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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics


FIRST: More Than Meets The Eye Erik Smith
The first robots I recall ever interacting with when I was young were Transformers. I suppose, if you were being REALLY generous, you could refer to them as semi-educational toys since each was a mini-puzzle that only kids younger than 13 could figure out. In fact, if I were this clever at 8-years-old, I might have convinced my parents to want to buy me more. But then, all I would have to show for it would be a box full of forgotten plastic robots that transformed into cars I could now sell on eBay. But there was a different group of transforming robots that I wish I had discovered in my high school days. Instead of buying them, you built them with a group of your peers. Instead of transforming into cars, they would transform your life.

You Can't Be Creative With What You Don't Know Caroline Storm Westenhover
Awhile back I was walking past the door to the lab where I work and noticed that there was a meeting going on to which I had not been invited. I guess they assumed the sophomore-level undergrad did not have much to contribute. It’s not that they would be wrong, but still it’s nice to be invited. As I walked into the room I noticed that I did not recognize one of the people, and he had a distinct accent. I went on to learn that he was Spanish, but is a professor at Aalborg University in Denmark, both of which might account for his accent. He was giving a presentation on Smart Grids, and since I am helping out with my professor’s Smart Grid research I figured I would stay.

Navigating Kids and Technology as a Dad Justin Risedorf
Technology connects me to work, news, and entertainment 24/7. That type of access has its benefits, but when left unchecked, it can dominate my time, distracting me from the things that matter most. New research on the patterns of technology used by parents has me wondering, what are my kids learning about life as they watch me check my phone for the nth time tonight?

LED Technology and Art - A Greek Geek Perspective Paul Golata
I can’t draw! I can’t paint! I can’t make anything with clay besides a sorry looking snake and I made one sorry looking ash tray in my elementary school days. I have always wanted the gift of being able to produce art. I am in no way an artist! I saw this picture on the internet as one of the “photos” of the day and it grabbed my attention. This artist is using LED technology in his art in an interesting way.

Fool Me Once: April Fools' Gags 2014 Erik Smith
Another April Fools' Day is upon us, and with it comes a fresh helping of tech-based pranks. Followed by an inbox full of amazed e-mails from gullible family and friends. Here's a helping of some of my favorite high-tech hijinks from around the web, in no particular order:

In the Mix: My Conversation with Musician and Maker, Sir Mix-a-Lot Erik Smith
Sir Mix-a-Lot. Whether you’ve heard his name on the radio, on TV or in the news, you can’t help but remember the fun and infectious beats of his classic hits like, “Posse on Broadway” or the often covered hit “Baby Got Back”. But, what many people don’t realize is that Sir Mix-a-Lot is an avid electronics geek (and a great Mouser Electronics customer!) I had the privilege to speak with the man himself about his hobby, his craft and the future of the DIY music industry.

There’s More Than Old Chewing Gum Under the Table Caroline Storm Westenhover
I often find myself at the end of the incredulous question, “What are you doing?” My perfunctory responses run from “adjusting the clock” to “checking the charge this capacitor can hold.” The next question often is something like, “Why did you think it was OK to pull wiring out of the wall in your classroom?” or “Why is our microwave in several pieces?”

Mouser at SXSW Erik Smith
The 2014 South by Southwest Festival was this past weekend, and I was able to attend with some of my Mouser colleagues. March 13-15 was the Music Gear Expo, where we set up our booth. We were showcasing our Pro Audio line, which includes Bourns' guitar potentiometers and Neutrik's super-cool silentPlug.

Why Aliens Know Math Lynnette Reese
I spent most of Saturday at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History for Engineer’s Week. I sat at a table with half a dozen kids at a time, showing them how to connect little DC motors to batteries, and exploring and explaining series and parallel connections for the braver ones. We had several DC motors with a glue stick off center on the shaft of the motor so it would wobble, and velcro attached the motor and battery holder with alligator clip leads to a scrub brush. The result was a giant hex bug popping around on the table. Some kids were very interested in how they could take it further, and others had glazed expressions. For the ones that wanted to go further, I showed them how to connect three 9V batteries in series to feed the motor 27 volts… and it really buzzed. Then I told them we were on the Mars Rover team and had to make sure that even if a lead broke, the rover would still go.

Hover Technology is Back from the Future (or is it?) Erik Smith
Back to the Future 2 is turning out to be more prophetic than we thought. First NIKE announces power laces, and now a viral video from “HUVr Tech” is currently making the rounds claiming to have made the break through we’ve been waiting for for 25 years: A REAL Hoverboard. You can believe it because Christopher Lloyd, Tony Hawk, Terrell Owens and Moby have all endorsed it. And if you can’t trust Moby, who can you trust?

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