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Potstro ARY 2000

Popular Electronics anC Electronic; Projects

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Put callers on hold
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Home Phoneline Networking

Affordable Backup
Mobile Speech Recognition
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Also Inside
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Pro Service
Amazing Science
Tech Musings

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Po tronics
500 Bi- County Boulevard
Farmingdale, N.Y. 11735 (516)
293-3000 Fax: (516) 293-3115
wai i(,AnON

it bring?
The millennium upon us. activist!
magazine for thehhands- ontelectronics
Poptronics magazine
electronics marketplace professionals who design,
aimed kind of electronics act'ivstroomherprofess
lives, the experimenters
build, maintain, and repair to know what's rin the latest gear, he activists
wrojeco, the computer enthusiasts who want to test new circuits and designs,
build robots, audiophiles who want
who want to and are building with.
for what's out there to communicate
ham -radio operators looking
publications Electronics
that you ow

That's why Publications magazine Poptronics
into new, exciting and timely monthlypmagaz to enter the new mil-
Electronics Now, 2000 a way
hold in your hands. Coincidentally le 2001)
lennium! (Yes knowthe millennium
lltactually starts
been here begin-
evagazin sin the 21st CenturyWe've
magazine for all a electronics activists We're still going to
April with Poptronics or descen-
ning, when
bing, millennium, thetlyear 3001f,
be here for the start
existing magazines
very best elements of our have
We have
designed to demer
deliver t
to you,
u, the very best editorial
Reports, Service
variety we can assemble. We
Gizmo, Prototype, Hands -on columns; and wrapped them arounduai main edttoris
and other key how to do it articles,
Workshop, Amazing Science product lab reviews, how it works and
package of construction projects, millennium!
world of electronics for the new
to create a wonderful new links
av too. The forums, log
Our web at b tryo k' other areas, Keep
will stay as they are, you a
find lot of "under signs
will find our web site even more use-
in to up with wont is happening.
Kapp g believe that you

will magazine. It's alg eat
than befos the latest tupdateson contents inrthe and artwork from the
get cq aanswered, and find
and to download current articles
to search the index for old articles
current issue.
to Popular Electronics, is fullffille
If you are a current
this January 2 issue) until your currrent subscription
starting with have
issues of Poptronics
If also subscribectronics
is sues of Popular
to go, and 5
will combine
issues ous
of Electronics Now forr example
you will receive

the next 15 issues of Poptronics).

this month, just cut off or
ccpy the labels on the
of Poptronics
If we goof and you get
two copies
send them to me. I'll see
that your subscription is merged
of both magazines and
front cover
without you losing a single copy. Poptronics.
publishing this January
Ane part new world try We
in progress. Stay with seeju st hhow happens.
Be our partner as fast as it
of the latest electronics news
will continue to bring you all

Larry Steckler, EHF,CET


!air 1
February 2000, Vol. 1, No. 2
ular Electronics



Using Light for Brain Tumor Surgery, Luminescent Biosensors,
WITH THE MONEYSAVER Supercomputers, and more
Find all those 10 -10 long- distance
codes difficult to remember and 36 SERVICE CLINIC
annoying to dial? Why not let this VCR Troubleshooting and Tape Transport
device take care of all that for you and
make a noticeable change in your 55 ROBOTICS WORKSHOP
monthly phone bill.
Anthony J. Caristi
Watch out BASIC Stamp ... Here Comes the OOPic

Piezo -Film Transducers

Temperature Measurements, Thermocouple Fundamentals,
21 TELEPHONE HOLD AND LINE IN -USE PROJECT Gambling Simulation, Working with Newsgroups, and more
This two- feature wizard takes away the hassle of shared lines.
555 Applications

Automatically route calls in your home or office.
John Taylor, Jr.
The new breed of Net -phone products
has arrived, bringing with it better

-quality and ease of use.
Selina Kyle

Executive -style sound system, senior - friendly VCR, pedestal This Month Featuring.
speakers, and more Apple's Wireless Breakthrough
Finding Anyone Online
Sega Dreamcast Home Phoneline Networking
Compaq Presario 5868
An Affordable Backup Solution


Inc. 500 Bi- County Boulevard, Farmingdale, NY 11735. Second -Crass postage
paia ar
Poptronics (ISSN 1526 -3681) Published monthly by Gernsback Publications,
rate U.S. and possessions $24.99, Canada $33.15 (includes G.S.T. Canadian
Farmingdale, NY and at additional mailing offices. One -year, twelve issues, subscription Money Order or
orders payable in U.S. funds only, International Postal
Goods and Services Tax Registration No. R125166280), all other countries $33.99. Subscription Inc. All rights reserved. Hands -on Electronics and Gizmo trade-
single copy price $4.99. Copyright 2000 by Gemsback Publications,
check drawn on a U.S. bank. U.S.
trademark is registered in U.S. and Canada by Electronics Technology Today, Inc. and
marks are registered in U.S. and Canada by Gernsback Publications, Inc. Poptronics
is licensed to Gernsback Publications, Inc. Printed in U.S.A.
P.O. Box 459, Mount Morris, IL 61054 -7629
Postmaster: Please send address changes to Poptronics, Subscription Dept.,

A stamped self- addressed envelope must accompany all submitted manuscripts and
/or artwork or photographs if their return is desired should they be rejected. We dis-
of manuscripts and /or artwork or photographs while in our possession or otherwise.
claim any responsibility for the loss or damage

As a service to readers, Poptronics publishes available plans or information

relating to newsworthy products, techniques, and scientific and technological developments.
by readers, Poptronics disclaims any responsibility for the safe and prop-
Because of possible variances in the quality and condition of materials and workmanship used
2 er functioning of reader -built projects based upon or from plans or information published in this magazine.

Editorial Popironics
Larry Steckler, EHF, CET,
editor-in-chief and publisher
Konstantinos Karagiannis, editor
Remember when it was almost taboo to make a long- distance phone call? Joseph Suda, technical editor
You'd visit a friend's house and ask to use the phone; and, no matter how polite Evelyn Rose, assistant editor
your pal might have been, a question would be asked: Janine Abitabile, editorial assistant
Michael A. Covington, N4TMI
contributing editor
"Is it a local call ?" Sam Goldwasser, contributing editor
John !ovine, contributing editor
And it was a valid concern. Long- distance calls-even to numbers in the same Selina Kyle, contributing editor
state but not the same area code -could run several dollars for a typical ten - Don Lancaster, contributing editor
minute chat. Fortunately, there are now ways around such exorbitant charges. Gordon McComb, contributing editor
Ted Needleman, contributing editor
Notice all those commercials for discount, long- distance access codes (10 -10 Charles D. Rakes, contributing editor
this, 10 -10 that, and so on)? We hope so, as many of these services can save Teri Scaduto, contributing editor
you big money. However, some have hidden fees that you only learn about
when your next phone bill arrives.... PRODUCTION DEPARTMENT
Ken Coren, production director
From now on, protect yourself from dialing those long- distance codes that
Kathy Campbell, production manager
Michele Mus prepress specialist
cheated you and stick to those that provide the best savings. We found a way
to dial your favorite code with the push of a button -we call it the Moneysaver, ART DEPARTMENT
and you can learn how to build one by turning to page 15. Russell C. Truelson, art director

For a more innovative way to save on long distance-even get it for free, CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT
Gina L. Gallo, circulation manager
depending on the hardware your call recipient owns -consider using Voice
over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. A new generation of Net telephony REPRINT DEPARTMENT
products and services is available, providing cell -phone quality or better. Janine Abitabile, Reprint Bookstore
Explore the exciting world of VoIP, starting on page 43.


Also, in keeping with this month's theme, we've included a couple of our
Gernsback Publications, Inc.
favorite telephone gadgets to help you make the most of this wired age. 500 Bi- County Blvd.
Farmingdale, NY 11735
Our Hold and Line In -Use Project enables you to put callers on hold. More 516- 293 -3000
important, it warns you when someone's on the line or warns others when Fax: 516-293-3115
you're online, thereby preventing an aggravating Internet disconnect. Check it President: Larry Steckler
Vice- President: Adria Coren
out on page 21.
Vice-President: Ken Coren

Readers with more than one piece of equipment hooked up to a line should SUBSCRIPTION
consider the phone company's Distinctive Ring feature. With this service and CUSTOMER SERVICE/
the Call Director, you can route incoming calls to fax machines, computer ORDER ENTRY
modems, numerous answering machines, and, yes, even specific phones. 800 -827-0383
7:30 AM - 8:30 PM EST
Page 24 will fill you in on all the possibilities.
Advertising Sales Offices
We also hope you enjoy the eclectic blend of our regular columns and depart- listed on page 104
ments. Are they all you expect? Are we providing the most complete coverage
of hands -on electronics around? Please let us hear from you. While we haven't Cover by Loewy Design
been running a "Letters" column yet (because the first issue of this magazine
hasn't hit the stands as write these words), we do look forward to your com-
ments on the new title. Poptronics is the electronics activist's magazine, your
www. gernsback. corm
magazine, and your input is given priority consideration. So get writing!

Since some of the equipment and circuitry

described in POPTRONICS may relate to or be
covered by U.S. patents, POPTRONICS disclaims
any liability for the infringement of such patents
by the making, using, or selling of such equipment
or circuitry, and suggests that anyone interest-
ed in such projects consult a patent attorney.
Konstantinos Karagiannis
Executive Style
The newest Executive Series boo helf audio system from
Onkyo USA Corporation is the model LS-2050 ($799.95),
which adheres to the fashionably understated, space- saving
design principles of its predecessors: simplicity and sonic
accuracy before flash and features. To that end, the system
includes three separate, extremely compact yet high- perfor-
mance components -an integrated amplifier, an AM /FM
tuner, and a three -disc CD changer-along with a pair of
speakers. The vented, two -way speakers are said to provide
powerful and extended bass with open, accurate midrange
balance, and excellent treble transparency.
The A-905X amp uses Onkyo's all- discrete - output wide -range amplifier technology to provide 22 watts per chan-
nel into 4 ohms (0.05% THD). The amplifier provides a subwoofer pre -out, an ultra -pure Source- Direct listening
mode, and a six- channel audio input to handle potential system expansion. The C -707CH CD changer allows you to
change two discs while the third is playing. Optical and coaxial digital outputs assure compatibility with MiniDisc or
CD recorders or other digital audio equipment. The T -405X tuner offers quartz -synthesized tuning accuracy
and the
convenience of 30 station presets, station- naming capability, and a four -mode weekly timer.
Onkyo USA Corporation, 200 Williams Drive, Ramsey, NJ 07446; 201 -825 -7950.

Senior -Friendly VCR

Thanks to its well- organized manual, which pairs the text with pictures of corresponding onscreen
menus, and that onscreen menu system itself, the RCA VR646HF VCR ($299) from Thomson Consumer
Electronics, has earned the seal of approval from Senior Friendly, an orga-
nization that searches for consumer -electronic products that are techno-
logically advanced, yet easy to use.
The four -head, hi -fi VCR offers convenience features including
Commercial Advance, Movie Advance, and VCR Plus +. After a television
program is recorded, the Commercial Advance system locates and marks
the commercial segments. During playback, the VCR automatically fast -for-
wards through the marked portions, reducing three minutes of commercial
time to 10 seconds in SLP mode. Movie Advance automatically finds the beginning of the movie on most pre- recorded VHS
tapes, then pauses the tape and informs you that the movie is about to begin. It also allows you to selectively view the previews,
skipping from one to the next. The VCR Plus+ system simplifies programming by allowing you to enter a show's PlusCode pro-
gramming number, which can be found in TV Guide and most newspaper TV listings.
The VR646HF comes with a backlit universal remote control and provides multi-brand satellite- system /cable -box control.
Thomson Consumer Electronics, 10330 North Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN 46290; www.rva.com.

On a Pedestal
For those who prefer to keep their audio equipment on display, Bell'Oggetti
International offers the SP-200 speaker stands ($200 /pair). Attractively styled in basic
black with a contemporary flair, the stands feature a bowed front piece that spans the
three-foot distance from base to pedestal. The 7- inch - square top plate is equipped with
rubber strips to securely hold in place a speaker weighing up to 100 pounds.
Behind the curved front piece is a hollow tube that not only supports the top piece,
but also serves as part of Bell'Oggetti's Cable Management System. Speaker wires can be
routed through the tube, completely out of sight, for a clean, uncluttered look.
Bell'Oggetti International, 711 Ginesi Drive, Morganville, NJ 07751 -1250; 732-
972 -1333; www.belloggetti.com.
Big Sound, Small
The HTS- 10 Home Theater Loudspeaker System ($749)
from Infinity Systems, Inc. is designed to meet the demands of
today's Dolby Digital 5.1- channel soundtracks, which
require each of the five main channels to reproduce a
wide frequency range. The system, which comes in "Video
Gray" to match today's TVs, includes five two -way, mag-
netically shielded satellite speakers and a subwoofer pow-
ered by a built-in 75 -watt digital amplifier.
The satellites measure a slim 8.5 X 4.5 X 5.5 inch-
es. Each uses a high- output, 4 -inch woofer and a half-inch
dome tweeter that operate in conjunction with an ellipti-
cal waveguide said to provide controlled directivity and
accurate dispersion over a wide listening area. Installation is
simplified by the satellite's integrated mounting brackets and by Infinity's "room- friendly
acoustical design principles," said to ensure sonically accurate performance in a variety of listening environments and place-
ment positions.
The HTS -10's powered subwoofer provides the solid, powerful bass needed to reproduce Dolby Digital's low- frequency
effects channel. Measuring 11- inches square, the subwoofer includes continuously variable -level and crossover- frequency
controls, as well as line -level and high -level inputs.
Infinity Systems, 250 Crossways Park Drive, Woodbury, NY 11797; 800- 553 -3332; www.infinitysystems.com.

Heard, but Not Seen

When the lights are on and the TV is off, many folks would prefer not to see home -
theater gear cluttering up the room. TVs and other components can be hidden in a closed
cabinet. And, with the System 10 from Atlantic Technology, the speakers ($429 each)
can be hidden in the walls. The System 10 was designed as a full -range stereo speaker
that could integrate smoothly with Atlantic Technology's subwoofers and dipole sur-
round speakers to provide outstanding music and home - theater surround sound.
The System 10 has a central swiveling 1 -inch dome tweeter that can be aimed for
optimum dispersion, and its front -panel high- frequency level control can boost or cut
tweeter output by 2 dB. Two long -throw 6.5 -inch woofers include powerful motors, rub-
ber surrounds, and magnetic shielding. The System 10 is configured as a D'Appolito
array, which is said to provide excellent control of vertical dispersion and enhance the
speaker's imaging.
As a center- channel speaker, the System 10 can be installed above or below the video
monitor or behind an acoustically transparent projection screen. As long as it is installed
well off -axis above and behind the listener, it can also serve as a surround speaker.
The speaker is easy to install in any standard construction wall. Once it has been posi-
tioned in the wall cut -out, the rotating mounting clamps are screwed down to lock the
speaker tightly against the wall board.
Atlantic Technology, 343 Vanderbilt Avenue, Norwood, MA 02062; 781- 762 -6300;


Gizmo is published by Gernsback Publications, Inc., 500 Bi -County Blvd., Farmingdale, NY 11735. Senior Writers: Christopher
Scott and Teri Scaduto. Copyright 2000 by Gernsback Publications, Inc. Gizmo is a registered trademark. All rights reserved.
Sega Dreamcast
Videogame consoles may never be the same
again as a new standard for excellence is set.

Ever have a dream so vivid

you woke up thinking it was
real? Well, plug in Sega's
Dreamcast ($199) videogame con-
sole, pop in Sonic's Adventure, and
the opening animation -a city-
scape plagued by disasters rang-
ing from a wall of rushing water to
the landing of a hostile spaceship
with a lizard-like alien-will have
you doing a double take. The close -
up of the blinking reptilian eye, in
particular, looks like real video
Alas, that degree of realism does
not extend into the game action
itself. But the 128 -bit Dreamcast,
with its 200 -MHz SH4 RISC processor
and a graphics engine based on
the NEC Power VR2 chip, does rep-
resent a dramatic step forward in left side, four buttons (A, B, x, y) on plug it into the Dreamcast con -
videogaming as we've previously the right, and the START button in the troller-or into other VMUs, to trade
known it, on the 32 -bit Sony middle. Two wing -like handles pro- information. When it's inserted into
PlayStation or the 64 -bit Nintendo trude from the front; each has a the controller's upper slot, the LCD
64. Besides enhanced (up to 60- trigger switch behind it, accessible is visible to the player. In some

frames-per- second) graphics and with the player's index finger. The games, such as NFL 2K (more on this
increased processing speed, the cable sticks out the player's side of in a moment), game strategy can
Dreamcast features a built -in 56- the controller, which is a bit awk- be worked out on the VMU's small
Kbps modem for multi -player online ward. We suppose Sega put it there screen, where no other player can
gaming (still to come as of this writ- to make room on the other side of see it, before being played out on
ing), and a memory card that dou- the controller for two expansion the big screen. Remove the VMU
bles as a miniature portable slots. from its slot, and it becomes a
videogame. Each controller can hold two portable gaming machine. Down-
Visual Memory Units, or VMUs (sold load game characters, and you
Hot H?rdw2re. The console itself is separately, $25 each). With four can train them while riding in a car.
a white plastic unit measuring a controllers connected, as many as Play stand -alone VMU games, and
diminutive 7.5 x 7.75 x 3 inches. eight cards can be managed at you can earn bonus points or dis-
The top -loading disc tray is flanked once. (Another option is to use the cover new levels of play when the
by POWER and OPEN buttons on each second slot for an optional Jump card is plugged back into the con-
side. The rear panel provides a Pack, which uses a force-feedback troller and regular play resumes.
phone jack for the internal modem, engine to allow players to feel
a set of A/V jacks, a connector for crashes and explosions. Each Jump Sizzling Titles. And you'll be
the power cord, and a serial port Pack also costs $25.) resuming regular game play when-
"for possible future expandability." The Visual Memory Units do ever you get a chance. Sonic's
The front panel provides four (count much more than simply store game Adventure ($49.99), starring that
'em, fout) controller ports. Additional scores. Each VMU has its own LCD old favorite, Sonic Hedgehog, is an
controllers cost $30 each. screen and a directional control excellent example of the Dream -
The controller has a joystick -style pad, along with POWER, MODE, SELECT, cast's speed, 3D graphics, and visu-
"analog thumb pad" and a digital and CANCEL buttons. The connector al realism. Sonic and his furry friends
6 directional pad ( "D-pad ") on the at the top of the card is used to have close to 50 levels to explore

as they search for Chaos Emeralds

and try to save the world from the
Electronics CD ROMSma
evil Dr. Robotnick. You can opt to
be Sonic or any of his five friends
all of whom move at incredible
- Want to improve your design skills?
Ell WI
Then youshould consider our range al CO ROMs by best -selling author Mike Tooiey.
speeds. The details are incredible.
When Sonic runs across a beach, Electronic Circuits and Components provides a sound introduction to the principles

for example, he leaves a trail of and applkations of the most common types of electronic components and how they are
used to form complete circuits. Sections on the disc include: fundamental electronic
footprints in the sand. theory, active components, passive components, analog circuits and digital circuits.
Similarly, the players in NFL 2K Includesdreuit s and assignments for Ekdronics Workbench.

($49.99) leave cleat marks in the

The Pares Gallery has been designed to overcome the problem of component and
grass (or astroturf, depending upon
symbol recognition. The CD ROM will help students recognize common electronic
which of the 32 accurately mod- components and their corresponding symbols in circuit diagrams. Quizzes ore included.
eled stadiums is home to the The Parts Gallery is free with Electronic Circuits and Components.

game). Details that ring true

Digital Electronics details the principles and prodice of digital electronics, including
enhance the sense of realism. look gates, combinational and sequential logic circuits, docks, counters, shift registers,
Weather conditions affect game and displays. The (D ROM also provides an introduction to microprocessor-based

play, for instance, and spectators systems. Includes circuit sand assignmentsfor EkdronicsWorbbench.

desert the stadium in droves during

a blowout-or scatter when a play-
Analog Electronics is a complete learning resource for this most difficult subject. The
CD ROM includes the usualwealth of virtual laboratories as well as an electronic circuit
er runs out of bounds. simulator with over 50 pre-designed analog circuits, which gives you the ultimate

As of October 1999, there are learning tool. The CD ROM provides comprehensive coverage of analog fundamentals,
transistor circuit design, op -amps, fihers, oscillators, and other analog systems.
about 20 Dreamcast games on the
shelves, with about a dozen more "...hammers home the concepts in a way
that no textbook ever could."
due in time for the holidays. Arcade Electronics Australia
favorite Soul Calibur is available, as
is a 3D version of Mortal Kombat. A
Interested in programming PIC micros?
sampler disc of new or soon- to -be- We have lote petted solution:

released titles showed similar Our PICtutor CD ROM can teach you how to write assembly language programs for the
PIC series of microcontroilers. The CD ROM's 39 tutorial sections will guide you from
speed, accuracy, realism in a slew basic PIC architecture, commands, and programming techniques up to advanced
of shoot- 'em -up, fighting, strategy, concepts such as watchdog timers, interrupts, sleep modes, and EEPROM data memory
sports, and racing games. And, use. Over 80 exercises and challenges are provided to test your understanding, and the

while Bass Fishing seemed an unique Virtual Mallows you to write and test programsonscreen.

unlikely theme for a videogame, the complementary development kit anodes o reprogrammoble PIC] 6(84, which you
con program via your printer port. The institution version (designed for use in schools,
the bait's-eye views and the ability colleges and industry) includes a quad 7- segment LED display and alphanumeric LCD
to "get into the head" of the fish display. Tie development kit provides on excellent platform for both learning PIC

combined to create fun and chal- programming and for further project/development work. Assembkr and send (via
printer port) software is included on the CD ROM.
lenging game play.
Prices and Versions
Unfortunately, the Dreamcast Institution versions are suitable For use in schools, colleges and industry.
Internet connection isn't expected Student versions ore for student /home use.
student institution
to be fully operational until some- version version
time in the Spring, so we couldn't Electronic Circuits & Components $56 $159
experience first -hand the thrill of Digital Electronics $75 $189
online multi-player gaming -or of Analog Electronics $75 $189
sending and receiving e-mail via a PtCtutor (CD and development board) $179 $350
game console. (For sending e-mail Shipping costs to Canada an additional $5. Overseas orders please contact

and other Web- browsing tasks, a CLAGGK Inc. for shipping costs.

Dreamcast keyboard is free with a see http / /www.MatrixMultirnedia.co.uk for full specs and demos

subscription to AT &T WorldNet Please circle the products you would like to buy on the table above right, calculate the total cost, fill in the form
Order Form
Service, or can be purchased for below and send it to us. Please ollow4- 6 weeks for delivery.

But even without the Internet
dimension, Dreamcast has plenty
going for it. It's definitely first in its Telephone:
class-at least until Sony's new I have enclosed my check for $-
PlayStation, planned for late 2000, Please charge my credit card for $:
shows up! Note that the delivery address and the address at which
cire card is registered must Willa same.
For more information on
Card type.
Dreamcast, contact Sega, PO Box Expire date:
Mastercard. Visa. or Discover only CL02
7654, San Francisco, CA 94129; 888-
271- 5678; www.sega.com; or circle Claggk Inc., PO Box 4099, Farmingdale, NY 11735 -0792
80 on the Free Information Card. P Tel: 516 -293-3751 email claggk @poptronix.com 7

Using Light for Brain Tumor Surgery
n two successful operations to treat
1 brain cancer, surgeons have used a spe-
cial lighting technology that was originally
developed for space -based commercial
plant growth research on NASA'a Space
Shuttle. For the treatment technique called
Photodynamic Therapy, a surgeon uses
tiny pinhead -size Light-Emitting Diodes
(LEDs) -a source releasing long wave-
lengths of light -to activate light- sensitive,
tumor -treating drugs.
"A young woman operated on in May
has fully recovered with no complica-
tions and no evidence of the tumor corn-
ing back," said Dr. Harry Whelan, a
pediatric neurologist at the Children's
Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee
and professor of neurology at the
Medical College of Wisconsin, also in
Milwaukee. Katie Pedersen, 20 years
old, underwent surgery with the LED
probe. She had turned to NASA-spon-
sored technology when she was out of
options. She had endured six surgeries
over 10 years, as well as chemotherapy
and radiation treatments traditionally
used to treat cancer. But her aggressive
cancer kept coming back.
"We are very hopeful that the LED's
long, cool wavelengths of light were able
to penetrate wide and deep enough to
get rid of the tumor for good," said
Whelan. In the more recent surgery on
a young man, he continued "...every-
thing looks great, and thus far there is
no evidence of the tumor reoccurring."
Laser light has been used for this
type of surgery in the past, but LED
light illuminates through all the nearby
tissues, reaching parts of the tumor that
shorter wavelengths of laser light can- Dr. Harry Whelan, a pediatric neurologist at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in
not. The new probe is also safer because Milwaukee, is shown holding the LED light source and its cooling /power system The LED
the longer wavelengths of light are cool- light source consists of 144 tiny diodes, is the size of a small human finger (about one -half
er than the shorter wavelengths of laser inch in diameter), and is mechanically more reliable than other light sources used to treat
light, making the LEDs less likely to cancer. (Photo by Emmett Given, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.)
Pro type
provides U.S. industry the opportunity
to perform experiments in space with
future profit potential and real -life
applications on Earth.
To ensure other LED applications
are investigated, NASA recently selected
a Phase II Small Business Innovation
Research proposal for negotiation with
Quantum Devices Inc. of Barneveld,
WI-the company that developed
LEDs for commercial plant growth
investigations on the Space Shuttle.
When the Phase II contract is awarded,
Quantum Devices will receive $600,000
to continue promising research begun
under the Phase I research contract.
"NASA was pleased to fund the first
phase of the research leading to these two
successful surgeries," said Helen Stinson,
Marshall's manager of the Small Business
Innovative Research program, which
awarded the grant. The program is part of
NASA's Technology Transfer Department
at the Marshall Space Flight Center in
Huntsville, AL. "We're happy to fund
Neurosurgeons and nurses conduct a simulation of surgical implantation of the Light Quantum as it continues to explore cut-
Emitting Diodes probe at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. The LED probe can be used
for hours at a time and remains cool to the touch. (Photo by Emmett Given, NASA Marshall
ting-edge medical uses for the LEDs." 0
Space Flight Center.)
injure normal brain tissue near the drug, currently approved in the United
tumor, explained Whelan. States for the treatment of certain lung Biosensors
The LED light sources, consisting of and esophageal cancers. Photofrin was Researchers at the Department of
144 tiny diodes, is compact-the size of a discovered at the Roswell Park Memorial Energy's Los Alamos National
small human finger about one-half-inch in Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, and is Laboratory have developed a method of
diameter-and mechanically more reliable being developed by QLT Photo Therapeutics using certain polymers as luminescent
than lasers and other light sources used to Inc. in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. sensors to detect and identify biological
treat cancer. The entire light source and Photofrin attaches to and permeates and chemical agents, almost instanta-
cooling system is only the size of a brief- unwanted tissues, leaving surrounding neously. The polymers fluoresce in the
case. The LED probe can be used for tissues unaffected. Whelan then places presence of these agents with the help of
hours at a time while still remaining cool to the new solid -state LED probe near the molecular intermediaries that bind to
the touch, and it can be purchased for a affected tissue to illuminate the tumor the biological and chemical agents'
fraction the cost of a laser. and activate Photofrin. Once activated receptor sites. Using a laptop computer,
by the light, the drug destroys the hand -sized spectrometer, fiber -optic
Experiments tumor's cells, leaving the tender brain cabling, and a sample holder, the
Before the surgeries, Whelan and his stem tissues virtually untouched. researchers demonstrated the principle
colleagues performed experiments behind this technique by "turning on" a
whose results indicated that when spe- Research and Development polymer's luminescence by adding the
cial tumor- fighting drugs are illuminat- The LEDs have been used on seven protein avidin, derived from egg whites.
ed with LEDs, the tumors are more Space Shuttle flights inside the Los Alamos researchers Duncan
effectively destroyed than with conven- Astroculture facility, a plant-growth McBranch, David Whitten, Hsing-Lin
tional surgery. chamber developed by the Wisconsin Wang, and Liaohai Chen, along with
Whelan has Food and Drug Center for Space Automation and Fred Wudl and Roger Helgeson from
Administration approval to use the LED Robotics at the University of Wisconsin- the University of California, Los
probe on a trial basis in the removal of Madison, a NASA Commercial Space Angeles, discovered they could use poly-
children's brain tumors. To remove these Center. The Commercial Space Centers mers as luminescent sensors while
tumors, Whelan's technique involves are part of the Space Product Develop- studying electron transfer in conducting
injecting the patient's bloodstream with ment Program, managed at NASA's polymers for possible applications in
a drug called Photofrin, a light- activated Marshall Space Flight Center, which photovoltaics and nonlinear optics.
other ways to certify the U.S. nuclear
stockpile as safe, secure, and reliable.
The Department of Energy's Accelerated
Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI) is
a 10 -year science -based program for
developing high- resolution modeling to
support certification of the nuclear
stockpile annually.
Today, ASCI-developed modeling
and simulation are offering an alterna-
tive to banned, real -world testing. Ever -
increasing computing speeds are necessary
to fully simulate the complex 3 -D
physics of nuclear weapon-performance
and analyze accident environments, such
as simulating an airplane crash involving
a nuclear weapon and a subsequent fuel
With DOE oversight, Sandia
National Laboratories is working with
Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore
national laboratories to ensure the
ASCI goals are met. Although ASCI is
Shown here is a simple fluorescence sensor using the biosensing polymer -QTL solution. just three years old, the prognosis is
(Photo by Josh Smith. Los Alamos National Laboratory.) good. Having attained computer
speeds of more than 3 teraflops, the
Certain polymers transfer their electrons spectrometer, which, in turn, connects to program already is providing informa-
over to electron- accepting molecules when the laptop computer. The water-soluble tion to support certification of the
excited by laser light. However, the poly- polymer is essential because it contains the nuclear stockpile. A teraflops refers to
mer's luminescence is "quenched" once the negative charge that attracts the positively a Trillion Floating OPerations per
polymer transfers its electrons to the charged QTL. In a recent demonstration, Second.
accepted molecule, which is attached to the the QTL contained the ligand biotin. ASCI hardware and software have
polymer. The researchers discovered they Next, the researchers added a solution con- produced reliable 3 -D models that put
could use this effect for sensing purposes taining the egg white protein avidin inside into action relevant spatial dimensional-
by attaching a specific ligand to the accep- the sample holder. Biotin and avidin are a ity and detail, and physical principles to
tor molecule; the new molecule package well -known ligand/receptor combination simulate catastrophic events. Although
then gets pulled away from the polymer by often used for biochemical binding studies, non -nuclear components can still be
a biological or chemical agent's receptor said McBranch. As expected, the receptors tested, computer simulations-which
site, restoring the polymer's luminescence. within the protein latched onto the QTL are really tests conducted in simplified
All pathogens, proteins, viruses, and and pulled it away from the polymer. The virtual reality- provide a large amount
bacteria contain receptor sites, which spectrometer picked up the restored lumi- of data for Sandia's annual recertifica-
allow them to latch onto specific lig- nescence signal from the polymer and dis- tion of weapons.
ands and provide a route for cells to be played it on the computer screen, High -performance computing is
infected. By matching the right ligand confirming the presence of the protein. paramount to analyzing intricate designs,
with a receptor, researchers can posi- The analysis and identification process said Dona Crawford, director of Sandia's
tively identify the specific proteins, took about a second to complete. advanced Product Realization Program.
virus, or bacteria. The process is anal- The new sensors also may be able to "We run hundreds or thousands of jobs.
ogous to a lock and key. The ligand detect viruses such as influenza and HIV, We can run a calculation a hundred dif-
part of the molecular package, called a as well as bacteria and proteins, paving ferent ways to get a better understand-
quencher-tether -ligand (QTL), is the the way for further development of a ing, for the same money and same time
"key," which fits into a receptor site, or lightweight, portable, real -time diagnos- needed for an actual test that provides
"lock," on the biological and chemical tic tool that can be used in homes, clin- only one finding (rather than hun-
species to be detected, explained ics, and the field. dreds)," she said. "ASCI is key to
McBranch. Sandia's weapons mission."
To operate the device, McBranch and Today, high -performance, massively
his colleagues place a water -soluble, Supercomputers parallel computers allow researchers to
quenched polymer inside a sample holder SInce the signing of the simulate the complex 3 -D physics
attached to one end of a fiber -optic cable. Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in involved in nuclear-weapons perfor-
The other end of the cable connects to the 1966, scientists have been looking for mance and to accurately predict the
> Online Identity PURCHASE
Interacting online with people throughout the world 3RiI.
occurs daily for millions of Internet users, yet most of 1;1
them have little perspective on the identity they're pro- /111',,f
jecting. A multiplayer online game created by
researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology is
offering insight to virtual community designers and
/ k', it% It is impossible for us to verify the claims of ad-
vertisers, including but not limited to product
availability, credibility, reliability and existence
of warranties. The following information is pro-
vided as a service for your protection. It is not
Called `The Turing Game," its object is to differentiate impostors from play- intended to constitute legal advice and readers
ers telling the truth. Games can cover aspects of gender, age, race, religion, are advised to obtain independent advice on
nationality, native region, or any other cultural marker of the users' choice. how to best protect their own interests based
Differentiating impostors by the content and style of their online written com- upon their individual circumstances and juris-
munications will reveal insights into how various cultural markers affect a per- dictions.
son's virtual identity, researchers said.
"Rather than just studying identity online, why not create a way for every - 1. Confirm price and merchandise information
one- hetizens and scholars alike -to learn more about it through personal expe- with the seller, including brand, model, color or
rience?' said Joshua Berman, a Georgia Tech College of Computing doctoral finish, accessories and rebates included in the
student who developed The Turing Game with his advisor Dr. Amy Bruckman. price.
"And why not try to make it fun as well as intelectually engaging?"
Bruckman compares The Turing Game to the old game show called `To Tell 2. Understand the seller's return and /or refund
the Truth." "You have a panel of people with all but one of them pretending to be policy, including the allowable return period, who
something they are not," she explained. `The audience asks questions via the pays the postage for returned merchandise and
computer, trying to determine which panelist is telling the truth." whether there is any "restocking" or "return"
The Turing Game is based on the `Turing Test," named after British mathe- charge.
matician Alan M. Turing. Its intention is to see if a person could distinguish the
difference between men and women without being able to see them-basically 3. Understand the product's warranty. Is there
doing it with written responses. Researchers hope to answer what they call a manufacturer's warranty, and if so, is it for a
some crucial questions for virtual community designers. "Is it possible to create U.S. or foreign manufacturer? Note that many
a genderless classr000m? A raceless courtroom? A rich environment where a manufacturers assert that, even if the product
user can be not just a pseudonym, but a person with a full history of culturally comes with a U.S. manufacturer's warranty, if you
bound experiences?' they ask on their Web site. `The Turing Game is a partici- purchase from an unauthorized dealer, you are
patory collaborative learning experience to help us understand these phenome- not covered by the manufacturer's warranty. If
in doubt, contact the manufacturer directly. In
The Turing Game is now available at www.cc.gatech.edu/elc/turing/. It will
work on any computer running either Windows 95, 98, or NT 4.0. You must reg- addition to, or instead of the manufacturer's war-
ister to play online at any of the scheduled game times. ranty, the seller may offer its own warranty. In
m either case, what is covered by warranty, how
degradation of nuclear weapons compo- physical communities as one of the long is the warranty period, where will the prod-
uct be serviced, is there a charge for service, what
nents as they age in the stockpile. most intriguing new findings about do you have to do to obtain service and will the
"Driving parallel computing speed proteins in years. product be repaired or replaced? You may want
is a major contribution of ASCI to Protein strings of amino acids are to receive a copy of the written warranty before
mainstream America. The things we do found in all living cells and are where the placing your order.
today (at the labs on high -performance work of a cell occurs. The heme, which 4. Keep a copy of all transactions, including
computers) will be on your desktop in consists of a ring of carbons and nitro - but not limited to cancelled check, receipt and
five to ten years," Crawford said. correspondence. For phone orders, make a note
gens, is the portion of a hemoprotein
of the order including merchandise ordered, price,
"Another contribution is the develop- that clasps the protein's iron atom in order date, expected delivery date and salesper-
ment of a new generation of science place. A single protein may contain as son's name.
and engineering applications, algo- few as one heme or as many as ten. 5. If the merchandise is not shipped within the
rithms and related technologies, and It was previously thought that the promised time, or if no time was promised, with-
the basic approach of replacing test heme's primary function was simply to in 30 days of receipt of the order, you generally
with simulation." 0 hold the iron in the protein so that the
iron could carry out a chemical reaction.
have the right to cancel the order and get a re-

