Four Current Flow Myths Addressed

Just what is "electric current flow?"

what is current flow?

Current flow (direction) is the topic I’m planning for my next AddOhms tutorial. While preparing the script, I started to realize there are some myths or misunderstandings about electricity and current flow.

Ben Franklin Father of Current Flow

via Wikipedia

Everyone probably knows Ben Franklin. He discovered electricity, of course! Yet, he didn’t. Franklin was the first to prove that lighting was composed of electricity with his famous kite experiment. He was also the first to provide electricity’s well-known labels: positive and negative. And somewhere in there Franklin became famous for “inventing” conventional current flow.

This convention creates a lot of confusion around conventional and electron current flow. It’s a concept that has been covered by many others and may even be covered by an Electronics Tutorial Video Series in the future.

Instead, I want to explore some common current flow myths even I believed at some point.

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Why do engineers (love to) hate Arduino?

Engineers love or hate Arduino, but why?

why engineers hate arduino

A couple of months ago podcast I listen to interviewed an embedded engineer. Eventually, the topic of Arduino came up, and all three people on the show let of sighs of disgust. This lead to me to start thinking about why do engineers hate Arduino?

On this particular show, they said Arduino had too many abstraction layers to be useful. All three members of the panel agreed that direct hardware access was critical to success in embedded designs.

On the same episode, the same people talking, the topic changed to using a new chip or sensor. Then this comment was made: “I won’t design for a chip with no high-level software API and detailed examples.” (I’m paraphrasing to protect the innocent.) Everyone on the episode agreed.

Wow. Just what is Arduino then? One view is that it’s a well-documented board, with a high-level API, and lots of detailed examples. But somehow, these features on other platforms is desirable? So why do did these engineers hate Arduino so much when it is what they said every vendor should offer?

Are they haters? Are they trolls? Or are they just engineers who show a behavior common to humans. Let’s take a look at why engineers hate Arduino using other examples and concepts from psychology.

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Top 25 Websites, Tools and Resources for Hardware Startups

Entrepreneur.com
2016-04-15

Check out John Teel’s Top 25 Websites, Tools and Resources for Hardware Startups. Hardware startups have the unique challenge of having to spend real money, to physical products, with the end product being something … real.

You need all of the help you can get to succeed, which is why John’s list is worth a few minutes. I am familiar with many of the entries but did catch a few new ones. Personally, #9 is my favorite, but I am probably biased.

If his name looks familiar, that’s because John was featured here a few weeks ago with his post on how to go from prototype to product.

Check out John Teel’s Top 25 Websites, Tools and Resources for Hardware Startups.

Switching Voltage Regulator Tutorial

AddOhms #18 covers the basics of switching voltage regulators

Switching Voltage Regulator - AddOhms Banner

A switching voltage regulator is one of my favorite circuits. In school, they were the first circuits I built where I understood how transistors worked. In fact, they were the first circuit I saw an inductor being useful! Switching regulators are incredibly efficient when designed properly. Of course, this detail about design is important. They are not as simple as a linear regulator, which is basically an IC and two caps.

To understand the basics of a switching regulator, I released AddOhms #18 this week. This is video tutorial dedicated the Switching Voltage Regulator. If video tutorials aren’t your thing, then keep reading for my written tutorial.

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Hands-on with Arduino Create and Arduino IoT

Arduino and Genuino have a new platform for your IoT projects

Arduino Create and Arduino IoT Hands On 760px

This past weekend Arduino fans celebrated Arduino and Genuino Day 2016. In classrooms, maker spaces, and impromptu meet-ups around the world enginerds got together to learn and create with Arduino. At the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation on Berkeley’s Campus, I first heard that Arduino Create had been launched.

In addition to hands-on learning workshops, there was a display of Arduino/Genuino projects by students. In the afternoon, three Arduino co-founders gave a short talk. David Mellis spoke on Machine Learning. Tom Igoe did his first talk on Technology and Humanities. Lastly, Massimo Banzi talked about IoT.

Arduino Day, Mellis, Igoe, Banzi

Arduino Day, Mellis, Igoe, Banzi

Massimo’s IoT discussion related to the earlier announcement that day of Arduino Create. This new platform has a web-based IDE, Arduino Project Hub, and Arduino IoT.

Excited about the announcements, I spent some time with the hackster.io powered Arduino Project Hub and the Arduino IoT.  Here’s my hands-on with Arduino Create.

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How to Turn Your Arduino Prototype Into a Manufacturable Product

6 steps from John Teel at Predictable Designs

arduino prototype to product
This week’s post is from my friend John Teel. I asked him to help answer a common question I receive: “How do you make an Arduino project into a product?” His experience as an electronics design engineer and serial entrepreneur is ideal to talk about going from prototype to product. He has developed tech products that sell in the millions of units. John now helps entrepreneurs, startups, makers, and small companies bring new electronic products to market. Check out the company he founded, Predictable Designs, and his free cheat sheet – 18 Steps to Market for Your New Electronic Product after reading his excellent post below.

Dreaming of bringing a new hardware product to market?  Perhaps you think your product will make the world a better place, or maybe you just dream of making millions of dollars.

Developing a prototype based on an Arduino (Genuino outside the USA), or other development kit, is a great first step.  But there is still much work to do if you want to make your product into something that can be manufactured in volume and sold to the masses.

So I’m going to break down the process for you into a few manageable steps:

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Energy Density of 9V battery vs AA batteries

Which is better one 9V or six AA batteries?

9v battery vs AA battery energy density copy r1-01

Previously I wrote up why the 9V battery sucks. As I thought more about that post, I realized, I never explained how much energy is in a 9 V battery versus say a couple of AA batteries.

For this post, I’m going to break down the energy stored in a 9 V battery, the small rectangular kind and compare it to what you get with 6 AA batteries. Yes, it takes up a little more space, but you might be surprised by the difference.

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Review of The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (Simon & Schuster, 2014)

innovators-isaacsonReading a blog post like this one is something we all do multiple times a day. As early as 20 years ago, such a concept was still entirely unknown to the rest of the world. Walter Isaacson’s “The Innovators…” book is a history telling of the players involved from the early days of Ada Lovelace all the way through to Google’s search success.

Here are some of my favorite highlights from the book.

KEMET Adds AEC-Q200 Capability

T598-Polymer-Electrolytic-Capacitor-150ppi-croppedBack in December, John Day’s Automotive Electronics Blog featured a post I wrote. The subject was KEMET’s (then) recent Automotive product introductions. Here’s a summary of the article.

KEMET has been working hard to meet the needs of automotive engineers in recent months. These efforts have resulted in several technology developments that will be of particular interest to design engineers involved with automotive electronic systems.

Firstly, the company made several key developments in polymer electrolytic capacitor technology. Recent additions to their high-voltage MLCC’s ArcShield line include new automotive grade parts rated for >500V and an X2-Rated Film capacitor that passes AEC-Q200’s qualification guidelines as well.

Read more on John Day’s Automotive Electronics about KEMET’s AEC-Q200 Polymer Electrolytic Capacitors.

 

Date:December 16, 2016
Appearance:KEMET Adds AEC-Q200 Capability
Outlet:John Day's Automotive Electronics
Format:Magazine