Former Editor-In-Chief of PC Magazine Rocks Out with L-com USB Guitar

May 15, 2014 at 10:00 AM

 

(photo by Bill Machrone)

 

This is quite possibly one of the coolest ways we’ve ever seen our USB adapter used.

 

You don’t have to be a lover of music, lover of all things guitars, or even a lover of techie building projects to appreciate this guy’s experiment (though it’s so well done it deserves more credit than just being a neat experiment).   

 

Bill Machrone, former editor-in-chief of PC Magazine, put L-com’s USB ECF Adapter Cable (part number ECF504-12AAS) to good use when he decided to build a USB enabled guitar. Machrone was well equipped with the necessary tools and experience in electronics to take on the task. Having built both electric and acoustic guitars before also helped Machrone set off to construct this one of a kind instrument.


As part of that design, Machrone had to figure out which USB jack to use.

 

“One of the reasons I went to L-com was because they have such a complete catalog,” said Machrone, “You can find anything, any type of connectivity gear.” Machrone had done a lot of research for this part of the project. He had an idea of what he wanted, but was surprised when he couldn’t find it until hitting the L-com website.

 

One of the reasons Machrone chose L-com’s USB Type A Connector is because it had a polished metalized surface and a compatible square shape that could easily be added into the guitar.

 

“It had a lot going for it in terms of appearance and it was a convenient choice,” said Machrone.   

 

Selecting the USB jack was part of a 10 step process which Machrone outlines in his article for PC Magazine:


  1. 1. Select a guitar
  2. 2. Acquire a Micro USB board
  3. 3. Measure and cut for jack and module layout
  4. 4. Drill your holes
  5. 5. Ready the USB
  6. 6. Wire your interface
  7. 7. Craft a cover
  8. 8. Drill metal for the jacks
  9. 9. Insert the Micro USB board
  10. 9. Finishing touches

 

According to Machrone, there’s one simple explanation why you might want a USB port in an electric guitar: for convenience. With a USB port the guitar will not only rock out like normal, but will also automatically transmit the recording signals to your computer.

 

“It was like a problem solving exercise, deciding how I was going to connect it, adding the head phone jack and listening to myself as the software recorded it,” said Machrone, “It was fun.”

 

Another advantage to building your own USB Guitar is cost savings. If you select an inexpensive guitar to repurpose on your own, Machrone advised, it will most likely be cheaper since USB guitars sell for about $300 nowadays.

 

Above all, the excitement of the finished product makes all the hard work worth it. “Once I had it together, it started working, and that was a thrill,” Machrone exclaimed.

 

Machrone was also pleased with the quality output of the L-com USB jack, how it functioned within the guitar, and its durability. “I can say that it gets nicked and banged around and beat up,” said Machrone. “The last time I looked at the USB jack it was in perfect shape. It’s standing up to the beating.”

 

For the full tutorial on building a USB guitar, visit Bill Machrone’s how-to at: http://machrone.net/usbguitar/

  

Take Aim with L-com’s Yagi Antenna

May 8, 2014 at 10:00 AM

 

Have you ever seen a Yagi antenna at a target practice?

 

Certainly there are numerous ways to put a Yagi to good use, but this application really surprised us.

 

At Sniper’s Hide, an online community for serious tactical marksman, one member from Idaho put our Yagi to the test. He set up a long range target camera system with a 14dB gain Yagi antenna, and posted a how-to tutorial.

 

The target camera system included using the L-com 900 MHz 14 dBi Yagi Antenna with N Female Connector, along with a camera, wireless transmitter and antenna at the target end, a wireless receiver, and  antenna and TV on the shooters end.

 

It’s no surprise to us that our HyperGain High-Performance Yagi Antenna held up in the sniper’s rugged, long-range application.

 

Why? This series of Yagi antennas provides the user with anodized aluminum boom, solid elements, a 400 series low loss series coax pigtail, and rugged mounting hardware. This antenna also combines accurate gain with a wide beam-width, ideally suited for directional applications in the 900 MHz ISM and GSM bands.

 

To date, the farthest distance their team has recorded at target practice is 2,640 yards (1.5 miles) with no problems or signs of the signal losing strength. They were even confident that the set up with our Yagi would reach over 5 miles!

 

More on Sniper’s Hide: The Sniper’s Hide community was founded on the knowledge, science and the appreciation of the art involved in long range shooting. Sniper’s Hide’s mission is to uphold the traditions and professionalism of those who came before them, expanding on the science, and developing the art. Their members extend beyond Doctors, Lawyers, Police Officers, as well as past and present members of the Armed Forces. Monthly classes are held in Colorado, as well as the largest tactical precision rifle match in the United States. In 2013, 125 shooters participated in the Sniper’s Hide Cup.

  

(Photo courtesy of Sniper’s Hide)

 

What’s the most unique application you’ve seen that uses a Yagi antenna?  We want to know!

 

Fiber Fun Fact: Multimode Vs. Single Mode

May 1, 2014 at 10:00 AM

 

Have you ever considered…

 

What is the difference between multimode and single mode fiber cable?

 

This is a question our tech support and customer service teams are often asked. Depending on your job function or area of expertise you may already be “in the game,” but for the layman or tech-freshman this is good knowledge to have.

 

A Single mode fiber cable has a small diametric core that allows a single mode of light to propagate. The most common size is 9/125.  For example, a single mode fiber’s glass core is 9 microns in diameter.  A strand of human hair is typically about 100 microns.  Now that’s small!

 

On the other hand, a Multimode fiber cable has a core diameter that is much larger than the wavelength of light transmitted.  As the light passes through the core, the number of light reflections created increases, allowing for more data to pass through at a given time. Two common multimode fiber types are 50/125 and 62.5/125.

