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Issue 260   View the articles in this issue >>
Vintage Radio Digital Audio Signal Generator, Pt.3
Low-Power Car/Bike USB Charger Ask Silicon Chip

22 May, 2010

Vintage Radio

The development of AGC (automatic gain control) circuits in the late 1920s and early 1930s was an important milestone in domestic radio receiver design. It allowed stations to be received at the same volume when tuning across the band, regardless of signal strength.

22 May, 2010

Digital Audio Signal Generator, Pt.3

In the March and April 2010 issues, we described the design and construction of our new Digital Audio Signal Generator. The final article this month has the driving instructions.

20 May, 2010

Serviceman's Log

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing so why do people delve into the insides of computers when they know almost nothing about them? It can certainly make life difficult for anyone who has to sort out the inevitable problems.

18 May, 2010

Low-Power Car/Bike USB Charger

Looking for an efficient USB charger that can operate from a 12V car battery? This unit functions at up to 89% efficiency and can charge USB devices at currents up to 525mA. Best of all, it won?t flatten the battery if it's left permanently connected, as long as you remember to unplug the USB device.

16 May, 2010

Ask Silicon Chip

Got a technical problem? Can't understand a piece of jargon or some technical principle? Drop us a line and we'll answer your question. Write to: Ask Silicon Chip, PO Box 139, Collaroy Beach, NSW 2097 or send an email to silicon@siliconchip.com.au

14 May, 2010

Review: Tektronix DMM4050 61/2-Digit Multimeter

This bench-top multimeter features 6? digit readings, a graphic LCD and a number of advanced features such as trend plot, histogram and dual measurement mode. With front and rear panel inputs, its short term and 1-year accuracy figures are outstanding.

12 May, 2010

Mailbag

Letters and emails should contain complete name, address and daytime phone number. Letters to the Editor are submitted on the condition that Silicon Chip Publications Pty Ltd may edit and has the right to reproduce in electronic form and communicate these letters. This also applies to submissions to "Ask SILICON CHIP" and "Circuit Notebook".

10 May, 2010

Build A Compact 12V 20W Stereo Amplifier

Amplifiers which run from 12V DC generally don?t put out much power and they are usually not hifi as well. But this little stereo amplifier ticks the power and low distortion boxes. With a 14.4V supply, it will deliver 20 watts per channel into 4-ohm loads at clipping while harmonic distortion at lower power levels is typically less than 0.03%.

8 May, 2010

Circuit Notebook

Interesting circuit ideas which we have checked but not built and tested. Contributions from readers are welcome and will be paid for at standard rates.

6 May, 2010

A Look At The TDA 7377 Quad 12V Amplifier IC

The TDA7377 IC from ST Microelectronics is the main component of this month's 12V Mini Stereo Amplifier. It's not a new chip ? they've been making them since at least 1998 - but it is the first time we've used it so it deserves some elaboration. It comes in a 15-pin "Multiwatt" package similar to TO-218 and is available in both horizontal and vertical mounting packages.

4 May, 2010

A Solar-Powered Lighting System

Need lighting away from a power source? Try this one: it's ideal for your garden, shed or even a camp site. With a 5W solar panel, a 12V SLA battery and a smart controller, it has 3-stage charging for the battery and Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) for the solar panel.

2 May, 2010

Slash Your Factory/Office Lighting Bills

Most offices, factories and shops waste a lot of money in power for lighting. How would you like to save up to 50% of your lighting power bill . . . and get even more light into the bargain? We show you how - and have the measurements to back it up!

1 May, 2010

Publisher's Letter

Issue 259   View the articles in this issue >>
Digital Audio Signal Generator, Pt.2 Vintage Radio
Arduino-Compatible I/O Controller Ask Silicon Chip

23 Apr, 2010

Digital Audio Signal Generator, Pt.2

Last month, we described how the S/PDIF Digital Audio Signal Generator works. This month, we describe how to assemble the PC boards, mount them in the case and check that they are working correctly.

21 Apr, 2010

Vintage Radio

The turn of the 20th century marked the birth of radio but the techniques used were very different from the techniques of today (or even 20 years later). It was the beginning of the ?spark era?, with crude transmitters that relied on spark gaps and equally crude receivers.

19 Apr, 2010

Arduino-Compatible I/O Controller

Want to control something - anything - with commands from your PC? Perhaps turn sprinklers on and off to water your garden? Maybe read some sensors? Or even sequencing Christmas tree lights in time with music? (OK, so we're getting in early!) Making the computer output the correct information is one thing. Interfacing that data to control real-word devices is another. That's what this nifty little relay box is all about.

