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December 2017

Nuts and Volts Magazine


Features

A Nuts & Volts Total Eclipse of the Sun

Use a 3D printed Nuts & Volts (or SERVO Magazine!) pinhole solar projector to view a total eclipse of the sun in the US during August 2017


Computer Control and Interfacing with the NI MyRIO

Construct a temperature control system and data logger using the NI MyRIO.


Designing Your Own Digital ICs (FPGAs) — Part 2

FPGAs are a marvel of modern electronics engineering. Learn how to use them.


Basic Biological Signal Monitoring with a Translational Reality Twist

Use an inexpensive ear-clip heart rate sensor and an everyday Arduino to create a simple biological monitoring system.


The Retro PIC Single-Board Computer

Put some of your historic chips to work in a new “computer” system with a PIC acting as the CPU.


Take a CAN Bus for a Spin — Part 3

Using Controller Area Network (CAN) controller interrupts and flags.


Rebirth of a Tubular Door Chime

Refurbishing a NuTone™ chime with four large brass tubular bells.


Arduino PID Temperature Control

Explore advanced process control technology for little cost with an Arduino PID temp control unit.


Computer Control and Interfacing with the NI MyRIO

See how to work with analog I/O using the NI MyRIO.


ESP8266 RSS News Reader

Utilize the versatile ESP8266 module to get your daily dose of news.


Climbing the Learning Curve

A step-by-step guide to connecting your cell phone to a PIC chip via Bluetooth.


The Magic of the Gilbert Erector Set

Update a classic Erector Set Ferris Wheel with an Arduino.


REVIEW: Bench Werx Offers a Versatile PCB Holder

Check out the new PCB Rax system for help soldering your circuit boards.


A Totally Retro Mode Makes a Comeback

Morse code is alive and well as a means of communication, even in this digital age.


Getting the Scoop on LabNation’s SmartScope

Test-driving LabNation’s new SmartScope tool.


Receiving Data with Web Based Shortwave Radios

Discover the secrets to utilizing free Web based shortwave radio receivers.


Working with I2C Sensor Devices

Here’s a quick beginner-friendly tutorial that shows you how to interface and read data with the popular serial protocol, I2C.


Meet the BITX40: A Single Sideband Transceiver

If QRP is your jam, the new BITX40 10 watt single sideband transceiver may be just what you’re looking for!


Designing Your Own Digital ICs (FPGAs) — Part 1

Who would have thought that we would be able to progress from discrete components, to integrated circuits, to eventually being able to create our own ICs inside a reusable universal chip know as an FPGA?


Take a CAN Bus for a Spin — Part 2

See how to add a CAN controller to an MCU that lacks one.


Computer Control and Interfacing with the NI MyRIO

National Instruments’ MyRIO is one of the best units available for computer interfacing and data acquisition. Plus, it can be utilized for a variety of teaching applications in controls, robotics, mechatronics, and embedded concepts.


Translational Reality Interfaces

Explore one new way of interacting with embedded systems, smart devices, and the Internet of Things by using a translational reality interface.


Synchronizing a 60 Hz Crystal Controlled Oscillator to the Line

Synchronization of digital systems to the 60 Hz line has some new and surprisingly interesting challenges.


Low Cost EMI Pre-Compliance Testing Using A Spectrum Analyzer

How to pass FCC EMI pre-compliance testing.


Replacing The 555 With A PIC — Part 3 — A Digital Analog

This third article discusses the less complex audio oscillator circuits. from 555 Timer IC Circuits by Forrest Mims.


Restoring the World’s First Transistor Radio

Bringing a vintage Regency TR-1 transistor pocket radio back to life.


Building Your Own Microcontroller

Designing a softcore using the Zilog Z8 Encore! (a.k.a., eZ8) to learn more about VHDL (VHSIC hardware description language), FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays), and microprocessor cores themselves.


The Care and Feeding of Analog Meters

In a digital world, there are still quite a few uses for an analog meter, but these beasts require special TLC.


Computer Control and Interfacing with the NI MyRIO

See how to control electrical loads and devices that are outside of the MyRIO.


Translational Reality Part 2: Control the World by Playing Pong

See how a classic video game can be adopted for use as a translational reality interface (TRI) to enable the player to monitor and operate a remote device by simply the classic game of Pong.


