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Happy New Year! We hope 2012 will be a great year for The Amp Hour and all of our listeners!
- We have a new theme by Paul Stevenson! We love it!
- Chris has a ham exam scheduled for next Sunday!
- Dave has been chasing a hum at his new studios, he took a spectrum snapshot of it.
- Chris has been preventing noise with his new “studio enhancement”
- Acoustics is a whole field of its own, but is often coupled to electronics. The AES is actually the Audio Engineering Society, not the Acoustical as Chris thought.
- Randall Munroe wows us again with his cartoon about mnemonics to remember science terms, including crazy ones for SI prefixes and resistor color codes.
- A music/tech enthusiast made his old computer gear sing:
- Devin linked to us and put up a section to discuss The Amp Hour on the newly created OpSoFo, a place to talk about OSHW.
- Chris was contacted about a cool sounding job for testing analog chips. Do people want us to post jobs? No recruiters, of course.
- More on the discussion about engineering education, including a discussion on the EEVblog forums started by “Pete in Texas”.
- Chris thinks we should have remedial tinkering classes in colleges for more academically minded students (Chris would have needed these classes).
- The open source ecology project is looking for help designing their Universal Power Supply. If interested, please fill out the form at the end of this post. If you’ve never seen it, check out the TED video below.
- Once your 50 top machines are done, why not try making a DIY 1GHz scope probe? Could save you LOTS of money.
- Printing transistors could be a step closer with graphene suspended in polymer. Researchers at the University of Cambridge printed using a commercial printer.
- If that’s not quite your level, you can already print resist directly onto FR4 for making PCBs. There is a message board dedicated to doing this.
- A new site talks about the downfalls of having 90 degree turns on your PCB. We’ll verify with our guest next week, Dr. Howard Johnson.
- This Week in Nerd History:
- In 1813 in York England, many Luddites were convicted of destroying equipment in a factory; they believed it was responsible for job loss. 17 were put to death (yikes!) because it was a capital crime back then (Chris wasn’t laughing at people dying, but the ridiculousness of the situation). Many others were sent off to the English prison island…now known as Australia. Will we see similar rebellion against robots and the taking of jobs in the future? Will there be next generation Luddites?
- The EU is considering instituting engineering passport cards, so people can practice engineering in multiple countries. Do you think certifying engineers is a good idea?
- The electronics industry is set to grow 2.2% in 2012, according to Gartner. Hopefully these “noisy” predictions aren’t being used to cut jobs!
Looking forward to a great year! Please leave us some feedback in the comments section below!
And if people want to hear about more information regarding Open Source Ecology, we had a chat with one of their representatives on ZombieTech: http://www.zombietech.tv/2011/12/01/zombie-tech-episode-016-nikolay-georgiev/
Chris Gammell says
Ah, very nice! I’ll have to give that one a listen. Thanks Addie!
What message board in particular were you referring to with regards to the epson printers?
This solution seems nice, not sure if it’s the best one out there?
Alexis Shaw says
Hey, I just wanted to say that as an engineering student at UNSW and wanted to say about some ee students they could not care less. I do want to say the fact is I learn more in the electrical engineering clubs here “Bluesat” than in class. Such a good experience, but there is a lot of pressure. That gives you really good experience.
The mentioned “plate diodes” Dave referred to were usually made from selenium. they had about 20 V max voltage per plate so they used to stack up plates for higher values and often had a 5 pin configuration. Another plate was the copper-oxide diode, that was used in test equipment because they had better characteristics. Find out more at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selenium_rectifier
The old style rectifier that Dave mentioned was probably a selenium rectifier. Let the smoke out of one when I was a kid, not pleasant, cleared the room!
For something really impressive use a mercury arc rectifier.
Finally, Chris how could you!! If throwing tea into the harbour wasn’t crime enough, you damn Americans had the audacity to dress up as Red Indians to try to blame it on a minority!! Didn’t work though, we British saw through the scam! 🙂
Adam Ward says
I feel a little sad that the old theme tune is no more. However the new tune is really awesome, I love the 8-bit retro feel to it.
Regarding the Luddite death penalties… if someone broke into my lab and smashed up my soldering iron and my trusty old analog scope, I’d have them swing for it!
Although I suspect that in wartime, the courts look unfavourably upon industrial sabotage and regard it as basically treason, so the death penalty is not really surprising as the USA was involved in several conflicts at the time (how times change eh?).
Chiptunes explained, detailed, etc.
Adam Ward says
Great video, worth a watch!
