Member #134773

Member Since: May 19, 2010

Country: United States


I started playing with electronics in the mid-1960s, and with computers shortly after Neil Armstrong took "one small step". I got a degree in CS in 1980, and started working then as an engineer.

  • Hmm... stating the obvious: That new detector module really puts the "spark" into "SparkFun"!!!

  • I, for one, appreciate the tutorial, even though I don't have time to read it in detail at the moment. (Nice to know it's based on javascript, so even though you appear to be using a M$ Window$ machine, it should work for those of us who prefer OS-X or Linux....) I know that the basic "Make:Code" is platform independant, having even programmed a micro:bit from a RPi Zero v.1.3 (the $5 one!), as well as a MacBook Pro.

  • The Qwiic Scale reminds me that back in about 1976, I was workiong as a technician in an electronics factory, and we had some scales for counting things. If memory serves, you'd count out 10 of the part, but them into the hopper and press a button. Then you'd dump the rest of the parts to be counted and the scale would tell you how many. (I think that the "accuracy" of the count depended somewhat on the weight of the parts being counted -- more accurate for heavier items, less accurate for light items, and if you had really light stuff you'd have to start by counting out more of them.)

    I've got an older (15 years maybe?) kitchen scale that the "non-replacable battery" died in a few months ago -- maybe sometime I'll open it up and see if I can use the load cell.

  • I realize that this is sort of "off topic", but I just got my latest order, and noticed that the "red box" is a LOT more shiney than I'm used to! (It's gonna stick out in the collection, at least for a while...) FWIW, I use several red boxes to "organize" my parts collection (with Post-It notes attached to indicate what the contents are), plus a few have projects built in (or on) them.

  • Nice article! There's a LOT more to the subject, but this is a good intro! (I've been "doing" electronics for ovcer 50 years...)

    FWIW, at my last job I had to design a circuit to "emulate" a LiPo so as to verify that the product's LiPo charge circuit was working correctly. An interesting exercise... (a DAC driving an op-amp in voltage follower that chould sink 1 amp, and a curreent measurement circuit to verify that the charger was supplying the specified current).

    BTW, I should mention that some (not all) LiPo charge control chips have a "feature" (sometimes pronounced "flaw") in that they have a timer and after roughly 24 hours they stop charging -- this "bit" a lot of our customers who would leave the box hooked to a power supply for weeks, then unplug it assuming that the battery would be fully charged, onlly to find that it was nearly dead.

  • Although I like the idea of this ruler, and will likely include one in my next order, it has the same problem as Adafruit's six inch PCB ruler that I've had for over 5 years: I'd really like to see a series of various sizes of PTH through holes so I can quickly test leads to guage what size drill I should call out to fit that particular part when I'm designing a PCB. If you decide to "respin" this one, please add that!

  • Thanks! I especially appreciate mention of "ThomasNet" -- it reminded me of hours spent at the public library decades ago (before when most had access to the Internet) pouring through the Thomas Register, though IIRC, the primary reason for that research was part of research into companies who's stock I was thiniking of buying.

    One thought: If you're worried about getting a lot of spam e-mails, you might think about setting up a "throw-away" e-mail, and once it starts getting too flooded, change (or delete) it.

    Also want to say that the "top four" on my "trusted suppliers" include SparkFun, Adafruit, Digi-key, and Mouser. Lots of other good companies, but those four supply most of my needs!

  • A few years ago, I was involved in a group that was putting together balloon launches. Every launch involved GPS receivers (helped in recovery -- position reported via Amateur Radio), and most payloads also had their own receivers (for datalogging). One problem was the limitations of the then-available "affordable" module. These modules look VERY attractive!

  • First of all, Pete, it's a wonderful project, and I'm so glad you're encouraging your youngster to learn! On the subject of the "pause" function, I think he's wise well beyond his years! (Glad you don't have an "audio feed" of me when my TiVo "toggles" the pause button between "pause" and "play" because of an optical path issue...)

    A couple of comments: Seems to me that theoretically it should be possible to bend the acrylic using a heat gun (or hot air soldering station), but it would certainly be a LOT easier with the strip heater.

    My other thought would be a slightly different approach to the "crafty" cards: they could also be done with electrical contacts of some sort (some bare wires, maybe?) with "patterns" on the cards made with conductive tape.

  • I'm glad to see power management getting at least a little consideration! It harkens back to my "pet peeve" with the ATmega chips: No on-board Real Time Clock and no "deep sleep" mode. There are many processors on the market that can have incredibly low power requirements in "deep sleep" mode. Many applications can admit to having the CPU "awake" down around 0.1% of the time -- say one millisecond every second, or maybe half a second once a minute. This means that the average power is just over 1/1000 of the "normal" power -- under these conditions even an application that would kill off a set of AA batteries in an hour with the CPU awake all the time could last for a couple of months spending most of the time in "sleep" mode. (Note that it's also useful to have a system with a relatively wide input voltage range, so you can eliminate the losses incurred by voltage regulators, and also have to use care in selecting "peripheral chips" so that they have very low quiescent power.)

    By the way, this is NOT something new -- I worked for a while on a unit that would run for months on 3 flashlight batteries, and was based on an 80C85. This was back in the early 1990s.

    Although the Apollo3 Blue has incredible low power processing capabilities, many interesting, very useful applications need very little data processing, but low power consumption is all-consuming consideration.

    More recently, I've also been examining the ESP32, as it has a not-very-accurate "Real Time Counter" (they call it a "Real Time Clock", but it's basically just a counter that can be set to "wake up" the CPU at a certain count) -- not great, but it can be useful to generate some "minimum checkin" rate.

    One other related little historic sidelight: Most PC operating systems today actually "halt" the CPU when there's nothing else to do. The RTC wakes it up at least once a millisecond. One of the things that Windows 95 was attacted for by the Linux community was that W95 used an "infinite do-nothing loop", keeping the CPU running, and wasting power (and making the computer run hotter). Linux, and later Windows XP, would halt the CPU.

No public wish lists :(