Replacing The 555 With A PIC — Part 2 — A Digital Analog

This second article examines several of the circuits from 555 Timer IC Circuits by Forrest Mims, that are used basically as a monostable multivibrator.


Total Solar Eclipse Near Space Flight Results

in Near Space

A near space experience during the Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017.


Big Band Sound from the Palm of Your Hand

The Macchiato is a fun and inexpensive kit that delivers a wealth of polyphonic sound!


Maximite Computer 3D Printed Case

in Practical 3D Printing

Design a custom case for the original Maximite computer.



Projects

Build this Professional Grade Data Acquisition System

Build a high performance general-purpose workbench instrument for under $100.


An Old-School Digital Clock

Build a digital “old school” CMOS clock.


Build the Irrigation Watch — Part 2

Exploring the software for the Irrigation Watch system.


Build a NeoPixel LED Tree

Take your next LED Christmas tree to the next level with multiple RGB rings of LEDs!


Build a Custom Weather Gauge — Part 1

Explore Internet connected digital & analog displays with this custom weather gauge platform.


An Electronic Chessboard Using RGB LED Strips and Hall Effect Sensors — Part 2

Create the software needed to accommodate two players on our electronic chessboard.


Build a Simple Inexpensive Ballistic Chronograph

This ballistic chronograph can be used to measure all kinds of fun things like the speed of a pea shot from a straw, the muzzle velocity of a Nerf® gun, or maybe even the speed of a Hot Wheels® car in mid-jump!


Build an Adaptable Controller for Your Near Space BALOONING MISSIONS, Part 2

Build a flight controller that can be used in near space ballooning projects. Up next, the software.


Build the Irrigation Watch

Build this Irrigation Watch project and keep an eye on your water system.


An Electronic Chessboard Using RGB LED Strips and Hall Effect Sensors

This chessboard is used by two players, and the basic objective is to keep track of the board and the rules of the game for both players. This makes it a nice learning device for the beginning chess player.


Do-It-Yourself Super Simple Security System

Never wonder if you’ve locked a door again with this homebrew system that tells you more than if a door is just closed.


tDCS — Brain hacking?

Experimenting with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).


Build Your Own ECG-EKG Unit

For parts costing less than $50, I built an ECG-EKG unit that plugs into my laptop computer’s microphone input jack.


Teensy Eight-Channel Digital Color Organ

This digital color organ is designed to have good frequency selectivity so that the color and brightness of the display LEDs are directly related to the frequency content of the music it is supposed to be synchronized to; not just to its amplitude.


Use Wi-Fi and X-10 in a “Bi-Lingual” approach to Light and Appliance CONTROL

ESP8266-based “Bi-Lingual” Home Light and Appliance Timer merges Wi-Fi and X-10


Build the Digital Impressionist

The Digital Impressionist creates simple, impressionist-style light “paintings” that change over time.


Build the SamplerBox Mellotron

The Mellotron — an instrument used by the rock gods of the 1960s and 1970s is resurrected in this Raspberry Pi project.


Build an Adaptable Controller for Your Near Space BALOONING MISSIONS, Part 1

Build a flight controller that can be used in near space ballooning projects.


Build the StroboDuino

Build this Arduino-based stroboscope for fun stop-motion technology testing and experiments on your workbench!


Build an ESP8266 World Clock

Build on previous ESP8266 projects to add a customizable world clock to your arsenal of time keepers.


Build a Geiger Counter to Monitor a Radioactive Cat

Use a homebrew Geiger counter to monitor Maxwell, the cat after radiation treatment.


Add Sweep Function to Your RF Signal Generator

Add a sweep function to my original RF generator build or any unit that is based on varactor diode tuning.


Use Wi-Fi and X-10 in a “Bi-Lingual” approach to Light and Appliance Control, Part 2

Part 2 of the ESP8266-based “Bi-Lingual” Home Light and Appliance Timer explores the LCD, keypad, and Timer menu system of this Wi-Fi / X-10 home controller.


Create the Ultimate Talking Skull with the Wee Little Talker

The talking skull kit gets a brain boost with the Wee Little Talker: an all-in-one controller board.


Solar Intensity Monitor

Build a Solar Intensity Monitor using an Arduino Uno and the MakerPlot Data Acquisition software



Columns

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
A BalloonSat Photometer Flight Computer
See how to create a recording photometer for BalloonSats.

The Spin Zone
by Jon McPhalen
Stepping Up to Help Friends
Exploring the use of stepper motors on the Parallax Propeller.

