Hackaday Superconference 2017 was a blast

Building stuff that matters

Hackaday Superconference 2017

Supplyframe hosted the Hackaday Superconference 2017 in Pasadena the second weekend of November. A couple of years ago I attended the first Supercon in San Francisco. It is amazing how much larger the event has grown. If you have not visited one, here’s a summary of what makes up the conference.

Five elements make up the Superconference: the talks, the learning, the people, the hacking, and the Hackaday Prize.

The Talks

Initially, I planned to write up my thoughts on the top 3 to 5 talks. Here’s the problem: they were all fantastic. Every single presentation. Instead, head over to the Hackaday YouTube channel. Currently, there is not a dedicated playlist. So look for the videos titled “Hackaday 2017.”

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What are aluminum polymer capacitors? These are a solid type of capacitor that replaces the liquid electrolyte with a solid polymer material. Sometimes you might hear these capacitors called “organic aluminum.” Technically, they are still “electrolytic” capacitors. However, the colloquial term of “aluminum electrolytic” refers to the traditional wet electrolyte-based capacitors.

In this video, I meet with Amelia Dalton of EE Journal, and we discuss these capacitor types. Mouser and EE Journal developed the video in joint with KEMET. (Previously I talked on Amelia’s Chalk Talk about SSD Capacitors.)

For me, the release of this video is bittersweet. It is one of my last projects before my departure from KEMET. However, I am excited to talk about aluminum polymer capacitors because they represent one of the “newer” technologies when it comes to capacitors.

Difference between Aluminum Polymer Capacitors and Aluminum Electrolytics

As mentioned, the key difference between the capacitor types is the electrolyte. In a traditional aluminum electrolytic, there is an electrolyte that connects the cathode plate of the capacitor to the cathode electrode. In a polymer capacitor, a solid conductive polymer material replaces the wet electrolyte. The most common polymer material is PEDOT. The use of this material provides an exceptionally low ESR which makes the capacitors can handle more ripple current. Also, because there is no electrolyte to “dry up” or “wear out,” the operational lifetime of these capacitors is much longer. Overall, aluminum polymer capacitors are an excellent alternative to traditional electrolytics.

Learn about Aluminum Polymer Capacitors

ArcAttack is a band that performs at the Bay Area Maker Fare, among other places. They feature massive signing Telsa coils. (Here’s a video I show when I saw ArcAttack in 2013.) Singing Telsa coils are awesome. Everyone knows that. Which is why I found when Dianna Cowern, the Physics Girl, visited the band ArcAttack, electromagnets are just as cool. In addition to talking about their music, ArcAttack’s Joe does something amazing. He splits an aluminum soda can with just an electromagnet.

There are a few other neat tricks and some slow-motion stuff too. Near the end, he compresses a quarter with the scariest magnet setup I’ve ever seen. This video is definitely worth watching if you like anything related to Tesla coils–or electricity!

Wolfenstein 3D on Gameboy Color

http://www.happydaze.se
23-OCT-2016

Wolfenstein 3D defined the FPS genre in a way no one could have predicted. Just like the Gameboy defined portable gaming in a way no one could have predicted. Cartridge based computing and gaming offered something that disk (or disc?) based media never could: additional hardware.

The most famous example of additional hardware is the “SuperFX” chip that debuted with the SNES game Starfox. (It was in used in others in addition to a successor.) Most NES cartridges had other hardware too: mappers, sound generators, additional ram, etc. (more…)

If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel

Josh Worth Art & Design

A tediously accurate scale model of the solar system

scrolling scale model of solar system

When I was growing up, I watched a lot of Star Trek. Over time I’ve looked into other Sci-Fi series. The occasional hit, like the reimaged Battlestar Galactica, caught my attention. But, for me, the voyages of the Enterprise defined “space” to me. Or the stories on Deep Space Nine. (There are no other Star Treks.)

Seeing a new alien or planet each week warps (see what I did there?) your mind to think that space is relatively small. But when you consider it takes almost 500 seconds for the light to travel from the Sun to the Earth, you begin to realize space is freaking huge.

That’s why this scrolling model of the solar system is so fantastic. It offers a unique sense of how “big” the universe really is–at least our solar system. Check it out on joshworth.com.

Ben Krasnow from Applied Science on YouTube uses his Electron Microscope to compare spinning media. The part of the video that caught my attention is the Vinyl Record. Not only does he show the groove and needle, but he puts it in motion! It’s a great look at how this technology works.

Additionally, I loved how he went into detail about how to prep the record for use in the electron microscope. (Spoiler: he had to make the record and needle conductive.) After the vinyl, he also compares a CD and DVD. The twist is that he also shows how a Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED) compares to the vinyl. You never heard of a CED?

Neither had I until Techmoan covered the RCA CED Videodisc on his YouTube channel. It appears over 1,700 movies were released in the United States alone. Check out the both videos for details on CED.

If you enjoy Electron Microscope pictures like I do, then you’ll enjoy this video.

 

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s 4th Nerdist Interview

Neridst Podcast
20-SEP-2016

You are probably familiar with Neil deGrasse Tyson. He is as brilliant as he is entertaining. That fact is why I was so excited when I saw his name pop-up on my queue for the Nerdist Podcast.

Nerdist Podcast

In the past, I suggested some electrical engineering podcasts. The Nerdist isn’t like those. Hosted by Chris Hardwick, each episode includes an interview. As the podcast’s name suggests, most of the guests have some roots in today’s nerd or geek culture. So while not an engineering podcast, there may be the occasional guest that interest you.

4 Great Things Neil deGrasse Tyson on Nerdist Said

This episode was the first time I took notes while listening to the Nerdist. Here are four quotes I captured, that make listening to the entire episode worthwhile.

(more…)

I was invited to speak at the 11th Hardware Developers Didactic Galactic group at the Supplyframe office in San Francisco. I talked about the misconception that capacitors are a simple device.

Chris Gammell recorded the discussion and posted it via PHY Media. This video is about 50 minutes.

In this talk, I break down a few things to know about Ceramic, Aluminum, Tantalum, and Supercapacitors. You can see the full video via PHY Media’s YouTube Channel: They’re JUST Capacitors. For links and the slides, check out this post.

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.

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