A Peek Under the Hood of the 741 Op-Amp

First introduced as an IC back in 1968, but with roots that go back to 1941, the 741 has been tweaked and optimized over the years and is arguably the canonical op-amp. [Ken Shirriff] decided to take a look inside everybody’s favorite op-amp, and ended up with some good-looking photomicrographs and a lot of background on the chip.

canRather than risk the boiling acid method commonly used to decap epoxy-potted ICs, [Ken] wisely chose a TO-99 can format to attack with a hacksaw. With the die laid bare for his microscope, he was able to locate all the major components and show how each is implemented in silicon. Particularly fascinating is the difference between the construction of NPN and PNP transistors, and the concept of “current mirrors” as constant current sources. And he even whipped up a handy interactive chip viewer – click on something in the die image and find out which component it is on the 741 schematic. Very nice.

We’ve seen lots of chip decappings before, including this reveal of TTL and CMOS logic chips. It’s nice to see the guts of the venerable 741 on display, though, and [Ken]’s tour is both a great primer for the newbie and a solid review for the older hands. Don’t miss the little slice of history he included at the end of the post.

Making your anime papercraft move to the music

This anime character is dancing to the music thanks to some animatronic tricks which [Scott Harden] put together. She dances perfectly, exhibiting different arm and head movements at just the right time. The secret to the synchronization is actually in the right channel of the audio being played.

The character in question is from an Internet meme called the Leekspin song. [Scott] reproduced it on some foam board, adding a servo to one arm to do the leek spinning, and another to move the head. These are both driven by an ATtiny44. All of the movements have been preprogrammed to go along with the audio track. But he needed a way to synchronize the beginning of each action set. The solution was to re-encode the audio with one track devoted to a set of sine wave pulses. The right audio channel feeds to the AVR chip via an LM741 opamp. Each sine wave triggers the AVR to execute the next dance move in the sequence. You can see the demo video for the project after the break.

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