Elektor Weekly Wrap-Up: Publishing Process Video, Inside May 2012, & a New Book on LEDs

What your plans for this weekend? Any projects in the works? Before you start soldering, consider what Elektor staffers have been working in this week. Perhaps you’ll want to start designing with the goal of submitting your project to the Elektor Lab. Check out the video below for details.

If you don’t have a project yet, no worries. The currently available May issue is chock full of interesting articles and projects.

May Issue Intro Video

My friend and colleague Wisse Hettinga does a wonderful job each month introducing the newest issue of Elektor. This week he released the May intro video:

Inside Elektor May 2012

Here is the table of contents for the latest edition of Elektor:

  • Embedded World 2012
  • The RL78 Green Energy Challenge has begun
  • Embedded Linux Made Easy (1)
  • Platino Controlled by LabVIEW (1)
  • Preamplifier 2012 (2)
  • Lossless Load
  • Inside Pico C-Super
  • Mounting nixie tubes
  • E-LABs INSIDE
  • Minty Geek’s Mark Brickley
  • QuadroWalker
  • Electronics for Starters (5)
  • AVR Software Defined Radio (3)
  • Component Tips: MOSFETs + extras
  • Energy Monitor
  • SHT11 Humidity Sensor Connected to PC
  • RAMBOard-Serial
  • Retronics: Elektor Logic Analyser (1981)
  • Hexadoku
  • Gerard’s Columns: Reliability

New Book on LED Designs & Projects

Ask anyone under 20 to mention a light source and you’re likely to hear “el-ee-dee.” It just goes to show that LEDs are succeeding the light bulb at a terrific pace. Now ask any high school kid to mention an electronic component. You’ll hear the same acronym again. Kids positively adore LEDs: they’re cheap, simple to connect, and allow all sorts of things to be personalized, tweaked, and adorned with bright colors, preferably in strings and flashing too.

Editor Jan Buiting at Elektor this week signed off the production of a small book on LEDs specifically aimed at young people. The idea is to help them learn about these fantastic devices. The book is packed with entry-level projects that can be built straight off on a breadboard. With one-stop shopping in mind, Elektor will also be selling a nice parts kit that belongs with the book that will enable readers to gain some hands-on experience working with LEDs.

The new book and the associated kit are expected to come on sale by June 1, 2012. Check the Elektor webpage www.elektor.com/products/books.255.lynkx at that time.

CircuitCellar.com is an Elektor group publication.

Elektor Weekly Wrap-Up: Project Generator, 32-Bit Linux on an 8-Bit MCU, & Computer Vision Simplified

Last week Elektor staffers put in a long workweek of, well, a little bit of everything: lab work, news reporting, and book launching. Let’s start with the lab.

Elektor’s Project Generator Edition

The Elektor Lab’s workers were finishing up their final lab duties relating to Elektor’s upcoming double summer edition—the Project Generator Edition, PGE.

Elektor Lab staff preps for the summer issue

Thijs Beckers reported: “Extra attention is paid to the quality of this year’s projects, after upping the standards already in the selection process. We set an ambitious goal for all of us, lab workers and editors alike, to bring you articles and circuit ideas from the utmost quality, with crystal clear details and lots of PCB layouts. All of this would of course be unfeasible without our highly respected freelance contributors and experts, who we are grateful for their efforts in supporting this year’s extra-thick magazine with fresh and exciting projects and circuits.”

Getting read for the "Project Generator Edition"

32-Bit Linux on an 8-Bit MCU

Elektor editor Clemens Valens reported last week about an interesting project by Dmitry Grinberg. Clemens said Dmitry ported a 32-bit operating system to an 8-bit microcontroller lacking most of the features needed to actually run the OS. Seem odd? Learn more here.

A 32-bit OS ported to an 8-bit micro

Computer Vision Simplified

Elektor announced Wednesday a new book on the topic of computer vision. Fevzi Özgül’s Design your own PC Visual Processing and Recognition System in C# is intended for “engineers, scientists and enthusiasts with developed programming skills or with a strong interest in image processing technology on a PC.”

The book, which Özgül wrote using Microsoft C# and utilizing object-oriented practices, is a practical how-to guide. He covers essential image-processing techniques and provides practical application examples so you can produce high-quality image processing software. Click here for more information.

CircuitCellar.com is an Elektor group publication.

 

Weekly Elektor Wrap Up: Preamplifier 2012, Pico C, & a Webshop Hunt

It’s time for our Friday Elektor wrap up. Our Elektor colleagues were hard at work during this first week of April. Here’s quick review.

