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Alien Tech


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Chatting with my mate in the pub last night, I was telling him how I’ve been waiting for a temperature sensor to arrive from China and how cheap some of the technology was getting these days. For less than £5 (including shipping and taxes), I can get a precision temperature sensor that can also accurately measure both air pressure and humidity. Even more incredible is the fact that the whole thing is so impossibly small, it beggars’ belief.

I’ve worked in electronics industry all my life, but this level of micro technology seems to have completely passed me by. I’d read stuff about nano technology and thought most of it was purely theoretical, but amazingly this tech is now all around us, even in our everyday items.

Some of this nano level stuff is so mind blowing that it might go some way in explaining why many believe technology like this can only have evolved at Area 51 :mrgreen: Then again, we all could have been abducted by aliens for a few decades and completely missed its evolution. 😊

MEMS Technology for beginners.

Here’s a link to a good video I found that explains this “MEMS” technology. It’s a bit “techy” and a bit long but even if you just skip though most of it, you’ll get a flavour of where the future is going. Then having seen it, if you think you’re too old for all this, then trust me, you’re not on your own. 😊


Bill 😊

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I enjoyed the video thanks Bill. Some of  the gas detection stuff will be at the heart of the military detectors that are in use today. The more important thing is that some of this stuff has been around for long enough to be common place such as the attitude sensor in all new smartphones to change image with screen attitude. I use Aqara Temperature, pressure and humidity sensors with a Zigbee interface to a Home Assistant package running on a Raspberry Pi. The Temp/Humidity sensor in that is a Sensirion SHTC3 (datasheet here: Sensirion_Humidity_Sensors_SHTC3_Datasheet.pdf). I can't find what the Pressure sensor is. These are very useful devices but they have quirky reporting intervals based on size of change and time. This stuff is 15 year old CMOS and is therefore cheap in volume, provided it seems by Xiaomi smartphones. Some of the stuff in the presentation looks to be not very cheap at all. There is some really clever stuff going on 

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having worked on nanotechnology it comes as no surprise to me,apart from the length of time it has taken for it to go from conceptual things to  mass production.

at daresbury lab they managed to design and manufacture a working gearbox that would be lost if you put it on a five pence piece. that was in the late eighties early nineties if my memory is not playing up. these were normally mechanical devices rather than electronic though.

first practical work was done in germany and was given the acronym LiGA, Lithograpique, Galvanoformung and Absformung or something close to that. (lithography,metal forming and plastic forming)

My german is usually limited to "achtung spitfire".....🤭

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My German these days has gone from being able to address a meeting to a just couple of steps up from Benny Hill’s version but most importantly, it’s enough for me to order a beer. 😊

This Mems technology was certainly an eye opener for me. I’ve used integrated circuits for years but never really considered there might be moving mechanical parts inside a solid-state chip. I used a Mems microphone a year or so ago but thought Mems was the brand name. I’ve got a pile of temperature sensors, but they’re all I2C devices like yours, but my display module only supports the faster SPI interface. The one I’ve ordered is made by Bosch and supports both protocols.

The fifteen-year-old device your using could still be using Mems technology but it’s academic I suppose as long as it works. As regards its reporting times being quirky, I’d have thought that wouldn’t have been an issue given that temperature and pressures don’t change that rapidly. For temperature measurements, I generally take about a hundred or so readings to get a stable average otherwise the output tends to bounce around a bit and causes flicker on the display.

All cleaver stuff but at the end of the day they’re just little boxes that we stick together like Lego without a thought to what’s going on inside.

I still think those little green men :mrgreen: had a hand somewhere in this. 😊


Bill 😊

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