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Upcoming posts!


I know I’ve promised posts before and not delivered although I’m getting super bored and I love doing this.  So I’ll be delivering all of these articles within a month.  They will have correlations between them so I may release them all at the same time.  We’ll see how it goes.  These are prioritized as well.


1) CMOS vs. TTL

What is the difference?  Why should somebody pick one over the other?  In this post, I’ll be doing my best to explain what both of them are and why they are comparable.


2) Communication protocols (UART, I2C, SPI, etc.

Some people may get confused as to why we have so many communication protocols and such so I’ll be explaining that.  I will also be trying to point you in a proper direction for learning how to use these protocols.  Most of the discussed protocols are available on common microcontroller development boards.


3) Project updates:

Basically I”ll just be updating the projects I’ve already posted and I’ll be posting the new ones as well.


4) UTAU and using UTAU:

This is a free program that is used for vocal synthesis.  I find it extremely intriguing in terms of building a house and such that can help me out and actually talk to me.  Most of the voices are in japanese although there are a few english ones that don’t sound like total crap.  I’ll just be walking people through what it is and how to use it.


So there it is!  Keep on checking back for the updates!



Integrated Circuit Alphabet


As I’ve learned more and more about components involved in computer and electrical engineering, I’ve noticed how….off my last post about about IC packages.  The biggest heads up was the fact that I called it “component packages” which would encompass a lot more than what I was talking about.  So this here is a similar article although re-done to be the best it can be.

Personally, I’ve found all the little acronyms when looking for components to be a little confusing and I’m sure that I’m not the only one that’s been through that.  Whats a TSSOP? Whats the difference between SIP and DIP? It can get very frustrating, so this will explain everything for you!

There are a lot of different packages such as QFN, TQFP, CDIP, and many others and just because the IC’s look very different, it doesn’t mean that the naming system has to be just as difficult.  Its a fact that, even with so many different packages, each letter in the acronyms will typically stand for the same thing as it does when its in the acronym of another package.  What I’ll do in this post is provide you with an alphabet of definitions for the letters.

If you are looking for a surface mount library or other components, please look around more.  I’m working on those at the moment and will update this with a link soon.

If you have a question about a specific package, then refer to my last post please.

If you are looking at package names but cannot find a picture or diagram of the IC, search the package on Google; I try to explain the meaning of the specific words here, although that is not my mission.  I’m just trying to get the name with the letter so its easier to understand it.

*NOTE* This list isn’t directly for Texas Instruments packages.  Texas Instruments puts their own version of package names on the product page of each product.  You can use this list to define the Texas Instruments packages, but first you must find the actual package name by looking at the products datasheet.

Lets start:

A: This stands for “Array” and, at this point, is the only meaning when you see it.  Most often seen in Ball Grid Array (BGA) packages.

B: This generally stands for “Ball” but sometimes you will see it as “Bump”.  The main difference is that “Bump” stands a little more off the board than “Ball” would.  Commonly seen in BGA or BCC packages.

C: Be careful with this one, it can be used for a few things.  If you have two C’s (CC), then it’ll could be “Chip Carrier”.  This is the most common use of “C” at this point.  If you only see one “C”, then it could be “Chip, which is…funky.  It also used to be used for “Ceramic”, although this is becoming increasingly rare.  The other thing that it can be used for is “Column”, although you won’t be dealing with this unless you are a company that is making a very complex custom IC.  Another thing it could be for is “Co-Fired” which is even more rare than the “Ceramic” option.

Dual In-line PackageD: This is only used for “Dual”, seen in DIP packages such as PDIP, the most common prototyping package.

E: Rarely will you ever see this.  Although if you do, it could mean one of two things.  You have an “Exposed” package, which is super rare.  I couldn’t even find any information on it as to what that even means.  If you see it elsewhere, then that means your are seeing “CER” which is a prefix for some package names which stands for ceramic.  So “E” still isn’t special.

