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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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


Triodes are Still a Hot Item in Audio Lynnette Reese
Every now and then you come across a real gem on the internet. My father was a Coast Guard electronics technician early in his career, and it’s interesting to be able to talk with my dad about electronics stuff. This morning he sent me a link to a site with old Broadcasting and Audio Engineering magazines going back to the 1920s. I look at this ad in Figure 1 from Audio Engineering of June 1949 and have to ask: “What is a Triode?” Triodes are vacuum tubes, boys and girls. Isn’t it interesting that audiophile “purists” today would buy these very tubes for a glowing, more thrilling audio experience? Admittedly, tubes are more interesting to look at than solid state.

The Rebel in the Electric Car Lynnette Reese
I had a very interesting conversation with a power electronics specialist regarding charging for electric vehicles. Let me elaborate: Charging for road taxes for electric vehicles. Those rich guys who can afford the Tesla are not paying road taxes like the rest of us. (I will call “us” The Combustibles Group.) And neither are the Leaf folks, either. The incentive in the U.S. is still a $7,500 tax credit for buying an electric vehicle. A tax credit here means that you figure up your bill to Uncle Sam on April 15 and then subtract $7,500 from what you owe.

A Conversation on High Operating Voltages Kelly Casey
Like most professions, engineering has developed a language of its own. This is needed to convey very specific and precise information. Fuse design engineers, for instance, make a very clear distinction between an overload condition and a short-circuit condition. (Overloads are in the range of ~200% of the fuse's rating while short-circuits are 10X or more.)

Fits like a….wearable! David Whittle
The wearable market is generating a lot of interest at the moment. Recent announcements by Apple, and earlier announcements from Intel and others have generated numerous articles in the major publications dedicated to the tech and retail electronics markets. So what about audio wearables?

Last Call for Magnetron-Powered Microwave Ovens? Barry Manz
When in 1945 Raytheon’s engineer Percy Spencer accidently discovered the potential of RF energy for heating food (or in Spencer’s case, for melting a chocolate bar in his pocket), the device generating that energy was a magnetron. Sixty years later, this venerable “vacuum electron device” is still powering everyone’s microwave ovens, making it the only consumer product still using a vacuum tube rather than a semiconductor for any purpose. However, this last bastion of vacuum tubes in consumer electronics may soon be relegated to history now that RF power transistors have achieved the required RF output power, efficiency, and ruggedness required to replace them.

Irrational Thinking Flies in the Face of Logic Caroline Storm Westenhover
Flying home from my internship in Washington D.C., I began to think about airplane crashes and what it would be like to be in a plane crash. I wondered what I would do if I got in a crash not far from D.C. and survived. The logical me would go to the nearest city and take a plane from there. It would be safer. My emotions, however, would make it difficult to get back on a plane. This goes to the core of human irrational thinking. We often are terrible at looking at the data and behaving logically, whether this be risk assessment or behavioral response. This is where big data comes into play. Big data allows us to gather enough data on specific tasks to make accurate evaluations on cause and effect. This enables us to weed out the outliers, to see the long term trends and therefore understand the cause and effect of one event in context of the whole picture.

Engineering Snobs Lynnette Reese
I try not to be a snob. Early on in my engineering career, I was taken down a peg or two after graduation. I had this shiny new degree I was ready to try out, but engineering is a lot more than academic knowledge. After a few months of working, I realized that there was a large amount that I did not know. All the subjects I took were preparing me to be an engineer. But you cannot discount the learning associated with doing.

Samsung’s 60-GHz Wi-Fi Announcement Deciphered Barry Manz
Perhaps, lost amid the recent uproar about new smartphones and phablets for the holidays, was Samsung’s announcement that it has revolutionized Wi-Fi by operating at 60 GHz. That and the enhancements Samsung says it has made allow performance using the IEEE 802.11ad protocol to deliver massive speed increases over existing Wi-Fi –transferring a 1-Gbyte file in less than 3 seconds. This obviously sounds like a Samsung-only accomplishment, and in some ways, it is. But it helps to get the whole picture.

Is it High Time for High Resolution? David Whittle
Recently I attended the 137th Audio Engineering Society (AES) Convention in Los Angeles. If you aren’t familiar with the AES Convention it’s a small event that hosts a pro audio trade show along with a wide range of technical sessions for design engineers developing new audio products. This year the AES technical programs featured a product design track that covered networked audio, analog-to-digital (A/D) and Digital-to-Analog (D/A) design for high-resolution audio (HRA). Some of the best producers, recording engineers, and audio hardware designers in the world attend to participate in workshops and make themselves available for questions. If you’re designing products that include audio and have never attended the convention you might want to consider looking into next year’s convention.

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?

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