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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


LED Technology and Art - A Greek Geek Perspective Paul Golata
I can’t draw! I can’t paint! I can’t make anything with clay besides a sorry looking snake and I made one sorry looking ash tray in my elementary school days. I have always wanted the gift of being able to produce art. I am in no way an artist! I saw this picture on the internet as one of the “photos” of the day and it grabbed my attention. This artist is using LED technology in his art in an interesting way.

The “Death of the Downconverter”? Not Just Yet Barry Manz
The impact of converting analog signals to digital form is one of the greatest advances the electronics industry has ever achieved. Although today almost every consumer, industrial, commercial, and military system depends on this capability, one of the last remaining outliers is directly converting analog signals at microwave frequencies into digital data streams without using large amounts of intervening microwave hardware (i.e., downconverters).

Fool Me Once: April Fools' Gags 2014 Erik Smith
Another April Fools' Day is upon us, and with it comes a fresh helping of tech-based pranks. Followed by an inbox full of amazed e-mails from gullible family and friends. Here's a helping of some of my favorite high-tech hijinks from around the web, in no particular order:

Sign of the Times Paul Golata
I live in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. From time to time I find myself on the major road artery that takes drivers from downtown Dallas out towards its suburbs. This heavily trafficked highway is known here locally as North Central Expressway; a freeway section of U.S. Highway 75 between downtown Dallas and McKinney, TX. On a recent Friday afternoon, just after 5 p.m., caught in the chaos and rush and what felt like the entire city of Dallas attempting to get onto this road and get back to respective homes, I saw a large billboard off in the distance. Due to my slow pace as a result of the rush-hour grid lock I could make out a light bulb on the far away billboard. But as of yet it was too far away for me to make out what the message of the sign was really about.

In the Mix: My Conversation with Musician and Maker, Sir Mix-a-Lot Erik Smith
Sir Mix-a-Lot. Whether you’ve heard his name on the radio, on TV or in the news, you can’t help but remember the fun and infectious beats of his classic hits like, “Posse on Broadway” or the often covered hit “Baby Got Back”. But, what many people don’t realize is that Sir Mix-a-Lot is an avid electronics geek (and a great Mouser Electronics customer!) I had the privilege to speak with the man himself about his hobby, his craft and the future of the DIY music industry.

Cloud-EE With A Chance of Microcontrollers: A Look At The Arduino Yun Mike Parks
Yun may mean “cloud” in Chinese, there is nothing cloudy about the potential of this version of the popular Arduino platform. In fact, the Yun has quickly become a top microcontroller board of choice when I need to develop a quick, inexpensive proof-of-concept.

Physics for Nuns Lynnette Reese
When I was in college, I held 3 part time jobs, of which one of them was tutoring Physics. Not that I was an expert or anything, but someone had to do it. Most of the time I spent the tutoring hours working on my own assignments. All of it is just a blur now, except one person, a nun. She was determined to make a passing grade, and she started coming in about a third of the way through the semester. I quickly figured out that algebra is kind of important to physical laws like F=mA. It seemed so simple to me, so intuitive, so I started out rattling off what force was, mass, and how acceleration played a part. The glazed look in her eyes told me I needed to step back a bit. So we began exploring the mathematical relationship.

There’s More Than Old Chewing Gum Under the Table Caroline Storm Westenhover
I often find myself at the end of the incredulous question, “What are you doing?” My perfunctory responses run from “adjusting the clock” to “checking the charge this capacitor can hold.” The next question often is something like, “Why did you think it was OK to pull wiring out of the wall in your classroom?” or “Why is our microwave in several pieces?”

Mouser at SXSW Erik Smith
The 2014 South by Southwest Festival was this past weekend, and I was able to attend with some of my Mouser colleagues. March 13-15 was the Music Gear Expo, where we set up our booth. We were showcasing our Pro Audio line, which includes Bourns' guitar potentiometers and Neutrik's super-cool silentPlug.

1,000 Days of LEDs Paul Golata
In my role I get to try out lots of cool things. However, some of the favorite things that I get to try out are the most practical. Several years ago the U.S. Congress and the President adopted the Energy Independence and Security Act. The goal of this legislation was an effort to move the country to becoming more environmentally friendly. As a result of this legislation incandescent bulbs would be phased out over time.

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