Build a Custom-Printed Circuit Board

PCBs aren’t so hard to make and needn’t break the bank

5 min read
Photo: James Turner
Photo: James Turner

Breadboarding a new circuit is a key skill and an important step in many projects—especially early on, when you need to move wires around and substitute components. But that very flexibility also makes it easy to knock wires out. Eventually, if your project is a keeper, you’re going to want something with a bit more permanence.

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) solve all those shortcomings. But most people don’t even consider translating a one-off project into a PCB design. For one thing, PCB fabrication has traditionally been expensive, viable only in commercial quantities. (One alternative is to do it yourself with etches and silk screens, a messy and time-consuming process.) Also, there are technical constraints involved with PCB designs that are daunting to the casual hobbyist. But it turns out that nowadays you can produce a professional PCB very inexpensively.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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