Classy capacitors and lab war stories

Circuit Break Podcast #18

Classy Capacitors and Lab War Stories

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June 3, 2016, Episode #18

This week Stephen and Parker discuss capacitors, the Space Echo RE-201, and horror stories of college electronic labs.
  • Parker has been working on the SAIM (Semi-Automatic Inspection Machine) this week. Work had to pause as Parker broke off a M5 x 0.8MM drill/tap combo bit off inside the extrusion. Should be able to remove the tap when a left hand drill bit arrives from McMaster.
  • Parker also designed a “man in the middle” board for the Altera USB Blaster programmer. This allows the programming cable to also power the device that is going to be programmed reducing the number of cables needed to hook up while in production. See Figure 1. This board is open source. Files on the MacroFab GitHub.
  • The Jig of Destiny is almost complete. Parker is waiting on a 2-56 tap from McMaster to arrive before he can finish the Jig of Destiny.
  • There are plans to use Octavo’s OSD3358 IC in a project. Parker plans on having a project lined up by the next podcast.
  • Stephen is currently working on the FX Dev Board. He is waiting on CrowdSupply getting back to him on when they can start the campaign. The enclosure has been priced out. A prototype of the enclosure will be ordered next week.
  • Last week, Stephen was playing around with the NuTubes. They have limitations but Stephen is almost done with a audio amplifier that uses them.
  • The SSPS now has a simpler analog control. Stephen was able to reduce how many opamps he needed to control the larger OPA541 opamp.
  • Fixing the Space Echo started this week. Stephen is starting by replacing all the capacitors and Parker is working on the front plate. See Figure 2 and 3.
  • Stephen and Parker go on a lengthy rant about capacitors. Stephen bought some “Fine Gold” audio grade capacitors. Parker likes the Nichicon’s UBW series since they are baby blue in color.
  • Stephen mention Mundorf capacitors.
  • Asus is going to make a robot. Called the Zenbo. The Zenbo is basically IoT, home automation, and a robotic pet all rolled into a $600 package.
  • RadioShack is returning. After closing 2000+ stores they hired a new CEO Dene Rogers. Parker wants to see a “will call” style setup for getting electronic parts.
Figure 1: The “man in the middle” PCB for the Altera USB Blaster.

Figure 1: The “man in the middle” PCB for the Altera USB Blaster.

Figure 2: Stephen working on the Space Echo RE-201

Figure 2: Stephen working on the Space Echo RE-201

Figure 3: New adapter plate for the Space Echo RE-201. Allows it to fit into a standard 19″ audio rack.

Figure 3: New adapter plate for the Space Echo RE-201. Allows it to fit into a standard 19″ audio rack.

About the Hosts

Parker Dillmann
  Parker Dillmann

Parker is an Electrical Engineer with backgrounds in Embedded System Design and Digital Signal Processing. He got his start in 2005 by hacking Nintendo consoles into portable gaming units. The following year he designed and produced an Atari 2600 video mod to allow the Atari to display a crisp, RF fuzz free picture on newer TVs. Over a thousand Atari video mods where produced by Parker from 2006 to 2011 and the mod is still made by other enthusiasts in the Atari community.

In 2006, Parker enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin as a Petroleum Engineer. After realizing electronics was his passion he switched majors in 2007 to Electrical and Computer Engineering. Following his previous background in making the Atari 2600 video mod, Parker decided to take more board layout classes and circuit design classes. Other areas of study include robotics, microcontroller theory and design, FPGA development with VHDL and Verilog, and image and signal processing with DSPs. In 2010, Parker won a Ti sponsored Launchpad programming and design contest that was held by the IEEE CS chapter at the University. Parker graduated with a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Spring of 2012.

In the Summer of 2012, Parker was hired on as an Electrical Engineer at Dynamic Perception to design and prototype new electronic products. Here, Parker learned about full product development cycles and honed his board layout skills. Seeing the difficulties in managing operations and FCC/CE compliance testing, Parker thought there had to be a better way for small electronic companies to get their product out in customer's hands.

Parker also runs the blog, longhornengineer.com, where he posts his personal projects, technical guides, and appnotes about board layout design and components.

Stephen Kraig
  Stephen Kraig

Stephen Kraig is a component engineer working in the aerospace industry. He has applied his electrical engineering knowledge in a variety of contexts previously, including oil and gas, contract manufacturing, audio electronic repair, and synthesizer design. A graduate of Texas A&M, Stephen has lived his adult life in the Houston, TX, and Denver, CO, areas.

Stephen has never said no to a project. From building guitar amps (starting when he was 17) to designing and building his own CNC table to fine-tuning the mineral composition of the water he uses to brew beer, he thrives on testing, experimentation, and problem-solving. Tune into the podcast to learn more about the wacky stuff Stephen gets up to.

Special thanks to whixr over at Tymkrs for the intro and outro!

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