Version 40

    Test Instrumentation

    Enter Your Electronics & Design Project for a chance to win a Grand Prize for Originality, a Tool Set, and a $100 Shopping Cart!

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    Monthly Themes
    Monthly Theme Poll

     

    Give Us Your Ideas on DIY Test Instrumentation Projects in the Comments Below!


    We'll Send Out a limited number of micro:bit for Ideas of Creative Uses of them in Test Instrumentation Projects!

     

    Use Whatever Components You Like in Your Project for a Chance to Win a Tool Kit and a $100 Shopping Cart to Your element14 Store!

     

    One Grand Prize Winner Wins an 18-PC Tool Kit Plus a $100 Shopping Cart! Three First Place Winners Win a 6-PC Tool Kit Plus a $100 Shopping Cart!

    18-Piece Journeyman Tool Set (~$327 Value) Plus a $100 Shopping Cart

    6-Piece Trim Out Tool Set (~$100 Value) Plus a $100 Shopping Cart

    Comfortable and durable tools for the professional Contains one Journeyman side-cutting pliers, one Journeyman diagonal-cutting pliers, one Journeyman long-nose pliers, one Journeyman pump pliers, one adjustable wrench, one phillips-tip screwdriver, one wire-bending screwdriver, two cabinet-tip screwdrivers, one Rapi-Driv® screwdriver, one square-recess tip screwdriver, two nut drivers, one power-return rule, one Klein-Kurve® wire stripper/cutter, one protective eyewear, one Powerline work belt, one 10-pocket tool pouch

    A quick, portable solution for electricians on the go! 6-Piece set contains one side cutting pliers, one Klein Kurve® Wire Stripper, one Phillips-Tip Screwdriver, one Cabinet-Tip Screwdriver, one 4-pocket leather pouch, and a lightweight utility belt Includes: Heavy Duty Side Cutting Pliers (D2000-9NE) Klein-Kurve® Wire Stripper (11055) #2 Phillips-Tip Screwdriver, 4-Inch (102 mm) round shank (603-4) 4-Pocket Leather Tool Pouch, riveted for extra durability (5119) Lightweight Utility Belt (5204)

     

     

     

    The theme this month is familiar to anyone that participated in the DIY Test Equipment contest last year,  Test Instrumentation is a repackaging of the same concept but we've added a twist to make things a little different.  You can post the same type of projects as before but if you have an idea that involves a creative use of a micro:bit we'll ship you one (while supplies last).  We're offering Tool Sets as prizes courtesy of Klein Tools as well as shopping carts to any element14 transactional site. You can win a Grand Prize package that includes an 18 pc ($327 value) Journeyman Tool Set and a $100 Shopping Cart for the most original project.  In addition, Three First Place Winners win a 6-Piece Trim Out Tool Set and a $100 Shopping Cart.  You are free to use any components you like.

     

    If you know anything about our members,  its that they love their hand tools and test instrumentation.  This contest allows you to build your own test instrumentation using whatever components you like.  If you're just getting started with electronics, Test instrumentation will help further your understanding of how electronics work, giving you a chance to get your hands dirty with microcontrollers, development boards, tinkering, and soldering.  If you're looking for an easy way to get started on electronics, you can propose an idea that uses a micro:bit and we'll send you one (while supplies last).  If you're more experienced, you probably have as piece of favorite test equipment on your bench that you could never live without.  You've also probably run into situations where you needed a custom Test Instrumentation that you knew you could do yourself, that not only fits your needs, but could be done at a fraction of the cost.  Even if you're more experienced, you can use a micro:bit as wearable gadget, for instance, as part of your test instrumentation. Comment below and let us know how the micro:bit could help even the most experienced engineer create their test instrumentation and we'll send you one for free (while supplies last).

     

    micro:bit plays nicely with other boards and offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to coding and I/O.  It's also got some pretty powerful specs in a small form factor.  For instance, you can use it as a wearable device compliment to whatever DIY Test Instrumentation you create.  It is also a lot less intimidating for someone that is just getting started with electronics projects, its easy to code and create testing instruments such as an instrument tuner.  It has a number of built in sensors which offer a lot of possibilities of completing a project that does something useful.

     

    Examples of Test Instrumentation include oscilloscopes, function generators, audio impedance meters, capacitance meters, AC/DC LED Indicators, 554 Timer IC Tester, digital frequency counters, digital pressure guage, MOSFET tester, wire tracers, tachnometers, mains power line sniffer, and digital voltmeters.

