Surgical synthesizers

Circuit Break Podcast #35

Surgical Synthesizers

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Tour MacroFab's ITAR-Compliant Facility

September 30, 2016, Episode #35

On this episode, Parker and Stephen talk about EFM8 MCUs and Hotwheel Capacitors.
  • Parker got the bootloader on the EFM8 working. The Errata shows that EFM8 chips younger then data code 1601 do not have a working bootloader. Should have an article out next week about using the EFM8 MCUs.
  • EFM8 Factory Bootloader User Guide and the associated software. Has open source Python code for the uploader.
  • DTRData Terminal Ready : RTSRequest To Send
  • Stephen – “C is awesome”
  • Parker thinks someone should make an IDE where you can click on register names and it will open up the datasheet to the correct spot.
  • MacroDuino: “Better version of the Arduino Uno”. Has USB Type-C, a FT230X, and a non working power management. See Figure 1.
  • Stephen was out for most of the week for his wife’s surgery. They used the DaVinci Machine. It is a “ridiculous medical like robot, anime, mecha, crazied” 4 armed robot where the doctor sits in a pod and controls everything remotely.
  • Video of the DaVinici Machine skinning an apple.
  • While waiting during surgery, Stephen designed a voltage controlled amplifier for a synthesizer design he is working on. See Figure 2. It uses a THAT Corporation THAT2180. Does 0dB down to -120dB using only two ICs.
  • Silicon Labs released the Thunderboard Sense. Has loads of sensors!
    • Relative Humidity and Temperature Sensor Si7021
    • UV and Ambient Light Sensor Si1133
    • Pressure Sensor BMP280
    • Indoor Air Quality and Gas Sensor CCS811
    • 6-axis Inertial Sensor ICM-20648
    • MEMS Microphone SPV1840
  • Snap Chat is in the Hardware game now. The Spectacles are glasses that capture 10 sec videos. Looks super hipster.  Has wireless but unknown on what kind of connectivity. Probably Bluetooth. Will it survive where Google Glasses failed?
  • Parker wants to put a light tower on the outside of the new shops bathroom to indicate the current status. Smart bathrooms are the way of the future.
  • Hot Wheel brand capacitors. Why?
Figure 1: Parker’s Macro Duino Hardware flub.

Figure 1: Parker’s Macro Duino Hardware flub.

Figure 2: Stephen’s Voltage Controlled Amplifier using the THAT2180 chip.

Figure 2: Stephen’s Voltage Controlled Amplifier using the THAT2180 chip.

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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