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The Ultimate Makers Guide to Android Apps – Buy $1000 of equipment for $30

Samsung Acclaim

How would you like to buy dozens of gadgets and other useful equipment totaling over $1,000 for only $30?What’s the catch? There is no catch. It is simply the tremendous inherent value in today’s smart phones. Because of their built-in sensors, clever developers have created a large collection of apps, that replace a whole slew of equipment. Best of all, the controls and displays of all this equipment is far superior, often includes data logging and is completely self-contained in a small gadget that fits into your pocket.

My Story

I have wanted a tablet computer for over twenty years. Now that they have finally arrived I have been viewing them with a keen interest, but high-end tablets are too expensive for me. The looked really attractive, but I recently discovered an app that I couldn’t live without that requires bluetooth (more on this app later), which the Kindle Fire lacks. Mulling it over, I had an idea – what if I put the tablet on hold for a while, and instead see if I could buy a cheap, used Android phone.

I have heard about all the amazing things people could do with iPhones and Android phones, but … Read the rest

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Cheap Alternative for Hard to Find CDS Light Sensor

cds_cell

CdS (Cadmium Sulfide) photo-resistors are commonly used for detecting light levels. Their resistance varies considerably depending on the intensity of light striking them. They are common, fairly cheap and easy to use. So what’s the problem? They are becoming hard to find. The reason is because of the RoHS directive. Since CdS cells contain cadmium, a toxic heavy metal, this important component is no longer stocked by major electronics distributors. The good news is that not only is there an excellent alternative, but it is more versatile and vastly cheaper.

If you guessed photo-diode you are close, but even better is the humble LED. If you are building an analog circuit, then you will be limited to photo-diodes and photo-transistors due to their greater sensitivity. If, however, you are building a micro-controller based circuit such as a PIC or Arduino, then you can use a simple LED to achieve the same end and even more.

Photo-diodes and LEDs

Both of these devices are essentially the same. Both are diodes enclosed in a translucent case. They will both permit a small amount of reverse current to flow through them when they are reversed biased. The difference is that the photo-diode … Read the rest

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