Category Archives: Electronics History

What is a capacitor used for?

Just as a bucket holds water, a capacitor holds charge. In fact, the world's first capacitor was in the shape of a jar and was aptly named the Leyden jar. However, the latest capacitors do not look anywhere close to a jar. In its simplest form, a capacitor has two conductive plates separated by a dielectric. This helps maintain an electric charge between its plates. Depending on the type, different materials are used for the dielectric, such as plastic, paper, air, tantalum, polyester, ceramic, etc. Read more [...]

How did the diode get it’s name?

Although most diodes are made of silicon nowadays, it was not always so. Initially, there were two types – thermionic or vacuum tube and solid state or semiconductor. Both the types were developed simultaneously, but separately, in the early 1900s. Early semiconductor diodes were not as capable as their vacuum tube counterparts, which were extensively used as radio receiver detectors. Various types of these thermionic valves were in use and had different functionalities such as double-diode triodes, Read more [...]

What is IFTTT? How can you use it?

Kevin Andersson has a lot to look forward to when he wakes up every morning. As soon as he puts his feet on the ground, all the lights in his home turn on. When he steps on to the weighing scale, the coffee maker activates itself to prepare a mug of steaming coffee. Kevin has made all these events possible by installing a motion sensor in his bedroom and connecting it to the lighting arrangement with the help of an internet service known as IFTTT, which is the acronym for "If This, Then That". Since Read more [...]

How do photovoltaic cells work?

Your calculator probably has a darkish colored panel just above the display. The panel is made up of solar cells that power up your calculator if there is enough light. You may also have seen some solar panels, which people use for charging up their cell phones. Earlier, these solar cells or photovoltaic cells were exclusively used to power the electrical systems of satellites. However, they are now commonly used in less exotic ways as well. How do photovoltaic cells convert light to electricity? Read more [...]

Transistors: What Is The Difference Between BJT, FET And MOSFET?

BJTs, FETs and MOSFETs are all active semiconductor devices, also known as transistors. BJT is the acronym for Bipolar Junction Transistor, FET stands for Field Effect Transistor and MOSFET is Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor. All three have several subtypes, and unlike passive semiconductor devices such as diodes, active semiconductor devices allow a greater degree of control over their functioning. Depending on their subtypes, operating frequency, current, voltage and power Read more [...]

How do battery powered pico-projectors work?

Once upon a time, very long ago, the projector world was ruled by the intense light of arcs. As they were rather unwieldy, xenon lamps took their place. With the unrelenting march of innovation, the era of OHPs or overhead projectors that could project images of transparencies, came into existence. These soon became obsolete as computers evolved and could be directly connected to projectors with LCD screens. The latest in line is the Pico-projector, which uses tiny batteries and the light from LEDs Read more [...]

What Are Inductors and How Do They Work

An inductor or an induction coil is a tightly woven coil of wire. Now, you would not expect an ordinary piece of wire to show any special property on passage of current through it. A coil with several loops or turns however, exhibits a remarkable property when current passes through it. The current through the coil creates a magnetic field in the immediate space surrounding the coil. The field stores electrical energy during the passage of current and for a very short while, even if you cut off the Read more [...]

Raspberry Pi and Laika

Raspberry Pi and Laika – A Powerful Combination for Robotics Some of you may recall Laika, the first dog in space, and the first animal to orbit the Earth. In 1957, Laika gave up her life to prove that living beings can survive being launched into orbit. This platform, aptly named the Laika Explorer, presents a powerful robotics control for your Raspberry Pi (Raspberry Pi). With Laika Explorer and using C, Python or Scratch programming, you can control switches, lamps, motors, robots and Read more [...]

How does a smartphone camera autofocus?

How does the camera of a super slim smartphone autofocus? As long as cell phones were over 10 mm thick, manufacturers had no problem of getting the camera to autofocus. Of the 2 billion cameras manufactured for the phone and tablet market, nearly half of them autofocus. Usually, one of more of the lenses in the camera are moved in or out using a linear actuator, while an algorithm calculates a figure of merit for the sharpness of image for that location of the lens. The best focus for the scene Read more [...]

How Professional Grade Capacitors Are Used In the Automotive Industry

The challenging conditions faced by automobiles have compelled component manufacturers in the automotive industry to come up with superior capacitors. Two of these advanced capacitors are professional grade capacitors of tantalum and niobium oxide. A capacitor is comprised of two conducting plates separated by a dielectric (insulating) medium. One plate maintains a positive charge while the other maintains a negative charge. Benefits of Professional Grade Tantalum Capacitors A tantalum Read more [...]