F: “Flat”, pretty common if you are into surface mount IC’s.  Sometimes if you see the “F”, there is an assumed “p”, meaning Flatpack (Fp).  The acronym will never denote the “pack”, only if there is corresponding text.  If you have a BGA package, you may be seeing the F denoting “Fine”.  That basically means the solder points are super close.  Good luck 🙂

G: This is used mostly for “Grid”.  That definition is pretty self-explanatory.  If the “Grid” doesn’t make sense, then you may have a “COG” package where the “G” stands for “Glass”.  Sometimes an integrated circuit will be mounted directly on glass.

So at this point we’ve defined enough letters to completely define BGA.  The Ball Grid Array package has the leads on the underside of the chip.  The leads are in the form a little balls and they can be put on using a reflow oven.  The contacts on the circuit board should have solder placed on them before the chip is placed and then the whole thing will be placed in the reflow oven so the solder can melt and the balls will come into contact with the connections on the board.  This is the most desireable package in the industry as of now as it is extremely compact!

H: Only ever used to for “Heat”.  Have fun finding that on a chip nowadays.

I: If you are new to electronics, you are probably seeing packages with an I in them very often.  The I means “Inline” which is only used for through-hole IC’s.  It means the pins are all flush with each other in a straight line in case you didn’t figure that out.

J: Not used

K: Not used

L: Similar to C, L can have multiple meaning.  If you have two L’s (LL), it will always mean “Lead Less” but watch out, a single L can stand for the same.  The L can also stand for “Land”, “Low”,  or “Leaded”.  Land means that there aren’t any pins whatsoever, rather the pins are in the socket and they make contact when placed in the socket.  Low will mean that the package is short.  If you see “Leaded”, then there are leads, a good confirmation.

At this point, we can now define LGA.  The Land Grid Array is what some you may see when you take out your CPU in your computer, if you are into that.  The LGA is almost exclusively used for CPU’s and is used by AMD and Intel.

M: You will only ever see this in the MCM package, which means “Multi-Chip Module”.  There are other meanings: “Molded”, which refers to the process and less the form factor, is used in MDIP.  You will also see it as “Metric” and “Mini”.  If you see the M with a “flat” package, make sure you are using the proper spacing on your board.  The pins are distributed with metric so beware.  “Mini” is pretty uncommon, don’t worry about it.

N: This means “No Lead”.  This is a very common type and will always see it when using “flat” packages.  By the name, it sounds bad but this doesn’t mean you are S.O.L. for trying to use this thing, it just means you need a different approach to it.  “No Lead” means that there are contacts, they just aren’t brought out….at all.  To use this, you will need either a reflow oven or a hot air station.  Some people can solder this with a soldering iron, but it’s tough and the IC cant have a ground contact in the middle to use a soldering iron.  Now we can define DFN which is Dual Flat No Lead

O: Outline

P: Generally this will be “package’ although it may also be “pack”, if you have a QFP type package then that is what it will mean.  If you are a hobbyist, then you won’t be encountering “pin” too often, but why not know?  If your integrated circuit has little pins coming out of the bottom, then it may be a PGA (Pin grid array) package, but this is pretty rare for basic stuff hobbyists do.  You’ll find PGA packages when looking at CPU’s and such.

So at this point we can define a lot of packages with the introduction of the P.  So much so that I don’t feel like listing them all, and that’s saying a lot considering I’m typing up this massive thing.

Q: Quad, meaning four quadrants.

R: Not used.

S: This will mean one of four things: “Small”, “Shrink”, “Scale”, “Size”.  If you have a package that has just one “S”, then you can safely assume that it is “small”.  Usually “small” will come before “shrink”.  If you are looking at a very small chip, then chances are you have an IC that is in a CSP package, which translates to Chip Scale Package.  This means that the entire package isn’t any more than 1.2x the size of the chip inside.   If your chip is super super super tiny, then you may have a TCSP package, which is True Chip Size Package.  That means package is the same size as the silicone.