Elektor Preamplifier 2012: The Sound of Silence

Elektor has a 40-year history of high-end audio (tube and solid state) coverage: projects, books, circuit boards, and even DVDs. The latest project is the Preamplifier 2012, which was designed by renowned audio specialist Douglas Self, with Elektor audio staffer Ton Giesberts doing the board designs and testing on Elektor’s $50,000 audio precision analyzer! It achieves incredibly low noise figures using low impedance design techniques throughout, but still based on an affordable and easy-to-find opamp: the NE5532. The Preamplifier 2012’s most notable characteristics are its ultra low noise MC/MD section (get out your vinyl records) and the remarkably low-value pots in the Baxandall tone control (like 1-kΩ).Douglas Self and Elektor Audio Labs already stunned the audio community with their NE5532 Op-amplifier a while ago with 32 NE5532 op-amps basically paralleled on a board producing 10 W of extremely high-quality sound. Simply put: they know what they’re doing!You can read about the seven-board design in the April 2012 edition. In fact, why not follow the series?

Part 1: www.elektor.com/110650

Part 2: www.elektor.com/110651

Part 3: currently in editing for June 2012 edition.

NE5532 Opamplifier: www.elektor.com/100124

Pico C Webinar Announcement

Elektor announced this week that it will run a new webinar via element14 on the Elektor Pico C meter, which was featured in the April 2011 editions. The Pico C meter can measure small capacitances. In February 2012 the device was upgraded with new firmware.

According to an Elektor news item, UK-based author/designer Jon Drury will run the webinar slated for Thursday, April 19, 2012. He’ll cover a unique way of giving the original instrument a much wider range while also extending its functionality, all with new software and practically no changes to the existing Pico C hardware. Microcontroller fans, including AVR enthusiasts, can also learn how to adapt the software for different calibration capacitors. Elektor staffers are reporting that Jon may also give a sneak preview of his PicoLO oscilloscope and Pico DDS generator.  You can register at element14.

“E” Hunt!

In other news, Elektor is challenging you to find hidden Easter eggs in its webshop. Find eggs, get a discount. Click here to get started.

 

 

Tech Highlights from Design West: RL78, AndroPod, Stellaris, mbed, & more

The Embedded Systems Conference has always been a top venue for studying, discussing, and handling the embedded industry’s newest leading-edge technologies. This year in San Jose, CA, I walked the floor looking for the tech Circuit Cellar and Elektor members would love to get their hands on and implement in novel projects. Here I review some of the hundreds of interesting products and systems at Design West 2012.

RENESAS

Renesas launched the RL78 Design Challenge at Design West. The following novel RL78 applications were particularly intriguing.

  • An RL78 L12 MCU powered by a lemon:

    A lemon powers the RL78 (Photo: Circuit Cellar)

  • An RL78 kit used for motor control:

    The RL78 used for motor control (Photo: Circuit Cellar)

  • An RL78 demo for home control applications:

    The RL78 used for home control (Photo: Circuit Cellar)

TEXAS INSTRUMENTS

Circuit Cellar members have used TI products in countless applications. Below are two interesting TI Cortex-based designs

A Cortex-M3 digital guitar (you can see the Android connection):

TI's digital guitar (Photo: Circuit Cellar)

Stellaris fans will be happy to see the Stellaris ARM Cortex -M4F in a small wireless application:

The Stellaris goes wireless (Photo: Circuit Cellar)

NXP mbed

Due to the success of the recent NXP mbed Design Challenge, I stopped at the mbed station to see what exciting technologies our NXP friends were exhibiting. They didn’t disappoint. Check out the mbed-based slingshot developed for playing Angry Birds!

mbed-Based sligshot for going after "Angry Birds" (Photo: Circuit Cellar)

Below is a video of the project on the mbedmicro YouTube page:

FTDI

I was pleased to see the Elektor AndroPod hard at work at the FTDI booth. The design enables users to easily control a robotic arm with Android smartphones and tablets.

FTDI demonstrates robot control with Android (Photo: Circuit Cellar)

As you can imagine, the possible applications are endless.

The AndroPod at work! (Photo: Circuit Cellar)

Weekly Elektor Wrap Up: Design West, RL78 Challenge, a Robot Kit, & More!

Last week was busy for the international Elektor staff. In San Jose, CA, the team announced along with Circuit Cellar and Renesas the launch of the Renesas RL78 Green Energy Challenge, met with members at the Design West conference booth, held meetings with various clients, and reviewed the latest and greatest embedded technologies.

Along with IAR Systems, Renesas is challenging engineers around the world to enter the RL78 challenge and build energy-efficient, low-power applications using the RL78 MCU and IAR toolchain. Winners can take home a share of $17,500 in Grand Prizes from Renesas, and the Grand Prize winner will also win a free trip to Renesas DevCon in October 2012.

RL78 Kit

Traffic at the conference booth was steady as usual. Members and clients visited to discuss the Elektor group’s magazines (Elektor, Circuit Cellar, and audioXpress), books, kits, and projects.

