Advertisement

Show-and-tell at ESC Silicon Valley 2017

October 06, 2017

Max The Magnificent-October 06, 2017

I was just pondering the forthcoming Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) Silicon Valley, which will take place December 5-7, 2017, at the San Jose Convention Center.

Up until a few years ago, I used to bounce over Silicon Valley every couple of months or so. More recently, my trips to California have fallen off, while others have taken their place. In a couple of weeks' time, for example, I'll be traveling to Munich, Germany (to meet with some companies); then on to London, England (to meet with some more companies); then continuing to Herning, Denmark (to give the Keynote presentation at the Electronics of Tomorrow conference); after which I return to America just in time to attend ESC Minneapolis.

Phew! I'm too young for all this excitement. The point is that, since I now visit Silicon Valley relatively infrequently, I'll have a lot of catching up to do regarding seeing friends and visiting companies.

But that's not what I wanted to talk to you about LOL.

In addition to all the tempting sessions at ESC Silicon Valley (check out the full schedule), and in addition to the fact I'll be giving two sessions of my own (see Advanced Technologies for 21st Century Embedded Systems and Building an Artificial Brain), one of the things we tend to do is a little "show and tell."

By "we" I mean some of the regular attendees and myself. And, by "show and tell" I mean that we bring interesting "things" (components, systems, bits of old technology, etc.) to pass around and discuss.

One of the devices I'll be bringing to this year's show-and-tell is a smart lightbulb. I was introduced to these little beauties a couple of months ago by my chum, Rick Curl, who sent me a link to a website accompanied by a note saying, "Trust me, order a 4-pack of these right now."


Rick demonstrating one use for a smart lightbulb (Source: Rick Curl)

I do trust Rick, so I bounced over to the website and ordered an 8-pack, just to make sure. I've been having fun showing these little scamps to people ever since.

Another thing I'll be bringing is a Lixie display. These have the "feel" of a Nixie tube, but they are illuminated by tri-state LEDs. The funny thing is that, even though these little scamps are state-of-the-art (laser-etched acrylic illuminated by semiconductor diodes), they are actually based on an early 1950s display technology.


Lixie (Source: Connor Nishijima)

I love these little rascals. In fact, I'm using 12 of the little beauties to create a Countdown Timer (see Awesome LED-Based Nixie Tubes and Building a Countdown Timer Using Lixies). Everyone who sees one "in the flesh" is really impressed, so I'm definitely going to be bringing an Arduino-driven Lixie to our show-and-tell.

Last but certainly not least, I recently acquired a refurbished Western Electric #7 Dial for 500 series telephones from the 1950s.


Lixie (Source: Max Maxfield)

This really takes me back to when I was a kid and the only phones we knew boasted big, black, molded plastic housings covering a steel chassis with the rotary dialing mechanism in the center. These beasts were designed to handle the rigors of everyday use for a long, long time, which explains why so many of them continue to function to this day.

There's something strangely satisfying about using the rotary dial, which is why I've decided to employ it as one of the ways to enter a target date into my Countdown Timer (see Using Arduino and Rotary Telephone Dial to Control 'Stuff' and Lixies + Rotary Telephone Dial = 'Ooh, Shiny!').

Yes, of course I'll be bringing this little beauty to the show-and-tell. Will you be attending ESC Silicon Valley? If so, and if you see me ambling around, stop me to say "Hi" and I'll be delighted to regale you with my show-and-tell offerings. I'll be the one in the Hawaiian shirt. As always, all you have to do is shout "Max, Beer!" or "Max, Bacon!" to be assured of my undivided attention.

Loading comments...