     

    Remember, you don't have to use a micro:bit  with your build.  You are free to use whatever electronic components you like, and you can still win any of the prizes to go along with your shopping cart. This competition, like all Project14 competitions is 100% non sponsored. We've been promoting micro:bits and cool tools on the community recently, and we thought it would be fun to offer both.  when this came up as an idea, the thought of using this as Test Equipment was too good to pass up. You need hand tools to go along with your test equipment. micro:bit is a great way to keep this competition inclusive to novices, experts, and everyone inbetween.  At the very least, you can add your micro:bit  ideas as inspiration to others who may be struggling to find creative uses for the board.

     

    Its got built in sensors, plenty of I/O, lots of coding option, and it plays nicely with other boards commonly used in DIY Test Equipment such as the Raspberrry Pi and Arduino.

     

    We're giving away a limited number of micro:bits.  Simply,  comment below and let us know how you plan to use the micro:bit in your project.  If your project idea looks promising we'll send a board to you!

     

    The BBC and the Formation of The Computer Literacy Project

     

    In 1978, a BBC documentary television series named Horizon, had an episode called "Now the Chips are Down" that was influential in bringing public awareness in the UK to how the coming "microelectronics revolution" was going to leave people behind who did not adapt to the changing technology that the UK was lagging behind in jumping into. It showed how computers had gotten so small that they could now be embedded in a devices that allowed a machine to read to a blind man and a disabled man to use voice commands to navigate his wheelchair. The tiny chip that made these embedded systems in devices possible was made of silicon and it made computers really small in a few short years, as well as much cheaper to produce.

     

    They also allowed a man that was almost completely deaf to get a "circuit embedded in his skull, with a "microprocessor, and three other chips" and use the "microprocessor would convert speech into patterns of electric pulses" and send them to his brain which was connected to four wires.  This would give him a new way to hear through feeling impulses. It astutely predicted that "a whole lot of money was to be made through by not only selling the chip, but the applications too" and that because electronics were already so pervasive in products and manufacturing techniques.  The price of these silicon chips would keep falling and this would have dramatic repercussions on the jobs.  Digital Calculators had already ended the mechanical calculator industry and the effect of digital watches on the Swiss watch industry was devastating causing firms to go out of business and leading to widespread unemployment.  .

     

     

    Beginning in 1979, Chris Evans presented a six part documentary called "The Mighty Micro", based on a book he'd written of the same name, which forewarned the the coming microcomputer revolution.  It is widely credited with pushing the UK government to push computer education is schools.  The new technology posed a threat to "semi-skilled" labor and The Computer Literacy Project was conceived within the Continuing Education Television Department. An advisory board was setup by the government, funded by the Manpower Services Commission, and issued the "Microelectronics" report, also in 1979.  The report talked about what we now know to be true, the "Microelectronics Revolution" would shift the manufacturing industry towards automation, creating an existential threat to the service sector.

     

    Moore's Laws had accurately predicted that the number of new electronics components on a silicon chip had doubled and there was confidence that this would continue for the foreseeable future.  Improvements in computer aided design and the use of electron beams to draw circuits guaranteed this to be true. It predicted that in 5 years a silicon chip would have a million components on them.  (In 2017, IBM announced the world's first 5-nanometre circuit with 30 billion transistors packed into an area the size of a finger tip.)  This would create a new economy around the technology placing increased demand for those with technical skills.  Industrial applications in particular required the need for electronics engineers capable of providing unique solutions and the Universities currently cannot currently keep up with this demand.  The Computer Literacy Program's solution was a public awareness and education campaign to get people 'hands on" with computers so they learned how to use them and not be dominated by them.

     

    The BBC Micro, RISC Architecture, and ARM

     

    The BBC Micro was developed by Acorn, sometimes referred to as the "British Apple", a British computer company that was formed in Cambridge, England, in 1978.  Acorn was originally set up as Cambridge Processor Unit Ltd (CPU) on December 5th, 1978, as a joint venture of two friends, Hermann Hauser and Chris Curry, who shared an interest in microcromputers.  Their first product was a microcontroller kit named Acorn System 75. The name Acorn was used because the microcontroller system was to be expandable and growth-oriented. As the Acorn brand took, CPU became the name of the holding company for Acorn Computer Ltd, a trading name. This was followed by the System 3, and the relatively successful Acorn Atom, an inexpensive home computer with the internals of the System 3 placed inside the computer.

