54¢ Micro

We all know that a microcontroller (MCU) is much more complicated than a single TTL logic IC, such as the 7400-series gates. And so it’s no surprise that an MCU was much more expensive than a chip of “glue logic.” But things have changed recently. MCU prices are falling into the same range as TTL gates.


20 I/O Pin Data Acquisition Board

Easily Incorporate the Power of Your PC Into Any Project



Columns

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
The Ultimate Wireless Hobbyist
Wireless has been a hobby for well over 100 years. And looking back, I have actually been a wireless hobbyist for most of my natural life. I have tried almost all aspects of this hobby and have witnessed an amazing evolution along the way...

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
The Balloonsat Flight Computer
LAST YEAR, I WORTE A COLUMN ABOUT MY improvements to the BalloonSat airframe. So this month, I want to discuss my improvements to the avionics...

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
Celebrating The Season
A key element in the Hanukkah ritual is the Menorah — a special candelabra used to commemorate the eight days of the celebration. This month, we’re going to build a Menorah — an electronic version, that is...

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
PIC Hardware Interface
Programming Microchip’s PICs is a lot of fun, especially if you have a nice development board with all the connections pre-wired for you. My BasicBoard, built around the 40 pin Atom chip (16F877A with Atom bootloader installed), was designed just for that purpose. A beginner could get a lot of programming in before they ever have to build custom circuitry around their PIC micro-controller. What I’ve found from reader feedback is a lot of people are looking for a little guidance...

Personal Robotics
by Phil Davis, Brandon Heller
Building A Balancing Bot On A Budget - Part 1
You were probably expecting to see Part 2 of the Saga of the Silver Bomber here, instead of this article on a Balancing Bot. To cut a long story short, we left off last month on the Silver Bomber motor controller, with everything designed and just waiting for parts. So, we waited and waited, but only about half the parts came in. Unfortunately, everything appears to be back-ordered, most likely due to the RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substance Directive) which is all about ‘lead free’ parts...

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
SX/B Turns Sweet 16
There are those — the pessimists among us — that will insist that you can’t get anything worthwhile for nothing; everything has a price. Not so with SX/B. While it may not compete with big, “professional” compilers, in the right hands (i.e., yours) and with a few tricks, SX/B is quite capable and costs absolutely zero dollars. And with the cost of the SX-Key programming tool and SX Proto Boards so low these days, it’s really hard to ignore the SX micro as a viable solution...

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Testing HD Radio
Back in the April ‘04 issue of NUTS & VOLTS, I introduced some of you to digital radio broadcasting. It was mostly a theoretical discussion because there were few stations on the air and even fewer radios available. But today, digital radio — now called HD Radio — is actually here.

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.

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
Using The MicroChip PIC Timers
For this article, I’ll explain timers and then use the Timer 1 peripheral to form an accurate one-second time base. This could be considered an advanced project so don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes a while to completely understand it...

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Short-Range Networking
Most of us think of long-range communications when we think of communications applications. Long-range is subject to interpretation, but is usually many meters to many miles. Short-range communications is typically 10 meters or less. We use short-range wireless devices virtually every day; some examples being our infrared remote controls, remote keyless auto entry, garage door openers, Bluetooth headsets on cell phones, and wireless thermometers. But short-range wired communications are...

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
Wading The BS1 Debug Stream
For those of you that have been around for a long time, or have taken the time to go back through past issues of this column, you may remember that Scott Edwards tackled this subject back in October of 1996. Scott was able to [correctly] deduce most of the aspects of the BS1 DEBUG stream through empirical observation. I have the advantage of working “on the inside” and, after spending an hour chatting with our compiler engineer, it’s my intent to show you how to use the BS1’s DEBUG output in you

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.

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
Spin, Baby, Spin
Well, this month we’re going to wrap-up our intro series on the Propeller multicontroller, and I’m going to show you what I think is the best feature of the chip — the ability to run multiple processors at the same time, even when programmed in the high-level Spin programming language.

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
Stepping Out With Spin
Are you ready to get some motors spinning? Yeah, me too. As we saw last month with the BS1, to get more performance we have to think differently. With the Propeller chip, the entire paradigm is different and we are, in fact, forced to adapt...

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
Putting A Whole New Sping On Embedded Control
When I first saw the ads in Nuts & Volts for the BASIC Stamp 1 (way back in 1993), I didn’t believe it. I maintained an it’s-just-too-good-to-be-true attitude, and actually put off buying my first BS1 for about six months. Well, for some, that’s about to happen again. After a long, and sometimes arduous development cycle, Parallax has produced its first piece of custom silicon — the Propeller chip. No, it’s not a microcontroller, it’s a heck of a lot more — it’s a multi-controller...

