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Showing posts from 2016

Electric VLSI: "Getting Java Memory Limit Error" Solution

Could you not get your JAR files to run just by double-clicking them, or does the error - "Setting maximum permanent space blah blah blah to blah" repeatedly pop up in the command prompt when you call it?Unfortunately, I have fallen victim to the same problem while re-configuring the maximummemory limit of Electric VLSI, a freeware EDA developed by Mr. Steven Rubin.I've scoured forums and web pages in vain, then stumbled on a surprisingly simple answer below.Kudos to Mr. Jacob Baker and Kuangming for providing a quick and effective solution.On Wednesday, December 31, 2008 2:44:43 PM UTC, Jake wrote:> > Kuangming, > > Try this, > > In Windows click Start, Run, then type in the command prompt "regedit" > (Registry Editor) and navigate to the path by expanding the appropriate > sections:> HKEY_CURRENT_USER / Software / JavaSoft / Prefs / com / sun / electric > Deleting folder electric folder will start you off like you are run…

What If's: An Oscilloscope Trigger System in the Frequency Domain?

If you’ve tuned in on Electronic Design’s articles lately, you’ll know about a series by Mr. Colin Mattson on advanced oscilloscope triggering techniques. In the 1st article, he elucidates on pulse and pattern modes, where the characteristics of a pulse and the uniqueness of a pattern are utilized as the impetus of signal acquisition. In part 2, he delves into edge mode triggering, where the edge characteristics of a signal are used to mark the trigger for waveform capture. In part 3, he covers protocol triggering, where the patterns adhered to by a protocol (such as I2C and SPI) are detected. As of the time of writing, his readers still await his next article on sequence and software search triggering techniques.

A comment on one of his articles reads:
Email on trigger! I thought you were joking, but that’s an incredibly weird and fun capability. As someone who has spent a lot of time waiting for powerline transients to happen (or not), that’s a really nice idea.” – Ed Price

I, too…

Ethical Considerations in Autonomous System Design

Technologies that operate without human intervention have been emerging spontaneously in diverse applications, from commercial transportation such as driverless cars, to military vehicles like remote-controlled tanks. Support is affluent from eager investors, who are perhaps looking forward to a similar market effect the IoT had. While an autonomous system [abbreviated AS for the rest of this article] has its perks of relegating tedious manual tasks towards a more comfortable lifestyle for consumers, they attract a lot of worry due to the freshness of the concept and the lack of a firm foundation in guaranteeing security. The risk of an unanticipated catastrophe is very real. There are still too few literatures that address questions on safety. Furthermore, fewer of those literatures that do address our qualms fall short of a satisfactory answer. In fact, Mr. Frenzel shares his refutations on autonomous vehicles in his blog posts. (Read “Forget this self-driving car nonsense” and “Ju…

An Amateur’s View on the P2: Slew Rate and the Oscillator [Part 2]

In part 1, the basics of the P2 have been discussed through easy straightforward simulations in LTSPice. In this article, we delve further into the P2’s design. It hasn’t been easy investigating the nature of the P2, and below I share a realization I had while exploring this old operational amplifier.
“In my quest to understand the P2, I took a journey towards my inner self. Not being able to afford a trip to Kathmandu, I simply meditated in front of the test bench with all instruments turned on. After hours of humming [mostly from the step-down transformers in the power supplies] and pensive silence, I hit an epiphany. My arrogance and narcissism has led me to live a life of self-centeredness. But at the bottom of it all, it wasn’t really all about me, it’s all about the P2. In order to fully grasp the concept of the P2, I must feel the P2, act like the P2, become the P2! I rejoiced over my realization. With newfound strength, I set the SMU to “Pulse” mode, held the terminals with b…

An Amateur’s View on the P2 [Part 1]

The P7 was the first prototype for an op-amp to use a varactor diode bridge as a means of producing an error signal amplified by transistors (rather than the conventional vacuum tubes or the later FETs). Conceptualized by George A. Philbrick (or Lewis R. Smith?), the prototype was simplified (well, a nitpicker may argue the extra circuit current) by Bob Malter resulting in one of the most profitable operational amplifiers ever to be sold, the P2.
Sporting input bias currents in the pA range (1x10e-12), the P2 drove a $220 demand, which was 1/8 to ½ (my source for this one is obscure) the price of a VW Beetle at the time. The cost of building a P2 paralleled that of a cheap radio – around $10 to $15, so you can just imagine how lucrative things were. The P2 dominated for 30 years, becoming obsolete only after the release of the LMC660, which now offers input bias currents at the fA range (1x10e-15).
My interest for the P2 was piqued once more by Paul Rako’s great post “What’s All this…

The 7 Habits Applied to Electronics: Being Proactive

"According to Steven Covey, writer of the bestseller “The seven habits of highly effective people” (1989), a good leader thinks in terms of win-win situations. This makes sense. There are indeed leaders whom we value because they are always able to create such situations.

