Client Profile: Parallax, Inc.

Parallax P8X32A Propeller chips

Parallax, Inc.
599 Menlo Drive
Rocklin, CA 95765

www.parallaxsemiconductor.com
www.parallax.com

Contact: Emily Kurze
ekurze@parallax.com

Embedded Products/Services: Parallax P8X32A Propeller chip (Part #P8X32A-Q44), Propeller family. The P8X32A Propeller chip is Parallax’s 8-core, 32-bit, 80-MHz microcontroller. P8X32A Quickstart (Part #40000), Quickstart family. The P8X32A Quickstart board, featuring the Propeller chip, is everything you need to begin designing Propeller-based applications.

Product Information: The P8X32A Propeller chip is a modern, easy-to-use and a powerful multicore microcontroller that has the flexibility to propel your design to the next tier of performance and reliability. With eight independent cores at your disposal, developers can easily instantiate any number of custom soft-peripherals from Parallax’s Object Exchange library to enable the chip to fill nearly any role. From generating graphics for a control system’s VGA display to managing fly-by-wire avionics equipment, the 80-MHz Propeller chip makes short work of embedded applications that require real-time execution.

Parallax Propeller QuickStart Board #40000

Engineer’s “Harlem Shake” Meme

In an blog posted today on the Phoenix New Times site, Troy Farah asks: “Harlem Shake vs. Gallon Smashing Prank: Which Meme Will Destroy America First?” Well, both have caused a lot of problems for smashers and shakers in the United States. We read a recent report about the possible legal issues facing some gallon smashers. And CNN.com posted a story on March 1 about the FAA’s probe into a recent “shake” on a plane. With negative results such as these, it’s clear that the Smash and the Shake are bidding for the most tile of “most destructive.”

Where does the engineering community stand on these pranks? Well, we have not seen an electrical engineer, robot, or microcontroller-based system smashing a gallon of milk to get a laugh. (Thankfully! We don’t endorse it.) But we did recently seen an engineer’s take on the Harlem Shake.

And so the meme continues.

Be sure to check out Dave Jones’s EEVblog video about the rocker.

RS Components + Elektor = DesignSpark Magazine

RS Components has announced the launch of its new online publication, DesignSpark Magazine. The new magazine will be published in collaboration with Elektor International Media, the global electronics design and publishing house that publishes Elektor, Circuit Cellar, audioXpress, and more.

DesignSpark Magazine will replace RS Components’s popular eTech Magazine, which was first released as a digital edition in July 2010. According to a statement released by RS Components, “The new title is available as a fully digital publication in iPad, iPhone, Android tablet and page-turner formats. The publishing partnership with Elektor will produce not only a fresh-look magazine, but in addition will draw on Elektor’s long experience in the electronics publishing field to deliver the highest quality of technical content as a source of inspiration for design engineers worldwide.”

DesignSpark Magazine, which derives its name from designspark.com, the RS online community for electronics design engineers, will address three key topic areas:

  • Technologies – This will feature the best boards and board-level components for engineers and give readers a snapshot of the newest hot products in the market.
  • Software and tools – Keeping readers in touch with the latest resources to save time and money, this area will focus on free tools to support engineers.
  • Projects – Inspired by positive feedback on project-style articles in eTech, this expanded section in the new magazine will feature more design-tips articles contributed by Elektor, as well as make-and-build projects from the DesignSpark community. Readers will have access to the information located in this section to develop their own projects.

The new publication is designed to appeal to readers across the globe, with the concurrent launch of eight different language versions: English; Dutch; French; German; Italian; Japanese; Simplified Chinese and Spanish.

Mark Cundle, Head of Technical Marketing at RS, commented, “The RS online DesignSpark community has become a respected and well-used source of information and tools for electronics engineers over the past few years, so it is a natural progression to align the name of our proprietary online publication with the DesignSpark brand. The magazine is an integral part of our efforts to provide customers with a trusted, reliable source of technical information to help reduce design times and costs.”

Wisse Hettinga, International Director for Elektor International Media, said, “This exciting collaboration with RS Components will be good news for everyone who is an enthusiast and active in electronics design. It will mean more designs, more inspiration, more ‘how to’ and ‘where to get’ information to speed up the design process and create new, interesting electronic products.”

[Via Electrocomponents.com]

CircuitCellar.com is an Elektor International Media website.

CC272: Issue of Ingenuity

The March issue of Circuit Cellar includes articles from a number of practical problem solvers, such as a homeowner who wanted to get a better grasp of his electrical usage and a professor who built a better-than-average music box.

Dean Boman, a retired spacecraft communications systems designer, decided to add oversight of his electric usage (in real time) to his home-monitoring system. After all, his system already addressed everything from security to fire detection to irrigation control. On page 34, he describes his energy monitoring system, which provides a webpage with circuit-by-circuit energy usage. This level of detail can make you a well-informed energy consumer.

Dean Bowman’s energy-monitoring system

Bruce Land, a senior lecturer in electronics and computer science at Cornell University, thought developing a microcontroller-based music device would be a useful class lesson. But more importantly, he knew his 3-year-old granddaughter would love an interactive music box. On page 28, he shares how he built a music device with an 8-bit microcontroller that enables changing the note sequence, timbre, tempo, and beat.

Computer engineer Chris Paiano has written many application notes for the Cypress programmable-system-on-chip (PSoC) chipset. He is even working on a PSoC solution for his broken dishwasher. But that’s far from his most impressive work. Read an interview with this problem-solver on page 41.

College students built a rotational inverted pendulum (RIP) to test nonlinear control theory. But you might want to make and tune one for fun. Nelson Epp did. On page 20, he describes how he built his RIP and utilized a TV remote control to meet the challenges of balance and swing. “It is a good project because the hardware used is fairly common, the firmware techniques and math behind them are relatively easy to understand, and you get a good feeling when, for the first time, the thing actually works,” he says.

Nelson Epp’s rotational inverted pendulum (RIP)

Chip biometrics are unique digital chip features—left by the manufacturing process—that distinguish one chip from another of the same type. Finding these chip “fingerprints” is important in developing trustworthy and secure electronics. On page 45, Patrick Schaumont discusses how to extract a fingerprint from a field programmable gate array (FPGA) and authenticate a chip’s identity.

Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio, a telecommunications engineer from Italy, designs data acquisition system software for physics experiments and industrial use. In the Tech the Future essay on page 80, he discusses the many alternatives for data acquisition software and the goal of developing credit-card-sized embedded data acquisition systems, using open-source software, to manage industrial systems.

Other article highlights include George Novacek’s look at ways to reduce product failures in the field (p. 52), Ed Nisley’s take on how to get true analog voltages from the Arduino’s PWM outputs (p. 56), and Jeff Bachiochi’s guidance on using a development kit to design a tool to help transmit Morse code (p. 68).

With this issue’s emphasis on robotics, you’ll want to check out  our From the Archives article about a SOPHOCLES design for a solar-powered robot that can detect poisonous gas (p. 62).