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  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 16:13
    This Is Your Brain on Engineering (video)





    This Is Your Brain on Engineering (video).

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 16:01
    Heroes of Hardware Revolution: Bob Widlar

    Bob Widlar (1937-1991) is without a doubt one of the most famous hardware engineers of all time.  In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that he is the person who single-handedly started the whole Analog IC Industry. Sure, it’s Robert Noyce and Jack Kilby who invented the concept of Integrated Circuits, but it’s Widlar’s genius and pragmatism that brought it to life. Though he was not first to realize the limitations of planar process and designing ICs like discrete circuits, he was the first one to provide an actual solution - µA702, the first linear IC Operational Amplifier. Combining his engineering genius, understanding of economic aspects of circuit design and awareness of medium and process limitations, he and Dave Talbert ruled the world of Analog ICs throughout the 60s and 70s. For a significant period of time, they were responsible more than 80 percent of all linear circuits made and sold in the entire world.

    Bob Widlar

     

    The list of his designs includes gems such as µA709, improvement over original µA702 and a Fairchild’s flagship product for years, µA723 – first integrated voltage regulator and LM10 — the first ultra-low-voltage opamp, which is still in production today. Students usually learn about Widlar via the textbook-classic: Widlar Current Source, a key piece in many of his designs, and the Bandgap Voltage Reference - both of which provide an infinite supply of mind-boggling exam problems. If there is one theme that’s common across all of Widlar’s designs, it’s that he has never designed an obvious circuit in his life. Every Widlar design comes with a twist, a unique idea and very often, a prank. A classic example of this is the story of LM109, the industry’s first three-terminal adjustable voltage regulator. In 1969, Widlar wrote a paper in which he argued against feasibility of monolithic voltage regulators due to temperature swings and packaging limitations. Since he was already an engineering legend by that time, the industry took it seriously and people gave up trying to pursue such devices. Then in 1970, he presented a circuit – LM109 – which used his bandgap voltage reference to achieve exactly such “impossible” functionality. It is most likely that he submitted both works within days from one another.

    500004851-03-01

    In addition to being a brilliant designer, Widlar was a personification of an age to come in Sillicon Valley, combining counter-cultural and in-your-face attitude with entrepreneurial passion and desire to build products that people love. He worked directly with customers and wrote his own app notes and data sheets. In fact, Widlar’s µA702 laid out the blueprint for how all analog IC data sheets are to be written in the future. His principle was “designing for minimum phone calls” and “if you make a million ICs; you get half a million phone calls if they don’t work right”. He was both destroyer of the worlds and creator of new markets; he came into Fairchild claiming that “what they do in analog is BS”, but left the company as a dominant player in linear IC for years to come, mostly on the wings of his designs. He then moved to Molectro (owned by National) but quickly ended up turning the parent company upside down and making into an Analog powerhouse. At the age of 33 he cashed out and retired in Mexico. But his hands couldn’t stay idle for too long. He soon came back as a contractor for National and, in 1980, ended up founding Linear Technology with Robert Swanson and Bob Dobkin,

    National Semiconductor (Widlar's Idea)

    Still, he always remained a troublemaker, free thinker, and an HR nightmare… closer in spirit to someone like Hemingway than a fellow “professional” engineer. Such attitude was contagious and it inspired a whole new wave of “prankster” analog geniuses like Bob Pease and Jim Williams. Widlar’s pranks are too many to count and it’s really hard to pick one that captures the spirit of the times the best. Maybe it’s when Widlar brought sheep to the front of National as a reaction to the firm not mowing the lawns due to cost-cutting (he really just needed an excuse to annoy the upper management). Or when he cherry-bombed the intercom speaker, again, just to upset one of National’s Vice Presidents. Some of the pranks were actual hardware, like a “hassler” circuit he built to detect audio, convert it to a very high audio frequency and play back the converted sound. The net effect of such a design was that the louder someone talked in the office, the more annoying the “ringing” effect caused by the feedback was. As a person would stop shouting to hear what’s causing the ringing, the effect would disappear as well. This way, he managed to get everyone in the office into speaking quietly, Pavlov-style.

