Every engineer and technician sooner or later faces the challenge of having to desolder a component. Sometimes the component can be a large transformer with 10 pins or a power chip with many connections, and desoldering tools are typically around the $1,000 mark and above.
Chip Quik is a solder-based alloy that stays molten for up to 30 seconds and makes desoldering any component very easy. The only drawback is that the cost of a 2´ length of Chip Quik is around $20. But a little experience can make this go a long way. Having some Chip Quik lying around in the workshop is reassuring for when that urgent job comes in.
Editor’s Note: This EE Tip was written by Fergus Dixon of Sydney, Australia. Dixon, who has written two articles and an essay for Circuit Cellar, runs Electronic System Design, a website set up to promote easy to use and inexpensive development kits.Click here to read his essay “The Future of Open-Source Hardware for Medical Devices.”
The NavRanger-OEM combines a 20,000 samples per second laser range finder with a nine-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) on a single 3“ × 6“ (7.7 × 15.3 cm) circuit board. The board features I/O resources and processing capability for application-specific control solutions.
The NavRanger‘s laser range finder measures the time of flight of a short light pulse from an IR laser. The time to digital converter has a 65-ps resolution (i.e., approximately 1 cm). The Class 1M laser has a 10-ns pulse width, a 0.8 mW average power, and a 9° × 25° divergence without optics. The detector comprises an avalanche photo diode with a two-point variable-gain amplifier and variable threshold digitizer. These features enable a 10-cm × 10-cm piece of white paper to be detected at 30 m with a laser collimator and 25-mm receiver optics.
The range finder includes I/O to build a robot or scan a solution. The wide range 9-to-28-V input supply voltage enables operation in 12- and 24-V battery environments. The NavRanger‘s IMU is an InvenSense nine-axis MPU-9150, which combines an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and a magnetometer on one chip. A 32-bit Freescale ColdFire MCF52255 microcontroller provides the processing the power and additional I/O. USB and CAN buses provide the board’s high-speed interfaces. The board also has connectors and power to mount a Digi International XBee wireless module and a TTL GPS.
The board comes with embedded software and a client application that runs on a Windows PC or Mac OS X. It also includes modifiable source code for the embedded and client applications. The NavRanger-OEM costs $495.
The u-blox M8 core-positioning platform is based on the UBX-M8030 concurrent multi-Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) receiver IC, which can track US GPS, European Galileo, Japanese QZSS, Russian GLONASS, and Chinese BeiDou satellites. The platform simultaneously uses multiple satellite systems and forms the basis of u-blox’s upcoming line of positioning modules that can concurrently acquire and track different satellite systems to achieve higher accuracy and reliability.
The u-blox M8 platform features low power consumption in concurrent reception mode via a single-die architecture combined with sophisticated software algorithms. The extended supply voltage supply range and 1.8-/3-V I/O compliance supports a variety of system architectures.
UBX-M8030 chips are available in miniature WL-CSP (2.99-mm × 3.21-mm × 0.36-mm) and QFN (5-mm × 5-mm × 0.59-mm) packages. The chip is also available in automotive-grade quality that complies with the Automotive Electronics Council’s AEC-Q100.The new platform maintains backward compatibility with u-blox 7 modules and QFP chip products.
The GP490 is an ultra-low-power ZigBee PRO communication controller. It supports the ZigBee PRO chip features, including bidirectional commissioning, bidirectional communication, and full security mode.
The controller is specifically designed for low-power smart home applications including door, window, and temperature sensors and light switches. Equipped with the energy-optimized GP490, these low-power, low-data rate smart home applications can operate on a coin cell battery for more than 10 years.
The GP490 development kit with reference design and software can help device manufacturers build low-cost, low-power sensor nodes, optimized for standard battery and coin-cell battery operation. Guidelines and tools are provided to ensure an efficient ZigBee certification for a cost-optimized feature set of the ZigBee Home Automation (HA 1.2) Application Profile.
The low-cost GP490 enables developers and manufacturers to supply ZigBee Smart Home sensor solutions starting at $5 each. Contact GreenPeak Technologies for specific pricing.
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.