     

    Acorn began working on an improved 6502-based machine with greater expansion capabilities known as the Atom. In support of the Computer Literacy Program, the BBC was accepting proposals from manufacturers to develop a computer to support their cause.  The BBC was given a demonstration of the Proton and shortly afterwards awarded the Computer Literacy computer contract to Acorn. What was known as the Proton was launched as the BBC Micro in December 1981.  The Computer Literacy Project launched in 1982 as with an initial four part television series accompanied by books, courses, software, advice services, and the BBC Microcomputer system. The emphasis of the television series was to demonstrate how examples from computers applied to real life and research. By 1982 audiences per program were up to 2 million, 80,000 copies of computer books were sold, 2 million BBC Micros were sold worldwide, and over 85% of primary and 65% of secondary schools used BBC Micros as part of the government's computers in schools project.

     

    In the mid 70s, Sophie Wilson, then a university undergrad in Mathematics with a strong interest in computing, had been approached by Hauser, then a Cambridge Physics alumni, who was at the time just looking for someone to help him with an idea he had to build a pocket diary.  The requirements for the diary were that it had to be battery operated and low powered. Her work later involved developing the Proton around a MOS 6502, and rushing it to prototype in time for the demonstration with the BBC. Knowing that graphical interfaces were on the horizon, there was a need to speed up the hardware, and options were constrained due to resources.  The answer to this problem for Sophie Wilson along with co-designer Stephen Furber, would come from research they discovered from Berkley on RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) principles.  The new type of processor would have a simplified instruction set to follow, allowing for a sleeker, more efficient design.

     

    The Acorn Risc Machine project started in October 1983 as a way to develop a second processor to work with the BBC Micro platform.  VLCI Technology was chosen as the silicon parner and source of ROMs and chips for Acorn.  In the late 80s, Acorn partnered with both Apple Computers and VLSI to develop newer versions of the ARM core.  In 1987, the Acorn's ARM architecture became the first RISC processor available in a low-cost PC.  In 1990, Acorn formed a new company called Advanced RISC Machines Ltd.  The ARM-Apple collaboration resulted in the ARM6, the basis for the Apple Newton PDA. Today, ARM processors are widely used in smartphones, tablets, and SBCs such as the Raspberry Pi.

     

    The micro: bit and the Continuing legacy of the BBC Micro

     

    A little over 20 years after the BBC micro was discontinued, the BBC looking to relaunch and rejuvenate the BBC micro initiative for the modern education landscape, announced the launch of the BBC micro:bit on March 2015, with the intent to deliver 1 million devices to pupils in the UK. In May 2015, the BBC signed a partnership deal with the Premier Farnell, the parent company of the element14 community, to become the manufacturer of the BBC micro:bit.

     

    As was the case with Raspberry Pi, where accessibility and affordability required support from a distributor with an established track record when it came to design services, manufacturing, and distribution. Premier Farnell, had shown itself to be an ideal partner with the manufacture the Raspberry Pi, in terms of cost, design optimization, manufacturing and logistics. Development of the micro bit is supported by many partners in addition to Premier Farnell.  Among them are Microsoft, Lancaster University, ARM Holdings, Nordic Semiconductors, SAMsung, and the Python Software Foundation.

     

    Tid Bits

     

    The micro:bit is an open source hardware ARM-based embedded system. It is half the size of a credit card.  It features a 32 bit ARM Cortex-MO processor, built in light and temperature sensors, motion sensors (accelerometer and compass, and magnetometer sensors,  wireless communication via radio and bluetooth, USB connectivity, 2 programmable buttons, 25 programmable LEDs, 2 programmable buttons, and 25 external connectors along the edge of the board. The micro:bit is designed to play nicely alongside other SBCs such as the Raspberry Pi.  It's a microcontroller that's easier to program then the Arduino, provides much of the same flexibility as the Raspberry Pi, and is supported by multiple programming languages including the Arduino IDE, C++, and Python.

