KI7TU's Reference Page

This page is basically intended as a "repository" for information that I'd like to share with others. It's the sort of wisdom that I would want to know if I were just starting out as an electronics hobbyist (given around 45 years of hindsight). I've been asked, from time to time, for most of the info in here, and rather than having to spell it out "yet again", I've decided to put it together into a web page.

What's new

09-Jun-2014: I added a new section, the Projects to contain hobby projects that I've developed that I want to share. It's currently populated with a preliminary version of my "Flashy Morse Badge".

I also noticed that I'd made an error in the next entry, and dated it "2013" instead of "2014" and have corrected that.

15-Jan-2014: I added a topic about "Brushless DC Motors (Fans)" to the Tips section.

I also came across a potentially useful link, and realized that I don't really have a good place for links that are just sources of information and aren't really selling things, the way those in Sources for Parts & Supplies do. So I decided to change the name of "Magazines & Books" to Magazines, Books & Links and added to it a link to Cicuit Calculators, which provides some potentially very useful little tools.

31-Dec-2013: I noticed while updating it a couple of days ago that the dates didn't really stand out on this part of the page, so I've modified them a bit to make the start of the entries a bit easier to spot, as well as a little bit of reformatting this (the home) page, and correcting a minor error from the 29-Dec-2013 update.

I also added a link on the Magazines & Books to the very interesting 507 Mechanical Movements by Henry T. Brown book that you can download for free courtesy the Google Book Search project.

29-Dec-2013: Seems like I've been very busy the past few months. My work with Serious Integrated, Inc., ended at the end of October, 2013. I guess that now, you could say that I'm "Seriously" unemployed. Oh well...

A few months ago, I got an order from DigiKey that I'd placed a few days earlier. The box looked like it had been through a train wreck. Checking the UPS website with the tracking info revealed that it had good reason for looking like that: it had been through a train wreck! Anyway, when I went through the contents, the only thing I found amiss was that one or two of the little cardboard boxes that contained some of the parts were a bit crushed, but the stuff inside them was fine. Since those boxes will end up in the recycle bin anyway, it doesn't really matter. Kudos to the DigiKey shipping department for doing such a good job of packing it!

I've also done business another couple of times with Adafruit, and been satisfied with the service.

I've been trying out another design tool, the open-source KiCad. Although I've found it much more "intuitive" than either the commercial product Eagle or the open-source gEDA, they seem to have significant problems in keeping their website up. (I started trying to download the software on Dec. 21, finally found the website up on Dec. 24 and downloaded it, and after some experimenting and going through the included tutorial, wanted to go back and look for another library on Dec. 25, and I've only found the website up since I started testing the link while writing this paragraph.) I've noticed that KiCad doesn't provide a simple way to " tell me about this circuit item" the way you can with gEDA or Eagle, or define any selection shape other than a rectangle. It also doesn't have a way to add to the current selection the way gEDA can, though this is also a hole in Eagle. The reason I am looking for more KiCad libraries is that the default for a resistor is the European style box, and I prefer the American style wiggly line symbol. Hopefully they'll get the web site stable in the new year!

15-Aug-2013: I just found out that BatchPCB, the Printed Circuit Board house associated with Sparkfun, was sold back in April to OSH Park. I haven't tried them yet, but will post an update after I have.

I've also recontly done some business with Adafruit (based in New York City), and was satisfied with the service. I'll try to get time to update the Sources page, adding them, in the next few weeks.

21-Jun-2013: In response to a request in the June, 2013 issue of Nuts and Volts magazine, I've put together a "salvage" section with a lot more detail than I can put into a response in the magazine.

Rest assured, I'm still working on the sign-up section mentioned below (and I'm making progress with it). It is a real learning experience for me!

10-Feb-2013: I haven't had much time to update this web page during the past year or so, but rest assured that I am working on a couple of things. The first is that I'm tinkering with a way to allow you to sign up to receive an e-mail whenever I do update something. (I'm planning on having it allow several different "levels" for your convenience.) The other is that I've had some questions about batteries, and I'm working on putting together an entire section on the subject. Meanwhile, I'll mention that I got a bit of a surprise recently: I was into my neighborhood Radio Shack and found that they had a number of Arduino products. (Many of the prices are a bit steeper than what you'd pay at a mail-order place, such as SparkFun's, but you can have the product right now.)

There's a correction on the About Me page as I noticed I had the wrong e-mail address listed (as well as some other changes). Sorry 'bout that!

Somewhat new info:

I wasn't really looking for a job, but on February 1, 2012, one found me. I'm now working for a company called Serious Integrated, Inc. I'm doing a variety of things, including hardware design, software development, construction of electronics, debugging/troubleshooting, etc. Basically the stuff I've done as a hobby for decades, so I'm just getting paid to do my hobby, and the best part is that someone else buys the toys. My title, at least according to my business cards, is Principal Design Engineer. The downside is that I haven't had much time to support this webpage, so please bear with me.

The May, 2012 issue of Nuts and Volts has an article on Schematic Capture programs. Over the past few months, I've had occasion to use two such program. They completely missed my favorite, gEDA which is free (though it only runs under Linux). I've also (at the aforementioned job) been using (or, should I say, "abused by") Eagle from Cadsoft. Eagle does have a free version, though there are some limits on what you can do with it. On a scale of 1 to 100, where 1 is "worst possible" and 100 is best, for intuitiveness I'd rate Eagle as a 3. It is, in my humble opinion, the least intutive program to use that I've used in at least the last 25 years. The gEDA package comes in about five times better, at a whopping 15 on that same scale. Eagle does have some advantages over gEDA, like giving the user (or abusee) the capability to set specific numbers for things like line widths, though there is a "back door" way of doing it with gEDA. I don't have much time to type this up at the moment, but will suggest that if you're interested, the Nuts and Volts article totally missed three good tutorials on using Eagle: SparkFun's tutorials 108, 109, and 110. (Hopefully I'll find a bit of time to do more on this subject in the near future.) By the way, it's probably worth your while to thumb through the many other Sparkfun Tutorials.

(And now back to the "old"...)

I'm one of those old curmudgeons who thinks that function is more important than appearance. Thus, I've put my efforts into the contents of this page rather than adding a lot of glitz.

The really nice part, for you the user is that you can simply click on the links! And, of course, you can look at it anytime you want!

I'm adding things as I think of them and as I have time. You might want to check back every few weeks to see if I've added much.

A brief description of the other sections

This screen last updated (other than for dates): 09-Jun-2014

Copyright © 2010-2014 by Clark Jones