Scientists were unaware that the heme 6. Merchandise substitution without your ex-
Putting Proteins to acted as part of the protein machine and
press prior consent is generally not allowed.

changed shape (for th at matter) or even 7. If you have a problem with your order or the
Work had a shape.
merchandise, write a letter to the seller with all the
pertinent information and keep a copy.
Adiscovery linking the shape of a Shelnutt's discovery was made possible
8. If you are unable to obtain satisfaction from
unit called the heme in a protein by a new computer program that uses a
the seller, contact the consumer protection
to protein function may prove useful mathematical procedure for characterizing agency in the seller's state and your local Post
in a range of scientific advances, the structure of hemes in terms of normal Office.
including finding cures for diseases coordinates. He believes this discovery If, after following the guidelines, you experi-
and cleaning up pollutants, says dis- might lead to changes in the way diseases ence a problem with a mail order advertiser
coverer John Shelnutt, a physicist at are treated in the future or to other scien- that you are unable to resolve, please let us
Sandia National Laboratories. This is know. Write to Advertising Department,
tific advances. In collaboration with a Gernsback Publications Inc., 500B Bi -County
the first time such a correlation has French scientist, he is already using his Blvd. Farmingdale, NY 11735.
been made. The discovery is being knowledge to develop new anti- inflamma-
Be sure to Include copies of all correspondence.
heralded by the biochemical and bio- tory drugs.
Q &A

Putting Phone Calls on the S1
ON/ D1-D4
OR 4 x 1N4004
We need to take the audio from incoming Cl N
INPUT 3300pF
Q phone calls and feed it to our radio trans- FROM 250V + T1
mitter. How can we do this?Athens PHONE
LINE C2 60012
Academy Radio Club, Athens, GA
AThe circuit shown in Fig. 1 is a one - LED2'
way telephone patch that you can use.
It provides line -level audio (about 0.5 *LED'S CAN BE RED OR GREEN
volt) from the telephone line while
maintaining electrical isolation. Closing Fig. L This simple circuit lets you send a telephone conversation to any line -level input device:
amplifiers, radios, etc. You can also feed line-level audio to a telephone for a type of "music on
switch S1 is just like taking a telephone hold" arrangement.
off the hook; the audio from the tele-
phone call appears at the output.
Telephone signals are a mixture of cuit in the opposite direction to feed supply connection is shown (an arrow labeled
DC and AC. The job of this circuit is to audio into the telephone line (for music - " +5V'). Where do I connect the other side of
conduct enough DC to simulate a tele- on -hold or the like). What this circuit the power supply ?-D. J., Port Richey, FL
phone, while separating the AC audio can't do is pass audio signals in both
signal and delivering it at the output. directions at the same time; you would AThat connection is made to circuit
The phone patch input connects to need a two -way phone patch with a spe- ground (pin 4 of the LM4862). That's
the red and green wires of the phone cial transformer. Some editions of the also where you connect the "ground"
line; it doesn't matter which is which. ARRL Handbook for Radio Amateurs side of the input source. All of the points
Capacitor Cl eliminates any RF that
might be in the incoming signal -
potentially quite a bit in a radio station.
describe such a circuit. marked by the ground symbol are con-
nected together and are used as a corn-
mon reference point for signals and volt-
The bridge rectifier ensures that DC ages. See this column in Poptronics,
will flow through the LEDs in the right As Easy as (Leaving Out) January 1999, for further explanation
direction. They light up to indicate that and a diagram.
the telephone patch is in use while draw- Pi A true dual power supply-used with
ing enough current to simulate a tele- QIn the March 1999 issue of Electronics op- amps-would have positive and neg-
phone that is off the hook. You can use Now, the formula on page 34 for the ative wires, plus ground. You can make
either red or green LEDs. Capacitor C2 resonant frequency ofan LC tuned circuit is one out of two 9 -volt batteries in series.
and transformer T1 separate audio (AC) given as: Connect the point where the two batter-
from DC. You can salvage a suitable ies join to circuit ground. The remain-
transformer from a junked modem or FR =1/(2 \/LC) ing two terminals are +9V and -9V.
answering machine or use RadioShack
273 -1374. The exact impedance isn't I thought it was:
critical as long as it's a few hundred
ohms on each side. Don't use an 8 -ohm FR=1/(2 Ir VLC) Keyboard Transplant
audio -output transformer.
We understand that you will use this Why the difference ?-L. J., Atlanta, GA Found
primarily for calls from reporters as well 1999 "Q&A "column that
QIn the October
as using the telephone line as a remote AWe had a misprint. The second for- appeared in Electronics Now, a read-
audio link. Naturally, you must not broad- mula you gave, with pi (Tr) in it, is the er asks how to connect an AT&T 6310 key-
cast any telephone call without the caller's correct one. Here, L is in henries, C in board to a PC- compatible computer. The
permission. It would be best to check the farads, and FR in hertz. AT&T keyboard uses a nine pin DB connec-
laws in your state governing telephone tor and the PC keyboard uses a five pin
calls before you put anything on the air. DIN plug.
You can also use this circuit to feed an On Solid Ground Onlyfour wires need to be connected. The cor-
incoming phone call to a PA system. QOn page 41 of the November 1999 issue responding pins are: AT&T pin 2 to PC pin 1,
12 You could probably use the same cir- of Electronics Now, only one power- AT&T pin 3 to PC pin 2, AT&T pin 1 to PC
pin 3, and AT&T pin 9 to PC pin 4. on, how close do they have to be in order to which they search for a hidden transmitter,
A ready -made adapter is available from work, and is there anything we can do to usually in the 144-MHz band. Direction -
Computer Cable & Connector, Inc., Tel. keep our TVs or our dogs from being affect- finding antenna designs can be scaled up or
973 - 992 -9285. -A. P. L., Florhm Park, ed?-M. H., Rockview, WV down for any frequency. Antenna size is
p7 proportional to wavelength.
ASome people think that when tech-
AThanks! Reader Ernest Ford also nology is involved, they are above the
wrote to point out that the AT&T law. But deliberately interfering with
6310 is a PC XT -type keyboard and will TV reception is illegal, and so is cruelty Ein Deutscher DMM
probably not be fully functional with a to animals. Not only that, but anyone I need the instructions in English for
PC AT- compatible computer. No harm with half a brain should realize that Conrad Electronic model VC- 4095CE
will result from trying, though, and most doing those things is wrong, no matter digital multimeter that I bought in
of the keys will probably work. how much technical skill it may demon- Germany.K. C., Marquette, MI
strate (in this case, apparently not
much). AUnfortunately, Conrad Electronic is a
I assume that you receive TV through German company and has probably
Soprano, Alto, Tenor, or antennas, since cable systems are resis- never published those instructions in
tant to interference. The interfering any language but their own. You'd have
Bass? device is presumably a low -power trans- to pay a translator hundreds of dollars to
What type of test equipment would I need mitter on the same frequency as one or translate the 28 -page instruction book.
Q to measure the frequency of a person 's more TV channels. The "dog- zapper" However, DMMs are all very much
voice ?-J. S., Mt. Morris, IL probably emits sound too high- pitched alike, and you can probably find one mar-
for humans to hear. In both cases, the keted insthe United States that is similar if
AIdeally, you would need a calibrated range is probably only a few hundred not identical; then write to its manufactur-
oscilloscope, a microphone, and an feet. The effect will be strongest very er and get the instruction book. I haven't
amplifier to raise the microphone's close to the device and will fall off rapid- found its exact twin, but the Wavetek
output to line level or speaker level. ly at greater distances. 25XT and 27XT look like its close rela-
The reason an oscilloscope is needed is Since you're in West Virginia, you tives. You can contact Wavetek at 9145
that the waveform of a human voice is should report the deliberate TV inter- Balboa Ave., San Diego, CA 92123; e-mail:
complex and constantly varying. The ference to the Federal Communications testtoolinfo@wavetek.com.
only way to be sure that you're mea- Commission, 9200 Farm House Lane, The most important thing about your
suring the frequency of the vocal cords, Columbia, MD 21046; Tel. 888 -992- meter is the specification sheet.
rather than one of the many harmonics 9285. Make sure you let them know that According to the German manual you
generated in the vocal tract, is to look the interference is deliberate, since most sent, that meter measures DC voltage to
at the waveform, picking out what you interference isn't. You will probably also 1000 volts, AC voltage to 750 volts,
want to measure. Oscilloscopes are cal- find it useful to contact your local ham capacitance to 200 F, inductance to 20
ibrated in milliseconds; the frequency radio club, since hams have direction - henries, AC and DC current to 20
is the reciprocal of that. For example, if finding equipment. You can locate hams amperes, resistance to 2000 megohms,
the waveform repeats every four mil- through local electronics stores and and frequency to 20 MHz. It also mea-
liseconds, the frequency is (1000/4) = through the American Radio Relay sures transistor hfe (beta) and has a
250 Hz. League, Newington, CT 06111. diode -check and continuity function.
You might be able to use a frequency Since it uses sound waves, the dog - That's quite a meter!
counter in place of the oscilloscope if the zapper is outside the FCC's jurisdiction,
person whose voice is being measured but your local police will be glad to help
will make a constant sound with a simple you if someone is torturing your dog,
waveform (such as "000000 ") and if the whether with sound waves or by any VCR Stuck in Play
frequency counter works at audio fre- other means. I have a Magnavox VRU342AT21 VCR
quencies; some don't. Q that seems to be stuck in play mode, even
when I don't press the play button. The
Magnavox service manual is only available
Radio -Direction Finding in microfiche, not on paper, and Howard W
Naughty Kids Sams doesn't have anything available for it.
Although we can 't prove it, my neighbors Loops Can you help ?F. A., West Hartford, CT
and I have a problem with some local QCan you tell me where to find nuts-and-
teenagers. They have bought a device that bolts-level information on radio -direction AThe right thing to do is probably to
scrambles our TV reception. Not all of our finding loops such as were popular in the order the microfiche (it should be
TVs are affected at the same time, so we 1920s and 1930s?V. K, Kansas City, MO cheap) and use your public library's
don't know if they have to be near our hous- equipment to view it and make prints of
es for it to work. They have also bragged ATry the ARRL Handbook for Radio the pages that you need. In the mean-
about a device that makes dogs go howling Amateurs, published by the American time, if the play button appears to be
mad. Radio Relay League, Newington, CT stuck, test it and the surrounding cir-
What frequencies are these devices working 06111. Hams still enjoy "foxhunts" in cuitry. 13
HOW TO GET INFORMATION ABOUT ELECTRONICS You can contact Sola do American Falcon
Intl. Inc., 648a Berlin Cross Keys Rd.,
On the Internet: See our Web site at Electronics (post 1995 only) are available
www.gernsback.com for information and from our Claggk, Inc., Reprint Department, Sicklerville, NJ 08081; Tel. 609-782 -8600.
files relating to our magazines (Electronics P.O Box 4099, Farmingdale, NY 11735;
Now and Popular Electronics) and links to Tel: 516- 293 -3751.
other useful sites. Sanyo TV Repair
To discuss electronics with your fellow Electronics Now and many other maga-
Your October 1999 column in Electronics
enthusiasts, visit the newsgroups sci. elec zines are indexed in the Reader's Guide to
tronics.repair, sci.electronics.components, Periodical Literature, available at your pub- Now described two 25 -inch Sanyo televi-
sci.electronics.design, and rec.radio. ama- lic library. Copies of articles in other maga- sions that don't get cable channels. Resistor
teur.homebrew. "For sale" messages are zines can be obtained through your public R508 (a 39-kilohm, fi-watt film resistor)
permitted only in rec.radio.swap and library's interlibrary loan service; expect to needs to be replaced. It is a scan -derived
misc.industry.electronics.marketplace. pay about 30 cents a page.
power supply for the tuner and is a common
Many electronic component manufac-
turers have Web pages; see the directory Service manuals: Manuals for radios, TVs, Al
fault in this chassis. Baker, via e-mail.
at http: //www.hitex.com /chipdir /, or try VCRs, audio equipment, and some comput-
addresses such as http: //www.ti.com and ers are available from Howard W. Sams & Thanks!
http: //www. motorola.com (substituting any Co., Indianapolis, IN 46214 (1- 800 -428-
7267). The free Sams catalog also lists
company's name or abbreviation as appro-
priate). Many IC data sheets can be addresses of manufacturers and parts deal-
ers. Even if an item isn't listed in the catalog, The Boolean Boogie?
viewed online. www.questlink.com features
IC data sheets and gives you the ability to
it pays to call Sams; they may have a sche- QYour
Yo May 1999 "Q&A" column that
matic on file which they can copy for you. appeared in Electronics Now con-
buy many of the ICs in small quantities
Manuals for older test equipment and
using a credit card. You can also get tained a letter from 15-year-old "B.B. " ask-
ham radio gear are available from Hi
detailed IC information from www.icmas
Manuals, PO Box 802, Council Bluffs, IA ing for book recommendations. I suggest that
ter.com, which is now free of charge he look at Bebop the Boolean Boogie by
51502, and Manuals Plus, PO Box 549,
although it formerly required a subscrip- Tooele, UT 84074. Clive Maxwell, published by LLH
tion. Extensive information about how to
repair consumer electronic devices and Technology Publishing in Eagle Rock,
Replacement semiconductors: Replace- Virginia. It's a good introduction to digital
computers can be found at www.repair ment transistors, ICs, and other semicon-
faq.org ductors, marketed by Philips ECG, NTE, logic, done with humorRich Joerger,
and Thomson (SK), are available through WB4EHG, Rohnert Park, CA
Books: Several good introductory electron- most parts dealers (including RadioShack
ics books are available at RadioShack,
including one on building power supplies.
on special order). The ECG, NTE, and SK AIt'shumorous all right-and very
lines contain a few hundred parts that sub-
An excellent general electronics text- good reading. Clive Maxwell's books
stitute for many thousands of others; a
book is The Art of Electronics, by Paul directory (supplied as a large book and on are not quite like anyone else's, but
Horowitz and Winfield Hill, available from diskette) tells you which one to use. NTE they're very entertaining and under-
the publisher (Cambridge University Press, numbers usually match ECG; SK numbers standable to beginners, while containing
1- 800 -872 -7423) or on special order are different.
through any bookstore. Its 1125 pages are
information that will be new even to
Remember that the "2S" in a Japanese
full of information on how to build working type number is usually omitted; a transistor
experienced readers. Thanks for writing!
circuits, with a minimum of mathematics. marked D945 is actually a 2SD945.
Also indispensable is The ARRL Hand-
book for Radio Amateurs, comprising over Hamfests (swap meets) and local orga- Writing to Q&A
1000 pages of theory, radio circuits, and nizations: These can be located by writing As always, we welcome your ques-
ready -to-build projects, available from the to the American Radio Relay League,
American Radio Relay League, Newington, Newington, CT 06111; (http: //www.arri.org).
tions. The most interesting ones are
CT 06111, and from ham -radio equipment A hamfest is an excellent place to pick up answered in print. Please be sure to:
dealers. used test equipment, older parts, and other
items at bargain prices, as well as to meet (1) include plenty of background
Copies of past articles: Copies of past your fellow electronics enthusiasts -both information (we'll shorten your letter
articles in Electronics Now and Popular amateur and professional.
for publication);
(2) give your full name and address
on your letter (not just the envelope);
Already Isolated? changes in the line voltage. As far as I know (3) type your letter if possible, or
QI read with interestyour February 1999 col- (never having actually taken one apart), the write very neatly; and
umn about building an isolation trans- schematic is the same as an ordinary trans- (4) if you are asking about a circuit,
former. I bought a Sola 20 -13 -125 constant - former except for the special magnetic include a complete diagram.
voltage transformer at a surplus sale and would material used inside.
like to use it as an isolation transformer. How do What you have is probably already an Questions can be sent to Q &A,
I do that ?R. G., N. Logan, UT isolation transformer. To check, just use Poptronics Magazine, 500 Bi -County
an ohmmeter to make sure that the pri- Blvd., Farmingdale, NY 11735, or e-
AConstant-voltage transformers use mary is not connected to the secondary. mailed to q&a @gernsback.com, but please
magnetic saturation to hold the output If that's the case, you can use it as an iso- do not expect an immediate reply
voltage constant while the input voltage lation transformer with no further mod- (because of our backlog) and please don't
can vary a few percent. They are often used ification. Otherwise, if it's not already an send graphics files larger than 100K.
with photographic enlargers and other isolation transformer, there's no easy Due to the volume of mail, we regret
14 equipment that would be affected by small way to turn it into one. that we cannot give personal replies. P
Cut Your Phone Bill with
the Moneysaver
Having trouble remembering the access codes for those money- saving
long-distance services? This simple device will do it for you!


Have you checked your long -

distance telephone bill late-
ly? Chances are you are paying
way too much for long- distance
calls, even if you participate in a
calling plan. While some of those
plans offer long- distance calling at
15 cents a minute or less, you might
be paying a monthly fee. If you
don't have a calling plan, you
could be paying as much as an
exorbitant 28 cents a minute for
long distance!
The truth of the matter is that the
cost of long-distance calling to the
consumer is falling dramatically. When
you consider that the actual cost to
the carrier (ATT, MCI, Sprint, etc.) is
about fi cent per minute, it is no won-
der that competition is driving the
price of telephone calls way down.
Over the past few years, "dial -
around" services have sprung up all
over America. These services let
you make your calls at reduced
rates. You simply dial a seven -digit
code before the number that
you're calling, bypassing your regu-
lar long- distance carrier. The access
codes are easy to recognize; they your telephone line, using no bat- The Moneysaver, designed for
usually start with the number 1010. teries or AC power. It is pre-pro- telephone systems with tone dial-
Rates as low as 5 cents per minute grammed by you with the seven - ing, has no effect on normal tele-
with no monthly fee, no carrier digit code for your selected dial - phone use. It comes into play only
switching, and no minimum calling around service. When you want to when the telephone handset is
time are presently available. These make a long distance call, simply taken off -hook and the pushbutton
services are heavily advertised on pick up the telephone handset is depressed. In fact, the Money-
TV and through the mail. They can and press a pushbutton on the saver may also be used as a rapid -
also be found by doing a search for Moneysaver; the stored access dial device for any discrete local,
"dial- around service" on the code is dialed. You then dial the long distance (including the dis-
Internet. If you are not taking telephone number that you want count code), or international call.
advantage of these carriers, you to call as usual. With the Moneysaver Keep In mind, however, that only
are throwing money away. helping you route your call through one dialing sequence at a time
This is where the Moneysaver the discount services, you will save can be stored.
comes in. It is a simple, easy-to -build serious money from the first minute
electronic device that plugs into of calling. About the Circuit. The schematic 15
diagram for the Moneysaver is 16- button keypad that can be diode D4. That voltage is main-
shown in Fig. 1; refer to it during the scanned by IC2. Since using a full - tained at all times to retain the
following discussion. blown keypad in the Moneysaver is stored dial-around sequence code
The Moneysaver is connected overkill, a series of discrete switches in IC2's memory as long as the
between a telephone and the wall are used instead. Of those switches, Moneysaver is connected to the
jack; J connects to the telephone
1 S1-S7, only S1 and S2 are shown as telephone line and is drawing cur-
and J2 goes to the wall jack. Since being connected to IC2. Those rent from it. The 5 microamps that
the telephone lines carry the DC switches are wired to IC2 as the the Moneysaver needs to work is
current that powers the Money - digits "1" and "0" respectively-the well within the limits imposed by the
saver, it is important that proper two digits that are required to rules concerning the switched pub-
polarity between the red and access the various dial- around ser- lic- telephone network.
green wires from the telephone vices. The other switches are When the telephone handset is
company be observed or the optional and can be wired into the picked up, current drawn by the
Moneysaver won't work. Note also circuit as any digit that you want; phone flows through the light-emit-
that proper polarity is maintained we'll discuss that in greater detail ting diode between pins and 2 of

between the two jacks; some older later in the construction section of optoisolator IC 1, switching on the
telephone equipment is as polarity this article. For now, we'll just transistor between pins 4 and 5.
sensitive as the Moneysaver. assume that there are additional Current then flows through D2 and
The heart of the circuit is IC2, a switches in the matrix along with 51 R2, charging C3 to about 5 volts.
telephone -dialer chip that has redi- and S2 that can be used for setting That voltage is used to activate the
al capability. It contains a crystal - the stored number in the circuit.
controlled oscillator circuit for gen- Moneysaver. Once C3 is charged, Q2 turns on,
erating dialing tones. Storage regis- When the Moneysaver is first providing a zero logic level to pin 11
ters within the chip remember the connected to the telephone line, of IC2, the hook -switch sensing
pre-programmed dial- around code. C2 (a low- leakage electrolytic input. When IC2 sees that input, it
A set of four input and four out- capacitor) charges up through R1 "wakes up" and starts scanning the
put pins form a matrix for a 12- or to about 5 volts as limited by Zener switches. To dial out a long -dis-
tance access code (more on set-
ting that later), simply press S8. That
J2 J1 switch is wired into IC2's switch
TO TO matrix as a "redial the last number"
switch; the stored dial- around num-
YELLOW bers are sequentially generated
BLACK and appear at pin 13 of IC2.
The tones are coupled by Q1 to
the telephone line through C4.
1N4004 100
Once the Moneysaver finished dial-
ing the access codes, you can then
manually dial your call in the nor-
S51 mal way; the call goes through the
1N4004 = ii IC1
H11A5 g 1-1 g g 11 long- distance carrier of your
g choice at the reduced rate.
5 4
When the call is completed and
the handset placed back on the
R2 D5
phone, the voltage at pin 11 of IC2
1K 1N5230B goes to a logic one. With the tele-
phone now on -hook, IC2 is now
ready for the next call.
II 01
C2 C3 R4 02 2N3904 The long- distance access code
68 1 T 4.7K Bs17o

1K is programmed into the Money-

R3 I
R5 saver the first time power is applied.
When any telephone is picked up,
D4 1

10 11 13 S1 -S7 are used to dial the desired
seven -digit access number that
HT9212A 1
I you want the Moneysaver to
remember. After "dialing" the num-

14 1161171
I17I 18 S2 0
ber with S1 -S7, simply hang up the
XTAL telephone; that number is saved in
3.58 MHz IC2's redial register. As long as the
1. The Moneysaver is built around a telephone -dia ling chip that has redial capability. By stor-
Fig. Moneysaver is connected to a tele-
ing a number such as a long -distance service access code in it, you can save money on your tele- phone line, it will remember that
16 phone bill with just a single button. number.
circuit board. To the working voltage of C7. A 250 -
vQ OO 0 assist that
those volt rating is unusual for an elec-
would like to etch trolytic capacitor in many of the
their own board, a projects presented in the pages of
foil pattern has been Poptronics. That value, however, is
included for a single - vital so that C7 can withstand the
sided board layout; telephone company's 90- to 150-
it is shown in Fig. 2. If volt AC ringing signal.
you do not wish to It's a good idea to use sockets

O 0g0op 0b etch your

board, one can be
own for the integrated circuits; servicing
is easier if you don't have to unsol-
fe) gogogogo purchased from the
source given in the
der a multi- leaded device. Whether
you decide to use IC sockets or not,
Parts List. do not insert the ICs into the board
3 INCHES For either of the at this time; we'll do that later while
above -mentioned testing the Moneysaver.
Fig. 2. The Moneysaver is simple enough in design to fit onto a sin-methods of obtain-
gle-sided PC board. ing a PC board, fol- Switch Wiring. As we mentioned
low the parts- place- before, although 102 is designed to
Construction. With careful con- ment diagram shown in Fig. 3 for use a matrix keypad, the use of
struction techniques, the Money - component location. When plac- such a keypad would be overkill for
saver could be built on a piece of ing polarized components such as a project like the Moneysaver.
perfboard. While most of the circuit solid -state devices and electrolytic Switches S1 -S7 take the place of
carries low- frequency signals, there capacitors into the board, be sure the keypad to keep the assembly
are some high- frequency signals that they are properly oriented as cost down. The only switches that
surrounding 102 that could turn the shown. Just one part placed back- must be installed are S1 and S2; "1"
Moneysaver into an RF transmitter if wards in the circuit will stop it from and "0" are required to access any
you are not careful to keep lead working and possibly destroy itself
lengths short. Because of that con- or other components.
cern, it is suggested that the While on the subject of polarized Table 1

Moneysaver be built on a printed- components, make careful note of Digit Ici Connections
1 pin 1 pin 15
2 pin 2 pin 15
3 pin 3 pin 15
J1 J2 4 pin 1 pin 16
5 pin 2 pin 16
YELLOW 6 pin 3 pin 16
BLACK 7 pin 1 pin 17
8 pin 2 pin 17
9 pin 3 pin 17
GREEN GREEN 0 pin 2 pin 18
pin 1 pin 18
pin 3 pin 18

dial- around service.

You only need to install as many
switches for S3 -S7 as needed for
whatever number you would like to
program into the Moneysaver.
Those switches are hard -wired with
short insulated jumpers so that they
appar to 102 as being part of a
keypad matrix. See Table for a 1

chart that lists the connections

needed for each individual num-
ber. Note that "1" and "0" are
included in the chart for complete-
ness; you don't need to wire those
digits since S1 and S2 are already
hard -wired that way.
Fig. 3. Once the Moneysaver is built, you'll have to select which switches will be for which digits; For example, if you look closely
they are wired according to the list in Table 1. You can use as many or as few switches are you at the photograph of the author's
desire; you can even use a keypad in their place.
prototype, you'll see that S3 and S4 17
are wired for "3" and "6" respective- up and test the Moneysaver. PARTS LIST FOR THE
ly; S5 is present but not wired. If you MONEYSAVER
look at Table 1, you'll note that both Telephone Line Connection. The
of those digits need a connection telephone -line cable must be con- SEMICONDUCTORS
to pin 3 of IC2, and that is why two nected to the Moneysaver circuit 3C1-HI1A5 optoisolator, integrated
wires are inserted in the hole that with the proper polarity or it won't circuit
connects to that pin. If you find work. Many telephone systems use IC2-HT -9212A DTMF dialer,
yourself in a similar situation, be sure a green wire and a red wire to integrated circuit (Holtek)
to use small-gauge wire! carry the voice and ringing signals, Q1- 2N3904 NPN silicon transistor
Switch S8 is a panel- mounted with green being positive and red Q2 -BS 170 N- channel MOSFET
pushbutton switch that activates negative. Check your telephone transistor
the Moneysaver's redial feature. It is line polarity with a DC voltmeter to D1 D3- 1N4004 silicon rectifier
wired to the PC board with lengths be sure. With no telephones off D4- 1N5232B 5.6-volt Zener diode
of insulated wire. hook, there should be about 50 D5- 1N5230B 4.7 -volt Zener diode
volts DC on the line.
If you find that the wiring in your
(All resistors are '14 -watt, 5% units.)
house is backwards, you can cor-
rect your house wiring provided
R1- 10- megohm
R2, R5, R6- 1000 -ohm
that you know what you're doing.
When in doubt, you can always hire
R3 -1- megohm
R4 -4700 -ohm
a telephone -line installer to make
sure that your house wiring is "up to CAPACITORS
snuff." C 1- 100 -F, 10 -WVDC, electrolytic
Note that most telephones are C2-68 -F, 10-WVDC, low- leakage
The author's Moneysaver uses a hard -wired polarity insensitive. If you don't electrolytic
modularjack cable in place of J2. Note that S5 want to touch the wiring in your C3 -1 -i,F, 10 -WVDC, electrolytic
is installed, but is not wired into the circuit. house (after all, "if it ain't broke, C4- 2.2 -11F, 250-WVDC, electrolytic
Switches S3 and S4 are set for the digits "3" don't fix it! "), you can always swap
and "6." Those digits need to connect to the the wires from J2 to the PC board if ADDITIONAL PARTS
same pin on ICI, requiring two jumper wires to
your house is wired backwards. AND MATERIALS
be squeezed into one hole.
With J2 connected to a tele- J1, J2- Modular telephone jack, Digi-
phone wall outlet, we're ready to Key H9010 -ND or similar
Final Assembly. When the printed - start testing the Moneysaver. If you PB 1- Pushbutton switch, panel mount,
circuit board is completed, exam- are a bit nervous about plugging normally off
ine it very carefully for proper parts an untested Moneysaver into the S1 S7- Pushbutton switch, PC mount,
placement, opens, short circuits, telephone line, you can simulate Digi -Key 8006S -ND or equal
and bad solder connections that the telephone line on a work- XTALI- 3.579 -MHz colorburst crystal
might look like dull blobs of solder. bench. Use a well -filtered 50 -volt Telephone line cord, case, wire,
Any solder joint that is suspect power supply with a 1000 -ohm, hardware, etc.
should be redone by removing the two-watt resistor in series. Connect Note: The following items are available
old solder with desoldering braid, the green wire from J2 to the posi- from: A. Caristi, 69 White Pond
cleaning the joint, and carefully tive terminal; the red wire goes to Road, Waldwick, NJ 07463: Etched
applying new solder. It is far easier the negative terminal. and drilled PC board, $14.95; ICI,
$2.50; IC2, $9; Ql, $1; Q2, $2.75.
to correct problems now rather
Testing. The only piece of test Please add $5 for postage and
than later on if you discover that
equipment that you'll need is a handling. NJ residents must add 6%
your Moneysaver does not work as
voltmeter with a high input resis- sales tax.
it should.
The Moneysaver is mounted into tance-10 megohms or greater.
a small enclosure that has appro- Set the meter to the 20 -volt DC
priate holes for J1, J2, and S8. As an range and connect its leads observing the proper orientation
alternative, you can substitute J2 across C2. With no ICs in place, as shown in Fig. 3. Be sure that the
for a length of four-conductor tele- apply power to J2 and see that chips are seated properly with no
phone wire that terminates in a C2 charges up to about 5 volts pins bent under the body of any
modular plug; that is what the after a few minutes. If it does not, of the chips.
author did. If you use a jack, you'll troubleshoot the circuit and Connect a telephone to J1 and
need a length of telephone cord repair the fault. Check the tele- leave the handset on hook. Then
with modular jacks on each end. phone -line polarity as well as connect the meter across C2 as
Either method works fine. If you D2-D4, Rl, and C2. Be sure that before. Connect J1 into a tele-
happen to have appropriate sup- C2 is a low- leakage capacitor. phone wall jack and verify once
plies handy, use whichever method Disconnect the power and again that C2 charges up to about
is cheaper! insert the ICs into their sockets or 5 volts after a couple of minutes.
18 We are now ready to connect solder them into the board, Measure the voltage across
capacitor C3; it should be zero. and 7 of IC2 to verify that the 3.57 preserve the stored sequence of
Pick up the telephone handset. MHz oscillator is running. If not, try a digits. Should it be disconnected for
You should hear the dial tone, and new crystal for XTAL1. If pin 13 of IC2 any length of time, you will have to
the voltage across C3 should rise to is normal but the receiver and tele- reprogram IC l with the correct
about 5 volts. Press the pushbuttons phone line do not respond to the sequence. Use the procedure for
on the board to dial the sequence tones, check Q1, D5, C4, and R5. Try reprogramming as mentioned
code of your selected dial- around a new transistor. above.
service. You should hear the tones If IC2 does not redial the stored With the Moneysaver properly pro-
in the handset, and the telephone - sequence, check IC4, Q2, and S8. grammed, each time you wish to
line dial tone will be muted. Hang Try a new chip. make a long- distance call simply
up the receiver; the Moneysaver is press S8 after lifting the telephone
now initialized. Using The Moneysaver. Once the handset, then dial the telephone
Pick up the receiver again and Moneysaver has been initialized as number in the normal way. When you
listen for a dial tone. Press S8 described in the testing section check your next month's telephone
briefly. The dial- around sequence above, it must be left connected to bill, you will be amazed at how much
should automatically be repeat- the telephone line at all times to money you have saved.
ed and the dial tone silenced. For
a full test, dial a long- distance
number using your telephone's
keypad or dial. That call will use
your selected long- distance dis-
gel ready!
count carrier.
If you need to reset IC2 for any del Self
reason, disconnect the circuit from
the telephone line and allow time
for C2 to discharge to less than one
volt. That will erase the memory in
IC2, and it can be reprogrammed Design a board with the EAGLE
as described above. freeware version, and see how EAGLE 3.5
If everyting went according to fast you will be productive. Schematic Capture Board Layout
the above description, the Money -
Boards designed under EAGLE are found in patient
saver is working and ready for use. monitoring equipment, chip cards, electric razors,
If it didn't, here are some hints to healing aids, automobiles and industrial controllers. for Windows9 /NT
help you locate and repair the They are as small as a thumbnail or as large as a PC
motherboard. They are developed in one -man and Linux
fault. busi-tesses or in large
First, make a visual check of the industrial companies.
entire circuit board, looking for EAGLE is being used in
many of the top companies.
opens and short circuits, especially The crucial reason for
between closely spaced conduc- selecting EAGLE is not
tors. Check all of the solder joints. usually the very favorable
Are they shiny and smooth? Check price, but rather the ease of
use. On top of that comes
the telephone cable connected to the outstanding level of
J2 for proper polarity. support, which at CadSoft is
Check all of the ICs for the cor- always free of charge, and
is available without
rect part number; check that they restriction to every customer
are properly orientated as indicat- These are the real cost kille
ed in Fig. 3. Check all of the diodes,
Q1, Q2, and the electrolytic capac- T 3,5 li 4t i; F as!
itors for proper orientation. You can use EAGLE Light for testing and for
nonc3mmercial applications without charge. The Freeware
If C3 does not charge up when Version is restricted to boards up to half Eurocard format
the telephone handset is taken off with &maximum of two signal layers and one schematic
sheet. All other features correspond to those of the
Prices am Standard Professional

hook, check IC 1, IC2, D2, R2 and Professional Version. Download it from our Internet Site Layout 199$ 399$
or order our free CD.
C3. Try replacing IC 1-easy to do if If you decide in favor of the Commercial Light Version. you
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you used sockets. See that there is also get the reference manual and a license for commercial
applications. The Standard Version is suitable for boards in Layout +
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S ematic + 49$ 597$ 1197$
If no dialing tones are heard in Autorouten
the receiver when S1 -S7 are http: //www.CadSoftUSA.com
pressed, check pin 13 of IC2 with an
oscilloscope to verify the presence CadSoff Computer, Inc., 801 S. Federal Highway, Delray Beach, FL 33483
of the tones, which will be a pair of Hotline (561) 274 -8355, Fax (561) 274-8218, E -Mail info @cadsoffusa.com :

audio frequencies. Check pins 6 19

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Telephone Hold and
Line -In -Use Project

Two simple circuits combine to

take the hassle out of shared
phone lines!

Atour house, we share one

phone line for voice calls
and working the Internet. Now
that's inconvenient! We have to
inform others when we want to use
the phone or check to see if some-
one is using it before we call or go
online. If someone forgets, well, you
know the hassle that can cause;
picking up the phone and discon-
necting the modem during an
important search session or down-
load, or maybe blasting away
someone's ear when the modem
dials and tries to negotiate a con-
nection. To make matters worse,
besides the modem /fax, we have
several phones in the house. But
there's more, and you have proba-
bly been here too; the phone rings
and you pick up, but it's for some-
one else. So you lay the thing down
to find the callee, go back and
hang up the phone, or maybe not,
or ... and you know the rest .. .

