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Category Archives: Electronics
It is no secret that I prefer Mathcad for the vast bulk of my computational work, but I live in a world in which Excel is universally available. As such, I must prepare Excel workbooks for others to use. Today, I was asked to prepare an Excel worksheet that our salesman could use for estimating the maximum range over which different combinations of wire and voltage could deliver useful power. I include my Excel workbook here for those who wish to follow along. Continue reading
I presented a seminar over lunch today on short-range DC power distribution, which I believe is one of the most exciting areas in electronics today. AC power distribution has dominated power engineering since the "War of the Currents" ended with Westinghouse's AC system winning a decisive victory over Edison's DC system back in the 1890s. Starting in 1930s Europe, high-voltage DC distribution has slowly gained a foothold in some long-haul, high power distribution applications, but most power distribution has continued to be dominated by AC. Continue reading
While reading about how these units worked, I noticed that the amount of surge voltage they let pass (called let-through voltage) is a function of the hookup wire length. The units are tested with a hookup length of 6 inches, and the user is warned that the let-through voltage increased by ~20 V per inch of additional wire. I became curious about the origin of this rule of thumb. In this post, I will show you where this rule of thumb comes from. Continue reading
I have been sitting in a meeting on a high power version of Power over Ethernet (PoE) known as IEEE 802.3bt. It supports 90 W of output power with a guarantee of 71 W at the load. During the talk, Figure 1 was discussed (my version of the chart). When I am given some mathematical information, I like to experiment with it to see if I understand what I am being told. Continue reading
One of the most common computation tasks that my customers face is estimating battery capacity based on the battery's temperature and discharge current. Figure 1 shows a example of the capacity curves for a typical lead-acid battery. Ten years ago, I chose to implement this function with an Excel spreadsheet that used a polynomial approximation for this function. An engineer today asked me to explain how my Excel implementation works, and I felt this would be a good topic for a post. This approach is implemented using SUMPRODUCT – no helper cells were required. Continue reading
Quote of the Day If you don't stick to your values when they are being tested, they're not values; they're hobbies. — Jon Stewart Introduction I received a circuit design question from a reader who was asking how to design … Continue reading
Many electronic systems are required to generate an alarm when they detect their power failing – the alarm is referred to as a "dying gasp". These systems are required to generate a dying gasp alarm when their input voltage drops below a specified level. Continue reading
I have been designing circuits since I was a boy, and my passion for circuits has only grown over time. My home designs focus on sensor interfaces that I hook up to the Internet using Raspberry Pie and Arduino digital interfaces. These open-source HW interfaces make it possible to create incredibly powerful designs at home. Continue reading
Because I have had to deal with lightning in all sorts of contexts (e.g. military equipment, commercial hardware, consumer products), I have developed an enormous respect for the power of lightning (Figure 1). Because of this respect, I have worked to ensure that my own home has excellent lightning protection, including a sophisticated ground system. Even with all my precautions, last weekend lightning struck near my home and caused my garage door to open – letting rain into the garage, and my garage door opener to become unresponsive. Fortunately, I just had to cycle power again on the garage door opener and it started to work. Continue reading
I was asked this morning about how to create a 3D plot in Mathcad that shows a surface, two lines on the surface, and marks the point of intersection of the two lines (Figure 1). It just so happens that I have been looking at the amount of current that a PCB trace of a given area can carry for a given temperature rise above ambient. While the curve itself is a bit boring and viewing it in 3D does not add any value, this example does illustrate the procedure for generating this type of plot. Continue reading