17 Apr, 2010

Ask Silicon Chip

Got a technical problem? Can't understand a piece of jargon or some technical principle? Drop us a line and we'll answer your question. Write to: Ask Silicon Chip, PO Box 139, Collaroy Beach, NSW 2097 or send an email to silicon@siliconchip.com.au

16 Apr, 2010

Review: PICOTEST M3510A 61/2-Digit Multimeter

The M3510A is a fast, accurate 6? digit bench-top multimeter with 4-wire resistance measurement, thermocouple support and a USB interface. Its maximum ratings are 1000V DC and 10A and it can take up to 50,000 readings per second.

14 Apr, 2010

Servicemans Log

A bloke needs his air-conditioning, especially during Sydney's recent hot, humid weather. Unfortunately, that's when it's also the most likely to break down and inflict pain and suffering on a hard-working serviceman.

13 Apr, 2010

A 1000:1 EHT Probe

Do you need to measure the EHT voltage in a CRT-based scope, computer monitor or TV receiver, or perhaps in a photocopier, laser printer or microwave oven? You'll need an EHT probe to suit your digital multimeter (DMM) to do this and you'll find they are pretty pricey. Not to worry though, because here's one you can build for less than $40.

11 Apr, 2010

FAQs On The Web Server In A Box (WIB)

The Web Server In a Box (WIB) project has been very popular and lots of kits have been built. Here we collect a number of frequently asked questions that may help anyone experiencing difficulties in building and setting up the WIB. We also provide the answers to some common technical questions and feature requests.

9 Apr, 2010

Capacitor Leakage Adaptor For DMMs

Here's a cut-down version of the Digital Capacitor Leakage Meter we described in December 2009. Instead of using a PIC microcontroller and an LCD panel to display the leakage current, this version connects to your DMM to provide the readout. It provides the same range of seven different standard test voltages (from 10V to 100V) and can measure leakage currents down to 100 nanoamps!

7 Apr, 2010

Mailbag

Letters and emails should contain complete name, address and daytime phone number. Letters to the Editor are submitted on the condition that Silicon Chip Publications Pty Ltd may edit and has the right to reproduce in electronic form and communicate these letters. This also applies to submissions to "Ask SILICON CHIP" and "Circuit Notebook".

5 Apr, 2010

3D TV Is Here At Last!

The world of 3D television, photography, movies, scientific tools and prints is finally here. After primitive attempts at 3D for many, many years, top-quality three-dimensional imaging is now available for all.

3 Apr, 2010

Circuit Notebook

Interesting circuit ideas which we have checked but not built and tested. Contributions from readers are welcome and will be paid for at standard rates.

1 Apr, 2010

Publisher's Letter

Issue 258   View the articles in this issue >>
Mailbag Vintage Radio
A Very Accurate Thermometer/Thermostat Review: The UNIQUE UQ2062C Digital Storage Scope

23 Mar, 2010

Mailbag

Letters and emails should contain complete name, address and daytime phone number. Letters to the Editor are submitted on the condition that Silicon Chip Publications Pty Ltd may edit and has the right to reproduce in electronic form and communicate these letters. This also applies to submissions to "Ask SILICON CHIP" and "Circuit Notebook".

21 Mar, 2010

Vintage Radio

By the early 1930s, some manufacturers were producing quite good superhet radio receivers for the domestic market. The Airzone 503 was designed for the low-cost end of the market but still came in an attractive wooden cabinet and offered good performance.

19 Mar, 2010

A Very Accurate Thermometer/Thermostat

Based on the very accurate Dallas DS18B20 digital temperature sensor, this thermometer/thermostat provides accurate readings to one decimal point. The LCD shows current, minimum and maximum temperature readings. An internal buzzer will sound when temperature limits are exceeded. It is intended for controlling air conditioners, heaters, cool rooms, wine cellars, etc. The software is user-customisable.

17 Mar, 2010

Servicemans Log

Sometimes, it's a good idea to keep quiet about certain jobs, especially when the other party is in a position to return a favour. Such was the case in the middle of England's winter of discontent.

16 Mar, 2010

Review: The UNIQUE UQ2062C Digital Storage Scope

The UNIQUE UQ2062C is a highly affordable and portable entry-level 60MHz, 500MS/s digital storage oscilloscope with a colour screen and two channels.

14 Mar, 2010

Circuit Notebook

Interesting circuit ideas which we have checked but not built and tested. Contributions from readers are welcome and will be paid for at standard rates.

12 Mar, 2010

A Low-Capacitance Adaptor for DMMs

This neat little adaptor allows a standard digital multimeter to measure low values of capacitance - from less than one picofarad to over 10nF. It will allow you to measure tiny capacitors or stray capacitances in switches, connectors and wiring.