T: Two choices, “True” or “Thin”.  Most of the time you see this, it’ll be “Thin”.  That means its very very thin (duh).  If your chip is extremely tiny, that would mean that the T stands for “True”.  That will mean that the size of the package will truthfully reflect the size of the integrated circuit.  There is another option, “Thermally” which doesn’t mean much to anybody unless, I’m guessing, you are using it for very intense thermal applications but I could be wrong about that.

U: Ultra, usually meaning that the properties of the next letter are present but are taken to an ultra level, as in enhanced .

V: Very, usually meaning that the next letter coming after it but EXTREEEMEEE!!

W: Not used.

X: Not used.

Y: Not used.Zig-Zag

Z: If you ever see this, it means Zig-Zag.  Zig-Zag packages will denote that the pins are staggered.  Note that they aren’t always staggered in the same way.  Some will put one pin right behind the other, where as another will put them next to each other, just angled differently.

Well there you go! A complete guide to the alphabet of integrated circuit package names.

Getting a new computer? Don’t forget these!


Well I’ll be getting a new computer here soon as a part of my universities laptop trade-in program.   So I figured it would be a good idea to make an instructional so that I don’t forget to get anything off my computer, and why not share it!?  So here it is.

(Heads up, you can access your “Control Panel” and your “My Computer” by pressing on the start menu icon in the lower left corner, in case you didn’t know.)

1)Data transport:  So you have this new computer,  now how are you going to get all of your information over from one to the other?  Nobody wants to do 30+ “trips” with a 2gb jump drive.  Well if you are allowed to, go on ahead and remove your hard drive from the first and pop it in the second.  This is essentially moving what many people would call their “computer” from one machine to another.  Just a little note, I’m not responsible if you void any warrenties, make sure you aren’t before you do this stuff.  If you aren’t allowed to or are a little uncomfortable doing so, there are numerous ways which follow a few logic ideals.  If you have an external hard drive or a very large jump drive, stop reading here and just use that.

a)If you have alot of music, 4gb+ worth, then you probably like it wherever you are, which means you probably own an iPod or some other music player.  Most music players can be used just like a giant jumpdrive.  If you have a 64gb iPod, then you can transfer pretty much everything.

b)If you don’t have a jump drive or a music player, but you have a DVD burner, go get some DVD’s.  Each DVD can hold about 4.7gb worth of data.  If you are willing to spend a little extra money, get the DVD-RW disks.  These ones, you can erase and re-use so you don’t get stuck with a bunch of old transfer data from ages ago.

c) If you don’t have either, but you do have internet, you could use a service called Dropbox.  You must install it on both computers and share a folder.  If you are going for this option, then watch their intro video, not only will it give you some extra free space online, it’ll also explain everything so I don’t have to!

d) If you are feeling lazy and don’t want to do that, but have an e-mail account.  Just email all the stuff and retrieve it on the other computer.

e) If you can’t do any of those, but you do have a jump drive, well you are going to have to do that.  Hopefully you don’t have a lot of things to transfer.  If you do….may God be with you.

f) If you don’t have any of those, but you do have a smart phone.  Grab your usb cable and plug it in.  You are going to have to do very small data transfers in the similar fashion as you would a music player.  You will have to enable mass storage or usb connectivity on your phone after you plug it in.

g)If you can’t do any of that and have absolutely no friends to help you out, then I can’t help you.  By this point, I’d say you are kinda S.O.L. but good luck!

2) Music!  This one is pretty obvious since many people go about their life with music at their side.  If you are computer savvy, you probably have all your music in one location and if so, then go get it!  If you are a casual computer user, then don’t forget to check for music in these spots:

a)Music folder: Open up your My Computer and there should be a tab called “Music” under “Libraries” on the left hand side.

b)My Music: This is a folder that you can access through the Music folder.  It will most commonly contain your iTunes media such as Podcasts, movies, TV shows, playlists, and music.  Last I remember, iTunes had place a limit on how many times you can download the media, although I’m not sure about that anymore.

c)Downloads folder: If you have downloaded any music from websites or if you happen to be up to no good and gotten it from youtube, this is the default place that your music will have gone.

d)Desktop music folders: This is a pretty obvious place but many people actually forget it.  Lots of people will download music to their desktop and then move it into a music folder on the desktop.  The reason is its forgotten is because they are most frequently named “music”, so no capitals or anything grabs their attention.

