tag 标签: circuit

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  • 2016-4-15 17:57
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    A few weeks ago, Max the Magnificent considered what was described as The Great Capacitor Plague of the Early 21st Century . This prompted several readers to share various levels of experience with recent capacitor problems. However, a few smudges on printed circuit boards, some smoke, and the occasional flame all pale into insignificance with regard to the experiences of capacitor users in times past.   In the middle and latter part of the 20th century, it was almost a rite-of-passage for anybody making claims on the electronic engineering profession to have sat through a storm of aluminium flakes, paper, fluffy chemicals, and heaven knows what else that rained down following the explosion of an electrolytic capacitor.   What follows is a true story of how an exploding capacitor delayed the development of part of the British computer industry by at least six months. The name of the individual involved has been withheld to avoid embarrassment. We will call him "The Young Man," or TYM for short.   Setting the scene This exploding capacitor story starts long ago in a distant place, when transistors made of germanium were in their infancy and magnetic cores were the memory of choice for the latest embryo electronic computers. The distant place is Croydon, England, now a part of greater London, once famous as the site of the first London airport, perhaps now more celebrated for a ladies' hair style named "The Croydon Face Lift."   The airport had spawned number of light engineering electronics companies, including Philips/Mullard (radios and televisions), ICT/ICL by their earlier name of Powers-Samas (tabulators and computers), Creed (teleprinters), Dictaphone and Muirhead (fax machines), Aeronautical and General Instruments (AGI) (aviation instruments), and many more, all moving by various degrees into electronics.   Now visualize a bespectacled school leaver -- TYM, who is central to this story as a very young man -- who had bicycled around all these companies to find out what they were about. TYM finally ended up knocking on the door of Powers-Samas -- which was to evolve into International Computer Tabulators (ICT), then International Computers Limited (ICL), and eventually Fujitsu -- asking if there were any jobs working on electronic computers. He had an interest in electronics, he'd built a few vacuum tube and germanium transistor radios, and he had also won the Physics prize as his most significant grammar school academic achievement. He was directed to the training school. In those days, large engineering companies in the UK ran training schools, offered formal engineering apprenticeships, and paid for employees to attend college and/or university. Here TYM met a kindly Mr Wood who managed the training school and who listened sympathetically to TYM's electronic engineering dreams and employment requests.   This is the point in our tale where luck steps in and plays its part, because Mr Wood was a mechanical engineer who knew very little about electronics, as was the case with most of the senior and middle management of Powers-Samas / ICT at that time. However, Mr Woods had recently been visited by the head of the physics department at the local technical college, who was recruiting students for his department. For TYM, Mr Woods then uttered some life-changing words: "Physics is halfway between Mechanical Engineering and Electronics, so we will pay you to study Physics with Electronic Engineering as your Applied Physics subject, and we will employ you as a Mechanical Engineering Apprentice." All of this was undertaken on a day(s) release program.   Sometime later... While studying during the following years, TYM was provided with experience in the design and manufacture of all manner of machines involving punched cards and their associated mechanical engineering, while at every opportunity trying to associate himself with any electronics-related developments. As a result of endless pestering, TYM found himself as a know-it-all kid attached to a very small select group of top-class electronic computer design engineers who were developing the first British ferrite core-based computer in secret. Along the way, TYM had some development contact with another secret company computer called the Samastronic, which was a machine constructed by highly-skilled mechanical engineers as their best effort at computer building. TYM also carefully avoided any involvement with the company's first all vacuum tube electronic program controlled computer -- the PCC -- which managed to become a disaster without TYM's help.   The new computer, which was called the FCC (Ferrite Core Computer), had all the architectural features of a modern single-chip processor or microcontroller using discrete components. The program and data memory were magnetic core, some of the magnetic core drivers were vacuum tubes (good old EL34s), while the arithmetic unit was implemented using diode transistor logic (DTL). The diode part of the DTL employed the very fast IN96 point-contact germanium diode -- a device that will feature later in this exploding capacitor story. The high-speed scanning for one co-ordinate of the core memory used a modified version of a nuclear weapon coaxial cable trigger device. The computer programs were loaded into the computer with paper tape or punched cards or a simple keyboard. There may have been a teleprinter as the output device.   