Since none of this is good, I

designed a Line -In -Use circuit that

could be attached to each phone
or modem. We needed several, so I

wanted them to be simple and light -emitting diodes (LED and 1 approximately 5 mA when active.
inexpensive. In addition, it was LED2), and a few support compo- The phone line has three states; on-
desirable that the circuit be small nents. A complete schematic dia- hook, off-hook, and on -hook ring-
enough to fit inside the telephone gram of the circuit is shown lin Fig. 1. ing. When on -hook, the line voltage
housings. Further, I decided that The Line -In -Use portion of the is typically 40 to 60 volts; when off -
while was at it, I'd include another
I project revolves around the hook, the line voltage ranges from
handy capability in the circuit; a MPSA42 transistors, which were 5 to 6 volts, and when ringing 70 to
Line Hold feature. chosen for their collector- emitter 140 volts. The reasons for the great
breakdown voltage (300 volts); variation are the length of the lines
How It Works. The Telephone while the Telephone Hold section from the central office and the
Hold and Line -In-Use Project is an of the circuit s built around the condition (resistance) of the wires.
extremely simple circuit built 2N5064 SCR, which has a blocking Typically the positive ( +) wire
around a pair of MPSA42 transistors voltage (peak-inverse voltage) of (known as ring) is red and the neg-
(Q1 and Q2), a 2N504 silicon -con- 200 volts forward or reverse. Each ative ( -) or common (called tip) is
trolled rectifier (SCR1), a pair of section of the project draws green. Most new phones and 21

180K 1K S
22K Ql, Q2-MPSA42 or equivalent NPN
silicon transistor

SCR1-2N5064 or equivalent 0.8 -amp,
ff 47052
200-PIV, sensitive -gate, silicon -con-
trolled rectifier
Q1 02 R5 LED1, LED2-Light -emitting diode,
MPSA42 MPSA42 1K SCR1 any color

R2 R6 (All resistors are '/s-or '/4 -watt, 5% car-
10K 470 bon film units.)
R1- 180,000-ohm
Fig. I. As shown by this schematic diagram, the Telephone Hold and Line -In -Use Project is an
R2- 10,000 -ohm
extremely simple circuit built around a pair of MPSA42 transistors (Q1 and Q2), a 2N5064 silicon - R3- 100,000-ohm
controlled rectifier (SCRI), a pair of light -emitting diodes (LED1 and LED2), and a few support R4, R5 -1000 -ohm
components. R6 47 -ohm
R7-2200 -ohm (see text)
R8-470 -ohm (optional, see text)
modems work even if the polarity phone -line voltage decreases,
of the lines is reversed; sometimes, thereby reducing the base bias ADDITIONAL PARTS
the in -house wiring is neither of voltage applied to transistor Q1. AND MATERIALS
those colors. For our circuits to work, The reduction in base bias causes Si- Miniature momentary-contact push-
the line connections must be prop- Q1 to turn off. button switch
erly polarized. PL1-Modular 4- conductor telephone
But enough with the back- PL1
ground material, let's take a look at Printed -circuit materials, enclosure,
the project's subassemblies. r R2- -R1
wire, modular jack and plug and

Ra Z
Line -In -Use Circuit. The Line -In-Use Note: For information about this project,
section of the project is comprised (7) R3 S1
PUSH/HOLD Z -Flex foil and previous articles by
LEDI' this author, visit our Web site at:
of Q1 and Q2, LEDI, and R1 -R4.

When the phone is on -hook, R1 and www.lancelotddl.com or by e -mail at:
R2, which form a simple voltage
divider (refer to Fig. 1), supplies 600
% -R5-


lancelot @lancelotddl.corn.

mV to the base of Ql That causes

SCR1 d, LED2'
the resistors (R5 and R6) form a volt-
Q1 to turn on, pulling its collector to age divider that is connected in
Fig. 3. Once you've etched your printed- circuit series with switch Si.
near ground potential. The low volt-
board and obtained all of the parts listed in the When S1 is pressed and held with
age at the collector of Q1 is Parts List, assemble the tiny printed- circuit
applied to the base of Q2, keeping the phone off -hook, current flows
board guided by the parts placement diagram
Q2 in the cutoff state, Since no cur- shown here. through the voltage divider to the
rent flows through Q2, LED1 does gate of SCR1. That provides suffi-
not light, But when the phone is cient current to cause SCR1 to fire,
taken off-hook the normal tele- With Ql turned off, its collector but not enough current through it
voltage rises to a level sufficient to to cause it to latch. When the
bias transistor Q2 into conduction. phone is placed back on -hook, the
With Q2 now conducting, current line voltage increases, causing a
flows through Q2 and LED 1, causing current of sufficient magnitude to
the LED to light, indicating that the flow through R7 to latch SCR1 and
line is in use. light LED1, Even after releasing S1,
Now, let's take a look at the sec- the LED remains on, signaling that
ond half of the circuit. the line is on hold (ignore ?). When
any phone on the line is picked up,
Line Hold. The Line Hold portion of the line voltage drops again to
the project is comprised of S1 (a around 5 volts, so that the SCR is
Fig. 2. The prototype of the Telephone Hold and
Line -In -Use Project was assembled on a print- single -pole, single-throw pushbut- starved for current and turns off,
ed- circuit board, measuring 1 by '/k inches. The ton switch), R5-R7 (R8 is optional releasing the hold on the line.
author's printed- circuit layout is shown here on and will be explained in a As mentioned earlier, R8 is option-
22 a one-to -one scale. moment), LED2, and SCR1, Two of al. That resistor is included in the cir-
cuit only if a flashing unit is used for Make PC Boards," which appeared tioned earlier, the polarity of your
LED2 in the Line Hold portion of the in the November 1997 issue of telephone lines may not be proper-
circuit to attract more attention. If Electronics Now. See the Parts List ly indicated by the color of the
you do use a flashing LED in the Line for information about Z- Flex.) wiring. Measure the polarity with a
Hold circuit, change the value of R7 Once you've etched your print- meter so that you'll be sure that you
to 1000 ohms and add R8 across the ed- circuit board and obtained all of are connecting the positive ( +) cir-
LED, as indicated in the Fig. 1 the parts listed in the Parts List, assem- cuit -board trace to the RING input
schematic diagram. Resistor R8 helps bly can begin. Populate the tiny of PLI and the negative trace to
to keep latching current flowing printed- circuit board guided by the the TIP terminal. The board can be
through the SCR during the blinking parts -placement diagram shown in installed inside the telephone hous-
LED's off cycle, so as not to disrupt Fig. 3. As you assemble the project, ing or mounted in a small plastic
the operation of the Line Hold por- be sure to take the usual precautions modular jack box, as the author did
tion of the project. It is ill- advised to for projects with semiconductors, with his prototype. Using the Line -In-
use a blinking unit for LEDI in the checking all parts for correct loca- Use circuit requires no instructions.
Line -In -Use portion of the circuit, as it tion, orientation, and polarity as well Using the Line Hold circuit is simple;
can generate annoying clicking as proper solder joints. Because of with the phone off -hook, press and
sounds in the handset as the LED the small size of the board, be hold Si, and then place the phone
flashes on and off. extremely mindful that tiny solder on -hook and release Si. The LED will
splashes as well as the rosin used in stay lit until any phone is taken off -
Construction. The author's proto- the core of electronics solder is con- hook again. 4
type of the Telephone Hold and ductive and can in some cases lead
Line -In -Use Project was assembled to short circuits.
on a printed- circuit board, measur- The LEDs can be the same or dif-
ing 1by 16 inches. A full -size tem- ferent colors, and the one used in Don't lose sight
plate of the author's printed- circuit the Line Hold portion of the circuit
layout is shown in Fig. 2. (Note: The
prototype was built on a printed -
can be a blinking unit (as men-
tioned earlier) to attract more
of Glaucoma.
circuit board, using the Z -Flex foil attention. EYE
material featured in another of this EDUCATION
author's articles, "A New Way to Installation and Use. As men-

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Route calls in your home or JOHN TAYLOR, JR.
small office with the efficiency of
a switchboard operator. What's
more, you don't have to memo-
rize any ring patterns.

Many telephone companies

across the country provide
a variety of convenient calling fea-
tures that let customers enhance
their basic services. Those features
include Call Waiting, Call Forwarding,
Three -Way Calling, Caller ID and
Call-Waiting Caller ID, and Distinctive
Ringing (also called RingMaster in
various parts of the country), just to
name a few.
The custom calling feature
referred to as Distinctive Ringing is a
clever service that permits the use
of up to four telephone numbers on
one telephone line. Each tele- support has been added to some numbers (the main number plus up
phone number has its own distinc- of the latest computer fax /modems, to three Distinctive Ringing num-
tive ringing pattern, letting you most answering machines and bers) and status LEDs that indicate
know which number was dialed dedicated fax machines don't which port is currently in use.
before answering your telephone. know what Distinctive Ringing is. While those features are nice,
By providing the additional tele- Suppose you want to support two the best is that the Call Director
phone numbers to different peo- answering machines: one for your can be built for as little as $25.
ple, you can Identify who a call is personal calls, and a second
from based on its ringing pattern. If machine for your home -based How It Works. In general, a tele-
you have school-age children, they business calls. When the telephone phone ring signal is an AC voltage
can have their "own" telephone line rings, both of those machines of between 40 and 150 volts that is
number; with Distinctive Ringing, will see the ringing line, answer the impressed on the line. The tele-
you can tell your calls from theirs. call, and begin playing their outgo- phone senses that signal and rings
For those with a home-based busi- ing messages-an event that is sure the bell accordingly. In the US, there
ness, the Distinctive Ringing service to confuse your calling party! are several different frequencies
is an inexpensive alternative to The solution to that dilemma is defined by the FCC tests for on-
paying for a second telephone the Call Director project presented hook AC impedance. Those fre-
line. Like the family example above, here. This Distinctive Ringing decoder quencies were used back in the
you can tell if it's a personal or busi- suppresses the first ring of all incom- days of the "party line." In a party
ness call-a situation that the ing calls while it analyzes the ring- line, several customers used one
author uses to advantage! ing pattern. Once the ring pattern telephone line. Each customer had
Distinctive Ringing service, how- is understood, the Call Director a telephone that responded to a
ever, has its limitations when it switches the ringing line to the particular frequency, so only one
comes to supporting multiple tele- appropriate telephone, answering telephone would ring for a particu-
phone -line devices such as answer- machine or other telephone -line lar telephone number. While party
ing machines, fax machines, and device. The Call Director features lines are very rare nowadays, the
24 modems. While Distinctive Ringing support for up to four telephone standards are still in place. The stan-
H-2 ;ECS 4 SECS entire spread of available
ringer frequencies.
The typical ring cycle in
VIII III 'Ii u the seconds in dura-
US is six
tion: two seconds on and
NORMAL four seconds off. You can
see what the pattern looks
Jill Ill like in Fig. 1A. With Distinctive
Ringing service, the addi-
tional telephone numbers
2EECS 4 SECS each have a slightly modi-
0.8 SEC 0.8 SEC fied ring pattern. Those pat-
terns can be seen in Figs. 1B,
1C, and 1D.
II The Call Director is con-
nected directly to the tele-
phone company wires; each
SHORT -SHORT controlled telephone is then
connected to the Call
Director's output jacks. When
the telephone line rings, the
Call Director suppresses the
2EECS 4SECS first incoming ring while it
0.3 SEC 0.3 SEC analyzes the pattern, deter-
mines which telephone
number was dialed, and
directs the call to the appro-
priate telephone jack.

Circuit Description. The

SHORT -LONG -SHORT complete schematic dia-
gram of The Call Director is
shown in Fig. 2. The tele-
0.3 SEC 0.8 >EC C phone company line is con-
nected to J1, with J2
f 2S:CS-4- 4 SECS
through J5 serving as the
four individual lines to the
telephones themselves. The
telephones on J2 through J5
are connected to J1 with
ill iq relays RY1 through RY4.
Normally, those relays are
deactivated, connecting all
four lines to J through the


normally- closed contacts.
ido That way, any telephone
can be picked up and a
0.3 SEC 0.8 SEC D call dialed out.
If any telephone Is picked
Fig. 1. A normal ring signe l in the US consists of a two- second ring period followed by four sec- uo, the 20- to 25 -mA current
onds of silence (A). Three zdditional ring patterns are available under Distinctive Call service. loop that is created
Those patterns include two . hort bursts (B), a short -long -short pattern (C), and two short bursts fol-
lowed by a long ring (D).
between the off-hook tele-
phone and the telephone
company's central office is
dards are referred to by a letter. If the telephone line; a value of 1.0 is sensed by the voltage drop across
you look on the FCC identification the same as a standard mechani- R5. That voltage drop activates
label on a mode n telephone, cal ringer. The letter is the frequen- optoisolator IC3, lighting up LED5 to
you'll usually see a line saying cy response band; it will usually be indicate that the line is in use. A
"Ringer Equivalence followed by a
" a "B." The "B" classification is the nice feature of IC3 is that its inputs
number and a letter The number is general- purpose wideband are bi- directional -you don't have
the amount of relative current that response between 15.8 and 68 Hz. to worry about the telephone line's
the telephone's rincer draws from That frequency range covers the polarity. 25

J3 J2
i I

! R2-a R2-b R2-c 1.72-d R2-f R2-e

L33011 33011 33011 33011 33011 330S2J

ii %O//fj
14 +5V
10 3 16
+5V 12
1 4 XTAL1
11 3.57 MHz
2 7 15
3 8
1, Cl

17 IC1
ULN2803 4 9 IC2 15pF
J1 16 C2
L NE N 5


T 15pF

7 12
W .47
15 g 13
6852 R1 C3
22K T .1
+5V N1 C +5V
PS2505 bW-

1 (t-;4 i N2 E

+I C7 R3
1 PS2505
I 2 3
7 0 +5V N2

p6 +5V
3 I + 3
D1 I. 7805
o- 9-12V
+1. C4
.1 G

T470 T1

J4 J5


Fig. 2. The Call Director is built around a programmed microcontroller that notes the ring pattern
of an incoming call and routes it to the appropriate jack.

When an incoming ring signal is or modem, can then "do its thing." feeding" of IC2. The microcon-
present, it is AC- coupled to IC5 by The corresponding port status indi- troller's clock frequency is set by
C9 with Rl limiting current through cator (LED1 -LED4) is also turned on, XTAL1 an inexpensive 3.57 -MHz col -

the optoisolator. The value of R1 indicating which line is active. orburst crystal. Note that C3 is con-
was chosen to guarantee that Once the call has been direct- nected to pin 3 of IC2. That capac-
enough current flows to activate ed, IC2 waits either for the ring sig- itor helps to ensure that IC2 resets
IC5 at the lowest ring voltage and nal to stop or for the telephone line and starts executing its internal pro-
frequency. to go off hook. If the ringing stops gram correctly when power is
The resulting digital signal from (the call was not answered and the applied to the Call Director.
IC5 is sent to IC2, an inexpensive calling party has hung up), RY1 -RY4 Power for the Call Director is sup-
PIC16C54A microcontroller that is are deactivated, reconnecting plied by a 9- to 12 -volt DC wall
the heart of the Call Director. As each line for outgoing access; the adapter that is connected to J6;
soon as an incoming ring signal is port status LEDs are also turned off. the voltage is regulated by IC4.
detected, IC2 activates RY1 -RY4 If the call is answered, the Call Light -emitting diode LED6 indicates
through Darlington transistor array Director waits for the line to return when the Call Director is powered
IC 1; with no telephones connected to an on -hook state for more than up.
through to J1, the first ring is sup- two seconds, indicating that the
pressed. The ring pattern is ana- telephone call was terminated, Software. The Call Director's
lyzed by IC2. Once the ring pattern before taking the same action as "firmware" (software that is perma-
has been determined, the appro- just described. nently "burned" into IC2's program
priate relay is turned off; the con- The final portions of the circuit memory) gives the Call Director its
nected device, be it a telephone, that have not been mentioned up personality. On power up, the
26 fax machine, answering machine, to now deal with the "care and microcontroller initializes its RAM

o \ 00 00
oo\ o 0 0ib


O 0 0 0 0 00
c o
ICI- ULN2803 Darlington transistor
array, integrated circuit


oO O

ooOOOPbbo C1111111.
0-'0 0


``p 1C2-PIC 16C54A microcontroller,
integrated circuit
IC3, IC5- PS2505 bi- directional
optoisolator, integrated circuit
o o oo IC4- LM7805 5 -volt, 1 -amp, fixed
00 00 o
0o po loo o
/o o
o o

voltage regulator, integrated circuit
1N4001 1 -amp, 50 -P1V silicon
rectifier diode
4 1'a INCHES LEDI -LED4- Light-emitting diode,
.1 yellow
Fig. 3. Here's the foil pattern for the component side of the Call Director LED5- Light- emitting diode, red
LED6- Light-emitting diode, green

and cycles the port status LEDs. zero, more than five seconds have RESISTORS
Following initialization, the program elapsed without a ring signal or an (All resistors are 114 -watt, 5% units,
enters an idle state waiting for an off -hook condition. In that case, the unless otherwise noted.)
incoming ring signal on pin 17. firmware will reset the output relays R1-22,000-ohm
As mentioned before, IC2 acti- and status LEDs, and then will wait R2- 330 -ohm, 9 -unit, 10 -pin network,

vates RY1 -RY4 when an incoming single -inline package

for the next incoming ring signal.
R3 -4700 -ohm
ring signal is detected; the ring pat- If the off -hook signal goes low,
tern is then sampled. A total of 32 indicating that the line was R4- 10,000 -ohm
samples are taken over the next answered, the firmware enters a
R5-68 -ohm
two seconds. Those samples are second idle state, waiting for the
analyzed to determine which out- off-hook signal to return to the inac- C 1, C2- 15 -pF, ceramic -disc
put port should be reconnected. tive state for more than two sec- C3, C5, C6 0.1 -p,F, ceramic -disc
Once the comparison has been onds. When that happens, the C4-470'F, 35 -WVDC, electrolytic
made and the appropriate relay firmware acknowledges that the C7-4.7-p,F, 16 -WVDC, electrolytic
and status LED are enabled, the call has been terminated and C8- 10 -F, 16 -WVDC, electrolytic
firmware starts a timer and enters releases all four relays; all four tele- C9-0.47-11,F, 400 -volt, polyester -film
an idle state. While in that idle state, phone lines are once again con-
the firmware monitors the outputs nected to the outgoing telephone ADDITIONAL PARTS
from I03 (off hook) and IC5 (ring line. After resetting the system vari- AND MATERIALS
detect) on pins and 17. As long as
1 ables, the firmware re- enters the J l -RJ 1 jack, PC -mount

either signal is active, the timer is idle state waiting for the next J2-J5 -RJI2 jack, PC -mount
not decremented. If both signals incoming ring signal. J6-Co -axial power jack, PC -mount
ever go inactive together, the timer RYI- RY4-Double -pole, double -throw
begins counting down. If it reaches Construction. The Call Director is relay, 5 -volt coil, PC -mount
XTAL1- 3.579545 -MHz crystal
9 -volt DC, 500 -mA wall -mounted

adapter, enclosure, hardware, wire,
0 0 0 0 000 o0ro etc.
00 000 000 000
I o o o o o Note: The following items are available
bb o 0 o 0 o
from: Custom Security Design, PO
o Box 116, Lawrenceville, GA 30046-
0116; Tel: 770 -682 -1368 (voice or
fax): Double-sided printed- circuit
board with plated -through holes,
0 $14.95; Preprogrammed and tested
IC2, $14.95; Complete kit of all parts
and AC adapter, $49.95. Please add
$4.95 to each order for shipping and
4 1/8 INCHES handling within the continental
United States. GA residents must add
Fig 4. Here's the foil pattern for the solder side of the Call Director. You'll need to use some method appropriate sales tax.
of connecting the traces between the two sides of the board. 27
easily reach the various jacks, you
might want to try using panel -
mounted versions of the jacks and
connect them to the PC board
with short lengths of wire.
The Call Director is now ready for
testing and use.

Testing and Use. Distinctive

Ringing service must be ordered
from your local phone company
a before the Call Director can be
LED3 LEDO LED5 LEDE tested. Once the service is avail-
able, prepare the unit for testing by
Vti connecting a telephone to each
ti of J2 -J5; a fifth telephone connect-
ed to the outgoing line in parallel
Fig. 5. All of the components for the Call Director fit neatly on a small PC board.
to J1 is also handy to indicate by its
ringing what type of call is coming
simple enough to be built on a you can use that lead for the con- in.
piece of perfboard using standard nection. Keep in mind that in all of Before applying power to the
construction techniques. However, those suggestions, you will need to Call Director, lift the handset of
using a printed- circuit board makes solder the connections on both each connected telephone sepa-
for a neater appearance as well as sides of the board. The only "hard rately and listen for a dial tone. If
reducing wiring errors. Should you and fast" rule is that the method there is no dial tone at any of the
wish to use the PC -board construc- you use should be one that you are ports, recheck the solder connec-
tion method, foil patterns for a dou- comfortable with and can reliably tions on the PC board to make sure
ble -sided board are available in make a solid connection. that there are no solder bridges or
Figs. 3 and 4. Producing a double - The only recommendation that cold solder joints. If the dial tone is
sided board can be difficult for the we have in soldering the board missing at only one of the ports, ver-
home hobbyist; an etched and would be to use a socket for IC2; ify the connection for that port.
drilled board is available from the software updates are easier to do Look for soldering errors on the
source given in the Parts List. when the microcontroller is not sol- board in the vicinity of the faulty
If you use the foil patterns provid- dered directly to the board! output port. You might need to
ed here or a purchased board, use Before installing IC2, it must be check the relays.
the parts-placement diagram shown programmed with the Call Director Testing the Call Director will
in Fig. 5 for component location. software. The software is available require the use of a second tele-
Note that if you etched your own on the Gernsback FTP site at phone line; a cellular telephone or
board, you will have to make some ftp.gernsback.com/pub/pop/call a friend at another location will do.
sort of provision for passing signals director.zip. If you are unfamiliar Apply power to the unit; LED6
from one side of the board to the with programming a PIC microcon- should light up and LED1 -LED4
other where a solder pad is locat- troller, information and software for should cycle on and off momentar-
ed on both sides of the board. doing that are available at the ily to indicate that IC2 has powered
Alternatives to plated-through holes manufacturer's (Microchip, Inc.) up correctly. Once that test has
include small eyelets and short Web site at www.microchip.com. If passed, pick up each telephone
pieces of wires. Where a compo- you do not have access to the one at a time; LED5 should come
nent lead goes through the hole, needed programming hardware, a on indicating that the line is in use.
pre-programmed microcontroller is Dial (or have your friend dial) the
available from the source given in main telephone number. As soon as
the Parts List. the fifth telephone starts ringing,
When you are finished soldering the Call Director should activate all
the board, inspect your workman- four relays; the four telephones
ship for any of the obvious mistakes connected to J2 -J5 should not ring
when doing such a project; bad or while the unit analyzes the ring pat-
missing solder joints, missing or tern. As soon as the ring pattern has
incorrectly located components, been decoded, RY1 should reset so
or polarized components that have that the telephone connected to
been installed backwards. J2 rings on the second ring; LEDI
The completed Call Director is ready for The assembled PC board should should also come on. None of the
mounting in a case and use. Note that in the be mounted in a suitable enclo- other connected telephones should
author's prototype shown here, J2 -J5 are a sin- sure. If you have difficulty in mount- ring. Answer the ringing telephone
28 gle "block" ofjacks. ing the PC board so that you can (Continued on page 32)
-F e i l; .

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URL = http://www2.dango.ne.jp/onomichi/inh/
INHInternational Hanbai Co., Ltd
E-mail = inh@orange.ocn.ne.jp 22 -30 Kanda -cho. Onomichi, Hiroshima. 722 -0016, Japan

Completely updated, this comprehen- This is a complete guide to developing

Audio Reality: Myths
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This dictionary is a valuable resource The included CD -ROM is packed with
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Computer Monitor Pattern

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Computer Monitor Pattern Generator
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tern, color bars, window and raster pat-
2,EA ?9Qsec
terns, in red, green, blue, black, and
w FLaSER'^^
white. Setting the Auto Manual Switch
to AUTO allows the output to automat-
ically cycle through all patterns.
Packaged in a compact 3'/a by 97/16 by
9'/4 -inch bench -top enclosure, the

DESIGNED FOR CONTINUOUS USE plant engineers, HVAC/R technicians,

in the toughest and most demanding commercial building maintenance staff,
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HD 160B is a heavy -duty autoranging vice jobs.
multimeter. It is resistant to damage The case is made of special high -
from water, fluids, dust, dirt, chemicals, resilience plastic and a rubber boot is
voltage transients and spikes, and is provided for extra protection. Every
drop -proof from over 10 feet. The input jack is extensively fused and pro-
meter is ideal for electricians, industrial tected from accidental damage (extra CIRCLE 61 ON FREE INFORMATION CARD 31
Model 1280A works with both inter- Waltham, MA 02451
laced and progressive monitors and tests Tel: 781 -890-7440
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monitors. Additional features include
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Convenient front-panel controls and COMBINING STATE -OF -THE -ART
indicators include the Power ON /OFF performance, with an easy wireless trol, current limit control, series /parallel
slide switch, LED Power ON Indicator, setup, the AS -1004 Wifeless Surveillance operation, and fast response time.
System Type Switch (selects Mac or System operates on a 2.4 GHz frequen- Models include maximum voltages of
PC), Monitor Type Selector Switch, and cy for sharp, interference -free images 20, 40, 60, 125, and 250 VDC.
step -through Video Pattern Switch. and sounds. It has a range of 300 feet in The RA Constant Voltage Linear
The Computer Monitor Pattern a home /office setting, which can be Power Supplies have prices ranging
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Web: www.bkprecision.com

Insulation Tester (continued from page 28)
380365) performs insulation resistance mea- and verify that the call connection
surements in four ranges up to 4000 has been made. Verify that lifting
megohms and 3% basic accuracy. It also the handset of each and listening
measures up to 600 volts AC. Measurements disables the other telephones.
are displayed on a 4000-count backlit LCD The system has audio capabilities and Hanging up the telephone con-
with Data Hold and 50-segment analog dis- can be expanded to monitor up to four nected to J2 should turn off both
play. Data can be collected via the RS -232 cameras simultaneously. Each camera LED1 and LED5. All of the relays
PC interface and Wmdows-compatible data operates on its own separate noise -free should deactivate so that you can
acquisition software. FM channel, has a built -in 3.6mm wide - place outgoing calls. The test
angle lens, with 400 TV lines of resolu- should be repeated for each addi-
tion. The system includes a transmitter, tional Distinctive Ringing telephone
receiver, camera, power adapters, com- number that you have subscribed
plete mounting hardware, and color - to. As each additional telephone
coded video and audio plugs for monitor line is tested, the appropriate LED
or VCR hookup. and relay should activate.
The AS -1004 Wireless Surveillance Once the Call Director is working
System has prices starting at $169. correctly, simply wire the telephones
MATCO, INC. as needed to the unit and sit back
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Wireless & Electrical
Features such as low resistance tests, Power Supply Cyclopedia
audible continuity, test lock function, THE RA CONSTANT VOLTAGE ETT1-Wireless & Electrical
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Electro Importing Company.
ance testing, appliance safety, and wire tions. They are full-range, adjustable labo- Antiquity displayed on every
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RS -232 PC cable, software diskette, The availability of RS-485 and RS -232 components, kits, motors
and dynamos, Leyden jars
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Insulation Tester (Model a versatile test instrument. perfect gift for a radio antique collector.To orde
The ETT1, send $4.99 (includes s &h) in the Uf
380365) has a suggested retail price of Features include less than 1mV rip- and Canada to Electronic Technology Toda
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Service Clinic

VCR Troubleshooting and Tape Transport

his month we'll go inside a VCR,
including some troubleshooting
and a description of a typical VHS
by your three- year-old. Try to remem-
ber that the problems with the most cat-
astrophic impact on operation (a VCR
Another consideration is Electro-
Static Discharge, or ESD. The electron-
ic components in a VCR are vulnerable
that eats tapes) usually have the simplest to ESD. There is no need to go over-
you understand the safety issues
though there aren't nearly as many dan-
transport. But first, let's make sure that
solutions (replace the idler tire). The
kinds of problems that we would like to
board, but taking reasonable precautions
such as getting into the habit of touch-
gers inside a VCR as a microwave oven avoid at all costs are the ones that are ing the chassis first before any of the
or TV. intermittent or difficult to reproduce: electronic components is a good prac-
the occasional interference or a VCR tice. The use of an antistatic wrist strap
Safety that sometimes will not record your is further insurance.
Once you remove the cover(s) of a favorite soaps on alternate Thursdays A basic set of precision hand tools
VCR (ignoring the warnings about "no before a full moon. will be all that you need to disassemble a
user- serviceable parts," etc.), there are If you get stuck, sleep on it. VCR and perform most adjustments.
some risks to you and your VCR. You Sometimes, just letting the problem They do not need to be really expensive,
also, of course, void the warranty (at bounce around in your head will lead to but poor quality tools are worse than
least in principle). Therefore, if the unit a different (read "more successful ") useless and can cause damage. Needed
is still under warranty, having it serviced approach or solution. Don't work when tools include a selection of Philips and
professionally might be your wisest you are really tired. That is dangerous, straight -blade screwdrivers, needlenose
option. mostly non -productive, and possibly pliers, wire cutters, tweezers, and dental
Stay away from the line side of the destructive. picks. A jeweler's screwdriver set is a
power supply; put electrical tape over Whenever working on precision must particularly if you are working on a
the exposed connections. To be doubly equipment, make copious notes and dia- portable VCR or camcorder. For adjust-
sure, tape a piece of cardboard or thick grams. You will be eternally grateful ments, a miniature ('/16 -inch blade)
plastic over the power supply section. when the time comes to reassemble the screwdriver with a non -metallic tip is
Other than that, there is more danger of unit. Most connectors are keyed against desirable. It prevents the presence of
damaging the VCR by accidentally incorrect insertion or swapping of metal from altering the electrical prop-
shorting something out or breaking a cables, but not always. Apparently iden- erties of the circuit (those who work on
little plastic "doodad" than of getting tical screws might be of differing lengths older TVs and radios are familiar with
hurt. or have slightly different thread types. that concept) and minimizes the possi-
Since most VCR problems are Little parts might fit in more than one bility of shorting something from acci-
mechanical (you probably won't even place or orientation. The list goes on dental contact with the circuitry.
need to get out a multimeter), there and on. You should not need any VCR -spe-
really isn't much more to it! However, Pill bottles, film canisters, and plastic cific tools with the possible exception of
take care if circuit boards need to be ice -cube trays come in handy for sorting a miniature metric hex -key wrench set
moved out of the way; see the general and storing screws and other small parts for loosening the set screws on the roller
safety information in previous "Service after disassembly. guides should you need to perform a
c Select a work area that is well lighted tape -path alignment. I have never need-
Clinic" articles or at my Web site if
probing or other more involved inter- and where dropped parts can be locat- ed a VCR head puller. You can make a
vention is needed. ed -not on a deep-pile shag rug. tool for the special nut found on many
Something like a large plastic tray with a A/C head assemblies for tracking adjust-
u, Troubleshooting Tips slight lip can come in handy as it pre- ment by filing a slot in the blade of a
Many problems have simple solu- vents small parts from rolling off the straight -blade screwdriver.
worktable. The best location will also be A low- power, fine -tip soldering iron
tions. Don't immediately assume that
your problem is some combination of relatively dust free and allow you to sus- and fine rosin -core solder will be needed
esoteric, complex, and convoluted fail- pend your troubleshooting to eat, sleep, if you should have to disconnect any sol-
ures. For a VCR, it might just be a bad or think without having to pile every- dered wires (on purpose or by accident)
36 belt or an experiment in rock placement thing into a cardboard box for storage. or replace soldered components.
Upper Cynlinder to fool the VCR into thinking that there
Supply Side (VideohliFi Heads) Tekeup Side is a cassette in place so that you have
V-Stopper V-Stopper
access to the reel spindles and idler.
You can buy them for $6 -12, but you
Takeup Sde
Supply Side
Roller Guide Track can make one that is almost as nice:
Roller Guide Track
Full Erase Head ,t=' Head Stack Take a discarded cassette, open it up,
Fixed Guide Post . Pinch Roller and throw away everything but the top
Back Tension Arm Capstan and bottom halves and the screws.
Supply Side Half Loading Arm
Tilted Guide Post Punch out the plastic windows-and
Supply Side Roller Guide
- Fixed Guide Post
somewhat more of the top and bottom if
Back Tension Band

Supply Spindle
- Idler Gear

Takeup Spindle
you are so inclined; relatively little of the
original structure is actually needed to
fool the VCR! The more open the
cheater is, the easier it will be to see and
Takeup Side Takeup Side
Tilted Guide Post Roller Guide
access the guts of the VCR while it is
Typical VHS VCR Tape Transport Components
Reassemble the two halves of the cas-
Fig. 1. A typical VHS VCR tape transport mechanism. Note that this particular system uses gears to sette with the screws -you did save the
drive the tape spindles. (Photo courtesy of Brian Siler.) screws, right?

Puta bit of black tape over the sensor

For thermal or warmup problems, a grease, and your powers of observation holes on the sides of the cassette near
can of "cold spray," "circuit chiller," or along with a little experience. Your built- where the hinge pins of the flap went.
other component cooler and a heat gun in senses and that gray stuff between your
or blow dryer come in handy to identify ears represent the most important test These cheaters will load and "play"
components whose characteristics might equipment you have. just fine in most machines. Some
drift with temperature. Using the exten- A DMM or VOM is necessary for machines actually sense that the supply
sion tube of the spray can or making a checking power- supply voltages and reel is being turned by the tape move-
cardboard nozzle for the heat gun can testing sensors, LEDs, switches, and ment and will shut down if it isn't
provide very precise control to identify other small components. Unless you get (among other peculiarities), so you
the problem components. deep into the electronic repair of VCRs, might have to do that by hand.
Basic cleaning supplies include cotton an oscilloscope is not needed.
swabs for everything but the video heads There are two items of important Test Tapes j
(use chamois- covered cleaning sticks on test equipment that you probably When aligning the tape path, a test
them), lint -free cloths or paper towels, already have: tape will be needed as a reference.
water, and isopropyl alcohol-preferably Actually, you want two: one recorded at
91% medicinal grade or better. A video -signal source for both RF and the SP (2 -hour) speed and another
If you have several VCRs or do repairs baseband (RCA jacks). Unless you are recorded at the EP (6-hour) speed. They
for friends (hopefully not soon-to -be for- troubleshooting tuner or video /audio- do not need to be exorbitantly- priced
mer friends!), there are inexpensive kits of input problems, either one will suffice. professional-alignment tapes. A couple
VCR mechanical parts such as washers and RF sources include a pair of rabbit ears of recordings made on a known working
springs that come in handy. General belt or or an outdoor antenna, a cable connec- VCR will get you close enough for most
similar kits are not worthwhile unless you tion, or a VCR with a working RF mod- purposes. Do not use those tapes for
are in the service business. There is too ulator. Similarly, a working VCR makes diagnosing or testing of mechanical
much variety in the sizes and other charac- a handy baseband or RF signal source. problems; your VCR might be hungry
teristics of those types of parts to make an and eat them.
assortment a good investment. A display device. A video monitor or TV For general video diagnosis includ-
makes an excellent video -signal display. ing mechanical and tape -eating prob-
Test Equipment Many video problems can be diagnosed lems, a bunch of sacrificial tapes are
Don't start with electronic test equip- by just examining the picture. An old TV handy. Advertising, promos, feature
ment; start with some analytical thinking. with a vertical -hold control is useful when shorts or anything that you do not care
Many problems associated with con- adjusting back -tension, should the need about but have been recorded on work-
sumer- electronic equipment do not arise. A black- and -white TV is adequate ing VCRs are fine. Very often they get
require a schematic, though one can be for many of the tests that you will do. mangled and you do not want to contin-
useful. The majority of problems with ue to use mangled tapes that might dam-
VCRs are mechanical and can be dealt Cassette Cheaters age the VCR -in particular the video
with using nothing more than a good set When troubleshooting mechanical heads. However, once you have the
of precision hand tools, some alcohol, problems in a VCR, one of the handiest VCR basically working, you will want to
degreaser, contact cleaner, light oil and accessories is a cassette cheater: a frame test it start to finish on a T120 cassette 37
will need to remove hand side platform. The supply tape reel
Idler Tire the front panel to (inside the cassette) sits here.
free the bottom Take -Up Spindle- Located on the right -
cover (or vice - hand side platform for the take -up tape
versa). reel (inside the cassette).
Circuit boards Idler-The assembly that swings
might prevent access between the supply and take -up reels,
to the top or bot- transferring power to the appropriate
tom of the tape reel to wind the tape up during play and
transport. Usually, record and often to drive fast forward
Supply Idler Assembly Takeup removal of a few and rewind. This can use a rubber tire or
Spindle Spindle screws (often marked a gear.
Brake Brake with red paint or The
Idler Tire black rubber ring on the
arrows on the cir- outside of one part of the idler that actu-
cuit board) and ally contacts the reel edges. This is the
VCR Transport with Idler Tire perhaps pressing a most likely part to need replacement
(Other Parts Also Shown) couple of snaps will after a few years of use. Some VCRs use
let the board swing a gear instead of a tire (as in Fig. 1), but
up on a hinge out the tire is the most common version,
Fig. 2. This VCR mechanism uses an idler tire instead of gears. (Photo of the way. especially in older units. An example of a
courtesy of Brian Siler.) Front panels tire -based drive is shown in Fig. 2.
usually snap off, Roller Guides-There are two; one on
because the reel hub sizes might be dif- possibly requiring the removal of a few each side. Those assemblies move from
ferent on those short tapes. screws on top or bottom. their retracted position toward the front
of the machine (loaded position) for play
Getting Inside a VCR Why Does My VCR Shut Down and record. The white rollers should
As I mentioned before, you will void or Behave Strangely When I spin freely and be clean. When retract-
the warranty-at least in principle. Remove The Cover? ed, the roller -guide assemblies will be
There are usually no warranty seals on a There are various sensors in a VCR slightly loose. However, when the tape is
VCR so unless you cause visible damage that are light sensitive. They are not wound around the video -head drum,
or mangle the screws, it is unlikely that safety interlocks (though they can act they must be snug against the brackets at
this would be detected; you need to that way in some VCRs) but a result of the end of the tracks (called "V-
decide. A VCR still under warranty the way that the tape start and end sen- Stoppers "). Also on the same assembly
should probably be returned for warran- sors work. VHS tapes have a clear leader are tilted metal guide posts; again, one
ty service for any covered problems and trailer. An LED or light bulb poking for each side. Those posts sometimes fall
except those with the most obvious and up near the center of the cassette point out with obvious consequences. Proper
easy solutions. at sensors on either side of the cassette. functioning and adjustment of the roller
It is usually very easy to remove the When light is detected, the VCR guides is the most critical requirement
top and bottom covers on VCRs. For assumes that it is at the appropriate end for proper tracking.
the top cover, there are usually some of the tape and shuts off (or rewinds if in Roller-Guide Tracks-A combination of
very obvious screws on the back or sides, PLAY mode) when it senses the end plastic and metal slots in which the
and in rare cases on the top. There depending on model. roller-guide assemblies slide during tape
might be a couple of screws on the bot- During servicing, a piece of card- loading and unloading. Check to make
tom as well that secure the top cover. board or other opaque insulating mater- sure that there is still some healthy
For top loaders, you will probably need
to remove the cassette holder lid. There
ial should be placed above the cassette
basket if any strange behavior is detect-
grease on the surfaces.
Video -Head Drum or Upper Cylinder
This item measures about 2.45 inches in
will be two screws, perhaps hidden by ed that was not present with the cover in
rubber plugs. place. Not all VCRs are particularly sen- diameter by 0.75 inches high. This
Once all of the screws are out, the sitive to external illumination. rotating assembly contains the video
top cover will lift up or slide back and heads (and Hi -Fi audio and flying erase
then come off easily. If it still does not VCR Tape- Transport heads, if present).
want to budge, recheck for any screws Fundamentals Capstan- Located on the right side after
that you might have missed. Let's take a look at the parts of the tape exits from roller guide. The cap-
For the bottom cover, there are usu- tape transport in a VCR. (see Fig. 1) stan is a shaft about 3/16 inches in diame-
ally a half dozen or so screws around its This applies to 99.9% of the VCRs in ter. It moves the tape forward or reverse
perimeter and sometimes in the middle existence today. I can't say 100% during play, record, and search modes
as well. There might be one or two because I have seen at least one that had when the pinch roller is pressed against
grounding screws as well that are of dif- a sideways -loading mechanism-very it.
ferent length and threads; those should weird! Pinch Roller -A black rubber roller
go back in the same location from where Looking at the unit from above with about '/2 inch in diameter and 3/4 inch
they came. Bottom covers are usually the front toward you: high that spins freely and presses against
Supply Spindle- Located on the left- (Continued on page PS - 8)
38 simple sheet metal. In rare cases, you

Apple's Wireless
Breakthrough 47
Expandable palm computing.
Voodoo TV/OVO card, mobile
speecn recognition, and more

Compaq Presario 5868

An Affordable Backup

Home Phoneline Networking

Find Anyone. Anywhere
Expandable Palm
Want a pocket -sized device that can do, well, just about
anything? As overly ambitious as it may sound, just such a
device is available. Handspring, Inc.'s Visor (starting at
$149) features a "Springboard" expansion slot that lets you
plug in expansion modules ranging from MP3 audio players
and digital cameras to pagers and wireless modems.
Available in a variety of colors, the Visor may be the only
computing device you need to bring with you.
Why the modules? The folks at Handspring realize that no
one wants to carry about a dozen full-size electronic gadgets.
Just carry your Visor PDA and whatever extras you need, only
when you need them. A variety of vendors offer the modules,
most of which are smaller than an audiocassette.
Hate typing by tapping on a screen with a stylus? There's
even a foldout keyboard module available that closes to the
size of a PDA, but opens to almost a full -size keyboard. Nice.
In addition to its available add -ons, the Visor is expandable with thousands of freeware and shareware applications,
thanks to its Palm OS compatibility. For PC interfacing, you'll have to pick up a serial cradle with the standard, 2MB
RAM version. If you buy the Deluxe version ($249), which has 8MB of RAM, you get a USB- interface docking cradle
and leather case.
Handspring, Inc., 189 Bernardo Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043; 888- 565-9393; www.handspring.com.