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 Phil Davis, Ken Tait
The Saga Of The Silver Bomber - Part 2
In Part 1 of this article (two months ago), we explored how finding some surplus Silver Bombers led to the development of a controller for the motors they contained. We explained what would be required to run various motors of this size and came up with a practical design...

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
USB PIC Programmers
The emails keep pouring in and it’s great. Easy and instant feedback is what makes the Internet so awesome. Though a few people let me know they feel I’m just writing this to sell my stuff, most understand that my goal is to help everyone I can learn how to develop microcontroller-based designs using PICs. I also get several emails from people who have discovered a different Basic compiler and wanted to let me know about its great features. If it gets you programming, then I say go for it....

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
Developing With A PIC Bootloader
If you’ve been a regular reader of this column and have started to actually program PICs, you are probably tired of moving the PIC from programmer to project and back again every time you make a change. It not only damages pins, but can sometimes cause confusion if the PIC is put in the board backwards or even shifted by one pin. This is why I like to develop with a bootloader and it’s one of the most difficult items to explain to a beginner...

Personal Robotics
by Phil Davis, Joe Stramagila
Zen And The Art Of Zigbee - Part 3
In this last article of the series, I want to talk about using Zigbee in a Star configuration, which will allow you to drive multiple robots from your PC, addressing each one in turn, or sending a broadcast which all will respond to. I also want to show you how to “hack” the Freescale Sard card so you can take PWM directly off the card, giving you the ability to proportionally control two motors. In addition, we’ve also built a small robot as a demonstrator.

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
Playstation Robot Controller
For all the columns I’ve written, clearly one of the top three in reader interest was called “PlayStation Control Redux” (September 2003) where we delved more deeply into the PlayStation controller protocol work started by Aaron Dahlen. Well, between then and now, Parallax released the SX/B compiler for the SX micro and the speed issues we dealt with when using a BASIC Stamp are no longer issues. That, and Ken is building a cool new treaded robot that might need a full-featured control device...

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.

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Short-Range Wireless Explosion
Wireless everything. If it seems like you are hearing and seeing more about wireless devices every day, it’s not just your imagination. Over the past few years, there has been a virtual explosion of new wireless devices and services.

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.

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
Why I Am Glad My Computer Crashed
In my roles as an educator, author, and columnist, I utilize my computer extensively. There are many specialty software applications I use for drawing schematics, writing code, creating graphics, and working with images. I also use common applications such as Word, Excel, Email, and Internet Explorer.

Personal Robotics
by Phil Davis
Design A Mini Sumo - Part 1
LAST SPRING, OUR ROBOTICS CLUB scheduled a Mini Sumo competition for the summer of 2005. Of coarse, no one had a Mini Sumo robot, so a mad frenzy of ideas, concepts, and parts ensued.

The Design Cycle
by Peter Best
More Fun With Freescale’s Microcontrollers
All of the MC68HC908MR16 groundwork was done in the previous installment of Design Cycle, and we’ve got plenty of new MC68HC908MR16 stuff to cover this time around. So, be sure to download all of the MC68HC908MR16 C project files I’ve provided so you can follow along live and in real-time with the text and new MC68HC908MR16 projects I’m about to present. I’ll stop flapping my jaws so we can get to work. Let’s begin by bringing up the MC68HC908MR16’s RS-232 serial port.

Personal Robotics
by Phil Davis
The Saga Of The Silver Bomber - Part 1
One day Jerry came across some broken Silver Bomber scooters at an industrial surplus house he frequents in town. Talking to the owner, he discovered they had multiple palettes of the stuff lying around. Originally, the owner wanted $35 a scooter — not too bad considering they sold new for $199 plus...

Personal Robotics
by Mike Keesling
Robo-Potpourri
Yes folks, it is time for Robo-Potpourri. Robo-Potpourri is the lost and found of my writing endeavors, a time to pick up little loose ends and such.

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
Microchip PIC-Based Resistor Checker
This article describes this project and shows how easy it is to use the A/D port with the PICBasic Pro compiler. In fact, I was able to write the code within 31 commands so this could be done with the sample version of PICBasic Pro which you can download from [url=http://www.melabs.com]http://www.melabs.com[/url] for free.

