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{ Category Archives } Hardware

The engineering and devices that make it all work

Cheap computers for the hobbyist to make anything smart and connected

It looks like the Kickstarter project for a $9 computer is getting a lot of publicity and a lot of subscribers.(See C.H.I.P. Is a Tiny, Incredibly Powerful Mini $9 PC That Runs Linux at Softpedia). The plan is to take a System on a Chip (SoC) designed for cheap tablets and put it out in […]

Paradigm shift: cell phone to PCD (Personal Communications Device)

Gatta’ have those TLA’s (three letter acronyms) so I’m calling the modern smart phone a PCD (personal communications device).  Ye olde flip phone’s external LCD decided that it was going to emulate a modern art postage stamp rather than communicate things such as time or date or ID of incoming calls. That screen was a […]

The microcontroller human interface

Generally, anytime I see a little box with a 2 line by 16 or 20 character display and a few buttons and whatnot, I think microcontroller. An example is the West Mountain Radio Target Tuner designed to assist in tuning mobile screwdriver antennas. Sometimes the display is a small OLED graphical display – I’ve seen Ardutesters […]

PICAXE Clock Exercise: LCD driver

The LCD driver is standard stuff for a 4 bit parallel data feed to an LCD display. A complication is the mapping between the PICAXE 401 and Arduino shield compatibility. That requires the data pins to be addresses independently. There is also a hassle in the PICAXE nomenclature and how it differs for various operations […]

PICAXE clock exercise: hardware

A clock can get rather complex! The idea with this one was to see how the I2C works. I picked up a $5 board on E-Bay with a DS1307 clock, and 24c32 EEPROM, and an optional temperature sensor that all communicates via I2C. You can see it near the bottom of the picture here with […]

Salvaging the display from a broken laptop and acrylic forming

It seems such a shame to just junk the display from an old, broken laptop but the hurdles to making it something useful are rather high. You need both a driver circuit to convert the LVDS video signal to VGA or HDMI and a power supply to drive the display backlight. You will also need […]

Parts kits, recycling, and building an inventory of parts on hand

Lifehacker is doing a poll asking readers about The Best Electronics Starter Kits. David Ashton at EE Times is more my style with Stripping PCBs to Reclaim Parts. He started with a soldering gun but goes the hot air gun route for most parts stripping. “For some components, like multi-pin headers, I’ll sometimes use a […]


First link was to an Antenna Analyzer by Beric Dunn, K6BEZ via DxZone. That lead to SierraRadio’s Hamstack and that to KJ6HFR’s PIC18F4620 Cookbook (PDF). When I find a microcontroller website that doesn’t fall headlong into the Arduino craze my interest goes up. Hamstack does seem to be mcu agnostic and even language agnostic. There […]

Stranded wire in a crimped connector and other ideas

In the Powerpole camp, Make has a good idea for more reliable connections “If the strands of stranded wire are all parallel inside the contact, they can slide out no matter how well you crimp it. You can pull the contact off with finger strength. If instead you coil the strands into a spiral, there’s […]

For $3? Microchip’s analog MCU

Jack Ganssle describes Microchip’s PIC24F family of MCUs that have significantly enhanced analog capabilities. “The parts have the usual mix of memory and gobs of digital I/O, USB, etc. 64KB or 128KB of flash with 8KB RAM. Five timers, 9 input capture and output compare/PWM channels. All nice stuff but not unusual. The data signal […]