Just Like Voodoo

The idea of merging TV and PC video is not
new-cards that let you capture and work with stan-
dard composite video have been around for years.
However, they've never combined high-performance
3D graphics, DVD MPEG -2 recording and playback,
and even FM radio reception before. Prepare to be
amazed by the new age of multimedia; prepare for
3dfx's Voodoo3 35007V ($250, street).
Ask most any gamer and he or she will tell you
that the 3dfx Voodoo3 graphics accelerator is tops
when it comes to realism and lightning -fast frame
rates. Adding this technology to your PC alone would
be worth the price of the 3500TV. But you get so
cv e much more.
Yweu 4

Iris sec, >a + 1 Watch cable or satellite TV on your high -reso-

' lution monitor. Use the card's MPEG -2 support to play DVDs or make
li your own recordings of similar quality-imagine archiving junior's first steps this way until
8 you can get a DVD recorder....
? 3dfx Interactive, Inc., 4435 Fortran Drive, San Jose, CA 95134; 888 - FOR-3DFX; www.3dfx.com.
PC Gizmo is published by Gernsback Publications, Inc., 500 Bi -County Blvd., Farmingdale, NY 11735. Senior Writer:
Selina Kyle.
40 Copyright 2000 by Gernsback Publications, Inc. Gizmo is a registered trademark All rights reserved.
Add a Port ...
or Seven
Got many expansion ports on the back of your PC? It
seems you can never have enough. Add a Zip drive and a
PDA docking cradle, and it seems your machine's clogged up.
Yes, there's USB, but there still aren't enough USB peripherals to take advan-
tage of the interface. What to do? Check out Xircom's PortStation ($169 and up, depend-
ing on configuration).
Thanks to Port Station, one USB port is all you need to add just about anything to your PC. The unit comes as two
end caps that can connect up to seven port modules between them, all in a row. Add a four- or seven -port USB hub as
one of the modules to avoid reaching behind your PC any more. Then decide what other ports you need and order
them. Choose from parallel, serial, PS /2, 56 -Kbps modem, Ethernet, and ISDN ports for now, with cable and ASDL
modems soon to be released. With Port Station you get and pay for only what you want.
Xircom, Inc., 2300 Corporate Center Drive, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320; 800- 438 -4526; portstation.xircom.com.

A Cybernaut's
When it comes to desktop digital cameras, most people _

only care about their video quality. But if you want a high-
performance camera that also happens to look kind of on the
cutting edge, and not just like an overgrown egg, only one unit
will catch your eye. Dubbed the USB RoboCAM ($79, MSRP)
it's LifeView's answer to dull- looking equipment.
The futuristic purple CAM will capture still images at up to
1024 X 768 resolution, with live -motion video coming in at
640 X 480 with excellent color quality. Motion video,
depending on your computer and the complexity of the image
you're shooting, can be up to 30 frames per second thanks to the RoboCAM's
USB interface and progressive CODEC.
Coming with an abundant software bundle, the USB RoboCAM lets you videoconference, send video e -mail, edit
movies, and touch up still shots, all right out of the box.
Lifeview, Inc., 46575 Fremont Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94538; 510- 661 -2968; www.lifeview.com.

Speech Recognition
If you drive a lot,
or of walking, you
do a lot
the Go
may find wishing you
could make some productive use of that time. While microcassette recorders are
handy for taking notes at such times, you'll be stuck with the chore of transcribing
when you get back to the desk. Next time, bring along the L&H Voice Xpress Mobile
Professional (about $200, street).
With the Xpress package, you'll not only capture what you say on an Olypmus
DS -150 digital recorder, but when you return to your PC, the device will transfer the
audio to a handy program-L&H XpressPad Mobile-that will perform speech recognition
on it. Imagine, all those notes and ideas will spring up on your screen like magic, while you
kick back with a cup of coffee. $
While recognition technology still isn't 100 percent (maybe every 15th word or so will be misin-
terpreted), chances are the amount of editing you'll have to perform will only be a fraction of the
effort required to type in that "to -do" list or lengthy e-mail you composed on the drive to work And it 2.
can even be a long drive, too, as the two-ounce DS-150 can store up to 75 minutes of speech.
Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products USA, 52 Third Avenue, Burlington, MA 01803; 781 -203 -5000; www.lhslcom.

SYSTEM /u]/ga

' n the spotlight this month is

Compaq's Presario 5868 -with a
and producers of graphics software
have, to a large degree, pretty much
board, as well as the system bus
speed. The Athlon uses a "Slot A"
veritable panoply of design features. ignored both, though video -card ven- socket, which is actually a socket
At the top of the list is the CPU it is dors do try and incorporate support for developed for the DEC (now Compaq)
based around, an AMD Athlon run- both into their Windows drivers. Alpha Processor. Also borrowed from
ning at 600 MHz. Originally slated to As with the Pentium, Pentium II, the Alpha system design is the
be called the K7, the chip was and Pentium Ill (as well as its previous Athlon's 200 -MHz system bus speed,
renamed when AMD had a change of K6 -2 and K6 -III processors), the which will eventually be scaleable to
heart. And as Intel did when it named Athlon features a superscalar, super- 400 -MHz. Unlike the new Intel
the 80586 CPU the Pentium proces- pipelined microarchitecture. Super - Pentium IIIB CPUs, which incorporate
sor, AMD decided to also give its pipelined means that the CPU con- .18- micron technology, the Athlon
newest offering a name. Fancy name tains different execution pipelines for uses current .25- micron fabrication
or not, the Athlon is still an x86 style executing different technology and contains
of CPU, albeit with some significant approximately 22 million
updates. transistors.
Our Compaq Presario 5868
THE CHIP INSIDE incorporates a 600 -MHz
In many ways, the Intel Pentium version of the Athlon, and
family and the AMD Athlon have kept the motherboard runs with a
pace with each other. 200 -MHz front -end system
That's really necessary, if bus, twice that of the typical
you think about it, as the 100 -MHz bus on most of
AMD processor must today's PCs, and faster
maintain close compati- even than the 133 -MHz
bility with the Intel CPUs bus speed the newest Intel
in order to avoid massive Pentium IIIB processors
software incompatibili- support. That combination
ties. Where the two lines punches up the perfor-
of CPUs diverge consid- mance considerably, though
erably is in the extended types of not to the extent that you might sup-
instruction sets. True, the AMD CPU instructions. The Athlon has nine pose from the 200 -MHz system bus,
processor maintains compatibility with pipelines, three each for executing since the components, including the
the MMX instruction set that Intel integer instructions, floating -point PC100 type RAM, connected to the
added to the Pentium after its initial instructions (including MMX and bus still run at the same speed they do
release, and just about all of the soft- 3DNow! Instructions), and address - in a system with a slower system bus.
ware applications that have incorporat- calculation instructions. These instruc- Overall, depending on the benchmark
ed MMX instructions into the code mix tions can be executing simultaneously you choose, you will see between a
will run just fine on AMD -based sys- in the different pipelines. The Athlon 10- and 25- percent performance differ-
tems. However, to "one -up" Intel, AMD also has a somewhat more elaborate, ential against a similarly configured
introduced further extended instruc- and larger, cache architecture. The L1 600 -MHz Pentium III system.
tions into its K6 -2 processor, which it cache, contained internally on the chip
named "3DNow! ". Intel retaliated with die, is 128K, and the L2 cache can be BUT WAIT, THERE'S
the superset of KNI instructions it intro- as small as 512K to as large as 8MB. MORE....
duced with the Pentium Ill family. The Most different, however, from previ- As interesting as the Athlon proces-
KNI and 3DNow! Extended instruction ous AMD and Intel CPUs, is the type of sor is, it's not the only design feature
42 sets are not compatible or equivalent, socket required on an Athlon mother- (Continued on page 46)
Internet Telephony-
The Next Generkion

The new breed of

Netphone products has arrived,
bringing with it better quality
and ease of use.

For about four years now,

Internet telephony has been
offering the promise of free long -
distance calls to anyone with a Net
connection and the appropriate
software. That's right ... free long dis-
tance. So what happened? Why
are you still seeing commercials for
all sorts of calling plans from AT &T,
Sprint, and a horde of lesser -known
It's simple, really. The first genera-
tion of Internet telephony or Voice
over Internet Protocol (VoIP) had
serious problems. that one of you could select the But we all learn from our mis-
For one, the technology came other as the recipient of a phone takes, and some truly innovative
out at a time when not everyone call. Sure. What a great way to companies have devised a new
was "connected." This limited its use spontaneously call your parents In batch of VoIP products. This time,
as you couldn't, at the time, use a another state to tell them that however, engineers considered the
VoIP package to call someone they're now grandparents. quality and general atmosphere of
without a computer. For all its potential, that first, long - a traditional phone call, and their
Another problem was the sound lasting (at least for the computer resulting creations are very good.
quality. Echoes and delays abound- industry) generation went the way Dare we say almost equal in quali-
ed in most systems. Phone calls of Beta videotapes, Philips digital ty to regular telephones? That's a
often ended up sounding more like audiocassettes, and other tech- subjective estimation. Perhaps it's
AM radio interference than a chat nologies that just couldn't capture safer to say these new products
with your cousin. This was only high-tech consumers. provide you with at least modern
made worse by Net congestion. cell -phone quality, if not better.
Further, sitting at a computer Enter the New Batch. What sepa- The reason for the success?
with a headset and microphone rates VoIP from our just- mentioned Designers realized the problems
just wasn't a convenient, natural examples of failed ideas, however, associated with first -generation
way to make a call. Even though a is that Internet telephony had no VoIP were almost impossible to
few telephone- handset add -ons competition. While people hated eliminate without hardware solu-
were invented, you never really having incompatible video or tions. Sure there were some hard-
enjoyed the convenience of pick- audio formats (even if Beta video- ware products in the past, but they
ing up a phone, and making a nat- tapes and digital audiocassettes didn't really help. For Instance, as
ural call, which results in.... were superior), no one is opposed attractive as they were, those
Hearing a phone ring. This simple to the idea of saving a buck with aforementioned first -generation
thing we take for granted -itwas Net calls. Though the enigmatic handset devices were just repack-
conspicuously absent from most Phone Company might have aged computer speakers and
VoIP solutions. These systems had strong opinions otherwise, VoIP is microphones that didn't improve
you agreeing on a time to meet at indeed a good ideajust one exe- call quality. It was time to bring in
an Internet phone chat room so cuted poorly at first. some hardware that actually did 43
Plug `em in. Actiontec has long
been a computer communications
innovator. Its modems have always
performed well, including a recent
call - waiting model we were impressed
with (see last month's PC Gizmo).
This time they wowed us with a
brand -new device that we had to
see in private at Comdex, the corn -
puter trade show in Las Vegas.
The Chat4Less USB Phone ($149,
MSRP) does just about everything
we've been bragging about so
far-it is, in fact, the epitome of the
new generation in VoIP. First of all,
you can't find an easier installation
than this. Just install the included
Chat4Less Communications Software
Chat4Less connects to your PC's USB port and lets you use a standard telephone to make calls over and connect the device to an
the Net. open USB port. System require-
ments are modest. Basically, if your
something. Net -to- standard -phone systems computer can support USB, it can
As a result, circuit and software rely on a "gateway" provider to work with Chat4Less (we recom-
combos were designed to increase convert your VoIP call to a regular mend you have Windows 98 or NT
data compression, so a VoIP system one in the city of the person you're 4.0 or higher for best results).
could send a higher -quality audio calling. More on this later. Once the device is connected
packet over the Net in the same Join us now for a look at some to your computer, you get to do
speed at which lower -resolution products you can add to your PC, something wonderful and much
packets used to travel. And when as well as a tried -and -true service anticipated. Believe it or not, you
this better signal gets to the other that charges a modest fee to let get to plug in your own, standard
side, it's now processed by echo - you do away with hardware on telephone into Chat4Less. Then use
cancellation circuits and software, both ends of a VoIP call (by the your PC to dial into the Internet as
resulting in a more natural- sound- way, "tried-and -true" in this case usual, either through a modem,
ing call all around. Add error cor- means the author's been using this LAN, or broadband connection,
rection to the mix, and the result is service for a couple of years). and prepare to make your first call.
the new breed of VoIP. And you already know how to
We're also impressed with the
way the new devices can work
together. While several first- genera-
tion Net phone packages or pro-
grams could only make calls to
identical ones (that is, to products
from the same company), modern
VoIP devices work with the H.323
interoperability standard. This means
you can buy what you want and
still talk for free to those who didn't
buy the same product.
Note that for true "free" calls,
your recipient will still have to have
a Net connection and similar hard-
ware as you. This means that if he or
she doesn't have an online- all -the-
time computer such as one with a
cable or ADSL modem, you will still
have to make some arrangements
for chat times. However, you can
also do away with all this and call
any phone anywhere for low, per-
minute fees that make it worth the
effort of turning on your computer Install Internet PhoneJACK-PCI in your computer, plug a telephone into the card, and prepare to
44 or dedicated VoIP device. These say goodbye to long- distance bills.
(you, of course, have to have a Net
account). Once you set up the
device To work with your Internet
dial-up account -a one -time
process where it stores your local
access numbe, username, and
password -the IPStar can go
online. Then, making a cali is as sim-
ple as dialing a number on you,
stanaard phone.
Now, if your recipient has an
IPStar (or a PC -based VoIP system),
all your calls will be free, making this
the perfect investment for two o'
more people who really plan on
spending a lot of time speaking
long distance. If the person you're
cafing does not have any VoIP
If you'd rather not use a computer for Vol? calls, check of t -a standalone device that han-
IPStar solution setup at all, you can still call
dles all aspects of Internet telephony

make that call. Just pick up the with your sound card in your
attached phone and dial the num- machine to provide its own duplex - NE NONE
ber of a contact, friend, or loved audio send and receive functions.
one. They probably won't even Plug a standard telephone into the 18888721230
know you're calling over the jack on the card, and speak as you Erte a Phone Number and
Internet. You have to hear for your- normally would into the handset.
self just how good compression The software and hardware takes
and echo -cancellation technolo- care of the rest.
gy has gotten. For cost -free calling, use the
As implied earlier, this works with device with someone's ICQ (a pho-
a gateway provider. The company, netic shortening of the phrase "I
Net2Phone, which we'll examine seek you "). An ICQ number is kind
more later on, provides the conver- of like an instant-messaging user -
sion from IP to local PBX for about name in that it lets someone
3.9 cents a minute. A terrific savings "page" or contact you when
over even the best of TV commer- you're online. If the recipient is
cial offers. For truly free calls, make online, he or she can use any VoIP
sure your loved one is online with his device to talk with you. This is
or her own VoIP, be it Chat4Less or because PhoneJACK -PCI, like
one of the following gadgets. Chat4Less, can work with any
A product that's similar to H.323- compliant software.
Chat4Less is Internet PhoneJACK- Now, should the person you're
PCI ($159) by Quicknet. Also using calling actually not be at the com-
enhanced data compression and puter (can you imagine ?), Phone-
echo cancellation, the Internet JACK can also call a regular phone
PhoneJACK can provide high -qual- number. The same gateway charges
ity calls over the same protocol previously mentioned apply.
that first -generation, software -only
solutions couldn't quite handle. Standalone Hardware. While this is
The major difference from the PC Tech section, there's nothing
Chat4Less is that you'll have to wrong with mentioning a device that
open up your PC to install Internet uses the Internet yet doesn't work
PhoneJACK -PCI. As its name with a computer. In a way, this device
implies, the product is a PCI card, is a specialized computer, in a small,
and as such your machine will have affordable package.
to have a free slot to accommo- We're talking about IPStar ($249)
Net2Phone:s software of the same name uses a
date it. Other than that available from DSG, Inc. Plug any phone into
familiar enterface to let users call over the Net
slot, the only other requirements are it, plug the IPStar into any phone with their existing computer hardware. Still,
a machine that can run Windows line, and you're ready to go. The additional hardware, like the products explored
95, 98, or NT, or even Linux. IPStar handles the Internet connec- in the article. are recommended for increased
The PhoneJACK -PCI coexists tion with its built -in 56 -Kbps modem quality. 45
VENDOR INFORMATION button that appears onscreen. SPECIFICATIONS
A better way to use the
Actiontec Electronics, Inc. Net2Phone application is in con- Model: Compaq Presario 5868
760 North Mary Avenue Price (as configured): $2598
junction with one of the aforemen-
Sunnyvale, CA 94086 Vendor: Compaq Computer Corp., 20555
tioned PC- connected devices. This State Highway 249, Houston, TX
408 -752 -7700
proves the company knows how to 77070; 800- 345 -1518; www.compaq.com
CIRCLE 180 ON FREE get good sounding calls over the CPU: 600 -MHz AMD Athlon
INFORMATION CARD Internet, with the right hardware. Memory: 128MB SORAM, expandable to
And they do have some great 384MB
DSG, Inc. hardware at the various Net2- Storage: 20GB Ultra ATA/66 hard disk,
17800 Castleton Street Phone gateway centers around 1.44MB floppy disk
Suite 230 the country. Thanks to these nodes, ROM Drives: 8X DVD, 4X2X24X CD -RW
City of Industry, CA 91748 you can access Net telephony Video: 19-Inch Compaq MV920 monitor,
626 -912 -0388 3dfx Voodoo 1000 with 16MB RAM
from payphones, hotel rooms, any-
www.ipstar- dsg.com Audio: SoundBlaster PCI1 28 wavetable,
where, without cranking up the PC. JBL Pro stereo speakers included with
All you need is a Net2Phone Direct monitor
calling card. Use it to call anyone in Size: 20.9 x 8.38 x 19 inches (HWD)
Net2Phone the U.S. for about five cents a Ports: Parallel, serial, VGA, two USB,
171 Main Street minute, providing you can make a two IEEE -1394
2nd Floor local call. Those who need to Expansion: Two PCI slots, one external
Hackensack, NJ 07601 access Net2Phone's toll -free num- 5.25 -inch bay, one external 3.5 -inch
800- 438-8879 ber will pay more (though not as bay
www.net2phone.com much as traditional calling cards). Other: Windows 98, complete software
CIRCLE 182 ON FREE bundle, 10BASE-T adapter, home
Some of you may be wondering
INFORMATION CARD phoneline network adapter, G.Lite
why you should ever bother with a DSL modem
hardware solution when calling CIRCLE 120 ON FREE
Quicknet Technologies, Inc.
520 Townsend Street
someone through a gateway provider. INFORMATION CARD
Suite D Why not use your Net2Phone card
San Francisco, CA 94103 from home?
415 -864 -5225 While the company would like and whistles you might expect, starting
www.quicknet. net you to do just that, we should point with 128MB of RAM and a fast 7200 -
CIRCLE 183 ON FREE out that when you're home, it's rpm 20GB hard disk. The disk con-
INFORMATION CARD almost always best to use a hard- troller (and hard disk) are Ultra ATA/66
ware solution like the one's we've models, which offer twice the burst
him or her, again using a gateway. been exploring. Even if you'll have data -transfer rate of the previous Ultra
to be charged a per- minute fee to ATA/33 controllers and drives.
Gear.Free Cheap Calls. Here it is, call someone who doesn't have The Presario 5868 is also definitely
that wonderful service we've been the right gear, your call quality will ready for anything. Along with built-in
commenting on, that one that's be best when your PC or stand- adapters for 10BASE-T Ethernet net-
saved us hundreds of dollars since alone device is working on your call working and a home phoneline net-
we signed on over two years ago, to make it sound great. As good as work adapter, there's also a dual
that one that's acting as gateway Net2Phone may be, sometimes modem which functions as a 56K ana-
provider for several vendors' prod- heavy call volume at its centers log modem or, if DSL service is avail-
ucts. Further, Net2Phone is the first does affect sound quality. Your own able in your area, a 6 -Mbps G.Lite DSL
and best way to leave the hardware gear could take the edge off that. modem.
woes to others, and call over the Net Further, you'll save money (anoth- Previous Presario models have
from any phone to any phone. er 1.1 cents) in the long run using offered a 100MB lomega Zip drive for
Think of Net2Phone as a compa- hardware. Remember, Net2Phone backup and file transfer. The Presario
ny that carries your IP voice data charges only 3.9 cents a minute 5868 also offers this option if you
for you, and lets you choose how to when you provide a software or want it. However, our review unit
send and where to send this data. hardware front end. offered an even better goodie -a
First, you can use Net2Phone's So enjoy Internet calling -take 4X2X24X CD -RW drive. The desig-
software of the same name to talk advantage of the money- saving nation details the 4X speed it will
over the Net, though you'll be vic- aspects of it. burn a CD -R disc, the 2X speed it
tim of some of the problems we Until the Phone Company finds a writes to CD -RW, and the 24X speed
cited at the beginning of this arti- way to cash in on the action, that is. S2 that standard CD -ROMs are read in
cle. The situation is made worse if the drive. Along with a comprehen-
you try using such software with a SYSTEM DESIGN sive bundle of software that includes
half -duplex sound card, which (continued from page 42) Microsoft Office 2000, a copy of
forces you into a CB -like communi CeQuadrant's just!burn software is
cation system where you can listen that the Presario 5868 sports. As a provided so that you can get the most
46 and then talk only after pressing a higher -end system, it has all the bells use out of the CD -RW drive. P
Apple's Wireless
Yes it's colorful, yes it's affordable ...
but it's also the herald of a new
era in tether-free computing.


Apple is a company that classes, or tumbling down the

takes its "Think Different" escalator at an airport, laptops
slogan very seriously. Its iMac often perish due to a combina-
did so well that it not only broke tion of poor handling and
sales records, but also gave a
poorer still design.
boost to the at- the -time-wob- While companies can't do
bly USB market. Since the only anything to control how you
interface the first iMac had was treat your notebook, they can
USB, owners of the colorful
make sure it's tough to start
computer had to run out and with. That's what Apple did with
buy USB peripherals, which iBook.
manufacturers were happy to As a great many students
supply. Thinking different are likely to be toting these col-
launched a new era in com- orful gems around (and plenty
puter /O, even though USB was

of business people, too, espe-

originally devised for the cially if the company would
Windows world. release one in a "softer" color),
The iMac is now available in iBook is encased in a plastic
a version for those on the go, body with a special shock -
and this device too comes with absorbing, flexible region. The
its own "different" bit of I/O
latter is designed to protect the
technology. Perhaps you've bright 12.1 -inch active -matrix
heard of the iBook, that tanger- screen and internal electron-
ine- or blueberry- colored lap- ics. Should the machine take a
top that was on every student's most innovative laptop on the mar- hit now and then, we think it will be
Christmas list. At $ 1599 it was priced ket (and this from a magazine that able to stand it.
to move (at least for a portable uses PCs ... go figure). But don't To reduce the chance of the
computer), and it came with a lot take our word for it, like those other notebook slipping out of your arms,
of the right "notebook stuff" for the reviewers wanted you to. Let the there's a foldaway handle (behind
list price. facts speak for themselves, starting the screen hinge) that makes it
However, while some critics from the machine's construction easier to carry the machine
griped that it was too cute to be a and moving on to its wireless break- around. The part of the iBook that
serious machine (okay, maybe a through. will then touch down on, say, a
graphite -colored model would table, is some of the thickest plastic
have been a good idea), and that Durable in Many Ways. People on the body. Incidentally, that part
all Apple products are overpriced purchase notebooks with the of the unit -where the screen lid
for what you get (here we dis- thought of using them for several opens -has no latch that can
agree -iBook and iMac are defi- years to come. Unfortunately, a break and fall off. You instead gen-
nitely not expensive for their partic- great many don't make it past a tly pull the lid open to free it from
ular class), most reviewers missed couple of strenuous years spent on the spring -like pressure that keeps it
the point: the move. Whether they meet their closed.
The iBook is in many ways the demise in the hallway between Our only complaint with the 47
iBook's outside design is that tion will not be hampered by its
maybe it's a bit too big for the size wireless nature. The AirPort system
of screen it houses. As we learned, can support up to 11 Mbps, which is
though, Apple did have to cram one megabit per second faster
something else in the screen bezel, than the fastest home broadband
but we'll get to that in a bit. connection. True, corporate net-
Inside the bottom half, the works are faster, but individual users
No it's not a UFO, but Apples AirPort Base can rarely access more than 10
machine features an equally Station does offerfuturistic possibilities. With it,
durable feature found on almost Mbps anyway, due to individual
your iBook can surf the Net wirelessly from up
no other portable: A long, long last- bandwidth restrictions.
to 150 feet away.
ing Li -Ion battery. While most other The AirPort Base Station also
laptops run out of juice after an allows users to share Internet con-
unplugged two hours or so, the rarity in this price range) and 56- nections, as well as exchange files
iBook keeps going for up to six Kbps modem. However, when and access a printer. Even the new
hours! This represents average use, you're at home, the office, or a iMacs can accept AirPort Cards,
of course, but even if you keep the properly equipped classroom, you meaning you can have a whole
24X CD -ROM drive spinning and might not need to use either wired family of computer users accessing
some CPU -intensive software run- connection. the Net, all without adding extra
ning, you should more than double phone lines or cables.
Going Wireless. As attractive and Is there anything we don't like
the battery-charge life expectancy
of those "other" notebooks. sturdy as it may be, the iBook's true about the AirPort system? Yes. Why
At the heart of the iBook is a 300 - innovation is its wireless capability. didn't they release it sooner?
MHz PowerPC G3 processor. This As we mentioned earlier, Apple
might not seem very fast in this day had to allow room for a certain The System's New System. The
of 450 -MHz notebooks, but the G3 something in the iBook's screen Gates world of computing does
does hold up well when compared bezel. That something? Why, twin offer more software and peripher-
to Pentium II architecture of higher antennas. They run along the als to choose from than the "differ-
clock speeds. This is thanks to the edges of the LCD panel inside the ent" one (check out the Mac sec-
G3's high -speed 512K backside L2 rim plastic. tion of a computer store and you'll
cache. And while newer PIII note- To make use of those covert find it's about a tenth the size of the
strips of metal, you'll need to add PC /Windows section -i.e., the rest
books should seem significantly
faster than all but the fastest G4 two things to your iBook. One is the of the store). But the Mac OS is not
(not a mobile chip yet), you won't $99 AirPort Card, which installs too shabby -it's just the underdog
underneath the keyboard (an easy in a long battle.
be able to find a PIII notebook (or
upgrade that takes less time than To prove Apple is a contender in
many PII's for that matter) for any-
where near iBook's price. waiting for the machine to boot). the operating- system arena, it sent
The other is the AirPort Base Station us the new Mac OS 9 to install in our
When it comes to computing
"guts," our only complaints are that ($299). iBook. The ninth full version of the
Looking like a UFO from a 50's OS features, appropriately enough,
maybe iBook should come with
64MB of RAM standard, instead of sci -fi flick, the AirPort Base Station is nine Internet tools, including
32MB, and that perhaps the 3.2GB a graphite -colored dome that has Sherlock 2 (similar to Microsoft's
drive could have been a bit more connections for either Ethernet or a Channels), an encryption tool for
capacious. But again, considering telephone line. The former can secure transfers of data, and even
the Apple portable's low price, we accept a 10/ 100Base -T line or a an applet (Keychain) that lets dif-
can't exactly call these two com- cable modem, the latter is actually ferent users store user names and
ments "gripes." a 56 -Kbps modem. Once the passwords for Web sites. A non -Web
Like the iMac, the iBook has no Station is connected to either an feature we really loved, though, is
floppy drive. Apple feels most file Ethernet or phone line, you can the Voiceprint Password, which lets
transfers are done either over net- enjoy wireless Net surfing at dis- you secure access to your comput-
works or via external storage tances of up to 150 feet. er with the sound of your voice
devices, and the engineers there And unless you're at the edge of announcing a password of your
are probably right. How many files the 150 -foot radius, your connec- choice. Very high -tech for an OS-
does a modern, multimedia corn - bundled feature.
puter generate that will fit on a flop- VENDOR INFORMATION However, we did have a corn -
py? Except for basic text stuff, just plaint with the new OS, too. While
about everything else requires Apple Computer, Inc. the installation process was simple,
2 something like a Zip drive, which you 1 Infinite Loop it did create a few post -install prob-
Cupertino, CA 95014 lems. Notably, several Mac exten-
2 can easily add to your iBook via USB.
To take advantage of aforemen-
800-795 -1000 sions were, well, to put it bluntly:
a. www.apple.com messed up. This could be frustrating
tioned networking and the Internet, CIRCLE 190 ON FREE
iBook comes with a built -in for those new to Macs, so you might
INFORMATION CARD (continued on page 50)
48 10 /100Base -T Ethernet adapter (a


I f you use your PC even once a

I week, there's a good chance
you've got some critical data on its
hard drive. It's inevitable: Type on a
keyboard long enough, and you're
bound to enter something that's worth
Of course, that is an oversimplifica-
tion. Those of you running your own
business amass a great many records
you couldn't do without. And, for a less
critical situation, what about those of
you who just have their machines set up
perfectly and don't feel like having to
individually reload a ton of software and
Disaster can strike. Your machine's
hard drive can die. What would you do Backer 32 is a ready-to -use solution. Just add a VCR and high -quality tapes to easily store giga-
in such a dire hour were it not for your bytes of data. Shown here is the external version, which requires a PC with an ECP parallel port.
What's that? You don't have a that can be stored on VHS tape. Best CT-100, which will let your computer
backup solution? No expensive tape of all, you don't need to devote a VCR control the VCR's record and playback
drive sits in one of your PC's drive to Backer's use -only connect it for functions. Even without this $49 extra,
bays? data archiving or restoration. Those of the Backer is easy to use and, fortu-
Well, then, have we got the perfect you with a computer and TV in the nately, easy to install.
backup system for you, fellow do -it- same room will have little trouble with
yourselfer. With it, you can have all the such an approach. MINUTES, JUST MINUTES
benefits of a tape backup, without feel- Viscount Video Sales, a US distrib- In a moment we'll be discussing the
ing like you just invested in another utor selling Backer 32 (Danmere is a number of megabytes you can store
computer. UK company, so we included a US on each minute of tape, but for now,
sales contact for our readers) even we have to point out how few of your
YOU'VE GOT A VCR, offers a wireless add -on, called the precious minutes will be spent setting
RIGHT? up the Backer 32. We received the
Introducing Danmere's Backer 32, VENDOR INFORMATION external unit for review and were able
a high -performance device that takes to get it running in very few of those
advantage of a piece of technology Viscount Video Sales 60- second periods.
found in most any home. Available as 8405 Pheasant Drive
Installation consists of first loading
an internal ISA card ($69) or external Florence, KY 41042
the software that comes on a floppy
ECP parallel -port device ($89), the 877 -847 -2686
www. ba-ker32. corn
disk with the unit. As program code is
Backer connects to a standard VHS always updated in this fast -moving
VCR and converts computer binary computer biz, be sure to check the
data (zeroes and ones) into a format Backer 32 Web site for a more current 49
The Backer application lets you cre- uct. Even users with a minimal PC
ate a template of files you want it to (386 CPU, 4MB of RAM, 3.5-inch flop-
regularly archive. While your operating py disk drive for installation, and
system's basic settings need only be Windows 3.1/95/98) can use it to avoid
backed up every few months, certain losing those precious keystrokes and
files and folders you're constantly downloads.
modifying or adding to should be I guess that about does it for this
archived more often. Use Backer to month. If you'd like to get in touch before
choose which data you can't live with- next column, contact me care of Peak
out, and you'll then be certain to never Computing, Poptronics, 500 Bi -County
face such a bleak possibility. Blvd., Farmingdale, NY 11735, or directly
How much can you fit on one tape? via e-mail at selinakyle @techie.corn. P
The answer to this question depends
on a choice you'll have to make. In the APPLE'S BREAKTHROUGH
system's Mode 1, Backer 32 will store (continued from page 48)
up to 9MB per minute. That translates
to approximately 1, 2, or 3GB capaci-
Fig. I. Playing a Backer 32 tape in a VCR will ties in 2 -, 4 -, or 6 -hour VCR record set- want to check Apple's Web site to
help you find a particular file. The number tings (note that most modern VCRs see when a simple fix for this problem
shown at the screen bottom will correspond with only let you choose between SP or EP will be available (if not already avail-
a file in your template or "save log." for 2 or 6 hours, respectively). able by the time you read this).
Mode 2 stores a less cluttered Or, better yet, the iBook you buy
version (click on the link that offers a amount of data per minute of tape. The might come with OS 9 installed and
"more comprehensive technical speci- capacity is limited to 4MB per minute, configured. When it's set up prop-
fication" to find the program update). which translates to 500MB, 1GB, or erly, it really is a noticeably better
Use the PARACHK utility (on the flop- 1.5GB of data on the three VCR speed operating system than its Mac OS
py) to make certain your port is set for settings. predecessors.
ECP mode. If it isn't, you'll need to fol- Now, did you ever notice how poor
low the steps included in the concise image quality is when you set your The Pluses Add Up. For the money,
Backer 32 manual to set the port to VCR to EP mode? Imagine what could the iBook is a great mobile comput-
ECP in the BIOS setup and Windows happen to data stored on such a er choice, if you can manage to
Device Manager. "rushed" medium setting. We feel your work outside the Windows world.
After the software's installed, shut safest bet is to store data only in Mode Feel like thinking different? It's scary,
down your machine and connect the 2 (4MB per minute) and at a slow tape we know. But we have to admit that
external version of the Backer 32 to speed (SP). While this will limit you to for a great many types of users,
your machine's parallel port using the 500MB a tape, you won't have to worry going the mobile Apple way is not a
included cable. Don't worry -the about data corruption. This will likely bad move, even if you have a PC for
Backer 32 has an auxiliary or pass - be your only backup, after all, and you a desktop. Depending on the appli-
through connector for your printer, want it to be a good one. cations you use, you may be able to
should your machine not have two par- Also, for best results, use a high - share data between the worlds, so
allel ports. If you bought the internal quality tape. Avoid those "no- name" to speak.
version, insert it into an open ISA slot 50 -cent tapes that you find in five and Just one more thing. Actually, this
at this time. dime shops. last comment is to the folks at
Connecting the VCR is a cinch. Apple, but you can read on, too.
Data is sent between it and the Backer GETTING IT BACK See the color of the AirPort Base
32 via a standard composite -video We were very impressed with the Station? Think that color for the next
cable (with RCA plugs) that's included. way in which you can recover particu- release of iBook. Some of us adults
Just attach the VCR's "video out" and lar files from a VHS tape. Surprisingly, want to carry them around in pub-
"video in" jacks to the Backer 32's "in" if you play back the tape in the VCR lic, too. 4
and "out" connectors, respectively. (connected to a TV) you will see more
Attach the AC adapter to the Backer than static. At the bottom of the screen
32, and you're set. Boot your system will be bars and a number (see Fig. 1).
to get started. The changing numbers onscreen
will correspond to the files in your tem-
MAKING TAPES plate or "save log." If file 64, for
You have two main ways in which to instance, is the one you want, then
use the Backer 32: Option one is to look for it using Play and Fast Forward
choose certain data that you want combined and stop the tape when you
get to it. Then connect the VCR to
We're on the web FREE
backed up or archived and copy it to the
VCR using the Backer software. Your Backer 32 to copy the file you want to
other option is the innovative one that the PC. http://www.poptronix.com
50 might really save you from disaster.... Overall, Backer 32 is a great prod-



just a decade ago it was a

While approaches, all
rarity for a household to have based on the
any PCs, today it's common for many Windows peer-to-
homes to have more than one. And, peer model, where
where there are multiple PCs, there's a none of the PCs
good chance that a network would acts as a dedicat-
make all of the PCs in the home more ed server. Since
useable. the PCs are locat-
Forget about "sneakernets." Why ed across three
run around the house carrying floppies floors of our home,
with files on them? Also, as many and I'm pretty
home -networking vendors are pointing klutzy when it
out, a network lets you share peripher- comes to dragging
als, such as a printer or a Zip drive. wires through the
You can also share an Internet con - wall, 100Base -T
nection-a particularly attractive idea if Ethernet has been Diamond Multimedia's HomeFree phoneline adapters, available in USB
you have a high -speed service such ruled out until can (shown here) and internal versions, let you use existing phone lines to

as cable or ADSL. find the money to network PCs at speeds of up to 1 Mbps.