 

Fiber specifications list the core and cladding diameters as a ratio. Multimode fiber is commonly 62.5/125 or 50/125 micron, Single mode fiber is commonly 9/125 micron.

 

For another great fiber optic tip, check out this video!   

 

In general, a single mode system is more expensive due to the cost of the laser transceivers required to drive the system. As a result, these transceivers provide better signal strength and great reliability over long distances (up to 100km or more). Multimode is much more affordable because the larger core size simplifies connector termination and allows the use of lower-cost transceivers such as LEDs (light-emitting diodes) to drive a system. Multimode can be used in distances up to 2km, depending on the network speed and bandwidth. Single mode cable is most often used by entities such as cable TV/ISP companies for long distances, while multimode is often used for short inter-building wiring and between-building cable runs often found in campus environments. 

 

Also, don't confuse the two! If you are running multimode cable, you need a multimode Ethernet media converter; a Single mode converter will not work.

 

Here’s another tip of ours that specifies wavelength and distance limitations for Multimode, Single mode and laser optimized fiber cable.

 

How We’re Launching into the Future of Fiber & Wireless Technologies

May 1, 2014 at 10:00 AM

 

Picture this:

 

You’ve consistently worked hard on keeping up with the latest technologies and standards so that you can be the best in your business.

 

You’re confident in your knowledge and technique.

 

Then you get the call that you’re in. They want you.

 

And you have the opportunity to present this knowledge in front of some really important people……

 

That’s how we feel this month!

 

We’re honored to announce that we’ve been given the chance to present at a technology seminar at the Kennedy Space Center.

 

In the wave of 21st century technology, our sights are set on all that the future holds for our industry and we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it. On Friday, May 9, 2014, our product managers and wireless application specialists will be presenting wireless application trends and the future of fiber optic communications. For NASA!

 


The Facts on Fiber

 

Our team plans to discuss a variety of fiber optic technology trends and future applications. The first will explain and examine the increasingly relevant crossover between commercial and military grade products.

 

It’s a common misconception that if an organization is qualified as a “government” or “military” entity, it absolutely must use military grade fiber products. This isn’t necessarily the case. What we want to emphasize is that it’s important to analyze all characteristics and factors within the application in order to get the best product match, as well as the best use of one’s money. 

 

For example: a military grade cable might be applicable in a certain outdoor location where large trucks and tanks run over it. But, if each end of that cable runs into a building where it‘s protected, a commercial grade connector or cable assembly could likely be a viable option.

 

It’s also important for us to mention how fiber has evolved. Fiber is no longer just a delicate and expensive cable option. Not only is fiber capable of being used in a rugged application, but it is also an efficient green choice that saves energy. To put this into perspective- one single fiber cable can be run 100 kilometers without a connection break-up or even having to use additional electrical repeater equipment for support along the way.

 

Other fiber optic topics that we’ll discuss are port density, cable weight, and the relatively new MPO connectors. Our hands-on discussion will also focus on how advancements in RF and optical networks will help NASA achieve new design insight. 

 

Lastly, we plan to touch on the topic of security in relation to fiber optics. In the past it was believed that fiber cable was “un-tapable.” However, there is knowledge to prove that fiber actually can be tapped into, so it might be worth considering taking certain safety precautions for the security of the data being passed.

 

 

What about Wireless?

 

In addition to our focus on fiber technology, we will also hold a technical discussion about the next generation Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac technology. 802.11ac has the ability to support up to eight MIMO spatial streams, with a lot more functionality. Check out our recent post about 802.11ac technology here.

 

In relation to 802.11ac, we will also discuss MIMO technology and using MIMO compliant dual polarity antennas. Our presentation will include the latest in new MIMO wireless technology that provides improved spectral efficiency along with increased link capacity and reliability.  

 

By utilizing multiple antennas you can increase the data throughput and range, compared to a single antenna using the same radio transmit power. Additionally, MIMO antennas improve link reliability and experience less fading than a single antenna system. By transmitting multiple data streams at the same time, wireless capacity is increased.

 

Overall, there's lots of exciting stuff propagating in the world of wireless and fiber optic technology.


What do you foresee in the future?


Keeping up with Trending Technologies at the Del Mar Electronics Show

April 24, 2014 at 10:00 AM

 

In order to keep up with the latest trends in connectivity and technology we often place ourselves at trade shows, small and large. We want to not only provide stellar products but also grasp every opportunity to learn about the latest technologies in our engineering world.

 

So next week we’ll be exhibiting at the Del Mar Electronics and Design Show (DMEDS) on April 30th and May 1st. The show takes place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego, California. L-com will be at Booth 747 displaying our latest wired and wireless connectivity products.

 

DMEDS is a low cost, high value design and manufacturing show for the electronics, medical and biotech industries. DMEDS focuses on IC products and services, electronic components, instrumentation equipment, fabrication products and services, engineering software and services, manufacturing products and services, contract manufacturing services and much more.

 

In addition to innovative new products, DMEDS also offers free industry programs and high tech presentations by leading edge companies.

 

Here are a few seminars that caught our eye:

·         American Manufacturing Trends: ‘Reshoring,’ Nearsourcing, and Technical Training 

·         3D Printing – Overview of Available Technologies & Commercial Applications

·         Social Media and the Supply Chain

 

This year it's expected that about 440 exhibitors and over 4,000 industry professionals will be in attendance. That’s a big opportunity for networking. Here’s a list of some companies that attended last year-- take a look to see if you should join in!

 

http://www.mfgshow.com

 

 

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