Peeking inside an HDD

I’ve expressed no shortage of admiration in past writeups (stretching back…oh…a quarter century or so…) for the flash memory industry’s incremental cost, capacity, performance and reliability accomplishments over the years. I suppose I’m (more than) a bit biased because my post-college (not including during-college-co-op) engineering “origin story” involves eight years with Intel as an applications … Read more

Spectrum analyzer displays Wi-Fi 6/6E activity

WiPry Clarity from Oscium is a tri-band Wi-Fi spectrum analyzer that lets you view wireless activity on Wi-Fi 6/6E, as well as legacy Wi-Fi bands. Using the free Windows or Mac software, the tool displays the invisible wireless landscape to find interference that negatively impacts network performance. It exposes dead spaces, pinpoints sources of interference, … Read more

Sleeping with the Google nest hub

Back in October 2020, EDN published my teardown of Google’s then-named Home Hub smart speaker and display, originally introduced two years earlier and subsequently renamed the first-generation Google Nest Hub. The second-generation iteration of the concept, unveiled in March 2021, notably added support for Project Soli, a low-power “miniature radar” also found in Google’s soon-obsolete … Read more

Bluetooth LE SoC software hones location services

Silicon Labs’ hardware and software platform uses Bluetooth LE devices to simplify angle of arrival (AoA) and angle of departure (AoD) location services. The software maximizes the location-finding capabilities of the BG22 family of Bluetooth LE SoCs and SiP modules. These tiny, low-power devices operate for up to 10 years on a coin cell battery, … Read more

Dissecting a deceased Insteon power line modem

Long-time readers may recollect my past series of posts covering the testing and more general ongoing use of SmartLabs’ (also known by its Smarthome online retail brand) Insteon home automation technology and products. Insteon primarily leveraged powerline communications between a hub and adapters—light dimmers, switches and more general power outlets, thermostats, and the like, in … Read more

Preventing a tarnished reputation caused by partners’ poor performance

Sometimes when a customer has a problem with your product, the blame lies with someone(s) at your company. Maybe, for example, your firm shipped out a smartphone with a cracked display straight from the factory. Maybe it pushed a bad firmware update to users’ routers, bringing down their networks. Or maybe the marketing department went … Read more

Coin/button-cell holders can be functional, reliable, and even elegant

Over the years I have replaced coin- and button-cell batteries in countless products and have had to fix or improve the marginal battery holders used in many of them. It’s understandable but frustrating that many low-end products use cell holders with an absolute minimum of electrical-contact and mechanical-attachment surface area, which is never good for … Read more

Dissecting an underwhelming dog bark controller

Meet Lexie, our three-year-old female Collie:             She’s very pretty (IMHO)…in stark contrast to that ugly dude looming behind her. She’s unfortunately also a barker. Around 1.5 years ago, I had the bright idea to pick up an ultrasonic bark deterrent device, with a claimed 50-foot maximum bark-detection range. It didn’t go well. When … Read more

Dissecting an underwhelming dog bark controller

Meet Lexie, our three-year-old female Collie:             She’s very pretty (IMHO)…in stark contrast to that ugly dude looming behind her. She’s unfortunately also a barker. Around 1.5 years ago, I had the bright idea to pick up an ultrasonic bark deterrent device, with a claimed 50-foot maximum bark-detection range. It didn’t go well. When … Read more

Obsolescence by design: The earbuds edition

For well over a decade now, I’ve suffered from right side-dominant back pain. Until the past couple of years, however, the situation was reasonably tolerable. A few times a year, I’d experience intense spasms for a few days straight, which not even prescription painkillers and muscle relaxants would tangibly alleviate. Then the pain would fade … Read more