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Mechatronics Zone
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FIR Filter Coefficients
Mechatronics Zone 
9/6/2013  2 comments
Suppose you wanted to create a FIR filter with your own requirements. How would you find the necessary coefficients, and how many of them would you need?
Switched-Capacitor Filter Tests
Mechatronics Zone 
7/1/2013  5 comments
Switched-capacitor filters have a few disadvantages. They exhibit greater sensitivity to noise than their op-amp-based filter siblings, and they have low-amplitude clock-signal artifacts -- clock feedthrough -- on their outputs.
Even More on Rotary Encoders
Mechatronics Zone 
3/5/2013  2 comments
This column wraps up our discussion of encoders with information about resolvers, which provide angular data over 360 degrees.
Encoders Know All the Angles
Mechatronics Zone 
1/4/2013  8 comments
Engineers use rotary encoders to measure the angular position of an attached device or to measure distance indirectly.
A Machinist's Calculator for the Holidays
Mechatronics Zone 
12/17/2012  18 comments
The Machinist Calc Pro computes speeds and feed rates for milling, turning, and drilling: cutting speed, spindle speed, feed rate (inches/minute), cutting feed, etc.
Engineering Faculty Debates Generalists vs. Specialists
Mechatronics Zone 
12/14/2012  24 comments
During a recent meeting with engineering-school faculty and alumni, Contributing Technical Editor Jon Titus talked about whether colleges should educate generalists or specialists. What do you think?
An Undersampling Wrapup
Mechatronics Zone 
11/27/2012  Post a comment
Contributing technical editor Jon Titus wraps up his undersampling columns with sample rates and a plot with extrapolated lines.
Acoustic Signatures Reveal Railway Bearing Defects
Mechatronics Zone 
11/13/2012  13 comments
The RailBAM can detect damage to the wheelset bearings in trains sooner than other techniques, improving reliability and reducing maintenance costs.
Undersampling Shifts Signal Bandwidths
Mechatronics Zone 
10/31/2012  3 comments
In some cases, you can take advantage of aliasing and use it with a technique called under-sampling or bandwidth sampling.
Undersampling Changes Bandwidths
Mechatronics Zone 
10/19/2012  9 comments
Before you choose a frequency, you should understand how each upper and lower sampling frequency affects aliasing of signals in the 8MHz bandwidth.
Open-Source Kits Put Robots in Many Hands
Mechatronics Zone 
10/11/2012  19 comments
Multiplo, a four person startup, sought venture funds via Kickstarter to create and manufacture kits for anyone interested in robotics.
Gesture Sensors Could Help Mechatronics Engineers
Mechatronics Zone 
9/20/2012  17 comments
A recent announcement from a company specializing in sensors used for gesture detection sparked thoughts about using this type of control in mechatronic devices.
Motor Kits Let BLDC Designs Roll
Mechatronics Zone 
9/14/2012  4 comments
If your design plans include a brushless DC motor, contributing technical editor Jon Titus recommends starting with a motor drive dev kit.
An Anti-Alias Filter Review
Mechatronics Zone 
9/12/2012  9 comments
This column describes a filter-selection “gotcha,” and includes references to anti-alias-filter information.
Handbook Can Help Mechatronics Engineers
Mechatronics Zone 
9/5/2012  7 comments
Contributing technical editor Jon Titus found a free copy of the Electrical Engineering Pocket Handbook, published by the Electrical Apparatus Service Association, particularly useful.
More On Sigma-Delta ADCs
Mechatronics Zone 
8/1/2012  Post a comment
Analog Devices has a step-by-step online demonstration that shows how a sigma-delta ADC works.
Oversampling Reduces Quantization Errors
Mechatronics Zone 
7/27/2012  18 comments
No matter how many bits an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) provides, the digital output can only approximate the original signal.
Can Pneumatics Play a Bigger Role in Mechatronics Designs?
Mechatronics Zone 
7/17/2012  26 comments
It might seem like it's anyone's guess where engineers pick up the knowledge to apply pneumatics, but these links can help.
Send Machines, Not People, to Space
Mechatronics Zone 
7/10/2012  28 comments
If we have an urge to explore outer space, let's leave people on Earth and conduct experiments and gather data at a distance.
Getting to Know Freescale's Mechatronics Robot
Mechatronics Zone 
6/29/2012  13 comments
In May, we told you about Freescale Semiconductor's two-legged robot (FSLBOT) and controller board that lets engineers, students, and even hobbyists experiment with the robot's four servos and many sensors. Here's an update.
Specifying & Creating Data-Acquisition Systems, Part 4
Mechatronics Zone 
6/6/2012  5 comments
Mathematics can provide the answer to problems with sampled signals.
Engineering, Science & Math in a Water Bottle
Mechatronics Zone 
5/25/2012  32 comments
Designing and filling a new type of water bottle might take less engineering work, but the description will help kids understand how science, math, and engineering influence their lives even through things that seem mundane.
Freescale's Wireless Robot Teaches Sensor Programming
Mechatronics Zone 
5/8/2012  17 comments
Freescale Semiconductor's two-legged robot (FSLBOT) and controller board lets engineers, students, and even hobbyists experiment with the robot's four servos and many sensors.
Specifying & Creating Data-Acquisition Systems, Part 3
Mechatronics Zone 
4/5/2012  6 comments
The Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem helps you use a sampling frequency to identify and locate aliasing.
Sensors & Software Yield Accurate Magnetic-Compass Bearings
Mechatronics Zone 
3/29/2012  5 comments
Freescale Semiconductor's Xtrinsic eCompass software helps simplify magnetometer use for equipment designers.
March Madness in the World of MCUs
Mechatronics Zone 
3/28/2012  10 comments
Here are introductions to five products that are of interest to engineers and product designers who use MCUs.
