Although technology is constantly racing to faster / smaller / more, so many of the fundamentals of how it is made remains similar, if not the same. This interesting 30 minute video clip [thanks to The Computer History Museum] was made in 1967 by Fairchild Semiconductor as a briefing on integrated circuits, and shows the different steps to produce ICs including:
Design, making the photo masks, manufacturing the silicon ingots, preparing the wafers, building of the circuit and its components (like transistors, resistors, and capacitors), testing, and final packaging. Add in some other cool items of interest such as a 1960’s pick n place machine, wave soldering, an automatic wirewrap machine, and toss in some retro computer action and it’s surely a video worth watching, with something for everyone.
So join us after the break, kick back and enjoy the show!
Continue reading “A Briefing on Integrated Circuits”
Lazarus-64, breadboard game system; certainly sounds like something from the 1980s. We were surprised to find out not only the name, but also all the ICs used are only those available from the retro age of 30 years back (Save for the AVR controlling everything, of course). Even more amazing is how it has 256 flicker free color support, while not using NTSC chips. Which Goes to show that even if there are common solutions out there for cheap, building or compiling your own is not necessarily a bad thing or a waste of time.
There is a whole lot more to Lazarus, including double buffering and VMS, but sadly it appears progress has stopped on the Lazarus-64 breadboard game system, with the last update being last year. But we can still bask in the amazing glow that currently is.
[Jeri Ellsworth] made this silicon inverter at home, by hand. It took her two years to get the process figured out and achieve something we didn’t think was possible. The complexity of manufacture, and the wide range of tools and materials needed seem insurmountable but she did it anyway. Her home chip fab Flickr set is well commented and details her work area and part of the processing. If you’re hurting for more check out her 40 minute Metalab talk which we’ve embedded after the break.
If her name sounds familiar but you just can’t place it you may know her from The Fatman and Circuit Girl. We’ve also featured some of her hacks, such as her Pinball challenge against [Ben Heckendorn], and her giant Etch-a-Sketch.
Continue reading “Jeri makes integrated circuits”
Who doesn’t need to take pictures of the microscopic bits inside of an integrated circuit? [Mojobojo] made an end-run around the expensive equipment by building a microscopic lens from an old camcorder. He’s using a regular digital camera with the lens set to its largest zoom level. The camera is pointed into the salvaged camcorder lens where the fine tuning is done. His first iteration was just taped to the desk with a small hand flashlight illuminating the subject. He upgraded that setup by building a LEGO enclosure and changing to a much brighter light source. The images he’s getting are quite surprising and this will be very useful during those extreme hacks when you need to tap into an IC’s internal data rails.
[Aggaz] added 16 potentiometers to his Arduinome.The Arduinome is a monome clone based around the Arduino as a microprocessor. We seen some Arduinome builds in the past but [Aggaz’s] work augments the physical interface.
Potentiometers used in circuit bending allow for manipulation of the sounds coming out of the circuits. In this case the pots are connected to the microcontroller instead of the sound generation circuitry which means you can do whatever you want with them depending on how creative you are with the code. So far he’s just starting to get the new set of interfaces to play nicely over the serial connection. This could end up being quite popular as it only requires the addition of a multiplexer IC, the potentiometers, and the knobs.
Quick: which pins are used for I2C on an ATmega168 microcontroller?
If you’re a true alpha geek you probably already know the answer. For the rest of us, ChipDB is the greatest thing since the resistor color code cheat sheet. It’s an online database of component pinouts: common Atmel microcontrollers, the peripheral ICs sold by SparkFun, and most of the 4000, 7400 and LMxxx series parts.
The streamlined interface, reminiscent of Google, returns just the essential information much quicker than rummaging through PDF datasheets (which can also be downloaded there if you need them). And the output, being based on simple text and CSS, renders quite well on any device, even a dinky smartphone screen.
Site developer [Matt Sarnoff] summarizes and calls upon the hacking community to help expand the database:
“The goal of my site isn’t to be some comprehensive database like Octopart; just a quick reference for the chips most commonly used by hobbyists. However, entries still have to be copied in manually. If anyone’s interested in adding their favorite chips, they can request a free account and use the (very primitive at this point) part editor. Submissions are currently moderated, since this is an alpha-stage project.”
[Cliff Miller] pointed out this incredible project from 2004. [John Pultorak]’s journey began in late 2000 when he decided to build a 60’s or 70’s era minicomputer. While gathering technical documentation, he found some interesting information on the Apollo Guidance Computer and felt that was the way to go. The AGC was the first integrated circuit computer ever built. Designed by MIT in 1964 it was constructed from ~5000 ICs, almost all 3-input NOR gates. [John]’s version uses late 1960’s 74LS TTL logic which gains him a 10 to 1 reduction in the number of ICs. A good thing when you have to do ~15K wirewrap connections. He also used flipflops and register chips instead of building everything from NOR gates. [John] essentially built the AGC three times: First, he coded a simulator in C++. Then, he imported the logic design into CircuitMaker to verify that it would actually work. Finally, he built the 3 by 5foot machine. He’s provided an amazing amount of documentation for anyone that wants to explore this device and the overview alone is well worth a look.