Back in the 1990s, a 1.44mb floppy disk was a reasonable storage size for most documents.  For bigger documents or backing up an internal hard drive, other options were necessary. You might remember the Zip Drive, but that wasn’t the first large portable media.

The Bernoulli Box was the precursor to the Zip Drive. It used custom media that could store 10s to 100mbs on portable disks. Well, portable compared to carrying around an entire hard drive. Operating using the Bernoulli principal, the drive’s head never comes in contact with the “floppy” material inside the protective case.

Clint of Lazy Game Reviews takes a look at this cool forgotten drive technology in this video.

How to find parts for your electronics projects and designs

These are the tools I use to find parts, do you?

how-to-find-parts tips

What part is the most important part in building a project? All of them! Okay, bad joke. Selecting the right parts or components for a design is an area where both new hobbyist and veteran engineers struggle. The wide variety of devices make it almost impossible to know if you are selecting the right one.

Looking at a curated List, using component search engines and browsing DIY shops are how I tend to find parts for my projects.

You might want to bookmark these some of these sites so you can use them next time you’re stuck on how to find parts for your project.

Using a learning algorithm known as NEAT, this Super Mario World play through is an example of a machine learning how to beat the level on its own. Using an evolutionary process, a neural network was built–or learned–to complete the level. The name of the program used to control Mario is called… Mar-I/O.

  • N: Neuro
  • E: Evolution of
  • A: Augmenting
  • T: Topologies

The initial play through is fascinating as well as the breakdown of what is going on. Well worth the 5 minutes.

Control a Rigol Scope with Linux

qrigol on GitHub

qrigol waveform plot

The Rigol DS1052E digital oscilloscopes are very popular for both hobbyist and professional engineers. These are very affordable scopes that pack a lot of value. Most of the software tools offered from Rigol only run on Windows. Al Williams has fixed that with the the qrigol project on GitHub.

From the readme file:

  • Uses USB communications with Scope
  • Allows keyboard to be unlocked so you can use both the panel and the software
  • Allows easy reading of all measurements as well as logging of all measurements
  • Control of common scope functions
  • Saves waveforms in CSV format
  • Integrates with external plot software like gnuplot to qtiplot
  • Diagnostic mode to send raw commands to scope

There’s a couple of limitations, but I want to draw attention to one. If your region uses a comma (“,”) as a decimal point, you might run into issues. For more information, you might want to check out the qrigol thread on the EEVBlog.

X-Carve CNC Review and Hands-On with PCB Milling

Can the X-Carve be used for PCB Milling?

X-Carve CNC Review

There are two methods to making a prototype PCB: 1) Etch Your Own or 2) Send to a Prototyping Service. While there are many prototyping service options, most cause you to wait anywhere between 24 hours and 30 days before you get your boards back.

If you need a PCB done today, etching at home is a great option. Chemical etching involves all kinds of steps with all kinds of weird chemicals. If you don’t want your neighbors to think you’re the next Walter White, then mechanical etching is a better option. Which is why I bought an X-Carve from Inventables. It’s a CNC Milling Kit you build yourself.

Keep reading for my X-Carve CNC Review and first-hand experience on etching my first PCB. Plus, lots of pictures!

Get electronics help with the right question

Get Electronics Help with the Right Questions

4 keys to getting electronics help for your project

When describing a person, do you ever use the phrase “their strength is their weakness?” That’s how I feel about Internet forums. The strength of forums is the collective knowledge of like-minded people, some with more experience than others. Sadly, that is also the weakness of Internet forums… Whether it is a topic-specific site like the EEVBlog Forum or an almost anything site like Reddit the strength/weakness holds true.

Lucky for us, most engineering-focus forums are a positive place to ask question and get electronics help.

If you ask better questions, you can get better answers. So, here are  4 proven tips to help ask better questions, when looking for electronics help.

Add wireless with one of these five wireless modules

5 Wireless Modules

Your IoT project needs one of these wireless modules

Getting your project connected to the internet is relatively easy these days. Here are five off the shelf modules that will easily add wireless to your project.

Back when I was in school, I remember spending an entire semester making a RF amplifier board. In fact, I had to use a pencil eraser to remove oxidation on the copper traces to remove an unwanted oscillation, caused by the impedance mismatch of the oxidation on the copper traces. Talk about tough.

These days, adding WiFi or Bluetooth is as simple as adding one of the wireless modules available. Or if you are using an Arduino, skip the modules and just add a shield.

Keep reading for 5 different wireless modules to consider for your project.

DIY Battery Powered Apple Watch Charger

guypl on Thingiverse
08-May-2015
Apple Watch Charger on Thingiverse

Apple Watch Charger on Thingiverse

Using an Adafruit Charger Board,  a cut-up magnetic Apple Watch Charger cable and some 3d printing, guypl has created a DIY battery-powered charger for the Apple Watch.

The cool thing about the design is that the 2000mAh battery he used, can be recharged with a standard micro USB cable. As someone who travels often, this setup is ideal for me. One less cable to carry and a self-contained charger for the Apple Watch.

Check out the full project on Thingiverse.

 

Learning to a breadboard is critical when adding electronics to a project. A skill often overlooked is how to use breadboard jumper wires correctly. For example, when I breadboard a circuit I only use Red, Green, or Blue for positive voltages and Black for ground. Other colors, it depends on the functions of the wire. The idea is to keep it clear when I look at the board, what each wire is doing.

This video from Make is a great overview of how to develop a skill, or habit, around using breadboard jumper wires in your circuit.

For more information, there is a short writeup on their web site as well.