Personal Robotics
by Phil Davis, Brandon Heller
Building A Balancing Bot On A Budget - Part 2
For those who missed the October issue, or anyone who could use a refresher, we’ll start with a recap of the robot’s design. See Photo 1 for a look at the finished robot, balancing...

The Design Cycle
by Peter Best
Temperature/Humidity Monitor
This month, we’ll explore a useful application that employs the services of UDP to send detailed temperature and humidity data over an LAN in your home or through the routers and hosts that make up the Internet

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
The Object Of The Machine
So, is your head spinning after last month’s introduction to the Propeller chip? Don’t worry, it happens to all of us, and I promise that after a bit of time things will begin to click, a big smile will cross your face, and wonderful things you thought never possible will start happening. Last month we talked about the Spin programming language being object oriented, but didn’t really take advantage of it. Let’s change that, shall we?

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
Going Beyond 31 Commands
The feedback to my articles tells me this series on programming Microchip PICs is a success. Based on loads of email, I’ve helped many readers get back in the electronics game and comfortable programming microcontrollers. That is a reward in itself and is enough for me because many years ago, I was there, too. That success, though, also invites its detractors...

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
A Primer For Beginners
A third category of feedback involves readers that have little or no electronics background and with all the different programmers, compilers, microcontroller choices, software options, etc., they are confused and afraid they would waste a bunch of money and still not get what they want. I’m here to tell you it isn’t that difficult and it doesn’t have to cost that much to get started.

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
Near Space Booms And Sounds
THIS MONTH, WE'LL LOOK AT two near space experiments. The first one is an engineering test and the second a traditional space experiment.

Personal Robotics
by Phil Davis
Zen And The Art Of Zigbee - Part 2
Okay, last month we briefly discussed some of the architecture and network topology possibilities of Zigbee along with many of its capabilities. As promised, this month, I want to demonstrate a simple project in which a peer-to-peer Zigbee connection will be used to control a robot using simple commands and to receive data sent back from the robot...

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
PIC-to-PC Communication
This month, I want to address one form of PIC-to-PC communication using serial RS232 format, and you get this one for free (excluding the magazine subscription fee).

The Design Cycle
by Peter Best
Weighing In With Freescale’s HC08 Microcontrollers MCUs
I like stuff that is easy to use. I also like easy-to-use stuff that is free. Many of you may have received a free copy of Freescale Semiconductor’s CodeWarrior Development Studio for HC08 v5.0 in the mail. If you didn’t, fire up your web browser and go to [url=http://www.freescale.com/cw5]http://www.freescale.com/cw5[/url] to download your free copyof the CodeWarrior HC08 Development Studio.

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
TV On A Cell Phone
I suppose it had to happen. You can do almost everything else with a cell phone these days like play music, take digital photos, send and receive text messages and emails, play games, and even surf the Internet. Why not TV?

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2006
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2006
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
Techknowledgey 2006
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2006
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2006
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2006
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2006
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2006
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2006
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2006
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2006
Events, Advances, and News

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Techknowledgey 2006
Events, Advances, and News

Personal Robotics
by Phil Davis
Zen And The Art Of Zigbee - Part 2
I’ve chosen Zigbee as my first topic for Personal Robotics because ... well, because it’s cool. In this issue of Nuts & Volts, we’ll begin a general discussion on what Zigbee is, its basic functionality, where to get it, and the associated software. Parts 2 and 3 will be in subsequent issues. In Part 2, we will follow a project in which a simple peer-to-peer Zigbee connection will be used to control a robot, and Part 3 will attempt to show a more complex mesh topology...

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
Christmas Music
This month’s installment marks the conclusion of the first year of this column. I want to thank everybody who reads these articles for their support. Since it’s the December issue, I thought I would offer a project related to the holidays. I also wanted to tackle the subject of digital-to-analog conversion. To do that, I plan to have a PIC play a little Christmas music through a small speaker — kind-of like one of those Christmas cards that plays a tune every time you open it up...

Personal Robotics
by Phil Davis
Designing A Mini Sumo - Part 2
For those just joining or the uninitiated, a Mini Sumo Robot and Mini Sumo competitions take their name from the Japanese form of wrestling called Sumo. In this case, two robots (smaller than 4 x 4 inches) combat in a black ring just over 30 inches in diameter, bounded by a one-inch border. For three minutes, each robot attempts to locate the other and push it off the edge...

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
A Tale Of Two Props
After spending a few months with Parallax's newest controller - the Propeller chip - why not step back in time a bit (13 years!) and work with the oldest, the venerable BS1 - the controller that started it all for Parallax.

