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Engineer In Wonderland

Protect your sanity

Just a note for anyone climbing the walls at work*. The British Safety Council is thinking about mental health this week – supporting ‘Time to Talk Day’. This also applies to any psychopaths amongst you – who could make more profit and your boss might pay you more. Read this BSC statement: “In the UK mental ill-health costs £70bn/year according ...

Want a fast PWM quickly? – consider Arduino

LilyTiny SparkFun

I have been discussing control algorithms for a power supply and idly looking for some easy hardware on which to try the technique – hardware small enough to build into a prototype. My default tends to be to 8bit PICs, but someone in the discussion pointed to the ATtiny25/45/85 family as a source of PWM waveforms – the three devices ...

Weller doesn’t seem to make it easy

After many years of loyal service, my Weller TCP 24 soldering iron needs a new bit – I think Pb-free solder has got the better of it. So I thought I would get help choosing a new bit from Weller’s website. Now, and it is probably me rather than Weller, I can’t find anything that says: ‘For your soldering iron, ...

Mr Heaviside – inventor of many things

I first heard the name Oliver Heaviside when it was mentioned by linear-induction-motor-man Professor Eric Laithwite – to whom this blog’s name is a tribute. Although almost unheard of, Heaviside, a Scott, invented coaxial cable and transmission line theory amongst other things – at least, according to Wikipedia Heaviside did. The entry also says Heaviside was the person responsible for ...

Mini brain teaser: how weighing scales work?

I have just spent a while trying to work out how balance scales work – the ones like the scales of justice. It is not how they work at balance, it is why they don’t keep on moving until they hit the end-stops when they are out of balance. Finally, I worked it out all on my very own – ...

Gesture controlled robot kit

Zyro

Ziro is an idea for a modular robotics kit made up of individual motor modules controlled by a wireless smart-glove. Continuous rotational or hinge movements are available, and to back-up the modules there are pre-made starter kits, or you can use other materials for the structures. A phone app has pre-programming templates or you can input custom gestures. It is currently pending an Indiegogo launch

Non-Newtonian fluids can be fun

The viscosity of Newtonian fluids is dependent on temperature and pressure. The viscosity of non-Newtonian fluids is dependant on those two, and more. Amaze children by mixing corn flour and water into a thick paste, get some in your hand then rapidly throw it from hand to hand until it is a ball. The moment you stop throwing and catching ...

Book: Microchips most recent 8bit peripherals and code tools

This is not rocket science

‘This is (not) rocket science’ might look like a popular science book but it is actually a guide to Microchip’s ‘core independent peripherals’ and its MPLAB X development system – particularly the Code Configuration which automatically writes initialisation code in C. I met the delightful and enthusiastic author, Lucio Di Jasio, who gave me a copy of the book. That ...

IoT security: be very afraid

IoT Design 440x330

I must say, I was most impressed with the Electronics Weekly IoT conference. And I am not just saying that (mind you, had it been awful, I would probably have kept my mouth shut :), and I can claim no credit because I had nothing to do with it at all. In retrospect, I would have gone there just to ...

One way to time angular events

Microchip angular timer

I was lucky enough to get to talk to Lucio Di Jasio, a techie guru from Microchip. Some while ago the firm released an peripheral for timing angular events. At the time, I didn’t have enough spare time to figure out how it worked and assumed it was either something with sine and cosine look-up tables or something else using ...