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January 12th, 2009 - Sarah's Blog [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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January 12th, 2009

Gadgets of world domination at Xatrox towers. [Jan. 12th, 2009|11:37 pm]
Sarah
After a week of sweat and tears clearing away Cherry Bakewell boxes and other old detritus, our little electronics lab is complete!

On the main desk is my first complete electronics project in years - it toggles two LED's depending on the ambient light level. =)


I've used a technique I call FED. It's like "Rapid Application Development", but involves circuits, therefore I've named it "Fast Electronics Development". The main technique is to throw components down, and use as many variable versions as possible. That way the circuit can be tuned afterwards, without any time consuming maths! (Please don't take this seriously! =) )
In this piccy, you can see a close up of the circuit, and the numerous pots used to tune it.
I'm sure I've gone very wrong.
I wonder if there's a way of making the LED's switch faster rather than fade in and out. I know it's to do with the ratio's of the LDR and pot - but I don't know if it's possible to do using the existing LDR.


Sunday evening was spent frantically fixing two computers. Jodi's mobo had died, and my company laptop was incredibly slow - when it was swapping windows - you could see the titlebar and borders being drawn!, yet when I got it home there was no problem with it. Today I discovered it was caused by SQL Server 2000 running on it. I've disabled it, and had no further problems. =)


I've also been scraping together a new computer from Jodi's hand-me-downs, and this Yule Jodi bought me the last bit - the case! I don't have a huge reason for upgrading my hardware, but I'm finding the newer programs out are starting to demand too much of my processor. So it'll have to happen eventually.
This was the same computer that wouldn't boot last week after I left it formatting the second partition on my system hard disk. It turns out that it was the SATA cable coming loose. I've had some good tips on fixing it since then.
This week I'm going to move the bits inside the white case into the black case, and hopefully it will still work. I might take the tree down too.


Finally, check these all-in-one MCU's ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcontroller ) and programmer out! They're tiny, and come with a USB programmer! It only cost £14 too, and 3 extra surface mount MCU's cost £10.
They're like little computers on a chip - they have a processor, memory, and some input and output wires to connect them to lights and sensors, and things like that. You can connect them to motors and make robots, or control LCD panels, or monitor temperatures - geeky stuff. =)
The USB stick is to program them from the PC. Pepsi can for scale. =)



I managed to get a bit carried away and blow two LED's seconds apart. Jodi is now demanding to see the circuits whenever I'm about to plug in anything expensive. Ooops!
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