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
Using The PIC External Interrupt
Life can throw you in many directions and how we deal with it builds our character. This happened to me recently while trying to get this article out for Nuts & Volts...

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
OFDM - Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing
Have you heard of orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) yet? If not, your knowledge of communications techniques is definitely lagging behind the real world. Here is a quick look to bring you up-to-date on thiswireless technology that is being adopted across the board in most new communications and networking systems...

The Design Cycle
by Peter Best
The Land Of TCP/IP
In this edition of Design Cycle, we’re going to march cross-country into the land of TCP/IP. Although the same hardware used to transmit and receive UDP datagrams can be used to transport TCP/IP packets, TCP/IP is a bit more complex to code than UDP. However, that’s not going to stop us from getting a microcontroller version of TCP/IP up on a LAN...

Let’s Get Technical
by James Antonakos
A Good Listener Requires A Good Talker
Alright, those are hardly as dramatic as “Watson, come quick! I need you!” but they are just as satisfying because they are the third and fourth things my new speech board said to me. To find out what the first two phrases were, read on.

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
Lights, BASIC Stamp, Action!
Having been raised in the desert of southern California, I’m pretty much a warm weather person. The fact is, I don’t like the winter months — not at all, nothing about them. Okay, except for one thing — holiday lights. The coolest thing about the Christmas season is the lights. I know what you’re thinking: “Hey pal, that was two months ago.” True, but we can do lighting any time of year — and not just for holiday displays. In fact, my own interest in lighting control started when I was 18 ...

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
The “Blame It On CanadArm” Robotic Arm
As you know, the Space Shuttle often carries an extraordinary robotic arm in its payload bay. The arm, called the CanadArm in recognition of its origin, is Canada’s contribution to the Space Shuttle program. In my near space program, I often attempt to design near space versions of real space items. So, in recognition of the CanadArm, I have developed my version, the “Blame it on CanadArm.” In this article, I’ll describe how I constructed this arm.

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
The Near Space Geiger Counter Telescope - Part 2
his month’s column wraps up the Geiger Counter Telescope (GCT) and discusses a transistor experiment I performed. This article covers the GCT’s field-of-view, a ground test of the GCT, and flight software that operates the GCT. There is a small note to clear up the RM-60 instructions in chapter eight of my near space book at the Parallax website and a transistor experiment which includes a competition for readers.

The Design Cycle
by Peter Best
Arm Yourself With Philips Microcontrollers
This time around, the object of our affection is the Philips LPC2100 family of 32-bit ARM7 micro-controllers. In this text, we will focus specifically on building some LPC2106 and LPC2136 ARM7 hardware from scratch. Once the hardware is assembled, I’ll walk you through some functionality testing and introduce you to some of the hardware and software tools you’ll need to program and debug the ARM7 microcontrollers...

The Design Cycle
by Peter Best
The Dish On DHCP
DYNAMIC HOST CONFIGURATION PROTOCOL, OR DHCP, is easily understood by most folks as long as you don't start talking about the code behind it. When you've finished reading DHCP spin of Design Cycle, you'll be able to converse with the best of them about DHCP and how it works under the hood of a microcontroller...

The Design Cycle
by Peter Best
ZIGBEE For The Evil Genius
OOK (On-Off Keying) modulation used in simple AM data radios is also a popular and inexpensive way to move small amounts of data between points A and B. Move up the stairs a few steps and you’ll find 802.11, which comes equipped to utilize the Internet protocols to form and maintain a network. If you’re using simple AM or FM data radios in a network, you’ll have to code most all of the application and network stuff yourself as you’re simply pumping bits out across the airwaves...

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
Multiplexed LED Displays And Relays
For this article, I wanted to demonstrate how to control two LED displays from one set of I/O pins in a method called multiplexing. To make this into a project for the reader, I revisited a model rocket launch control box design I did back in high school (long time ago) for an electronics competition...

The Design Cycle
by Peter Best
Easy Arm Hardware
As promised, this month we’ll combine everything hardware we’ve covered up to now and put an LPC2136 system on a professional printed circuit board (PCB). Once we’ve walked around the building of the ARM hardware, we’ll put on our ARM programmer hats and put that new piece of ARM hardware to work...

In The Trenches
by Gerard Fonte
Instrumentation
Instrumentation, sometimes called test and measurement, is a vital component of engineering and production. This month, we'll examine instrumentation fundamentals and look at a couple of examples. We'll also discuss some practical aspects that may help you during the design and development of your product.

