App note: Avoidance of ceramic-substrate-based LED chip cracking induced by PCB bending or flexing

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Application note from CREE on the causes of ceramic-substrate-based failures due to PCB board stresses and how to minimize their occurrence. Link here (PDF)

Printed circuit board (PCB) bending and/or flexing is an unavoidable phenomenon that is known to exist and is easily encountered during electronic board assembly processes. PCB bending and/or flexing is the fundamental source of tensile stress induced on the electronic components on the board assembly. For more brittle components, like ceramic-based electronic components, micro-cracks can be induced, which can eventually lead to a fatal failure of the components. For this reason, many standards organizations throughout the world specify the methods under which electronic board assemblies must be tested to ensure their robustness, sometimes as a precondition to more rigorous environmental tests such as thermal cycling or thermal shock.

App note: Power management solution – Constant Voltage (CV) pulse charging of hybrid capacitors

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App note from Vishay about constant voltage (CV) pulse charging as the most cost-efficient solution to use on Hyrid capacitors. Link here (PDF)

Rechargeable energy storage solutions are of high interest because of their flexibility, low maintenance requirements, and reduced cost over their life-cycle.

For compact applications, classic electrolytic capacitors are environmentally friendly alternatives and available for a wide range of rated voltages. However, they soon reach their energy storage limit with output requirements exceeding a few 100 mWs.

Electric double-layer capacitors (EDLC) offer high power and energy density, as well as long working life, but are limited to low working voltages in the same range as batteries. Electronic systems require a compromise between these technologies, namely solutions that combine the advantages of classic batteries and double-layer capacitors without the limitations.

 

Using DC motors to power computers

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Electric generator experiment from HomoFaciens:

The generators I am using are in fact geared DC motors, left over from a project with my sponsor RS Components. The modern abacuses being powered during my experiments are a Raspberry Pi Model, a SIMATIC IOT2020 and an Arduino Uno. A 2×16 characters LCD is used to display results. Two geared DC motors are on my board with the test setup

More info at HomoFaciens.de.

Check out the video after the break.

StyloCard

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Stylophone business card project from mitxela.com

Printed Circuit Boards as a business card are a great gimmick. I’d seen ones with USB ports etched into them, which enumerate as a keyboard and then type a person’s name or load up their website. It’s just about possible to build them cheap enough to hand out as a business card, at least if you’re picky about who you give them to.
A couple of years ago I took a stab at making one for myself, but I didn’t want it to be pointless. I wanted it to do something useful! Or at least entertain someone for longer than a few seconds. I can’t remember quite how I got the idea of making a MIDI-stylophone, but the idea was perfect.

More info at mitxela.com.

Check out the video after the break.

Raspberry Pi virtual floppy for ISA (PC XT/AT) computers

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Dr. Scott M. Baker wrote an article detailing how he turned a Raspberry Pi into a virtual storage device for ISA bus computers:

I’m tired of carrying compact flash cards and/or floppies back and forth to my XT computer. I like to do development at my desk using my modern windows PC. While I can certainly use a KVM switch to interact with the retro computer from my Windows desktop, it would be a lot more convenient if I could also have a shared filesystem. There are several alternatives, from serial port solutions, to network adapters. However, I wanted something that would emulate a simple disk device, like a floppy drive, something I could even boot off of, so I implemented a virtual floppy served from a Raspberry pi.

See the full post on his blog here.

Check out the video after the break.

LoRa module in DIL form

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Mare writes:

Murata produces LoRa module CMWX1ZZABZ-xxx based on SX1276 transceiver and STM32L072CZ microcontroller. The soldering of the LGA module is not very hobby-friendly. I constructed small breakout PCB for this module with additional buck/boost switcher and place for SMA connector. The transceiver features the LoRa®long-range modem, providing ultra-long-range spread spectrum communication and high interference immunity, minimizing current consumption. Since CMWX1ZZABZ-091 is an “open” module, it is possible to access all STM32L072 peripherals such as ADC, 16-bit timer, LP-UART, I2C, SPI and USB 2.0 FS (supporting BCD and LPM), which are not used internally by SX1276.

More details on Mare & Gal Electronics site. Project files are available at Github.

App note: How to implement an SCR or a Triac in hybrid relay applications

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Another app note from STMicroelectronics on SCR or Triac hybrid with mechanical relay to decrease power loss and manage inrush current. Link here (PDF)

This document gives some key information about the design of the solid-state silicon AC switch stage of a hybrid relay, which can drive resistive, capacitive or inductive AC loads, such as: heater resistors, motors for industry, power tools or appliance applications.

App note: AC switches – Is a positive power supply mandatory for my application, or could a negative output work also?

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App note from STMicroelectronics about the usage of a negative supply in controlling AC switches and their benefits, Link here (PDF)

In this application note we explain the reasons why some appliance designers might choose a positive power supply. This selection is based mainly on the choice of switched mode power supply (SMPS). Some specific applications cases, may also lead to the choice of a positive power supply.

Using a power supply with a positive output is not convenient for all applications. For example, a negative supply is preferred to drive AC switches. We provide here an alternative solution which allows a negative output to be implemented whenever possible. Further, many solutions allow both a negative and a positive output (for the microcontroller) to be implemented.

ESP8266 SPI Spy

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nop head writes:

I came across a very useful post by Thomas Scherrer that describes how to read data from a Peacefair PZEM-021 energy meter by spying on the SPI bus with an Arduino. I decided to do the same thing with an ESP-12F WiFi module so that I could view the results remotely and plot graphs, etc. It took me a lot longer to get this working than I anticipated due to a few problems along the way.
The main hardware difference is the ESP8266 is a 3.3V device but the Arduino is 5V. The PZEM-021 is actually a mixture. The RN8208G metering chip is a 5V device. It is a SPI slave, the SPI master is an STM32 ARM processor that is 3.3V but with 5V tolerant inputs.

More details at HydraRaptor blog.