Engineering in February: DIY Aviation Scanner, Robo-Bug, etc.

Over the past few weeks, our Content and Lab team has reviewed some of the most interesting articles and projects from previous editions of Elektor. This month, we’re highlighting some great engineering items from previous February editions, including a DIY aviation scanner and a fun robotic bug with servo-powered legs. Looked.

Over the past few weeks, our Content and Lab team has reviewed some of the most interesting engineering articles and electronics projects from previous editions of Elektor. This month, we’re highlighting some great items from notable February editions, including a DIY aviation scanner, some handy desoldering tips, and a fun robot bug with servo-powered legs. Looked.

Connect your thermostat with ESPHome (February 2021)

Home automation solutions are in high demand. Elektor readers are always on the lookout for new DIY engineering solutions that will make things easier around the home or office. In 2021, Clemens Valens tried to tackle a thermostat project “the right way”, and he followed up with a helpful article on replacing a “dumb” thermostat with a DIY connected solution suitable for home automation .

Overhaul of thermostats.

Redesigning the desktop thermostat circuit was pretty easy,” says Valens. “I replaced the USB power supply with a 5V AC/DC module, and added a potentiometer with a voltage limiting resistor because the Wi-Fi module cannot handle the voltages. above 1.1V. I kept the two push buttons and three LEDs because they might come in handy at some point.” If you’re looking to learn more about ESPHome, this article is a great place to start.

Cool Power with D-Watt (February 2017)

In 2017 Ton Giesberts introduced a high performance amplifier with plenty of power output. The power amp was built around a digital audio driver IC and it operated in Class D. The entire amplifier, including all necessary heatsinks and protection circuitry, is located on a single circuit board. An external heatsink for the output transistors is not required.

Engineering in February: Cool Power with D-Watt
A powerful amp.

“The key components of this amplifier are a driver IC in a 16-pin package and a dual-powered MOSFET,” Giesberts explained. “With extensive protection circuitry, they are mounted on a single PCB, so you only need to add an appropriate power supply, regulated or unregulated. There is no CMS in the design, so building the board is very simple and you can experiment with different components or component values ​​if you wish.

Aeronautical scanner: portable scanner with USB interface (February 2013)

At the beginning of 2013, Elektor introduced all of its aviation enthusiasts to an interesting design of an aviation scanner for use with the civil aviation band. The easy-to-build receiver allows users to listen in on communications between control towers and aircraft. The design includes an ATmega microcontroller (IC2), which takes care of several tasks. It measures the frequency of the VCO divided by 16 using a counter with a gate time of 16 ms, giving measured values ​​in kilohertz. The VCO is driven by a 16-bit DAC (type MAX5201, IC4).

Aeronautical and PCB scanner project: Feb engineering
Aircraft and PCB scanner project.

“Of course, off-the-shelf aviation scanners are available at fairly reasonable prices, but it’s always worth building your own and playing around with it,” author Ger Baars wrote. “The scanner described here has a very simple design, but it offers a lot of functionality thanks to the integrated microcontroller, which also allows the scanner to be controlled and the frequencies to be programmed from a computer.”

Ringflash LED: appropriate lighting for macro photography (February 2008)

Elektor engineers and readers are resourceful and innovative designers who often choose to design their own electronic tools. An excellent example is Bernie de Fortcalquier who presented the “LED Ringflash” project in February 2008. A photographer interested in using a ringflash with his digital camera, he designed and built his own solution from scratch.

Ringflash LED: Engineering in February
LED ring light

“Rarely have circuits published in Elektor been simpler than our ringflash,” the article says. “To stay both compact and simple, there is only one option: a microcontroller. It allows you to: detect when the camera triggers the flash; display the selected flash duration via LEDs; and switch the ringflash. The author opted for a series connection of the LEDs, and rather than reinventing the wheel, opted to use an electronic flash card cannibalized from a disposable camera – it was in fact the only electronic easily available capable of supplying a voltage significantly higher than the 64 V actually required. ”

Walking Bug: A Robot with Servo-Powered Legs (February 2005)

Robotics has long been a hot topic in the Elektor community. In February 2005, we presented an innovative but remarkably simple walking robot project. The Walking Bug was an Atmel AT90S2313-based design that could actually walk using only two servos and a minimal amount of electronics.

