Tesla coils are fun, but not everyone dare to build them. This is mainly because to build large Tesla coils you need some knowledge about power electronics and they can be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. Anyway if you are looking for smaller scale solutions that would be safe enough, easy to build and wouldn’t require lots of knowledge, then check out this palm sized design introduced by Lucid Science. It uses few components like single transistor, LED indicator and simple custom made coil. It is powered from standard 9V battery. All parts you need probably you already have, so you can start right away. Despite its small size miniature Tesla coil is capable of lighting fluorescent bulbs and tubes. This guarantees some fun play while building and trying things out.
Most microcontrollers have ADC input, which can sample an analog signal, including sound. Even using Arduino, you can do many cool projects using audio information. For instance, you can make a voice-controlled device such as Audio Recorder, voice-activated switch, and more exciting audio-related projects. In this post, I want to focus a bit on the microphone part – the circuit required between the electret condenser microphone and MCU ADC input. Generally speaking, you cannot connect the electret microphone directly to the ADC pin and expect it to work. The part needed here is called an electret condenser microphone amplifier circuit. Electret microphone with preamplifier stage Condenser microphones require power from a battery or external source. The resulting audio signal is a stronger signal comparing to a dynamic microphone. First of all, the electret microphone isn’t only a condenser inside. It already has a preamplifier inside usually made of FET transistor, which is connected in common source configuration: First, the electret microphone needs to be powered through the drain pull-up resistor. Its value depends on the power supply voltage. The rule of thumb is to add 1kΩ per +1V of the power supply. Up to 10V 10kΩ resistor will work fine.
Joule thief circuit is popular among electronics enthusiasts. It has many implementations but probably the most common is a very minimalist voltage booster based on NPN transistor, coil, resistor, and LED. Its primary intent is to squeeze the remaining juice of dying batteries to light a LED. Since a pile of dying batteries keeps growing, I decided to give it a try. Instead of building the real circuit blindly, I decided to understand what is going on inside the circuit. So I made this circuit on the LTSpice simulator. You may find some difficulties when adding a transformer to the circuit, there is an excellent video on how to do this.
Different logic levels are a common problem in various circuits. For instance, Arduino boards come powered from 5V or 3.3V. Raspberry Pi is powered at 3.3V, and it accepts and generates 3.3V signals on its GPIO. This is fine until you need to connect the 5V peripheral to a 3.3V device. This can be a simple LCD. Of course, you can get 3.3V LCDs, but this is not always the solution. Sometimes it is handy to build a voltage level converter. It can be a special buffer IC like SN74LVCC3245A. These work great as bidirectional voltage translators. But in many cases, there is no need for another IC in your circuit. Hobbyists like to go with simpler solutions. The simplest way is to use resistors, where signal levels differ. The fact is that in most cases, devices have clamping diodes on the inputs that are meant to protect a further circuit from over-voltages. For instance, clamping diode inside a 3.3v device will try to limit the input voltage to 3.3V. This is why a series resistor necessary to limit the current flowing through the diode. Using resistors doesn’t guarantee safe operation. First of all, you must be sure that the…
In most small audio projects, hobbyists are using specialized audio amplifier chips. That’s really fine; you get high-quality amplification without scratching your head. Some probably don’t care how these things work. But don’t forget that amplifiers can be built out of discrete electronics components like bipolar transistors. Check out this great hack week project where Dino makes a class AB audio amplifier out of three bipolar transistors and other passive components. He slightly goes through the theory of operation and, of course, demonstrates its working in the following video.
For all the home hobbyists, you knew that dealing with microcontrollers is a fun thing. Once you have been hooked with it, there was no turning back. Do you know that a microcontroller’s GPIO (General-purpose input/output) pins cannot handle higher power requirements? An LED was easy enough, but how about the large power items such as light bulbs, toaster ovens or blenders that required more circuitry? In this case, a relay is wanted in this situation. However, building a 5V controllable power outlet can be handy for many applications; thus a relay is a perfect choice for this project! For your information, a relay is a large mechanical switch, where the switch is toggled on or off by energizing a coil constantly. By applying the relay in the project, it will ensure your safety. Let’s take an example. If you have 120VAC running through the paddles, you don’t have to worry that 120VAC will sneak back into and vaporise your microcontroller connected to the coil, as the paddles are capable of carrying substantial currents! Furthermore, you can use the relay to control a DC motor or an AC lamp if you want to.
Probably you saw the Sun tracking system before; however, do you have the urge to challenge yourself to make a Sun Tracking Unit? First of all, get a tiny .7″x1.4″ PC board using the LED3X sensor concept. This circuit uses power MOSFET drivers, which most any DC motor can be used without any modification. You might notice that the power drivers are good enough for delivering about 50 amps of peak current or even more. The current will increase accordingly to the transistor. This means the large power MOSFET, 72A, when operated in low power mode, will eliminate the transistor’s need for a heat sink. Cool, isn’t it?