Zener – one diode for many uses

Zener diodes are specially designed diodes (heavily doped) that have low reverse voltage breakdown. Due to this characteristic, Zener diodes are connected backward to regular operation. If Zener is forward biased, it acts as an ordinary diode with a forward voltage drop at 0.6V. Zener diode backward voltage breakdowns may range from 2.4V up to 100V. Honestly speaking, if you need like 1.2V, then probably you need to connect two forward-biased diodes in series for 0.6V+0.6V = 1.2V drop.

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Diodes – how to choose one

Diodes are semiconductor devices commonly used for many purposes. In general, you can imagine a diode to be a valve that passes current in one direction and stops it from flowing back. The first thing that comes to mind – this might be a good choice for reverse voltage protection. In reality, things are a bit different. First of all, diodes aren’t perfect devices. They have a so-called forward voltage drop, which is about 0.7V for standard diodes. If inserted diode into the power supply, say 5V, the after protection you will get 4.3V where part of voltage is lost in the diode. If you want to go this way, choose the Schottky diode instead, which has a smaller forward voltage drop. A forward voltage drop occurs when the diode is forward biased what means current flow from anode to the cathode.

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Thoughts on interfacing piezo vibration sensor

piezo vibration sensor test with oscilloscope

Some time ago, I purchased a MiniSense 100 Vibration sensor. I probably had some project in mind, but it happened that it dived into drawer among other “to do” things.  I thought it’s time to try a few things with it. Piezo sensor MiniSense 100 is very sensitive with a pretty good frequency response and is linear (±1%). As you can see, high sensitivity is achieved with a 0.3-gram inertial mass at the end of the film. As there is a hole in the mass, you probably can screw in an additional mass and increase sensitivity even further. Probably there is no need to explain where such a sensor would be helpful. These could be vibration/ motion sensors, impact sensors, and other areas where motion and acceleration are involved. Usually, sensitivity is 1V/g. Where g is standard gravity or standard acceleration due to free fall and is equal to 9.80665m/s2. As a mechanical device, it also has a resonant frequency of 75Hz. At this point, sensitivity reaches 5V/g.

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Building simple power supply from theory to working example

A power supply is an essential part of every electronic device. The whole system relies on it. If a power supply fails – the device dies too, and there is a chance that sensitive parts may be damaged. Power supply solutions vary from device to device. They may work using different techniques depending on needs. Tim has described probably the simplest power supply solution, which converts Alternating Current (AC) to Direct Current (DC). The supply circuit consists of well-known parts – transformer, which transforms voltage from 230V AC to 12VAC, follows diode bridge rectifier, smoothing using large caps and regulation with standard 7805 voltage regulator. Such a solution proved itself in many designs. It is simple, cheap, and builds fast. Tim put everything in the short and informative post without overhead information. Following it, you will be able to construct a 5V DC power supply in an hour.

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12V solar charger using LM317

[Alex] decided to build a solar charger for his car battery. He had an 18V solar panel able to provide up to 83mA. You cannot connect the panel directly to the battery because charging voltage cannot exceed the allowed safe limit, and also solar panels may become a load for the battery in a dark time, and this way discharge it. So he ended up with a simple circuit utilizing LM317 and a couple of resistors setting voltage so that battery would be charged at the recommended 13.2V. To prevent back supply, a Schottky was used. Of course, it adds some voltage drop (0.7V worst case). This was taken into account while calculating voltage adjusts resistor divider. As a test [Alex] left a solar charger for three days connected to his battery, and it charged up to 12.35V which is about 75% of capacity. Not bad at all.

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Adding self power down functionality to your devices

The power-down feature is convenient on battery-operated devices. For instance, most of the multimeters already have this feature allowing them to self turn off when there is no activity for some time. Check out this simple solution, which uses a pair of FETs and resistors. It was initially made for the Atmega328 project because the author didn’t want to bother with AVR power-down modes. Instead, he used this simple circuit. It can be used to turn the device on with the switch. This is where the P-FET part plays a role and turn off with N-FET. Turn Off signal wire comes from AVR pin market as 5. While the device is powered, N-FET has to be on with a high gate signal. When the N-FET gate signal goes low device turns itself off. This can be used on any device where possible to get such signal conditions. Or use in microcontroller circuit by adding some delay count after inactivity.

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Avoid smoke with power protection circuit

When designing an electronic device, you want to make sure that it won’t go in smoke under unexpected circumstances. You never know what may go wrong during the device’s lifetime, primarily if it is powered from mains. The small circuit between your battery and device may protect it from mistakes like reverse power polarity. His lists start with a simple series diode, which is cheap but may help protect from reverse polarity. Like any other, it has a downside – voltage drop (0.7V) that may be a pain for low voltage devices.

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Modeling of analog part for DDS3 signal generator

When building an AVR DDS2 signal generator, there were many discussions about signal conditioning in the analog part of the device. The first argument was that LM358 wasn’t the best choice for this purpose. Another one pointed to the sine wave that wasn’t smooth enough. As you can see, there are some dents on it. Other waveforms also are distorted, especially when higher voltages are selected. This asks for a better analog part. Some people suggested replacing LM358 with OPA2134, but it seems to be quite an expensive choice. In my opinion, low noise, a general-purpose op-amp can be great too. I’m going to give a try to Texas Instruments TL074 low noise op-amp. It is low power, high slew rate (13V/us) IC – almost five times faster than LM358 and for the same reasonable price.

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Multivibrator – back to basics

Multivibrator circuit is one of the first projects you start learning electronics. It is a beautiful circuit widely used for educational purposes and even in end projects as waveform generators. Lots of hobbyists grab a microcontroller/Arduino to blink LEDs. But using basic circuits like multivibrator may be cheaper, faster, and even fun. [Ray] decided to go through multivibrator theory and explain its working in detail step by step. The circuit itself consists of two transistors, two capacitors, and four resistors. When powered, the circuit generates a square wave signal that can be used to flash LEDs or clock other circuits. You will get an intuition on what causes multivibrator to develop generate. Formulas allow calculating resistor and capacitor values for a particular frequency. If you are a starter in electronics, build one on a breadboard and do some experiments, why not start with Christmas lights.

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Does Electronics Really Help Us

Electronics is a vast stream. The subject is pervasive in itself. Electronics are the primary source of almost everything that is happening today. The whole working of the items is dependent mainly on the electronics base. In our daily lives, we can see uncountable examples of the number of electronics used around us. From our environment itself, we can see how electronics can find their use in so many work departments. Human beings are slowly becoming addicted to the use of electronics in their lives. They have become almost dependant on the machines for their work. For example, the computer is the most commonly used machine, which is the best illustration of electronics in our lives. People have started being dependent on these machines to a large extent. All the work that was earlier known to be done by the people is now seen as to be done by the various devices and also the computer. Such is the help provided by the electronics to the people in their lives.

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