Optimize the Energy Consumption of your Electronic Device

Energy consumption is an important parameter that not only concerns sustainability. It is true that by optimizing the use of energy on the device, less energy will be required to perform its function, therefore more efficient, but also by performing this optimization you will have an overall better product.  Continue Reading “Optimize the Energy Consumption of your Electronic Device”

WindAid is also Electronics

This post was originally published on the WindAid blog. The article can be found here

Back in the summer of 2014, I had one of the best experiences of my life (sounds cheesy and the start of a teenage girl movie doesn’t it?). I was just finishing university and graduating with an electronics engineering bachelor degree at the University of Plymouth and before getting hooked into a 9-5 job I was looking to have an experience where I could combine three different factors Continue Reading “WindAid is also Electronics”

Wind turbines with Twitter accounts

Wind Turbines with Twitter accounts? Unconventional perhaps, but it’s a zero service cost option I was able to implement that allows WindAid Institute, a Peruvian Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) to receive notifications from their wind turbine systems in rural Peru. The open source remote monitor project (or ReMona) was born out of a need to:

  • Receiving system alerts, such as battery level being critically low.
  • Wanting Live data to track system usage and turbine performance anywhere in the world.

Continue Reading “Wind turbines with Twitter accounts”

PCB Technology 101

Most of us have come across PCB and FPCB in our day to day usage of electronic devices. However, few of us have ever taken time to think about how PCBs and PCBA are made. So we keep wondering how the PCBs that drive our appliances including computers and microwaves are actually made. In this article, we delve into what PCBs are, the materials used in making them, the cost and the process of manufacturing them. Continue Reading “PCB Technology 101”

Virtual Coffee with a Firmware Engineer

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Nowadays, most electronic devices out there require some form of intelligence or decision making. Sometimes very talented electronic engineers can make this using purely analogue and digital electronics together and substantially reduce the costs of the project. However, it is more than common to find that almost all electronic products have a microcontroller inside. These little computers introduce the possibility of measuring analogue signals so they can be processed, enable communication between peripherals, and execute a code taking into account the inputs of your system, just to name a few things. Continue Reading “Virtual Coffee with a Firmware Engineer”

Can you Recycle a PCB?

Recycle PCB

If you think about it, almost all electronic devices found out there have their components sitting in a nice looking Printed Circuit Board or PCB. No one sells a device with their electronics stuck on a breadboard and hold by electrical tape (or I hope not).

Since electronic devices are booming, PCBs are everywhere. Making sure their materials can be collected and reused instead of just throwing them into a landfill would potentially be a smart and environmentally sensible move if performed properly.

In this article, we will discuss the issue of PCB recycling, if it’s possible at all, how it is done and what can we do as electronics design engineers to create more recyclable PCBs. Note that with PCB we mean the PCB without any components.

Continue Reading “Can you Recycle a PCB?”

DIY Telematics Box

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Lately, there has been a rise in dashcams sold worldwide to protect the driver’s insurance claims. Most of the time, these have been sufficient. I recently bought my first car and had to drive about an hour on the motorway to my first job. Being a new driver, I had my car fitted with a black box (telematics box) to monitor my driving. A few years later, I bought my second car, but I didn’t have a telematics box installed. Given the driving styles I have seen from various individuals on my commute to and from work, I felt a dashcam alone would not be sufficient, and I really wanted to have something that could monitor my driving in the event of some idiot thought they were on the set of the next Fast & Furious. So I made my own! Continue Reading “DIY Telematics Box”

How a circuit simulator can help you understand any circuit [Build-Electronic-Circuits]

Breadboard_complex

This article was originally published at Build Electronic Circuits.

A circuit simulator is a tool for “seeing” what a circuit does. In comparison to mechanical machines such as a bicycle and a lever, electronics cannot be easily inspected by the naked eye.

When you look at a bicycle you can observe it and see that stepping on the pedals makes a chain turn, and that this chain moves the bicycle wheels.

In contrast, if you open up an audio amplifier, it will be really hard to tell what it does if you don’t have previous experience in designing and building electronic circuits.

Simulating To Understand A Circuit

Circuit simulators give you the flexibility to look at the voltage and current of every wire and component in a circuit.

If you are having trouble understanding a circuit, you can try drawing it up in a circuit simulator such as LTSpice (free). You can change the input voltage and components parameters and see how the circuit reacts. And this will give you an idea of what the circuit does.

Circuit Simulator Example

I’ve created a circuit that might be difficult to understand for electronics beginners. But by using a circuit simulator you can figure out the function of it and how its individual parts work:

sim

Instead of having many images and long texts, I have made a video to go through the explanation of how to use LTSpice to figure out the function of this circuit. I am not telling you what it does, it’s in the video 

To download the simulation file click this link

Remember that you have to add the LM339 to the components library in order for the simulation to work.

How To Understand What A Circuit Does

In summary, in order to find out how a circuit works through simulation you should:

1. Think in terms of I/O:

If you are analyzing an analog circuit, then its main purpose will be to take an input signal, process it and output it as something else.

Find out what’s the input parameter, change its value and see how it affects the output. This way you will find out what’s the primary function of the circuit.

2. Divide the circuit into stages (if applicable):

Some analog circuits do more than one kind of processing, they could convert a current into a proportional voltage signal and then output another voltage to trigger a switch after a certain amount of time has passed.

Analog functions can do: conversion, switching, timing, filtering, amplifying, attenuating and more. In order to understand how your circuit works, divide it into stages so you can analyze each stage individually.

What you are basically doing is creating a smaller structure where you can apply the I/O principle again.

3. Analyze each stage:

Change the input parameter and the components values and see how it affects the output, probing different parts of the circuit. This way you will see and find out how this circuit works and relates to the rest of the bigger picture.

Hopefully, after reading this article and watching the video, you have one more tool in your arsenal as an electronics maker.

Dissection of a Successful HW Product Crowdfunding Experience

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One of the main challenges that HW startups face is the issue of financing the project. Fortunately, in the last years, a range of different alternatives has risen allowing many companies to take that initial jump and pay for development and manufacturing costs. One of the most popular ways to finance a project nowadays without involving banks and investors is through crowdfunding. What the backers get in return can either be a percentage of ownership of the company or a special edition product (sometimes even both). Continue Reading “Dissection of a Successful HW Product Crowdfunding Experience”