The element14 RoadTest program continues to be one of the most popular things about the community for members, suppliers, and customers. And in a year where the launch of new technology products happened at a remarkable pace, the RoadTests of 2016 provided a fun way to deep dive into some of these new products, providing an objective look at how they can be used and what innovations can be expected from them. Here are my choices for the 10 Best RoadTest Reviews in 2016. What are yours? Feel free to your leave comments below.
1. SIMPLE SWITCHER Nano Module Evaluation Board - Review by tonyboubady
I like to see simplicity not over-simplification when I read a RoadTest Review. I review that tells me what I need to know and can lay it out in a simple way will convince me to not only get excited about the product, but also to purchase it, when the need arises. Antony Boubady Prasad did just that in his review of the Texas Instruments SIMPLE SWITCHER Nano Module Evaluation Board. Numerous images, including size comparisons helped me to digest the information he was communicating. I was amused when he declared, "The size of the package blows my mind, it's just 21mm3 ..." He went through how to get started with the EVM, adding in some useful tips for powering up the board. He concluded that "LMZ20501 SIMPLE SWITCHER will be used in vast IoT applications, the remote enabling feature is useful to work with MCUs, you can make the MCU in sleep low voltage mode and wake it up for power the sensors by enabling the LMZ20501 SIMPLE SWITCHER." He didn't write a long review. But he wrote a clear, concise, and simple review that will benefit anyone who reads it.
2. RoadTest Review a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B ! - Review by created by alanmcdonley
When a RoadTest Review includes an overview, a test procedure, and the details of the test results, you know you have a special RoadTest Review. But Alan McDonley goes one step further in this review of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B; in his review, he compared "the computational performance of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B with the Raspberry Pi Model B+ running an automatic speech recognition engine, pocketphinx, (Carnegie Mellon University's open source large vocabulary, speaker-independent continuous speech recognition engine). He gave a superb overview for the reader to understand the context of his RoadTest, by stating, "There has been a long standing debate between product developers (pragmatists) and speech interface researchers over the role of grammars in speech interfaces. Grammar-based-speech interfaces for complex human-machine interaction become arduous to develop and tune." The results of his testing showed that the "Pi 3 (using only one of four cores) can keep up with small language-model speech, freeing the developer from the ardour of grammar development, and expanding the speech interface capability beyond commands to enable the beginnings of dialog. The Pi 3 can even enable surprisingly comfortable human-robot interaction using large vocabulary, unconstrained, continuous speech, with tremendous reserve processing resources available." In my estimation, his RoadTest review is rare piece of work that should be of interest to a wide audience.
3. Keysight and Texas Instruments Review by 6thimage
One of the fundamental differences between an element14 RoadTest review and the traditional product opinion survey is the that RoadTest reviewers are experts in their fields so they bring that expertise to their reviews to generate a valuable piece of documention for the product being reviewed In this review by Ian Griffiths he demonstrates his expertise by providing not only a review of the product but also a competitive review of similar products This is highly beneficial for the reader The review itself begins with a classic unboxing the crisp clear images add a nice touch and help the reader visualize the situation By framing the review as a comparison between the reviewed product the and its early incarnation the the reader learns the subtle differences between the two models He offers sensitive comments such as"additionally the fan in the is significantly quieter than the one in my My 34461A’s fan is just noticeable in a typical room where as you can only really hear the 34470A’s fan when everything else in the room is quiet The review ends with an analysis of temperature measurements data logging speed interface usability auto calibration and web interface The conclusion is rather detailed The kicker is the RoadTester went as far as providing 7 changes/improvements to the product! This is priceless feedback for a potential customer as well as the supplier.
4. We're Giving Away 10 IntelEdison Kits for Arduino - Review by vanwilder
The RoadTester is a self-described tinkerer/maker, saying "I have a lot of experience with developer boards such as Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black." Given the fact that the Intel Edison is well suited for the makers, Marko Zivkovic was an ideal RoadTester for this product. What's really nice about his review is that he gives the reader a play by play of how he tinkered with the Edison, including a lot of links that are useful to anyone who wants make something with the Edison. What makes this review one of the best of 2016 is that he describes his mistakes and miscues and how he corrected himself. Making the review practical and hands-on for the makers, he upgraded a robot with Edison that he had previously built with Ardunio. It was a very interesting read.
5. We’re giving away 5 BBC micro:bits! - Review by balearicdynamics
6. Elegant and Robust Capacitive Touch Interfaces - Review by Workshopshed
This is a tour de force RoadTest review consisting of not only a summary report, but also 5 additional blogs covering an unboxing of the product, software, uploading new code, front panel materials and an anlaysis of using the product with different gloves. Each one of these blogs is worthy of a separate review! The images are stunning, making you feel you have the product in your hands. Throughout the review, he gives links to reference materials from the supplier, Texas Instruments. In many respects, this review is like a design manual. The screenshots of the "CapTIvate Design Center" GUI really makes it all seem so easy to develop with. The RoadTest includes a performance test of CapTIvate sensors with different front panel materials. He wrapped up the RoadTest review with testing the sensors with gloves made of different materials (heavy duty PVC, welding gauntlet with cotton lining, and thin leather, typically used for TIG welding.)
