March 2016

This month’s highlights

Teach-In 2016 Introducing the Arduino (Part 2)

Teach-In 2016 is a brand new tutorial series covering the universally-popular Arduino general-purpose microcontroller board. Part One (February 2016 issue) introduced the entry-level Arduino Uno, explaining its core features in a format that’s readable and easy to follow and ideal for microcontroller beginners.

Part Two looks at ways of connecting real-world hardware to the Arduino Uno, using relays, interface boards and opto-isolators in this nine-page bumper feature. Then we have a Coding Quickstart, demonstrating the basics of Arduino coding and programming step-by-step (literally!) and using a simulator program to run routines on-screen.

Don’t miss this great new series dedicated to Arduino beginners! If you want to get up and running with Arduino, Teach-In 2016 is perfect for you!

6-Digit Retro Nixie Clock (Part 2)

A traditional Nixie-tube digital clock display is brought right up to date with a 32-bit microprocessor and optional GPS-derived time setting to automatically determine the time zone around the world. LED uplighters and auto dimming of Nixie tubes and additional mood lighting supplied by blue leds. Complete kit available including a clear acrylic case.

Having described the circuitry in Part 1 last month, this time we describe how to put a full kit together, including wiring for six popular GPS modules.  Using the control interface is also described.

  • A complete kit is available from Gless Audio in Victoria, Australia. Email David Whitby
  • The associated MCU hex file ( ) was made available in Part One – see February 2016
  • Global time zone database that fits in a microcontroller  if you want to build a truly global GPS clock using a compact MCU  see

High voltage design suitable for skilled and experienced constructors

Spark Energy Meter (Part 2)

A digital spark tester for ignition systems, this project displays spark energy levels up to 1,000mJ (millijoules). Containing its own sparkplug for connecting to HT, it will work with spark repetition rates up to 700 per second, equating to 10,000 rpm in a V8 engine. In Part Two this month, full constructional details are supplied along with details of a suitable calibrator module.

  High voltage design suitable for skilled and experienced constructors

Modifying the Currawong Valve Amplifier

While the Currawong Valve (Vacuum Tube) Amplifier (EPE November 2015 et seq.) has created a great deal of interest, some readers would like to see it with improved frequency response, better output transformers, more expensive valves, and so on. This follow-up article explores the possibilities and merits of various upgrade options.

Special Product Review – Peak LCR45

Our audio expert Jake Rothman  takes this new meter for a test run. It measures Inductance (L), Capacitance (C), Resistance (R) and Impedance (Z) in a pocket-sized device and displays the results on a 2-line LCD. The test equipment also displays complex device measurements such as Admittance and impedance magnitude and phase, DC resistance and measurement frequency, and even the inductance of a wirewound resistor. Check this article for the reviewer’s full verdict on this amazing test unit.

Also in this month’s issue:

  • Techno Talk – magnetic or ‘mag’ amps and mechanical amplifiers too!
  • Net Work – avoiding the Windows 10 upgrade, backward trends in web design
  • Practically Speaking – practical electronics workshop hints and tips
  • PIC n’ MIX – the PIR motion sensor explained
  • Circuit Surgery – an in-depth explanation of voltage references
  • Audio Out – more on audio volume control circuitry and devices
  • Max’s Cool Beans – Max muses over his Arduino-powered clock
  • Electronic Building Blocks – an ultra low current LED flasher from a quartz clock module

Next month

Teach-In 2016 – our Arduino Tutorial (Part 3): displays and keyboards; Low Frequency Distortion Analyser; Appliance Insulation Tester; Really Bright 12V/24V LED Oyster Light.

March 2016 files for download -

  • Spark Tester front panel

Printed Circuit Boards

We supply PCBs for all our projects going back to 2013.

New PE service – Programmed PICs

Buy programmed PICs for most of our projects.

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