10 Mar, 2010

An Innovative Early-Warning System For Bushfires

You can sense the frustration in this first-hand account of the design and development of an effective, targeted and most of all affordable natural disaster warning system. Developed specifically in response to those terrible bushfires of a year ago, everyone who sees it says "fantastic!" So why is it languishing in some bureaucrat's "in" tray?

9 Mar, 2010

Ask Silicon Chip

Got a technical problem? Can't understand a piece of jargon or some technical principle? Drop us a line and we'll answer your question. Write to: Ask Silicon Chip, PO Box 139, Collaroy Beach, NSW 2097 or send an email to silicon@siliconchip.com.au

8 Mar, 2010

Digital Audio Signal Generator, Part 1

This Digital Audio Signal Generator has TOSLINK and coax (S/PDIF) digital outputs, as well as two analog audio outputs. If a digital output is used, the harmonic distortion from a high quality DAC is extremely low. Alternatively, if you use the analog outputs the harmonic distortion of the sinewave signal is typically still very low at less than .06%.

6 Mar, 2010

A Solar-Powered Intruder Alarm For Sheds & Boats

Most blokes have got a shed - or wish they had! While many people have alarms for their home and cars, a lot of valuable stuff is unprotected in garages and sheds. It needs protecting and now you can do it with this simple alarm based on a PIR sensor. It's solar-powered so no mains supply is needed. And let's not forget boats on moorings - they need protecting too.

4 Mar, 2010

Digital TV: Where To From Here?

Digital TV commenced in Australia on 1st January 2001 - yes, nine years ago, making Australia one of the first countries to start regular DTV transmissions. These transmissions now cover 60% of the population but for Australians to get full HD programming, we need MPEG-4 broadcasts. At present, we are being short-changed.

2 Mar, 2010

A Look At The MacBook 2010

Computer companies release their latest models with much fanfare and we all go 'ho-hum', as the look and feel of a new computer soon vapourises when we discover bugs, plus a host of software and drivers won't work without expensive upgrades. This time Apple should have bought out the brass band and fireworks!

1 Mar, 2010

Publishers Letter

Issue 257   View the articles in this issue >>
Saving The Whales With The Aussie Pinger Internet Time Display Module For The WIB
Vintage Radio A Milliohm Adaptor For Digital Multimeters

23 Feb, 2010

Saving The Whales With The Aussie Pinger

Each year around the world enormous numbers of marine mammals are caught in both commercial fishing nets and the shark nets protecting our beaches. Now an Australian company has come up with a way to warn cetaceans - dolphins, porpoises and soon whales ? away from nets and hopefully save many of these magnificent creatures from becoming what is euphemistically known as "by-catch".

21 Feb, 2010

Circuit Notebook

Interesting circuit ideas which we have checked but not built and tested. Contributions from readers are welcome and will be paid for at standard rates.

19 Feb, 2010

A Multi-Function GPS Car Computer, Pt2

Last month, we introduced our new GPS Car Computer and provided full constructional details. But there's a lot more that we haven't covered yet . . .

17 Feb, 2010

Serviceman's Log

Modem rage, like road rage, is an ugly sight. So how does a normally urbane, cheerful, mild-mannered individual completely lose it over such a simple piece of technology? All too easily, as it turns out.

15 Feb, 2010

Internet Time Display Module For The WIB

Looking for a really accurate clock? This simple add-on board for the WIB (Web Server In A Box) displays the time and date, as gathered from an internet time server. You can use it as a clock you never need to adjust and it can even be configured in the WIB to automatically adjust for daylight saving time.

13 Feb, 2010

Vintage Radio

A great variety of valve receivers were designed and produced for the domestic market in Australia. These ranged from complex, multiband receivers to relatively simple sets designed for the bottom end of the market. This little receiver falls into the latter category and although it's a reasonable performer, it could have been much better.

11 Feb, 2010

A Milliohm Adaptor For Digital Multimeters

Do you occasionally need to measure very low resistances accurately but don't have access to an expensive benchtop Milliohm Meter or DMM? This low-cost adaptor will let you use almost any DMM to make accurate low-resistance measurements.

9 Feb, 2010

Mailbag

Letters and emails should contain complete name, address and daytime phone number. Letters to the Editor are submitted on the condition that Silicon Chip Publications Pty Ltd may edit and has the right to reproduce in electronic form and communicate these letters. This also applies to submissions to "Ask SILICON CHIP" and "Circuit Notebook".

7 Feb, 2010

A Look At Automotive On-Board Diagnostics

You may not know it but your late-model car has an astonishing array of sensors to make sure that its engine and electronic systems all run at peak efficiency, while keeping emissions to a minimum. This increasing use of electronics in vehicles has also lead to improvements in the way a vehicle can be maintained. With On Board Diagnostics (OBD), the performance of critical engine components can be easily monitored.

