Thinking_J

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Design products for many industries


Thinking_J

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  • 04.07.2016
  • Free PCB ECAD: The Ultimate list
  • It is often overlooked when companies merge or get bought out.. just how much effort it takes to support the different CAD environments. I create a company part number for every component in the system. It allows cross referencing all the alternative, qualified, manufacturer's part numbers or manufacturer's ORDER numbers (sometimes different) and distributors' numbers. There is no way it makes sense to put ALL that info into the CAD data. But a common number that can be used by CAD systems and the manufacturing data bases does make sense. The only info I put into the CAD part number is the original / primary (intended) manufacturer's part number, certain minimal performance info (value, voltage , wattage, current rating, tolerances) .... and sometimes a reference to a distributor's part number - aka: digikey, mouser, etc) Cadint allows custom data fields to be integrated into the parts. And custom report generation using these fields. So, you can create a BOM using a manufacturer's part number or using your company's part number or the military number. But the standard BOM generation includes 4 different formats for output. purchase list, delimited data (choice of delimiters), assembly list, kitting list (base on primary part number assigned)
  • 04.07.2016
  • Free PCB ECAD: The Ultimate list
  • Michael... Ultimate list?.. really? ... that is a bit of a stretch. Still prefer CADint. They have reasonably priced intermediate versions. $60 student version Good compromise between complexity, flexibility and usability. I don't see details about a lot of very important features / requirements I have. The users of ECAD systems (engineers, designers) need to recognize the importance of integrating their work ASAP with the rest of the processes (purchasing, assembly, test, etc..) Less work for hobbyist also. - Levels (types) of BOM generation (assembly kitting vs purchase lists, etc...) - Separate Assembly level support (silkscreen component designation (Identifiers) vs assembly drawing placement identifiers - 3d export to MCAD ( IDF 3.0 for Solid works, or even .stp support) Critical in today's work environment .. even for hobby projects. - level of active linking between schematic and pcb layout (VERY important) - provisions for local library (embedded in the design) that won't be screwed up with updates to the primary libraries. Still giving you the option of selectively updating from the primary libraries or the reverse. - provisions for active links to documentation on components (on line or just where you stored the PDFs) - pick and place data creation in multiple formats - provisions for professional level fabrication drawings - some indication of what is "automatic" and what is " configurable" like designation indicator locations and font variations/sizes. - ability to import graphic images (company or personal logos) and the list goes on..... It would be great if the industry could establish a single standard format... I just don't see it happening for awhile yet. Military tried to force the issue back in the 80s.. didn't take, too soon (tech still evolving too fast) Most agreed upon outputs so far .. a few IPC standards and Gerber. No incentives for the players involved to agree.
  • 04.05.2016
  • Apple vs FBI: When privacy and safety collide
  • Carolyn, I don't entirely agree with your simple depiction of sequence of events. It conveys a narrative .. that has a very limited set of conclusions. I don't believe there are just two sides to these questions. I don't believe either Apple or the FBI framed their arguments well. Regardless.... I will try to answer the questions posed. - Risks are real.. BUT FEAR IS A CHOICE. Millions have given their lives for their "ideals" .. not merely to survive. We all die, regardless of our choices. 2.5 million died in the US in 2014.. How many lives were lost Globally in the same time frame to acts of terrorism? I think we have security concerns blown completely out of proportion. The risks are very, very small. Isn't THIS the real impact of terrorism? We have chosen "buy" the "fear" they are selling. You are far more likely to be struck by lighting, than die in Paris at the hands of terrorists. But people buy lottery tickets with even worst odds... (?) Fear is an easy sell. ( Just watch our political "debates") - I don't want my government to be able to force me to create anything against my will. We have Intellectual Property laws that indicate "creation" is different than simple work. Creating a "broken" iOS against their will .. .is an act of forced creation. We have eliminated the draft. Isn't this an indicator of the limits we are willing to accept in forcing our collective "will" on individual for our collective "security"? Corporations are now "individuals" under the law. "Ultimate set of circumstances"? What? the end of Mankind vs mankind's ideals? Eat the the "weak one" on the life boat so the rest may survive (at least live longer)? Yes, the answers can reveal much about ourselves, and our how we view the purpose of our short lives. Somehow I don't see the risks of terrorism enough to warrant my giving up my "humanity". And yes, I lost family in 9/11.
  • 04.01.2016
  • You can't think out of a box built of TLAs