But turn this around. A good leader has the courage to think in terms of win-lose situations, the courage to face the embarrassment of confronting the losers. You could equally argue that it is actually this that really makes good leadership – rather than the naive belief in win-win situations. To be fair, there is nothing really wrong with Stephen Covey, but many leadership gurus are like quack doctors: what they say is true, but also untrue."

-from MOOC Delftx - Leadership for Engineers (EdX)

It all began (as some of my stories do) during a college lecture in basic electronics. Taking a brief hiatus after a tedious discussion, our professor made an oblique pitch about a book he read by Stephen Covey, e…

Bench Presses and Cross Fits with SMUs, DMMS, and CRT Oscilloscopes

Okay, I have a confession. This article isn’t exactly concentrated on the physical exercise of doing bench presses and cross fits, but figuratively is about mental exercises of similar magnitude. So if you were lead here by googling the words “bench press” and “cross fit”, then this isn’t the reading material for you. Then again, please do read it anyway since you’ve gotten through the effort of opening it on your browser. Please…

“Why that choice of words for the title?” you may ask. Well, anyone who has sat in front of an electronics test bench will attest that, aside from the physical effort of bringing your instruments there, an auxiliary mental analysis is required for proper measurement. For example, you are checking the output of an IC you recently purchased. The datasheet claimed -60 dB PSRR, but when you sweep the input with a sine wave amplitude from ground potential to the maximum operating voltage, you observe significant noise. With a wrinkled forehead and disgruntled ex…

Danish Gambit

Playing one of my 2 most favorite gambits for white, the Danish gambit [the other being Queen's gambit]. What I like about it so much is that I gain a good bishop pair early in the game, in exchange for 2 pawns. After castling and a few more developing moves, I get connected rooks AND an open b, c, and d file. Won the game after sacrificing a knight.

Below is a sample game of Queen's gambit accepted. I should've lost the game if it were untimed.

Beautiful Scenery and Relaxing Music Montage [APOD] [Collection]

Our planet, our Earth is a truly magnificent and breath-taking creation. Its beauty never fails to enthrall, which is why I'd like to share a personal choice of scenery that have inspired me and made me feel more grateful for the wonderful world we live in. [and I hope it has the same effect to you to]. 

Most of the scenery is from APOD [no infringement of rights intended] so all credit goes to them and the photographers [I've cut the scenes as well so as not to display the entire picture, though they still do manage to flaunt the grandeur of our planet].

Sayounara, Agilent 34401A!

I recently got wind of Agilent planning to discontinue their 34401A series of DMMs, having the 34461A as a replacement. The 34401A is a very popular DMM, being one of the de facto instruments in DC measurements. I have come to favor its brother, the 34411 [counterpart: 34465] which has more features that I occasionally need, like capacitance. For instance, when I have 2 SMT ceramic caps that look exactly alike, but have different values. The 34411 comes in handy. [I could use a "smart tweezer" too but I feel more confident with the 34411]

What does the 34461 have to offer over the 34401? One is Agilent's "TrueVolt" technology" which claims to have the following benefits:
Agilent Truevolt DMMs have less than 30 percent of the amount of injected current attributed to the meter compared with other DMMs. In real measurement situations, input currents create measurement errors, adding voltages to DMM results. Truevolt DMMs take care of input bias current. Other…

Simple and Effective ESD Testing Techniques for Higher Reliability

We’ve all experienced the effect of electrostatic discharge at some point in our lives, the most common case being a tingling sensation one feels after touching a door knob or any metal surface. When the body is electrically isolated from earth, like with a pair of rubber sandals, a few foot slides can make it charged. This charge is maintained until the body comes in contact or in close proximity with a conductor that serves as a discharge path. If the body would feel a jolt, the electromotive potential induced is in the order of 4 kV. 4 kilovolts sure sounds like a scary figure but the body’s resistance is fortunately within the Mohm range. Thus, the effective power isn’t enough to cause any internal injury. I remember trying to measure my body’s resistance waaaaay back when I was in college, during a laboratory class. I was goofing around, wondering what the multimeter would read when I placed the terminals in between the palms of my hands, and I indeed got unstable readings in th…

All of Me

Another impromptu (only get practice an hour a week).

I don't usually play love songs. But the melody is nice, so I played it anyway. Hope it is okay.

Confabbing on the Fabless Fad

Real men have fabs.
Jerry Sanders – AMD Founder (circa 1993)

This quote made a lot of sense for AMD, being one of Intel’s main competitors at the time. But for other fresh start-up companies in the mid-1980s, this wasn’t quite the case. Owning a fab wasn’t as easy as getting abs. Capital and maintenance costs were big hurdles, not to mention the additional cost of improving the manufacturing equipment and machines (remember Moore’s Law). Also, the transition from fab to fabless for already existing semiconductor companies can’t happen overnight. There was the issue concerning design architecture and compatibility, the conflict with the ASIC model, and the lack of investors due to the outrageousness of the concept. These issues were resolved with innovations in EDA and the publication of “Introduction to VLSI Systems” (that lead to the creation of simplified abstractions to manage chip design complexity), aaaand… the fabless fad was on.

The Pros and Cons of a Fabless Model
Nowadays, a …