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A pleasant surprise

Hi all,

I'm just as bad as Tim... I've been doing school-related stuff.  But it
was a total accident! 

Almost like a gift from heavan, I received an electronics catalogue in my
mail today (let's just say that my neighbour won't be getting his... I
did NOT steal his mail :) ).  I was so excited when I saw it.  My parents
thought I was nuts.  And it's a pretty good catalogue.  Now I sort of know
what different parts cost and what parts are available.  We don't have to
order from the catalogue or buy from that company at all (the company is
American but the prices quoted are in Cdn $); the catalogue is just a good
reference guide. There might be an online catalogue too.  If you are
interested, check out the company webpage at www.digikey.com.  If the
webpage is sucky and you want to look up something, email me and I can
look it up (anything from resistors to capacitors to FPGAs, EPROMs,

You'll be happy to know that most parts are quite cheap (even FPGAs --
depending on the number of flipflops and gates). 

Here are my preliminary findings (how exciting!): 

A) IR Sensors 

Some bad news -- sensor range of most IR detectors are only
about 5 mm.  That's right -- millimeters.  We don't want that stuff at
all.  Then there is something called "bipolar integrated circuit with
photodetection function."  I don't know what it is.  Do you guys know? 
Apparently, it's for IR remote control sys and has "an extension distance"
(= range?) for 8-11 meters.  I wonder what kind of IR detection/emission
system is used in garage door openers and TV remote controls....  There
are other types too, except I don't know what they are exactly. 

If we use photodiodes, I think we may be able to figure out the distance
of the enemy robot by the amount of current that passes through a diode. 
They also sell laser (visible and IR) emitters and detectors (though they
are quite expensive).  We've never really considered laser before either. 
There are also UV emitters/detectors. 

B) Feedback System 

There are also tachometers (I think it's $100+).  But
there is something called an accelerometer which costs about $30.  I
wonder if we can use that.  There are also different types of pressure
sensors (for bumper sensors). 

C) Computer System 

I don't know what is actually required.  But as I mentioned before, there
is a wide variety comp stuff like FPGAs, EPROMs etc. 

D) Power Systems & Battery 

Again, lots of flexibility here.  There are also all sorts of battery
holders, surge suppressors, switches (toggle,rotary, so many different
types!) etc. 

I think I will stop.  There is too much information.  The catalogue is so
neat!  I feel so bubbly... hehe ;) 

Do not feel obliged to reply to this email.  Go relax and have fun. 

Joyce :) 

PS Cindy will really hate us now...