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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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


A Tale of Two Automation Strategies Mike Parks
Much has been written about the trials and tribulations associated with the adoption of home automation technologies. The lack of mass consumer appeal is often attributed to high costs and lack of a simple, universal protocol. For the technically savvy, the idea of giving in to “vendor lock” by adopting a single company's product line has been too much to bear. However, for more affluent consumers this idea is not a problem as most of the time they rely on 3rd party installers to install and maintain their systems. This has left the DIY crowd to resort to more “hackable,” although way more complicated solutions, such as X10 products. In the end we have grown an ecosystem unsuitable for mass adoption. The niche market of affluent consumers is just lucrative enough for companies to continue to peddle proprietary solutions. The equally niche Maker- and DIY-market has been strong enough to attract those with the skills to homebrew a custom solution. Neither are good enough for the mass market.

Watch the Feedback: An Introduction to Operational Amplifiers Mike Parks
Operational amplifiers (op amps for short) are one of the workhorse components of circuit design. They can be used in wonderfully simple but also incredibly complex ways, including audio pre-amplifiers, small signal sensor amplification, filters, and digital-to-analog converters (DAC) to name a few. Notice that these are all analog signal examples, not digital signals (i.e., not a stream of 0s and 1s.) analog signals are real-world, continuous signals that have, theoretically an infinite resolution.

Tesla PowerWall: A Backdoor for the Mass Adoption of Home Automation? Mike Parks
On April 30, 2015, Elon Musk announced to the world the Tesla PowerWall. In its first week alone, Tesla brought in $800 million dollars for their new PowerWall. Powerwall is a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery pack that will store energy for when you need it, or to use as a backup power supply during an outage. Unlike a generator, it doesn’t require fuel and creates no noise. What’s interesting is that the backlog of customer orders is already winding itself well into the second half of 2016. This is a sign that demonstrates there is a market demand for rethinking how we power our homes both from the perspective of lead-shifting and backup power. With a little speculation, it is also a product that just might serve as a backdoor to the mass adoption of smarter, more automated homes.

From Roomba to Rosie: Getting Closer To the Chore-Free Home of the Future Justin Risedorf
Current household robots are largely one trick ponies. Sure it’s nice to have a dog bowl on wheels quietly move around the room, sucking up whatever the kids brought in on their shoes, but what else can it do? The market is flooded with robots that can vacuum the carpet, mow the lawn or remember to water your plants. Recently, I came across a robot to change your cat litter which would be useless… unless you made the mistake of owning a cat in the first place. Relax… I’m kidding! But I know what you’re thinking, “How long until I get to turn on a humanoid protocol droid that can handle complex tasks, speak my language, and help out around the ole’ moisture farm?” The good news is, sooner than you thought.

Home Automation – In the Beginning and Beyond! Rudy Ramos
Home automation has come a long way since The Clapper was first introduced back in 1986. Today you can find a plethora of home automation products to augment all of the creature comforts already found in most American homes.

From Rosie to JARVIS Grant Imahara
When I was a kid, I used to watch a cartoon called “The Jetsons”, which was set in a future where flying cars fold up into suitcases, a dinner table automatically clears away the dishes (by smashing them and sweeping them up), and sassy robotic maids do all the housework. Although I’m still waiting for my flying car, some of today’s automation technologies are a lot closer to the future world of The Jetsons than you might think.

"The Chip" David Fambrough
Since the beginning of time, man has looked up to the stars and wondered…how can we get there? We did get there, in the summer of 1969 when astronaut Neil Armstrong made one giant leap for mankind. NONE of this would have been possible without the development of both fast and small electronic components that now form the backbone of information and processing technology.

Weird RF Part 3: Communication with Submerged Subs Barry Manz
There is no shortage of stories about bizarre Department of Defense programs, but this one is surely in the top tier. Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) signal propagation (we’re talking 3 to 30Hz) allows signals to pass through the earth and throughout the oceans to depths of several hundred feet, allowing a system at a single location to communicate nearly anywhere on the planet. This made it rather appealing for communicating with submerged submarines and might be able to function in the event of a nuclear strike. The idea was championed not just by the U.S., but by the Soviet Union and India as well. Signals degrade rapidly in the ocean, so when a submarine is submerged, it is less likely to receive communication. The purpose of Elf was to reach deeply submerged subs sufficiently to let them know to surface to receive communications through normal (and better) radio communications.

Lexus Builds Hoverboard Because Hoverboard Erik Smith
People seem to just want to keep toying with my hoverboard-yearning heart. After Funny or Die's almost convincing, but ultimate hoax, and Hendo Hover's exorbitantly priced Kickstarter campaign, Lexus is now in on the hover-game. Earlier today, the luxury car manufacturer released a teaser video, claiming to have created a "real, rideable hoverboard."

5 Tips for Getting Started In Electronics Mike Parks
Electronics is an amazing profession and hobby. The notion that one can harness the forces of nature and bend them to one’s whim is immensely satisfying. With the resurgence of the DIY spirit and the evolution of the Maker Movement, getting started in electronics has never been easier. Embedded open source platforms such as Arduino and BeagleBone provide a fantastic jumping in point for learning electronics and software. I could only have dreamt of the resources we have today when I was first starting out. With that in mind, here are my five tips for getting started in electronics based on what I’ve learned over the last 20 years.

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