Should We Pay More Attention to Software Ethics?
Mechatronics Zone 
3/13/2012  32 comments
Companies will always gather information about us, but it's the software that determines what someone does with that information. Programmers should keep that in mind when creating code.
Specifying & Creating Data-Acquisition Systems, Part 2
Mechatronics Zone 
3/6/2012  10 comments
Specify and create a data-acquisition system by analyzing measurements and figuring out what you are going to do with the information.
Specifying & Creating Data-Acquisition Systems, Part 1
Mechatronics Zone 
2/29/2012  14 comments
Specifying and creating a data-acquisition system can seem rocky until you analyze what must be measured and what you want to do with the measurement information.
User Interfaces Should Be Easy to Navigate
Mechatronics Zone 
2/21/2012  23 comments
The need to frequently "back track" out of confusing menus indicates a poor design.
How Many Calculus Classes Do Engineers Need?
Mechatronics Zone 
2/10/2012  38 comments
Unlike his friends in engineering programs, blogger Jon Titus had little need for calculus except in a few of his college physical-chemistry labs and classes.
What's Your Pick for Best Engineering Movie?
Mechatronics Zone 
1/25/2012  70 comments
The PBS film "Azorian" documents the construction of the equipment needed to raise a sunken Russian submarine.
What's the Noise in Signal-to-Noise Ratio?
Mechatronics Zone 
1/11/2012  7 comments
A signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) lets us express the relationship between signal and noise powers and between the root-mean-square (rms) values of signal and noise voltages.
Where Does FFT Process Gain Come From?
Mechatronics Zone 
12/7/2011  6 comments
A look into digital signal processing via some chips which implement Fast Fourier Transforms (FFTs).
Keep Your Eye on Donut Opportunities
Mechatronics Zone 
11/22/2011  7 comments
Our mechantronics blogger opines on entrepreneurs who fall lose sight of the overall problem and fix their vision on something unimportant.
Six-Wire Technique Nulls Stray Resistance
Mechatronics Zone 
11/15/2011  6 comments
Our Mechatronics Zone columnist showcases a technique for measuring in-circuit resistance.
Slide Chart Helps Find Screws & Fasteners
Mechatronics Zone 
10/25/2011  15 comments
Mark Atkins at Great Innovations has come up with a great way to present frequently-used information about screws and metals in a two-sided slide chart.
Is There a Diamond Machine in Your Future?
Mechatronics Zone 
10/21/2011  9 comments
Researchers at the Sandia Corporation have created complete machines with gears and microscopic transmissions fabricated from microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) systems.
What Would You Do With a 6-V Motor, Two Servos & a Battery?
Mechatronics Zone 
10/18/2011  10 comments
Someone should start a robotics competition that challenges kids to build something out of a small DC motor, a 2-channel transmitter and servo receiver, two servo motors, and a battery pack.
Freescale Combines Vehicle Sensors With Tower System
Mechatronics Zone 
10/11/2011  3 comments
Freescale's latest board for the company's Tower System is a set of 8-bit MCU boards and peripheral devices that communicate via "elevator" bus boards.
Interface Chip Simplifies Time-Frequency Measurements
Mechatronics Zone 
9/26/2011  1 comment
This Universal Sensors and Transducers Interface (USTI) integrated circuit provides 29 measuring modes, as well as digital sensors that operate in the time-and-frequency domains.
Damn the Error Codes
Mechatronics Zone 
9/20/2011  14 comments
Service manuals often give incomplete error or malfunction information and fail to include information on fixing the problem.
Now You Know What Rime Ice Is
Mechatronics Zone 
9/14/2011  10 comments
A new sensor uses the optical properties of ice to detect when it builds up on refrigerator coils.
My Mercury Wiring Harness Nightmare
Mechatronics Zone 
9/13/2011  8 comments
When I attempted to replace a power-window motor on my '96 Mercury I uncovered an amazing nest of wires that controls windows, door locks, and mirror positions.
Can You Test & Measure With an MCU?
Mechatronics Zone 
9/6/2011  5 comments
The Arduino Uno module provides an easy way to learn about microcontrollers.
Keep Your Engineering Skills up to Date
Mechatronics Zone 
8/23/2011  14 comments
Contributing Technical Editor Jon Titus shares his thoughts on how to stay current in a competitive job market.
An Unexpected Failure Mechanism
Mechatronics Zone 
8/17/2011  20 comments
The most solid part of a device can fail even though we test it thoroughly and don't expect it to fail over the life of a product.
Getting Started With Proximity Sensing
Mechatronics Zone 
8/5/2011  7 comments
Two-minute development kit review: Engineers who need an optical proximity sensor that accounts for ambient light need this kit.
Gyroscopes Still Seem a Bit Like Magic
Mechatronics Zone 
7/22/2011  2 comments
Engineers who once found the magic in gyroscope toys will be interested in new sensors that rely on devices that use MEMS to create accelerometers and gyros.
Do Mechatronics Degrees Make Sense?
Mechatronics Zone 
7/19/2011  13 comments
Twelve colleges have created mechatronics programs, mostly by adding mechatronics classes to a standard mechanical-engineering curriculum.
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Here's a variety of views into the complex production processes at Santa's factory. Happy Holidays!
The Beam Store from Suitable Technologies is managed by remote workers from places as diverse as New York and Sydney, Australia. Employees attend to store visitors through Beam Smart Presence Systems (SPSs) from the company. The systems combine mobility and video conferencing and allow people to communicate directly from a remote location via a screen as well as move around as if they are actually in the room.
Thanks to 3D printing, some custom-made prosthetic limbs, and a Lego set, one lucky dog and a tortoise has learned new tricks.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
With Radio Shack on the ropes, let's take a memory trip through the highlights of Radio Shack products.
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