As a very junior member of the team, TYM was provided with an excellent opportunity for learning from some of the very best computer designers in the country/world, and to carry out small circuit development tasks. One day, somebody must have looked at TYM's company experience resume and seen that he had been involved in the design and construction (mostly construction) of the power supply for a machine that could photo-electrically read pen or pencil marks on a punch card and punch holes in the correct locations. Thus it was that TYM was given the job of designing one of the many FCC power supplies -- the one for the high voltage required by the vacuum tubes.   TYM set to work on a design for a power supply that would have a front panel that fitted in a standard 19-inch rack, with most of the circuit components mounted on a board fixed at right angles. The design was conventional by today's standards -- a transformer, a full wave rectifier, and a vacuum tube-based feedback circuit featuring a neon gas tube as the voltage reference source accompanied by a large electrolytic capacitor to deal with current surges. There were also a few ancillary components like fuses, fixed and variable resistors, and a voltmeter.   The design was reviewed by TYM's immediate superior who approved it and reminded him to make sure the capacitor was "formed" before installing it. In those days, electrolytic capacitors required forming before use, especially after any significant time "on the shelf." This forming involved applying a staircase waveform of increasing voltage steps, where each step voltage was maintained for a few hours.   Explosive times When the power supply was completed, it was installed in its position among the others on the rack. The complete computer occupied four 6-foot racks linked together with the memory stacks cantilevered out. All went well for a few days and the power supply did its job perfectly...   ...until one day when, during the quiet of the afternoon, the computer development lab (indeed, the whole building) echoed with the sound of a massive explosion that filled the computer room with a mixture of aluminium confetti, fluffy chemical fallout, and smoke, all followed by what sounded like machine gun fire.   The senior engineer on the project rushed from his office, peered through the smoke and settling dust at the smoking ruins of his prototype FCC, and demanded an explanation, not of TYM (fortunately), but of the senior team leader -- the strict hierarchy of command and responsibility protected TYM. The team leader explained that he thought a large defective electrolytic capacitor in a power supply had exploded. The answer to the next question -- "Why are all the arithmetic unit circuit boards smoking and all the DTL diodes and transistors so much broken glass and bent wire on the floor?" -- explained the machine gun-like sound that had followed the initial explosion. It would appear that the explosion had somehow provided a 400-volt surge to the 5-volt devices on the arithmetic unit board. The machine gun fire sound was caused by the chain reaction of exploding diodes and other components as the 400-volt power surge progressed through the various circuits.   The FCC before and after (or "Behold the power of an electrolytic capacitor") (Source: Ron Neale)   The team was instructed to not let this happen again. A few weeks or a month or so later, all the damaged boards had been rebuilt and replaced, and the power supply had been rebuilt exactly as before. This time the electrolytic capacitor was formed and double checked. The development and the collection of performance data continued until, once again on an otherwise quiet afternoon, the computer room was rocked with a repeat explosion of the same capacitor.   This time some precautions had been taken to prevent much of the earlier chain reaction damage. Even so, some damage to other boards and power supplies occurred. After much by way of raised voices and robust discussion in the chief engineers office (expletives deleted), careful analysis showed the explosion had forced the cantilevered circuit board of TYM's power supply down onto a power supply below it and there was evidence of a massive arc.   Things were now getting serious. Jobs were at risk. Eventually, careful analysis by the full engineering team of the offending power supply and its design tracked-down the culprit. Neon gas tubes used as voltage reference sources for power supplies get very hot, so placing one on a circuit board next to an electrolytic capacitor is not the best design move. Lesson learned.   A few months later, the FCC was back on course. Eventually, in the early 1960s, half a dozen were built and deployed in the market as the ICL/ICT 558 Computer. By that time, the machine was at least six months late and not the most competitive of machines. TYM suspects that by that time the computer may have had a different power supply design, but he could not be sure as he had moved on to the physics lab in the same company and was now pursuing the development of ferroelectric memory based on triglycene sulphate and barium titanate and multi-aperture ferrite memory -- MAD devices.   TYM pursued his career in electronics in various parts of the world peppered with other explosions, some more serious including -- along the way -- some very large ones underground in Nevada. Sometimes, TYM could be found bathed in the blue light of Cherenkov radiation while crawling around atop of the nuclear reactor at the Wright Patterson USAF base pursuing dreams of radiation-hard memory components.   