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7400 Oscillator
hardware : by Tommy - January 21st 2013, 10:51PM
I recently came across a schematic that showed how to build an oscillator using the NAND gates inside a 7400 chip. After poking around online, looking for the 7400 (and not some variant) I learned the LeTourneau University College of Engineering has a parts supply closet with a whole stash of them for 5 each. (I've known about the parts closet for quite a number of years, but only recently discovered a tall filing cabinet full of most commonly used ICs. (No NE602 or 612s, I'm afraid, but that's another post for another time.)

So, with my 7400 in hand, I was able to breadboard an oscillator using the "colorburst" crystal at 3.579 MHz. The oscillator emits a square wave at the fundamental frequency, so harmonics abound. In fact, just through playing around with another receiver, the 3rd harmonic at ~28.632 MHz is considerably stronger than the others that fall in the ham bands. (All higher harmonics are just above the ham bands, though I may be able to pull them back down with a variable capacitor in series with the crystal.) I need to do some range testing on this to see just how far I can get on the various bands.
My next trick is to build a bandpass filter network to dampen the harmonics down to legal levels. Then, I'll have a bona fide transmitter, though very, very low power. Perhaps a final amplifier is on the drawing board next.

tags: electronics diy radio

( Comments : 1 | Full article )

hardware : by Tommy - November 18th 2009, 09:54PM
Well, today I received my first box from The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk. As predicted, there was a lot of random stuff inside. Several bags of discrete components (capacitors, LEDs, etc), some DC motors of varying sizes and ratings, some copper-clad PCBs for homemade etching (with transfer film - very tempting), a couple of pagers, some random gears and knobs, a nice pack of 7 segment LEDs, some project enclosures, some random PCBs, wire wrap supplies, a DIY 9-pin serial cable and connector, and a nice looking character LCD that was unfortunately cracked right in the center.

Quite a bit of stuff to choose from. I chose to take out a 9V battery clip, some 7-segment LEDs, and the 2 project enclosures. I plan to use the parts for a solar-powered arduino project I read about and have been wanting to try out.

I'll probably pick some unsuspecting geek and mail the box out to him in a couple days. That is, after I dig up some worthy additions to the box. Interested in joining the ranks? Sign up!

tags: electronics, kits, junk

( Comments : 0 | Full article )

hardware : by Tommy - November 10th 2009, 11:11PM
What a fun idea! The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronic Junk, TGIMBOEJ for "short", looks a like a neat prizefest for geeks all over. I know I'm all for it, I may even start a box of my own simply because I have so many extra electronic parts laying around! As the name implies it doesn't have to be just computer parts or just consumer electronics, it can be any electronic parts you happen to have. I have some leftover discrete components as well as PC parts I'm going to include should I receive a box soon. I've signed up on the wiki to put me in the pool of recipients. I'll, of course, let you know when/if I receive a box and what all I find useful in it. Sign up and send your old electronic parts to some random geek!

tags: electronics, kits, junk

( Comments : 1 | Full article )

Arduino Microcontroller
hardware : by Tommy - May 25th 2009, 01:15AM
The Arduino microcontroller platform is probably one of the coolest things to happen to microcontroller hobbying in a long, long time. I'd seen them featured on Hack-A-Day performing various silly jobs for their programmer, I just had never taken the time to look into why people were using them or what made them unique. Last week (at the urging of Bre Pettis) I bought the Arduino Duemilanove. Wow.

First of all, the Arduino is an open, "free" (as in beer) platform running atop the plentiful (and cheap) Atmel AVR microcontroller line. The open nature of the platform allows each revision of the platform and IDE to improve. The current 2009 model is very easy to use. The documentation is pretty good and (imo, best of all) it uses the C programming language. This rounds off the learning curve quite a bit since I have more than a couple years working with C-style programming languages. Now I don't have to fool with BASIC or assembly. I really disliked the patty-cake approach that the BASIC Stamp provided (i hate BASIC), it's easy to get bogged down in assembly, and most C-compilers for microcontrollers are well over $200. The BASIC Stamp pales in comparison to the Arduino in just about every category. The Arduino is cheaper, faster, offers libraries and has a much wider audience than the Parallax BASIC Stamp. The PIC and standard AVRs have a relatively steep learning curve and is easy to get buried in the syntax.

The Arduino abstracts quite a bit for you, freeing you up to be creative and rapidly develop whatever interests you.

What's interested me lately is parsing the WWVB atomic clock signal from Ft. Collins, Colorado. Thanks to a C-Max CMMR-6P receiver chip that I got from DigiKey, I have a data stream going right into my Arduino.

Continue reading...

tags: arduino microcontroller Atmel electronics

( Comments : 0 | Full article )


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