Novena – an open source laptop computer

You may be aware of open-source software and you may already be using some. Now, an almost open-source laptop is available for sale. Sean “xobs” Cross and Andrew “bunnie” Huang have fashioned a laptop that users can trust. These two engineers from Singapore have assembled a laptop that uses almost entirely open-source hardware; designs freely available to the world. They have named the project Novena and anyone can review the designs in theory, look for bugs and security flaws. Therefore, Read more [...]

Different uses for USB flash drives

Almost everyone uses USB flash drives nowadays and the amount of data that these drives can store has increased tremendously. Typically, they can hold millions of pictures, thousands of songs and several HD movies. Although data storage is the primary function, flash drives have more to do beyond that. You may find the roles to be quite unusual: Expanding SBC Storage There are several Single Board Computers on the market today, with Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone being the most popular. Most come Read more [...]

BrickPi to Turn Your Raspberry Pi Into a Robot

It is easy to turn your tiny Single Board Computer, the Raspberry Pi (RBPi), into a robot. All that you need is a BrickPi board and a case that will fit onto your credit card size computer and make it capable of accepting inputs from sensors, to running motors and other parts. With the BrickPi, you can drive up to four EV3 or NXT motors and five sensors. A 9V battery powers the board and drives the motors and sensors, including the RBPi. While the sturdy case that holds the RBPi, has holes that can Read more [...]

VPN Server with Raspberry Pi

In almost all airports, hotels, libraries, schools and restaurants, there is a proliferation of free unencrypted wireless access points, which are easily accessible to all. Additionally, with the spread of mobile devices, getting on the internet is no longer confined to the office or the home. Usually, a high number of users share the same open access point. Although this arrangement is very convenient for the users, it is also favorable for the snooper with the skills and intent to invade into others' Read more [...]

Linear Position Sensor for Embedded Use

The launch of ME-7 Series Linear Position Sensors by the Alliance Sensors Group (Moorestown, NJ) facilitates a wide range of multiple applications. These sensors have been designed for embedded use suitable for measuring the ram position in hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders, in subsea, mobile or industrial applications. The ME-7 series is designed to be a functional replacement for embedded type magnetostrictive sensors with a drop-in form and fit for use. They can also be used as a replacement for Read more [...]

A water cooler for the Raspberry Pi

Although the tiny Single Board Computer called the Raspberry Pi (RBPi) is mainly to teach the young kids how to code, several people are now hooked onto it and are executing extraordinary projects with it. Like other CPUs in regular computers, the RBPi can as well be overclocked and run in a turbo mode. Last year, the Pi Foundation, originators of the SBC, added the turbo mode and clarified that this will not void the warranty. Therefore, you can safely apply turbo mode when the RBPi is busy, limit Read more [...]

How does temperature affect component life?

Change in temperature affects the speed, power and reliability of electronic components and systems. Variation of temperature affects the speed performance, because material characteristics depend on temperature. These dependencies may be normal or reversed based on the type of the semiconductor material. Additionally, these dependencies change with technology scaling, and manufacturers counteract by introducing new processing materials, using metal gates and high-K dielectrics. For example, temperature Read more [...]

MCUs: Interesting things happen within smart phones and tablets

Cell phones and tablets have several interesting things within them such as touch-screens, cameras, gesture sensors, USB interfacing, battery charge monitoring, and many others. Most of these individual functions need tiny components called micro-controller units or MCUs. Of course, additional components are also required such as ADC or Analog to Digital Converters, PWM or Pulse Width Modulators, LCDs or Liquid Crystal Displays and capacitive touch screen interfaces. The role of MCUs in modern Read more [...]

Is solid state memory better than magnetic memory?

Moore's Law, or more specifically, Gordon Moore, predicted in 1965 that transistor density in chips would double about every two years. For the past 50 years, this observation has held true and is the fundamental driving force behind most advances in technology leading to computers becoming smaller, faster, cheaper and more reliable. Typically, Moore's Law has resulted in solid-state memory becoming smaller and cheaper. However, the ever-increasing need for greater storage capacity has had manufacturers Read more [...]

What are Zener, Schottky and Avalanche Diodes?

Diodes are very commonly used semiconductor devices. They are mostly used as rectifiers for converting Alternating to Direct current. Their special characteristic of allowing current flow in only one direction makes them indispensable as rectifiers. Apart from rectification, various types of diodes are available for different purposes such as for generating light, microwaves, infrared rays and for various types of switching at high speeds. For example, the power supply industry has been moving Read more [...]