Transformerless PSU, is it worth it?

When it comes to the design of a power supply that needs to convert AC mains voltage into a fixed DC voltage, it is the norm to think that a transformer is required to achieve that design goal. In this article, a different alternative will be presented, and more importantly, it will be simulated and compared to the standard transformer solution in terms of cost, size and performance. (more…)

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Introduction to Product Requirements Documentation for New Hardware Products

This post was originally published on Predictable Designs, the original article can be found here

What does a practical, hands-on product developer or maker dislike the most? In my experience, I would say spending time writing documentation instead of designing interesting stuff.

Usually, when a product developer has a clear understanding about the function of the device, he/she jumps straight into the design.

This is great, as there’s nothing better than having an early proof of concept prototype to show stakeholders you can make it.

However, after the proof of concept stage issues can arise if the engineer starts picking components and designing the schematics without first having formalized the functions, behavior, operating parameters and the expected performance of the device.

Always focus on the big picture before you dig down into all of the little details.

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PCB Layout Design Best Practices

One of the most fun parts of creating a real electronic circuit is (in my opinion) designing the Printed Circuit Board or PCB layout, and as anything in engineering, there are PCB Layout Design Best Practices.

This is the point where our abstract circuit schematic made by symbols and lines, becomes a real circuit that can be manufactured, assembled and used. (more…)

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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.  (more…)

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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 (more…)

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Virtual Coffee with a Firmware Engineer

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. (more…)

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Can you Recycle a PCB?

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.

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.

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Dissection of a Successful HW Product Crowdfunding Experience

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). (more…)

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The Powertree: Calculating Power Consumption

A tree can be long, tall with vibrant green leaves and mandarins because it has strong roots and a system that can deliver its nutrients effectively without overloading or bottlenecks.

The simple structure is that a stronger entity supports a smaller one and then repeats itself. The energy to make a leaf grow will be less than the one used for growing a branch (or so I think so as I am not a biologist). And as we can assume, a branch is capable of supporting a certain amount of leaves and fruits and of delivering the nutrients and water from the roots. I think I have never seen a healthy tree with a branch with too many leaves and fruits to the point of damaging the rest of the tree because of overweight or the energy demand of the leaves and fruits is too much. (more…)

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