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Monday, November 29, 2010

Pro-Mboard: Development Board for Mbed

We designed a board to help us in prototyping the Mbed board out side the bread-boards.
When we started out prototyping using Mbed we realized that all the boards available for Mbed were either needed to shipped from outside or we costly from our budget perspective.

For this we designed our own Pro-Mboard. The board's intent was to serve the following objectives:

1. Need for additional access pins to the same SPI bus (For Multiple SPI nodes)
2. General Purpose area for riging up Custom Circuits
3. Access to SD Card slot, USB Device/Host connection
4. Ethernet connection with Magnetics and LED
5. Serial port on FT232 for easy debugging and monitoring apart from Mbed's Windows Serial Port
6. Selectable Powering Options
7. Enough Power Busses for connections to other Hardware.
8. Low Cost

Here is what we have:
Pro-Mboard Rev0.1

Schematics Rev0.1 PNG
Schematics Rev0.1 PDF

We have the First Revision of the PCB already available and right now the Component Assembly is in progress. Expect some pictures by 6-DEC-2010.

We would like to request your feedback on the design and also if there are furthere improvements that can be performed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chess Becomes Harder: Thanks to Quantum Physics

Adding a twist to the normal Chess game using the uncertainty of the Quantum Mechanics makes thing more difficult.Queen's University computer scientists have invented a new version of chess where its nearly impossible to predict the nature of a piece before hand. As soon as the player touches the piece it assumes is new behavior.

'You only know what a piece really is once you touch the piece,' researcher Ernesto Posse said after he tried the game. 'Basically, planning ahead is impossible.'

Quantum quirks
According to quantum physics, very small particles behave according to principles that give them characteristics very different from the behaviour of larger objects. Here are a few properties of those quantum objects:
> Quantum superposition: A quantum object may exist in multiple states at the same time.
> Wave function collapse: An observer's interaction with a quantum object in a superposition of states, such as an attempt to measure its position or momentum, will make it "collapse" into a single state.
> Quantum entanglement: Two or more quantum objects may be linked so that any change to one is immediately experienced by another, no matter how far apart they are from one another.
Read More : http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2010/09/02/quantum-chess-akl.html

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rainbow in Nano: Micro Carvings Make Metals Glisten In Any Colour

Optoelectronics engineers have discovered how to make gold of any colour by carving tiny shapes onto its surface. Then we may have some stickers directly printed on the metal surface.
Gold absorbs blue light and this produces its characteristic yellow colour. And copper absorbs blue and green light making it look a reddy orange.Other colours are hard to come by without coating the metal or carving a diffraction grating onto its surface to produce a characteristic interference pattern, like those from a compact disc.

But now there's another way thanks to some interesting work by Jianfa Zhang at the University of Southampton and a few pals. Their idea is to carve a different type of repeating pattern on to the surface of a metal.

These patterns are smaller than the wavelength of visible light. Instead of causing the light to interfere, they work by changing the properties of the sea of electrons in the metal--in particular its resonant frequency. This alters the frequency of light it absorbs and reflects.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Debounce a Button: A Common Problem

De-bouncing a button has been a challenge for any embedded engineer. Well not to say "challenging:, it is always a nagging stuff.

Some time you trade with time, code space or some other resource. Hack-A-Day organized an event to collect all the great De-bouncing code. Nice collection of code snippets to refer.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mini CNC out of PC Part

We cam across an recent innovation in building a small CNC from PC parts. Mike is a PCB designer with 3D modeling experience, cool.

He built it at the cost of only USD45. The website includes some basic building instructions. It also has the YouTube Video that demonstrates this CNC machines operation. We congratulate him on this build.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

File Restore for NTFS & FAT

We recently came across an utility FreeUndelete from Office Recovery.com to recover the files on NTFS and FAT partitions. This is available for Free as personal use.

FreeUndelete restores deleted files, including those removed from Windows Recycle Bin. In case of accidental removal of files on a NTFS (1.0 and 2.0) (default for Windows Vista, XP, 2000 and NT), FAT32, FAT16 or FAT12 file systems this is the utility to help.
Supported file systems: 
NTFS 1.0, NTFS 2.0, FAT12, FAT16 and FAT32
The recovered files are saved into a new user-selected location to prevent overwriting the deleted files on the original media.There is no charge, direct or hidden, to download and use a fully functional copy of the program. The program does not install any spyware or adware along with it. It does not populate user's desktop with pop-up ads or forcefully subscribe user to mailing lists.

Additionally the is a Proper Usage Guide that suggest and describe the installation steps for this utility.
Here is the Direct Download link for the FreeUndelete. We have already successfully tested this by installing it into a Pen drive for portability and this also helps to recover the files on HDD where you cant install this software directly.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Geek Visiting Card - In Style

We came across Frank's innovation in making his own Business card using a ATtiny85 microcontroller running the AVR bit-bang V-USB stack.
When the Caps lock key is pressed thrice then this card prints out the complete contact information on Notepad. This device basically emulates a USB keyboard using the HID profile and senses the key presses on the system. Then after the valid key presses it starts to generate a stream of key presses to type in the information.
Impressive portray of what a geek can have as a style statement.
Complete Documentation along with schematics and code is available on Frank's Website. Check out his development for AVR based USB HID profile devices call : USnooBie. This is compatible to Arduino and can be directly plugged into the PC. Its also commercially available at Seeed Studio.

Testing What you Manufacture: The Pogo Pin Guide

There was a nice tutorial by Lady Ada on the Website. This demonstrates how to make test jigs for the Porto or Manufactured PCBs.
This site contains most of the explicit instructions on how to make your own jigs using the good old Arduino.