Rumours that TYM's attempts to produce low-cost, thin-film, radiation-hard squib firing switches for the wire-guided Dragon missile delayed its deployment into the US military arsenal by six months are totally without foundation (it was a difficult development for many reasons).   In later life, after a long career in electronics, TYM was often found masquerading as a technical journalist and on the lecture circuit. He could frequently be found at his favorite diner -- the Pinecrest Restaurant at Mason Geary in San Francisco -- or at one of his many other favorite eateries, especially the Moss Beach Distillery at Half Moon Bay, California. Questions as to why these meetings were often held in the company of a much younger female purser/cabin attendant from United Airlines or a female PR executive are dismissed by TYM as merely selective observation. He informs us anybody suggesting anything to the contrary can expect to hear from his legal team.   Ron Neale
  • 热度 1
    2014-11-12 16:53
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    Can you identify the missing loads? This circuit board plugs into something, but we know not what.   Click here for a larger image.   From the clues (there are at least four of them) hidden in the schematic above, what would you say are the most likely loads for the drains of transistors Q1 and Q2 connected to EdgeConn1 and EdgeConn2, respectively? Also, please describe what led you to your conclusions.   Glen Chenier Engineer
  • 热度 2
    2014-11-12 16:22
    1138 次阅读|
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    You have most likely read our own inscrutable Max Maxfield's recent post on iPod/iPad/iPhone headphone output . He started by explaining some fairly fundamental analog concepts.   I emailed Max asking why he'd started off at such a simple level. He replied that, over time, he's come to realize it's not a good idea to assume everyone understands everything, including the simple stuff. A lot of EE Times Asia community members are students. A lot of members focus on the digital domain, as opposed to analog, and many professional engineers have forgotten a lot of the fundamental concepts they no longer use on a day-to-day basis.   Almost as soon as I'd read Max's response (some might say coincidentally), I received a request for help from a friend who wanted to connect a LED to a 12VAC power source. This friend is a particularly bright guy with an MSEE, but he left engineering and went to "the Dark Side" (project management) about 30 years ago.   It's amazing what we forget. My friend sort of acknowledged this by starting with a bit of humor. "I was hoping that, if I connected the LED to the AC just with the resistor, it would work, but maybe not be as bright," he said. "But I guess, being AC, the reverse voltage causes the current to flow the other way -- who knows with modern LEDs these days, anything can happen -- causing the LED to glow bright black in the negative cycle, and the eye would cancel all of the bright white and the bright black, and we'd see nothing."   I explained how to calculate the current when using a LED. I also explained that he would have to protect the LED with a diode in reverse polarity across the LED. He came up with the following circuit based on my description.     Observe the "+" and "-" annotations marked on the AC. Also observe that no current will ever flow. We all can see that, right?   Then I started to think of other instances when I've been surprised by people's lack of knowledge. Six or seven years ago, we hired an EE graduate straight out of university. A few months later, I was reading a Jack Ganssle blog post , from which I've extracted the following quote:   Long ago I worked with an engineer who had applied for a job at Cape Canaveral. The tour seemed to always come back to a panel of beautiful controls just crying out for some tactile interaction. A big bundle of wires coming trailing on the floor was cut, proving the box wasn't connected to anything, and my friend finally succumbed and twisted a knob. Klaxons suddenly blared all over the blockhouse! The panel was a test; management didn't want to hire someone who pressed buttons in a launch complex. He didn't get the job.   I found this very amusing, so I told the story to the guys in the lab. They all laughed, except the young guy who asked, "What's Cape Canaveral?" (He didn't know what Cape Kennedy was, either.)   The bottom line is that there is a lot of stuff we don't know, some stuff we forget, and some stuff we must pass on to other generations. So all I can say is "Keep up the good work, Max."   How about you? Have there been any occasions when you discovered that you'd forgotten some fundamental concept? How about someone being ignorant of something you would absolutely have assumed that person knew?   Aubrey Kagan Engineering Manager Emphatec
  • 2013-10-3 18:22
    792 次阅读|
