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Member Since: June 29, 2011

Country: United States

  • Pete, you are in a surprisingly unique position to actually do something about these audiofool nutjobs while benefiting the electronics hobbyist community in general. Might I suggest...

    A Build Your Own Vacuum Tube kit; include a heating element, some electrode material, some glassware, an end-cap with contacts, maybe a punch to put holes in the electrode material for those without a laser cutter, and instructions

    An open-source vacuum tube design that lets you toggle (that's right, toggle) between linear and non-linear response, illustrating the point that even vacuum tubes can respond with precision linearity devoid of "warm sound" response, if you care enough about the details to make it so

  • Two things...

    First, SD cards should always be formatted with the SD Association’s SD Card Formatter, and never anything else, including every tool bundled with your operating system. I’m not as familiar with Linux systems; as long as gparted doesn’t modify the formatting on the SD card itself, that should be fine, but if it does, using it isn’t the right solution to this problem.

    Second, you really should have written this post around Etcher, a modern, cross-platform solution for burning images to SD cards, rather than Win32DiskImager, a single-platform solution. If you really have to upload new disk images to a whole slew of Raspberry Pis, then you might have to do so as a team of people, each using their own equipment, rather than as a single lonely Windows user.

  • Pete! You should have mentioned dead-bug construction while you had an example open on your bench!

    Also, a series on “Circuit Building Techniques That Time Forgot!” would be good, including Dead-Bug, Cordwood Construction, and Wire Wrap.

  • You’re just proving my point. A newbie will never know whether his readings are any good because he won’t be skilled enough to calibrate the scope, and even if he wanted to, he shouldn’t risk it. A modern scope is going to be much less of a hassle, and much easier to keep in-spec.

    An old Analog Scope in an unknown state of repair is no longer a tool; it’s a hobby project. It doesn’t even meet current needs anyway.

  • I disagree, but for the following good reasons...

    Analog scopes are frequently found in an unknown (for an amateur), and potentially unknowable, state of repair. Many of the repair manuals of these noble analog workhorses are difficult, if not impossible, to find, and the repairs and calibrations a found scope may require may be well-outside an amateur’s ability to perform. Furthermore, the repair procedure will likely require replacement parts, many of which may be obsolete, and possibly have no suitable modern equivalent.

    Acquiring good tools can be costly; but an analog scope can be a yak-shaving project with no payout, unless you are fortunate enough to have an old salt on-hand to guide you. As a restoration project, it might be fun, but without a complete teardown, repair, and calibration, it is not a tool.

    As digital scopes approach the Nyquist frequency, they do tend to look just like Shawn’s “low poly” pictures; analog scopes do tend to round digital signals in this range, as they struggle to present detail that doesn’t exist; a fact that is present in analog signals at this frequency as well, if you know how to look for this loss of detail.

    I can’t heartily recommend a scope that can’t read an Arduino’s clock, either; which means the required “entry level” is firmly at 100 MHz, and well beyond most analog scopes.

  • I wish I could, so I could then buy it from you guys. But, given their uses, hackerspaces really aught to spring for them over the non-programmable kind; after all, who isn’t using batteries these days, and who doesn’t need to consider the voltage drop of battery drain on their circuit?

  • Programmable power supplies can be used to simulate the behavior of batteries. You can model the rate of voltage falloff due to the actual current load, for instance. This can be very helpful in figuring out how long your circuit is going to last with a given set of batteries without actually wasting the batteries themselves on a test. You can also use it to see how your circuit responds to different types of batteries, to make sure it always performs adequately, regardless of what your end-user throws at it.

    If you add in a Programmable Load, you can model things like the failure points of Lithium Ion batteries, and check whether a charging circuit is performed correctly, or if it instead causes batteries to fireball without actually causing a fire hazard.

  • Screw ASCII! Mac Roman 4 life!!! Or 16 bit Unicode... that’s good too...

  • The 555 Timer is not useless, and can be fun.

    It is, however, mostly useless, and is rarely a professional solution to anything... do note, however, that rare things do happen.

    555 Timers are rarely the most appropriate IC for timing applications, even when eschewing microcontrollers. Often, Schmitt Triggers are a much more appropriate choice; they’re even much easier to use. By comparison, 555 Timers are needlessly education-y; fine if you want to learn something, but if you just want a good circuit, they’re usually the wrong answer to a problem.

    Other specialized timing ICs exist as well that more correctly solve timing problems for a given circuitry problem at a given price-point.

    See similar articles here, which appropriately point out those ICs and circuits that, in practice, are simply more appropriate in most circumstances than using 555 Timers:

    http://electronicdesign.com/boards/555-best-ic-ever-or-obsolete-anachronism http://www.ecteducation.co.uk/index.php/2010/04/hello-world/

  • The correct answer is always both.

    The first version of a board you try should always have header pins pre-installed on it, until you know how the board behaves well enough to understand if your soldering job is at fault for a circuit's misbehavior. Once you understand the board, you use it to prototype a project.

    Sometimes, when you've got a particular project in mind, you want to prototype with particular types of headers attached. So your next boards you will want headerless.

    When you've finished prototyping a project, and you want to install a board into a project in a finished form, you'll again want a board without headers attached. So you'll buy another board without headers attached.

    As you finish more and more projects, you'll eventually use more boards without headers than the ones you prototype with... unless you accidentally destroy or lose your prototyping boards.

    New boards are always going to start out header-heavy, in order to guarantee they can be experimented with properly. But the mark of a useful board is that the number of headerless boards will rise during the lifetime of the board, rapidly outpacing the headered boards, because it keeps being permanently installed into projects. It's not the "total sold with headers vs. total sold without headers" over time that matters... It's those two numbers over time that you need to track.

    Also, it's important to remember that Arduinos completely throw off your numbers, because most newbies only come to SparkFun after they've already learned a thing or two, usually with some other Arduino. Another thing that will throw off the numbers is, the fancier the components, the more likely someone is to spin their own board for a complete project rather than solder your board down, just because the expertise they are required to have to use that component allows them to.

No public wish lists :(