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 Engine Oil-Finder

Digital Electronics 1

It is said, that there were times when the world of the younger people, was not packed so full of events as it is today. Not that I would like to turn back the clock, indeed, at that time we all knew what it meant to be bored, when none of those people were around, with whom one spent one's free time. Those who had their own model railway could count themselves as being fortunate. Indeed, who could afford anything like that?

The Meccano building-set with it's basic metal plates, angle-plates and screws, was one of the great things to have and was much appreciated. Who however, like most of those interested in technology, did not dismantle anything they got their hands on (and could not put it together again) could at least here, gather some mechanical experience. Later the system was replaced by Lego and Fischer-technics, because one could build far more and better things.

What I'm getting at is, there were, and still are these systems, which are designed for an insight into electronics, more precisely, digital-electronics. Not necessarily ready-to-use but therefore fairly reasonably priced. What is meant is, attempting to get directly into IC-technology, partially avoiding the (as far as I'm concerned, more difficult) analog-technology. The advantage of this is that one can achieve usable results in a relatively short time.

A few electricity basics won't do any harm ...

What does one need? When I started out, I never used a battery or accumulator but went straight on to a mains adapter, whose function was later taken over by fhe car-battery. Nowadays these devices are easy to come by, in fact, every time an electrical consumer product has to be replaced. In most cases these devices provide a usable, steady current. The 5-V limit is, of course important.

At that time we pounced on the 74-series, which are still available for €1.20 upwards. Add a few LEDs, switches and some stranded cable and the testing could begin. Having a multimeter is of course, is very sensible, a modest, thus reasonably priced device, will do the job. Later on one knows more about what one needs, and the money be can spent more wisely.

In one of the first lessons, one learns that Integrated Circuits are very fast. For those who believed, that a normal switch would change from the 'off'- to the 'on' position without any complications, needs to think again. Because of the so-called 'contact-bounce', the switch can easily cause 5 or more switching operations before it finally stays where it is.

The computer is similar. The components are actually pretty dim (they only know two conditions, on or off), therefore, they are exceptionally diligent. For some careers, this was always the fast-lane. One can thus, transfer a great number of tasks in a given time to the IC. In comparison, the Otto-engine, even if it could manage 20.000 RPMs, is a pretty lame duck.

So, in an IC, the otherwise easy to recognise components, e.g., by their casings, like a transistor, are thus integrated into a chip, that despite it's small size, can 'integrate' an unbelievable amount (as a microprocessor even several millions) of them, thus being able to function as if they were, in their original casings, mounted onto a printed circuit. One particular problem that can arise with this density, is however, the controlling of the temperature. 02/12

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