3)Pictures! Personally I don’t have many pictures although many of my friends would be lost without theirs.  So don’t forget these spots!

a)Check in the same spots that any music would be at.

b)Skype pictures folder:  Many of you may know how to get to the Skype folder, although this one isn’t that Skype folder.  Skype, upon installation, makes two folders: one for the actual program, the other for the extras that can be involved with interacting with Skype.  The Skype pictures folder is located at: “C:/Users/(your name)/AppData/Roaming/Skype/pictures” (No quotation marks)  .  If you don’t know how to input an address such as that, I’ll put it differently.  Go to “My Computer” and click on your “C:” drive, after that go to your “Users” folder and go to the folder with your name on it!  After that look for the AppData folder.  If you can’t find your AppData folder, you have to open up your Control Panel.  Look for folder options, it may not show if you have it set to category view, if so set it to large icons.  Once you’ve found it, double-click and a window will appear, go to the “View” tab and look for options under “Hidden files and folders” which will be under “Files and folders”.  Its right at the top.  There will be two bubbles, click on the one that says “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” and hit Apply!  Once you’ve done alllll that, head back to your Users folder and open up the folder with your name on it, once you are in AppData should be right in front of you.  Once in there, go to Roaming, then Skype, then pictures.  WHOOO! That was a lot of work!

At least now you have the pictures you took with Skype!  These pictures tend to have more value and meaning since they are probably of people whom you are friends with or are involved with so its important to get these!

c)Photoshop files: Photoshop saves files as a .PSD file which is a Photoshop “workspace” file.  Its only used by Photoshop and associated adobe products.  Although you can’t view them directly, they can be important since they retain layer information and filter information, both of which can be edited so if you are an art student, best to get these.

4)Work/School files:  As I progress through school, I realize more and more that it would be so nice if I had every single paper, project, program, and powerpoint that I’d ever done for school.  That’s why I’m not forgetting this time.  Same goes for work!  Now because of the variety of programs out there for work and school, I can’t cover all of them, or even .01% of them, although I will cover some of the more common ones.  Generally because of the nature of work and school files and how important they are, you’ll have your own folder that holds all of them, but just in case, here is a few.

a) Photoshop/any Adobe product:  These files are important, though always thought of as image files, these are very different.  Photoshop saves files as .PSD files and they retain layer, filter, and brush information, along with a bunch of other jazz.  Even if you’ve finished the work associated with the .PSD file, it’s important to keep them with you because Photoshop is an extremely powerful manipulator piece of software; You could take any work and alter it so much, it wouldn’t look like the original, saving you a lot of time.  Photoshops default save location, as far as I can remember is in your My Documents folder, so it would be best to look there.

b)Eclipse: A powerful programming platform that many developers use.  If you have any programs built with this, you’ll want to save these as archive files and you’ll be able to import them into your Eclipse IDE on your new computer.  If you are using this program, I’m assuming you know what I’m talking about and how to do it.

c)Microsoft Office files: These files are, I believe, saved in your My documents by default.  Whether they are a powerpoint, word, excel, or publisher document, it doesn’t matter.

5)Web Browser goodies:  If you’ve used the computer you are leaving behind for a while, then you probably accumulated plenty of bookmarks.  If you want to bring those with you, then you should head over to your favorite browsers Bookmarks Manager.  To get there, generally you will go to the settings tab (usually denoted by a wrench or a gear icon) and go to the bookmarks manager.  When you get there search around for something like export bookmarks.  It may be under import bookmarks and just not noted.  Once you find where you export them, go and export them.  It will probably export it as an HTML file.  Keep this file!  You will use it with your browser on the new computer to import your bookmarks from!