About the engineering card, i liked the old dutch system better. Before we switched to the bachelor master system engineers had their own titles: Ing. for what is now bachelor and Ir. for masters. While partly it’s just a load of wank, back in the day it did carry some weight. Plus i think it’s cool being addressed as ing. JCG instead of mr. JCG, i mean if doctors get it, why not engineers.
The engineerING card, how it is called, is kind of a bureaucratic response to an only partly existing problem, that is blown out of proportion.
Already today I can roam freely as an engineer in the EU member states, and can use my national engineer title on document, job applications, business cards and whatnot when conducting business in a EU member state. This wasn’t always the case. Previously using a foreign engineer title could be regarded as an unauthorized usage of the title. But that was fixed to a large extend some time ago. There is a rather long and convoluted EU directive mapping all the different professions, including the different regulated engineering professions in the EU.
It is simply up to the hiring company if they want to hire someone with a foreign engineer title or not. An no one is preventing them to hire whomever they want.
The exception, of course, is what was already mentioned in the show. When the job requires additional qualifications, e.g. the right to stamp plans. But the EU directive is lenient here. If one country requires a four year degree for a job, they in principle need to accept foreign title holders with a qualification one level below, i.e. a three year degree. They are allowed to ask for additional prove of qualifications then, but not arbitrary, it must be by law.
And this is where this engineerING card is supposed to come into play. It should indicate, linked to a database, what kind of degree and what additional qualifications one has. So engineers should put that information in the database. Of course an applicant could also directly provide that information to an potential employer.
The alleged advantage of the card is that it should simplify and speed up the application process. Well, whatever.
60Hz Universal Power Supply???
Being a regular listener from York (UK)….well between contracts, I seem to remember some parts of the universe use 50Hz.
Come on USA, there were ten commandments on two tablets, Metric and Binary, not two half tablets each containing 5/10ths of gods law. What are you going to do when the rest of the world goes Metric time?
The copper oxide diode is funny, in that it is something you can make at home, and it is a common enough item that it is a problem in older equipment where you get non linear joints after time as they form. That is a major reason why parts are plated in nickel or gold.
The good thing about the old selenium rectifiers was the high slope resistance, in that it increased conduction angle and reduced ripple current. If you just replaced the selenium with a silicon diode you could blow up parts like transformers or capacitors from the increased currents. I still have one in an old ( 50 plus years old) battery charger, still working well after all this time to charge lead acid batteries.
As to the universal power supply, best would be to operate at the low 10’s of kilohertz, to enable you to use cheap rugged bipolars with a large SOA, iron tape magnetics or slow ferrites and slowish rectifiers along with large capacitors on input and output, along with LC filtering. Will be large, but allows you to use just about any salvaged semiconductors as parts, and the new parts will be mostly cheap and large production items, along with not needing exotic material in construction. Just silicon iron strip, thick copper wire, aluminium foil capacitors and low cost ferrites to go with old well known bipolars. Drive can be with the multitude of generic controllers, with low cost.
Pete in Texas needs to do his homework and read John Taylor Gatto.
Gatto was teacher of the year NY city, the next year teacher of the year NY city and NY state and in that year he took out an add in the NY times that he was retiring as a teacher because he was not willing to harm children any longer.
Never heard of the man but a quick wiki search on John Taylor Gatto leaves the distinct impression of a right-wing, agenda driven zealot; the same ideology that has brought us the “no child left behind” torment and the notion that somehow private education (charter/parochial/home schooling) is the panacea for all that ills the public education system.
He has good points I’m sure as any passionate activist would. But I would not say he holds all the answers.
There is a new (beta) Video editing tool. EditShare’s LightWorks.
Never tested it though (waiting for GNU/Linux version).
Chris Atkins says
What was the link to the xkcd you guys mentioned?
Money – http://bit.ly/yhYt0b
Radiation – http://bit.ly/sCsF6l
Mnemonics – http://bit.ly/AmvMjK
Dave Jones says
Here is the Money one:
Charles J Gervasi says
That A/C noise looks like the nearly Gaussian sound of the letter “s” in English.
I still can’t believe Chris studied for the ham exam. With some guessing, he would have scored > 70%; it’s multiple choice.
Regarding mnemonics, the one woman in the lab I TA’ed was kind enough to tell everyone the real mnemonic for the resistor color codes. Most people knew it, but no one else would say it aloud.
Regarding certifying engineers, I think it should be like the CPA license. The perception is it’s hard enough to become a CPA that people want to hire CPAs even for projects that do not legally require it.
