Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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


How to Think Creatively About Your Next Design Justin Risedorf
From sliced bread to rocket ships, people have shown their creative nature throughout history by designing new things. Not surprisingly, many of the greatest designs came about as the answer to a problem. Gravity got you down? The Wright brothers have a solution. Computers too big? Kilby and Noyce introduce the world to microchips (and Silicon Valley in the process). Want to do more with a peanut? George Washington Carver has around three hundred good ideas. But these guys are the stuff of legends. Do ordinary folk like you and I have the ability to think creatively too?

AS6496 Anti-Counterfeit Control Plan Posted Chuck Amsden
The AS6496 standard was published in August and Mouser now has an Anti-Counterfeit Control Plan written specifically to that standard.

Seeing The Light: A Circuit For Interfacing With Ambient Light Sensors Mike Parks
We built a smart mailbox, as related in an article, that had an ambient light sensor to detect when the mailbox door was opened. In that project we used a Vishay ambient light sensor (Mouser Part #782-TEPT4400) that acts very much like an NPN transistor, in fact the part is also referred to as a phototransistor. The difference being (when compared to a normal bipolar junction transistor) that instead of needing a base lead to setup the bias voltage, photons provide energy at the base-collector junction to turn the transistor on, thus allowing current flow from collector-to-emitter.

Don’t Leave Your Pins Floating Mike Parks
When you are just starting off in electronics, there are many design pitfalls that can lead to hours of frustrating troubleshooting. I highlighted the importance of troubleshooting in this earlier blog post regarding my work on the automated energy harvester. Many times these faults are fixed with a very simple tweak to the circuit design or component selection. One of the most basic of the faults is the infamous “floating pin” or “floating input” that can affect the I/O pins of digital integrated circuits.

Great Scott! Get a Hoverboard on Kickstarter for $10,000 Erik Smith
Working hoverboards have been the subject of many hoaxes for the last few decades; Back to the Future series' director Robert Zemeckis claimed that hoverboards had existed for years, only to be banned by parents groups, to Funny of Die's elaborate and almost convincing prank earlier this year. But now, thanks to Hendo Hover's Kickstarter campaign, this long sought after technology can be in your hands... for $10,000.

Burning Yourself on a Resistor Lynnette Reese
Yes, it is possible to burn the $#*&! out of yourself on a resistor….a tiny little resistor. I did this under the supervision of an electronics technician at a bench job I had in college. The tech had hair down to his waist, wore glasses, and confirmed the imagery in Joe Jackson’s lyrics for Soul Kiss: “And all the hippies work for IBM.” As a freshman, I worked in the basement of the Physics department at LSU in the electronics repair shop. I knew nothing. He knew that I knew nothing.

Accepting the Wonderers and Wondering About the Accepters Caroline Storm Westenhover
“Do you know what happens when you put a red LED to a 9 volt battery?” This is the first thing the other intern said to me as he walked in this morning. Of course I wanted to see what happened. Knowing that the normal drop for a red LED is about 2.5V, and given the tone of his voice, I knew it would be interesting. Sure enough the LED sheared at the junction. His original plan had been to see if the problem with his tester was the green LED or the switch. He used a 9V battery to test it because it was available. The interesting result was the green LED gave off an orange light. This naturally made him wonder what would happen if he applied 9V to other colored LEDs. Hence the sheared and slightly melted red LED.

One Size Fits None Barry Manz
If you work in or follow the defense industry, you may have sensed a trend toward multifunctionality in U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) thinking – that everything it deploys in the future should perform multiple functions. It’s a logical concept when money is scarce, but it rarely works, especially if the functions to be combined are very different from each other. Smartphones, which today do everything but keep you healthy (that’s coming in iOS8), are a rare exception.

Analog Inputs In a Digital Only World Mike Parks
I am going to share a trade secret with you today. Did you know you could read an analog signal even if you only have digital inputs on your microcontroller or single board computer? It used to be a common practice, but maybe not so much anymore, judging by the questions I have been asked recently. But you can, and all you need is a simple resistor and capacitor.

Math: the Language of Engineers, Scientists, and Artists Alike Lynnette Reese
Neil Armstrong’s favorite quote was "Science is about what is, engineering is about what can be.” STEM, and now STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) promote these areas for growth. Some might consider the “Art” in STEAM to be out of place, but I disagree. Engineers need cross-pollination, and have you seen some of the incredible art using open source technology?

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