HPDisk – GPIB Disk Emulator

Gustafsson Anders

Popular on eBay are old test equipment like Spectrum Analyzers, Oscilloscopes, and Multimeters. HPDisk by Gustafsson Anders creates a virtual GPIB interface that stores data to a SD-Card.This is done by emulating a special HP disk drive, that some HP instruments know how to write to when connected. (As Anders points out, this is not emulating a built-in floppy drive.)

Keep reading if you aren’t familiar with GPIB.

What’s GPIB?

Long before USB became the standard I/O interface in the computing world, bench-top instruments used HPIB. This was the “HP Interface Bus” used by Hewlett-Packard in the early days of their test equipment. It enabled instruments to share data and be automated by “desktop computers”.

Eventually HPIB evolved into GPIB and the IEEE-488 standard was created. Until about 2000, most instruments supported a true GPIB/IEEE488 hardware connector. Slowly that evolved into USB-based virtual connectors (like a virtual serial port).

Go back to 1975. The idea of a computer at home was something that only happened in Science Fiction books. When the Altair 8800 was introduced, not only could you have a computer at home–you could build it yourself!

For some “computer” is a bit liberal. Based on the Intel 8080, the “computer” supported some toggle switches and LEDs on the front panel.  As Gates explains in this video, there wasn’t even any kind of interactive terminal.

Check this MAKE article on the history of the Altair 8800.

Is Graphene Unobtanium?

"Graphen" by AlexanderAlUS - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Graphen.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Graphen.jpg

(“Graphen” by AlexanderAlUS – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons ]

Everyday a new application involving the seemingly miraculous material Graphene is announced. For example, being in the capacitor industry, I am asked often if my employer uses it. Before answering the question, I usually have to explain what Graphene is and the challenges in producing it.

The lack of supply and limited (real) commercial applications leads me to think of Graphene as Unobtanium… at least, for the near future.

10 Popular EAGLE Libraries

element14
Jan 15, 2015

Having good libraries in EAGLE is critical to making schematic capture and PCB design fast.  Dave at element14 put together a top 10 library link, which includes the list below.

Remember, if you’re having trouble Add Parts, you might want to look at this tutorial on enabling EAGLE libraries.

  1. element14’s RIoTBoard
  2. element14’s Raspberry Pi Compute Module Development Kit
  3. element14’s BeagleBone Black
  4. Linear Technology
  5. Molex
  6. Vishay
  7. Microchip
  8. Atmel
  9. Arduino
  10. Texas Instruments

10818399_10152509408852219_5757913693783094151_oUnderstanding what X2 or Y1 capacitors actually are and are not is important when designing them into an AC-mains connected power supply.  Recently Electronic Products Magazine ran an article I wrote on the proper role of X and Y safety rated EMI Capacitors.

The X2 capacitor rating means different things to different people–except for UL.  When I wrote this article to discuss some common misconceptions around what X2 Rated Capacitors are, and how they can be properly used.

In case the PDF reader doesn’t load, it’s on Page 20 of the November 2014 issue.

You can see the full article with the EP Reader, by clicking here.

Date: November 1, 2014
Appearance: Role of EMI X1, X2, Y1, Y2 Capacitors Ratings
Outlet: Electronic Products Management
Format: Magazine

The Gecko Zero EFM32 Weather Station Evaluation Board from Silicon Labs is intended to show off the low-energy or energy harvesting capabilities of the EFM32 Zero.  The ARM-based board has physical and cap sensitive buttons along with the LCD.

It comes pre-loaded with a demo program, which is the classic Space Invaders.

If you’re interested in more about the board, I wrote a road test of Gecko EFM32 on element 14. (Spoilers: I wasn’t impressed.  Not a bad board, but rough development environment.)

CES 2015 Highlights

CES 2015 SIgn

This is my first year attending CES. Apparently, nobody told anyone here about the death of the trade show. As an enginerd, here is my perspective.  First, if you’ve never been, this show is huge. Huge. You aren’t just walking around 100 or so booths. This thing is spread across 3 different conference centers in downtown Las Vegas.

With over 160,000 attendees, CES was spread across three massive convention halls. Nearly every company offering electronic products were on display. From Televisions to Appliances to Computers to Automotive Electronics to Wearables.  Broken down below are highlights and pictures from the show, based on industry or application area. 

Article I wrote on some innovations KEMET has implemented in their capacitors:

There is no Moore’s Law for passive components like capacitors, but relentless development is delivering the kinds of devices engineers need to deliver cutting-edge new products for modern living. Capacitors have for many years enabled electronic designers to manage energy within circuits and fulfill basic functions like filtering noise or harmonics, correcting power factor, stabilizing feedback circuitry, coupling/decoupling, interfacing between voltage levels, and storing energy. But the demands placed on these components continue to increase, as electronic devices are expected to be smaller, longer lasting, more feature rich and more robust.

Read “Capacitor Innovations Address Emerging Opportunities” on Power Systems Design.

Date: December 30, 2014
Appearance: Capacitor innovations address emerging opportunities on PSD
Outlet: Power Systems Design
Format: Magazine