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
The Near Space Eclipse
It’s one thing to see a solar eclipse. It’s another thing altogether to see one from near space!

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Personal Communications Services: The MURS Option
You know about CB, FRS, GMRS, and FRS radios, but have you heard about MURS?

Q&A
by Kristen McIntyre
Reader Questions Answered Here (01.2017)
Find answers to questions on phantom power, extending Wi-Fi range on the cheap, and PBX and auto dialers.

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
Taking Cheap Multispectral Imaging into Near Space
See what happens when our simple quadcopter platform is taken to higher altitudes, and get acquainted with the results of taking visible, near infrared, and long-wave infrared images in near space.

Q&A
by Kristen McIntyre
Reader Questions Answered Here (03.2017)
Find answers to questions on phantom power, extending Wi-Fi range on the cheap, and PBX and auto dialers.

The Spin Zone
by Jon McPhalen
Cooperative Multitasking in PASM
Running multiple tasks in the same cog of the Parallax Propeller.

The Spin Zone
by Jon McPhalen
A Block On the Old Chip
BlocklyProp is a fun and easy way to build a Propeller program — piece by piece — using blocks.

The Ham’s Wireless Workbench
by H. Ward Silver
Ham Metrics and the Decibel
Wireless communication seems to involve many unfamiliar terms, but most seem to be calculated or expressed in terms of the decibel. Let’s take a look at these measurements and values, and see how to use decibels for them.

Q&A
by Kristen McIntyre
Reader Questions Answered Here (05.2017)
Find answers to questions on modem testing, identifying components, and drawing schematics.

The Ham’s Wireless Workbench
by H. Ward Silver
Wireless Modes — Part 2
Amateur radio — once freed to experiment with and develop its own digital ways and means — has become a hotbed of mode and protocol experimentation.

The Spin Zone
by Jon McPhalen
XBee Beyond the Basics
It’s time to step up your XBee game from “transparent” mode to API connection mode.

The Ham’s Wireless Workbench
by H. Ward Silver
Wireless Modes — Part 1
If you employ a wireless data or voice link, you use are using modes. This column is an overview of fundamental modes used in communication systems.

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Putting the Digital Discovery to Work
Digilent’s new Digital Discovery is designed to be the ultimate embedded development companion.

The Spin Zone
by Jon McPhalen
Making Menus
The user interface on any system is important — especially the menus.

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
See C More Clearly with the E3mini
The folks at CCS want you to C more clearly. So, they have assembled a very high quality C language training package.

The Ham’s Wireless Workbench
by H. Ward Silver
The Solar Eclipse and Ham Radio
Getting ready to follow the on-air activity that will come this August 2017 when we have a total eclipse of the sun.

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Personal Radio Technologies
Cell phones aren’t the only option for communication with your family and friends.

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Going the Distance with Wireless
Demands for longer range Wi-Fi capacity are growing, and so are the demands for new technology to support it.

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Going All The Way With QRP
Talking around the world on a kilowatt is easy. How far can you go on less than one watt?

The Spin Zone
by Jon McPhalen
Readdressing Smart Pixels
Today, smart LEDs are everywhere, and come in a variety of styles. It just might be time to have a look at my pixel driver and bring it up-to-date with new choices such as the SK6812RGBW.

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Up Close and Personal with the ME Labs Advanced PIC18 D-Stick
Get hands-on with the ME Labs Advanced PIC18 D-Stick.

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Get “Patriot”ic with Lemos’ LoRa Radio Module
We are going to dig through the datasheet, push the buttons, and turn the knobs on the new Patriot PW1-928 RF data transceiver module from Lemos International.

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
A Recording Weather Station for Near Space and Beyond
Create a weather station that records position and environmental data at the same time during near space missions.

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Try the RAD B4R for ESP8266 Coding
An introduction to the B4R programming environment utilizing the popular ESP8266 module

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Is This Thingy Your Key to IoT?
Nordic’s new “Thingy”— a compact, power-optimized, multi-sensor development kit!

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Go ARM in ARM with Hardware and Firmware
Are you ready to get serious about ARM hardware and firmware?

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Put on a PiFace
Working with PiFace and a RAD tool called B4J.

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
A Look at the nRF52832’s SPI Peripheral
The ARM-based nRF52832 blinks LEDs, speaks SPI, UART, and I2C just like any other microcontroller, so we will continue our exploration of the nRF52832’s peripherals.

