Nordic Semi nRF52840 Tools Comparison


I just this week finished a project that has been hanging around for a while, mostly because it turned out to be much more work than I estimated. Earlier this year, I did some work using Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52840 ARM chip. Although the chip is nice, I didn’t enjoy the software development experience using the tools that Nordic recommends, so I decided to do a “little” project to review some of the alternatives.

Turned out not to be so little, after all.

In any case, you can read the results on the project page. The highlights of the work were definitely learning about the Zephyr project and CircuitPython. I’m going to try to do some Rust stuff on the nRF52840 later to get an idea of how practical that is too, but I need a break from this stuff for a while first!

Datasheet-a-Day W32-35 2020


The whole “datasheet a day” thing got slightly derailed this month. I have been reading datasheets for projects, but my “datasheet a day” reading has been spent on Op Amps For Everyone, which is 464 pages of opampy goodness from Ron Mancini at TI.

I certainly didn’t understand it all, and some sections I just skimmed, but I definitely have a better understanding of some things to do with opamp design. I was treating it mostly as a warm-up for Chapter 4 of The Art of Electronics, which I hope to start on this week or next.

Next week, back to normal.

Datasheet-a-Day W31 2020


Slightly fewer datasheets this week, because I’m reading “Op Amps For Everyone”, which is a 464-page thing about op amps from TI. That’s a bit too long to manage one of them in a day!

Datasheet-a-Day W30 2020


I tried one new thing this week with the datasheets. I took a number of datasheets for “standard” diodes, and just looked through them to get a sense of the kinds of parameters that are usually quoted for these things. It was a useful exercise, and I’ll do the same for some transistors next week. Otherwise, I continued with ploughing through the Analog Devices “mini-tutorials” series. They’re of varying difficulty and relevance, but they all feel like things it would be good to know about.

Teensy Load testing


I’ve had some time to work on my Teensy Load project recently. I got the boards a couple of weeks ago, assembled one, found that it didn’t really work, and tracked that problem down to a wrong-way-round diode (due to a weird symbol definition I’d used from the wrong KiCad library).

And yesterday I did some end-to-end testing using the tl-meter software that I wrote. And it (partially) worked!

Datasheet-a-Day W29 2020


More datasheets!

Datasheet-a-Day W28 2020


My regular Sunday datasheets round-up...

Datasheet-a-Day W27 2020


More datasheets/app notes/unclassifiable electronics things. I should get around to writing some blog articles about something else as well, eh?

Datasheet-a-Day W26 2020


The daily datasheet thing continues. It’s been surprisingly easy to get in at least one a day, mostly because a lot of them are quite short. This week, one day was taken up with reading a big pile of datasheets for motor driver ICs, which was repetitive but educational.

Datasheet-a-Day W25 2020


Here’s this week’s datasheet-a-day reading...

Datasheet-a-Day W24 2020


I started a new thing this last week. I’ve been impressed by Adrian Colyer’s the morning paper for a long time. It’s a project where Colyer read and commented on a computer science paper every week day during term time, and wrote a summary of the paper. Some of the summaries are quite long. It was really useful, for those of us who were working in a similar field, because it meant that we could get a quick overview of papers without going to the trouble of reading them.

I have no intention of displaying the level of diligence that Colyer did, but it did make me think about a less ambitious “read a thing every day” project. I’ve been thinking of it as “datasheet a day”, but I’ve been reading a mixture of datasheets and application notes.

Solder Snorter


I completed a fun little electronics project yesterday: a small solder fume extractor based on a PC fan. I’ve been calling it the Solder Snorter, in homage to Jon Thomasson’s Solder Sniffer 9000—this thing is more or less a redo of that idea.

Lucky, lucky, lucky

Just as I was starting to make some progress on personal projects, we had to move house. Our landlord got divorced and needed to move into our flat herself. (That’s about the only reason that you can be forced to move out of rented property before the end of a contract here.) We were pretty annoyed about it to start with, because we liked the place a lot and the rental property market in Villach is not great right now.

However, we lucked out. Oh, how we lucked out. After seeing a few not so nice places, we realised we were going to need to spend a little more than we’d been planning, so we expanded what we were looking at. And we found a little house for rent in Drobollach, a couple of minutes walk from Faaker See.

Electronics Progress


I’ve been making some progress with Contextual Electronics, and have been learning a lot, although some of the learning has been a little painful and frustrating.

Morse Blinkies as a Service


I’ve started learning electronics recently, following Chris Gammell’s Contextual Electronics course, which is really good. One of the first exercises there is called “Getting to Blinky”, and it’s mostly about getting used to using the KiCad EDA suite, and getting over the initial barrier to getting PCBs made.

I worked through the tutorial, but didn’t really feel like sending boards out just for a blinky. I wanted to do something more entertaining. It seemed like it might be fun to make blinkies that blinked messages. In Morse code? Yeah, why not?