The Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners in 2024

The world is in the midst of a robotics revolution, and the humble vacuum cleaner is leading the way. It is no surprise then that the number of robot vacuum cleaners available to consumers has increased almost exponentially as new entrants have entered the market and competition heats up. This is great for pushing robotics technology forward. Indeed, the number of features on these obedient machines and their level of intelligence continues to increase. However, the rapid pace of change can also make for a confusing picture. To help you decide which robot vacuum cleaner is best for you, we have looked at the range of robot cleaner offerings in detail. The focus here is on the current state of the technology and determining the key features to pay attention to when purchasing one. 

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Exploring UHF RFID: Power, Modulation, and Global Standards

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is increasingly being used to track just about everything. Indeed, applications of the technology include diverse areas ranging from business inventory management to crowd control at large public events. As we delve further into the era of the internet of things, the use of RFID is expected to rise even more. There are a number different types of RFID technologies in use today, differentiated by the electromagnetic frequencies they use and whether their tags are passive or active. One type of RFID tag technology that has been growing in use more recently is that which uses the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) band of the electromagnetic spectrum. The UHF band encompasses radio frequencies from 300 MHz to 1 GHz, but the UHF RFID tags and readers that are making the most waves recently are those that use the 860 MHz - 960 MHz portion of the spectrum. But how exactly do UHF RFID tags work?

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Are FPGAs the Future of AI?

Diagramatic representation of the components inside an FPGA chip

An FPGA, or Field-Programmable Gate Array, is a programmable semiconductor chip enabling the implementation of various electronic circuits by circuit designers. Unlike fixed physical circuits in traditional processors, FPGA's digital circuits can be configured and reconfigured for diverse tasks. Importantly, no physical changes occur during FPGA programming. Instead, a matrix of programmable logic blocks and interconnects exists within FPGA chips, allowing construction of desired electronic circuits by enabling/disabling as needed. This flexibility is valuable for developing device prototypes or optimising electronic circuits for real-world applications. Today, FPGAs are proving valuable in Artificial Intelligence, raising the question of whether they will be the key processor in future AI.

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FPLC Explained

Fast Protein Liquid Chromatography or FPLC (formerly called Fast Performance Liquid Chromatography) is an advanced technique used in biochemistry and molecular biology to separate, and sometimes purify, biomolecules, in particular, proteins. As with other types of liquid chromatography, FPLC employs a liquid mobile phase and a fixed stationary phase. The mobile phase, containing the molecules of interest, runs through the stationary phase which consists of one or more specialized resins or matrices responsible for the chromatographic separation. In addition, the flow rates and elution conditions in FPLC are all controlled automatically through a system of pumps, interconnecting tubes, and columns to achieve the desired result. In fact, FPLC is similar to a better known type of liquid chromatographic technique called High Performance Liquid Chromatography or HPLC. However, FPLC operates at relatively low pressure but with a relatively fast flow rate, which is the reverse of how HPLC works. Significantly, FPLC is pivotal for various downstream applications in medical diagnostics and scientific research. 

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The Mechanics Behind Measuring Electrical Conductivity of Solutions

Electrical conductivity of a solution refers to its ability to conduct electric current. The metric is used in several real-world applications including the monitoring of water supplies for purity, and when measuring the concentration of plant nutrients in a feed solution. It is also a component of some scientific tools like Fast Protein Liquid Chromatography (FPLC) where it is used to monitor the ionic strength of the mobile phase or buffer.  

Electrical conductivity occurs because of the presence of charged ions within a solution. Applying an electric potential across the solution causes the charged ions to migrate towards their respective oppositely-charged electrodes. As a result, the flow of ions mediates the passage of the electric current. Significantly, the conductivity level of the solution depends on a number of factors, the main ones being the concentration of ions in the solution as well as its temperature.

In this post, we investigate the units normally used to quantify this electrical phenomenon, how to actually measure the conductivity of solutions, and finally, its relationship to the TDS metric.

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Thermionic Emission

Thermionic emission is the process whereby charged particles (usually electrons), known as thermions, are emitted from the surface of a heated material, usually a metal. The process is driven by the extra thermal energy that is added to the system. As a result, energised electrons can overcome the surface barrier of the material and escape into the surrounding space. This phenomenon has been used in various applications, including vacuum diodes, cathode ray tubes and, more recently, mass spectrometry. 

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Repairing the AA Car Battery Solar Trickle Charger

The AA Car Battery Solar Charger is a perfectly good solar panel for ensuring that your car battery does not run down if the vehicle is not used often enough. Its one weakness, however, is the cable coming out of the solar panel, which is prone to breaking, in part because the gauge of the internal copper wire is so thin. Worse still, it is all too easy for a wire break to go unnoticed, since the cable's insulation can remain intact, and the blue flashing LED on the solar panel will continue to flash irrespective of whether the car battery is being charged or not. Consequently, if a wire break does occur inside the cable, there is a good chance you will be unaware of the problem and one day when you try to start your car - it won't! I encountered this very problem...and this is how I fixed it.

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Best Digital Multimeter for Electronics Work and for the Electronics Hobbyist

The digital multimeter is one of the most important tools in the electronics professional’s and electronics hobbyist’s toolbox, so much so in fact that electronics aficionados usually have more than one. However, digital multimeters are used not only by electronics enthusiasts but also by other professionals such as car mechanics and electricians, who often have slightly different needs with respect to multimeter specifications. As a consequence, the humble digital multimeter comes in a variety of different flavours which cater to the needs of different professions. Therefore the electronics hobbyist needs to know beforehand what specifications are appropriate for electronics work, and what he or she should be looking for when buying a digital multimeter. So what's the best multimeter for electronics work and what should a newly-minted electronics hobbyist be looking for in their new digital multimeter? Let's try to answer those questions.

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Wireless Weather Station Reviews for the UK

​Weather for us Brits is a big part of our daily lives - not surprising since our weather can be often so unpredictable. Many of us too are fascinated by the weather, its unpredictability, ​its variability from year to year, and with global warming entering into the equation and making weather more extreme, it is only going to get all the more​ wild and interesting. That is why more and more of us are getting into monitoring our local weather not only to make better decisions in our own personal lives but also to ​keep track of how ​our weather is changing over time. One of the weather monitoring tools that is within almost everyone's budgetary reach is the wireless home weather station, which ​usually consists of a central display unit with one or more wireless sensors ​sited around and outside the home. Of course, as with all electronic gadgets these days, the humble weather station exists in a ​plethora of different makes and models, each sporting a range of different features, ​making the choosing of the best weather station for the home a difficult and confusing task. That's why here at Approach Labs, we have taken the time to look into the variety of features that different home weather stations ​offer, and to compare the popular ​ones that are available to consumers here in the UK​ to help you decide what's the best wireless weather station to buy for your particular home.

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USB Breakout Board for V-USB

Summary: The objective here was to make a USB breakout board that incorporates the hardware required to implement the mostly-software-based USB protocol, V-USB from Ojective Development. The completed V-USB module is able to be connected to a range of Atmel AVR® microprocessors involved in various projects at the breadboard stage, obviating the need for additional USB circuit components be added separately to the project breadboard whenever USB functionality is required. The use of V-USB where the USB protocol is incorporated into the main project AVR microcontroller also replaces the need for a dedicated chip to handle the USB protocol.

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