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Engineer In Wonderland

sodium potassium alloy

I didn’t realise that together sodium and potassium make low-melting point alloys. And that they have been used to cool all sorts of things, including spacecraft, atomic reactors and even PCs – the latter in the form of the LMX Superleggera heatsink assembly from Danamics, which looks to have gone bust. And, according to the ever-delightful Wikipedia, it has even been used ...

Cyclists cheat with electric motors

I was amazed and horrified when I heard racing cyclists have been cheating by using electric motors to boost their performance. My first thought was, where can you hide an electric motor on a racing bicycle? I was prepared to be technologically amazed – I thought maybe someone had fitted the whole motor into a bicycle bottom bracket. But it transpires they ...

Lebanon’s first Raspberry Pi schools competition

Lebanon's first Raspberry Pi schools competition

The Lebanon it holding its first Raspberry Pi schools competition, with the aim of finding the next generation of tech entrepreneurs The competition will challenge school students from all backgrounds to invent something that utilises the Raspberry Pi to benefit Lebanon, according to the UK-Lebanon Tech Hub (see below). For example, an invention that might benefit education, the environment, agriculture, health, enable ...

Hats off to Asus for super light cheap laptop

Asus EeeBook X205TA

Having been hunting around for a light-weight Windows machine, I have looked at all sorts of computers. One which didn’t meet my minimum spec (4G ram, 64G flash) was rather impressive just the same. The brilliant thing about the Asus EeeBook X205TA is that it weighs under 1kg (980g) despite having an 11.6″ screen. It is a fairly low resolution ...

What is the Monarch butterfly thing?

I heard about monarch butterflies on the radio this morning, and thought I would have a quick look at the paper to see what is going on. It transpires that the new bit is a straight-forward neural algorithm that takes two bits of information the butterfly already has – circadian time, and how far the sun is to the left or ...

MPLAB-X success

MPLABX Lubuntu NC10

Having had a bad experience with trying to run an earlier version of Microchip’s MPLAB X integrated development environment on Linux, and following a conversation with Lucio Di Jasio of Microchip, I decided to have another go. He told me that there were issues with early versions of MPLAB-X-for-Linux if the wrong version of Java was installed on the computer (and ...

EW test – micro:bit might lead to frustration

Don't steal instructions

EW called for volunteers who have never coded to run through the first exercise in the micro:bit guide for children – the Don’t steal… exercise. There are no children in Electronics Weekly Towers, so an adult bravely stepped up. She has experience writing web pages in HTML, but none in any programming language. And, having completed it, this is what ...

Blackest coating now sprayable

Surrey NanoSystems Vantablack

Vantablack, the world’s blackest material, from Surrey NanoSystems, no longer has to be placed by chemical vapour deposition (CVD) as it can now be sprayed on. It is based on carbon naontubes. “Called Vantablack S-VIS, the spray paint greatly widens the applications potential, making it possible to coat much larger and more complex shapes and structures, as well as many new materials ...

Microchip’s Xpress eval board

MPLAB Xpress

I have been struggling to find any details of the MPLab Xpress Evaluation Board that Microchip is promoting alongside its new web-based version of its MPLAB integrated development environment. Apart from it having a PIC16F18855 on-board. But I did get sent a close-up photo of it, so I though I would stick it here. Done. By the way, having had real ...