As for exciting embedded technologies, staff reported on new 8-bit MCUs from Microchip Technology, interesting compiler-related announcements from companies like IAR Systems, Intel’s seven-Atom “industrial orchestra,” and more. (Keep watching CircuitCellar.com for more reports on Design West announcements and events.)

Intel's "Industrial Controller in Concert" featured seven Atom processors, four operating systems, 36 paint ball hoppers, and 2300 rubber balls, a video camera for motion sensing, a digital synthesizer, a multi-touch display, and more.

Visit Elektor’s news page for information posted last week about a two-legged wireless robot kit, a solar-powered Wikipedia Server, and more.

CircuitCellar.com is an Elektor group publication.

Weekly Elektor Wrap Up: Thermometer with Giant Display, AVR Software-Defined Radio Webinar, & More!

It’s time to review what our Elektor colleagues in The Netherlands, France, and beyond worked on and covered this week! As usual, they’ve been quite busy working in the Elektor lab, organizing webcasts, prepping for Design West, and assembling upcoming issues of Elektor magazine. The following is a wrap-up of some of the many things Elektor staffers covered and worked on this week.

Below is a video of a thermometer with a giant display.

The electromechanical display was recovered from a ’60s-era pinball machine.

The thermometer with a giant display

Using the display and some innovative programming techniques, it’s possible to build a water-temperature indicator a swimming pool. After the temperature appears on the 4″ reels, the circuit’s consumption decreases to zero. But the temperature display remains perfectly visible. You needn’t worry about batteries (dry or rechargeable), adjustments, or maintenance. (Published in Elektor issue 424, April 2012 www.elektor.com/110673)

Board for Elektor's thermometer with a giant display

On the event front, Elektor Academy and element14 have teamed up to bring you a series of exclusive webinars covering blockbuster projects from recent editions of Elektor magazine. Participation in these webinars is completely free! All you need to do is register via www.element14.com/community/events/3258. The “AVR Software-Defined Radio” webinar takes place Thursday, March 9, 2012. Click here for more information.

Elektor also reported some interesting electronics news this week. The items that will most interest Circuit Cellar readers are an Uninterruptible Power Supply in a Chip and a Python-Based Tool for Diagnosing Dead-Core Boards.

CircuitCellar.com is part of the Elektor group.

Read CircuitCellar.com for Updates/News from Design West, San Jose

Circuit Cellar and Elektor editors and staffers will attend Design West in San Jose, CA, from March 27 to 29. If you can’t make it to the conference, check www.CircuitCellar.com daily for conference updates, news, and more!

Feed the latest posts from CircuitCellar.com to your RSS reader! Doing so will keep you up-to-date on everything we post! Setting up the feed is simple.Add www.circuitcellar.com/feed/rss to your RSS reader and enjoy!

The Circuit Cellar/Elektor booth at ESC 2011 (San Jose, CA)

This year’s conference comprises seven summits at once: ESC, Android, Black Hat, DesignMED, LED, Sensors, and Multicore.

Members and clients are encouraged to stop by booth #2332 to chat with staff, subscribe to our magazines, grab free copies of the magazines, and check out our books. Readers should feel free to bring and pitch article proposals, book proposals, and project ideas!

 

Weekly Elektor Wrap Up: An Innovative ECG Patch, an Affordable Linux Computer, & an AVR Software-Defined Radio Event

It’s time for our weekly wrap up of Elektor news and content for Circuit Cellar members. As usual, our colleagues in Europe and beyond are always covering some cool embedded-related topics.

Let’s start with an interesting post about an innovative processor-based healthcare system: an intelligent patch capable of continuously monitoring heart activity. The design combines embedded and wireless technologies to measure, record, and transmit electrocardiogram signals:

The patch developed by the research labs Imec and Holst Centre and the Danish company Delta measures 3 ECG signals while a 3D accelerometer monitors physical activity. The captured data is processed by a microprocessor integrated in the patch and relevant information is transmitted wirelessly using the new Bluetooth Low Energy technology. Energy consumption is low enough to allow continuous operation during one week.

Click here to read the entire post.

Have you been reading Circuit Cellar columnist Bob Japenga’s articles on embedded Linux? If so, you’ll check out Elektor’s post about Raspberry Pi:

The board is based on a Broadcom BCM2835 SoC, which includes an ARM1176JZF-S 700 MHz processor, a VideoCore IV GPU and 128 or 256 MB of RAM is intended to run Linux kernel based operating systems. Selling for only 28 Euros the distributors’ websites have been overwhelmed by the demand and the first batch of 10,000 pieces was sold out in less than an hour.

The foundation plans to release two versions: Model A & Model B. Model A will have 128 MB RAM, one USB port and no Ethernet controller, while model B will contain 256 MB RAM, two USB ports and a 10/100 Ethernet controller.

