Few words about me:

From very childhood I loved computers, electronics, lasers, sulfuric acid and liquid nitrogen. I always wanted to be making microchips, UAVs and see nuclear explosion.

Now I am doing software engineering and in the spare time - some microelectronics and physics/chemistry experiments.

I live and work in Russia, Moscow.

M1 - Crab Nebula

Made a photo of Crab Nebula via "couch telescope" iTelescope T7.
10 minutes for each channel, Ha (red channel), Sii (blue), Oiii (green). I.e. different colors - are different chemical elements (hydrogen, sulfur, oxygen) generated during nova explosion. We are looking here at the process of creation of the new world :–)

BTW Explosion of this nova was first observed just 959 years ago. It is even possible to see changes in Crab Nebula over the years.

Same without filters:

November 22, 2013

CD & DVD under microscope

I knew that there are tracks, but never was able to see them. My old pocket microscope was too weak.

Update: Photos remade with new camera. Also figured out how to make a good photo of DVD - I needed to brutally crack disk at half of it's thickness to directly access surface with written data.

Track interval is 1.6µm for CD and 0.74µm for DVD.


November 5, 2013

Photo of AMOLED display of Galaxy S4 mini and others

Update: Just realized that AMOLED means Active Matrix, so there should be transistors and some circuitry which I need to take a look at!

Suddenly my HTC One V died - blinked some random garbage on screen and became dark, discharging battery below 0%. I am not going to buy HTC again - I am far from happy with their policy of not updating Android on their 'small' phones.

As I am cool enough to buy non-top-of-the-line phones, I gone for Samsung Galaxy S4 mini. Why on earth all manufacturers have so much love for gigantic phones...

S4 mini has my beloved AMOLED display which promises longer battery life, 1.5Gb of ram is more than enough, 28nm Krait CPU (1.7Ghz, 1Mb of L2 cache) is perceivably faster than Scorpion (MSM8255 - 1.4Ghz, 45nm, 384kb L2 cache) and playing with NFC is fun. Finally it has LTE support - we already have LTE-capable networks here in Moscow - will be interesting to test it out. Also GLONASS is working

I decided to take microscope photos of displays of various devices I had at hands. Scale is the same on all photos:

Samsung Galaxy S4 mini - AMOLED:
October 12, 2013

MAKS 2013

Weather was far from ideal, but in other days it was even worse. Hopefully they will shift MAKS 2015 earlier to the beginning of August.

There is no T-50 (PAK FA) on the video - I was too late for it by mere 15 minutes
September 1, 2013

Overclocking Arduino with liquid nitrogen cooling. 20⇒65.3Mhz @-196°C/-320°F

Before I start I guess I must answer 2 questions which would be asked inevitably:

1) Why? Because I can. To learn how electronics behave at cryogenic temperatures. And just curios how much juice you can squeeze out of AVR if you push hard enough This also produced some results relevant to desktop processors overclocking with liquid nitrogen cooling.

2) Why Arduino UNO (ATmega328P-based) while there are many faster microcontrollers? Just because it seems that Arduino is more popular among geeks and amateurs. For practical applications it is easier and cheaper to just use Cortex-M3/M4 based microcontrollers or FPGA (and I had these devboards too) instead of trying to overclock poor Arduino :-).

Overclocking microcontrollers with liquid nitrogen cooling promises to be harder, than overclocking desktop processors : there are no stability tests, no on-board programmable frequency generator (at least on AVR microcontrollers), no programmable supply voltage. Also, it appeared that a number of on-board components were failing - so I had to deal with them individually. Luckily for me all these problems were sorted out at the end.
August 15, 2013

ULN2003 - practical example of «reading» microchip schematic

We often receive comments that while our microchip photos are beautiful and interesting, it is completely unclear how integrated circuit implements basic elements and form larger circuit. Of course it is impossible to do a detailed review of an 1'000'000 transistor chip, so we've found simpler example: ULN2003 - array of Darlington transistors.

Despite it's simplicity this microchip is still widely used and mass manufactured. ULN2003 contains 21 resistors, 14 BJT transistors and 7 diodes. It is used to control relatively high load (up to 50V/0.5A) from microcontroller pin. Canonical use case - controlling segments of large 7-segment LED displays.

Read more on zeptobars.ru →
August 14, 2013

Liquid nitrogen and sugar phosphorescence

Finally managed to play with liquid nitrogen!
It appeared, that it's sold near my house, about ~1.5$ per liter.

August 11, 2013

Radioactivity of natural potassium

Accidentally realized, that natural potassium is radiactive. it has ~0.0117% Potassium-40, which decays with emission of beta-particles & gamma radiation. Radiation levels through are safe even with 1kg of KOH.

I had to remove energy-compensating cover on the Geiger tubes to detect more of beta particles.

July 27, 2013

Thunderstorm in Moscow

June 29, 2013

Bitfury - specialized Bitcoin processor

Recently we've received sample chips from engineering run of Bitfury - specialized Bitcoin processor.

Compared to Avalon/BFL it is much more advanced thanks to 55nm manufacturing technology (TSMC) and full-custom design. Performance of single chip is ~2-3 Ghash/sec (final numbers are TBD) compared to ~282 Mhash/sec for Avalon.

Designer of Bitfury decided to remain anonymous, it is only known that he is from Ukraine. This was his first ASIC project, he was doing few FPGA projects in the past. What is even more unbelievable is that due to tight time requirements they had to skip MPW run and go straight to full mask run. Cost of mistake was extremely high, but it all worked from the first time. Final devices would be assembled by Metabank in Russia.


The package is QFN again (like in Avalon) - due to it's excellent thermal performance and short/low inductance connections to leads.

Read more on zeptobars.ru →
June 25, 2013