Don't drink and Vtec



monday down...four days to go

Aside from flopping on a final exam today, I'd like to talk briefly about the driver hell most experience with the latest windows operating systems; namely vista and windows 7.

Windows Vista, from what I heard, was TERRIBLE when it first came out due to the lack of drivers to make hardware function properly. I just experienced some of this crap myself tonight.

I recently inherited a decent HP d220 microtower with 2.2 Ghz intel VI processor and 1 gig ram. Not bad for an internet server-upper and typing machine. I windows 7'd it - no sound. GREAT I thought. NOW WHAT.

The first stop (as it should be) was HP's website. Windows 2000, XP, XP64 - NO vista or 7. As expected. After browsing the 'net, I decided that I'm screwed and I'd never hear sound for several months (if ever) UNTIL I noticed that certain posts dealt with the model number of the chip used on the motherboard. WOW! I thought this was super, especially because it made sense.

Instead of searching SoundMAX, I promptly changed the search query (after looking on my motherboard for the chip model #) from "SoundMAX windows 7 driver" to "AD1981B driver". Driverguide.com, after a few minutes of remembering my login, had just what I needed in one of the 29 results it produced. Upon telling windows 7 to search automatically in a folder that I pointed it to, and after ignoring a red warning box, VOILA; sound. Onto the next.



Finals this week. Very busy.

Linear Algebra
Analog Communications
Applications of Fields and Waves
Materials Science

Hopefully I do good! :D







Up all night, catching up on work.

This week at my part-timer, I've been given the responsibility of designing an electrometer. Up to this point, my little circuit very plainly acknowledges 10uV switches as if it were a light switching on and off.

The trick was using very high input impedance operational amplifiers (obviously) in an instrumentation-amplifier configuration. With even better op-amps and shielding, guarding, and EMF-proof cables, and a sexy analog front panel meter, we should be in business. More later.




Woke up early and brushed up on some single stage amplifier biasing. Working on a new low power amplifier for guitar headphone capabilities...more later.



...that's what a flat tire costs. fml.

Midterm tomorrow, lots of homework due, need to work to earn more cash,...
fa la la la life goes on.


Thoughts on new distortion idea (new to me, anyway)

One option for a distortion pedal might be to make the guitar sound as if it were being played over an AM radio - to give it an "old" sound. One characteristic that screams AM is mids and trebles, without much bass. A hard-limiter with a high-pass filter might be the perfect combination. I'll give this a shot and let everyone know how it goes.


'96 Toyota Avalon UPDATE!

New Rack/Pinion - no leaks, drives like new! Good times!

linux + spice replacement = annoying as hell

I've been dumb enough over the past year to waste at least 24 hours worth of my time pissing around with versions of SPICE for Linux. Wanna know how I finally got it to work?

LTSpice + Wine = no headaches.

distortion schematic

Here's the schematic...pretty simple, really. Would be much less noisy if installed in a tin can or metal project box, properly grounded. Having a good guitar is another bonus that I did not have...enjoy.

mmmm distortion

Browsing google awhile back, I set out to understand the circuits that make distortion for guitars. The word distortion implied, to me at least, clipping of the incoming signal. The circuit I found certainly did that...

Back-to-back diodes on the feedback loop of the op-amp made what once was a sum-of-sines into chopped squares. It sounds sick. Take a look at the video...sorry for the cell phone quality...


Studying fields and waves...and I don't mean grass and beaches.

"Boy, what would be the perfect compliment elective to analog communications!?...I GOT IT! Applications of fields and waves! That would mean that I could design the transceiver AND the antenna! Heck yeah!"

...a month later...

Me, a large coffee, a quiet library, and my fields and waves book. Again.
I hope this pays off someday.


This photo is of an amp I designed out of two 741 op-amps (one to split the power supply, the other as a pre-amp), and two NPN-PNP to-220 power transistors. Rectifier diodes are used to bias the bases of the power transistors in class AB configuration (should've used 1n914's -> characteristics change more closely to Vbe's in transistors than the rectifier diodes do). At 25v DC, it runs without too much distortion and has decent power output...

This is what a musical genius looks like.


This is a great live version of this fantastic song.

"Steady, as she goes..."



This article talks about cell phone charger port standardization FINALLY! It'll use the ever popular mini usb cables that the whole world already uses. Good times!

My other website resources

Aside from this blog, I'll also occasionally update the following websites:

http://www.paulfmcgowan.com/ (currently being forwarded to blog)
http://www.additivejitter.com/ (Mostly tutorials, etc.)

Hope this is useful.

Ciao for now


Toyota Avalon Power Steering Leak - Update

Well...after a year of on and off leaking of power steering fluid...I finally broke down and called a shop. Here's the long and the short of it:

Winter 2008 - Power-steering fluid leaks when car cools off. I figure it's the seal or seals going bad on the power steering pump. I add leak sealer fluid and ignore. It leaks again...and again...and again.

Spring 2008 - It gets warm, no more leaks - I forget about it.

Winter 2009 - Same crap - leak is worse. I rebuild the power steering pump - it's dry as a bone - still have a leak. Took dust boot off tie-rod and fluid spilled all over the place. The leak is coming from the rack-and-pinion. I decide to call a trusted Toyota shop near home to have them swap the old for the new and be done with the whole thing.

Upon researching on google and asking around, leaking rack/pinions on V6 Camry and Avalon vehicles is very common in the late 90s models ('96->). So in case anyone has one of these and wonders what's going on - you heard it here!

"The first post"

Hello, everyone!
My name is Paul and I'm currently a senior Electrical Engineering student. My hobbies are extensive but mainly concern music and analog/audio electronics, with a dash of power electronics. I also enjoy making projects from microcontrollers, specifically PIC microcontrollers.
Hopefully, as the days go on, I will post tips/tricks/hints/projects that will help you in these and other areas! Until next time...