    Widlar and the Sheep : A Performance Piece

    Widlar passed away in 1991 but his legacy lives on. He truly was the original hardware hacker and more than just an engineer – he was an Artist. It’s because of guys like him that Analog still has that special feel and is more about “invention” than just following the straightforward path between A and B. And that is why Analog guys still greet everyone else with a “Widlar Salute”.

    Widlar Salute

    Now, when I have finished my inspection, and I am still mad as hell because I have wasted a lot of time being fooled by a bad component – what do I do? I usually WIDLARIZE it, and it makes me feel a lot better. How do you WIDLARIZE something? You take it over to the anvil part of the vice, and you beat on it with a hammer, until it is all crunched down to tiny little pieces, so small that you don’t even have to sweep it off the floor. It makes you feel better. And you know that that component will never vex you again. That’s not a joke, because sometimes if you have a bad pot or a bad capacitor, and you just set it aside, a few months later you find it slipped back into your new circuit and is wasting your time again. When you WIDLARIZE something, that is not going to happen. And the late Bob Widlar is the guy who showed me how to do it.

    Bob Pease – Troubleshooting Analog Circuits

     References

    [1] Bo Lojek – History of Semiconductor Engineering, Springer, 2007

    [2] Bob Pease – Troubleshooting Analog Circuits, 1987

    [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Widlar

    [4] http://readingjimwilliams.blogspot.com/2012/04/my-favorite-widlar-story.html

    [5] http://analogfootsteps.blogspot.com/search/label/Bob%20Widlar

    [6] http://electronicdesign.com/analog/what-s-all-widlar-stuff-anyhow

    [7] http://silicongenesis.stanford.edu/transcripts/dobkinwilliams.htm

    [8] http://edn.com/electronics-blogs/anablog/4311277/Bob-Widlar-cherry-bombs-the-intercom-speaker-item-2

     

    Filed under: Featured, rants

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 16:00
    kids were here #ArtTuesday


    NewImage

    kids were here is a photo blog put together by a group of photographers that captures the mess, creativity and imagination left behind in a child’s wake. Read more.

    NewImage


    Screenshot 4 2 14 11 48 AMEvery Tuesday is Art Tuesday here at Adafruit! Today we celebrate artists and makers from around the world who are designing innovative and creative works using technology, science, electronics and more. You can start your own career as an artist today with Adafruit’s conductive paints, art-related electronics kits, LEDs, wearables, 3D printers and more! Make your most imaginative designs come to life with our helpful tutorials from the Adafruit Learning System. And don’t forget to check in every Art Tuesday for more artistic inspiration here on the Adafruit Blog!

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 15:30
    Learn how to use Git #makereducation


    Screen-Shot-2014-04-04-at-12.22.54-PM

    Code School and GitHub have collaborated on this introductory course on how to learn Git!

    Got 15 minutes and want to learn Git?

    Git allows groups of people to work on the same documents (often code) at the same time, and without stepping on each other’s toes. It’s a distributed version control system.

    Our terminal prompt below is currently in an octobox directory.

    Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 1.28.50 PM

    Read more.


    Adafruit_Learning_SystemEach Tuesday is EducationTuesday here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts about educators and all things STEM. Adafruit supports our educators and loves to spread the good word about educational STEM innovations!

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 15:00
    i2 Camp: a Summer Day-Camp to Invent and Inspire #makereducation


    campstem

    i2 Camp holds week long STEM-themed camps for middle schoolers in locations across the country during the summer months! Check out there schedules and courses, which range from engineering design to DNA barcoding!