These aren't the only reasons to have unshielded
install a home network, however. In our twisted pair wiring pulled all through the has proved a bit more successful.
house, we frequently have multiplayer house It's a shame, too, as I've come About a year-and -a -half ago, an indus-
"gamefests" (though only when all the across some uncomplicated 10 and try consortium was formed to define
schoolwork is done). Currently, the big 100Base -T Ethernet networks, and the specifications on how to use the
game everyone likes to play in multiuser they're really easy to get up and run- wiring already inside your home to pro-
mode is Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six ning, especially under Windows 98, if
Rogue Spear. I'm not sure whether the
four kids are collaborating on their
you can run the wiring.
Or you can do away with wires all
vide the capability of connecting PCs
together. The first attempt at this
power -line networking, or the superim-
assaults or trying to finish each other off. together. posing data over the power line fre-
And I'm afraid to ask. As long as they When the first inexpensive RF net- quency- hasn't worked well. That's
confine their aggression to make works became available a year ago, we why the new organization, called the
believe, don't really have a problem. A
I installed Diamond Multimedia's Home Phoneline Networking Alliance,
good part of my nonchalance, however, HomeFree network on about four of our or HomePNA, felt that wiring already
comes from the fact that the kids are
likely to collaborate on schoolwork,
PCs (remember, we're reviewers here
machines add up). Unfortunately, we
- designed to handle data-telephone
wiring -may provide a better means of
share files and ideas, and even proof- experienced severe distance restric- networking.
read and correct each others' docu- tions with the radio -based network. The specifications HomePNA came
ments over the network. While a range of up to 150 feet was up with overlay network data into the
Any way you look at it, home net- claimed, we usually couldn't get the sys- frequency range of 5.5 to 9.5 MHz.
working is a wonderful way to maxi- tems downstairs to talk with the ones That's well above the zero to 4 -KHz
mize the potential of the computers upstairs. And while we live in a nice- range used for telephone calls, and
you own. Interested? Great. Let's look sized home, it's just not that large that the range of 25 KHz to 1.1 MHz used
at your options. we expected the distances to actually by most home ADSL systems. Using
matter the allocated frequency, the specifica-
OUT WITH THE OLD tion calls for a transmission speed of 1
For best at-home results, we've tried USE EXISTING WIRING Mbps, or about a tenth of the speed of
a variety of different networking Our latest adventure in networking standard 10Base -T Ethernet, and a 51
minutes, you can have two, three, or simply plugs into the parallel port of
more network stations talking and your PC, so, as mentioned, there's no
transferring files with each other. need to open the case.
The standard method for transfer- The second feature is that the
ring files that's used by all of the installation software lets you install just
phoneline networking offerings that the networking software, and not the
we've seen is to build a "transfer" fold- Internet -sharing software. That's a big
er, where you can place files you want plus when you are running a network
other network users to access. But the with adapters from different vendors.
more standard approach of mapping Very often, different vendors use differ-
drives and printers works just as well, ent software utilities to provide the
if not better. This involves going into Internet -sharing capability. And since
the Windows Control Panel, clicking different vendors all support the
on the Network icon, and enabling HomePNA standards, different
sharing by checking the line that reads adapters can "talk" to one another. But
"I want to share files and printers." You we've had our home network crash a
can always choose which drives, files, number of times until we figured out
and printers you want to provide that the Internet -sharing software from
access to, and you can also place different vendors was not really com-
password protection to limit access to patible. So being able to not install it
authorized users. The latter's great if lets our Intel AnyPoint adapters work
you have private data on your PC or fine with, say, the Diamond HomeFree
want to keep kids away from certain adapters.
items. Speaking of Diamond, the company
While the internal cards from also recently introduced an external
Diamond worked well, they do require version of its HomeFree adapter. This
that you both have an empty PCI slot newer model is USB- interfaced, so it
Intel's AnyPoint external phoneline adapters in your PC and open up the case to simply plugs into a USB port on your
use a parallel -port connection, making them PC. We set ours up in under five
install the card. For many users, the
ideal for use with pre -USB PCs.
latter is a pain they'd rather avoid. minutes.
And, if you have purchased a really
hundredth of the speed of 100Base-T inexpensive PC, you may not have, or FINAL CONSIDERATIONS
Ethernet. want to use, the limited slots available. The Home Phoneline Networking
That sounds awfully slow, but it's Fortunately, there's an external solu- Alliance has also set the standards for
not really, at least in most applications tion that works real well. a 10 -Mbps phoneline network, and
that you'd run in your home. Further, equipment meeting this standard
the home phoneline networks are real- GOING EXTERNAL should start appearing soon. That will
ly easy to set up. We found this out Intel's AnyPoint is a terrific external provide even better performance for
firsthand when experimenting with phoneline adapter with a sleek look. those who need it, though the six PCs
three different types of phoneline It's a couple of inches wide and about on our home network have not provid-
adapters-two from Diamond seven inches tall, and it comes with a ed any complaints as of yet.
Multimedia, and the third from Intel. small AC power supply. The external As with any computer technology,
They all "talk" very nicely with each AnyPoint adapters have two features I you'll have to decide if you want to wait
other. like a lot. The first is that the adapter for the next great thing, or if you need
to buy into what's available now.
SETTING UP, INTERNALLY VENDOR INFORMATION And if you are buying today, keep in
The first type of cards we installed mind that phoneline network adapters
were HomeFree Phoneline Network Diamond Multimedia Systems, Inc. tend to be a bit more expensive than
312 SE Stonemill Dr. standard Ethernet adapters. The inter-
cards from Diamond. These are inter-
Suite 150 nal Diamond cards cost about $50
nal cards that are placed in an empty Vancouver, WA 98684
PCI slot in your PC. You then attach a each, and the external USB model is
541 -967 -2450
standard phone cable from the card to www.diamondmm.com
just under $70. Intel's AnyPoint runs
a telephone jack. As with a modem, CIRCLE 100 ON FREE about $160 for two adapters.
you can also plug your phone into the INFORMATION CARD On the other hand, phoneline net-
card and make ordinary calls. Or, the working doesn't require an Ethernet
way we did it in most of the rooms of Intel Corporation hub or switch, so you save money on
our house, you can use a multiple tap 2200 Mission College Blvd. that. Best of all, it really is one of the
Santa Clara, CA 95052 easiest ways to connect all your PCs.
converter on the telephone jack, which
408-765 -8080 As always, if you have any ques-
gives you two or three jacks for tele-
wwwintel.com tions or comments about Computer
phone cables. CIRCLE 101 ON FREE
Once the cards are installed, run Bits, feel free to send me an e-mail at
52 the installation software. In about 20 tneedleman @aol. corn. P



As big as this planet may be, have to remove specifics such as town benefit is that you can use them to
we're always hearing about and last name and hope for the best in retry your queries with different
how the Internet is making it smaller. some instances. If you succeed, you'll approaches without keeping an irate
Yeah, it's a modernized clich, but it get an address or at least confirmation operator on the line.
still is true. Visit a search engine and of the person's town, and please a- So what do you do when you don't
type in the name of a friend-even one applaud -phone number (provided find the person you're looking for?
you haven't seen in years -and you that the latter's not unlisted). It may be time to fork over just a lit-
may just end up at his or her Web site.
Unless the buddy's name is John I.: Eh Ed Yoe.. vavaaas Jook Ne'
Smith, that is. 1
However, regardless of how com-
9e rw+ad 5t<o RdieM Home ;web F Heavy R tJ
Evil - Doe.. NeW
Ii1H01!wwwpe .................... ..

mon or unusual your long-lost loved

one's name may be, he or she may not Find
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Net to track this person down? You bet ortal TM
WhitelYellew Pages Locate Anyone I
you can. Public
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Before you go hiring expensive pri- Search by Business Name.
r Lo t Find a Long Lost
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vate eyes to find your siblings, pals, or Member
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As you might have guessed, the latter ... well, anyone.
services do cost, but cost much less
than hiring someone. The second phone tool is the much - tle money. Head back to the main page
When you first log on to it, People- coveted reverse directory. Remember of PeopleFind and you'll find a link
Find presents you with quite a few links when these were published as books called Find Anyone! whose exclama-
to choose from. For most cases, you that you just couldn't get your hands on? tion point is certainly justified. Click on
should be able to get by with the With this online version, you can enter a the link and gain access to true snoop
White/Yellow Pages. Clicking on this will phone number and find out just whom it power.
bring up two powerful query tools. belongs to. This is particularly handy if For $39.95, PeopleFind guarantees
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know it. Be as specific as you can at Of course, the preceding tools are sible state of residence, a previous
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names, especially women who get mation (even though the latter can in one business day, you'll receive info
married. Also, people move. You may cost as much as a buck). Their biggest on the person's current and past 53
Yahoo' People Search Microsoft Internet E xplorer. s domain (i.e., the stuff after the " @ "-


FavAet Loeb


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Telephone Search r'<
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Wet type of search you initiate, your results will
Cu7trown State
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Search Reset]
Depending on promotions and such,
Email Search these links could ask if you want to send
YCSew PAee
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Addss_A:_e! I ual. As we've said in the past, advertising
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Watch Out BASIC Stamp...

Here Comes the OOPic
The art and science of robotics know how to program their own PICs can
changed dramatically with the create customized microcontroller circuits,
advent of the BASIC Stamp, first intro- using state-of-the-art devices, such as the
duced in 1994 by Parallax, Inc. -at the PIC18CXXX family of 8 -bit RISC -based
time, a relatively unknown electronics PICs. The reality, however, is that the aver-
firm located in the foothills of age robot hobbyist lacks the programming
California's Gold Rush country. skill and development time to invest in cus-
Since its inception, the BASIC Stamp tom PIC design.
has provided the "on-board brains" for Recognizing the large market for
countless robotics projects. That PIC alternatives, a number of companies
thumb -print sized microcontroller uses The OOPic supports 31 I/O lines, and runs on have come out with BASIC Stamp look -
BASIC -language commands for instruc- 6 -12-volt DC power. Connectors are provided alikes -some of which are pin- for -pin
tions, and is popular among robot for the I/O lines, programming cable, memory equivalents, and many cost less than the
enthusiasts, electronics- and computer - sockets, and Philips I C network. Stamp or offer incremental improve-
science instructors, and even design ments. And a few have attempted to
engineers looking for an inexpensive AND gates, flip -flops, and other hard- break the BASIC Stamp mold complete-
alternative to microprocessor -based sys- ware, you can use just the BASIC -Stamp ly by offering new and unique forms of
tems. The original BASIC Stamp 1 has module to provide the same functionali- programmable microcontrollers.
been greatly enhanced; new models ty, doing everything in software. (To be One fresh face in the crowd is the
sport faster speeds, more memory capac- truthful, the Stamp often requires at OOPic (pronounced "00- pick"). This
ity, easier software programming, and least some minimum external compo- newcomer was designed by a NASA
additional data lines for interfacing with nents to interface with real -world engineer and uses object-oriented pro-
motors, switches, and other robot parts. devices.) Nor do you need to construct a gramming rather than the "procedural"
The BASIC Stamp is really an off- microprocessor-based board for your PBASIC programming found in the
the -shelf PIC (programmable integrated robot, followed by programming the
circuit), encoded with a proprietary thing in some arcane language.
BASIC -like language interpreter, called Because the Stamp accepts input from
PBASIC. The chip stores commands the outside world, you can write programs
downloaded from a PC or other devel- that interact with that input For instance,
opment environment. When the pro- it's a slam dunk to activate an output line-
gram is run, the language interpreter say, one connected to a motor -when
built into the Stamp converts the BASIC some other input (like a switch) changes
syntax into instructions the chip can use. logic states. You could use that scheme, for
Common instructions involve such instance, to program your robot to reverse
things as assigning a given data line as an its motors if a bumper switch is activated.
input or output, or toggling an output Since that's done under program control,
line from high to low, in typical comput- and not via hard -wired circuitry, it's easier
er- control fashion. to change and enhance your robot as you
The net result is that the BASIC experiment with it.
Stamp acts like a programmable elec-
tronic circuit, with the added benefit of First the Basic Stamp...Now the
intelligent control-minus the complex- OOPic Thisfire -fighting robot, built by OOPic develop-
ity and circuitry overhead of a dedicated While the BASIC Stamp is a favorite er Scott Savage, uses three OOPics wired
microprocessor. Instead of building a among robot enthusiasts, it is not the only together in a network to control the machine
logic circuit out of numerous inverters, game in town. Hardware designers who command, sensors, and locomotion. 55
[ UOPc Ver 1_00 INCI Working with Objects
Fie Edo Is yew Window Help
and the OOPic
Mention the word "object-oriented
. D AooprcASomplc ForNexl osc ea programming" to most folks and they
This program set up a For -Next loop using NETWORK NOEEIO) freeze in terror. Okay, maybe that's an
an oDio8 Object.
+ f_tOFIC
exaggeration, but object- oriented pro-
Din x As Hew oDio8 orlos.x
gramming seems like a black art to
Diw b As Hew oDio8 many, full of confusing words and com-
-.."1311 oDIOB O

Sub wain()
plicated coding techniques. Fortunately,
b.Iogroup - 1 the OOPic avoids the typical pitfalls of
b.Direction - cuoutput
x.Iogroup - 8
object- oriented programming. The
x.Direction - cuoutput OOPic chip currently supports an easy-
Do to -use programming language modeled
For x - 1 To 250 Step 1:Next x
For x - 250 To 1 Step -1:Hext x directly after Microsoft Visual BASIC,
Loop so if you already know VB, you'll be
End Sub
right at home with the OOPic. Future
versions of the OOPic software develop-
ment platform will support C and Java
syntax, for those programmers who pre-
Programs are written for the OOPic using a Windows -based software development platform. You
fer those languages.
open, save, debug, and compile your OOPic programs using pull-down menu commands.
The OOPic VB -like language offers
some 41 programming commands. Not
BASIC Stamp. OOPic-which is an on the OOPic for add -ins such as float- many commands, actually, but it's impor-
acronym for Object- Oriented Pro- ing point math, precision data acquisi- tant to remember that the OOPic doesn't
grammable Integrated Circuit-is said tion, DTMF/modem/musical -tone gen- derive its flexibility from the BASIC com-
to be the first programmable microcon- erator, digital thermometer, and even a mands. Rather, the bulk of the functional-
troller that uses an object-oriented lan- voice synthesizer (currently under devel- ity of the chip comes from its built-in 31
guage. The language used by the OOPic opment). The OOPic's hardware inter- objects. Each of these objects have multi-
is modeled after Microsoft's popular face is an open system; the I2C interface ple properties, methods, and events. You
Visual BASIC. And no, you don't need is published by Philips, allowing any IC manipulate the OOPic's hardware objects
Visual BASIC on your computer to use that uses the I2C interface to "talk" to by working with those properties, meth-
the OOPic; the OOPic programming the OOPic. ods, and events; the BASIC commands
environment is completely stand- alone, While the hardware capabilities of are used for program flow.
and available free. the OOPic are attractive, its main bene-
OOPic has built-in support for 31 fit is what it offers robot hackers: Much
input/output (I/O) lines. With few excep- of the core functionality required for rr
tions, any of the lines can serve as any kind
of hardware interface-using what the
robot control is already embedded in the
chip. That'll save you time in writing

OOPic documentation calls "hardware and testing your robot control pro-
grams. Instead of several dozen lines of Fig.]. The OOPic can source or sink up to 25
objects." Digital 1/0 lines can be addressed
mA/per I/O line. This sample circuit drives an
individually or by nibble (4 bits), byte (8 code to operate an RC servo, which is
LED directly. Transistors or bridges are needed
bits), or byword (16 bits). The OOPic also the case with the BASIC Stamp, you when driving a large relay or a motor.
supports pre -defined objects that serve as need about four lines when program-
analog -to-digital conversion inputs, serial ming the OOPic.
inputs/outputs, pulse -width modulation A second important benefit is that Here's an example OOPic program
outputs, timers/ counters, RC servo con- OOPic's various hardware objects are written in the chip's native BASIC lan-
trollers, and 4x4 -matrix keypad inputs. multitasking, which means they run guage. I'll review what each line does
The device can even be networked with independently and concurrently of one following the code sample. This short
other OOPics, as well as with other com- another. You might command a servo in program flashes a red LED on and off
ponents that support the Philips 12C net- your robot to go to a particular location. once a second. Figure 1 shows how to
work interface. Just give the command in a single state- connect the LED and a current- limiting
resistor to I/O line 1 (pin 7 on the 1/0
The OOPic comes with a 4K EEP-
ROM for program storage, but memory
capacity can be expanded to 32K, which
ment; your program is then free to acti-
vate other functions of your robot
such as move another servo, start the
- connector) of the OOPic.

will hold some 32,000 instructions. The main drive motors, and so forth. Once Dim RedLED As New oDiol
EEPROM is "hot swappable," meaning started by your program, all of the func-
that you can change EEPROM chips tions are carried out autonomously by Sub Main
even while the OOPic is on and run- the objects embedded within the RedLED.IOLine = 1
ning. When a new EEPROM is inserted OOPic. That simplifies the task of pro- RedLED.Direction = cvOutput
into the socket, the program stored in it gramming and makes the OOPic capa- Do
is immediately started. ble of coordinating many hardware con- RedLED.Value = OOPic.Hzl
56 Additional connectors are provided nections at the same time. Loop
End Sub TABLE 1-PROPERTIES OF THE OOPic OOPic using a pro-
SYSTEM OBJECTS prietary but free
These lines comprise a complete, work- development soft-
ing program. Here's the program bro- ware. The develop-
OOPIc Property What It Does
ken down: ment software works
Specifies the source of the voltage
ExtVRef reference for the analog to digital under Windows 9x
Dim RedLED As New oDiol and NT, and self-
Hzl 1 -bit value that cycles every 1 Hz. installs all necessary
The Dim statement creates a new Hz60 system files.
1 -bit value that cycles every 60Hz.
instance of a particular kind of digital I/O To program
Used when two or more OOPics
object. That I/O object, referred to as "talk" to each other via the I2C the OOPic you con-
oDiol, has already been defined within Node network. A Node value of more nect a cable between
the OOPic. All of the behaviors of this than 0 is the OOPic's I2C network the parallel port of
object have been pre -programmed; your address. your PC and the pro-
job is to select the behavior you want Operate Specifies the power mode of the gramming port of the
and activate the object. Note that all of OOPic. OOPic. The pro-
the OOPic's object names start with a Pause Specifies if the program flow is gramming cable is
lower -case letter O, such as oDio1, suspended.
PullUp provided as part of
oServo, and oPWM. Specifies the state of the internal
pull -up resistors on I/O lines 8-15. the OOPic Starter
Reset Resets the OOPic. Package ($49), or you
Sub Main() can make your own
StartStat Indicates the cause of the last
OOPic reset. following the
End Sub instructions provided
on the OOPic home
The main body of every OOPic pro- OOPic objects is Hzl, which is a one -bit page (www. oopic.com). Once you've writ-
gram resides within a subroutine called value that changes the state of an I/O ten a program in the development soft-
Main. OOPic BASIC permits you to add line (goes from high to low) once a sec- ware, you then compile and download it
additional subroutines to your program, ond. Table 1 describes other properties through the programming cable. The
but every program must have a Main of the OOPic system object you may OOPic is then ready to begin executing
subroutine. As with Microsoft's Visual find useful. your program. Because the OOPic
BASIC, you refer to subroutines by stores the downloaded program in non-
name. Using and Programming the volatile EEPROM, the program will
OOPic remain in the OOPic's memory until
RedLED.IOLine = 1 Other than a 6-12 volt DC power you erase it and replace it with another.
RedLED.Direction = cvOutput source no other components are
required to begin using the OOPic. For OOPic Objects Ideal for
Those two lines set up the I/O line adequate current handling, if you want Robotics
connected to the RedLED object. In to use battery power, I suggest you use a Though the OOPic is meant as a
this case, we've defined that the set of eight Alkaline "AA" batteries in a general purpose micro- controller, many
RedLED object is connected to I/O line suitable holder. The OOPic Starter of its objects are ideally suited for use
1, and that this object will serve as an Package comes with a nine -volt transis- with robotics. Of the built -in objects of
output (cvOutput is a pre- defined con- tor battery clip; you can use this clip the OOPic, the aA2D, oDiox, oKeypad,
stant; you don't need to define its value with RadioShack's 270 -387 eight cell oPWM, oSerial, and oServo objects are
ahead of time). All digital I/O lines can "AA" battery holder. The holder has probably the most useful for robotics
be defined as either input or output. The connectors for the transistor battery work. In the descriptions below, the
OOPic does not reserve certain lines as clip. term properties refer to behaviors of an
outputs, and others as inputs. Programs are developed for the object, such as reading or setting the
current value of an I/O line.
Do Analog-to- Digital Conversion -The
RedLED.Value = OOPic.Hzl ON THE WEB oA2D object converts a voltage present
Loop on an I/O line and compares it to a ref-
OOPic Home Page erence voltage. It then generates a digi-
The statement RedLED.Value =
The OOPic retails for $39 (the tal value, which represents the percent-
OOPic.Hz1 makes the LED flash once a age of the voltage in relation to the ref-
OOPi _ Starter Kit is $49, and includes
second. The Do loop is used to keep the erence voltage. The Operate property of
programming cable and battery clip).
program running. Without that loop, the oA2D object initiates the conver-
the LED would flash once, and the pro- BASIC Stamp sion, and the Value property is updated
gram would end. Note the OOPic.Hz1 www. p arallaxinc.coral with the result of the conversion.
value that is assigned to the RedLED There are four physical A2D circuits
object: OOPic is a built -in "system Philips I2C Component Network implemented within the OOPic, avail-
object" that is always available to your Interface able on I/O lines 1 through 4.
programs. One of the properties of the www- iu2. semiconductors.philips.com/i2c/
(Continued on page 66) 57

Pezo-FIm Transducers

Piezo (pronounced pe'azo) electric
film, despite being around for a
e 00 0
number of years, is not used much by
electronic hobbyists. The piezoelectric
effect was discovered in 1880 by Pierre
Curie and his brother Paul Jean using
QO e
O D O D'0J
\F C/ \

Rochelle salt. The piezoelectric effect is C-C/ \

alf e.00
a phenomenon that allows certain crys- H \H H

talline or ceramic materials to act as a

transducer at audio and radio frequen- O
cies. When subjected to mechanical
stress (bending, flexing, etc.), piezoelec-
tric material generates an electrical cur- A
rent. On the flipside, when subjected to
an electric voltage, piezoelectric materi-
als vibrate, producing sound or ultra-
The piezoelectric processes can be
found at work in the most obscure
places. For instance, the bones that

make up the human skeletal system \-C --C -C -

exhibit piezoelectric properties. That is 00000000000
to say, charges -which help keep the
skeletal system healthy -are generated
when bones are stressed through normal
activity and movement. Medical doctors,
recognizing the potential, are presently
using that knowledge to help bones knit SUPPLY
in difficult breaks and fractures, which
are common in elderly patients. For that
reason, the medical community recently Fig. 1. In its natural state, the molecular structure of the plastic material is randomly oriented, as
began using an ultrasound device in the illustrated in A. Stretching the film polarizes and aligns the molecular structure of the plastic (as
area of the break. When ultrasound is shown in B), producing an extremely thin and flimsy film.
directed toward the fracture site, the
vibrations generated enhance the knit- randomly oriented. Stretching the film resulting piezoelectric film is light-
ting of bone material. polarizes and aligns the molecular struc- weight and very flexible; it can be easily
ture of the plastic (as shown in Fig. 1B). cut with a scissors and glued to shaped
Piezoelectric Film Properties At this point, the raw film is extremely designs. Finally, electrical connectors
Piezoelectric film is really fun material thin and flimsy. are attached to the conductive coating.
to play with, and a great way to learn about As the process continues, a thin layer (Note: Although most transducers
piezoelectric effect. Piezoelectric materi- of conductive nickel- copper metal is already have wire leads connected to the
als are made of polyvinylidene fluoride deposited on each side of the film. The film, if one needs to make a connection
plastic (hydrogen, fluoride, and carbon) nickel copper makes the piezoelectric to raw film, you should use silver epoxy
film. The film is endowed with piezo- film resemble aluminum foil. While the or conductive copper tape.)
electric properties by stretching the lamination inhibits the film's sensitivity Piezoelectric film has a voltage out-
plastic while it is placed under a high - to vibration, that factor is far out- put about ten times greater than ceram-
poling voltage. As shown in Fig 1A, in its weighed by the greatly increased ic material. It is mechanically strong and
58 natural state, the molecular structure is ruggedness of the transducer. The impact resistant. One disadvantage to


Fig. 2. In this experiment, a 0.63- X 2.9- X 0.008 -inch laminated piezoelectric film transducer is
converted into a microphone by scotch taping it to the bottom of a Styrofoam cup.

piezoelectric film is that it makes a Good mechanical stren

rather weak electromechanical transmit- Moisture resistant, inert to many
ter when compared to ceramic materials. chemicals. PIEZO -TRANSDUCER
Other film attributes include: Piezoelectric film produces a greater Fig. 4. Flicking the transducer back and forth,
Wide Frequency Range: 0.001 Hz to voltage output when an impact stretches as illustrated here, causes the neon lamp to
1 GHz. rather than compresses the film. strobe as long as the motion continues.
Low Acoustical Impedance close to
water and human tissue. (This enhances Quick Microphone Neon Light Demonstration
efficiency for sonar and ultrasound For our experiments we'll use a lam- The piezoelectric -film transducer
imaging.) inated piezoelectric film "transducer," can easily output 60- 100 -volt pulses. If
High dielectric strength. with an overall size of 0.63 X 2.9 X the output is connected to an oscillo-
0.008 inches thick (including laminate). scope, flicking the end of the transducer
The transducer can be turned into a can generate pulse heights reaching 100
microphone by taping it to the bottom volts or more. If an oscilloscope is not
of a Styrofoam cup, as shown in Fig. 2. available, the output can be demonstrat-
3300 The output of the microphone can be ed by soldering a small neon lamp to the
magnified by feeding the output of the output leads of the transducer. The leads
47 "microphone" to a FET-based pream- from the transducer should he about 1-
plifier, like that shown in Fig. 3A. The
signal can then be boosted further by PARTS LIST FOR THE AUDIO
R3 R2 applying the putout of the preamp to a POWER AMPLIFIER (FIG. 3B)
100K 10K
simple audio amplifier, built around an
LM386 audio-power amplifier (see Fig. IC1 -LM386 audio -power amplifier,
3B) or other inexpensive audio amplifier integrated circuit (RS# 277-1008)
(such as the RadioShack unit listed in R1- 10,000 -ohm, 1/4 -watt, 5%
the Parts List). resistcr
R2- 10 -chm, 1/4 -watt, 5% resistor
PARTS LIST FOR THE FET C1- 220 -F, 25 -WVDC, electrolytic
PREAMP (FIG. 3A) capacitor
C2- 0.47 -1,LF ceramic -disc capacitor
Q1- 2N3819 general -purpose field - SPKR1- Piezoelectric film speaker
effect transistor (RS# 276 -2035 or (see text)
equivalent) Printed -circuit board or perfboard
R1 -330 -ohm, 114 -watt, 5% resistor materials, hook-up wire, solder,
R2- 10,000 -ohm, 1/4 -watt, 5% hardware, etc.
res stor Note: The following items are avail-
B R3- 100,000-ohm, 1/4-watt, 5% able frDm Images Company, 39
res stor Seneca Loop, Staten Island, NY
Fig. 3. The signal produced by the Styrofoam 10314 Tel. 718- 698 -8305;
C1- 47 -F, 12 -WVDC, non- polar-
microphone can be magnified by feeding the
ized, electrolytic capacitor Piezoelectric transducer (part #
output of the "microphone" to a FET-based Piezo transducer, printed- circuit PZ -03' for $7.50; Piezoelectric
preamplifier, like that shown in A. The signal speaker for $30.00; miniature
board or perfboard materials,
can then be boosted further by applying the step -up transformer with data
hook -up wire, solder, hardware,
putout of the preamp to a simple audio amplifi- etc. sheet for $7.50; and neon
er, like that shown in B. lamp $1.
MICROPHONE OR that experiment, however, be sure not to similar manner. The output of the trans-
short circuit the lamp with your fingers former is then connected to the transduc-
placed across the output wires, neon er. Apply power to the circuit and then
lamp, or transducer terminals. Such a speak into the microphone. You should
short would prevent the lamp from hear your voice coming through the
lighting. (No, you will not feel a shock. homemade piezoelectric film "speaker."
AMPLIFIER The current is too minuscule.) A speaker can be manufactured from
a piece of piezoelectric film, measuring 3
Piezoelectric Film Speaker X 6 inches. That's sufficient surface area

T1 When an electric field is applied to to generate a better volume of sound

piezoelectric film it deforms (flexes) -a than the smaller transducer. Experiment
property that can be manipulated to with the piezoelectric speaker by gently
SPEAKER produce a piezoelectric -film speaker. curving the material and see what radius
While our transducer doesn't have the gives the best frequency response. The
surface area to output a large volume of piezoelectric film can be attached to air -
Fig. S. The output of a small audio amplifier, as sound, we can still squeak a few sounds or helium-filled balloons to create a
shown here, can be fed through a step -up trans- out of it. The material requires a high - unique speaker.
former to boost the signal to a level sufficient to voltage audio signal to work. To accom- Piezoelectric film is made into a vari-
drive the transducer. Any sound picked up by the plish that, the output of your sound ety of sizes and shapes for all manner of
microphone will be reproduced by the transducer source (audio amplifier) must be fed applications. For example, there are
through a step -up transformer before its piezoelectric switches, transducers,
inch long. application to the piezoelectric film. buzzers, coax cables , and the like on the
Flicking the transducer back and As illustrated in Fig. 5, the output of a market. And the future is sure to give
forth, as illustrated in Fig. 4, will cause small audio amplifier, which is available rise to many more.
the neon lamp to strobe as long as the from RadioShack, is fed through its r/8- Well, that's about all the space allot-
motion is continued. If you have any dif- inch external speaker jack to a step -up ted to us for this month's experiments.
ficulty seeing the neon lamp flash, bring transformer, Tl. If you prefer to use a But be sure to join us next time around.
the apparatus into a darkened room and home -built amplifier, say, one based on In the meantime, why not perform a
repeat the experiment. the LM386 audio-power amplifier (or its couple of piezoelectric experiments, and
The neon lamp will also flicker by equivalent), connect the output of the let us know how things worked out.
simply bending the transducer. If you try amplifier to the step -up transformer in a Good luck.



