Top 10 Gadget Masters

It’s that time of the month again where we take at look at what were the most popular Gadget Masters for February.

1. Pete decided to give his lamp a facelift

Making an ordinary lamp a work of art

Seeing great potential in a normal, off-the-shelf product, Pete Griffiths designed a circuit he popped into the lamp to give it a new lease of life. His design combines a PIC and three constant current buck converters to create the RGB LED controller. This controller drives the high power 350mA LEDs using PWM to control the LED brightness. By driving the red, green and blue LEDs with varying pulse widths the controller can generate up to 16 million colours using fades, strobe and static effects. Who says you can't give the humble lamp a nip and tuck?

2. Cruising: Gadget Masters for you car

Since Gadget Masters' birth in the summer of 2007, we have featured several clever and original designs that make any automobile connoisseur's life just that little bit easier. Here are the best Gadget Masters for your car that we have hosted on these pages.

3. Gadget Master Podcast

Our latest podcast features Richard who built a lightning distance timer so he would no longer have to manually calculate the approach or retreat of a thunderstorm.

4. Build your own 89C51 PABX

This 89C51 PABX project is basically an eight line intercom from which you can call one to eight numbers. The 89C51 PABX system also supports dialling and receiving telephone calls. Link includes full circuit schematic.

5. Neuroti-Kart: Home-made electric go-kart

After extensive tinkering in his shed, 'wires99' created Neuroti-Kart, the home-made electric go-kart. His design goals were to make something 'electric powered, quiet, fast, capable of doing donuts in my street'. With the video found at design engineer bible TechEBlog, the Neuroti-Kart (the name PsychoKart was taken) is made from an advanced electric DC motor, with four 12V car batteries and a frame constructed from home gas pipes. We assume 'wires99' is now starving and sitting in a freezing cold house, but hey, at least he's got a cool go-kart.

6. Top 10 tips for the PIC16C508

A common complaint shared by electronics engineers is that they run out of output lines when programming. Many projects need lots of drive lines and if one needs more than around eight, it may be wise to jump to another microcontroller. To combat this problem, as well as another nine handy hints, today Gadget Master brings to you the top 10 tips for the PIC16C508.

7. Need for speed: Wireless auto tachometer

Even electronics engineers need to keep their car engines purring to perfection in tip-top condition. Anyone with a need for speed performing their own automobile tune-ups knows how important it is to know one's engine speed. With this wireless auto tachometer, it is possible to check an engine's speed without any connections or annoying timing lights.

8. Meet Andrew's blast from the past

Back to the future

Sometimes the best way to take a step forward is to take a step back in time. So Andrew Smith designed a fully-functional toy oscilloscope, made out of parts he found in his junk box, such as the EF91, EF80 and EF184 valves. Using a DC-DC converter to power the old (but still working) 7cm CRT he discovered in his loft, Andrew housed it in the same wooden box as the rest of the circuitry. The whole system runs from a single regulated 12.6V DC supply, which can be derived from a "wall-wart" PSU. Doc Brown would be proud.

9. Large lithium-ion battery monitor

When using rechargeable lithium-ion cells in large batteries, such as those in an electric vehicle, unique problems can be encountered. Bus voltages greater than 100V preclude the use of a standard IC for overcharge and overdischarge protection.

10. Richard had a flash of inspiration

Now he's got the power to cut lightning down to size.

People have always been fascinated by the fury of the heavens. Electronics prodigy Richard Hodgkinson created a lightning distance timer so he would no longer have to manually calculate the approach or retreat of a thunderstorm. He recycled a 70 KHz crystal from an old device for the oscillator. "Let there be light," he declared as two HP 45MGC670 surface mount LEDs were attached to allow him to see measurements in the dark. And his project wouldn't be complete without two 1.5V AA cells which are the heart of the timer. Now his creation is alive, all he needs is a wicked thunderstorm.

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