    The program at i2 Camp has been developed with the goal of engaging middle school children in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Partnering with some of the world’s leading STEM organizations, the camp broadens a child’s exposure to STEM with a wide variety of new, innovative courses not seen in traditional middle school education. The fun and intimate, hands-on activities of the courses strive to excite and inspire campers about STEM, creating enthusiasm that will hopefully spill over to their schoolwork and school choices in future years.

    OUR PROGRAM

    The program at i2 Camp has been developed with the goal of engaging middle school children in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Partnering with some of the world’s leading STEM organizations, the camp broadens a child’s exposure to STEM with a wide variety of new, innovative courses not seen in traditional middle school education. The fun and intimate, hands-on activities of the courses strive to excite and inspire campers about STEM, creating enthusiasm that will hopefully spill over to their schoolwork and school choices in future years.

    610x276_Rotator_BoyRobot

    Read more.


    Adafruit_Learning_SystemEach Tuesday is EducationTuesday here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts about educators and all things STEM. Adafruit supports our educators and loves to spread the good word about educational STEM innovations!

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 15:00
    How to monitor a domestic photovoltaic plant with Arduino

    Ardusol

     

    ArdaSol is the name of a project for a solar energy monitoring system based on Arduino Mega and UNO, made by Heinz Pieren. It’s a system built to monitor energy production and consumption of a domestic photovoltaic plant:

    The ArdaSol Energy Monitoring System has 3 devices:

    - ArdaSol Display based on a Arduino Mega Board
    The master of the system, it collects the data from the two other ArdaSol devices, shows the data on the display, stores it on a SD card and sends it to a server in the internet.

    - ArdaSol Energy Monitor based on a Arduino Uno
    Measures the consumption of the energy, shows energy values on local display and delivers it on request to the ArdaSol Display.

    - ArdaSol Remote PVI Interface based on a Arduino Uno
    The photovoltaic inverter (PVI) has a RS485 interface, this is connected to ArdaSol Remote, which interacts as a gateway to ArdaSol Display. It converts the requests, coming with a radio signal to the PVI and vice versa.

     

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 15:00
    Check Out This Cool Viola Costume from Soul Calibur


    viola_iii_by_dessi_desu-d5yx8in

    Soul Calibur is full of characters with interesting costume designs, and fortune teller Viola’s ensemble caught cosplayer Dessi-Desu’s eye. She knew she had to make the costume as soon as she saw it. Dessi-Desu said it was tricky to get the colors precisely right, but the end result looks gorgeous. She dyed fabric, stitched satin, strung pearls, and made the claws. The latter was her favorite part and here’s what she had to say about it:

    The claws were very fun for me to make. This was my first time using wonderflex! I followed the concept art for Viola’s claws, so I had mobility with my fingers and they wouldn’t be locked in place. They’re a system of two rings on each finger (one at the top and one just under the middle knuckle). The paint job was done with silver and black acrylic. I built up washes of watered down black to create shadow and highlight.

    Read more at DeviantArt.

    Via Cosplay Blog, Photo by Joseph Chi Lin

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 14:00
    New Project: Freeze-Dry Your Own Astronaut Ice Cream

    Astronaut-ice-cream-freeze-dried-ice-creamRe-create this gift shop novelty food by making a freeze-dryer with parts already lying around your workshop.

    Read more on MAKE


  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 14:00
    SpaceGAMBIT: Open Call for Proposals

    Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 10.26.57 PMHelp NASA find all asteroid threats to human populations and know what to do about them.

    Read more on MAKE


  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 14:00
    BBB Controls The P.Brain For Hexapod Robot #BeagleBoneBlack @TXInstruments @beagleboardorg


    Hexapodrobot com View topic Beaglebone Black controlling p Brain

    BBB Controls The P.Brain For Hexapod Robot via hexapodrobot

    This setup adds a wifi connected Beaglebone Black to the MSR-H01. The BBB communicates with the p.Brain through the 3.3V TTL located on the Bluetooth mount (CN22) on the p.Brain SMB. On the BBB runs a Java program, which sends PIP-commands to the p.Brain and receives sensor information obtained through I2C from the SRF10 back. A SRF10 sonar is constantly measuring the distance to the nearest object in front of the hex. When within 15 cm of an object, forward movement is prohibited.

