Friday, April 16, 2010

S.M.Dees: The Album!

So how do you explain about Integrated Circuits and IC Packages, about thru hole and SMDs, and electronic components - in general - to a fresher undergrad engineering student?
Of course you go about by getting them to open up old electronics devices and letting them observe the various printed circuit boards installed in those devices. You can then point out the various components soldered on to the boards to help them get started with identifying the kind and package of each components: "This one's a 33 kiloohms 0805 resistor, and thats a Case B 10 microfarad 35 volts Case C Tantalum Capacitor and that big flat black thing there is a 240 Pin 0.5 mm pitched LQFP package - an Application Specific Integrated Circuit - the brains which used to make this DVD writer drive work its magic!"

So after you are done breaking things apart and guiding the students through the component "jungles" inside modern day electronics, you realize that they would still need a ready reckoner which they can refer to regularly till they have built up enough confidence to identify components in various packages and so here's what we came up with:

We stuffed a coin album from Archies (a novelty/gift brand in India) with as many variety of components as we can find. The album had 8 sheets, we used the alternate sheets to hold labels for the components held in the preceding sheet. The labels themselves are colour coded - different label colour for different kind of components - sky blue for ICs, tan for diodes, parrot green for crystals and so on. Here are the scans of each of the 4 pair of sheets:

Sheet 1 - SMD ICs:

Sheet 2 - SMD ICs and SMD Passives:

Sheet 3 - thru hole Passives:

Sheet 4 - thru hole Passives:

Extra Sheet - a thin slice (wafer) of silicon with transistors etched on it :

We use such teaching aids at LARE's Learning Center, India during practical hands-on courses for undergraduates in the field of embedded electronic design. Do join us for a unique learning experience and go beyond your academic courseware!

Using Showcase Pieces at Learning Center

Many manufacturers send distributors & shopkeepers a collection of samples of their products to display in their showcases for customers. We figured these can prove to be a great teaching aid for students - a nice tangible way to introduce them to the wide variety of electronic components available to an engineer today. Here is one with samples of a variety of Screw Terminals:

LARE's Learning Center, India conducts practical hands-on courses for undergraduates in the field of embedded electronic design. Do join us for a unique learning experience and go beyond your academic courseware.

See my 8051 Collection !

While working on new chapters for Kenneth J. Ayala's Book on 8051 Microcontroller with Prof. Dhananjay Gadre, I had this desire to collect as many actual samples of 8051 variants as possible. I already had a sample of the original 8051 and Gadre sir was able to find me some 87C51s. I was able to add some more samples to my collection over the past 2 years. I put them all in a nice box, labelled them and presented the collection to LARE's Learning Center, Belapur, India for use as a teaching aid during their workshops/seminars/courses. Its fun to collect stuff! I hope this collection will help students realize the ubiquity of the 8051 based microcontrollers - they come in all sizes and have a wide range of feature sets, and even today they are installed in way too many systems as compared to other family of microcontrollers. Here are a few snaps of my humble collection:

The Box:

The 8051s:

Their labels on the box covers (part numbers and specs - image mirrored & rotated)

The SMD ones in detail:

Keil maintains a database of datasheets of all 8051 variants.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Inside a Bourns 3296 Potentiometer

Taking things apart to see how they work is the most fun that we get to do. Here's what a Bourns 3296 Potentiometer looks from Inside. You can easily make out how the multiturn feature works - there is a screw and cog arrangement. The cog carries the brush which moves the electrical position of the center tap along the circular cermet track (black coloured). Cermet is a ceramic/metal mixture. Do checkout Wikipedia's entry on Potentiometers.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mesmerizing Masses of Microcontrollers

One "P89V51RD2 Microcontroller BreadBlock" :

Many "P89V51RD2 Microcontroller BreadBlocks" :(Panelized for ease of manufacture, these panels when panelized make for nice desktop wallpapers)