Click here for the entire article. You can also read my recent post on Raspberry Pi. Check it out!

Lastly, consider attending the upcoming Elektor Academy webinar “AVR Software Defined Radio.” The webinar is scheduled for 3/29/12. Click here for more information. If you attend, be sure to let us know what you think!

Circuit Cellar and CircuitCellar.com are part of the Elektor group.

Weekly Elektor Wrap Up: Laser, Digital Peak Level Meter, & “Wolverine” MCU

It’s Friday, so it’s time for a review of Elektor news and content. Among the numerous interesting things Elektor covered this week were a laser project, a digital peak level meter for audio engineering enthusiasts, and an exciting new ultra-low-power MCU.

Are you an embedded designer who wants to start a laser project? Read about “the world’s smallest laser”:

What is the biggest constraint in creating tiny lasers? Pump power. Yes sir, all lasers require a certain amount of pump power from an outside source to begin emitting a coherent beam of light and the smaller a laser is, the greater the pump power needed to reach this state. The laser cavity consists of a tiny metal rod enclosed by a ring of metal-coated, quantum wells of semiconductor material. A team of researchers from the University of California has developed a technique that uses quantum electrodynamic effects in coaxial nanocavities to lower the amount of pump power needed. This allowed them to build the world’s smallest room-temperature, continuous wave laser. The whole device is only half a micron in diameter (human hair has on average a thickness of 50 micron).

The nanolaser design appears to be scalable – meaning that they could be shrunk to even smaller sizes – an important feature that would make it possible to harvest laser light from even smaller structures. Applications for such lasers could include tiny biochemical sensors or high-resolution displays, but the researchers are still working out the theory behind how these tiny lasers operate. They would also like to find a way to pump the lasers electrically instead of optically.

Be sure to check out Elektor’s laser projection project.

In other news, Elektor reached out to audio engineering-minded audio enthusiasts and presented an interesting project:

Are you an audio amateur hobbyist or professional? Do you try to avoid clipping in your recordings? To help you get your audio levels right, in January 2012 Elektor published a professional-quality peak level meter featuring 2x 40 LEDs, controlled by a powerful digital signal processor (DSP). As part of the eight-lesson course on Audio DSP, all the theory behind the meter was explained, and the accompanying source code was made available as a free download.

The DSP Board has been available for a while, and now we are proud to announce that the Digital Peak Level Meter is available as an Elektor quality kit for you to build. Although the meter was designed as an extension module for the Audio DSP board, it can be used with any microcontroller capable of providing SPI-compatible signals. So get your Peak Level Meter now and add a professional touch to your recording studio!

And lastly, on the MCU front, Elektor ran interesting piece about the Texas Instruments “Wolverine,” which should be available for sampling in June 2012:

Codenamed “Wolverine” for its aggressive power-saving technology, the improved ultra-low-power MSP430 microcontroller platform from Texas Instruments offers at least 50 % less power consumption than any other microcontroller in the industry: 360 nA real-time clock mode and less than 100 µA/MHz active power consumption. Typical battery powered applications spend as much as 99.9 % of their time in standby mode; Wolverine-based devices can consume as little as 360 nA in standby mode, more than doubling battery life.

Wolverine’s low power performance is made possible by using one unified ferromagnetic RAM (FRAM) for code and data instead of traditional Flash and SRAM memories, allowing them to consume 250 times less energy per bit compared to Flash- and EEPROM-based microcontrollers. Power consumption is further reduced thanks to an ultra low leakage  process technology that offers a 10x improvement in leakage and optimized mixed signal capabilities.

MSP430FR58xx microcontrollers based on the Wolverine technology platform will be available for sampling in June 2012.

Circuit Cellar and CircuitCellar.com are part of the Elektor group.

 

Improved Radiation Meter Webinar

Want to learn about Elektor’s improved radiation meter? On February 16, Elektor technical editor Thijs Beckers will host a webinar at element14 about the radiation meter, which is a DIY system that can measure alpha, beta, and gamma radiation.

(Improved Radiation Meter – Source: Elektor.com)

According to Elektor, all that’s required to measure radiation is “a simple PIN photodiode and a suitable preamplifier circuit.” The system features “an optimized preamplifier and a microcontroller-based counter. The microcontroller takes care of measuring time and pulse rate, displaying the result in coun

ts per minute.The device we describe can be used with different sensors to measure gamma and alpha radiation. It is particularly suitable for long-term measurements and for examining weakly radioactive samples.”

Its FREE to register at www.element14.com/community/events/3185.

Start Time: 2/16/12 9:00 AM CST (America/Chicago)
End Time: 2/16/12 10:00 AM CST (America/Chicago)
Location: Online event

Elektor International Media is the parent company of Circuit Cellar.