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Aerospace mirrors electronic trends
A recent visit to the Eaton Aerospace's Power and Load Management Business Unit gave me the opportunity to discuss trends that Development Engineering Manager Karl Kitts is seeing in electrical and electronic power distribution components for aerospace uses.
Most prominent is the push for more compact components. "Everyone likes smaller and lighter for aerospace," says Kitts, "because saving weight is a key goal in every aerospace vehicle." He notes that vendors like Eaton are working closely with OEMs and Tier 1 integrators to better tailor systems to requirements and pare overall weight.
A ripple effect taking place is also helping engineers reduce component size. Kitts observes that older vehicles had systems in which generator overload currents, for example, were much higher than on today's aircraft—thus matching components, such as circuit breakers, to their application results in a more compact product today.
There is a change in configuration philosophy that is aiding power-distribution component designers and boosting reliability and maintainability. In the past, many components were mounted on and throughout the aircraft structure. Such positioning, notes Kitts, often exposed them to harsh conditions and made replacement difficult. "Now power contactors, for example, are typically mounted in enclosed panels rather than on the structure somewhere. This facilitates serviceability and quick troubleshooting, which boosts dispatch reliability."
Another trend is increasing electronic intelligence, being added to components. "We have added computing power today with programmable logic and microcontroller chips," Kitts notes. Specific examples are arc-fault and overcurrent protection features in aerospace contactors and circuit breakers (see DN 09.04.2000, p. 76). Similar functionality will be extended to built-in test provisions and current, health, and usage monitoring. Specifically, current monitoring allows intelligent load shedding (circuit shutdowns) if power is reduced, which preserves functionality of the operational circuits to use the remaining generator capacity tied to the useable engines or emergency generators.
Kitts concludes, "A lot of the technology to do these things is already here, it's just a matter of bringing it onboard." Eaton, www.aerospace.eaton.com. Enter 576
The 1.25-mm (0.049-inch) pitch Mini Mi II™ wired harnessing connector system reportedly saves about 45% of PCB real-estate compared to similar 2-mm (0.079-inch) pitch versions for applications such as printers, home appliances, and automotive telematics. The system can carry up to 1.5A of current, and is available in wire-to-board and wire-to-wire configurations, in 2 to 20 circuits for single row and 10 to 40 circuits for dual row. Molex Inc., www.molex.com. Enter 577
The KAI-2000DUV (Deep Ultraviolet) Image Sensor captures images in the ultraviolet portion of the light specturm (200- to 400-nm). Features include electronic shutter, progressive scan readout, square pixels, and the ability to capture 30 frames/sec. The KAI-2000DUV is tar-geted at semiconductor imaging applications. Eastman Kodak, www.kodak.com. Enter 578
HSDR 750 LVDT use a radially mounted electrical connector that permits through-bore operation. It operates from ±15V dc and delivers a 0 to ±10V dc full-scale output. LVDTs are suited for linear motion control, machine tools, factory automation, and general-position measurement applications. Macro Sensors, www.macrosensors.com. Enter 579