Getting Started With PICS
by Chuck Hellebuyck
Real Time Clock
One of the more interesting things I've discovered about the readers of Nuts & Volts is their diversity. Through the emails I've received from writing this column, I've discovered that both hobbyists and professionals read these articles.

The Design Cycle
by Peter Best
The Easiest Internet Protocol Of All
RS-232-based serial ports are great data donkeys until you need to move data on an Ethernet LAN or throw it out onto the Internet. Most of the networking email questions I field from Nuts & Volts’ readers concern moving their data transfers away from traditional RS-232 cables and on to an Ethernet LAN or the Internet....

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
A Martian Near Space Launch
I’ll address three factors in this month’s column. The first is the surface winds and their effect on filling and launching a weather balloon. The second factor is how the atmospheric composition and pressure on the surface will affect the initial volume of a weather balloon. The last factor is how atmospheric pressure changes with altitude. This factor is important because it determines the maximum altitude that a weather balloon will reach before bursting.

In The Trenches
by Gerard Fonte
Stress - Oh No!
Sometimes stress is defined as that "overwhelming desire to pound the living daylights out of something." Unfortunately, stress isn't explained that easily. Stress certainly includes frustration and anger. But it's also present when you get married or divorced, get a new job or lose your present one, and even when you play video games. Sometimes stress is good. Sometimes it's physical and other times it's emotional. There are many different types and causes of stress.

The Design Cycle
by Peter Best
“Discover"ing DHCP Messages
I’ll bet that many of you took my advice to heart and read through the DHCP RFC documents. If you did, you now know that there are mountains of rules and recommended procedures for implementing DHCP. The good news is that I’ve sifted through all of that stuff and gleaned only the essential DHCP stuff we’ll need to allow a microcontroller to play in DHCP land. The information that I milked out of the DHCP RFC documents will be used to form the basis of our DHCP source code, which we will...

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
The Near Space Geiger Counter Telescope - Part 1
Many of my near space missions have measured the cosmic ray flux in near space with onboard Geiger counters. Combining Geiger counter data with GPS altitude has allowed me to generate charts showing the cosmic ray flux as a function of altitude. Experiments like this allowed the Austrian physicist Victor Hess to prove the existence of cosmic rays in 1911-1913...

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
Goin With The Glow
I’m pretty sure that Scott Edwards had no idea what he was starting way back in the early ‘90s when he released his first serial LCD. Back then, the target customer was someone like me — a BASIC Stamp 1 user who wanted a nice display but didn’t have a lot of spare I/O pins to support it. Well, as we’ve seen, serial LCD modules have become about as ubiquitous to electronics experimenters as the 555 timer chip. There are, however, environments that can present serious challenges to LCDs...

Stamp Applications
by Jon Williams
Hacking The Parallax GPS Module
In September, we talked about exciting new updates in the SX/B compiler and now we’re going to put a few of them to use with a cool new GPS product from Parallax. This isn’t just another GPS module. It was specifically designed to be hacker-friendly. How? Well, it uses an SX20 and the firmware was written in SX/B — and you can download this code from Parallax. Better still, is the addition of several nondescript pads on the PDB...

Departments

New Products
by Nuts & Volts Magazine in New Products
New product reviews

New Products
by Nuts & Volts Magazine in New Products
New product reviews

News Bytes
by Nuts & Volts Magazine in News Bytes
20th Anniversary Price Reduction

New Products
by Nuts & Volts Magazine in New Products
New product reviews

New Products
by Nuts & Volts Magazine in New Products
New product reviews

News Bytes
by Nuts & Volts Magazine in News Bytes
INNOVATION ROBOTICS UNVEILS ROBOTIC CRANE

New Products
by Nuts & Volts Magazine in New Products
New product reviews

News Bytes
by Nuts & Volts Magazine in News Bytes
WATCH YOUR PCB and “CREATE THE FUTURE” CALL FOR ENTRIES

News Bytes
by Nuts & Volts Magazine in News Bytes
In a bit of corporate euthanasia, Sony Corporation has announced the cancellation of its four-legged robotic pet program — Aibo. As part of a major restructuring plan aimed at thwarting its waning fiscal fortunes, Sony will formerly cease production of this lovable, albeit costly, robot dog in March 2006.

News Bytes
by Nuts & Volts Magazine in News Bytes
NMG ELECTRIC VEHICLE UNVEILED