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rMail coupon to:
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P.O. Box 240 Massapequa Park, NY 11762 -0240
'sine, left to right!
';-Every component on the schematic has callow Please send me my copy of Coil Design and Construction Manual
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Temperature Measurements,
Thermocouple Fundamentals, Gambling
Simulation, Working With Newsgroups,
and More
We sure seem to have lots of perature is fairly linear over limited connect a thermocouple to a system.
superb new ways to sense tem- ranges. Much of the remaining nonlin- The simplest and safest method is to use
perature lately. Dallas Semiconductor earity is well known, stable, monotonic, identical conductor materials all the way
has all sorts of low -cost, linear, self-con- and easily corrected. through. Every time you add a connec-
ditioning, single -chip solutions that A thermocouple is simply a sensor or tor or new conductors, you add unwant-
work very well over "normal" tempera- a probe made from two dissimilar metals ed thermoelectric offsets. All of those
tures in "friendly" environments. Some or alloys that are in contact with each offsets must be properly and fully
log or store their own data. other. Figure 1 shows a typical thermo- accounted for.
A few examples now include their couple setup. Long ago and far away, Thermoelectric potentials are all
DS1621, DS1624, and DS1820. Details thermocouples were used in pairs. The compared against lead. Table 1 shows
on those and similar offerings from first sensor in the series bucking pair was the microvolts per degree that you can
Analog Devices, Holtek, National, placed in an ice bath and the temp dif- expect from various common materials
Maxim, Philips, Toko, and others can be ference was sensed. In most new sys- along with the first-order linearity cor-
found at www.questlink.com or at tems, a cold reference of a few millivolts rection. To find how any junction
www.chipcentercom. Those sites also offer is often substituted instead. behaves, add up the positive and nega-
application notes and samples. At one time, amplifiying an offset tive lead results.
But there are times when you need to microvolt -sized DC signal was a bear of Using those figures should tell you
measure extreme temperatures, are stuck a problem, but we now have single chips that a cold -junction, compensated, type
with a nasty environment, or have to reuse that can do the whole job from Analog "T" copper-constantan thermocouple
older industrial test gear. For those uses, Devices, Dallas, Linear Technology, should output
the traditional thermocouples are often a Maxim and others that make the task
good choice. So, we seem to be way past hassle free. -5.54 millivolts at -200 C
due for an introductory... Because any two contacting metals -3.35 millivolts at -100 C
do generate a thermoelectric voltage, +0.00 millivolts at 0 C
Thermocouple Review you have to be extra careful how you +4.28 millivolts at 100 C
If two dissimilar metals or alloys are +9.29 millivolts at 200 C
placed in contact with each other, the +14.9 millivolts at 300 C
Seebeck Effect generates a small voltage NEED HELP? +20.9 millivolts at 400 C
that is dependent upon the absolute con- Phcne or write all your US Tech
tact temperature. For instance, copper Musings questions to:
As you can see, the linearity seems
contacting a constantan alloy (an alloy of Don Lancaster pretty good but not great. The easiest
60% copper and 40% nickel that is used Synergetics way to correct for that is with a table -
extensively in strain gauges) will gener- Box 809 -EN
Thatcher AZ, 85552
lookup readout that is stored in an EEP-
ate around seven millivolts at room tem- ROM. That exciting Maxim MAX1457
Tel: 520 -428-4073
perature. Voltage increases by 40 micro- and its offspring seem especially adept at
volts per degree C or so as the tempera- US email: don @tinaja.com
Web page: http: / /www.tinaja.com
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thermocouples grouped to recover, say, A novel little simulation program
exhaust heat from a car would never called the Gambler's Ruin appears as a Thoughts on Newsgroups
come remotely near to getting back all PostScript -as- language example in I'm still amazed how many of my
of the energy used in manufacture -let Listing 1. Suppose you and I start with helpline callers still have never heard of
alone being able to pay for themselves. ten coins each and run a "fair" coin -flip- Usenet newsgroups and do not tap this
But thermoelectrics can (although ping game till somebody has all of the highly useful resource.
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what ?" needs for modest quantities of On the average, you would expect to cial- interest chat room or message
power, such as on an arctic expedition, win half of the time. Now, we will make forum. There are many tens of thou-
for precision power measurement, or to a seemingly minor change. The house sands to pick from. Examples of news-
generate enough current from a gas starts with 100 coins and the "mark" has groups that I personally use are:
flame to run a safety shutoff. only 10. Now who wins?
There is a second thermoelectric Surprisingly, the mark now wins less comp.lang. postscript
response known as the Peltier effect. than ten percent of the time. If the comp..ystems.apple2
This applies the bulk-carrier -migration house starts with 10,000 coins, the mark comp. _text.pdf
property of bismuth telluride or other never wins! At least not so as you'd ever sci. electronics. misc
special semiconductors. Those devices notice. The mark may temporarily get sci. electronics.design
rarely see use for cooling devices. Again, way ahead, but they never win. The sci. electronics. repair
they are hopelessly inefficient with point being that any mark who bets sci. electronics. equipment
known materials, so they are restricted against everything that can be gambled sci.energy.hydrogen
to the most arcane of low -power uses. on is absolutely certain to lose big time. sci. engineering. illumination
More on the Peltier effect is found in That model plays out two million sci.math
http://www.tinaja.com/glib/ratholes.pdf games. Every thousand games, the sci.optics
mark's winnings are reported to the PS sci. physics
Some Thermoelectric Books log file as a percentage. You can easily
I've gathered together some books change each side's coin starts or the Newsgroups are useful for helping
about thermocouples, thermoelectrics, number of games. As usual, you enter "newbies," solving strange problems,
and temperature measurement in gener- the program in any word processor or matching up buyers and sellers for
al for you as this month's resource side- editor and then route it to Acrobat arcane equipment, or for picking up all
bar. You can find more details or order Distiller or GhostScript. The ready -to- of the secret insider stuff of software
these titles by going to www.tinaja.com/ run code is at http://www.tinaja.com /post bugs, defects, or "gotchas."
amlink0l.html. 01.html. There are several methods to find 63

Type Positive Composition Negative Composition Features

Type B platinum 30% rhodium platinum 6% rhodium Easily contaminated.
Requires careful protection.
Used at higher temperatures +1400 to +1700 C, +2500 to +3500 F.

Type C tungsten 5% rhenium tungsten 26% rhenium Works at extremely high temperatures.
No oxidation resistance.
Needs vacuum, hydrogen, or inert atmospheres +1650 to
+2315 C, +3000 to +4200 F.
Type E chromel constantan Highest output of base.
Does not corrode at cyrogenic temperatures +95 metal thermo-
couples to +900 C, +200 to +1650 F.
Type J iron constantan Most popular general use thermocouple.
Can "rust" in oxidizing environments +95 to +760 C, +200 to
+1400 F.
Type K chromel alumel Good kiln thermocouple in oxidizing atmospheres +95 to +1260
C, +200 to +2300 F.

Type N Nicrosil Alumel Resists sulfur.

Kiln usable +650 to +1260 C, +1200 to +2300 F.
Type R platinum 13% rhodium pure platinum For high temperature oxidizing atmospheres.
Easily contaminated +870 to +1450 C, +1600 to +2640 F.

Type S platinum 10% rhodium pure platinum Laboratory standard.

Easily contaminated +980 to +1450 C, +1800 to +2640 F.

Type T constantan copper Most stable at cyrogenic temperatures.

Useful from 200 to +350 degrees C, -330 to +660 F.

newsgroups. Your ISP might already worth bothering with. precede your message with "an:" that's
offer them in their basic service to you. Unless their name ends in ".market- the signal for an announcement of a
They might charge a nominal ($0.50 to place," direct selling or blatantly obvious product or service that is available. "fs:"
$3) monthly surcharge. If you are using promotion are both no -no's on most handles for sale and the new "fa:" takes
an ISP, just use your mail and news newsgroups, especially when they're also care of auctions like eBay.
client -like Netscape Mail's "Subscribe" off topic. There are secret incantations It is also usually permissible to add a
button-to generate a list of 18,000 to that insiders use to sell their stuff with- commercial "please visit" tagline in the
30,000 or more groups. Then click on out offending too many people. If you message or in your sig file. Keep every-
any of the groups that you might find to
be of interest. Finally, double check on
the traffic and make sure that the con-
tent and usefulness are as you thought. % THE "GAMBLER'S RUIN" IN POSTSCRIPT
Alternately, you might make good
use of www.deja.com /home_ps.shtml for Copyright c 2000 by Don Lancaster and Synergetics, Box 809, Thatcher, AZ, 85552
% 520 -428 -4073 don @tinaja.com http: //www.tinaja.com
newsgroup access. That service also
% Consulting services available per http://www.tinaja.com/info01.html
archives everything that has ever been % All commercial rights and all electronic media rights fully reserved.
said about anything. While Deja is more Personal use permitted provided header and entire file remains intact.
ungainly than direct access, it should % Linking is welcome. Reposting expressly forbidden.
easily reach even the most obscure of % This PostScript -as- language example simulates the "gambler's ruin ".
groups. % It shows how bet outcomes change dramatically when one side has got
Deja is also especially useful to tell significantly more resources than the other.
/win 0 def % mark's wins
you which groups may be of help to you. /loss 0 def % mark's losses
The answer often is already there. You /housecoins 100 def % house initial stake
can also scope out what another news -
group author's posting history has been.
/markcoins 10 def % mark initial stake
/random {rand 65536 div 32768 div mul cvi} def % as in -6 random -
Deja is also conveniently reached from /play {markcoins {2 random % flip coin
my deja button over at www.tinaja.com. 1 ge {1 add } {1 sub} ifelse % adjust mark's stash
You can also start your own Deja dup 0 It {pop /loss loss % exit if loss
1 add store exit }if
forum. Details are on their site. dup markcoins housecoins add gt % exit if win
Since anybody can participate, the {pop /win win add store exit}if

quality varies all over the lot. Some }loop} def % play till win or lose
newsgroups yield nothing but porno 2000 { % start 2,000,000 play loop
links and really dumb get- rich -quick 1000 { play} repeat % play 1000 games
schemes. Others rarely get above the win loss win add div % find mark's wins
100 mul == flush % convert to percent
intellectual level of some fifth -grade
} repeat % and then report
playground brawl. Yet others simply do In this example, the mark should win just under 10% of the time.
64 not have nearly enough traffic to be
thing super short. NAMES AND NUMBERS
Several tips: Never respond to any
Advanced Circuits Microchip Technology
person who is using some alias or is hid- 21100 E. 33rd St. 2355 W. Chandler Blvd
ing their true address. Several of those Aurora, CO 80011 Chandler, AZ 85224
individuals seem clearly a few chips shy 800 -289 -1724 480 -786 -7200
of a full board. Should you offend them, www.4pcb. corn www.microchip.com
at least a few have been known to anony-
mously tell your boss about all your out- Allegro Micro Systems National Semiconductor
Box 15036 2900 Semiconductor Rd.
standing kiddyporn warrants, whether Worcester, MA 01605 Santa Clara, CA 95052
they exist or not. Sad but true. 508-853 -5000 800 -272-9959
Use Deja News to make sure you are www. allegromicro. corn www.nationaLcom
not asking something that has already
gotten answered many times. Think Analog Devices Omega Engineering
about all of your messages before you PO Box 9106 One Omega Dr.
Norwood, MA 02062 Stamford, CT 06907
post them. Always double check your
800 -262 -5643 800 -848-4286
spelling. Pause before clicking! Always www.analog.com www. omega. corn
ask yourself the key question "My mes-
sage is now going into Deja News where Dallas Semiconductor Philips
it will stay forever. Do I really want to do 4401 Beltwood Pkwy S. 2001 W. Blue Heron Blvd.
this ?" Dallas, TX 75244 Riviera Beach, FL 33404
Never use binary files or any other 972-450 -0400 407 -881 -3200
www.dalsemi.com www. philips. corn
attachments of any sort. If you need
more content, use links instead. Disc Makers Pressurex/SPl
Always respond to your group and 7905 N. Crescent Blvd. 188 Rt. 10, Ste. 307
never to the individual. Although the Pennsauken, NJ 08110 East Hanover, NJ 07936
group can be influenced, often the indi- 800 -237-6666 800 -755 -2201
vidual can not. Be sure to let the other www. discmakers. corn www. sensorprod. corn
side post the last message.
Fibersense /Fog Horn Stemgas Publishers
Always ignore "flamers" (those who
755 Dedham St. PO Box 328
seem rude or insulting) and "trolls" Canton, MA 02081 Lancaster, PA 17608
(those that intentionally use outrageous 781 -830 -9690 717- 392 -0733
posts to yank your chain). www.fibersense.com
Repeated responses should rarely Synergetics
exist at all. But, if you feel you must, Holtek/Holmate Technology Box 809
always take them offline and make use of 1342 Ridder Park Dr. Thatcher, AZ 85552
San Jose, CA 95131 520-428 -4073
private email instead.
408 -573 -8050 www.tinaja.com
The first way to deal with flamers www. holtek. com
and trolls is to use your killfile so that Toko
they don't even appear on your screen or Linear Technology 1250 Feehanville Drive
simply by never so much as reading any- 1630 McCarthy Blvd. Mt Prospect, IL 60056
thing that they post. The second is a Milpitas, CA 95035 847-297 -0070
sneaky trick I call deraveling a troll. Let 408 -432 -1900 www. tokoam. com
www.linear-tech. com
somebody else respond to the thread,
Watlow Controls
then respond to the respondee. Maxim 12001 Lackland Rd.
Carefully remove any and all previous 120 San Gabriel Dr. St Louis, MO 63146
mention of the troll or their points. Sunnyvale, CA 94086 800 -4- WATLOW
Redirect the thread into benign and 800 -998 -8800 www. watlow.com
informative group tutorial material, use- www. maxim -ic. com
ful links, or whatever else works. Wavetek
Micrel Semiconductor 11995 El Camino Real #301
A second useful troll defense is to 1849 Fortune Drive San Diego, CA 92130
strengthen the middle. Post factual San Jose, CA 95131 619- 793-2300
and relevant mainstream information. 408 -944 -0800 www.netsvcom/wavetek
Use sources with lots of solid refer- www.micrel.com
ences-like Tech Musings. Do so
often. That will make the sideshows
painfully obvious. Eventually, all of and negative comment. All that does is confirm that you are a
the two- headed calves should leave of As the old saying goes, "Iffen yew total idiot. Use an .alt group (such as
their own accord. cain't hunt with the big dawgs, stay on alt.energy.hydrogen or alt.energy.overznzity)
Note that extreme politeness and the porch." instead.
professional decorum is demanded in It is also wildly inappropriate to post More on newsgroups can be found at
most .sci newsgroups. The intent of .sci off-the-wall pseudoscientific or other http://www.tinaja.conz/glib/resbn 60.pdf
groups is to purposely seek out criticism unsupportable claims to any .sci group. /
and http: /www.tinaja.com /glib/resbn73.pdf. 65
SOME SELECTED bang out of this one! groups, and one 16 -bit group.
THERMOMETRY BOOKS From Advanced Circuits comes a Keypad Input-The oKeypad object
promotional CD on their printed -circuit splits two sets of four I/O lines in order
CRC Handbook of Thermoelectrics production capabilities. CD -ROM man- to read a standard 4x4 -keypad matrix.
(D.Rowe) ufacturing info is available from Disc The four row lines are individually and
Electronic Refrigeration (H. Goldsmid) sequentially set low (0 volts) while the
Makers including all of those new busi-
Fundamentals of Temperature
Measurement (Robert Benedict) ness -card size 250 -Megabyte CDs. four column lines are used to read which
Handbook of Temperature Measurement Details on fiber-optic gyroscopes switch is pressed within that row.
(Robin Bentley) appear in the free and aptly-named Fog If any switch is pressed, the Value
Industrial Temperature Measurement Horn magazine from Fibersense property of the Keypad object is updat-
(Thomas Kerlin) Technology. ed with the value of the switch; a
Measurement of Temperature and Stemgas Publishers offers a wide Received property is used to indicate
Humidity (W. Wylie )
variety of books and other tricky -to-find that at least one button of the keypad is
Measurements in Flames (J. Chedaille)
info on steam tractors and other antique pressed. Once all keys are released, the
Practical Thermocouple Thermometry
(Thomas W. Kerlin) agricultural machinery. Received property is cleared to O.
Principles of Temperature Measurement From Sensor Products comes a new Pulse Width Modulation -The
(Thomas McGee) line of Pressurex Tactile pressure films. oPWM object provides a convenient
Temperature Measurement (Amer Society Their stuff changes color whenever you pulse -width modulated (PWM) output,
for Testing) stress it, making for all sorts of great suitable for driving motors (through an
Temperature Measurement (Bela Liptak) appropriate external transistor output
mechanical studies. Ranges go from 28
Theory and Properties of Thermocouple
to 18,500 psi. stage, of course). The oPWM object lets
Elements (D. Pollock)
Thermocouple Temperature Measurement For most individuals and smaller- you specify the I/O line to use-up to
(P.Kinzie ) scale startups most of the time, any two at a time for PWM output-the
Thermoelectric Materials (Marshall Sittig ) involvement with patents is virtually cycle frequency, and the pulse width.
Thermoelectric Materials 1998: The Next certain to end up as a net loss of your Asynchronous Serial Port-The oSerial
Generation (T. Tritt) time, energy, money, and sanity. Find object transmits and receives data at a baud
Thermoelectricity: Theory, Thermometry, rate specified by the Baud property, The
Tools (D. Pollock )
out why along with my tested and
proven solutions in my "Case Against baud rate can be either 1200, 2400, or 9600
Use of Thermocouples in Temperature
Measurement (ASTM) Patents" package as per my Synergetics baud. The oSerial object is used to com-
ad or at www.tinaja.com/patnt0l.html. municate with other serial devices, such as
For more book details, see I've just added a whole load of really a PC or a serial LCD display.
www.tinaja.com/amlink01.html fine Wavetek 145 function generators, RC Servo Control-The oServo object
premium accelerometers, and robotic outputs a servo control pulse on any I/O
New Tech Lit electric brakes to my bargain pages at line. The servo control pulse is tailored
Microchip Technology has recently www.tinaja.com/bargOl.html. To get to control a standard radio -controlled
started up a retail online store, which "cash-and -carry" tech research help, (RC) servo and is capable of generating a
should once and for all eliminate the visit www.tinaja.com/infoOl.html. logical high -going pulse from 0 to 3ms
hassles in getting their great PIC chips, As usual, most of the referenced in duration in 'hms increments.
however obscure. Go to www.micro items are in our Names & Numbers or A typical servo requires a 5 -volt pulse
chip.com for full details. Thermometry Books sidebars. Be sure in the range of 0.66ms to 2.33ms in
As we have seen before, just about to check there first before calling our duration. This allows for a rotational
any newer semiconductor sample can be no -fee US tech helpline. P range of 180 degrees. The duration of
gotten at www.questlink.com or at the control pulse is determined by set-
www.chipcentercom. You can reach both ting the Value, Center, and InvertOut
sites through the appropriate buttons on ROBOTICS WORKSHOP properties of the oServer object. The
my www.tinaja.com Web site. (continued from page 57) Value property controls the position of
From Toko, there are two new data the servo while the Center property
books: Power Conversion ICs and Coils dy adjusts the control pulse time to com-
Filters. From Allegro Microsystems, a Digital I/O- Several digital I/O pensate for mechanical alignment. An
new CD ROM data book on lots of Hall objects are provided in 1 -, 4 -, 8 -, or 16- InvertOut property reverses the direc-
devices and interface circuits. From bit blocks. In the case of the 1 -bit I/O tion that the servo turns in response to
Micrel comes their new MIC502 fan object (named oDio1), the Value prop- the Value and Center properties.
management chip. Analog Devices has erty of the oDio object represents the That's all the room we have this
also released their New Products electrical state of a single I/O line. In the month. Next time we'll continue our
Update condensed data book. case of the remaining digital I/O objects, discussion of the OOPic, including the
One useful far infrared tutorial site is the Value property presents the binary use of virtual circuits, which allow you to
www.intrel.com. For HDTV info, see value of all the lines of the group (4, 8, programmatically link together objects
web-starcom/hdtv/hdtvnewsl.html. Note or 16, depending on the object used). in the same way you'd physically connect
that there's no "www" in that last URL. There are 31 physical 1 -bit I/O lines electronic components to build a real -
The Web site for the Pyrotechnics that are implemented within the OOPic. world circuit. We'll also present a basic
Guild International can be found at The OOPic microcontroller offers six project using the oServo object to con-
66 www.pgi.org/html. You should get a real physical 4 -bit I/O groups, three 8-bit trol several RC servo motors. P

555 Applications
One of the most popular and uni-
8 7 6 5
versal integrated circuits to
come down the solid -state highway is
without a doubt the 555 oscillator /timer.
There are several versions of the 555 -
available in single, dual, CMOS, etc. The
555, along with its dual cousin-the 556, FLIP -FLOP
which incorporates two 555 oscillator/ OUTPUT
timers into a single 14-pin DIP pack-
age-are probably the most popular ver-
sions. But coming up fast is a CMOS
version of the 555, which draws much
less power.
The 555 family is an excellent choice
when an accurate timer or oscillator is
required. In timing applications, a single GND TR OUT RS
external resistor-capacitor (RC) network 1 I 2 3 4
is all that's required to set the chip's tim-
ing (delay) period. In a similar vein, Fig. 1. This functional block diagram reveals that the 555 is made up of a pair of comparators, a
flip-flop, an output circuit, and several resistors.
when operated as an astable oscillator,
only two resistors and a single capacitor
are required to set the circuit's operating of an outside source, the circuit's timing Lowering the voltage at pin 5 reduces the
frequency. Standard single and dual ver- changes, as well as the operating frequen- capacitor's charge time, increasing the
sions of the 555 can source or sink up to cy. Increasing the voltage at pin 5 increas- operating frequency. Using pin 5 in that
200 mA and are capable of driving es the charging time of the frequency- way turns the 555 basic astable oscillator
almost all digital ICs. The CMOS ver- determining capacitor, thereby, lowering into a voltage- controlled oscillator.
sion can sink up to 100 mA and source a the circuit's operating frequency.
maximum of 10 mA of current. Basic 555 VCO
+9-12V A schematic diagram of a basic 555
A Look At The 555 voltage -controlled oscillator (VCO) is
Figure 1 shows a functional block
diagram of the 555 oscillator /timer. PARTS LIST FOR THE BASIC
Note from the block diagram that that 555 VCO (FIG. 2)
control-voltage terminal (pin 5, desig-
nated cv) is connected to the negative RESISTORS
( -) input of comparator "A." In most (All fixed resistors are 14 -watt, 5%
555 applications, the CV terminal is sel- units.)
dom used; it is often bypassed through a R1- 10,300 -ohm
capacitor to ground. Also note that a c2 R2 -1000 -ohm
4.7 OUTPUT R3- 10,00 -ohm potentiometer
voltage-divider network-comprised of
three resistors stretching from the posi- of CAPACITORS
tive supply to ground -feeds a predeter- C1-0.1 -RF, ceramic-disc
mined percentage of the supply voltage C2-4.7 -F, 16 -WVDC, electrolytic
Fig. 2. In this schematic diagram of a basic 555
to the negative input of comparator "A"
voltage -controlled oscillator, pin 5 of ICI is
and to the positive input of comparator connected to the wiper of ADDITIONAL PARTS AND MATERIALS
a 10,000 -ohm poten-
"B." Those two preset voltages, at the tiometer (R3). The potentiometer is used to vary IC1 -555 oscillator /timer, integrated
inputs of the two comparators, deter- the voltage applied to the control- voltage input circuit
mine the circuit's switching point. (pin 5), thereby altering the circuit's frequency Printed -circuit or perfboard materials,
If the voltage at pin 5 is varied by way of operation. hook-up wire, solder, hardware, etc.
+9 -12V


2 3

-4 R6
+y C3 47

1K Fig. 4. The circuit in Fig. 3 can easily be modified, as shown here, allowing a very small external
signal to modulate the 555's operating frequency. Instead of requiring several volts to modulate the
oscillator, as is the case in the Fig. 3 circuit, only a few millivolts are necessary with this circuit.

operates at a frequency of about 2.3 With the component values given, the
kHz, which drops to less than 400 Hz at circuit oscillates at a frequency ranging
Fig. 3. By connecting pin 5 of the 555 to an 12 volts. That's a frequency range of from about 5 to 35 kHz. The circuit's
external signal source, rather than the poten- about 6 kHz. Using different values for frequency range can be altered by
tiometer used in Fig. 2, the signal output of the Rl and Cl changes the circuit's basic changing the values of R6 and Cl.
circuit can be frequency modulated. The modulating signal should be no
operating -frequency range.
greater than about a quarter (25 %) of the
PARTS LIST FOR THE oscillator's operating frequency; the best
Frequency -Modulated VCO
Our next VCO circuit, see Fig. 3, linearity occurs when the voltage at pin 5
VCO (FIG. 3)
takes advantage of the 555's control - varies less than 20 %. The best modula-
SEMICONDUCTORS voltage terminal by allowing a varying tion linearity can be found by experiment-
-555 oscillator/timer, integrated
IC1 signal to be applied to the 555 to fre- ing with the voltage set at pin 5. That can
circuit quency modulate (FM) its operating fre- be easily accomplished by either varying
LED1- Light- emitting diode. any quency. In our circuit, the oscillator's the value of R3 or R4, or by replacing
color or size output is used to drive an IR LED. Such both with a 2000 -ohm potentiometer.
a configuration can be used for remote -
RESISTORS control applications or voice transmis-
(All fixed resistors are '/a -watt, 5% PARTS LIST FOR THE MODI-
sion. The oscillator's center (unmodulat- FIED FMed VCO (FIG. 4)
R1-R4-1000-ohm ed) operating frequency is set by R5, R6,
R5- 2200 -ohm and Cl, while a voltage divider com- SEMICONDUCTORS
R6- 25,000 -ohm potentiometer prised of R3 and R4 establishes a bias at -555 oscillator/timer, integrated
R7- 150 -ohm pin 5 of one -half of the supply voltage. circuit
Q1- 2N3904 general -purpose NPN
CAPACITORS silicon transistor
C1- 0.01 -F, ceramic -disc +9-12V
16 -WVDC, electrolytic RESISTORS
C3 -47 -F, 16 -WVDC, electrolytic (All fixed resistors are '/4 -watt, 5%
Printed -circuit or perfboard materials, R3- 10,000 -ohm
hook-up wire, solder, hardware, etc. R4- 3300 -ohm
R5- 47,000 -ohm
(1/2 INPUT
R6- 25,000 -ohm potentiometer
shown in Fig. 2. In that circuit configu- FREQUENCY)
ration, pin 5 of IC1 is connected to the OF
wiper of a 10,000 -ohm potentiometer IC1 IN FIG. 4 C1- 0.1 -F, ceramic -disc
C2- 0.22 -F, ceramic -disc
(R3), whose main leads are connected Fig. 5. This simple circuit, comprised of half qt 16 -WVDC, electrolytic
across the power source. Operating a 4013 CMOS dual D -type flip-flop, can be C4- 47 -F, 16 -WVDC, electrolytic
from a source voltage of 12 volts and added to any 555 oscillator to produce a 50/50
with R3 set to its minimum voltage, the symmetrical output signal. The flip-flop divides ADDITIONAL PARTS AND MATERIALS
circuit oscillates at frequency above 6 the applied signal frequency by two, producing Printed -circuit or perfboard materials,
a near perfect squarewave output. hook -up wire, solder, hardware, etc.
68 kHz. At mid -voltage, the oscillator
+9 -12V
1M +9 -12V
R2 R2 .
3.3K R1 C2 C3 3.3K R1 Q1
1K 05 .1 1K L14G1

7 6 8 7 6

IC1 101
555 555

2 3 2

01 14
1/2 4013
02 2 3 4 5 6 7

2N2222 +9 -12V

Fig. 6. The light -controlled oscillator doesn't rely on the control- voltage terminal (pin 5) of the 555 R3
to vary the oscillator's frequency; instead the frequency- setting resistor has been replaced by a pho-
totransistor (QI), which varies in resistance and thereby frequency in accordance with varying light
intensity. R2 .
3.3K R1
PARTS LIST FOR THE LIGHT - be easily varied by manipulating adjust- 01
CONTROLLED OSCILLATOR ing the bias voltage applied (via poten-
(FIG. 6) tiometer R6) to Q1. The oscillator's 8 7 5

component values are the same as those 555
SEMICONDUCTORS used in Fig. 1; thus, it operates in the
IC1 -555 oscillator /timer, integrated
same frequency range. The frequency 2
range can be modified by changing the
IC2 -4013 CMOS dual D -type, flip -
flop, integrated circuit values of Cl and R3. In addition, R3 can

Q1 -L14G1 (or similar) NPN photo - be replaced with a potentiometer to pro-

transistor (Mouser) vide greater frequency adjustment. The
Q2- 2N2222 general -purpose NPN 555 oscillator's output at pin 3 can be
silicon transistor Fig. 7. Shown here are two light -controlled
used to drive an IR LED, a small speak-
VCOs configured with only a slight difference.
er, or another circuit.
RESISTORS The circuit in A has the phototransistor con-
The basic 555 oscillator does not nected between the CV terminal (pin 5) of ICI
(All resistors are '/4 -watt, 5% units.) produce a 50/50 symmetrical output; for
R1- 1000 -ohm some circuit applications that can be a
and the positive supply rail, while the one in B
R2, R3- 3300 -ohm has the phototransistor tied between the nega-
R4 -150 -ohm problem. The circuit shown in Fig. 5 tive supply rail (ground) and pin 5.
(comprised of half of a 4013 CMOS dual
CAPACITORS D -type flip -flop) can be added to the
C1- 0.01 -F, ceramic -disc oscillator circuit to solve the symmetri- PARTS LIST FOR THE LIGHT-
C2-0.05 -1.1.F. ceramic -disc cal output problem. The output of the CONTROLLED VCO (FIG. 7)
C3-0.1 -p.F, ceramic-disc oscillator (in Fig. 4 for example) can be
fed to the clock input (pin 3) of the flip- -555 oscillator/timer,
IC1 integrated
flop in Fig. 5. The flip -flop divides the circuit
SPKR1 -Any small 8 -ohm or greater applied signal frequency by two, produc- Q1 -L14G1 NPN phototransistor
ing a near perfect squarewave output at (Mouser)
Printed -circuit or perfboard materials,
hook-up wire, solder, hardware, etc. pin 1.
In order to establish the same output RESISTORS
frequency as before, simply double the (All fixed resistors are 'h -watt, 5%
Modified FMed VCO oscillator's operating frequency. That's units. 1

Our next circuit, see Fig. 4, adds a easily accomplished by decreasing the R1 -1000 -ohm
R2 -33C0 -ohm
transistor amplifier to the FMed VCO values of the frequency determining
to produce a circuit that can be modu-
R3- 25,000 -ohm potentiometer
lated by only a few millivolts, instead of ADDITIONAL PARTS AND MATERIALS
requiring several volts-as is the case Light -Controlled Oscillator C1- .1 -1_F, disc- ceramic capacitor
with the Basic VCO circuit. The Fig. 4 Our next 555 circuit, see Fig. 6, does- Printed-circuit or perfboard materials,
circuit also allows the voltage at pin 5 to n't use the control-voltage terminal (pin hook-up wire, solder, hardware, etc. 69
+9-12V to the CV input. Under that condition,
the oscillator returns to its preset fre-
quency. As the light striking the photo-
transistor increases, the oscillator's fre-
quency begins to decrease. The maxi-
mum frequency shift occurs when the
phototransistor goes into saturation
1K (turns fully on).
The circuit in Fig. 7B is essentially
8 7 6 the same as the circuit in Fig. 7A, except
ici that the phototransistor is tied between
555 the negative supply rail (ground) and the
1 2 CV terminal of the 555.
That circuit arrangement reverses
C3 the direction of the frequency shift as
4.7 /VVI the light level striking the phototransis-
tor changes. A bright light hitting the
phototransistor drives its internal resis-
Fig. 8. The Sound -Effect Generator, comprised primarily of a pair of 555 oscillator /timers (which tance down, which, in turn, lowers the
could be replaced by a single 556 dual oscillator /timer), can be used to produce all manner of neat voltage applied to the ICI's CV input.
sound effects, ranging from a chirping bird to a European ambulance siren. That lowers the oscillator's trigger
the clock input (pin 3) of a 4013 dual D point, resulting in a higher output fre-
PARTS LIST FOR THE SOUND - quency -the opposite of what occurs in
flip -flop (1C2), where the output of ICI
is divided by 2. The output of the flip - the Fig. 7A circuit.
SEMICONDUCTORS flop (at pin 1) is then fed to the base of
IC1, IC2 -555 oscillator /timer, inte- Q2, where it is amplified and used to Sound -Effects Generator
grated circuit drive speaker SPKR1. The light -con- Our last circuit, comprised primarily
Q1- 2N3904 general -purpose NPN trolled oscillator can generate some of a pair of 555 oscillator /timers, can be
silicon transistor unusual sounds when the phototransis- used to generate all kinds of neat sound
tor is positioned in an area where the effects, ranging from a chirping bird to a
RESISTORS light is constantly varying. That could European ambulance siren. A schematic
74 -watt, 5%
(All fixed resistors are
be considered the light equivalent of a diagram of the Sound -Effect Generator
units.) is shown in Fig. 8. In that circuit, ICI is
R1, R2 -1000 -ohm
wind chime.
The frequency range of the circuit in configured as a low- frequency variable-
R3 -R5- 3300 -ohm
R6- 150 -ohm Fig. 6 is very wide depending on the oscillator. Note that the output of the
R7, R8- 50,000 -ohm potentiometer level of light hitting the phototransistor circuit is not taken from pin 3, as is nor-
at any given time. An intense light mally the case. Instead the output of the
CAPACITORS source might send the frequency beyond oscillator (a sawtooth waveform) is taken
Cl, C2- 0.1 -F, ceramic -disc the range of human hearing and little or from pin 2 and buffered by Q I. The
16 -WVDC, electrolytic no light can put the frequency into the second 555 (IC2) is connected in a simi-
C4- 100 -F, 16 -WVDC, electrolytic
basement. For a circuit that's designed to lar oscillator circuit that covers the
entertain, Fig. 6 is a good choice; but if medium -to -high audio -frequency range.
the amount of light hitting the photo - A small speaker is connected to the pin 3
SPKR1 -Small 8 -ohm speaker
Printed- circuit or perfboard materials, transistor is needed as data, the two cir- output of IC2.
hook -up wire, solder, hardware, etc. cuits in Fig. 7 are a better choice. Let's The buffered sawtooth output is fed
move on to those now. to the CV terminal of IO2, which mod-
ulates its frequency at the low-frequency
5) of the 555 to vary the oscillator's fre- Light -Controlled VCO rate. An almost limitless number of
quency. (Note that in this application In the Fig. 7A circuit, a phototransis- sounds can be generated with the Fig. 8
pin 5 is bypassed to ground through tor is connected between the CV termi- circuit by playing with R7 and R8, and if
C2 -a 0.05 -11F capacitor.) In this nal (pin 5) of the 555 and the positive that isn't enough, the values of C3 and
application, the frequency- setting re- supply rail. The oscillator's home or ref- Cl can be changed. If the sound output
sistor has been replaced by a photo - erence frequency is set by R3. An is too low, a coupling capacitor can be
transistor (Q1), which varies in resis- intense light source hitting the photo - connected to pin 3 of IC2 and the signal
tance with changing light. As the light transistor lowers its internal resistance, fed to a power amplifier to increase the
increases, the oscillator's frequency thereby raising the voltage applied to volume. But take my advice and live with
goes up and as the light dims, the fre- pin 5. That makes the 555 oscillator take the small speaker.
quency goes down. Resistor R2 is used longer to complete its charging cycle, Well that's all the space allotted to us
to limit the oscillator's maximum fre- which lowers the output frequency. for this month, but be sure to join us
quency when the phototransistor is at Placing the phototransistor in the dark next month for a look at another batch
its minimum resistance. raises the internal resistance to several of useful circuits and the basic principles
70 The output of the oscillator is fed to megohms, which is like an open circuit that make their operation possible. P
An official journal of (National
Electronics Service Dealers Association), and
ISCET (International Society of Certlfied
Electronics Technicians).
VOL, XXVI, NO, 2 NESDA's Internet Home
ProService Magazine, included in each issue NESDA continues the legacy of service to its members, including
ofPoptronics, is produced by NESDA, the Na- education, technical and management training, and discounted business
tional Electronics Service Dealers Association, services. The website introduces consumers, as well as servicers,
2708 West Berry St., Fort Worth, TX 76109. It
is intended for theenlightenment, education and to some very specialized information.
entertainment of the members of NESDA,
1SCET, and other ethical professionals engaged
in or connected with the appliance, computer, by Mary Margaret Merrill
and electronics service industries_
With the exception of official announcements, For those who are interested in certi-
the statements and opinions expressed herein are The original, and primary purpose of fication programs, the web site lists three
those of the authors and not necessarily those of NESDA.com is to bring useful informa- (four, if you count the NWSN) such pro-
the associations.
Unless otherwise clearly indicated, neither
tion to NESDA's membership. To that grams. They include a technical certifi-
NESDA nor ISCET endorses any company, end, the site has been very successful in cation program available for technicians
product or service appearing in any article in the wealth of information presented. This and a managerial certification available
this publication. includes links to other useful sites when for Service Managers. The P.R.I.D.E.
BUUSINESS/EDITORIAL OFFICES NESDA doesn't have the final answer. Program, which certifies NESDA mem-
2708 W. Berry St., Ft. Worth, TX 76109 -2397 NESDA's Internet Committee, and its ber businesses, requires those businesses
817- 921.9061; Fax 817.921.3741 Webmaster, work continuously to in- to have certain types of equipment, as-
Executive Director: Clyde W. Nabors crease its usefulness to members. Have sures that they can handle specific repairs,
Editor-in- Chief: Wallace S. Harrison you visited NESDA's web site lately? and lists companies that they are autho-
Email: ProServEd@aol.com Non -members who are curious about rized to do warranty service for.
Associate Editor/Production: M. Merrill
Email: psm_dcsk @juno.com
NESDA are invited to visit the "What is
NESDA ?" section. Here, you can read EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
COPYRIGHT about NESDA's mission to aid independent NESDA actively promotes education
Copyright O 2000 by NESDA, Inc., all rights servicers in their business survival. Visitors
reserved. No part of this publication may be re-
of its members to help them keep up with
produced or transmitted in any form or by any are walked through a comprehensive expla- the rapidly changing technology. Due to
means without written permission from nation of NESDA's major benefits and pro- the relative complexity of today's elec-
NESDA. grams. Additional information is available tronic products, very often a technician
through the NESDA office. will require specialized training in order
Contents to effect repairs, or even just to trouble-
NESDA Corporate Members 2 BEYOND THE ORDINARY shoot a broken consumer product. The
ISCET Sponsor Members 2 Special sections are devoted to two of NESDA web site offers several options
NPSC 2000 Registration 8 the better programs. One of these is for onlookers.
NESDAnet, the servicers' e-mail network. Additionally, everyone in product ser-
This includes participating NESDA mem- vicing is invited to attend the annual Na-
NESDA.com: NESDA's Internet Home bers, NESDA officers, manufacturers, and tional Professional Service Convention.
by Mary Margaret Merrill 1 parts distributors. Also featured is NWSN, Here, major manufacturers offer techni-
My Corner of the Web the NESDA World Service Network. cal seminars on the repair of their high -
by Sheila Fredrickson 2 NWSN is a marketing initiative for qual- technology products. These companies
The Scoop on Internet Hoaxes
ifying businesses utilizing the Internet as include Hitachi, Philips, Sony, and Toshi-
by Richard Ensman 3 a marketing tool. Both programs are op- ba, just to name a few. Anyone interested
tional at an extra cost so that non- partici- in more information about pending con-
Surviving the Downward Spiral
by Paul Gendreau 5
pating companies do not have to pay for vention dates and topics may find it on
programs they do not support. Most ques- the web site.
Driving Forces of Change
the New Millenium
tions about either program are answered At NPSC, managers are also offered
by Robert B. Tucker T
in the FAQs (Frequently Asked Ques- seminars on how to improve their busi-
tions) of each section.
(continued on PS-2)
February 2000 ProService Review PS-1
(NESDA.com, continued) further informed of the advantage of us-
NESDA Corporate Members
ing a NESDA member servicer to assure
nesses. On the web site, some of the most quality repair at a fair price. In addition B & D Enterprises
popular seminars of the last few years to a display of NESDA's Code of Ethics, Computer Parts Unlimited, Inc.
(Best Ideas Contest) are posted for view- consumers may search for a NESDA CQ Communications (ES &T)
ers. Ideas include many innovative, cost - Diversified Parts
member servicer by zip code to find the Electro Dynamics, Inc.
effective, money- saving techniques that closest one to their area. This advertising Electronic Software Developers
can be employed by members and non- may be of primary importance in the fu- Gernsback Publications
members alike to make their business ture as NESDA prepares for a new mar-
Hitachi Home Electronics (America) Inc.
Howard W. Sams & Co.
more efficient. keting effort geared toward consumers. Independent Dealer Services, Inc.
It is hoped that the increased awareness JVC Service & Engineering Co.
PUBLICATIONS of NESDA and its member servicers will KeyPrestige INS, Inc.
Several publications are available to Leading Solutions, Inc.
enhance not only current members' busi- Metris Direct
NESDA members, including this maga- nesses, but also add to membership rolls Moore North America
zine, the Pro Service Directory & Year- as well. National Electronics Warranty (N.E.W.)
book, and several newletters. The annual Nintendo of America Inc.
The site also offers consumers advice Pacific Coast Parts
128 -page Directory lists almost 1500 on "Getting Good Service." It attempts Peg Perego USA, Inc.
manufacturers, parts distributors, educa- to answer any questions consumers may Philips Consumer Electronics
tional sources, software providers, trade have about choosing a service center, how
Pioneer Electronics Service Inc.
FT'S Electronics Corp., Inc. (LIFE Member)
associations, trade publications, and to save money by carrying in the unit Sencore, Inc.
more. The web site offers articles from themselves, and legal recourse if their SFS Corporation
back issues, as well as subscription in- complaints are not addressed. Sony Service Company
formation. Tandy Retail Services
Toshiba America
MEMBERS ONLY There's a wealth of information avail- Warrantech CPS Corp.
All of the previous information pales able at your fingertips. To see the differ-
ISCET Sponsor Members
by comparison once you reach the "Mem- ence that information can make in your
bers Only" section. Access is limited, by business, visit www.nesda.com. Get on the Gernsback Publications
password and code, to current members NESDA wagon and put some highly spe- ITT Technical Institute
of the association. Sencore Inc.
cialized information to work for you.
NESDA members can access several
manufacturers' warranty terms online, for
viewing or downloading, by entering a
manufacturer and a product's model My Corner of the Web
number. There is also an online Cost of by Sheila Fredrickson, NESDA/ISCET Webmaster
Doing Business calculator, a download -
able (free) technical tips program, and
training information from the last Nation-
we're here ... what next?
al Professional Service Convention. And, ary of 1999 the Professional Service Convention
if that's not enough, members can offer irectors voted to helped generate a great idea from the
suggestions to improve the web site, or ponsibility for the folks at Thomson. A plan was formu-
the association. website, NESDA.com, in- lated to build a page for each manu-
However, of primary interest to mem- use. The objective was to have the facturer in the "Members Only" sec-
bers may be the Extended Warranty Pay- website updated and maintained by tion, so that the manufacturers them-
ment Performance Report. In the report, saff. This decision allowed the site to selves could provide up -to -date infor-
third party warranty administrators are maintained and modified in a much mation for servicers. In view of this,
rated by participating companies accord- re reasonable length of time than it NESDA.com has begun to replace cur-
ing to their payment of claims. By moni- w s previously. rent service information with links to
toring the report regularly, servicers can The next phase has involved build - manufacturers' sites. A number of oth-
spot slow- or non-payment trends in or- in the current site into a first-class re- er manufacturers have indicated they
der to limit liabilities with possibly fail- so rce for NESDA members. Early wish to participate. To this end, a vol-
ing warranty companies. Another simi- on the website provided tech tips and unteer from one of the manufacturers
lar report, monitors Manufacturers' Pay- manufacturer information. At that has committed himself to helping us
ment Performance. Both are invaluable time, most manufacturers did not have put these pages together, though it is
tools to members when used judiciously. sites of their own from which to pro- not certain when they will be available.
vide up -to -date information. Howev- The Association wishes to thank
EVEN CONSUMERS BENEFIT er, during the last couple of years this you for your support as NESDA con-
Although NESDA.com was original- has changed. Now there are few, if any, tinues to build improvements for
ly slanted toward the servicer, a consum- manufacturers that do not have sites members. It is sincerely hoped that this
er section was later added. Answers to for service information. will make it easier for you to have a
FAQs regarding the mystery of extended A meeting at the 1999 National profitable business.
warranties are available. Consumers are
PS -2 ProService Review February 2000
Representing - Management -
and Fighting for
Independent Service The Scoop on Internet Hoaxes
You Are Not ALONE! Any number of dire warnings come to us via e -mail.
NESDA is the national association dedi- Some sound obviously far -fetched, yet others are very believable.
pendent service dealer -
cated to the plight and security of the inde-
whether you ser-
vice appliances, computers, consumer elec-
Which are real?

