Electric circuits analogy to water pipes

Sometimes calculating some objects’ parameters and behavior may be much easier when using analogy to objects with well-developed theory and calculation methodology. In an earlier article, we analyzed power dissipation of electronic devices using Ohms law where Voltage=temperature, Current=Dissipation, and Resistance=Thermal resistance. This time let’s look at how electronic devices can be transformed into water pipes and vice versa. Let’s take the Voltage source. A simple battery is like a water pump which provides Pressure (a voltage analogy): The second electronic element is a resistor. Resistors can be imagined as water pipes with a smaller aperture. The higher resistance is – the smaller aperture of pipe:

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Thermal analysis of semiconductor devices-when do you need heat-sinks

Every electronics constructor and engineer knows that electronic devices like IC’s voltage regulators and CPU heat up. Temperature is a critical parameter for reliable system operation. System reliability is very closely related to devise temperature high or low. While temperature increases, the reliability drops exponentially. If you look in device datasheets, you will find a recommended Operating temperature range. For instance, the Voltage regulator 7805 can normally operate at 0 – 70°C temperature range when maximum Junction Temperature can reach 150°C. So how is the operating temperature range calculated? It is not as difficult as it may look like. We know that temperature is analogous to voltage, thermal resistance changed to electric resistance, power dissipation is as current, then:

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PCB construction methods for embedded controllers

The most common method is of constructing embedded controller systems is a Printed Circuit Board (PCB). All electronics know that simple PCB is constructed of insulating material like epoxy impregnated glass cloth with a thin copper sheet(s) on one or both sides. There are many conflicts about requirements on how to design interconnection patterns of PCB. But the main purpose for all is to make PCB reliable, effective and producible. If the circuit operates at a low speed, requirements are not as strict as for high-frequency devices where the parasitic effect cannot be ignored. Each PCB stray has its own resistance, capacitance, and inductance. These are the main effect that distorts the signals.

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Schmitt trigger VS simple inverter

Schmitt trigger is a special logical element adjusted to work with analog input signals. The primary purpose of Schmitt triggers was to restore the shape of digital signals. Because of the transmission line effect, digital shape transforms from square to trapezoid or triangle or more complex signal. Of course, during transmission, signals become noisy and distorted. Schmitt trigger is a comparator circuit, but positive feedback results in hysteresis and memory effect. Comparing to simple logical elements, Schmitt triggers have two threshold levels. Between these threshold values U1 and U2, the state of output doesn’t change the so-called hysteresis. Such an effect stabilizes output against rapid triggering by noise. Bellow is two characteristics compared of simple logical inverter and Schmitt trigger inverter:

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Marking of Digital IC chips

There are currently huge amounts of different digital IC chips available in the market, starting from the simplest logical elements and ending with processors and gate arrays (FPGA). Of course, there also are lots of IC manufacturers offering IC’s. Many of them are specialized and won’t be reviewed here. Let’s limit ourselves to smaller, more general digital chips, basically TTL 74series. This series is produced by many manufacturers like Texas Instruments (TI).Common marking: Manufacturer identifier indicates the manufacturer name;

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VGA to X-Y-Z scope converter

This is a fun project I found on Jon’s antique radios web-page. He has managed to convert the VGA output signal from PC to X Y X oscilloscope signal. Converting the VGA RGB signal to a synchronized oscilloscope input signal is pretty easy because VGA has two sync signals separate from RGB signals. Look at pin-out of VGA cable: Sync signals make things much easier as there is no need for additional sync signal generators – thus circuit becomes pretty simple without any programmable components:

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ATTiny2313 Monitor tester

This project was born for repairing broken PC monitors. This allows avoiding using a computer while testing monitor patterns. The Tiny monitor tester uses ATTiny2313 AVR MCU running at 20MHz speed. Such speed allows running synchro H and V signals directly from MCU ports. Also circuit converts R, G, B signals to analog using a simple R-2R resistor network. ATTiny2313 Monitor tester:

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RS232 emulates I2C for 24cXX memory programming

Sometimes you need a quick and easy solution for programming serial EEPROM memory chips. I think the easiest and well-known method is to use a simple programmer adapter with very few components: This adapter is connected to the RS232 port, and there is no need for an additional power supply as it comes from the PORT pin. The adapter is compatible with JDM Programmer so that you can use its programming software like IC-PROG. Just make a couple of settings, and you are ready to go:

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Desoldering Atmega128 using a lighter

I heard about this method and decided to try it with my board. I needed to replace the Atmega128 chip but didn’t have hot air solder for desoldering IC. I tried this weird desoldering technique, and I can say that I was satisfied. Tracks and other parts weren’t damaged. The Atmega128 board is working again as before.

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Interesting research on ceramic capacitors

I found an interesting article about the capacitance of ceramic capacitors may depend on voltage applied. In some designs, you can face a problem when ceramic capacitor capacitance may strongly depend on voltage. Few tests were done with various capacitors using the following circuit: In the circuit CX – tested capacitor; C0 – known capacitor. Voltage vas regulated from 0 to 50V using potentiometer R1. 50V is taken as the nominal voltage of the ceramic capacitor. Because Two capacitors are connected in series the total capacitance is C=CX·C0/(CX+C0) then we find the capacitance of tested capacitor CX=C·C0/(C0-C); C0 is about 10 % of CX value. There were several capacitors tested and stunning results were found. – Some of the capacitors lost capacitance from 10 to 15 times due to the increase of voltage up to 50V. Even when 10% of voltage were applied the capacitance was only about 35 – 40% of nominal value. The only explanation may be that low-quality dielectric material is used in (no-name) ceramic capacitors. Of course, not all capacitors gave the following results. But be ready for this when using unknown producer ceramic capacitors.

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