  • Agreed! I have always thought that it was the rude to one's audience to introduce a multi letter acronym without clarifying its intended definition. Yes, a TLA may make communication easier with a 35 letter word or phrase. but often , the value of its use is dubious. Long phrases / complex words in a foreign language comes to mind for appropriate use. The intention was to communicate .. not to test or confuse. I see a parallel (poor communication or lost purpose) in many of the schematics I see today. They have become graphic net-lists for pcb layout exclusively.. (showing a component with a list of nets on it's pins, and sometimes condescendingly telling the pcb designer where to put de-coupling capacitors) not of much value in explaining the circuit's intended operation for anyone trouble shooting the design or even making sections of the design re-useable. Further confusing to those responsible for the software. Impacting the quality and delivery of quality software for the product. Schematics are NOT for the pcb designer/layout personnel. They should already know good layout practices. They should have access to the circuit designer. The circuit designer should be reviewing the pcb layout regardless. The schematic provides communications to everyone else (techs, S/W dev. etc.) . Want to communicate? Think about your audience. Don't offend or unduly burden your audience (keeping their eyes and ears open to your thoughts)
  • 03.17.2016
  • Could test and measurement crack Farook's iPhone?
  • IF.. Apple was dumb enough to leave physical access points to the raw memory .... it can be broken (decrypted). Effectively, they have provided a way to bypass the self erase protection (as the author has pointed out). If this physical access is available... Apple would have already broken the phone for the FBI. They don't have a problem with doing this. It wouldn't have required the creation of a "broken" iOS to gain access. Creation of a broken iOS? Apple has a problem with this (and so do I). To answer RolfN280.. Apple CANNOT unlock Farook's phone.. unless they are forced to create a broken version of iOS. Even this option wouldn't work on the next version. Because the next version requires the same user's access code to allow updating of the iOS. APPLE will no longer be able to automatically (without user's permission) fixed/update their phones. If not already known, the encryption engine will become known. The data will be deciphered if allowed unlimited access (directly or via copying). So, if the memory is removable.. is is crack-able. If this is the weak link in their protection of user's data, the next version of iPhone will eliminate this physical access to the memory. By means of integration of critical hardware on single piece of silicon, or some other mechanism, they will eliminate the need for encryption of the data on the phone. Unless Law Enforcement can strip away the silicon's packaging and read the status of memory cells without powering the device, they can't get at the data. Heck, the level of integration in smart phones are going this way regardless of security concerns. Result: the issues raised are just "kicked down the road", until law enforcement can't get at the data.
  • 02.17.2016
  • How long do LEDs really last?
  • Obviously, there is much to be desired when trying to compare lighting technologies with the general public. The public wants simple, the real world is complex. Problems: 1) "The point at which half the lamps in the sample have failed is the rated average life for that lamp" is an overly simplistic method of determining a "average". This could be valid for incandescent lamps (historically valid) .. but not for CFLs or LEDs Lamps. Reason: their are many more components involved (modes of failure) in CFL and LED lamps. There is no reason to believe their failures could be plotted on a bell curve. Indeed, as others have pointed out, capacitors in the lamp's power supply are generally the shortest lived components in these products. I would not expect a standard gaussian distribution of failure modes. 2) There is no agree upon standard deviation being reported for the same reason. Do CFLS, LEDS, a specific manufacturer or production lot expected to have the same std deviation in failures? ( in simplest terms - width of bell distribution curve - if applied) It is perfectly understandable why there would be averages of 20-100K hours .. with failures recorded after a few hundred hours. The STD DEV is very LARGE. 3) Consumers are being told be told "life expectancy numbers" (vague - likely on purpose) .. they hear/read MINIMUM life expectancy numbers. They are not the same thing. Expectations are not met. People's trust is further eroded. 4) As reported (thanks Carolyn).. the there are numerous other considerations that often distort the reported number. To answer the lead in question .. how long? .. not nearly as long as you think. We are not doing ourselves or the public any good by hiding the complexity involved in comparing lighting technologies.
  • 01.19.2016
  • The death of the light switch
  • Beatrice, Self actualization? really? I don't think EDN is your normal audience. Lighting is important .. but I think you have been drinking a bit too much of your own cool-aid.
  • 01.11.2016
  • $9 single-board computer is set to make its debut
  • The link provided.. does show the R8 processor as based on the Coretex-A8 core not the Coretex A13. Having trouble finding any of their processors using the Cortex-A13. Oddly enough, they have a "A13" processor.. that uses the Cortex-A8 core.
  • 12.22.2015
  • Reduce relay coil current with a reset controller IC
  • Another variation I have used. simply use a spare PWM output. allows the relay to be controlled by one transistor (simplest circuit) After the relay has been enabled for set amount of time, switch over to PWM to reduce the current to the coil. ( PWM can be implemented in software or hardware configuration of the uC) A lot of circuit variations in the implementation to address: EMI, turn on/off times, etc. Regardless of variation, it is still (generally) the lowest component count.