Blogging Conferences

A September Update

So it’s quite apparent I haven’t been around posting too much. The date on the last post makes that pretty obvious. I have been doing some fun and exciting things though!

First off is The Amp Hour, a new electronics podcast/radio show. We just completed our 8th episode yesterday and it seems to be going well! We were very lucky to have much of Dave Jones’ wonderful community at EEVblog make the jump over and listen to us. It’s nice to have a strong base of listeners to start with and we appreciate everyone of them (I appreciate you doubly if you happen to read here as well!).

Next, I’ve been reworking my electronics lab at home, building up my gear holdings and working on some new projects. It’s been really fun, if not time consuming. All of the time that used to go towards bugging you with blog updates seems to be eaten by that activity. I know there will be lulls in the future, so I’ll try to blast out some ideas I’ve had rattling in my head when that happens. I’m really interested in a topic we discussed on The Amp Hour known as “The Creative Economy”. Basically the idea that so much equipment has become such a commodity that the only true value to add to products and services will now be based on how creative you are. It’s already started and it will only become more apparent.

And lastly, on the same note as above, I’ll be attending the Open Hardware Summit coming up in NYC. It’s right before the Maker Faire (which I won’t be able to attend unfortunately) and should give me and everyone reading this even better insight into the thing fueling much of the creative economy: open source hardware. The few days prior to OHS, I’ll be at ESC Boston doing some freelance work for EEtimes (on their EELife blog section). I’m looking forward to that as well. It was a direct result of going to the ESC in Chicago, which I’ve written about on here a few times.

So that’s it for now. Talking, doing and writing. That is my life. And I enjoy it. And I hope to share more of it with you soon, so please hang on.


Shhh, Don’t Tell The Aussie…

I know we said we wouldn’t talk about it on our sites any more, but I figured once more can’t hurt. We have our latest episode of The Amp Hour up on the new website, just waiting to be downloaded or streamed.

I will say though that you should pull the RSS feed ASAP in order to not miss any future radio shows. Who knows what kind of hijinks you’d miss out on?

Anyway, don’t tell the Aussie! I don’t want to upset my co-host. But do remember to shoot over to The Amp Hour for the 4th installment of the new radio show and leave some nice comments there.

Analog Electronics Engineering Learning

Follow Up Post: Electronics People Online

I really don’t have much to say in response to my last post about where all the electrical engineer sites are online other than: message boards. I alluded to the idea of message boards when I mentioned EEVBlog, though unknowningly at the time; I thought EEVblog was only videos. Working with Dave on The Amp Hour has shown me that a message board can really help hash out ideas (if you’re one of the content generators), get suggestions, or get questions answered (if you’re watching or reading and don’t understand something).  So I started hunting and found some other quite active electronics-only forums:

  • All About Circuits Forum — The main site is a great online open-source textbook that explains lots of electronics concepts.
  • Electro-Tech-Online — This is an intense amount of posts, namely about electronics.
  • Eng-Tips — This is actually a site for all types of engineering but the link is for the electronics part of the site.
  • EEVBlog Forum — Like I mentioned above, this is Dave’s forum and it has some great chatter going on it.

Then there are the hacker/maker/DIYer type forums. These often span multiple disciplines and include questions from people who may have never seen a resistor before but you can usually find some good answers (or answer some questions yourself if you are so inclined).

  • Instructables Community – Not limited to electronics but there are enough electronics projects that there are forums about it.
  • MAKE forums — Hard to find a bigger group of DIYers than MAKE and you know they’re bound to have questions for one another (or you!).
  • Hacked Gadget Forum — Alan’s site is usually a great aggregation of new, fun hacks that are popping up on the web; but the forums are a good place to ask about them!

Vendors often get in on the action as well. Why not? You buy the parts or kits there, you should be able to ask questions to others you KNOW are using the same things, right?

  • Adafruit Forum — Great way to ask about their popular kits. I’m disappointed they don’t sell the RF jammers that LadyAda designed though.
  • Sparkfun — The biggest hobbyist kit manufacturer out there, with over $12 million in revenue per year. With those kinds of numbers, you know people are hanging out at their site (even when they’re NOT giving away $100 of free stuff in a day). More people = more questions = more answers for you.
  • Parallax Forums — A kit maker that utilizes the BASIC Stamp chipset. When you can’t ask the Arduino heads about your issues, you’re going to need a forum to talk to.
  • Element 14 — They are a sub-company of Farnell, one of the largest distributors of components in the world. There’s extra useful content now that they own EAGLE (the CAD program)…but you can find some good general answers there as well.

There are also more specific types of forums out there, which makes a lot of sense. You wouldn’t care about working on precision op amps if you have a question about how to get an Arduino to control a relay.

  • DIY Drones — Want to know how to make a quadcopter? I bet this is a good place to ask about it.
  • AVR Freaks — Talking about AVR (the chipset in the Arduino) can get very specific. These members will help you with your specific questions.
  • Society of Robots — All things robotics, including the electronics needed for them.
  • DIY Audio Forums — High end audio electronics, built by you. Talk to others on the board to figure out if the sound is “warm” enough.

The thing is, even though I like the tailored nature of a message board (ask a question, get an answer), I’ve never really thought of them as a place for electronics people to congregate online. I was quite wrong though. The message board system is democratic in nature because those with the most involvement and the best answers will rise to the top as experts (though I like the StackOverflow/Chiphacker style for this better). Aside from the democratic nature, there can be contrasting voices in case there is a wrong equation or a better way to execute a design; this is important for checking engineering ego and ensuring a design will work properly. I think most of all though, it’s easy: easy for the website creator to set up and easy for people to understand how they work. All of these factors point to a pooling of collective electronic resources online.

So if you’ve never tried it out, give a message board a shot! You can find some great information, connect with some really smart people and maybe help one or two others as well. And if you find any not mentioned here, let us know in the comments.


Same Show, Same Time, Different Location

We finished recording the 3rd installment of our newly-named radio show–“The Amp Hour”–last night. The show focused on a couple different topics, we were trying to stay a little bit more focused than we had been previously. Anyway, be sure to click the link above to get to the podcast/radio show, I don’t plan on putting the audio on this page anymore. I would also suggest that you try out the RSS feed on The Amp Hour, it’s the easiest way to get up to date info on the program; plus I’d like to discontinue posting that there is a new episode up on both that site and this one.

Speaking of this site, I realize there hasn’t been much writing lately as I’ve kind of sidetracked into the audio side of things. If I was being completely honest, I’d say it’s easier to just spout what I think about a subject than to sit down and write out a coherent article. But I really plan to get back into that in the near future. The theme is finished for the new site, we’re all set up to stream or feed podcast readers and our show content seems to kind of evolve over the course of the week. All this hopefully points to me having a little more time for writing about analog and random other things. Thanks for hanging in there, if you happen to be.


Radio Show Has Moved!

Dave and I have decided to move the radio show we started together to a separate site. We also chose a name for the site, The Amp Hour.

Going to a different site will allow Dave to continue providing video podcasts on the EEVblog site and I can continue providing analog type articles (and podcasts) on this site.  Our content will appear there from now on, but we’ll be sure to link over to that site for the next few shows to ensure people know where the audio files can be found.

While I’m sure I’ll miss all the traffic working with Dave has brought to this site, I’m really excited about continuing this project and getting more listeners to The Amp Hour.  Pop on over to The Amp Hour to catch the past two episodes of the show or grab the RSS feed so you know when we post our next one (usually at the beginning of the week).