    Through the wifi connection (simple socket) of the BBB, it receives information from a Sony Sixaxis controller, which is interpreted by the BBB and converted to PIP directional commands.

    Power for the BBB is provided by the LiPo battery pack on the Hex, routed through a DE-SW050 http://www.dimensionengineering.com/products/de-sw050 voltage regulator.

    Read more

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 13:00
    The Art of QR Codes #ArtTuesday


    NewImage

    Elena Belmann’s QR Code Sculpture

    German artist Elena Belmann mixes sculptured art with information technology in this intricate QR code sculpture.

    Read more


    Screenshot 4 2 14 11 48 AMEvery Tuesday is Art Tuesday here at Adafruit! Today we celebrate artists and makers from around the world who are designing innovative and creative works using technology, science, electronics and more. You can start your own career as an artist today with Adafruit’s conductive paints, art-related electronics kits, LEDs, wearables, 3D printers and more! Make your most imaginative designs come to life with our helpful tutorials from the Adafruit Learning System. And don’t forget to check in every Art Tuesday for more artistic inspiration here on the Adafruit Blog!

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 13:00
    Dirt Cheap Dirty Boards Offers Dirt Cheap PCB Fab

    Dirt Cheap PCB

     

    When your project is ready to build, it’s time to find a PCB manufacturer. There are tons of them out there, but for prototype purposes cheaper is usually better. [Ian] at Dangerous Prototypes has just announced Dirt Cheap Dirty Boards, a PCB fabrication service for times where quality doesn’t matter too much. [Ian] also discussed the service on the Dangerous Prototypes forum.

    The boards are definitely cheap. $12 USD gets you ten 5 cm by 5 cm boards with 100% e-test and free worldwide shipping. You can even choose from a number of solder mask colors for no additional cost. [Ian] does warn the boards aren’t of the best quality, as you can tell in the Bus Pirate picture above. The silkscreen alignment has some issues, but for $1.2 a board, it’s hard to complain. After all, the site’s motto is “No bull, just crappy PCBs.”

    The main downside of this service will be shipping time. While the Chinese fab house cranks out boards in two to four days, Hong Kong Post can take up to 30 days to deliver your boards. This isn’t ideal, but the price is right.

    Filed under: hardware

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 11:00
    USC Is Offering a Google Glass Course for Journalism Students #makereducation


    google-glass-dude-5

    USC will be offering a new journalism class centered around Google Glass. Professor Robert Hernandez, who will be teaching the course, hopes to encourage future journalists to take an interactive approach in shaping technology’s impact on the media landscape, via mashable.

    It’s a first-of-its-kind class for USC, and web-journalism professor Robert Hernandez believes the class offers a rare opportunity for journalism to get ahead of a budding technology trend. Hernandez said journalists have been followers — not trailblazers — when using other technology like mobile and social media, but that the industry has a chance for a head start with Glass.

    “As someone who hijacks technology for journalism, I want to be proactive about shaping what journalism will look like on this,” said Hernandez, who worked most recently as director of development for The Seattle Times before joining USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in 2009. “This platform is so new, no one has defined what journalism looks like on there. It’s such an opportunity for the journalism industry to jump on there.”

    Hernandez is opening the class to all students at the university, although he will approve each signup. He expects roughly 12 students will join the class, including students from a variety of different backgrounds and majors, such as design, computer engineering, public relations, and of course, journalism. The class is intended for the advancement of journalism, but is not limited to its disciples.

    According to the syllabus, students will create apps for Google Glass that help enhance both storytelling and story consumption on the platform. Hernandez hopes to answer questions such as, what does long-form content look like on Glass? Or, how can readers create and watch stories using Glass?

