Ken Shirriff on the hidden complexity of power supplies
The O’Reilly Hardware Podcast: Tearing down everyday electronics and discovering unexpected sophistication.
In this episode of the Hardware Podcast, we talk with Ken Shirriff, a software engineer at Google and writer of a fascinating series of electronics teardowns. His posts on power supplies, like Apple’s MacBook and iPad chargers, offer detailed looks at how the real things differ from counterfeits. And his writeup of Apple’s remarkably complex Magsafe connector is illuminating.
- Power factor correction, now required on most higher wattage power supplies
- The 555 timer chip
- Tools: For his teardowns, Shirriff uses Eagle for drawing schematics, the LTSpice simulator for analyzing circuits, and the Rigol 1052 digital oscilloscope.
This week’s click spirals:
- David Cranor: YouTube videos of linemen working on extremely dangerous high-voltage lines.
- Jon Bruner: The use of satellite imagery and computer vision in recent archeological discoveries, such as a Viking settlement in Newfoundland, and hidden chambers of King Tut’s tomb. Does the fact that we have imagery of everything, combined with massive computing power, mean we’re coming to the end of the age of discovery?
- Ken Shirriff: The history of punched cards, and how IBM’s creation of the 80-column punched card in the 1920s led to the 80-character limit for code width.