7. Programmable DC Electronic Loads with the Review by Gough Lui
What's nice about this review is that it has something for anyyone interested in using electronic load testing equipment rather than, as the RoadTester states, "using a DMM and a suitably sized resistor to crudely make a test rig." There are many sweet things I could say about this review. He gives the reader a fantastic summary of the background of using an electronic load tester. This is very valuable for the novice or experienced engineer since he writes it in simple language. This review can be valuable for the sales product manager account manager or anyone who needs to know something about this type of test equipment. Next, he gives an extensive market comparison in tabular form of the main specs and the current market with names and model numbers. This saves a lot of work for anyone interesting in seeing how this product measures up. Of course, he provided a classic unboxing with large images. Then he discusses the modes of operation. I smiled when I read "Experiment: Power Supply and Load Torture." He tried an experiment to see just how well the load handled 150W and also how well his power supply of a similar rating could deal it. He examined the transient load behavior. He also provided the PC mode and a Battery test. This is a MUST read.
8. Knipex Self Adjusting Crimping Plier - Review by shabaz
Perhaps it's just me or engineering types in general, but we are a picky lot when it comes to our tools. (Some of use could be described as tool freaks!) It's not just a DMM or an o'scope that we're picky about. Hand tools are just as important. So, when I saw this review for a self-adjusting crimper, I took notice. I thought this was a unique RoadTest for element14. Dev boards and electronic test equipment have been the mainstay of reviewed products. So, I was curious to see how this product could be roadtested. I really liked the introduction, which resonated with my experience. I liked the fact that he discussed the problems of vibrations: "Furthermore wire strands are susceptible to breaking with vibration or repeated flexing at the interface with the terminal/screw/clamp unless some strain relief is possible. It is a regular occurrence for soldered wires to break off circuit boards due to turning the circuit board over a few times during design or test." This all led to the use of ferrules. But ferrules must be crimped. This was a good lead-in to the product that was being roadtested. He offers a great image that highlights the 4-sided crimping area. One thing about crimpers is some require a lot of force and others do not; and some are comfortable to grip and, of course, others are not. So, it was good he discussed the ergonomics of this hand tool. A good discussion of the use of ferrules makes this RoadTest a refreshing change.
9. RoadTest the Advantech PCIE-1816 - Review by ciorga
I think what makes this one of the best RoadTests of 2016 is that it was written with what is perhaps the best way to roadtest a product. Start with an unboxing then move onto setting up individual tests that are clear enough to understand such that they could be repeated by anyone. And then draw a conclusion based upon the tests. Cosmin Iorga uses this approach with style, making it a superior RoadTest. The road test is covered in easy-to-read section. The first part is the unboxing. The 2nd is signal measurement. The final one is the signal generation. Test circuits are described with screen shots along with shots of the respective waveforms. Snapshots of the test rigs are also provided. A walk through the the user interfaces are also provided. His conclusion is clear, concise and short: "Based on all these experiments described in this blog post I was very impressed of the quality of signals generated with the Advantech 1816 DAQ card and the easiness to setup the parameters of signals in DAQNavi software, " says Mr. Iorga.
10. RoadTest the Keysight Digital Multimeter Review by michaelwylie
I think this RoadTester generates a lot of excitement from the start by saying"the Keysight is expensive and huge for a multimeter but I love it Love of a meter Hmm.sure why not He shows an image to explain why he feels it is huge by comparing it to the Fluke 117 and the Extech 410 Next he claims"One thing that drives me bonkers when it comes to multimeter probes is a dull tip When working with printed circuit boards the probe tip needs to dig into the pin/pad The comes with really nice sharp probes These things hurt when I poked them with my finger which is exactly what I want Next is an intriguing comment about the meter's batteries"I’ve had a beef about multimeters using 9 Volt batteries for a long time Most people don’t keep spare 9 Volt batteries around because a very limited number of items actually use them I don’t know how many times I’ve stolen the 9 Volt battery from my smoke alarm for a few minutes to take a voltage reading The uses 4 AA batteries Love it He shows an image of the main board on the inside of the unit and adds"You can’t give an engineer something electronic and not expect them to open it As for testing he starts with data logging He created this great little test by putting"a 10 uF tantalum capacitor in his freezer and sometime later took it out to log its capacitance as it warmed A nice chart accompanies this test He repeated this test for a 1.5 V alkaline battery and also a 10-ohm resistor with accompanying graphs He added short video of how he tested the product's waterproofing capability The neatest thing about this part of the testing was discovering that the was buoyant"It was just odd looking at the meter floating in the water and having to push it down to submerge it He droptested it with the help of his 2 1/2 year old son adding a short video"detailing our fun Note I did warn him this was a special circumstance and that he could not drop anything else like this He obeyed and has yet to destroy anything This roadtest is a good overview of the capabilities of this product It's written with zest and was a lot of fun to read A great RoadTest Review to end the year