    Read more.


    Adafruit_Learning_SystemEach Tuesday is EducationTuesday here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts about educators and all things STEM. Adafruit supports our educators and loves to spread the good word about educational STEM innovations!

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 10:00
    VCF East: Old Computers, New Games

    flappy

    While the vintage computer festival in Wall, NJ had just about every vintage app you could imagine – multiple varities of *NIXes, pre-Zork Dungeon, BASIC interpreters of all capabilities, and just about every game ever released for 8-bit Commodore systems – there was, perhaps unsurprisingly, a distinct lack of modern programs written for these retro systems. Yes, despite there being people still curled up to keyboards and writing games for vintage systems, modern software was a strange oddity last weekend.

    There were two wonderful exceptions, however. The first was Fahrfall, a game for the TRS-80 Color Computer. We’ve seen Fahrfall before when [John Linville] wrote it for the 2012 RetroChallenge Winter Warmup. The game itself is a re-imagining of Downfall for the Atari Jaguar, with the graphics scaled down immensely. The basic idea of the game is to jump down, ledge to ledge, on a vertically scrolling screen. Hit the walls or the bottom, and you’re dead. It’s a great game that probably would have sold well had it been a contemporary release.

    Next up is a rather impressive port of Flappy Bird for the TI-99. The video does not do this game justice, although part of that might just be the awesome Amiga monitor used for the display. This game was brought in by [Jeff Salzman] of Vintage Volts who isn’t the author of the game. Honestly, the video doesn’t do the graphics any justice. It really is a great looking port that’s just as addictive as the Android/iDevice original.

    Filed under: classic hacks

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 10:00
    SDR and SBC: Watching Airplanes with Adafruit SDR on BeagleBone Black – #BeagleBoneBlack @TXInstruments @beagleboardorg



    Watching Airplanes with Adafruit SDR on BeagleBone Black:

    I recently gave a presentation on Software Defined Radio (SDR) at my hackerspace in Chicago, Pumping Station: One.  I’ve attached the slides to this blog post for reference.  After the talk, someone told me they had seen a program that maps out airplanes flying in one’s area based on data received via Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) on 1090 MHz.   After a search, I found dump1090 which works with cheap DVB-T USB sticks with certain Realtek chipsets thanks to the rtl-sdr library….

    Read More.

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 09:00
    Numen-Light Membrane #ArtTuesday



    N-Light Membrane – Rizzordi Art Foundation, Expression Beyond / 2011, St. Petersburg, Russia:

    Rizzordi Art Foundation, Expression Beyond / 2011, St. Petersburg, Russia

    Three out of six surfaces of the cube are made of flexible membrane (foil mirror) with air tank and a compressor connected to it and the other three mirrors are semi transparent spy-glass. By inflating or deflating the air tank, the membrane turns convex or concave, deforming the reflections.

    Read more.

    Membrane

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 08:00
    This Is Not Your Father’s STEM Job #makereducation


    lead1

    Jessica Lahey of The Atlantic highlights the alternative, creative routes many women are taking after pursuing STEM degrees.

    But what if girls bring a different perspective with them, and choose to navigate their STEM careers differently than boys? What if the traditional paths created and well-worn by generations of men are not the same paths girls follow as they apply their newfound skills to STEM fields? There are plenty of women out there engaged in traditional jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math, but many are forging novel, interdisciplinary, STEM-based careers that blur categories and transcend agenda.

