Our reader Jon wrote in with a question about our open collector tutorial:
I really appreciated the tutorial, and I was able to follow along and understand it very well. One question I had was – what is the purpose of the 1 kilo-ohm resistor that is connected to the base of the PNP transistor? Because when the open collector is ‘high’ then the base of the transistor is at 12 V and it appears the 1 kohm resistor didn’t affect anything, and then when the open collector goes ‘low’ then the base is connected to ground through the output of the SN7407. So basically, what would the difference be if there was no 1 kilo-ohm resistor at all?
And, that’s actually an excellent question, about something that we usually gloss over.
The short answer is that this is a “base resistor” that we use to limit the maximum current that flows through the base of the PNP transistor. But, let’s take a look in a little more detail, and see what would happen if we didn’t have that there.
Over the course of the past few years, we’ve been writing occasional “Basics” articles, about introductory topics in electronics and microcontrollers. In the spirit of making things easy to find, we’ve now tagged them so that you can find them with this link, and we’re collecting them together in this index that will be updated from time to time.
Our “Basics” articles about electronics in general:
Additional “Basics” articles about working with AVR microcontrollers:
Solder paste is the glue that holds together modern consumer electronics, binding surface mount electronic components to circuit boards and providing electrical and thermal connections in the process. But have you ever really looked at it?
So… you just want to light up an LED. What resistor should you use?
Maybe you know the answer, or maybe everyone already assumes that you should know how to get to the answer. And in any case, it’s a question that tends to generate more questions before you actually can get an answer: What kind of LED are you using? What power supply? Battery? Plug-in? Part of a larger circuit? Series? Parallel?
Playing with LEDs is supposed to be fun, and figuring out the answers to these questions is actually part of the fun. There’s a simple formula that you use for figuring it out, Ohm’s Law. That formula is V = I × R, where V is the voltage, I is the current, and R is the resistance. But how do you know what numbers to plug into that formula to get out the right resistor value?
Getting an AVR to blink might seem like an incredibly difficult task compared to the usual Arduino blink, but it really isn’t! In this post we will be uploading a basic blink example to an ATtiny2313. This is perfect for projects where using an Arduino would be over the top. So let’s get started!
One of the joys of working with basic digital electronics– and logic gate ICs in particular –is that it almost works like building with a set of Lego blocks: One output goes here, which connects to the next input here, and so forth until it does what you wanted.
If you’ve played with chips like these, you’ve probably also come across chips with “open collector” outputs. And if not, they’re worth knowing about. Open-collector outputs form the basis of a number of clever tricks for level-shifting and interfacing between different types of logic, and from logic to other types of electronic circuits.
In what follows, we’ll work with the SN7407N, which is one of the most basic ICs with open-collector outputs. We’ll discuss what it means to have “open collector” outputs, and show some of the different ways that they are used. Continue reading
An ever-present challenge in electronic circuit design is selecting suitable components that not only perform their intended task but also will survive under foreseeable operating conditions. A big part of that process is making sure that your components will stay within their safe operating limits in terms of current, voltage, and power. Of those three, the “power” portion is often the most difficult (for both newcomers and experts) because the safe operating area can depend so strongly on the particulars of the situation.
In what follows, we’ll introduce some of the basic concepts of power dissipation in electronic components, with an eye towards understanding how to select components for simple circuits with power limitations in mind. Continue reading
Awesome little LED Jack-o’-lanterns are quick and easy to build yourself, in the tradition of LED throwies.
Special bonuses: (1) Now with candle-flame flickering LEDs and (2) way brighter than those little LED tea lights!
From our forums comes this interesting question:
”Is it possible to download the contents of an ATmega168/328, essentially backing it up so that it can somehow be restored later?
For example: Let’s say I have lost the source code to a very useful program currently residing on a 328, but I need to flash it with a different sketch temporarily, then restore that original sketch. This would be useful in the case that the chip was soldered directly onto a board – a big mess to try to replace.
Is this possible in some way, perhaps by altering an ISP programmer?”
The answer is that yes indeed, it is possible– with a couple of exceptions that are worth mentioning. And on occasion, it’s even very useful. Continue reading
What is it? Hint: your life depends on tools like these.
Some time ago we wrote about five relatively obscuretools for doing electronics. But, five tools barely scratches the surface of the stuff out there, and here are a few more of our favorites. In this roundup we’ve collected some handy–and even important –tools along that you might not have seen before, along with some best-of-breed versions of everyday electronics tools.