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Electronics Podcasts Update

Back in 2016, I did a blog post entry about podcasts about electronics. Some of the podcasts mentioned there are still going strong while some have disappeared and a few new ones have shown up, so it is time for an update:

I regularly listen to a number of podcasts and below is a list, along with some comments, of the electronics related ones.

I find that the podcasts provide inspiration, insight and knowledge about tools, projects, parts, companies, people and resources in the world of electronics. I first learned about many of the building blocks, components and development tools I use in my hobby projects (and sometimes professionally) through these podcasts.

The Amp Hour

RSS: http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheAmpHour

I guess this is the longest running electronics related podcast I know of, started in 2010. “The Amp Hour is a non-scripted off-the-cuff format show […]. It is the worlds largest and most respected electronics oriented radio show. Discussions range from hobbyist electronics to the state of the electronics industry, components, circuit design, and general on and off-topic rants.”

Chris Gammell and Dave Jones (of the EEVblog) chat weekly either with each other or guests about industry news, hacker/maker/open hardware stuff or other things mostly related to electronics. Chris is currently a cosultant and also teaches the online course Contextual Electronics while Dave is an opinionated and quite successful youtuber. If I need to pick a favorite electronics podcast, this is it.

Embedded

RSS: http://embedded.fm/episodes?format=rss

Started in 2013 this is another weekly show, but more geared towards embedded software than electronics, although some of the guests are more into electronics. Elecia and Christopher White discuss between themselves or with guests about “the how, why, and what of engineering, usually devices.” The guests include “makers, entrepreneurs, educators, and normal, traditional engineers.” Both Elecia and Christopher are embedded software consultants in Silicon Valley. Well worth a listen if you are into electronics or embedded software.

SolderSmoke Podcast

RSS: http://www.soldersmoke.com/soldersmoke.rss

SolderSmoke is mostly about home-brew HAM radio. Hosts Bill Meara, M0HBR, and Pete Juliano, N6QW, discuss their radio projects and issues they run into. This is the show for anyone who is interested in home-brew radio or perhaps HAM radio in general.

MacroFab’s Engineering Podcast

RSS: https://feeds.backtracks.fm/feeds/macrofab/macrofab-engineering-podcast/feed.xml

MacroFab describes the idea behind the company as “[…] to disrupt the contract manufacturing industry by developing a software driven approach to make it faster and easier than ever to bring new electronic products to market.” They seem to specialize in small volume PCBA manufacturing. The weekly podcast was started in 2016 and is hosted by Parker Dillmann and Stephen Kraig who are engineers at the company (except Stephen has left Macrofab, but remains a host of the show). They mostly talk enthusiastically about projects they are working on (they seem to do a lot of fun projects, often with unclear connection to the business) and discuss industry news. The program can be quite inspirational and does not feel like an ad for MacroFab.

A little warning might be in place. Of the podcasts listed here, I get the impression that this is the one on which the hosts are most likely to sound relatively sure about something that is utterly wrong. It seems to have gotten a little better over the years, but still this warning may be relevant.

Ontrack Podcast

RSS: http://podcast.altium.com/feed.xml

This podcast is new since the previous list.

Ontrack is a podcast produced by the EDA tool company Altium. The host Judy Warner is enthusiastic about the industry and brings on various guests from the PCB industry. Mostly it does not feel like ads for Altium (full disclosure: I have been using the Altium Designer ECAD program for many years and think it is great – for the most part) but instead is pretty interesting if you are involved in PCB design.

EETimes-on-Air

RSS: https://feeds.blubrry.com/feeds/aspencore.xml

This is the most recently started podcast on this list. It comes from EETimes and is very professionally produced. The production quality is in my opinion both a good thing and potentially not so good since the polished surface may perhaps come at the expense of depth and nuts-and-bolts content. I enjoyed the five episodes that have come out so far, but the engineering-to-business ratio seems far lower on most or all episodes than it is for the other podcasts on this lists. The podcast seems to feature more of business/marketing content and guests than practical engineering topics and engineers/electronics designers.

This is the way the podcast is described:

“EETimes On Air is the audial digest of EETimes, presenting a thirty-minute deep-dive on the most compelling stories in electronics. Featuring subject matter experts from all corners of the industry, EETimes On Air lends elevated discourse to design engineers and tech industry professionals.”

Shows that seem to have disappeared

The Spark Gap Podcast

RSS: http://thesparkgap.libsyn.com/rss

As of this writing, no new episode has come for more than ten months (last one was 180131). I really hope it will come back as I highly enjoyed the show, but will not hold my breath.

“A podcast discussing the nuts and bolts of embedded electronics, the systems that use them, and the community that surrounds them.” Started in 2014 and hosted by Karl and Corey. Episodes often have a specific theme and occasionally features guests. This podcast recently came back from a five month hiatus and hopefully new episodes will continue to appear reasonably regularly.

The Engineering Commons Podcast

RSS: http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheEngineeringCommonsPodcast?format=xml

After increasingly infrequent episodes, this podcast has as of this writing not come out for more than six months (since June 2018).

This podcast is only occasionally about electronics and more often about other aspects of engineering and being – or becoming – an engineer. It was co-founded in 2012 by Chris Gammell of The Amp Hour, but he left the program a few years ago. Today the show is hosted by the other co-founder Jeff Shelton (a mechanical engineer) as well as Adam (civil engineer), Brian (electrical engineer) and Carmen (also an electrical engineer).

PCB Tech Talk

RSS: http://pcbtechtalk.libsyn.com/rss

This podcast was started by Mentor Graphics in 2015. There was a long hiatus between 2016 and 2018 and no episodes have appeared since June 2018.  It contains some useful information and insights for PCB layout designers, but also tends to push Mentor’s tools and brand. It distinctly feels like it is produced by the marketing department of a traditional company and a lot of the content is scripted.

Solution to Very Slow Keyboard Response in IPython

I am starting to use Python (on Windows) and am running IPython as well as pylab and matplotlib. I had a problem though, keyboard input in IPython was very slow (maybe half a second delay for each character). This was extra noticeable when pasting e.g. a path. After some googling around, I found this discussion:

https://groups.google.com/a/continuum.io/forum/#!topic/anaconda/kvWVtW40aDI

There, they say that starting IPython using the following command could help:

ipython console --pylab

I adapted this to Windows by right-clicking the on the IPython icon in the start menu and added

console --pylab

to the string in the target field so that it reads:

C:\Anaconda\python.exe "C:\Anaconda\Scripts/ipython-script.py" console --pylab

When I now start IPython through this shortcut, the delay is almost completely gone! When I paste in a string, it might take a tenth of a second or so for 20 characters to be pasted, which is not really fast, but still well below the limit for being annoying and a vast improvement over the previous situation.

axotron.se is back after moving

Since I have moved house,  the web server for axotron.se also had to move. Unfortunately it was not quite as much plug-and-play as I had hoped, so the move resulted in a few days of downtime. The main problem was that I had to ask for a unique public IP address from the service provider Bahnhof and that I did not realize that the IP address I otherwise got was not unique for me (how does that work?).

Anyway, their support fixed the IP uniqueness problem while I talked to them today and now everything seems to be up and running again.