Category Archives: Guides

Cubli the Baron Munchausen of Robots

When you find a cube lying innocently on the table, you wouldn't exactly expect it to jump up and start balancing itself on its edge or on its corner, will you? Probably not, if it wasn't Cubli, the one designed at ETH Zurich. Well, it does not actually lift itself up by its own locks as Baron Munchausen was fond of doing, but Cubli the robo-cube can bring a smile on your face when you see its capers - watch its antics below. Cubli, the 15x15x15 cm cube, has several spinning wheels and motors Read more [...]

Possibilities of harvesting triboelectricity

Although we already harvest energy from many sources, new sources are always welcome. Ignoring the up-front costs, harvesting energy is often free, convenient and eases problems of several types of practical installation and replacement. Energy harvesting requires three fundamental stages: a reliable source of energy, the harvesting electronics or the converter and a load where the energy can be gainfully employed. Apart from finding a reliable source of energy, there is one other factor before Read more [...]

Pairing your Raspberry Pi with an SPI OLED

OLEDs are interesting because they produce very crisp and brighter displays than is possible with the regular Liquid Crystal Displays. Being made of thin films of organic molecules, OLEDs use less power than conventional Light Emitting Diodes and LCDs. Driving OLEDs from your Raspberry Pi (RBPi) can be a great project to learn about these nifty solid-state displays and the processes that drive them. Adafruit offers a lovely little monochrome SPI OLED module with a resolution of 128x32, driven Read more [...]

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 [...]

Make a time clock with the Raspberry Pi

People working on projects are usually required to keep their time records up to date. However, those who are more engrossed with the technicalities of their work, find that they slip on their time keeping chores. If you fall into that category, let your Raspberry Pi (RBPi) help you out. Along with the tiny single board computer, you will additionally need one RGB LED, an OLED character display and a rotary encoder. Your time will be logged directly into a Google Docs spreadsheet. The purpose-built Read more [...]

Learn about metal film resistors

Resistors are a common passive item in any electronic assembly. They are used for restricting the amount of current flowing in a circuit; acting much as a valve does in a water pipeline. The most commonly in use are carbon, thick metal and thin metal film resistors. The film forms the resistive material of the resistor. The axial resistor is usually a cylindrical conductive film on a non-conductive ceramic carrier. Two leads projecting from both ends of the resistance help in connecting the item Read more [...]

How to solder like a pro

Manual soldering is a skill that gets better with practice. For those who are starting out for the first time, manual soldering can be risky, unless they take proper care and follow safety instructions. Manual soldering involves application of heat locally by a soldering iron, whose tip may reach temperatures as high as 400°C. Soldering materials are sometimes toxic, especially if using lead based solders. Some very useful information about soldering can be found here. One of the best tips to Read more [...]

REX – a brain for robots

Not to be confused with Tyrannosaurus the king of beasts, REX is a complete development platform for sophisticated robotic applications. While most robotic designers use the Arduino platform as a base for their robots, Mike Lewis and Kartik Tiwari were not impressed with the available hardware. Their design, REX, is specifically targeted towards robots. REX poses no wiring hassles, has built-in battery inputs and has a robot programming environment that it boots up directly into. The duo felt Read more [...]

What is a brushless DC motor?

Most electrical appliances have an electric motor that rotates to displace an object from its initial position. Various motors are available in the market such as servomotors, induction motors, stepper motors, DC motors (both brushless and brushed), etc. The choice of a motor depends on the requirements of an application. Most new designs favor brushless DC motors, also referred to as BLDC motors. The working principle of brushless DC motors is similar to that of brushed DC motors, but their construction Read more [...]