Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSS
This week on the show we covered everything from energy to electronics. Some of the links go to the associated pages on The Discussion Server, but any page that has a link to an external site can be accessed at the title link at the top of that page.
- Australia just enacted their carbon tax.
- Holden (sister company of Chevy) is releasing the Volt in Australia.
- MIT professor, Donald Sadoway has invented the “liquid metal” battery using salts and technology and thinking from aluminium smelters
- A recent article from The Economist talks about pulp/paper byproduct being turned into cathodes.
- Google announced and showed off their Project Glass (a set of Heads Up Display glasses). The scale of technology made Chris nervous.
- ASDF asked on our Suggestions page whether a project run without a large managerial deadline can be shipped on time.
- Analog Devices is partnering with TSMC to utilize their new process. What is an analog company that doesn’t control their process though?
- Renesas could be taken over by KKR, the same company that tore NXP apart.
- SPECIAL OFFER! CircuitCellar and Elektor are offering discount magazine subscriptions for listeners of The Amp Hour in celebration of CC’s 25th anniversary!
- Dave wanted a custom case but really wanted to know the price up front. He found PolyCase (of Avon, OH!) who gave him ballpark pricing.
- Chris wants the same kind of ballpark pricing to happen for electronics distributors.
- BlackMagic Design released a new high end video camera.
- On the Discuss Server, Tim asked about who has used XMOS in projects before (and if you have, we’d still love to hear from you on the Discuss Forum). Software Defined Silicon seems like an interesting idea but we’re not sure about price/features.
- Listener of the show, Mike Kershaw is working on a new OSHW ZigBee based hw/sw project called the KisBee that should allow protocol analyzing and having other things built on top of it. Looks great!
- The Retro Computing Roundtable Podcast is a new (to us at least) podcast about old school computers.
- Though we’ve probably mentioned it once before, if you’ve never seen the Visual 6502, it’s pretty cool!
- Chip Of The Week:
- The BQ25504 is a late comer to the “green” market (didn’t we abandon the planet in 2009?) but this part is pretty cool for doing single cell energy harvesting. It has an input impedance matching network and only takes 330 nA when it’s off. Plus it’s got a ridiculously low cold start voltage (330 mV) and once started it can run on 80 mV and charge a battery or super cap. Crazy crazy. More discussion about it here.
- There is a company called “Mean Well” that has been around since 1982. What is the funniest electronics company name you’ve ever heard of?
Next week on the show, we’ll have Philip Freidin of Fliptronics. He was an architect of the RISC (AM29000) and Bit-Slice (AM2900/29300) products at AMD and FPGAs at Xilinx (XC4000, Virtex, Virtex2, Virtex4, Spartan).
Stephen Hill says
The Elektor magazine offer appears to be USA and Canada only 🙁
Chris Gammell says
Gah, really? I’ll double check on that and inquire why.
Stephen Hill says
This would be good if you could look into it although I suspect us in the UK/Europe won’t get the discount.
The current price (for a physical copy) in the UK is 54 GBP (84 USD) per year.
Chris Gammell says
Sent an email. I fear the same, because it’s likely a different distribution wing of the company. I would at least hope they’d get the discounted price for the digital version! Maybe I should let everyone use my address in the states? Imagine the junk mail!
Hydrogen, Helium etc might be abundant elements in the cosmos but not accessible to earthlings. Thats why Helium is so expensive and we don’t use Hydrogen cells (we have to produce it by burning oil).
Will Hsiung says
Thanks for the discount on Circuit Cellar, just entered my subscription. Had wanted to subscribe earlier this year but the price is steep for a monthly magazine.
Oddly enough, I just placed a (personal) order from PolyCase.
Really easy to work with, prices are right there, and they ship fast with no extra email junk.
The project, fyi, is in a wall wart enclosure, and they have a bunch of options. The projects job is to keep window fans from turning on if it is hotter outside than in. Easy peasy, hardest part was getting the power supply cheap and isolated since there is a thermistor that plugs into the box for outside temp sensing. Fixes something I have often been annoyed by about window fans.
Nice show! I did love BlackMagic’s camera.
I agree with you regarding outsourcing manufacturing for analog parts. Analog designers always talk about the “black magic” that is involved when trimming the manufacturing process of highly specialized analog parts…
Sad news about Renesas… They are huge players on the market, but I wonder if their strength is too concentrated in the auto industry, which may have been suffering a bit more with the recent economy downturns.
The BQ prefix was used by the Benchmarq product line (part of Unitrode, acquired by TI ages ago). It is currently used to denominate parts that are correlated to their old product line (battery / cell management).
Chris Gammell says
Ah, thanks! I was wondering about that, I had never seen that particular prefix before (the BQ). With a conglomerate like TI, it’s tough to remember which products came from where outside of the part number/name prefixes (LM, INA, OPA, BQ, etc)
Yep, that is hard to track… The other ones I know are UC/UCC (Unitrode), PT (PowerTrends, part of Unitrode), INA/OPA/BUF/PGA/ISO/ADS/XTR/DIR (BurrBrown), CC (Chipcon), LM*.* (some TI and now zillions from NSC), TL/TLV/TSC/T*.* (all TI)…
Well, I guess that after 10+ years since some of these acquisitions took place, we can consider that any new design is definitely 100% TI… 🙂
Ah, so BQ is short for for Benchmarq! I had always assumed it was B as in battery and Q as in the symbol for charge.
Jelle Haandrikman says
About analog companies using smaller fab processes.
I listened to a talk from Marcel Pelgrom from NXP last year about the challenges for the future. They we’re working on a AD-converter for software defined television reception. The ADC goes from 1 MHz. to 1 GHz. at 14 bits. The only way to do this, is to create a direct conversion AD-converter
The biggest challenge for this kind of IC’s remains the repeatability. Every comparator for the AD converter needs to remain identical to the next one. All 2^14 ones. Otherwise your non-linearity across the voltage domain or in time domain becomes too large. So every comparator needs to have the same dimensions as the other one.
The cells themselves aren’t that small as 180 nm. The traces still remain up to micrometers wide. But the resolution at which you etch them, to get them all the same has to go to 180 or even 90 nm.
Also with the software defined television, you go to the digital domain just after your input ADC. Which off course benefits from the higher resolution of 180 nm.
Chris Gammell says
Yes, the mixed media type of stuff is a difficult problem. You either trade off at the process level or at the packaging level by tying two die together. The point about the actual feature size is another good one: the stated size is the smallest feature on the chip, often the gate width of a single transistor.
Just for your information von the “Carbon Tax/Fee” topic.
GERMANY has a Carbon Tax for ages already. I’m not sure how many years now, but I even think – and can imagine – it was the first country to introduce it.
Energy costs have increased since the carbon tax was implemented. But mainly for other reasons. Especially since Fukushima and Germany’s decision to quite all nuclear power plants till 2020 and having already shut down a couple or so, which has deeply affected Germanies Energy supply capabilities.
The surge in renewable energy sources is incredible. If plans work out the way they should – which they never -, but even IF with a 10 year delay, Germany will be very energy independant from fossile fules in 30-40 years time with the hardliner ecological laws at the moment.
Welcome Australia to the Club of sensible nations.
Louis Guiot says
Oxygen is third most abundant element in the universe and then carbon and these are formed mostly within stars.