    Emily Graslie, scientist, educator, artist, and host of the popular YouTube show The Brain Scoop, recently produced an episode about women in STEM fields, “Where My Ladies At?” Graslie’s own career provides a clue to the location of some of those ladies. They are out there, innovating, designing, researching, and teaching, but because some women in STEM have opted for careers that defy categorization within the acronym, they can be harder to identify…

    If our efforts to encourage women’s curiosity and passion for STEM succeed, we need to be prepared for the way female perspectives and approaches could expand the definition and scope of what it means to be STEM professionals. Because women have traditionally been excluded from these disciplines, and because their fresh eyes allow them to make connections between fields, many women are launching careers, and even entire industries, based on a flexible and creative definition of what it means to be a scientist, artist, or engineer. K-12 schools have done a particularly poor job of integrating study across STEM fields and encouraging creativity and interdisciplinary connections. We continue to teach science, technology, and math in isolation, as if they have little to do with one another. This sort of compartmentalized approach runs counter to what we know about effective learning: Students need to be able to connect content knowledge and concepts to real-world applications in order to develop mastery and passion for a subject.

    Read more.


    Adafruit_Learning_SystemEach Tuesday is EducationTuesday here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts about educators and all things STEM. Adafruit supports our educators and loves to spread the good word about educational STEM innovations!

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 07:01
    PiFace Control & Display Tear Down

    PIFace4

    [John's] currently working on a rather fun PiNoir & Santa Catcher Challenge, and one of the main components is a PiFace Control and Display, which allows you to use a Raspberry Pi without a keyboard or mouse. Curious to see how this module worked, [John] decided to do a tear down and find out!

    Using a de-soldering tool he removed the 16×2 LCD which obstructs most of the components on the panel, which revealed a 16 bit SPI port expander from Microchip MCP23S17. He continued to examine components and checked values using a multimeter to come up with the following circuit diagram:

    PiFace+Control+and+Display

    Click to Zoom

    It’s a nice exercise in reverse engineering, and it looks like [John] did a pretty good job. We’ve seen the PiFace used to automatically decant wine bottles, control Minecraft using a physical Redstone, and even take 3D imaging with an array of 48 PiFaces, Pi’s and Cameras!

    Filed under: Raspberry Pi

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 07:00
    BoothStache: Facial hair fun with BeagleBone Black #beagleboneblack @TXInstruments @beagleboardorg



    Drew Fustini posted this fun project over in the element14 community.

    BoothStache is a version of BeagleStache by Jason Kridner optimized for an expo hall booth at a conference (like DESIGN West). Instead of a LCD cape, BoothStache uses the BeagleBone Black’s HDMI port to display the webcam feed on an HDTV. An added twist is a big red USB button that the user presses to send a tweet of their stache photo (thanks to Python helper that bonnie555 wrote called BeagleButan). Here’s the setup:

    NewImage

    See the full tutorial here and check out the BoothStache twitter feed here.

    NewImage

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 06:30
    A NASA engineer turned artist whose canvas is a huge fish tank #ArtTuesday


    NewImage

    Wired has a post about NASA engineer turned artist Kim Keever whose works are strangely beautiful.

    Artist Kim Keever is like a hydroponic Jackson Pollock. Instead of a canvas, though, he drizzles paint into a 200-gallon fishtank.

    Keever is reticent to share the secrets of his process, but says that after the Sears Easy Living paints are added to the tank, he has anywhere from five to 20 minutes before the liquids diffuse, leaving 200-gallons of murky brown water in their wake. In the moments where the colors whirl and eddy, Keever shoots thousands of photos, choosing one or two before embarking on the five hour processes of emptying, cleaning, and refilling the tank so he can start anew. “They only need to hold up for that ephemeral moment, and then it doesn’t matter,” he says. “Whatever impermanence exists in the materials is irrelevant once the photo is captured.”

    Keever’s dabblings in acquatic abstract expressionism are a far cry from his rigid college days, where he studied engineering. During summers, he’d intern at NASA, where he worked on missile skin technology and jet nozzles. He had the grades and work ethic to thrive at the space agency and envisioned a career dedicated to improving booster engines, followed by a creative retirement filled with art making. Ultimately, he traded in his slide rule for a low-rent loft in the East Village of New York City.

    Read more.

    NewImage


    NewImage

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