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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk

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


Michael Parks, P.E. is the co-founder of Green Shoe Garage, a custom electronics design studio and embedded security research firm located in Western Maryland. He produces the Gears of Resistance Podcast to help raise public awareness of technical and scientific matters. Michael is also a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Maryland and holds a Master’s degree in systems engineering from Johns Hopkins University.


See It Before Your Build It: A Look at 3D Visualization Mike Parks
Before a single piece of steel is forged or a circuit board is sent to the fab, engineers rely heavily on 3D models to understand their designs in virtual reality before committing vast sums of money and time in actually building them. But now you don’t have to be a multi-million-dollar design firm to take advantage of this technology. The cost of virtual reality and augmented reality is plummeting as competition in the market heats up in 2016. This means that just about anyone, including fledgling startups and makers, can get take advantage of 3D visualization.

Tips for Building Environmental Monitoring Technology Mike Parks
Some of the most challenging yet immensely satisfying embedded projects to work on involve observing environmental conditions. From a personal perspective, environmental monitoring projects are a chance to do something good for mankind. Whether tracking the air quality in a building or measuring the contaminants in a far off lake, embedded systems built to monitor the environment can really benefit our world.

Electronics’ Wizardry: An Arduino Compatible Human-Machine Interface To Win Friends And Impress People Mike Parks
Makers and engineers now have a ridiculously easy way to add a high quality touchscreen display to the Arduino UNO without a lot of fuss. It’s called the CleO35 and seems ideal for projects that need a simple yet elegant Human-Machine Interface (HMI). That’s nerd speak for the barrier between the human user and the digital device. The CleO35 was first introduced on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding site, by FTDI Chip.

Starting out: Essential Electronics Tools, Part II: Oscilloscopes, Function Generators and Logic Analyzers Mike Parks
In the previous blog about essential tools for electronics, I mentioned some of the more basic items. As you do more advanced electronics, and sometimes to better understand the basics, you would do well to have the following tools. They are not really needed for building basic circuits and playing around with Arduino projects and the like, but as you start to expand into more complex technologies, you will find these tools extremely helpful...

Walking Ham Chapter 2: To Catch A Zombie Mike Parks
A few weeks ago I was able to talk with a guy in Mansfield, Texas, using Morse code. I nearly broke out in tears to be able to talk with another human being. He’s holed up in the Mouser warehouse, an ex-IT employee who has a little electronics experience but managed to hack together a Morse code set up. Turns out Boy Scouts really are prepared for everything. It took a while but over the course of a few days Tony was able to help me locate a shipment of electronics that had been shipped from Mouser to a home nearby, so I thought I would check it out.

Starting out: Essential Electronics Tools, Part I Mike Parks
The rise of Open Source Hardware (OSHW) has made it easier than ever to tinker with electronics. But even in a world where open source development (dev) platforms are making it appreciably easier to get started, tools are still a must for doing any serious circuit building and testing. Investing in good tools early in your maker career can make all the difference as to whether or not you stick with electronics as a hobby (or even profession), or give up in frustration when a circuit doesn’t quite work the way you intended.

Timing is Everything:  A Look at Oscillators, Clocks, Buffers and Redrivers Mike Parks
In the space it takes us to blink an eye (300 to 400 milliseconds is the average) a modern embedded core can perform millions of operations. It’s almost unfathomable for us to perceive such tiny fractions of time, especially since the evolution of timekeeping began with sundials and water clocks, with the first (fairly) accurate clock arriving in 1656. Modern digital technology operates very comfortably at these breakneck speeds because of decades of advancements in timing technologies such as crystal oscillators and clock generators.

Powered by the Intel Edison Mike Parks
A long time ago (January 2014) at a Consumer Electronics Show far, far away (unless you live in Las Vegas), Intel unveiled their Edison “computer-on-module” development board aimed at wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. A mashup of an Arduino and Raspberry Pi, with a dash of WiFi, Bluetooth, and a 4GB of flash memory compressed into a package just a little larger than an SD card, the Edison has proven to be a formidable embedded platform. In the months since the world got their hands on the Edison boards, a lot of amazing projects have emerged. We’ll take a look at four Edison-based creations that have captured our imaginations.

Walking Ham: A Day in the Life of a “Walking Dead” Amateur Radio Operator Mike Parks
“CQ CQ CQ. This is November One Hotel November Papa. Anyone got their ears on?” I ask the ether. Still, nothing but static. It’s been like this for months now. My stomach is grumbling but my desire to find someone, anyone, is too strong to breakaway from my radio. Not to mention the fact that those roaming monsters scare the heck out of me. Leaving the relatively safe confines of my ham shack is decidedly unappealing except for the annoying little fact that my food supplies are running low. Very low.

Medical Wearables: A Product Designer Perspective, Part II Mike Parks
The story of medical wearables is no different than the story of technology in general. Exponential growth in capability commensurate with the shrinking of size and cost of products is simply converging to a point that the costs of fielding preventative measures like wearables is a solid alternative to just waiting until something inside of us breaks and we are rushed to the emergency room. While medical wearables do offer great promise in helping us become more proactive in our healthcare, they are primarily data collection devices that may perform some rather simple data analysis. They will have to tie into a larger medical ecosystem that has yet to fully materialize.

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