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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

ExpEYES: Open Source Initiative to Physics learning through Experiments

We came across an astounding development made by our Bharteya(Indian) Students at Inter-University Accelerator Centre, New Delhi. This project is call the ExpEYES and is targeted to help students in universities and school to perform Science Experiments, Projects and Demonstration of concepts. The design is a combination of the Hardware & Software Framework combined to enable real time measurements and analyze data.
Source: http://expeyes.in/design-of-expeyes  
The best part of all this is its completely Open Source, including the Hardware. The software part is mostly made up in Python. And the entire development was performed in Linux. The hardware is interfaced via USB
and capable of operating as signal generator, frequency counter and low frequency oscilloscope. This also includes the internally generated references and +5V outputs to help interface the external peripherals.
Source: http://expeyes.in/  
There is well documented User Manual available for the Hardware as well as a set of 50 Experiments that can be performed on the ExpEYES.
The Software package need for this hardware is already available in Debian Package form as well as for other linux in a Tgz archive. Apart from the software packages included there are few generic Python libraries that might me needed to make this working, here is a list:
PyGrace - http://pygrace.sourceforge.net/
PySerial - http://pyserial.sourceforge.net/
The Graphing Front end used is Grace:

Picture of the Software Front end graphing the LCR Measurement
The Python Library needed to make the ExpEYES hardware interface is also available. The Firmware loaded on to the ATmega32 chip that the hardware uses as a core is available with Bootloader (as part of Another Project called MicroHOPE).

We congratulate the Innovators of the ExpEYES: Ajith Kumar, V V V Satyanarayana, Jimson Sacharias, Deepak Munda, S. Venkataramanan for their visionary creation. 

We are also thankful to PHOENIX Project
Inter-University Accelerator Centre, New Delhi for promoting Open Source in education and research in Bharat(India).

Friday, March 25, 2011

Excel Sheet Password Protection

Here is the procedure to Protect a Excel Sheet from Opening & Modifications in MS Office 2003.
Step1: Go to:  Tool Bar Menu "Tools"  ==> Select the Item "Options..."
Step2: Select the "Security" Tab
Picture of the Excel Sheet Options Window
Step3: Now Enter the Password for Opening in the "Password to Open" field as show in 2 above.
Other options such as "Password to Modify" can help in protecting from modifications to the file for an added layer or security. The Check box "Read Only Recommended" is to make sure the you don't accidentally modify the data so excel would ask you in which mode you wish to open the file.
 Step4: Press "OK" and then save the Excel Sheet.

This would help you protect you sensitive excel sheet from prying eyes or unintended modifications.

Fusion Reactor @ Home : Physics Redefined

Will Jack was able to build a proto model of a fusion reactor at home.
Source: http://tidbit77.blogspot.com/2011/03/fusion-achieved.html
This type of device is the way to the future of clean energy. However achieving it at home is another thing, paving way for others to develop on the same lines. However the plans for this device have not been shared yet but there are some good results as shown on his page.

For further info visit the following links:
Orginal Page:

Info on New Advancements:

Info on first attempt for the reactor:

We congratulate Will Jack on his creation!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Solar Charger Using 555 : Simplest Approach to Battery Charging

We came across an innovative Solar Charge based on 555 developed by Michael Davis. The best part of the design is that its so cost constrained/ Low Cost that any one in any place in the world can build this crcuit, especially developing countries like Bharat(India).
Source: mdpub.com
The site gives complete details of how the Circuit works and also what are the components used to build it. Here is a list of the Bill of Materials for this project:
IC1 - 7805 5 Volt positive Voltage Regulator    
IC2 - NE555 Timer Chip    

Q1 - 2N2222 Or Similar NPN Transistor
Q2 - IRF540 Or Similar Power MOSFET

R3, R4, R5 - 1K Ohm 1/8 Watt 10%
R6 - 330 Ohm 1/8 Watt 10%
R7 - 100 Ohm 1/8 Watt 10%

R1, R2 - 10K Multi-Turn Trim-Pots

PB1, PB2 - NO Momentary Contact Push Buttons       

LED1 - Green LED    
LED2 - Yellow LED    

RLY1 - 40 Amp SPDT Automotive Relay    

C1 - 0.33uF 35V 10%
C2 - 0.1uF 35V 10%

D1 - 1N4001 or similar    
This would roughly cost around INR200 in Bharat(India). The next components needed are the Battery which might be slightly costly INR1000-4000 depending on the brand and the Capacity. Also the Solar Panels are are locally available in Bharat(India) at a cost of INR600-1500 range depending on the capacity requirements. The calculations for the Battery and the solar panel needed to processed to get the perfect charging time. There is good explanation on Michael's Website.
Here is the Schematics:
Source: mdpub.com
The Circuit is simple enough to be build on the vero-board and enclose in the same manner as shownin Michael's Website.
Source: http://www.mdpub.com/555Controller/index.html
There is a nice video showing this innovation at work:

For More Information Visit the Website:

We congratulate Michael Davis on his simple and Innovative Creation !!

Monday, March 14, 2011

MSP430 Launch Pad Empowered by Arduino Style

We found some support Libraries being wrote for the MSP430 Launch Pad to support Arduino Style Coding.
This library was developed by Chris Hulbert to be compiled on CCS or IAR for MSP430 and is available on gitHub.This library provides the following Arduino like Application Interfaces:
Program Execution Macros: setup() and loop()
I/O Macros: pinMode(), pinBit(), digitalWrite(), and digitalRead()
Although there is No support from Arduino IDE but CCS(Code Composer Studio) is not that bad either even for beginners. There is lot of tutorial materials available to help people kick start using it. Plus it has the max code limit 16KB which is boon for hobbyists.

However there are better libraries from Functionality Point: MSPhere which is much more mature and used.

We are watching out for more innovative work around the MSP430 Launch Pad, let us know if you have any such projects or tutorials.

Utilizing 2.5" Laptop Hard Disk in Desktop PC

We found how to make use of a 2.5" SATA Hard Disk commonly used in Laptop in an normal Desktop.
Conventional SATA HDD used in Laptops
The reasons for using this is to decrease the HDD noise, lower power consumption and compact size.

We need to first understand the connector requirements.
SATA connector on the Laptop HDD
The Connector on the Left is the Data connector(8Pins) where the Red SATA cable goes to and on the Right is the Power connector(15 Pins) for SATA.
SATA Power cable
This specific type of the SATA Power connector is needed.
SATA Looks like this on the normal 3.5" HDD
This would not work for 2.5" HDD
Following is the correct cable Set you would need to connect the Laptop HDD:
These are the Cables needed for the 2.5" HDD
Now to connect the SATA 2.5" HDD to the PC - connect both the plugs on the back of the HDD. Then connect the Red SATA Data cable to the Mother Board and the Power Cable to the Cabinets PSU.
CAUTION: People Suggest Snipping off the Yellow Wire (+12V) if you want to be safe. (NOT TESTED). Also this technique might Harm your HDD if its in compatible to the Power connector.
Thus Keeping this in mind we have the connection:
And this is the Final Setup how it looks like.
You can have a better holding or clamp for the HDD so that its safer while moving the Desktop. This technique saves you power and also the annoyance of the HDD noise.

Good Luck Modding !!