tronics, industrial electronics, MATV, bio-

medical instrumentation, TVRO, etc. by Richard Ensman makes the rounds every few months. The
NESDA engages in fruitful dialogue and hoax comes in the form of e-mail mes-
mutual cooperation with manufacturers who "Warning: If you receive an e-mail sages claiming that some official- sound-
recognize and respect independents' rights. message titled `Urgent News,' do not open ing internet authority, the United States
However, NESDA is also ready to fight un-
it! This powerful e-mail message will re- government, or the United Nations, is
friendly manufacturers and other monopolists
in the halls of Congress or the chambers of format your hard drive and create an un- planning to do "required maintenance" on
the U.S. Supreme Court. detectable code that will, in turn, literally the internet, and will shut it down for a
'bake' your computer system and, per- few hours or a day. Usually a specific day
haps, even send the room up in flames. is mentioned and computer users are in-
The Federal Computer Virus Response structed to disconnect their machines from
When You Join NESDA, You Get: Authority (FCVRA) has documented thir- all power sources at that time in order to
Prestigious member identification material teen instances of serious injury as the re- prevent serious damage to their comput-
for door, wall and wallet sult of this virus." ers. A recent variation of these hoaxes
Free subscription to every issue of
Poptronics, which includes ProService, comes from computer tricksters who
"news you can use" about the product Before you start shaking with fear, you claim that they are about to cause havoc
service industry should know that this simple message is on the internet, and are quick to warn us-
Free copy of the "ProService Directory,"
I28 -pages of service industry contacts but a fabrication. "Urgent News" is not a ers to stay off the electronic highway for
Free members -only newsletters: "NESDA real virus (at least not yet), and viruses a day or many days at a time to avoid com-
Newsletter," "Legislative Alert," special can't "bake" your computer system or puter damage.
bulletins, and more
Access to manufacturers' key service send your home or office up in flames. Care for a pen pal? This supposed e-
executives through NESDA's effective And there's no such bureaucratic creature mail virus begins with the header "Pen-
industry relations committee as the Federal Computer Virus Response pal" greetings. The warning message,
Access to headquarters staff for personalized
advice or referral to authoritative source or Authority. This "warning" is simply an which has appeared tens of thousands of
knowledgeable members

Access to the minds of other dealers
other business experts
willing to share
example of the kind of hoaxes proliferat-
ing on the internet today. Many of these
times recently, suggests that infernal
things are going to happen to thousands
information freely hoaxes would be laughable if it weren't of computers across the globe once read-
Purchasing discounts for members on a for the fact that so many tens of thousands ers happen upon the text of the message.
variety of business aids, invoice forms,
merchandise, and more
Access to an annual convention and trade
show with the industry's best and most
of people were taking them quite serious-
so seriously that computer program-
mers, official agencies and technical sup-
The message claims not only to damage
the user's hard drive, but to replicate it-
self in the form of additional e-mail mes-
cost -effective professional training port lines are swamped with calls from
National-level representation to government, sages to everyone in the user's e-mail di-
manufacturers, etc., on important business worried computer users. rectory which, when opened, will cause
and industry issues Viruses do exist, of course, and com- damage to still more computers. (This
Much, much more (for a full description of puter users should take serious precau- hoax message should not be confused
benefits and programs, return coupon)

When You Join NESDA

tions against them. But let's digress to the
silly side of the internet for a few moments one -
with the recent "Melissa" virus -a real
which was broadcast via e-mail

You Get Help! and examine a few of the common hoax- attachments). The "death ray" warning
Isn't it time you joined the other es on line today. message, however, sounds much more
professionals in electronics? Want to have a good time? The "good serious. This message announces a virus
times" hoax begins like many of the sup- that supposedly causes computers to ex-
/ want to find out more.
Send information posed e-mail viruses: it informs readers plode. It may even "document" the names
about NESDA, including an application.
that if they see the term "good times" in of people who have died from explosions
Name the header of an e-mail message, they and the hoax message may be filled with
Business should delete it immediately. The sup- legitimate- sounding technical jargon.
posed consequences of reading such a Keypunch for dollars. These hoaxes
message can include infected files and often begin with the title "free money,"
city reformatted hard drives. Often the warn- "great business opportunity," or the elec-
State Zip ing purports to be based on a Federal tronic equivalent of some other "get rich
Mail to NESDA, 2708 W Berry St., Communications Commission announce- quick" scheme. Some simply offer bizarre
Fort Worth TX 76109; 817-921 -9061 ment. Like most warnings, this is bogus. instructions to send a particular e-mail
or Fax to: 817.921.3741 Time to clean up. This hoax message (continued on PS-4)
February 2000 ProService Review PS-3
(Hoaxes, continued) computer users. One hoax, for instance, shampoos, and the bacteria present in
claims that Microsoft Corporation will cleaning products. Consumer product
message to ten, twenty, or thirty people,
give away free computers to a certain manufacturers receive calls from worried
after which time dollars will come gush-
number of people who transmit a speci- consumers who receive these messages.
ing into the sender's mailbox. Others re-
fied message to other computer users. Still Watch your money. These hoaxes
quest computer users to send money for a
another common hoax involves free Dis- purport to document huge financial loss-
secret instruction manual.
ney World passes which will supposedly es that befall unsuspecting consumers.
Beware the Aids virus. The warning
be sent to people who send e-mail mes- Perhaps the best known hoax involves a
message for this hoax alerts computer us-
sages to a number of their acquaintances. major department store that supposedly
ers to avoid messages beginning with the
words "open," "cool" or some other sim-
ple phrase. Once opened, the virus sup-
Stay alert for danger signs. The in-
ternet is always filled with hoaxes about
supposed calamities that will occur at
late chip cookie as "two fifty"
charged the willing buyer's
quoted the price of its recipe for a choco-

and then
card not
posedly eats away system memory and the
some point in the future. The FCC, claims for $2.50, but for $250.00. This message
hard drive, little by little, eventually ren-
one hoax, is about to impose per- minute even lists the names of people who have
dering the system useless.
charges on all internet service providers been supposedly victimized. But it never
Send this ... or else. The cyberspace happened.
equivalent of the old- fashioned chain let- for computer access time. Whether charg-
es like these might ever come to pass in Pull the heart strings. These heart -
ter has arrived. Although these electronic
North America is open to speculation, but throbbing messages ask recipients to send
chain letters have many variations, they
the hoax claim is false. Still other hoaxes e -mail messages, post cards or even mon-
usually instruct the computer user to send
revolve around the so-called millennium ey to some terminally ill child living in
a particular e-mail message to five or ten
bug and bizarre millennium tests that an obscure part of the world. Sometimes
people with instructions to send it even the message claims that the child ex-
further. Failure to send the message, the computer authorities or businesses will
run, causing "serious damage" to comput- pressed a dying wish to be listed in a book
hoaxes claim, may cause some personal of records as receiving a huge number of
calamity or the destruction of the com- er systems across the world.
Beware of those household poisons. messages. Other times the messages claim
puter's hard drive. And yes, serious and that some national charity will donate
intelligent computer users occasionally These seemingly helpful consumer warn-
ings appear on the internet with all man- funds to heart or cancer research for ev-
believe these messages. ery e-mail message received. C'mon
Watch out for freebies. These hoax- ner of new "findings" about common
household and personal care products. folks.
es, popular recently, purport that well- Call your legislator now. Then there
known computer companies are giving They alert consumers to the supposed
snake venom in various fruit juices, the are the hoaxes that describe pending leg -
away free merchandise or services in re-
turn for some obscure help on the part of cancer causing properties
of various (continued on PS-5)

luheG'e Can Be a Part v NESDAnet f

the Professional Servicers' E-Mail Network
you go $v . Mhats t? Mho cam loin?
Any independent servicer who is also
Hear industry news as it NESDAnet is a group of astute
professionals working together to a member of NESDA is welcome.
happens improve their service businesses. The current membership also includes
NESDA headquarters, NESDA board
Request advice on specific Nary does tN ark? of directors, manufacturers, field
needs from other servicers Electronic messages (e -mail) are sent service reps, service contract
via the Internet to the NESDAnet companies, warranty claims
Locate hard -to -find parts computer. The NESDAnet computer processors, parts suppliers, national
system then forwards the message to trade organizations, and association
Solve problems together other users. editors.
Expose unfair business "the only One."
lotl NESDAnet, you ave never
Receive NESDA and
Mhats nod to participate?
Membership in NESDA, a computer, a modem, and a subscription to
association news any Email account.
3tlhat is the cost?
Help formulate industry $60 per year (does not include NESDA membership, Email subscription,
standards or phone -line charges.)
Share unpublished If you're not a NESDA member, you should be.
warranty policies For more information, go online to www nesda.com, or write to:

Participate in roundtable NESDA

2708 W. Berry St., Ft. Worth, TX 76109 817 -921 -9061 Fax 817.921.3741
ProService Review February 2000
PS - 4
(continued from PS -4)
islation requiring immediate citizen ac-
tion. These e-mail messages describe leg-
islation that will outlaw e-mail, abolish
the voting rights act, eliminate religious
freedom, or do some other nefarious deed.
Often, an authentic "bill number" or leg- Technologies are combining to eliminate the service industry as you
islative sponsor name appears in the mes-
sage. And yes, legislators receive calls
about these fictitious pieces of legislation
to survive - even prosper -
know it. It's not a conspiracy; it's progress. There are things you can do
if you take action now.

Urban legends invade the internet.

These widely- believed, but fictitious sto- by Paul Gendreau for actual failure (fuses, lightning hits,
ries, have now made their appearance on honest to goodness failures in general)
the internet. They include stories of shop- Soon the era of the one -chip TV will will hardly impact a manufacturer's bal-
pers who have been injured at malls by be upon us. Troubleshooting via the In- ance sheet when compared to paying ser-
thieves hiding under their cars and stab- ternet, high- density manufacturing tech- vice centers for warranty repairs. In the
bing their ankles with sharp knives ... ho- niques, and solid -state displays are rightfuture, say goodbye to warranty service.
tel guests who have been robbed of their around the corner. The technology for a As consumers become accustomed to
kidneys ... and stories of wild abductions one -module TV, combined with inexpen- the new paradigm (it's not that new, it's
of children.
The bottom line: the internet is full of - even big screens
teryear's VCR.
sive solid -state displays, will make TVs
as cheap as yes-
here already) of throwing electronic gad-
gets away and buying new ones, they will
not seek service. So you can plan on say-
hoaxes today. When you receive an e-mail
message or happen upon a Web site that Solid -state displays will mean no pic- ing goodbye to out-of- warranty service,
makes a seemingly outrageous claim, ture tubes, high voltage transformers, or too.
maintain a healthy skepticism about it. high -power deflection components. If
There's a chance it may be little more than you're relying on poor solder connections RIDING OUT THE STORM
the product of a fictitious imagination, so and other reliability issues for a chunk of The above conclusions may not be
check it out before you turn your worry future business, think again. universally shared, and certainly aren't
button on. popular. But it's probably more realistic
THE BAD NEWS FIRST than you dare to admit. Some of you at
HOW TO DETECT A HOAX With the elimination of high voltage least suspect it to be true, and the bravest
While you may not be able to identify and sweep components, power dissipa- among you are already planning for it.
a hoax with 100% certainty, these com- tion will tank and product reliability will What can you do to ride out the storm?
mon sense guidelines will give you clues soar. This will cause retail prices to plum- Well, you can try to eke out a living
about the truth or falsity of a particular met even further, especially as manufac- by working harder, doing more tomorrow
If it sounds too good to be true, it prob-
ably is. cost of consumer electronics is but a tiny at all -
the equation. Already, the manufacturing short-term strategies -
turers squeeze the cost of service out of of exactly what you do today. However,
or no strategies
seldom yield more than short-
If it sounds to be bad to be true, it prob-fraction of what you'll need to feed your term success. You should be planning
ably isn't. family. Manufacturers and consumers more than one year ahead. If not, then by
If it comes from a dubious source, will figure out that service is a needless default you're planning to retire in the
question the message. layer of cost between the two, outweigh- next few years. Here are a few thoughts
If it confuses you, remember that the ing any added value. to get you started.
confusion may be deliberate. Show the Replacing a few products via retailers
(continued on PS-6)
message to a knowledgeable comput-
er professional. ruses out there. Several sources are: debunk hoaxes. Try these ...
If it makes vague references to evi- Symantec/Norton Anti -Virus Research Energy Department's Computer Inci-
dence or to well -known companies or Center: http: / /www.symantec.com/ dent Advisory: http: / /ciac.11nl.gov/
computer authorities, check the hoax avcenter/ ciac/CIACHoaxes.html
out with them. Macafee Software: http: //www.macafee. Computer Virus Myths Page: http: //
corn www.kumite.com/myths
IF YOU SUSPECT IT'S REAL Trend Micro's PC- cillin: http: //www. Urban Legends Page: http: //
Don't panic. The percentage of hoaxes antivirus.com/pc-cillin/ urbanlegends.miningco.com/library/
that actually end up harming passive Dr. Solomon's "Virus Central ": http: // blbyolix.htm
computer users is small. www.drsolomon.com /vircen /index.
Don't open attachments from unfamil- cfm Don't send e-mail messages about
iar sources. They may contain code that Central Command's AntiViral Toolkit hoaxes to other people unless they are
can, indeed, affect your system. Pro: http: //www.avp.com verified by a credible source.
Install anti -virus software and keep it Laugh and enjoy them. And remem-
up to date. This software will help keep Research hoaxes by checking with ber: most are simply the product of over-
your computer safe from the real vi- competent authorities and online sites that active imaginations.
February 2000 ProService Review PS-5
(Surviving, continued) ly, track productivity, and take the hassle technical problems. You don't have to
out of repair parts ordering. Moreover, a brainstorm alone anymore, nor do you
KNOW YOUR BUSINESS COSTS PC is essential to maintaining the level of have to fight those dogs alone.
Know your cost of doing business! It productivity that you'll need to stay alive.
may seem silly to have to say this, but it's For example, using any of a variety of HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY
a primary cause of death for servicers. technical tip software can play an impor- Very few individuals create a business
Analyze your costs to death. Use pencil tant role in maintaining profitability. In- that survives beyond them. In that sense,
and paper if you can't figure out how to creased productivity can easily offset the they never build a business, but only cre-
use a spreadsheet. But don't dare not to price of a computer and software. ate a job for themselves and a few em-
do it. It's time to squeeze out all costs that Your PC will also figure into your abil- ployees. Your business is a long -term in-
don't add value to the services you deliv- ity to diversify into other business oppor- vestment and you should have an exit
er. Ask those questions from your custom- tunities. If you think that you're in the re- strategy.
er's perspective. In fact, ask your custom- pair business, think again. You're in the When it comes time to cash in on your
ers. Abandon those parts of your business information business. Your ability to gath- investment, there's nothing to sell if your
that are not profitable. er and process information will determine business model hinges on you being part
Break out of the pack and learn how to your ability to move forward. of the business. You'll need more to offer
obtain repair parts at a lower cost. Tradi- than a few tools, a name, and customer
tional distributor and dealer chains have LEVERAGE THE KNOWLEDGE goodwill. Foster a business model that re-
broken down in recent years, especially OF YOUR PEERS places you as soon as possible. If your busi-
with the advent of the Web. It's possible Not enough servicers are using com- ness can operate beyond you and without
for you to purchase parts at distributor - puters, and even fewer are on -line. In fact, you, then you'll have a salable enterprise.
level prices with surprisingly low volume a staggering number of even association
requirements. It's important to shop members are not on line. Networking with EDUCATION OPENS NEW DOORS
around if it doesn't compromise quality. other service centers through Internet Be proactive in learning about emerg-
email groups can be critical to your sur- ing technologies, and think about how
AUTOMATE YOUR BUSINESS vival and your awareness of what oppor- you can use them to your advantage, ei-
With PCs priced at under $500, there's tunities are available to you. ther as business opportunities or as part
no valid reason to put off using this pow- Frankly, if you're not on -line yet, this of your business practices. Take advan-
erful business tool. You'll need it to pro- should be your number -one priority. tage of every opportunity for training.
vide even entry-level customer service. There's no single better tool for generat- Determine how you'll be able to diversi-
Service management software will let you ing new ideas for your business. And fy your skills, or how you can use your
answer your customer's questions quick- there's no better tool for helping you solve current skills to build other income
streams into your business.

6.9c /Minute
The consumer -electronics service in-
dustry is in decline; the debate is only
about where it will stop. While this as-
Long Distance Service sessment may seem like gloom and doom,

there are reasons for optimism. The skills
[no contracts, no monthly fees] you have
as a technician and as a busi-
will always be in demand
and will generate income for you. How-
NESDA's new LDS program through MCl/WorldCom, offers ...
ever, now more than ever, you must take
interstate rates of 6.9 cents per no -cost switching from other action to ensure that. Don't bet the bank
minute (slightly higher calls) carrier ._ that what you're doing today will buy gro-
monthly fee of only $2 per line, ceries five years from now.
good anytime, every day
per -month for 800 or 888 service,
Do what you know how to do; do it as
billing increments of six seconds (add'I fee for directory assistance li3ttng) cost -effectively as you can; be prepared
liing -
card rate of only 14.9
and no sur-
.rate negotiable for high volume to diversify or move on in the next few
cents/minute years. Above all, have a plan. Whether
charges runless using a public pay phone) no contracts; no monthly charge you agree with this analysis or not, pre-
available for home and business; only $25 per month of. L. D: usage paring for it as one possible outcome is a
friends and neighbors, too. to qualify smart thing to do. It is foolhardy not to
Residential rate 6.9 cents, no " Residential service not yet plan and analyze.
minimum usage 3"' available in most markets About the author: Paul Gendreau is
a partner of KDTV Software, the publish-
a $20 check from Glenwood Communications for each new
$20 Finders Fees Receive
er of 1VinST1PS technical tips software.
you recruit for the NESDAfone Plan who remains a customer for at least two You may contact him at: KDTV Software,

Glenwood Communications: 800 -460 -2242 or Paul Gendreau, P.O. Box 349, Sanford,
ME 04073, Tel. (207) 490 -1835; Fax
"Ask for the NESDAfone Plan!" (207)490 -1893; email Paul @Service
(Present high- volume customers may be eligible for even lower rates.)

ProService Review February 2000

- Management - The customer wants to know, "What have
you done for me lately ?" Make sure the
Driving Forces of Change value you add to your services is the val-
ue your customer seeks.
for the New Millennium High Service: Excellent customer ser-
vice for beleaguered American consum-
ers is so rare that people pay extra for it.
In response, Mobil decided to go "high
Customers are becoming more vocal, demanding more value for the service" and wash windshield sand and
dollars they spend. Efficiency, coupled with quality, is what it takes to provide clean rest rooms for motorists
satisfy them. Are you willing to make the changes necessary to with its "Friendly Serve" campaign. So
keep up with the times? far, it's working. The real differentiation
is assembling a team that really cares.
This is the real frontier where smart lead-
by Robert B. Tucker the way Sleep Inns are built today to ers will devote creative energy.
counter the growing Baby Bust labor Techno -edge: Technology is not ad-
As we approach the new millennium, shortage. Brainstorm ways to reduce and vancing, it is exploding. The future be-
the businesses that succeed are the ones make better use of labor so you can more longs to executives who embrace its pos-
using innovative ways to create value for efficiently provide the services your cus- sibilities and become early adopters, rath-
their customers. To beat their competition tomers demand. er than becoming Techno-Roadkill.
and gain an edge, here are some ideas Mass Customization: Increasingly Search for new tools and software that
driving innovative businesses operations. sophisticated consumers demand more increase speed, add convenience, raise
Real Time Responsiveness: Winning options and "have it your way" solutions productivity, and, most of all, challenge
businesses will eliminate customer wait- in both products and services. Levi conventional wisdom about what can and
ing, whether in line, on hold, or over time. Strauss stores measure hard -to -fit worn- cannot be done in your industry. Look for
For instance, financial institutions will be en and use the computer to send the specs techno -edges that can borrowed from oth-
forced to give instant mortgage loan ap- to their plant in Tennessee. The customer er industries.
provals. And retailers will need to find receives the jeans just a few days later. Quality Perfection: The "quality rev-
ways to eliminate waiting in line because Future -focused leaders will anticipate olution" is over, but quality as perceived
of increased competition from electronic what it is about their services or products by the customer is anything but guaran-
commerce. How can you reduce the that could benefit from mass customiza- teed. now, the expectation of quality is
amount of time spent during a custom- tion and respond accordingly. Innova- so high that unless you have an empow-
er's transaction? What changes can be tions come from listening to customers' ered workforce and spirit of partnership
made to facilitate "speed" satisfaction? needs. with all stake holders, you can't compete.
User -Friendliness: The trading stamp Lifestyle: Changing lifestyles are af- This can quickly build a competitive ad-
industry disappeared because it was too fecting every business. For example, the vantage because there's so little of it.
inconvenient. In the next five years, the health and fitness trends are over, fat is Defects add aggravation to today's har-
"cents -off' coupon will also disappear. back. Families pulled in all directions by ried consumers. Businesses from Rolex
Consider reexamining your "convenience busy schedules fly away on vacations to H&R Block have profited from design-
quotient" in light of changing, more har- away from phones and distractions. Thir- ing quality into Operations and exploit-
ried lifestyles. Examples include the trend teen million Americans are self-em- ing it in marketing. Where do your cus-
toward 24 -hour stock trading, real estate ployed and work from home. How are tomers perceive a lack of quality? Are you
firms previewing homes on the Internet changing lifestyles affecting what your unsure of where to start making improve-
and home delivery of groceries for busy customers want from you? How can you ments? Ask your customers what they
consumers. Rethink your entire operation profit by responding to these changes? think about your quality.
to make what you offer more accessible, Unbundled Service: Look for price The new millennium promises to be
user -friendly, and portable. Think "one- cutting to intensify even further, spread- anything but "business as usual." Corn -
stop shopping" and reduce the hassle. ing to unlikely arenas such as profession- pany leaders need to proactively change
Make doing business with you easy.
Aging Boomers/Generation X: Gen -
eration-X and the Turning -50 Boomers
al services. For example, by teaching do-
it- yourself homeowners how to fix up
homes, Home Depot saves them money.
Innovation -
with change, rather than react to change.

coming up with ideas and
bringing them to life must take place
present countless opportunities for cre- What services can you eliminate from at every level of the organization. Rest-
ative responses. On the horizon is a grow- your lineup in order to give the customer ing on one's laurels is no longer going to
ing Generation -X labor shortage. Imag- a lower price and still make money? be an option.
ine a motel designed so that the night Value Differentiation: If you're not
clerk, instead of snoozing, launders going to be the low -price leader, you must About the author: Robert B. Tucker
sheets and towels in a high -tech washer/ add value continuously. Four Seasons is a keynote speaker and author of Man-
dryer installed behind the desk. Rooms Hotels have computer banks that store in- aging the Future: 10 Driving Forces of
are designed to take less time to clean. formation about each guest. Customer Change for the Next Century (Berkley
Guests can use their own credit cards to Smith prefers a non -allergenic pillow; Books). Details: (800) 239 -6681. E-mail:
access their rooms. Sound farfetched? It's customer Jones likes a rare kind of tea. InnovationResource @compuserve.com
February 2000 ProService Review PS-7
Are You A Service Center?
SERVICE CLINIC roller that stabilizes tape movement. Then you need 'nControl!
(continued from page 38) Some VCRs lack this component. If it is Software for service professionals
included, it is found on the left side near Time clock ant omatic tech production point 8 rick killing
:lectoric billing cedrt cad ymr al :k.in ,ecicet p5 rtnauls c
the capstan during play, record, and full erase head. Download ServicerSolutions.corn
search modes. It is constructed as a Half-Loading Arm- Located near the Free Trial ! (888) PBS -6288
L4.- i:n.. c,n^,Nr 2COo
molded rubber sleeve fused to a metal capstan/pinch roller on the right side.
roller on a small ball bearing. On VCRs with "rapid" or "instant-
Audio/Control Head Stack -This is found access" transports, this helps to position MULTIMEDIA
between the right roller guide (when the tape in the intermediate (half- on the PC!
tape is loaded around drum) and the loaded) position. A similar arm is usual- What is Multimedia? What can
capstan. It includes the magnetic heads ly present in other VCRs and helps to it do for you? It can do lots
of nice things! This 184 -page
for non -Hi -Fi (linear) audio and the position the tape around the pinch book helps you create your own
synchronization control track. roller. multimedia presentation. Mul-
Back - Tension Arm- Located on the left Belts-They come in various sizes timedia applications by people like you can
revolutionize educational and business applications as
side just as the tape exits the cassette, and look like black rubber bands. The well bring more FUN, FUN, FUN into your leisure
this is coupled to a felt Back - Tension Band quantity of belts depends on the manu- computer activities.
and serves to maintain a constant ten- facturer; a typical VCR will have
sion on the tape during play, record, and between 0 and 12 of them on top and I_Mail coupon to:
forward search. It retracts toward the bottom. Typically, you'll find three or Electronics Technology Today, Inc.
cassette when the tape is unloaded. four. Most belts are square in cross -sec- P.O. Box 240

Various other Fixed-Guide Posts-A tion, though an occasional belt might be Massapequa Park, NY 11762 -0240
Please send me my copy of Multimedia on the P
series of vertical, stationary metal posts flat or round. The belts usually need (PCP1201. enclose a check or money order for $18.45 tc

that guide the tape. The positions of replacement after a few years. cover the book's cost and shipping- and -handling ex-
penses. NY state residents must add local sales tax.
these vary somewhat by manufacturer.
Full-Erase Head-This is found on the That's it for now. Until next time, Name

left side towards the rear. The tape pass- check out my Web site, www.repairfaq. Address

es over it just before going around the org. I welcome comments (via e-mail City State ZIP

roller guide, guide post, and drum. It only, please) of all types and will reply All orders must be paid in U.S. funds only. Sorry, n

rarely causes problems. promptly to requests for information. orders accepted outside of USA and Canada. Please allow

Impedance Roller -A freely- rotating See you next time! P

L 8 r:;eeks for delivery
ma02 ,

The Pro
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E-mail pts@ptscorp.wm
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I Fax: 800 -844-3291
CIRCLE 150 ON FREE INFORMATION CARD ProService Review February 2000
PS - 8
National Pru -*soNal Service
and ?rev ftssh'nal Service triad S/w
John Ascuaga's Nugget Hotel Sparks (Reno) NV -
Register for the Full Convention, Any Three Consecutive Days, or Daily

Complete this form, detach and mail to: NPSC 2000, 2708 W. Berry Street, Fort Worth, TX 76109; 817- 921 -9061; Fax 817.921.3741; www.nesda.com
Full convention registration includes all programmed meals, banquets, door NOTE: Special Registration Rates are valid ONLY on registrations complet-
prize drawings, trade show, dealer/manufacturer meetings, seminars and work- ed. fully paid and received before the deadlines listed. "Three -Day Special"
shops. Activities may be scheduled for optional participation at an extra cost. registration is available for any three consecutive days. Children age 17 and
There is no convention youth program. However, children 17 and under are under are free. Convention fee schedule per person (ages 18, up):
If registered and Full Convention 3 -day
Name fully paid by ... Registration Special Daily Totals:
Firm Name Jan. 31, 2000 $160 $120 $70 $
Address Mar. 31, 2000 $180 $140 $75 $
City State
May 15, 2000 $200 $160 $80 $
Zip Phone
Member of (please check the appropriate boxes below): Aug. 3, 2000 $220 $180 $85 $
NESDA; ISCET; PSA; NARDA/NASD; Non -Member; At the door $250 $200 $90 $
Instructor; ['Speaker; Distributor; Manufacturer; Sales Rep;
Press; Dealer; Technician; Other If registering for a 3 -day special, check which 3 days you are registering:
Mon. -Wed. Tues.- Thurs. Wed. -Fri. Thurs. -Sat.