5 Feb, 2010

An OBDII Interface For A Laptop Computer

If you have a laptop PC you can build your own OBDII interface so you can access all the information available to a dedicated hand-held scan tool but at a much lower cost. Not only can you access all the fault codes in your car's ECU but you can then store them in your laptop for future reference.

3 Feb, 2010

Review: Agilent U1732A Digital LCR Meter

Agilent Technologies has just released a new addition to its range of affordable handheld test and measuring instruments: the U1732A handheld Digital LCR meter. Designed for testing and measuring almost any kind of passive component (L, C or R) quickly, easily and accurately - on the bench or in the field, it is priced at a level much lower than Agilent's existing LCR meters.

2 Feb, 2010

Ask Silicon Chip

Got a technical problem? Can't understand a piece of jargon or some technical principle? Drop us a line and we'll answer your question. Write to: Ask Silicon Chip, PO Box 139, Collaroy Beach, NSW 2097 or send an email to silicon@siliconchip.com.au

1 Feb, 2010

Publisher's Letter

Issue 256   View the articles in this issue >>
Precision Temperature Logger & Controller, Part 1 WIB: Web Server In A Box, Part 3
Vintage Radio A Balanced Output Board For The Stereo DAC

24 Jan, 2010

Precision Temperature Logger & Controller, Part 1

This Temperature Logger & Controller is based on the Dick Smith Electronics Q1437 digital thermometer. It records & displays two temperature channels once a second on a PC over a period of up to 12 hours. With appropriate thermocouples, temperatures from -200?C to +1300?C can be recorded, with the display range, resolution, and temperature program adjustable in real time while the data is being logged.

23 Jan, 2010

WIB: Web Server In A Box, Part 3

In Pt.2 last month, we showed you how to connect the WIB to a network and gave the step-by-step setting-up details. Most constructors will settle for the website provided but for those with special needs, this third article is for advanced users who want to customise the WIB to their requirements.

19 Jan, 2010

Vintage Radio

Radiograms first came into being in the late 1920s and were produced in various formats up into the 1960s. During that time, they evolved from very basic units with a record playing mechanism on the top of the cabinet to units that had changers alongside the radio section. Some of the very latest units also included a TV set and/or a tape recorder and some even had a cocktail cabinet.

17 Jan, 2010

A Balanced Output Board For The Stereo DAC

This add-on board is designed to provide a pair of balanced audio outputs for the High-Quality Stereo DAC (Sept-Nov 2009). Two 3-pin male XLR connectors are used for the new outputs and they can either replace or augment the existing unbalanced outputs without affecting their performance.

15 Jan, 2010

Circuit Notebook

Interesting circuit ideas which we have checked but not built and tested. Contributions from readers are welcome and will be paid for at standard rates.

13 Jan, 2010

The Bureau Of Meteorology's New Doppler Weather Radar

I first noticed this giant "golf ball" last year, sitting high on its "tee", right next to the Terrey Hills golf driving range in Sydney's north. "Surely," I thought, "that's not just an advert for the driving range . . ." No it's not (although I bet they are very grateful!) ? it's much more interesting than that ? it's the latest in the Bureau of Meteorology weather radar upgrades! And the best part: you can view its images via the 'net.

11 Jan, 2010

Servicemans Log

Can a standard 4-pin 12V relay be all that difficult to diagnose? Well, not really but you can really be caught out if you assume that all relays conform to the same standard, particularly in the automotive trade.

8 Jan, 2010

A Multi-Function GPS Car Computer, Part 1

This project was inspired by requests from a number of readers. Essentially they said that the GPS module was great for obtaining a precise time . . . but could we produce a project that used its full capabilities for use in a vehicle?

4 Jan, 2010

The Automatic Identification System (AIS) In The Pilbara

Regular SILICON CHIP readers will recall Stan Swan's AIS article in August 2009. It's not stretching the truth to say it has stirred an enormous amount of interest. But we bemoaned the fact that there appeared to be very little coverage in Australia's north west.

3 Jan, 2010

Mailbag

Letters and emails should contain complete name, address and daytime phone number. Letters to the Editor are submitted on the condition that Silicon Chip Publications Pty Ltd may edit and has the right to reproduce in electronic form and communicate these letters. This also applies to submissions to "Ask SILICON CHIP" and "Circuit Notebook".

2 Jan, 2010

Publishers Letter

1 Jan, 2010

Ask Silicon Chip

Got a technical problem? Can't understand a piece of jargon or some technical principle? Drop us a line and we'll answer your question. Write to: Ask Silicon Chip, PO Box 139, Collaroy Beach, NSW 2097 or send an email to silicon@siliconchip.com.au

1 Jan, 2010

Notes & Errata

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