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.
Advertised as the "Most Powerful Tablet Under $100," the Kindle Fire HD 6 was too tempting for the team at iFixit to pass up. Join us to find out if inexpensive means cheap, irreparable, or just down right economical. It's teardown time!
The increased adoption of wireless technology for mission-critical applications has revved up the global market for dynamic electronic general purpose (GP) test equipment. As the link between cloud networks and devices -- smartphones, tablets, and notebooks -- results in more complex devices under test, the demand for radio frequency test equipment is starting to intensify.
Much of the research on lithium-ion batteries is focused on how to make the batteries charge more quickly and last longer than they currently do, work that would significantly improve the experience of mobile device users, as well EV and hybrid car drivers. Researchers in Singapore have come up with what seems like the best solution so far -- a battery that can recharge itself in mere minutes and has a potential lifespan of 20 years.
Some humanoid walking robots are also good at running, balancing, and coordinated movements in group settings. Several of our sports robots have won regional or worldwide acclaim in the RoboCup soccer World Cup, or FIRST Robotics competitions. Others include the world's first hockey-playing robot and a trash-talking Scrabble player.
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