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    Many if not most people who visit this site have been doing electronic engineering and circuit design for quite some time. However, as Max recently pointed out in What? EEs who do not know how to solder? , often a gap exists between the high-level design people are doing and their experience with basic prototyping. A few of you have branched out and tried prototyping with an Arduino at home. A board for experimentation like this is great, but what if you want to take the next step and shrink your project down to something that could rest on your fingertip? Appropriately named, the ATtiny chip fits the bill. Smaller than a quarter and costing around $3 when not purchased in bulk, this little guy has a lot going for it. It does have its limits, however. The small package only gives you five IO pins, or six if you count the reset input. It also has only 8 kilobytes of programming space. Like anything, it's important to know the component's appropriate use. It's a good thing for ATtiny that many, many applications need only a few IO pins. Something trivial like making a single LED blink, or several blink in sequence, is perfect for this chip. Simple data recording might be another application, and I've personally used it to make a very small version of a useless machine. Unfortunately, like many of my hobby projects, this will likely remain in a permanent prototype state. It did work as planned, and was very tiny, but was never pretty. When programming the ATtiny, you have a few options. You can buy a dedicated ISP, or in-system programmer, which I would imagine works well and takes some of the wiring complexity out of things. If you're going to be programming these chips on a regular basis, buying one of these would probably be a good idea. These can be found for ten dollars or less if you search around. I, however, programmed my ATtiny using an Arduino as the ISP. This involved installing some software from MIT's High-Low Tech group to magically convert your faithful Ardino into a programmer. This is also explained well by Make's Matt Richardson in his article about how to "Shrinkify" your Arduino projects. If you'd like to use this technique and clean up the wiring, there has also been some talk about an Arduino shield to use with this. Matt uses a Macintosh for his project, and I'm happy to report that I was also able to get it working under Ubuntu Linux after some finagling. Windows, as you would suspect, is also compatible with this operation. Once you have the installation worked out, you can program the ATtiny85 as you would your Arduino. There is a list of supported Arduino commands on the HLT site, so it's possible you'll have to modify your code to work correctly. Jeremy Cook Manufacturing Engineer  
  • 热度 2
    2013-3-17 19:50
    3225 次阅读|
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    In my last blog, we saw an application in medical electronics. Let’s continue that in this blog too where we will see a circuit that is used to eliminate noise in the signal processed by the ECG.   Coming back to ECG, we know it is a piece of equipment which measures the beating of the heart. We saw the bio-electric amplifier which amplifies the signals generated by the beating for further processing. If we plot the frequency spectrum of such an input signal you are bound to find a peak at about 60 Hz (or 50 Hz in some cases) – something like the diagram below.   http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/73/Mains_hum_spectrum.png/220px-Mains_hum_spectrum.png   You will see a peak at around 60 Hz. Why is this coming? This is due to 60 Hz noise. And the circuit we will be seeing is called the 60-Hz reject filter with gain .   Why does this peak arise? This noise arises from the interference from other current carrying conductors present in the same room. When current flows through a conductor it tends to induce a small current in any other equipment near it. Suppose we have a wire carrying a high current. According to the laws of electromagnetism, this induces a magnetic field around it. This magnetic field in turn induces some current in any circuit nearby. This noisy signal will be at a frequency of 60 Hz which is the frequency of the mains current in many countries (50 Hz in some). So before processing our required signal we must filter it for this noise. For that purpose we use a notch filter . A notch filter is a type of band-stop filter which has a very steep notch at particular frequency. That is at a particular frequency the signal is completely attenuated.   The notch filter we will use is the twin-T notch filter . This is made up of two T-sections – one of low pass and another high pass section – in parallel. The low pass and high pass sections are designed such that they don’t overlap and they both allow low frequencies below the notch frequencies and those above it but not the frequencies at the notch frequency. Let’s see the circuit for it:     You can see that the input signal is given to a twin-T network. The upper part is the low pass circuit and the lower part is the high pass filter. Remember that at high frequencies the impedance of a capacitor is very low while that of an inductor is very high and vice versa. As a result in the upper network at high frequencies the capacitance will be very low - almost a short. Thus the voltage across it is zero. The similar concept is applied to the high pass section. The design is as follows: notch frequency is given by f = ; R0=R1= 2.R2 and C1=C2= C0.   Gain can be introduced in this circuit as the opamp is connected as an amplifier. The gain will be determined by the ratio of  the resistors R4 and R3.   This is the frequency response:     Note the notch at 60 Hz, and also note the quality factor is not too good. For our application, the quality factor must be much better than this.   For that in real life a reject filter with variable Q is used. The circuit is given below: The Q in this circuit depends on the ratio of resistors R6 and R7. . Increase this ratio and note how the Q varies.   You can check these videos out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBEFyMbi2Zo For another application of notch filter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01EB6W0HZuk
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