Here are where I will place my witterings on matters geekiness. 


The γ2 Compact High Performance DAC – AMB Labs

image I am ashamed to admit it, but I have a DAC project that fell by the wayside a few months ago.  It is the γ1 miniature DAC.  I got so far with the build but hit an unknown problem with the usb receiver section.  I must get back to it when I get my new DSO Nano Oscilloscope and try and sort out the problem. 

Just to add to my shame AMB Laboratories has added a new kit to their repertoire, The γ2 Compact High Performance DAC.  Well to call it new is not exactly right, it is actually an expansion of the γ1 design.  So there is another good reason why I need to debug my stalled project. 

So what does it do?

Read more: The γ2 Compact High Performance DAC – AMB Labs

Premier Farnell Purchases Cadsoft, What’s in Store for Eagle?

image If you have ever tried to design your own PCBs using a Computer Aided Design package, it is a good bet to say you tried out Eagle.  Ok there are other packages around (In fact Eagle is not my favourite), but Eagle as always been popular with hobbyists due to its freeware version and good quality feature set.  

Well today Premier Farnell, Electronics Components Supply Giant (Owner of Newark) announced that it has bought Cadsoft, developers of Eagle in a multi-million pound acquisition.  

In a press statement Farnell said:

"We are excited by the opportunity this acquisition affords us to attract new design engineering customers as we offer them access to industry leading software and our outstanding range of products and support. The EAGLE software will enable us to facilitate design exchange between engineers through element14, our design community, which when combined with our leading edge transactional websites
offers customers a complete online solution to their purchasing and design needs".

I am sure that there will be many hobbyists that will be watching closely to see what Farnell is going to do with the hobbyists favourite CAD software.  Hopefully this investment will see Eagle continue to thrive and continue to offer free-ware versions.  It would be very nice if they can add a quick purchase option to a completed design. 

On the other hand, there are other packages out there, I personally prefer Diptrace, again available in freeware.  I find it an easier package. 

Premier Farnell - Press Releases

EL 84 Headphone Amplifier in a PC Power Supply Case

image On one of my regular late night forages I came across this project via Hackaday.  It’s builder Niclas has used an existing design to create a headphone amplifier based on the EL84 tube.  Finding casework for projects can be expensive.  To top it all, most cases around this size are either pretty ugly or fairly generic in design.  Personally my preference is to the aluminium Hammond enclosures.  For instance I used two in my DDDAC1543 build.

Niclas instead went for a PC power supply, now how many of them are discarded every year, I just threw out several on a recent cupboard clearout.  I also use one as a test power supply, the internals replaced with a toroid and a rectifier circuit.  He prettied it up with a wooden fascia and has something passable and unique at the same time design wise. 

Surprisingly Niclas opted to contain the valves within the case, most builders prefer to show off their glassware. 

You can see more pictures on his blog…

My Crazy Technology: Röhrenverstärker

DSO Nano Pre-Order Available from Seeed Studio, Guess Who Just Bought One?

image I blogged this item yesterday, and I had slight reservations as the specification of the scope had not been published by Seeed Studio.  Especially as the whole unit is around the size of a modern MP3 player.

Well today, they not only published the specifications, but also the intended prices.  The specifications are not at the the fast end as scopes go.  Maximum sampling rate is 1mhz at 12bit resolution.  However as what I am most likely to be measuring is audio signals, this will suffice for a lot of my test needs.

Read more: DSO Nano Pre-Order Available from Seeed Studio, Guess Who Just Bought One?

Seeed Studio Reveal Tantalising Pics of a Portable Oscilloscope

image I have a feeling that when the specs are released this little digital storage oscilloscope will not pack much punch.  On the other hand size and style wise it certainly ticks some boxes not previously on the form.  Its a digital oscillioscope with storage features, SD card slot, USB port, chargeable batteries and 320x240 pixel TFT screen… All in a housing that looks like it should really be capable of making a telephone call or playing back your favourite tunes.

Depending on the price, it may be just what the hobbyist needs and easy to store.  It’s certainly a lot lot smaller than my 1980’s manufactured CRT analogue scope!  It weighs ownly 60g two, my old scope requires a bend of the knees to lift it safely.

You can now read the review of the DSO Nano here!

More pics here…

A MP4 player? A cell phone? No, a DSO slipping out of pocket… | Seeed Studio

The "Engineer's Amplifier" - a distortion cancelling push-pull amp using cheap TV tubes (!)

image Pete Millet has just popped this tube amplifier onto his web pages.  Pete was aiming to produce a tube amplifier that sounded good but used less exotic components than his previous 300B based amp.  Using 6CB6 tubes and even some IC’s in his design, it would appear that he has gone for a pragmatic approach to this design (Much like an Engineer might?).

Slightly un-usually for a Tube amp, Pete has opted to create this design on a PCB.  Most of the other DIY tube designs I have seen use point to point wiring.  Pete is even offering a few spare boards for sale.  Ideal for a beginner to tube amplifier building I would think. 

Read more…DCPP Amp

KS Projects - High End Headphone Amplifier Construction

image  Kelvyn Shaw has produced a rather beautiful and if component price is an  indicator… a high end headphone amplifier. 

Using the LME49710 - High Performance, High Fidelity Audio Operational Amplifier from the PowerWise® Family this is an elegantly designed little box

I guess what I like the most is the use of my favourite instrument case the from Hammond.  Though Kelvyn has opted for a custom front panel that looks quite a bit better than an afternoons drilling and filing of the Hammond stock front panel would produce

Read more here

KS Projects - High End Headphone Amplifier Construction

Openschemes Smart Tweezers DMM Hack

MS8910 This hack is causing a little stir around the web right now.  And so it should, over at openschemes they have had a close look at the Mastech MS8910 smart tweezers.  I have seen this type of multi-meter in ads on a lot of diy electronics sites and had been thinking about purchasing a set.  It allows you to make one handed measurements of SMD (surface mount) components on PCB (printed circuit boards).  If you have tried to locate a problem on a smd populated board using ordinary multi meter probes you can appreciate what a bonus this is.

Anyway what Openschemes found when they researched the design of their smart tweezers was that the IC has additional function not utilised on the design.  With a couple of additions, the most expensive being a micro switch they have converted the smart tweezers to measure voltage on top of the original resistance, inductance, and capacitance functions.

Openschemes Smart Tweezers DMM Hack