Black boxes have been getting a significant amount of attention lately. From the NHTSA’s call for mandatory use of black boxes in automobiles to the discovery of the black box from the Air France flight that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean last year, the media has been full of black box references. Modern black boxes are, of course, largely electronic devices. But that was not always the case. Earlier versions of the black box (or flight data recorders as the airline versions are called) — many of which are still in use today — are interesting examples of mechatronics.
As a case in point, consider the FA-542 made by Sundstrand. In the FA-542, four transducers (two pneumatic and two electronic) were used to drive foil recording arms. Airspeed and altitude data came in via plumbed lines directly to the flight data recorder to pneumatic actuators positioned alongside motor drives for actuation of recording of pitch/bank. Four scribing arms were positioned width-wise across an Iconel foil roll to record four flight parameters. The electronics chassis in the FDR housed power conditioning, signal conditioning and transport devices.
David Carey of UBM TechInsights (UBM is the parent company of Design News) performed a teardown of the FA-542 as part of the Embedded Systems Conference in 2009. To see images of the inside of that black box and read a full rundown of its constituent parts and their interaction, visit this article on the Design News Website.
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.