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
D-Stick is Delightful for Development
For about $30, you can get the ME Labs D-Stick which is a stand-alone development environment that is based on the Microchip PIC16F1937.

The Ham’s Wireless Workbench
by H. Ward Silver
Thermal Management
Some Hot Topics for a Cool Hobby.

Practical 3D Printing
by Chuck Hellebuyck
Portable Electronics Workbench with 3D Printed Parts
Learn how to make a 3D printed/customized portable electronics organizer.

Q&A
by Kristen McIntyre
Reader Questions Answered Here (04.2017)
Find answers to questions on modernizing an old radio’s power and monitoring a tankless hot water heater.

Q&A
by Kristen McIntyre
Reader Questions Answered Here (06.2017)
Find answers to questions on quiet fans, NiCd to NiMH, and clean automotive power.

Q&A
by Kristen McIntyre
Reader Questions Answered Here (10.2017)
Help with a Hit-and-Miss Engine and Overheating Band Pass Filters.

Q&A
by Kristen McIntyre
Reader Questions Answered Here (11.2017)
Questions on stable PWM integration on a DC motor and whether to fix a dead power supply on an XBOX 360.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Events, Advances, and News (01.2017)
Information on current events, advances, and news in various technology fields.

Q&A
by Kristen McIntyre
Reader Questions Answered Here (02.2017)
See how to construct a visual doorbell, how to drive LEDs, and discuss text messaging for help.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Events, Advances, and News (03.2017)
Information on current events, advances, and news in various technology fields.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Events, Advances, and News (05.2017)
Information on current events, advances, and news in various technology fields.

Q&A
by Kristen McIntyre
Reader Questions Answered Here (07.2017)
Find answers to questions on a simple current source; a block heater power indicator; and Arduinos and LEDs - redux.

Q&A
by Kristen McIntyre
Reader Questions Answered Here (08.2017)
Learn about NiCd charger options and the different types of LED display technologies

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
Factors Controlling Balloon Flights and Predicting Balloon Landing Zones
Making proper predictions of your BalloonSats’ flight path.

Q&A
by Kristen McIntyre
Reader Questions Answered Here (09.2017)
Get info on disposing of printed circuit board etchants and communicating on a light beam.

The Ham’s Wireless Workbench
by H. Ward Silver
Vacuum Tubes
At the ripe old age of 102 years old, is the venerable vacuum tube still relevant in modern designs?

Q&A
by Kristen McIntyre
Reader Questions Answered Here (12.2017)
Questions regarding relay remote control, reviving a boombox, and controlling a high-power LED with a Raspberry Pi.

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Cheap and Dirty Wireless Remote Control
Dealing with RF circuits is daunting for most experimenters. It is tricky and a bit frustrating if you build your own RF circuits. Now you don’t have to — thanks to the many available wireless modules.

Departments

Keeping It Simple
by Bryan Bergeron
Don’t overcomplicate your purchases.

My First Time Machine — Well, at Least My First Flux Capacitor
by Bryan Bergeron
With a circuit simulator and a basic knowledge of components and circuit theory, it’s possible to simulate just about any electronic device that can be built.

Biology + Electronics
by Bryan Bergeron
Consider the vast world of electronics as it is applied to biology and biological systems.

Real Electronics
by Bryan Bergeron
I’m no Luddite, but my “real” electronics gadgets and instruments look more appealing.

What’s in Your Grab-and-Go?
by Bryan Bergeron
What’s in your “grab-and-go” bag when you get phone calls for help on a friend’s electronic equipment?

Easing Into Tube
by Bryan Bergeron
Want a break from microcontrollers and MEMS devices? Give tubes a try!

Electronics: A Multipurpose Modeling Tool
by Bryan Bergeron
Modeling Systems using Electronics.

What’s on Your Workbench?
by Bryan Bergeron
Workbench customization for specific projects.

What Your Preferred MPU/MCU Says About You
by Bryan Bergeron
People may judge you based on your hair style or clothing or even music choices ... but what does your choice in microprocessor say about you?

The Zombie Apocalypse — Are You Ready?
by Bryan Bergeron
How prepared are you for a disaster — man-made or otherwise?

Conspiracy Theory
by Bryan Bergeron
Does someone have a grand conspiracy to wipe out the retail electronic component industry in the US?