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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


A Conversation on High Operating Voltages Kelly Casey
Like most professions, engineering has developed a language of its own. This is needed to convey very specific and precise information. Fuse design engineers, for instance, make a very clear distinction between an overload condition and a short-circuit condition. (Overloads are in the range of ~200% of the fuse's rating while short-circuits are 10X or more.)

Fits like a….wearable! David Whittle
The wearable market is generating a lot of interest at the moment. Recent announcements by Apple, and earlier announcements from Intel and others have generated numerous articles in the major publications dedicated to the tech and retail electronics markets. So what about audio wearables?

Last Call for Magnetron-Powered Microwave Ovens? Barry Manz
When in 1945 Raytheon’s engineer Percy Spencer accidently discovered the potential of RF energy for heating food (or in Spencer’s case, for melting a chocolate bar in his pocket), the device generating that energy was a magnetron. Sixty years later, this venerable “vacuum electron device” is still powering everyone’s microwave ovens, making it the only consumer product still using a vacuum tube rather than a semiconductor for any purpose. However, this last bastion of vacuum tubes in consumer electronics may soon be relegated to history now that RF power transistors have achieved the required RF output power, efficiency, and ruggedness required to replace them.

Irrational Thinking Flies in the Face of Logic Caroline Storm Westenhover
Flying home from my internship in Washington D.C., I began to think about airplane crashes and what it would be like to be in a plane crash. I wondered what I would do if I got in a crash not far from D.C. and survived. The logical me would go to the nearest city and take a plane from there. It would be safer. My emotions, however, would make it difficult to get back on a plane. This goes to the core of human irrational thinking. We often are terrible at looking at the data and behaving logically, whether this be risk assessment or behavioral response. This is where big data comes into play. Big data allows us to gather enough data on specific tasks to make accurate evaluations on cause and effect. This enables us to weed out the outliers, to see the long term trends and therefore understand the cause and effect of one event in context of the whole picture.

Engineering Snobs Lynnette Reese
I try not to be a snob. Early on in my engineering career, I was taken down a peg or two after graduation. I had this shiny new degree I was ready to try out, but engineering is a lot more than academic knowledge. After a few months of working, I realized that there was a large amount that I did not know. All the subjects I took were preparing me to be an engineer. But you cannot discount the learning associated with doing.

Samsung’s 60-GHz Wi-Fi Announcement Deciphered Barry Manz
Perhaps, lost amid the recent uproar about new smartphones and phablets for the holidays, was Samsung’s announcement that it has revolutionized Wi-Fi by operating at 60 GHz. That and the enhancements Samsung says it has made allow performance using the IEEE 802.11ad protocol to deliver massive speed increases over existing Wi-Fi –transferring a 1-Gbyte file in less than 3 seconds. This obviously sounds like a Samsung-only accomplishment, and in some ways, it is. But it helps to get the whole picture.

Is it High Time for High Resolution? David Whittle
Recently I attended the 137th Audio Engineering Society (AES) Convention in Los Angeles. If you aren’t familiar with the AES Convention it’s a small event that hosts a pro audio trade show along with a wide range of technical sessions for design engineers developing new audio products. This year the AES technical programs featured a product design track that covered networked audio, analog-to-digital (A/D) and Digital-to-Analog (D/A) design for high-resolution audio (HRA). Some of the best producers, recording engineers, and audio hardware designers in the world attend to participate in workshops and make themselves available for questions. If you’re designing products that include audio and have never attended the convention you might want to consider looking into next year’s convention.

How to Think Creatively About Your Next Design Justin Risedorf
From sliced bread to rocket ships, people have shown their creative nature throughout history by designing new things. Not surprisingly, many of the greatest designs came about as the answer to a problem. Gravity got you down? The Wright brothers have a solution. Computers too big? Kilby and Noyce introduce the world to microchips (and Silicon Valley in the process). Want to do more with a peanut? George Washington Carver has around three hundred good ideas. But these guys are the stuff of legends. Do ordinary folk like you and I have the ability to think creatively too?

AS6496 Anti-Counterfeit Control Plan Posted Chuck Amsden
The AS6496 standard was published in August and Mouser now has an Anti-Counterfeit Control Plan written specifically to that standard.

Seeing The Light: A Circuit For Interfacing With Ambient Light Sensors Mike Parks
We built a smart mailbox, as related in an article, that had an ambient light sensor to detect when the mailbox door was opened. In that project we used a Vishay ambient light sensor (Mouser Part #782-TEPT4400) that acts very much like an NPN transistor, in fact the part is also referred to as a phototransistor. The difference being (when compared to a normal bipolar junction transistor) that instead of needing a base lead to setup the bias voltage, photons provide energy at the base-collector junction to turn the transistor on, thus allowing current flow from collector-to-emitter.

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