     

    You can use it in your test equipment build as a supporting wearable device and take advantage of its radio and bluetooth communication, sensor control, I/O, and ease of use.  Because it plays nicely with other SBCs, it's got a lot of intriguing uses for your own diy test instrumentation,

     

    Your Chance to Win

     

    Be Original
    Stick to the Theme
    • You could come up with a clever name that make's your project memorable!
      • This project is your baby! Part of the fun of bringing something new into the world is coming up with a name.
    • Your project could introduce something new or that is not commercially available or affordable!
    • If you have an idea for a project that doesn't fit the current theme then submit your idea in the comments section of the monthly poll.
    List the Steps
    Submit Video Proof
    • Provide the steps you took to complete your project (text, video, or images).
      • This could be a step by step how-to-guide, vlog, schematics, coding, napkin drawings, voice narration, or whatever you think will be useful!
    • If it doesn't work that's fine, this is more about the journey than the end product.
    • A short video is all that is required but you can shoot as much video as you like.
    • You are encouraged to be creative and have as much fun as possible!

     

    One Grand Prize Winner Wins an 18-PC Tool Kit Plus a $100 Shopping Cart! Three First Place Winners Win a 6-PC Tool Kit Plus a $100 Shopping Cart!

    18-Piece Journeyman Tool Set (~$327 Value) Plus a $100 Shopping Cart

    6-Piece Trim Out Tool Set (~$100 Value) Plus a $100 Shopping Cart

    Comfortable and durable tools for the professional Contains one Journeyman side-cutting pliers, one Journeyman diagonal-cutting pliers, one Journeyman long-nose pliers, one Journeyman pump pliers, one adjustable wrench, one phillips-tip screwdriver, one wire-bending screwdriver, two cabinet-tip screwdrivers, one Rapi-Driv® screwdriver, one square-recess tip screwdriver, two nut drivers, one power-return rule, one Klein-Kurve® wire stripper/cutter, one protective eyewear, one Powerline work belt, one 10-pocket tool pouch

    A quick, portable solution for electricians on the go! 6-Piece set contains one side cutting pliers, one Klein Kurve® Wire Stripper, one Phillips-Tip Screwdriver, one Cabinet-Tip Screwdriver, one 4-pocket leather pouch, and a lightweight utility belt Includes: Heavy Duty Side Cutting Pliers (D2000-9NE) Klein-Kurve® Wire Stripper (11055) #2 Phillips-Tip Screwdriver, 4-Inch (102 mm) round shank (603-4) 4-Pocket Leather Tool Pouch, riveted for extra durability (5119) Lightweight Utility Belt (5204)

     

     

    Your Project Examples

     

     

    The Theme You Voted For: Test Instrumentation
    Arduino oscilloscope - DIY entry device Project14's DIY Test Equipment: DIY Constant Current Load

     

     

    Test Instrumentation
    DIY Test Equipment: Mini Air Jet Cyclops-1000: An Electronic Eye for Rotational Speed Measurement

     

     

    Test Instrumentation
    Vintage 555 - A general-purpose button debouncer DIY Test Equipment: Ears and Tears 2020 (A Logic Probe)

     

     

    Your Project, Your Ideas!

     

     

    About Project14
    Directions

    Every month you'll have a new poll where you'll get to decide an upcoming project competition, based on your interests, that will take place a couple of months in advance. Themes are broad in scope so that everyone can participate regardless of skill set.

     

    What are Monthly Themes?

    • Every month (around the 14th of each month) a new theme will be posted on Project14.
    • Submit your ideas (proposals) for your projects to get feedback from the rest of the community.
    • Submit a project entry in the Theme space once you start working on it.

     

    What are Monthly Theme Polls?

    • Every month (around the 14th of each month) there is a project theme poll.
    • Vote on which project competition you want to see for the following upcoming theme.
      • The themes voted on during the previous poll decided the upcoming theme.
      • If you submit an idea for a theme that is not used then it can still be used in a future poll.
    • Themes comments and ideas from the comments section of the project theme poll.



    Step 1: Log in or register on element14, it's easy and free.

    Step 2: Post in the comments section below to begin a discussion on your idea. Videos, pictures and text are all welcomed forms of submission.

    Step 3: Submit a blog post of your progress on your project by the end of the month.  You are free to submit as many blog entries as you like until the beginning of the next theme.

     

    Be sure to include video proof of your project!

     

    Visit:  Test Instrumentation

     

     

     

    You have until November 14th, 11:59 PM CDT to submit your completed project!

     

    A jury consisting of your peers will judge project submissions!




    Give Us Your Ideas on DIY Test Instrumentation Projects in the Comments Below!


    We'll Send Out a limited number of micro:bit for Ideas of Creative Uses of them in Test Instrumentation Projects!

     

     

    Use Whatever Components You Like in Your Project for a Chance to Win a Tool Kit and a $100 Shopping Cart to Your element14 Store!