6)Passwords:  Naturally you are going to have a few usernames and accounts if you use your computer every so often and you’ve probably set them so that the computer remembers both so you don’t have to.  Well if you are switching computers, your usernames and passwords won’t come with you because the website isn’t what remembers that information, its your web browser.  Unfortunately web browsers don’t have an option to export that kind of information like you can for bookmarks, which is also good because it stops people from popping in and taking all your passwords.  To deal with this, you’ll have to go to each website and try to remember them.  A good thing is that your username at a website isn’t ever hidden like a password maybe, so if you have forgotten the password, you can still retrieve it as long as you have the information to access the associated e-mail address with that account.  Once you’ve figured it out, take a note on a notepad or a simple text file on your computer.  Once you have gotten all the ones you can remember (you’ll forget one website, trust me) and have done the whole switch to the computer, make sure you get rid of this information thoroughly.  Rip up the piece of paper, delete the text file.  Make sure its gone!

At this point, we’ve covered most of the important information.  If you don’t need a mirror copy of your first computer, then you can stop reading right here.  After this point, I have things such as preferences and such.  It won’t be the end of the world if you forget these, just don’t do this procedure on December 21st, 2012 please.

7)Preferences: Personally, I love the wallpaper I have , who wouldn’t love Iron Man?  There are also a lot of other things such as icon size, battery plans (different power modes), sleep timers, alarms, color schemes, all of that, I love.  Its like my own home but in a virtual manner (too nerdy?).  Unless you are an advanced user, you can access most of these options through the “Appearance and Personalization” category.  Just take a note of what your settings are and if you have a specific wallpaper, make sure you get that image file.

8)Programs: Many times when I’ve gotten a new computer, I forget my programs.  I use a lot of utility programs such as WinDirStat, CCleaner, ImgBurn, MagicDisk, and CDBurnerXP.  Its a lot of these little utility programs that I completely forget about.  And after about 4 or 5 months of not seeing them, I remember that I should probably use them and after looking for them, I’m astounded I don’t have them yet!  So its a good idea to just go through your program files, which is on your C: Drive, and take a note of which programs you would like to have on your new computer that you have on your old.

I will probably be adding on to this as time goes on and I remember things.

Until then, take it easy!


My new project, The Arduino Reference App


As you all may have noticed in a previous post, I have been working on a new project called the “a little love” heart.  That is on a short standstill, I’m waiting for some prototyping items and so those will take a while.  In the mean time, I’ve been working on a new app.  It was easy as to what to call it, the Arduino Reference App.  That will probably change.

If you’ve come on my blog before, you’ll notice that I reference the Arduino quite often.  That is because Arduino is the first platform I started on.  I still have my Arduino Duemilanove in working condition and would prefer it over an UNO or a leonardo anyday!  Because of this partiality towards Arduino, I wanted to make a mobile app for their banks of information.

So far, its been going well.  I’ve been getting some good help on it  from a friend over at Stack Overflow.  I’m trying to keep the entire app under 5 MB, which is proving tough since there are a lot of pictures I feel that are necessary for a user.  From the picture you can see that there are  five categories at this point.

Hardware:  Which is pretty explanatory, it contains all of the boards, possibly with an image of each one.  It won’t contain the board layout files although it may contain the schematic files if I can make it so.  This will also include the official shields and older boards.  I may include some of the more common shields found on Sparkfun and Adafruit.

Commands: This is the bank of inherent commands that you can send the Arduino when you first get it.  The commands that you have if you haven’t added any libraries to the already existing ones.  For example: Wire library is not what I consider an “external” library.  It comes with the IDE when you download it, so the commands in it are going to be included in the Commands category.   Whoo that’s going to be a lot of typing!  Now the commands section isn’t just going to have the inherent commands within its actual class, it just that the inherent ones are going to public.  The commands that an external library brings into the Arduino IDE will be available through the corresponding library in the library section.  So, on to that!

Libraries:  Here is where you will find many of the libraries that are very common for use with Arduino.  Such as the TLC5940 library (a personal favorite) and various DS1307 libraries.  When updates for the app come out, they will most likely be dealing with updating libraries.