Walking Bug: February Engineering
The walking bug.

In addition to the hardware, the engineer details the software for the project. “In the main loop, the ‘Step 1’ subroutine is skipped every 100ms. In this subroutine, the micro counts from 1 to 12, the values ​​corresponding to the 12 positions to which a servo pin rotates when a “real” step is performed Elsewhere in the program you will find a table allowing the micro to look up a value to read and copy to the servo subroutine at the current step state.

Desoldering: An Engineering Craft (February 2000)

Elektor publishes much more than DIY electronics projects. We also have a long history of presenting useful engineering tutorials. In February 2000, we immersed ourselves in “the art of desoldering already soldered components, or desoldering”. As K. Walraven explained, even the most experienced soldering artists can have trouble desoldering. In the article, it covers everything using desoldering braid, flux, etc.

Desoldering: February Engineering
Desoldering takes skill and practice.

Green Power for PC (February 1996)

Elektor has been publishing articles on “green” solutions for decades. In February 1996, we highlighted an award-winning design in an article entitled “Green Power’ for PCs”. The circuit shown in the article “saves power and avoids screen burn-in issues by turning off the monitor when no keyboard or mouse activity is detected for a predetermined period (adjustable between 1 and about 20 minutes),” the designer explained. “A simple switch allows you to replace the Green Power controller at any time.”

Green power for PCs
The circuit saves power and avoids screen burn-in issues.

Automotive Service Module (February 1989)

Today, most of our vehicles are equipped with high-tech digital tools to keep us up to date on the status of things, from speed to tire pressure. Drivers in the 1980s didn’t have such conveniences, so Elektor engineers and readers set out to design smart solutions for drivers. In the February 1989 article titled “Car Service Module”, A. Rigby presented a design for measuring engine speed in revolutions per minute and ignition timing angle. The design included a compact screen that could also be used for other applications.

car service module
The car service module from 1989.

“The circuit for the counter section of the service module is quite simple and essentially relies on a single integrated circuit, the CMOS Type 4011,” Rigby noted. “The 5 V regulator, IC2, is powered by the 9 V battery in the display circuit described below. A zener diode, DI, and a series resistor, R1, reduce the amplitude of the circuit breaker signal to a value suitable for application to a CMOS NAND gate, N1 Capacitor C1 in the input network shunts all high frequency components to ground.

Digitester with a Difference: Universal Testing Aid for Digital Circuits (February 1984)

Testing digital circuits can be a challenge. As the engineers at Elektor explained in February 1984, “our old trusty, the multimeter, is quite useless because of the frequencies of operation: logic levels change so rapidly—thousands or millions of times per second—that a digital multimeter is unable to cope. This problem can be solved in two ways: buy a better quality test instrument or reduce the operating frequency of the circuit under test. If you opt for the latter, you will find our digitalster exactly what you need!

Digitester project
Digitester project.

The design includes five functional circuits: two single-pulse generators, two pulse-train oscillators, and an electronic switch. Check it out!

Clap-Switch (February 1979)

Many of you will remember “The Clapper”, a product regularly promoted in fun infomercials in the mid-1990s. But did you know that Elektor introduced the Clap-Switch almost years before? The design was simple but quite creative.

Clap-Switch Design
The Clap-Switch project.

“Ultrasonic frequency components produced by clapping are picked up by an appropriate transducer,” the engineers wrote. “After being amplified and filtered, they are routed to a monostable with a low trigger threshold. This provides a signal with a rise time fast enough to in turn trigger a flip-flop. Since two flip-flops are contained in a 4013, a second flip-flop in the circuit provides the ability to activate the switch with two flips of the hand.

Minidrum (February 1975)

Elektor has been developing and publishing articles on audio systems for decades. In the mid-1970s, the engineering enthusiasts at Elektor designed an innovative minidrum system that ended up on display at a Hi-Fi exhibition in Amsterdam.

Minidrum design
The mini drum.

“Assembling the complete instrument is a matter of personal preference,” the engineers noted. “The prototype was mounted in a Plexiglas box for visual purposes, but from an electrical point of view a metal case is desirable for screening purposes.”

More engineering to come

Join us in February to spotlight more classic Elektor projects and engineering tutorials. And don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments section below. The engineering continues!