Rooting around in the fascinating stuff at the bottom of a draw labelled 'Engineering - Junk Miscellaneous'. Delving amongst the delightful...

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Music from old floppy drives

Anand Jain has made old floppy drives play music, using the sound of their stepper motors.

It is amazing what he has achieved with such limited sound transducers, and I can only start to imagine how much work went in to getting it all working.

Hats off.


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Cunning Linear Tech chip saves bicycle camera flash effect

I was impressed the moment I first saw Linear Tech’s LTC3110.

It is a voltage rail back-up controller that uses supercaps (or a rechargeable battery) as an energy reservoir.

It includes almost everything you need, including being able to empty the supercaps (one or two in series) until…

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How does a planar inverted F antenna work?

Planar inverted F antennas get used a lot in phones, and there is a most excellent introduction to PIFAs at

At least I hope it is, because it is very easy to pull the wool over my eyes when it comes to radiating power so I have…

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Water just rolls off some natural surfaces – like lotus leaves.

The key is little hairs, but what principles are at work?

A team of US, Danish and Swiss engineers think they have got to the bottom of how to keep surfaces dry under water.

What has to happen is that…

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USB flash drive data rates

The only reason I am writing about these memory dongles is that the data rates of USB flash drives never seem to be obvious, and Samsung has taken the trouble to write down the figures from some state-of-the-art devices.

Plus the things seem close to indestructable.


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Power generation with reverse magnetostriction

Power generation using reverse magnetostriction is a new one on me.

The idea is:

get a rod of a magnetostictive material like iron-aluminium or iron-gallium
arrange a static magnetic field along it
wind a coil around it

To get power out of the coil, change the flux through…

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Cheap DIY stethoscope uses 3D printing

Dr Tarek Loubani and associated have designed an open-source stethoscope.

It is made of a bunch of parts that can be bought – like silicone tubing and a diaphragm cut from the cover of a particular stationery folder.

Critical bits are 3d printed.

The finished item – which is has been…

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Convince me wireless vehicle charging on motorways is a good idea

The highways agency has produced a detailed feasibility study on in-motion wireless vehicle charging: ‘Powering electric vehicles on England’s major roads’.

I struggle with wireless charging, for no other reason than wasted energy.

No sooner had the world managed to pull together the (near) standard micro USB connector…

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13 tonnes of sodium in hunt for Earth’s magnetic field

At the University of Maryland, Daniel Lanthrop is hunting for the source of Earth’s magnetic field using a scale model of its core.

It consists of a smaller stainless steel sphere held at the centre of a larger stainless steel sphere with ~13,500 litres of liquid in between…

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Art I could live with

I thank the folks of West Sussex-based CNC machining firm WoodBot for bringing this beautiful thing to my attention, it is by Ben Young.

The ‘sea’ is made from sheets of glass bonded together…

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