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Engineer In Wonderland

The largest steam engines ever, some claim

Big Boy YouTube

Wise SteveK has brought to my attention a video about the Big Boy steam locomotives, the largest ever made. I found it fascinating – nice use of cartoons to show why some parts are like they are. Ps, why only single expansion and not compound? It is called Last of the Giants, by RailFilm Productions, and it looks like there ...

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 ...