Tutorials: Where would we be without tutorials?  This is where you’ll find many of the tutorials that Arduino has directly on their site.  Tutorials such as ShiftOut and Knock.  Now those won’t be the only ones, maybe on release, although I’ll be adding many many many more for the most popular integrated circuits and any tutorials that are requested.

Arduino License:  This will be purely a reference section.  Here is where I’ll keep the license for the Arduino products and their software.  If you are to release a product that uses the Arduino bootloader and you wish to sell it, you can’t keep everything about it a secret then.  Arduino is Open-Source ShareAlike which means that you have to release things under the same license if you use any of their property in the product you are trying to sell.  This will just be there and most likely never change, unless some lawyer stuff gets thrown down.

The app is going to be released on Android first.  It runs on phones running Android 2.2 (Froyo) and higher.  If I can, I’ll try to get on iOS if enough people demand it.  At this point I’m working on android apps so that I can make money so that I can get a Mac and iPhone so I can develop in both and be a mobile programming boss.  Being in college really takes away from the whole money I can spend thing.  Anyway, that is whats going on!

Thanks for stopping by!


My new project, a little love

Hello all!

First, I apologize for not fulfilling my promise for more posts.  I’ve had many personal issues including deaths and a certain break-up.  So I apologize.

Now on to the new project! I’ve been working on a new valentines gift.  So let me describe it to you a little bit.  The gift is a light up heart! No surprise there, but the catcher is this thing is tiny! Just as big as a quarter, I’d say the size of a 50 cent coin.  The heart is powered by any device with a USB-Micro.  Now, at this point, I only know how to program in android in terms of smart phones so the heart will be controlled by that at release.


The picture attached is the first version I’ve stopped working on.  It is only to give you a general idea of what it is I’m working on. The current version is a bit bigger.


The heart uses the AS1130 PWM multiplexer.  This chip is Austrian Microsystems most awesome chip.  The chip uses the technique charlieplexing to achieve a full 132 individually addressable leds that can be pulse width modulated.  This makes for some amazing animations in a small space.  The more awesome thing is that the AS1130 communicates through I2C or TWI, which makes using it so easy, especially with the Arduino.

Now you might be thinking, “How will the android phone control the heart?” Well there will be an app on the phone, and then you plug the heart into the phone and the phone will send the data to the heart.  If you are knowledgeable about the microcontrollers that Arduino offers, then you know that none of them can use the bootloader and also be a USB Host controller at the same time.  That’s where the Max3421 comes in.  This is a very small chip from Maxim.  It connects to the USB Micro pins and then outputs the information through SPI pins which then go the the microcontroller that I’ll be using.

I know this project isn’t perfect.  The one thing that I have issue with the size is that its too small to incorporate a battery.  The heart must be plugged in to be on.  I have been working on a powered version although I haven’t been able to make it small enough to relate it to the original product.  Another issue is the “open-source-ability” of the heart.  Although its nice and small, it isn’t very hack-able.  All the documentation will be made open to everybody although the issue is that I will only be including a USB-Micro plug (male).  There is no ICSP, UART, or l2C broken out.  Now maybe that is a good thing, so people can get used to hacking things in that manner.

Now I’m still in development although I already have an android app written for it, and the prototyping parts set up.  The only hurdle at this point is writing a program to go on the microcontroller that will be suitable for the needs.

So thats what I have been up to!

Thanks for stopping by.

I’m The Funkiester?



Turning AC to DC [VIDEO]

Hey everybody!

I am currently on vacation and I am traveling down the east coast of the U.S. But we have a little bit of down time so I was able to find this video that is really great! There are more videos so check him out!

LED (light-up) DRESS: Ravishing Roses

So I’ve been gone a while and I’ve been helping my girlfriend with her dress for a fashion show. Honestly I never thought I would be working on a dress for a fashion show. It was a lot of work. Its basically just a parallel circuit with UV LEDs so that the UV radiation would shine off of the white fabric that my girlfriend used. Everybody at the fashion show absolutely loved it!

LED (light-up) DRESS: Ravishing Roses.