Hands On: National Instrument’s VirtualBench

Modern smartphones have eliminated the need for a number of devices.  Often I use my smartphone as a scanner (CamScanner), car GPS, voice recorder, security token, pedometer, light controller, and oh yeah, a phone.   My electronics bench is currently home to a Bench Power Supply, an Oscilloscope, and a Function Generator.  While good instruments, they should worried because they’re going to get replaced with one device: National Instrument’s VirtualBench.

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First Impressions of Electron, a new Node.js IDE for Arduino

The Arduino IDE is great in that with a single download on any PC platform, new users can start writing code and see immediate results.   The same simplicity though, limits some of the more “advanced” features found in modern editors.  Also one of the IDE’s greatest strengths is cross-platform through Java.  This is also one of its weaknesses.  Java is outdated and it’s time to move on.

There’s a slew of other Arduino development environments out there, but most of them are limited to 1 or 2 platforms.  Electron is a novel idea because it is based on Node.js, meaning it runs in Google’s Chrome.

The initial implementation even includes a Serial monitor!

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6 Simple Mistakes Electronics Beginners Make

Sometimes the hardest lessons are the ones you have to learn multiple times.  When getting started with Electronics circuits, there’s a handful of things that can ruin a day (or experiment.)  Here are 6 mistakes I made when I got started, and mistakes I see in the beginner classes I teach. Read more

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Please take my 2014 Reader Survey

I want to make my blog a better for your interests. That means, I need to know about YOU!

Would you please take a few minutes and answer a few questions? By doing so, you’ll actually be helping yourself. How? Because I’ll be able to make better content and more posts that are relevant to you.
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Are you an engineer?

One of the recent changes in pop-culture is that “nerds are cool.”  Most people who claim to be a nerd like to wear 1950s (non-corrective) glasses and download Apps on their iPhone.  Some go farther and say they’re engineers.  Here’s how you can sort out the posers.

The original author for this test is unknown.  A quick Google search comes up with a number of duplicates, but no one claiming to be the author.  So, republished with my own comments (and slight edits) is, the “Engineer Identification Test.”

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“Post your code” to the style of “Let it Be”


A friendly reminder video to everyone asking for help in a programming forum.

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Well formatted Arduino code in one click

Warning, the title of this post is a little bit misleading. It isn’t just one-click to get cleanly formatted code, it’s actually two.

There are two things seasoned programmers will tell new programmers, that they don’t understand (at first):

  1. Always comment your code
  2. Properly indent code

The problem?  As a new programmer, you might not know how to do #2 until you get some experience.

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Review: The Art of Electronics [Book]

Title:  The Art of Electronics by Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill.

 

Most electronics books are written by engineers, for engineers.  It is difficult to find an extremely comprehensive book which covers most Electronics subjects that is written in plain english.

This is that book.

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AddOhms #10: BJTs as Transistors


Every AddOhms project follows the same pattern.  About 80% of my original idea makes it into the video while the remaining 20% I make up on the fly.  Of course, when I do that, I spend 80% of my time on that 20%.  AddOhms #10 on BJTs is no different.

For now, there is going to be a two part series on transistors.  #10 is the first part of this two part series.  We cover BJTs here and will cover MOSFETs in the next one.  (And hey, that one is already 20% written!)

Check out Addohms.com or the AddOhms YouTube Channel for more videos.

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The best 4 transistors to keep in your parts kit

When your project needs a transistor there are tons of choices.  Which makes answering the question “Which transistor should I use or buy?” a daunting task.  Fear not, before wading through spec sheet after spec sheet consider of these 4 general purpose transistors.  Every electronics enginerd’s toolbox should have a few of each. Read more

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Let’s connect on element14

What does Silicon have to do with Social Media?  Silicon’s Atomic Number is 14.  Wait what?  Oh… element14 is, basically, a social media site for electrical engineers, embedded designers, makers, and hobbyist.   Forums, blogs, videos, and all kinds of resources from “celebrities” around the EE world.

It’s one of the most active communities and, in my opinion, one of the cleanest layouts.  Over the past few months I’ve been becoming more active there.  If you’re there, check out my activity feed and add me as a contact!  It’s a great way to stay in touch.

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Teach your Arduino to listen with µSpeech

When most people say “Arduino” they mean an ATmega328 based board like the Uno.  This means a simple 8-bit microcontroller with only 2K of RAM.  That’s 2,048 bytes of memory to work with.  So when someone asked me if the Arduino could do speech recognition, to be honest, I laughed.  Then my jaw dropped when I saw µSpeech.  A speech recognition library for the Arduino Uno’s ATmega328.

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