Engineering in May: DIY LiPo compressor, QuadroWalker robot, 1980s AI and more

Let’s review some interesting Elektor articles from previous May editions. We have something for everyone, including the DIY LiPo Supercharger kit, a microphone preamp, the QuadroWalker robot, an 89C51 Flash programmer, and an overview of the AI ​​developments of the 1980s.

Do you want to know some projects of the previous May editions of Elektor? Here are some important articles and engineering projects dating back to 1979. Are you feeling inspired? Share your ideas in the Discussion section at the bottom of this article.

DIY LiPo Compressor Kit (May 2021)

In 2021, Elektor partnered with GreatScott! – a well-known YouTuber focused on DIY electronics – to develop a battery-powered rechargeable power supply capable of using widely available lithium batteries. The easy-to-use kit gives you quick access to the world of SMD soldering, with 1206 carefully chosen components and a partially assembled PCB.

Raspberry Pi Zero powered by DIY LiPo Supercharger Kit

As engineer Elektor Mathias Claussen explains, having a portable power source on hand, especially with switchable output voltages, is extremely useful. The close photo shows a Raspberry Pi Zero powered by the DIY LiPo Supercharger kit.

Audio Engineering: Microphone Preamp (May 2017)

Audio engineering has always been a hot topic in Elektor circles. In 2017, Joseph Kreutz introduced readers to a compact microphone preamp with professional specifications. In addition to detailing the design and construction process, Kreutz also offered an in-depth analysis of the preamp noise, complete with essential diagrams and equations.

The heart of this amplifier is the operational amplifier
The heart of this amplifier is the operational amplifier.

Using a transformer (TR1) allows you to design a simple circuit with effective input isolation and good common mode signal rejection, “he explained.” The transformer substantially reduces interference, such as that caused by cell phones . It’s easy to find 1:10 ratio microphone transformers. This type of transformer increases the signal voltage by 20 dB, which considerably improves the signal-to-noise ratio of the preamp. “

He spent around 270 euros and five hours on this basic project.

QuadroWalker (May 2012)

Looking for a fun robotics project? The QuadroWalker is a small four-legged robot equipped with eight servos. A microcontroller takes care of the servo and other functions. Not many I / O lines were needed, but the author, Ger Baars, already had a small card containing an ATmega32, which he used.

Engineering in May: quadrowalker
The servos are fixed with the help of a few pieces of corner bracket.

“The design of the robot can be divided into three parts: mechanical, electronic and software,” he explained.

quadrowalker scheme
The design features an ATmega32. They take two voltage regulators
care of the power supply for the servants.

“The mechanical part takes care of fixing the base plate to the legs via the servos. The servos also need to be joined together. This requires the manufacture of some mounting brackets, two right angle brackets for four servos to attach them to the plate. Also, for each pair of servos a bracket to allow them to move at right angles to each other (this type of bracket is on sale for some types of servos) and a bracket to attach the leg to the second servo. ”

Working with a Touch Screen (May 2000)

Today, touch screens are everywhere, from smartphones to vending machines. But in May 2000, technology was more of a curiosity. Fortunately, Elektor was ahead of the engineering curve and that year we published an interesting article on touch screens, contact point calculations, and location sensing.

Touch screen circuit.
Schematic diagram of the touch screen circuit.

The circuit presented in this article makes it very easy to use a touch screen in your projects. All you need is a single integrated circuit, which is a standard microcontroller that costs just a few pounds. The circuit is self-calibrating and very energy efficient.

87 / 89C51 Series Flash Controller Programmer (May 1995)

On the cover of the May 1995 issue, we featured a close-up image of an 89C51 Flash programmer. With the project, programming of flash memory and EPROM based microcontrollers of the MCU-51 family was within the reach of any electronics enthusiast.

“Although the circuit is quite extensive, its operation is easy to understand,” wrote K. Walraven. “As already mentioned, the entire programming operation is controlled by IC1, an 80C451 running at a clock speed of 14.75 MHz.”


Engineering in May: flash programmer
The image above shows the prototype board. The diagram below is the s
front panel of the programmer.

“This frequency is used to allow the controller to communicate with a PC at 9,600 baud (a standardized bit rate). It also allows you to easily derive a number of frequencies needed for the programming process. The controller retrieves its instructions from an EPROM (IC3) via a latch (IC2) that separates the multiplexed address / data. As the programmer communicates with a PC via the RS232 port, a MAX232 line interface / driver is used. The rest of the circuit consists of a power supply and a series of electronic switches that ensure that the pins of the programming socket are receiving the correct signals. ”

Artificial Intelligence (May 1988)

Did you know that Elektor published information on artificial intelligence in the 1980s? In May 1988 we published an interesting article in which the author, M. Seymour, outlined a dream: “that one day it may be possible to build a machine that can think, that is, it does not need to be programmed to perform its functions. After delving a bit into the history of artificial intelligence, Seymour covers 1980s-era research and development related to the subject.

artificial intelligence May 1988

“A technology originally developed in the 1950s, but abandoned after 10 years, has recently been revived. It’s called neural computing and could be invaluable in creating true artificial intelligence. Neural computers try to copy the human brain and that’s enough. different from conventional computers, because they are not programmed, but they can learn by example. ”

Sweep Generator (May 1979)

What is a sweep generator and what can you use it for? In the May 1979 article on the subject, Elektor author L. Koppen dived into the details.

sweep generator
As a sweep generator it displays the frequency response.

The image above illustrates how a sweep generator is used to visualize the frequency response of an amplifier on an oscilloscope. With the help of a scan generator and an oscilloscope, the same measurement can be carried out practically automatically. The scan generator provides a sinusoidal output signal, the frequency of which increases continuously, and a sawtooth signal that is used as an external timebase input for the oscilloscope.

More engineering on the way

Join us in June when we highlight more classic Elector articles, projects and technical tutorials. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Engineering never stops!

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