Below, please print legibly your name, and the names of all other registrants (including nicknames) as they are to appear on the registration badges:
Check box if
first NPSC Youth Ages

Full Name (The one name you want in large letters) Badge Name

Numbers of Participants/Length of Registration
# Adults # Adults # Adults
Full: 3 -Day: Daily: Total No. of Days:
# Children # Children # Children
Full: 3 -Day: Daily: Total No. of Days:
Make your check payable to NESDA
Visa MasterCard No. Exp. Signature:
Special Room Rates: Deluxe room rates at John Ascuaga's Nugget Hotel are $89 single or double; $10 per person over 2 in the same room, max. 4. Children
18 years and under stay free with parents. Rates do not include room tax, currently 8%. Rooms are subject to availability. You may call the Nugget directly to
make your reservations at 800- 648 -1177 (tell them you're reserving under the National Professional Service Convention) or by registration card provided by
NESDA. Due to a city -wide celebration the week prior to NPSC 2000, our room-block does not begin until Sunday, August 6th. Hotel reservations
beginning prior to August 6th are on your own. To guarantee a room at John Ascuaga's Nugget Hotel, reservations MUST be made by June 30.
REFUND POLICY: Register in advance. If find that you have to cancel any time prior to convention
all money prepaid will be refunded except for a 10% processing fee per registered person.
- -
February 2000 ProService Review PS-9
Arizona Kandarian Electronics Indiana New Jersey
1101 19th Street Lashen Electronics Inc.
Circuit Specialists, Inc. Bakersfield, CA 93301 ACRO Electronics Corp. 21 Broadway
220 S. Country Club Dr. 1101 W. Chicago Ave. Denville, NJ 07834
Bldg 2 Metro Electronics East Chicago, IN 46312
Mesa, AZ 85210 1831 J Street New York
Sacramento, CA 95814 Hutch & Son, Inc.
Elliott Elec. Supply 300 N. Main St. LNL Distributing Corp.
1251 S. Tyndell Ave. Minute Man Electronics Evansville, IN 47711 235 Robbins Lane
Tucson, AZ 85713 37111 Post St., Suite 1 Syosset, NY 11791
Fremont, CA 94536 King of the Road Elec.
California 409 E. Center Rd. T &M Elec. Supply, Inc.
Orvac Electronics Kokomo, IN 46902 472 East Main Street
All Electronics 1645 E Orangethorpe Ave. Patchogue, NY 11772
14928 Oxnard Street Fullerton, CA 92631 Maryland
Van Nuys, CA 91411 Unicorn Electronics
San Mateo Elec. Supply Mark Elec. Supply Inc. Valley Plaza
California Electronics 16 W. 42nd Ave. 11215 Old Baltimore Pike Johnson City, NY 13790
221 N. Johnson Ave. San Mateo, CA 94403 Beltsville, MD 20705
El Cajon, CA 90202 Ohio
Say -On Electronics Massachusetts
Electrnics Plus,Inc. 13225 Harbor Blvd. Parts Express
823 4u1 St. Garden Grove, CA 92643 Electronic Hook-Up 725 Pleasant Valley Drive
San Rafael, CA 94901 104 Main St. Springboro, OH 45066
Whitcomm Electronics Milford, MA 01757
Electronics Warehouse 105 W. Dakota 106 Philcap Electronic Suppliers
2691 Main Street Clovis, CA 93612 "You- Do -It" Electronics 275 E. Market Street
Riverside, CA 92501 40 Franklin Street Akron, OH 44308
Colorado Neeham, MA 02494
Ford Electronics Oregon
8431 Commonwealth Ave Centennial Elec. Inc. Michigan
Buena Park, CA 90621 2324 E. Bijon Norvac Electronics
Colorado Springs, CO Norwest Electronics 7940 SW Nimbus Avenue
HSC Electronics 80909 33760 Plymouth Rd. Beaverton, OR 97005
6819 S. Redwood Drive Livonia, MI 48150
Cotati, CA 94931 Connecticut Texas
Purchase Radio Supply
HSC Electronics Cables & Connectors 327 East Hoover Avenue Computers Electronics Etc.
4837 Amber Lane 2198 Berlin Turnpike Ann Arbor, MI 48104 110 E. Medical Center Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95841 Newington, CT 06111 Webster, TX 77598
The Elec. Connection
Halted Specialties Co. Electronic Service Prod. 37387 Ford Road Electronic Parts Outlet
3500 Ryder Street 437 Washington Avenue Westland, MI 48185 3753 B Fondren
Santa Clara, CA 95051 North Haven, CT 06473 Houston, TX 77063
Inland Electronic Suppliers Illinois Tanner Electronics
1012 N. Carpenter Rd. Acme Electronics 1301 W Beltine
Modesto, CA 95351 BB &W Inc. 224 Washington Avenue N. Carrollton, TX 75006
2137 S. Euclid Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55401
JK Electronics Berwyn, IL 60402
6395 Westminster Blvd. Missouri
Westminster, CA 92683 Tri State Elex
200 W. Northwest Hwy. Gateway Electronics
Mt. Prospect, IL 60056 8123 -25 Page Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63130

If you'd like to sell our magazine in your store,

please circle 180 on free information card
or Contact
Gina Gallo at (631) 293 -3000 ext 215
ProService Review February 2000


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D One Mini View KVM switch
D 2 Sets of Premium Grade

Case fan system exhaust

One PS/2 to AT keyboard adap
One PS /2 to Serial mouse adapter
$12 O
4pin D One User Guide
D Keyboard & mouse emulation for error
Five PC booting
Cat.nO.TM- FAN -Sl ul D No external power required cat.no. TM-290-PS
D Works virtually with any operating's.nv1
D Fullyhotplugable DS- 102- K1lMPS
V) EXTENSIONS, male to female
J CC-VGA -4C 6FT f600

Q CC-VGA -5C LOFT $800

U CC-VGA -25CX 25FT $1600 Category 5 Patch Cable
CC- VGA -50CX SOFT 1260
< CC- VGA -I00CX IOOFT 14400 TE-038-L5
aft. Straight Patch
7ft. Straight Patch

SWITCH BOX, male to male TE-128-L.5

140. Straight Patch
25ft. Straight Patch
O TE-358-L5 35ft. Straight Patch
U CC- VGA -3C 6FT $600 TE-508-L5 50ft. Straight Patch
CC- VGA -9C 10FT $800 TE-758-15 75ft. Straight Patch
LD CC -VGA -1 IC 25F $160 TE- I08-LS IOOft. Straight Patch




www.unbound- tech.com U -7-7 1- 877-UNBOUNO

Development Boards, Mlcrocontrollers, Kits,


Control and Measurement
Divtdopment. Prototype and Testing
JCM Vulcan Logic Trainer Design and test
digital circuits in minutes with this trainer and a
JCM Advanced dig daughterboard
Serial Control and Measurenuint

232.485 Series measure Inputs and
trigger events over serial.

- UTI -05-XXX: 0-5VDC 4

uses simple ASCII

S99 -$299
8 bit A/D





JCM Analog Trainer. Use on its own. or to - UTI- DI-XXX: 0.301IDC 4 channel digital Input.
complement to the logic trainer. test analog adjustable trigger level MODEL 30 $79 MODEL 45 $189
545 -UTI-0C-XXX: 8 channel open collector
circuits in minutes.
outputs. opt 5V pull -up. drive relays or MDG6LNIOPCRUS Rfxi2 INTERFACE
UTI PIC-Micro Trainer. This system gives you


the flexibility to test and experiment with micro

based designs. includes a 64K -bit non-volatile E'

- UTI- RE -XXX: 4 SPOT plays w/ 2A cantata S CHANNEL. a ANALOG INPUTS

mem. and R5 -232 and R5.485 drivers. S129

- UTI- PMXXX: 2 channel PWM output with e an A/D/ IH 2 ANALOG OUTPUTS
two buffered digital outputs. good for motor coUR
comma 2 COUNTERS-24 BIT
UTI Control Trainer. Real world interface for 12 R
control apps, opt H- bridge version. PAP/SEC
the trainer series. with inputs and outputs for UP TO 141(
measurement and control. analog rond- relays.
- UTIWMXXX: amblent temperature and
rotative humidity. 8 bit resolution
buffered dig I/O and more.
. $69
JCM Cybugl kit. a great little robot kit for the
-More available....
UTI- 232-485: Speak to an RS -485 device with
MODEL 100 $279 MODEL 150 -02 .... $179
hobbyist $32
your PC, extend 500' to other serial devices. or 12 91T 100 91U 8/0 RS-232 INTERFACE
Protoryping breadboard to fit the above 5129
chain several UTI -XX -485 devices.

Other Exciting Products 3 TIMER COUNTERS 12 BIT A/D

Microcontroller Boards and Interfaces
UTI -WCI: Serial CCD Camara. Board level. takes 24 DIGITAL I/O OPTO-ISOLATED
These boards include voltage regulation. 64K -bit
serialE5. RS-232 and RS -485 drivers, interface serial commands through RS -232 at up to 115K
with screw terminals and /or stackable expansion Baud. retums CCD data in various res. Great for
headers. pia and experimenting.PC SAN incl. 5249
UTI-P76F: A flash PIC micro den board 5169 UTISCL: WlnCam.live. Serial port based
UTI-Il Al: A 68HCI based SBC 1 $189 webcam system for your PC. $499 109-
$49 -$99 UTISCP SecureCam Pro. Remote access surveil -
Some Interfaces available:
lance camera, event trigger. motion detection. RS -232 INTERMcS 95-232 INTERFACE
-4 and B channel analog zero and span cet
outdoor end. available $599 28 LINES MORAL I/O 10 BIT A/D
-8 SPOT relays with 2A contacts
DTI-ACC: Capture and play 2 -4 min of audio. ANALOG INPUTS 5.5 DIGIT
-2A dual H-bridge for motors and solenoids B
line level input. dry contact trigger S129 PWM OUTWIT UP TO 6O $114P/SEC
-Audio capture. 2 -4 min of audio
UTI -MP -)DOL: serial RS232 radios, 900MHz
- Micro modem rates 2400 - 28.8
narrow band RF. ch selectable. 1000' range
- LCD. 2 line x 16 char. and 4 line x 20 char outdoor. combine with our control and measure-
- Ambient temperature and relative humidity ment Products for a telemetry system. $119
UTI- 12CM- XXX -X: Non -volatile PC memory
All prices in FSs
boards (up to 512Kb per board!)

Prairie Digital, Inc.

and handling not included
we also piovide afto,dalale ales ionic design. consulting, assembly. and product development

aA -T,
L yyy

(1- a774162 -6863)
025 -1725 30 Ave NE Calgary, Alberta, CANADA T2E 7P6
Tel: 403.291 -0054 Fax: 403- 291 -0017
Payment by Cash, Chk, MO, COD
Call us to receive details via fax. mall or email.
PHONE 608- 643 -8599 FAX 608 -643 -6754




Software For Windows - FREE
ANAL YZER, CONVERT PC'S O Download our board layout software
DVM, FREQ. MULTIPURPOSE Design your 2 sided plated- through PCB
Send us your layout over the Internet
In 2 -3 business days, UPS delivers
o your boards, often under $100
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Why lug a scope around? Toss one of our modules into
your laptop case or tool kit. For a multi -purpose test
device, plug to a PC parallel port and use the PC
screen. Continuous, delayed, or triggered sweeps can
be frozen on the screen, printed out, or saved to disk.
Frequency Spectrums DC to 25 MHz.

Allison now provides PICO TECHNOLOGY Ltd.

portable test equipment, including high -speed scopes,
P1cm n Books
and multi channel data loggers. Pico and O -Scope
modules accept standard probes and work with 286 or LEARN ABOUT PIC MIICROCONTROLLERS
faster PC's.


0-Scopes Made in U.S.A. Picos Made in U.K.

Same Day Shipping
Includes Cable, Software 8 Manuals
0-Scope Ip (DC50KHz, single trace) $189.
0-Scope II (DC-500KHz, dual trace) $349.
PICO (ADC 200/20) (DC- 10MHz, dual trace) CALL
PICO (ADC 200/50) (DC- 25MHz, dual trace) CALL
PICO pc based data loggers from $99.
Shipping within U.S. UPS Ground $7.50(Second day $11.50)
See Table Of Contents: http: //www.sq-1.com
Secure Online Ordering is Available
1-800 -980 -9806 PIC Is a trademark of Microchip Technology Inc.

Allison Technology Corporation CQt1Ak


PHONE: 281- 239 -8500 FAX: 281- 239 -8006 Voice (707) 279 -8881 Fax (707) 279 -8883
http://www.sg-l.com 75

ALL "le FAST Shipping
Free 96
Outside the

O R o send $3.00 U.S.A.

SPECIAL - 12 Vdc 1 Amp REDUCED PRICE! 20 Character X 4 Line LCD
Power Supply 185 Watt Power Supply Optrex # DMC 20434 -CEM
(PWB 20434 -CEM)
5 x 8 dot format.
x 1 " viewing area.
3.88" x 2.38" module.
Removed from new
equipment. May have fe t padding on metal
New 12 Vdc, bezel. 14 pin single row header is pre- attached
Amp table top Spec /hook -up sheet included.

power supply. 3.4" x 2.8" x CAT# LCD -46 $70

2.3" high. 6' two conductor h
10 for $60.00
AC power cord. 6' 18/2 output power cord
with strip -ped and tinned ends. Output is Compaq # 172417 -002 (172432 -001)
16 Vdc with no load, 12 Vdc with Amp load.
Input: 120/ 240 Vac (switchable) Snap -In Capacitor
Supplies are new but have no DC outputs: +5V 18A, +3.4V @ 12A, +12V
labels or markings. 6A, -5V 0.15A, -12V 0.15A. 560 OF 400 Vdc - NICHICON CE
CAT # DCTX -1213
Size: 6.5" x 5.75" x 3.85" Built-in fan. On /off 85, C LQ (M). 1.39" dia. X 1.B3 "h.
10 for $50.00 c switch on 20" lead. Power cord not included. 0.4" lead sp. CAT# EC -5640 0

100 for $400.00. each UL. CSA.

CAT # PS -185 $leach 10 for $3.75 each $4
100 for $3.00 each
Modular CD Racks
40 RPM Gearhead Motor I
Organize your CDs or
Pittman # Cordless Phone
CD ROMs with these
high- impact, black
GM8212C127 -R2. Battery Pack
Small, powerful
plastic CD storage
gearhead motor. Sanyo # 3N- 270AA.
racks. Slots for 12
187:1 ratio. No load specs: 40 RPM 19.1 Popular rechargeable
jewel cases. Each 12
Vdc, 130 mA. 24 RPM @ 12 Vdc, 160 mA. nickel- cadmium battery
CD module can inter-
Overall dimensions 3" long X 1.37" diameter. pack for cordless phones.
lock vertically and
0.185" (3/16") diameter X 0.75" long shaft. A Three 2/3 AA cells with connector to f't many
horizontally with other
modules. Can be free- brass 0.56" diameter gear with 16 cogs is fas- phones made by Cobra, Code -a- phone, Genera
tened to the shaft. 17" leads. Electric, GTE and Sanyo. 3.6 Volt, 270 mAh.
standing or wall

CAT# CDR -3 $2o

CAT# DCM -135
10 for $125.00
$15 00 each
Pack size, 1.68" x 1.23" x 0.58". Large quantity
10 for $17.50 each $200 10 for $17.50
S -VHS Video Tapes (Used) each 100 for $110.00

3000 MCD ULTRA -BRIGHT Super VHS tape users!

RED LED Save a bundle on name - 3/4" Protective Pads
brand S-VHS, T-120
tapes. These tapes were Self- sticking 0.8" dia x 0.25" high
Everlight # 383URC- 2/TR1 -C(R) used for a brief period, black rubber discs Use
Red, "Ultra- bright" T 1 3/4 LEDs then bulk erased. The as feet, spacers, cush-
"Tape- and -reel" parts. These record -protect tabs have been ions and protectors.
are 5 mm diameter water -clear broken out, so you will have to Packaged 36 per sheet.
LEDs that light bright red at 20 cover the notch with a piece of tape, CAT # RF -341
RGAAT# LED -50 but they work great .
$300 Minimum purchase 36 pcs.
2 for $100 100 for $35.00
1000 for $250.00
10 for $28.00 100 for $250.00
360 for $18.00 36 for $300
ORDER TOLL FREE 1-800-826-5432
Sho ON -LINE www.allelectronics.com
MAIL ORDERS TO: FAX (818) 781 -2653 INFO (818) 904-0524
VAN NUYS, CA 91408 -0567
E-MAIL allcorp @allcorp.com
P.O. BOX 567
NO MINIMUM ORDER All Orders Can Be Charged to Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover Checks and Money Orders Accepted by Mail
Orders Delivered in the State of California must Include California State Sales Tax NO C.O.D Shipping and Handling $5.00 for the 48 Continental United
States - ALL OTHERS including Alaska, Hawaii, P.R. and Canada Must Pay Full Shipping Quantities Limited Prices Subject to change without notice.




Coo/ Wireless Goodies
World's Smallest TV Transmitters Doppler Direction
We call them the 'Cubes'.... Perfect video transmission Finder
' from a transmitter you can hide under a quarter and only Track down jammers and hidden transmitters with
as thick as a stack of four pennies - that's a nickel in the ease! This is the famous WA2EBY DF'er featured
picture! Transmits color or B&W with fantastic quality - in April 99 QST. Shows direct bearing to transmitter
almost like a direct wired connection to any TV tuned to on compass style LED display, easy to hook up to
cable channel 59. Crystal controlled for no frequency drift with performance that equals law enforcement
any FM receiver. The transmitter - the object of your DF'ing - need not be FM, it
models that cost hundreds more! Basic 20 mW model transmits up to 300' while the high power 100 mW can be AM, FM or CW. Easily connects to receivers speaker jack and antenna,
unit goes up to 1/4 mile. Audio units include sound using a sensitive built-in mike that will hear a whisper unit runs on 12 VDC. We even include 4 handy home -brew "mag mount" antennas
15 feet away! Units run on 9 volts and hook -up to most any CCD camera. Any of our cameras have been
and cable for quick set up and operation! Whips can be cut and optimized for any
tested to mate perfectly with our Cubes and work great. Fully assembled - just hook -up power and you're frequency from 130 -1000 MHz. Track down that jammer, win that fox hunt, zero in
on the air! These are the units that are being built into hats, pagers, cigarette packs and sold for big $$ !! on that downed Cessna - this is an easy to build, reliable kit that compares most
C -2000, Basic Video Transmitter $89.95 C -3000, Basic Video & Audio Transmitter favorably to commercial units costing upwards of $1000.00! This is a neat kit!!
C -2001, High Power Video Transmitter...$179.95 C3001, High Power Video & Audio Transmitter $229.95 DDF -1, Doppler Direction Finder Kit . $149.95

CCD Video Cameras Super Pro FM Stereo FM Stereo Radio

Top quality Japanese Class 'A' CCD array,
over 440 line line resolution, not the off-
Transmitter Transmitters
spec arrays that are found on many other cameras. Don't be fooled Professional synthesized FM No drift, microprocessor synthesized!
by the cheap CMOS single chip cameras which have 1/2 the resolu-
tion, 1/4 the light sensitivity and draw over twice the current! The
Stereo station in easy to use,
handsome cabinet. Most radio if player, tape deck or mike mixer and,
Excellent audio quality, connect to CD

black & white models are also super IR (Infra -Red) sensitive. Add
our invisible to the eye, IR -1 illuminator kit to see in the dark! Color
stations require a whole equip-
ment rack to hold all the fea-
Firm rime you're on- the -air. Strapable for high or
low power! Runs on 12 VDC or 120
camera has Auto gain, white balance, Back Light Compensation and tures we've packed into the VAC. Kit includes case, whip antenna,
DSP! Available with Wide -angle (80e) or super slim Pin-hole style FM -100. Set freq with Up /Down buttons, big LED display. 120 VAC power adapter - easy one evening assembly.
lens. Run on 9 VDC, standard 1 volt p -p video. Use our transmitters Input low pass filter gives great sound (no more squeals or FM -25, Synthesized Stereo Transmitter Kit $129.95
for wireless transmission to TV set, or add our IB -1 Interface board swishing from cheap CD inputs!) Limiters for max 'punch' in
kit for audio sound pick -up and super easy direct wire hook -up to Lower cost alternative to our high perfor-
audio - without over mod, LED meters to easily set audio
any Video monitor, VCR or TV with NV input. Fully assembled, with mance transmitters. Great value, easily
levels, built -in mixer with mike, line level inputs. Churches,
pre -wired connector. tunable, fun to build. Manual goes into
drive -ins, schools, colleges find the FM -100 the answer to
great detail about antennas, range and
CCDWA -2, B &W CCD Camera, wide -angle lens their transmitting needs, you will too. Great features, great
$69.95 FCC rules. Handy kit for sending music
CCDPH -2, B &W CCD Camera, slim fit pin -hole lens price! Kit includes cabinet, whip antenna, 120 VAC supply.
$69.95 thru house and yard, ideal for school
We also offer a high power export version of the FM -100
CCDCC -1, Color CCD Camera, wide -angle lens $129.95 projects too - you'll be amazed at the exceptional audio
that's fully assembled with one watt of RF power, for miles
IR -1, IR Illuminator Kit for B &W cameras $24.95 quality! Runs on 9V battery or 5 to 15 VDC. Add our
of program coverage. The export version can only be
IB -1, Interface Board Kit matching case and whip antenna set for nice 'pro' look.
$14.95 shipped outside the USA, or within the US if accompanied
by a signed statement that the unit will be exported. FM -10A, Tunable FM Stereo Transmitter Kit $34.95
Mini Radio Receivers FM -100, Pro FM Stereo Transmitter Kit
FM- 100WT, Fully Wired High Power FM -100
CFM, Matching Case and Antenna Set
FMAC, 12 Volt DC Wall Plug Adapter
Imagine the fun of tuning into aircraft a hun-
dred miles away, the local police/fire depart-
ment, ham operators, or how about Radio Tiny Transmitters FM Station Antennas
Moscow or the BBC in London? Now imagine
Gosh, these babies are tiny - that's a For maximum performance, a good antenna
doing this on a little radio you built yourself -
in just an evening! These popular little
quarter in the picture! Choose the unit is needed. Choose our very popular dipole
receivers are the nuts for catching all the action on the local ham, that's best for you. FM -5 is the small- kit or the Comet, a factory made 5/8 wave
aircraft, standard FM broadcast radio, shortwave or WWV National est tunable FM transmitter in the col!near model with 3.4 dB gain. Both work
world, picks up a whisper 10' away great with any FM receiver or transmitter.
Time Standard radio bands. Pick the receiver of your choice, each
easy to build, sensitive receiver has plenty of crystal clear audio to and transmits up to 300'. Runs on tiny TM -100, FM Antenna Kit $39.95
included watch battery, uses SMT
drive any speaker or earphone. Easy one evening assembly, run
parts. FM -4 is large , more powerful, runs on 5-12 volts,
FMA -200, Vertical Antenna ....$114.95
on 9 volt battery, all have squelch except for shortwave and FM
goes up to a mile. FM4,5 operate in standard FM band 88-
broadcast which has handy SCA output. Add our snazzy matching
case and knob set for that smart finished look.
AR -1, Airband 108-136 MHz KU
108 MHz. FM -6 is crystal controlled in 2 meter ham band,
146.535 MHz, easily picked up on scanner or 2 meter rig,
RF Power Booster
$29.95 runs on 2 included watch batteries. SMT (surface mount) Add muscle to your signal, boost power up
HFRC -1. WWV 10 MHz (crystal controlled) Kit $34.95 kits include extra parts in case you sneeze & loose a part! to 1 watt over a freq range of 100 KHz to r
FR -1, FM Broadcast Band 88-108 MHz Kit $24.95 FM -4MC, High Power FM Transmitter Kit $17.95 over 1000 MHz! Use as a lab amp for sig-
FR -6. 6 Meter FM Ham Band Kit $34.95 FM-5, World's Smallest FM Transmitter Kit $19.95 nal generators, plus many foreign users
FR -10, 10 Meter FM Ham Band Kit $34.95 FM-6, Crystal Controlled 2M FM Transmitter Kit employ the LPA -1 to boost the power of
FR -146, 2 Meter FM Ham Band Kit $34.95 FM-6, Fully Wired & Tested 2M FM Transmitter their FM transmitters, providing radio service through an
FR- 220, 220 MHz FM Ham Band Kit $34.95 entire town. Runs on 12 VDC. For a neat finished look, add

AM Radio
SR -1, Shortwave 4-11 MHz Band Kit the nice matching case set.
Matching Case Set (specify for which kit) LPA -1, Power Booster Amplifier Kit $39.95
Transmitter CLPA, Matching Case Set for LPA -1 Kit $14.95

Touch -Tone Reader Operates in standard AM broadcast

LPA -1WT, Fully Wired LPA -1 with Case $99.95

Read touch -tone numbers from any radio,

band. Pro version, AM -25, is synthe-
Dinky Radios
sized for stable, no -drift frequency and is setable for high
phone line, tape recorder - any audio source! power output where regulations allow, typical range of t -2
Decipher called numbers on scanners, radio miles. Entry-level AM -1 is tunable, runs FCC maximum 100 Everyone who sees one of these babies
shows, anywhere touch -tones are used. Mem- mw, range 1/4 mile. Both accept line -level inputs from tape says they just gotta have one! Super
ory stores up to 256 digits, an 8 digit display decks, CD players or mike mixers, run on 12 volts DC. Pro cute, tiny (that's a Quarter in the picture!)
window scrolls anywhere in memory. Memory AM -25 includes AC power adapter, matching case and bot- FM radios have automatic scan/search
good for 100 years, even with power off! Runs on 7 to 15 volt DC, tom loaded wire antenna. Entry-level AM -1 has an available tuning, comfortable ear bud earphones and we even
Available in kit form with optional matching case set or fully assem- matching case and knob set that dresses up the unit. Great include the battery. The pager style unit looks like a
bled in case set. We sell tons of these to private investigators! sound, easy to build - you can be on the air in an evening! shrunken pager and even has an LCD clock built-in. The
TG -1, Tone -Grabber Touch Tone Reader Kit $99.95
crystal clear sound will amaze you! Makes a great gift.
AM -25, Professional AM Transmitter Kit $129.95
CTG, Case for Tone -Grabber Touch Tone Reader MFMT1, World's Smallest FM Radio $11.95
$14.95 AM -1, Entry level AM Radio Transmitter Kit $29.95
PFMR -1, Pager Style LCD Clock & FM Radio $12.95
TG -1WT, Tone -Grabber, fully assembled with case $149.95 CAM, Matching Case Set for AM -1 $14.95
AC12-5, 12 Volt DC Wall Plug Adapter $9.95
Order Toll -free: 800-446-2295 793 Canning Parkway Victor, NY 14564

ORDERING INFO: Satisfaction Guaranteed. Examine for 10 days, if

Sorry no tech info or order status at 800 number See our complete catalog and order not pleased, return in original form for refund. Add $6.95 for ship-
For Technical Info, Order Status on -line with our secure server at: ping, handling anc insurance. Orders under $20, add $3.00. NY resi-

Call Factory direct: 716 - 924 -4560 www.ramseyelectronics.com dents add 7% sales tax. Sorry, no CODs. Foreign orders, add 20%
for surface mail or use credit card and specify shipping method. 77


a es
(800) 292 -7711
Orders Only
Se Habla Espaol Excellence in Service
C&S www.cs- sales.com
Monthly Specials
On Our Website

Power Supplies Soldering Equipment

Elenco Ouad Power Supply Elenco Power Supply Kit Elenco Hot Air SMD Rework Station Weller Low Cost Soldering Iron
Model XP -581 Model XP-720K Model SR -979
Model WLC -100
fi 1.5VDC - 15VDC @ 1A $54.95 The x latmn is engineered to
Variable power
$79.95 -1.5VDC - -15VDC meet the eeds of today's electronic
industry Wide range of adjustments
control produces
5VDC @ 3A 5-40 watts.
or air volume and temperature
6.3VAC @ IA & 1212' F1 754'F1 permits soldering of
1 -E 12.6VAC center
-... most surface mount devices Ideal for hobby-
4 Fully Regulated DC Power tapped @1A Comes with an A1138 nozzle OFP 28 ists, DlYers and

Supplies in One Unit
DC voltages: 3 toed .5V
@ 3A. 4 12V @ 1A, -12V @
4 44
e 28mm (Lt x1.11.

Complete with
1 Variable . 2.5 20V @2A XP-720 Fully Assembled $85 40W iron.

B &K High Current Elenco DC Power Supply Weller Soldering Station

DC Power Supply Model SPL -603 3A 0 -30VDC Model WES50 $36.95
Venable 3-1aVDC The SPL-603 is a
thermal Function
solid-state DC 50 watts of Weller Marksman"
Current limiting
power supply controlled 23W Soldering Iron Model SP23
Model 1686 12A providing the power -
$169 exact output volt- designed for .... -
Model 1688 28A age no matter
$249 what current you
88x 13.8V Fixed DC Power Supplies
use. Output fully
protected from soldering. $119
Model 1680 BA ..................... $42
Model 1682 158 _.... $75 overload. $79.95 .

Generators & Counters

Elenco Sweep Function Generator 10 Function 1.3GHz Universal Counter Multifunction Elenco Handheld
w/ built -in frequency counter Model GF -8036 Elenco Model F -1300 Counter Universal Counter
Frequency .05Hz - 1.3GHZ 3 Ranges
Period Can read 80Hz to 60 000000 F=17
B&K Model 1875 1MHz - 2.8GHz
10Hz- 2.5GHz
Model F -2800
$225 Totalize - Counts to 199.996 ggg
RPM - 3 to 2099094 RPM
Duty Cycle
Max/Min/AVG with Time $225
t 1

Stop-watch set .2 sec. to 100 hrs.

This sweep function generator with counter is an instrument capa- Math Functions Ultra sensitive
rimer 2 sec. to 99 days
ble of generating square, triangle, and sine waveforms, and TTL, Pulse Width - 0.1 ms to 6E606.6ms
CMOS pulse over a frequency range from 0.2Hz to 2MHz. detector bar -
Elenco RF Generator with Counter B &K 20MHz Sweep /Function Generator graph and RF
(100kHz - 150kHz) Model SG -9500 with Frequency Counter Model 4040
3 Channels

Features internal AM mod. of
1kHz, RF output 100MV - 35MHz.
0.2Hz to 20MHz
AM & FM modulation
Burst Operation
$445 C i9C5:
Audio output 1kHz @ 1V RMS.
External Frequency counter to 30MHz
Measures Frequency, Period, Features 10 digit dispiay. 18 seg-

Linear and Log sweep
Data Hold, Relative, Memory ment and RF signal strength bar -
21.5MHz Model 4070 $1295 (min., max., average). High graph.
SG -9000 $119.95 10MHz Model 4017 $319 Sensitivity, Microprocessor Includes antenna, NiCad battery,
(analog, w/o counter) 5MHz Model 4011 $249 BK PRECOS7081 Controlled. and AC adapter.

Kit Corner Discounts Oscilloscopes
over 100 kits available Available Free Dust Cover and 2 Probes
Model RCC -7K Model AK -700
Radio Control Car Kit Pulse/Tone
Telephone Kit
Fun & Easy to $2995
7 Functions
Radio Control $15.
Transmitter Included
Model AM -780K Model OWI -007 S-1325 25MHz Dual Trace $325
Two IC Robotic Arm S-1330 25MHz Delayed Sweep $439
(Wired Control) S-1340 40MHz Dual Trace $475
Radio Kit Teaches the basic S-1345 40MHz Delayed Sweep $569
S-1360 60MHz Delayed Sweep $749
robotic sensing and S-1390 100MHz Delayed Sweep $995
locomotion principles
DS -203 20MHz/10Ms /s Analog /Digital $695
95 DS -303 40MHz/20MS /s Analog /Digital $995
DS -603 60MHz/20Ms /s Analog /Digital $1295

Guaranteed Lowest Prices C &S SALES, INC. 15 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE
IL Residents add 8.25 b Sales Tax FAX: 847 541 -9904 847 541 -0710
Secure on -line 64 PAGE CATALOG!
ordering Excellence in Service (800) 445 -3201

Digital Multimeters
Elenco LCR & DMM Elenco Model M -1740 Fluke 79111 Fluke 87111
Model LCM -1950
$39 95 $195
12 11 Functions:
Freq. to 20MHz
Capacitance ranges from
Freq. to 4MHz 99.99nF to 9999 F Features high perfor-
Cap. to 20 F
Inductance AC /DC Voltage Built -in frequency counter mance AC /DC voltage
AC /DC Current of voltage input from 1Hz and current measure-
Capacitance ment, frequency, duty
Beeper to over 20kHz.
and Much More Diode Test cycle, resistance, con-
Lo -Ohms range. a 40:1 ductance, and capaci-
Transistor Test

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IBM PC's and Clones Introduction to Windows 95
PC Assembly/Disassembly Introduction to Networks
Introduction to MS -DOS Introduction to the Internet
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Windows 3.1 Networking and Troubleshooting
Windows 95 Installation and Deployment
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240x64 dot
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l nit has
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SONY Miniature Color LCD Display (LCx00SBKB)
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Diode, Continuity Check Push-Button: For toggling between
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Made of ABS 707 fireproof plastic.
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Low Battery Indicator: Advises you when Transistor hfe Test Display shows they physically Insert every time they use a PC. Other models available
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from C.S.I. include RH 10 series and RH20 series, which are
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Extra Long 44" Tut Leads: Helps get to hard to reach places condition of 10uA base current and Vice of interchangeable within the same interface design (IDE or SCSI). Other
Vac: 01.5% reading +8 digits
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Diode Test Testa If diodes are shorted or Rack with
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01.0% Wading *6 digits ! Auto Door And Cooling Fan ONLY
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Frequency Range: I00KH. to Worldwide patent pulling funcoon any qty.
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Side Band (SSE) Modulated Signals
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For I" high 3.5" HOD
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Don't forget Not compatible with our RHD a RCr
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LED Backlight LCD (19)x192 dots Easy to Navigate Engine
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0.5 Lux Min Illumination
Built -In Electronic Auto Iris for Auto Light Compensation
VM1 030PA-B 30mmx3Ommx25mm, Pinhole lens with audio, I 2V 549.00 any qty.
39 Lens
All Include Audio
All Include Pre-Wired Cable Harness for Audio, Video & Power
12V Regulated Power Supply Required (120mA typical power
VM1030A 30mmx3Ommx26mm, Standard lens with audio, I 2V 549,00 any qty. consumption)
VM1035A 42mmx42mmx25mm, Standard lens with audio, 2V with back light I
0.1 LUX Rating (B/W), 1 LUX (color)
compensation 559.00 any qty. CCD Area Image Sensor for Long Camera Life
Back Light Compensation Circula
VMCB21 44mmx38.Smmx28mm, with 6 infra -red LEDs, 2V $49.00 any qty. I
Built -In Electronic Auto Irla Lens
VM1036A 32mmx32mmx25mm, Standard lens with audio, I2V, reverse mirror VMCW-H11A 32mmx32mmx3Omm, Color CCD with standard lens, pre -
image feature 159.00 any qty. wired cabling for video /audio, I2V DC Power .149.. 1139.. S or more 1

Bullet CCD CamerasB &W and Color VMCW-H12A 32mmx32mmxl9mm, Color CCD with pinhole lens, pre -wired
Smarr Rugged Metal Housing
Extrememly Low Power Consumption
12 Volt
Detailed Specs
on the Web
:IC cabling for video /audio, (2V DC Power input 314900/1139.x S or more
VMPS -71 BA 25mmx25mmx3omm, B/W CCD with standard lens, pre -
CCD Area Image Sensor for Long Comers Life
Built-In Electronic Auto Iris for Auto Light Compensation wired cabling for video/audio, 12V DC Power Input '69.00 /159. S or more
No Blooming. No Burning
0.1 Min Lux Illumination (B&W), Lux Min Lux Illumination (color)
VMPS -250A 25mmx25mmx15mm, B/W CCD with pinhole lens, pm -wired
VMBLT1020 B &W, 21mm(D)x55mm(L)'59.0 any qty. cabling for video /audio, 12V DC Power Input `69.40 / 159.7 S or more
VMBLT1020W &W Weatherproof (no audio), 21 mm(D)xSB.Smm(L) '79
B A0 any qty.
VMBLT1020A SAW with audio, 21 mm(D)x55mm(L) any qty.
Hot Air SMD Rework\
\V1,1BLTJC19BW COLOR! Weatherproof (no audio), 17mm(D)x88mm(L)'I39' O'Scope Offer QNLY
any qty.
'- Station WOW! ONLY S489
30MHz1 ONLY 32891
/COLOR CCD Mini Board Cameras Similar Systems Cost 100s More! $289
! Low Power Consumption Take Advantage of this
1 Lux Illumination
Detailed Spec.
low introductory price!
Internal Synchronization ONLY
12 Volta on the Web.
400 TV Lines
Built -In Electronic Auto Iris for Auto Light Compensation
VM3O1OPA 33mmx33mmx 18mm, Pinhole lens with audio 1129.0 any qty.
`VM3011 -A 4Smmx4Ommx24mm, Standard lens with audio, single board 399.00 any
\yM3010 -A 33mmx33mmx32mm, Standard lens with audio'129.40 any qty.
q #SR -979
For technicians,servlce/repair depots and assem-
bly rework. We also stock a selection of nozzles
3 -1/2 Digit JUMBO Digital Panel Meters for QFP, SOP a PLCC devices (see our website Dual Channel
Check these LOW PRICES! AS for selection details). Hot Alt' temperature vari- Dual Trace #OSC -1030
vbllable En able from I00C to 400 C (212 F to 754 F) Vert Trigger
21mm Figure Height
Of December
LOW AS power consumption:275w max.Auto cooling fea-
I Year C.S.I. Warranty!
S Volt Common Ground or 9V Independent Power ture cools system after that off to extend ser-
Manufactured for CSI by a leading
Supply Versions Available
Voltage Divider Resistors included and max. Measured $6.25 vice life of heating elements and handle. One year
limited warranty from C.S.I. O.E.M. manufacturer. See our
Range Selectable by Soldering a Selection Joint
Easy Bezel Snap -In Design (84mm x 41mm rectangular
Comes with QFP Nozzle (0,68" x 0.68") / ebsite for detailed specifications!
hole typical)

"O" Reading for "0" Voltage Input
High Quality SMD Production Method 3000 Series Digital R/O Bench Power Supplies
Dual Slope Integration A -D Converter System 0.5% Low Cost Single Output High Performance Triple Output
High stability digital read-out bench power supplies featuring constant LOW AS
PM -1028A LCD 9V Independent Power SupplyVersion I/512.951010.89 10047.99 253/66.26 voltage and current outputs. Short- circuit protection and current limiting
PM-10288 LCDSV Common Ground PowerSupplyVenlon 11$13.9510411.8410048.4925047.15 protection is provided.The dual output versions can be used in both serial
PM -1029A LED9V Independent Power SupplyVenlon 1414.95 10412.50 10049.95 25047.89 voltage and parallel current configurations to double maximum outputs.
Highly accurate LED accuracy and stable
PM- 1029BLEDSV CommonGround PowerSupplyVendorl I15.9510413.40100410.792S0)465
line regulation make the 3000 series the
perfect choice for lab and educational use.
Our Most Sophisticated DMM We Sold Over 700 Lost Year! No Une Regulation: 2x 10" + !ma
with R5 -232 Interface & Software, 3 -3/4 Digit, 4000 Count,Auto- Ranging
LED Accuracy: Voltage t
1% +2 digits
with Analog Bargraph K Type Temperature Probe Included
Pulse Signal for Logic
- t
Current 1.5% +2 digits
True RMS Mode Wave Une Noise: 51 mvrms
10MHz Frequency Counter a Audible Test
Condnulty/Diode Test
$12.99' Dimensions: 291 mm x 158mm x 136mm CSI3003 & CSI30I0)
Time Mode with Alarm, R r69 365mm x 265mm x 164mm (CS13003-3 & 3005.53)
Clock, and Stop Watch Logic Teat
Dual Display Auto Power OFFr'Keep ON Mode Mon
Fused 20A Input with CSI3001: 0.30v103amp Digital R/O Bench PS, lxlO'+Smv Load Regulation $99.00 51589.00
10 Location Memory