Neewer Macro LED Ring Light Flash RF550 – Guide Number

I purchased a Neewer Macro LED Ring Light Flash online for a modest price (~$50).

It was described with specifications, but specifications for Chinese product are not to be trusted… so it deserves measurement (though shortfall would become evident in use in short time).

This article reports measurements of the flash mode characteristics. Continue reading Neewer Macro LED Ring Light Flash RF550 – Guide Number

Digital display for DIY 25W dummy load – part 3

Digital display for DIY 25W dummy load – part 1 described a  digital display for a DIY 25W dummy load / digital wattmeter. The original research tested implementations on an Arduino Nano (ATmega328P) and Arduino Mini Zero (ATSAMD21). Though the Zero appears the better chip (32bits, better ADC resolution etc), the dev board is so noisy (ADC wise) that the Nano produces better results.

This article documents tests on three other dev board alternatives:

  • Arduino Nano Every (genuine);
  • Wemos SAMD21G board; and
  • Seeed XIAO mini Zero.

Baseline: Arduino Nano v3.0 (clone)

Above is the initial prototype Arduino Nano v3.0 (16MHz ATmega328P) with OLED display. This clone has a CP210x serial chip, clones with a claimed FTDI chip are probably fakes, ones with CH340x chips are probably ok. Continue reading Digital display for DIY 25W dummy load – part 3

FT37-43 for a 49:1 EFHW transformer enquiry

A correspondent asked whether Sontheimer coupler – transformer issues – an alternative design – FT37-43 could be used to inform design of a 49:1 EFHW transformer based on the same core, but with a 2 or 3t primary.

In the case of the Sontheimer coupler the winding with the higher number of turns appears in shunt with the nominal 50Ω load, and its effect on InsertionVSWR and the core loss can be predicted reasonably well and confirmed by measurements as in the referenced article.

In that instance, a 7t winding in shunt with the nominal 50Ω load causes excessive core heating, a 3t winding will be worse, and 2t worse again.

The case of an EFHW transformer is somewhat similar, the difference is now that the winding with less turns in approximately in shunt with the nominal 50Ω primary referred load. The same Simsmith model can be used to predict likely InsertionVSWR due to primary magnetising admittance, and the core loss.

Let’s try the 3t case first, with the experience of the referenced article we can expect it will have insufficient turns for good performance.

Above is the Simsmith model of a Fair-rite 5943000201 core (equivalent dimensions to FT37-43) with a 3t winding. Note this does not apply to Amidon #43 as their material is significantly different in characteristic. Continue reading FT37-43 for a 49:1 EFHW transformer enquiry

Making a jtag2updi adapter

This article is about selection and reprogramming of an adapter to make a jtag2updi adapter using the code published at

The purpose is for programming some of the newer AVR chips that use UPDI.

Above is a JTAG ICE that I purchased, but I did not check the pics carefully enough and fell foul of the Chinese Cheats. The chip arrowed is the USB-RS232TTL chip, it is a PL2303HX which will not work in Windows 10 since the driver was poisoned many years ago. Continue reading Making a jtag2updi adapter

Hot water woes

A recent episode where the 170l gas storage hot water service relieved itself through the pressure / temperature relief valve sent me on a quest to understand the problem.

At the time, a ‘full rate’ discharge of 95° water was holding the valve open, and even with the gas turned off, the flow continued for some time until I closed the water isolation valve to let the system cool down.

So, was this simply a thermostat failure, temporary or permanent, or perhaps the result of ‘stacking’.

Stacking is caused by repeated very short draws of hot water, which cool the bottom of the tank near the thermostat, triggering heat input which can cause the top of the tank to reach temperatures considerably higher than the set point of the thermostat.

Another question that was of interest in choosing a replacement if needed, was how much heat is lost from the heater, what is the running cost of heat leakage alone.

Heat leakage

The heater was allowed to reach ‘normal’ operating temperature and stabilise, and the gas valve was closed which would allow the unit to cool.

A variation on my IoT water tank telemetry project was configured to use a type K thermocouple and 4-20mA converter to provide a temperature logger, a type K thermocouple was inserted between the insulation blanket and tank at the top of the tank. The 4-20mA converter does not incorporate cold junction compensation, but the logger incorporates an ambient temperature measurement facility which will be used for approximate compensation.

Above is the improvised data logger setup. Continue reading Hot water woes

(tr)uSDX firmware, bootloader, application – an explanation


The term firmware means lots of things to lots of people, and you will see so many definitions that it becomes confusing.

It is apparent from postings by people about (tr)uSDX (trusdx) that the rubbery definition prevails in that environment also.

The term firmware came into being 50 odd years ago, about the time that microcomputers appeared. There was a need for a term to describe something that sat between traditional hardware and software, the programming that was ’embedded’ in the system.

ATmega328P memory

In the case of the ATmega328P (as used in the (tr)uSDX), it contains three main blocks of memory and some auxilliary non-volatile storage, the three main types are:

  • RAM (volatile scratch storage used for running programs);
  • FLASH (non-volatile memory used for user programs (instructions and constant data); and
  • EEPROM (non-volatile memory often used to save settings, calibration data etc).


We might reasonably regard that all of the contents of FLASH is firmware.


(tr)uSDX uses a bootloader, user code that can be executed on startup to load user programs into FLASH. In the case of the ATmega328P, the bootloader resides in FLASH at the top of the address range. FUSE settings tell the system to start at the boot section on power on reset, and they can be used to protect the bootloader from corruption on reliable systems (this last feature is NOT used on (tr)uSDX).

Above is a map of FLASH memory for an ATmega328P for the configuration used by (tr)uSDX from the chip datasheet. Continue reading (tr)uSDX firmware, bootloader, application – an explanation

SNTP synchronised clock v0.04 – beta release

The SNTP synchronised clock (ssc) is an ESP8266 based time of day clock with an LED display.

Above are two prototypes both using HT16K33 display modules. (The display has a blinking colon, it is off in the pic.) There is a silicon photo transistor just above the display, used to sense day/night and the firmware changes display brightness. Continue reading SNTP synchronised clock v0.04 – beta release

Chinese 9.6V 700mAh Tamiya style battery pack

I had need for a rechargeable 9.6V NiMHbattery to replace a worn out one.

The last was made by fabricating a pack with AA long life cells and it worked well for 10 years… but its time had come.

The above pack on eBay for $12 ($17/Ah) looked interesting, though it would need a wrap of heavier heatshrink. Continue reading Chinese 9.6V 700mAh Tamiya style battery pack

Chinese 3.0V 16340 CR2 Lithium Ion batteries

I had need for a rechargeable CR2 battery. The ‘standard’ CR2 is a non-rechargeable Lithium battery of nominal 3.0V.

I purchased two Ultrafire batteries advertised on eBay as Lithium-ion of 800mAh for $20. Without further qualification, we normally take Lithium Ion to be nominally 3.6V. The batteries are marked Li-ion 3.0V. Continue reading Chinese 3.0V 16340 CR2 Lithium Ion batteries