Regarding tinkering class, I could have used it. Instead I had a kind boss teach me. Another thing I could have used is sort of the opposite of the “design a 10dB amp w/ 1 BJT” problem: It’s looking for a part that does some of what you need to do instead of inventing an ingenious one-transistor solution. You definitely need to know how, but most of my projects involve using highly-integrated off-the-shelf parts and making them work reliably in a particular app.
I am eager to hear Howard Johnson on the show if he can make it.
Sorry that new theme music goes on for too long. I listen to the amp hour for content, not chip tune nostalgia
Chris Gammell says
We had a similar criticism and may cut it down a bit more if possible. I already cut it down considerably from the original (>45 seconds), which Paul did so we could take our favorite part.
Also, glad you listen for the content! 😉
Adam Ward says
Surely the length of the tune just makes the show longer, it doesn’t reduce the electronics content. 🙂
László Monda says
You’ve gotta listen to http://hackaday.com/2012/01/02/the-gatari-2600-musical-instrument/ too. The ultimate chiptune that I’ve heard lately!
Thanks again for the shout out last night Chris and Dave, I really appreciated that.
Yeah good tune but it just needs to be an ident jingle. York is less than half an hour from here. It is a bit (well a lot) touristy, but nevertheless a beautiful city. Whitby (home of Captain cook and Endeavour) isn’t far away. The whole EU “approved engineer” thing sounds a typical Euro nightmare, yet another way of screwing up careers and innovation whilst at the same time generating money for marketers, administrators and lawyers.
I fondly remember a high-school teacher sharing:
“Ben Brown Roots Only Young Girls Because Virgins Grunt Well”
Heard once, remembered for 20+ years – crude, but effective.
The 3d printing material commercialization you were talking about is already happening. School where I worked bought 3d printer from Z-corporation. All the printing materials are only from one reseller and the reseller prices the materials as he wants. Once the printer couldn’t work for 4 months because we didn’t have the material. Also the material is 10 times pricier for us than for some other schools.
Hah! Some dude in administration thought it was wise to make a deal with a preferred contractor – probably for the next 5 years. That happens again and again… And you’re probably not allowed to get supplies from somewhere else, even if massively cheaper. Been there, done that.
Along the same lines as one of the comments above, I find that many of my fellow EE students just don’t care. There are a some of us that seem to really embrace the topic and the opportunity to learn, but there are some students that are only there to get a degree and (hopefully) make money.
So far, the majority of my education has been self-initiated (lots of thoughts on education on my blog … shameless plug). I have been assembling silly circuit kits and reading lots of material and that’s been invaluable.
László Monda says
I’m just listening the show and DON’T LIKE your crazy obscure words! This sh*t is overly challenging and impossible to remember…
Other than that, I love ya guys. 😉
A big thanks to Dr. Johnson. “Back in the day” Nortel sent us on his “Black Magic Course” hosted at Oxford Uni. Boy were my eyes opened. Though I’ve lost the book (in hindsight I should have had it autographed) his instruction and insight has stayed with me ever since. If your dept has the budget, his courses are, as someone calls the “Ducks’ Guts”…”http://www.aussievault.com.au/aussie-dictionary”
Our team was proofing an ASIC prototype for a cable modem with 10MHz and 20MHz clocks that connected to 9 Xilinx 4000 series FPGAs. The big kicker was that one clock trace ran clockwise and the other anti-clockwise around the PCB. So some FPGAs clocked on different cycles. Bummer!!!.
check this (: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GarBZhZnFQs
That part about needing to supplement what is taught in class with other things really strikes a chord with me. I really find it to be the case that classes doesn’t teach things beyond theory very well.
One thing I’m a fan of at my university, is that one alumni is running an extracurricular embedded systems course:
I do find that independent study on my own time does the most for me, but organized extracurricular things are good too.
Rob Whitfield says
Listening in Ripon here, about 45 mins drive from York.
It’s a nice place to go visit but a bit too full of tourists for me to want to live there.
In IT capital ‘K’ is used as shorthand for KiB (x 1024)
I work in an auditory physiology lab. Blocking sound is a continuing issue. If you want to replace that blanket with something more suited they make special acoustic foam that is just for blocking sound. Unlike regular acoustic foam it adds a layer of mylar for reflecting sound and a layer of vinyl. The vinyl is just too add heavy limp mass. The issue with this stuff is the smell. I think it is the vinyl outgassing but it will take about 2 or 3 weeks to fully outgas.
For info on my common house hold materials check this out.
The BBC Radiophonic Workshop did some really great publications in their day. Along with creating the theme to Doctor Who.
I had a lightning surge blow out the traces at the sharp corners of my DC to AC inverter. I guess they would have melted somewhere else if none where sharp.