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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics


Engineering Horror Stories #2 Lynnette Reese
In the purely scientific interest of allowing others to learn from mistakes that I have not made myself but either witnessed or heard about, let’s hear Story #2 (OK, that’s purposely tongue –in-cheek; do you really think I would tell you about stuff I have broken? Usually it’s something in my house that I’m trying to do myself.)

The Results Are In: Ham Radio is Healthy Barry Manz
A few years back I wrote an editorial in which I bemoaned the fact that thanks to the effortless ability to communicate virtually anywhere by picking up the phone (wired or wireless), fewer young people were interested in communicating via the ether, and amateur radio in general was not growing. This went over like a lead balloon with the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), which refuted my claim by providing statistics proving just the opposite. And they were right; it was growing, albeit slowly. So I was wrong and they were right, although I received 29 emails, some of which were several hundred words long, agreeing that it was indeed difficult to get today’s youth interested in amateur radio.

Build Your Own Personal Drone John Donovan
When I was a boy I loved flying model airplanes. I’d laboriously build them from balsawood kits; cover them with tissue; and add a noisy .049 gas engine. Then I’d go to the neighborhood schoolyard and get dizzy flying them in endless circles at the end of control cables. Today for under $100 you can buy a Styrofoam plane with a battery-powered engine and wireless remote control—a cheap radio-controlled (RC) aircraft.

King of the Road Paul Golata
Recently a major LED lighting supplier, OSRAM, announced that the 2015 Ford F-150 will be the first truck to feature a full LED forward lighting system. A key performance and styling differentiator, the innovative LED lighting system is comprised of a low beam, high beam, light driver module, turn module, and park module.

Failure Modes Matter Kelly Casey
When a piece of electronics fails, the manner in which that failure occurs is important and should be included in the design specification – especially for a consumer product. Most manufacturers realize that a UL (or ETL or other safety lab) Listing is a minimum requirement for product safety. But those requirements are focused on preventing fires and shock hazards. A piece of gear that fails in a plume of foul-smelling toxic fog, coupled with a few sparks or even a good ol’ firecracker report invokes a visceral reaction in the consumer that will absolutely guarantee that the replacement product will be a different brand. They just don’t want to experience that violent, scary failure again and will go out of their way to assure no repeat performances.

Engineering Horror Stories Lynnette Reese
I recently commented to a colleague that engineers either learn by “letting the smoke out” of something (breaking it) or they can learn vicariously through another’s mistakes, if the mistake is catastrophic enough. I don’t have a lot of these, but I have noticed that engineering horror stories are effective training tools and often funny.

Embracing the Fail Whale: Learning from Engineering Failures Mike Parks
Throughout human history failure has been a bittersweet fact of life, and engineering is not exempt from this truth. Despite our best efforts (and sometimes, because of the lack thereof), engineering failures occur. The aforementioned examples are just some of the most highly publicized engineering disasters of the last 75 years. Sometimes, as we push the envelope in pursuit of success, things go horribly wrong. However, engineers should never use the reasons of those failures as an excuse. Instead, a failure should be viewed as a call to action, which brings with it the necessity to keep pursuing the root cause(s) of the failure. By doing this, we expand our knowledge and can reduce the likelihood of another disaster occurring in our future endeavors.

Wireless in 2014: The Industry at Mid-Year Barry Manz
As members of the RF and microwave industry make their annual pilgrimage to IMS 2014 (this year in Tampa), I offer my opinion on the industry’s overall health at mid-year. Fortunately, it appears that it’s going to be hot in Tampa in more ways than one. Just how hot depends on many factors, many of them company-specific, so there’s no single answer to “How’s business?” Nevertheless, a realistic approach with this blog is to look at key markets in the wireless industry.

Be Very Quiet, I’m Hunting Aliens Caroline Storm
When I think of encounters with extraterrestrials I imagine them coming in their big space-traversing ships and with far more knowledge than we have. This is of course assuming that they find us. Not only do they find us, they decide to visit us.

How Open Source Launched My Small Business Mike Parks
Open Source Hardware (OSHW) has truly changed my life. It allowed me to launch my own business. How so you might ask? Well let’s take a little stroll down memory lane, shall we?

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