As more telephones, laptops, and personal digital assistants become wireless, meshing the different antenna configurations becomes a problem for satellite and terrestrial communication. A new Meander Line Antenna (MLA) may provide a solution. "It's new because it combines previously separate antennas used for different modes of communication into one," says Kerry Greed, an electrical engineer at Skycross Inc., developer of the soon-to-be-released MLA. The antenna operates with circular polarization for satellite reception. It can also be electrically switched to a linear polarization for terrestrial use. The antenna switches from circular to linear polarization by combining two orthogonal elements with a 90-degree hybrid phase shifter. For linear, only one of two elements is used. The patented LAN antenna operates from 600 MHz to 2.5 GHz. It measures 1.4 × 0.97 × 0.21 inches and transmits wireless signals in an omni-directional azimuth pattern. "An omnidirectional azimuth pattern can be visualized as an expanding 3D donut shape around a device. This pattern provides better coverage for terrestrial wireless links because it focuses the beam in a flat circle uniformly in the horizontal plane around the user, providing the best possible connection with the tower, assuming that the antenna is not actively controlled," says Greer. "No energy is wasted up in the sky or down on the ground," he says. However, he notes that for satellite links (i.e. GPS), this pattern would not be appropriate. "In that case you would want an upward-focused beam pattern that points toward the sky, which the antenna also provides in the circular polarization mode," notes Greer. He indicates that samples will become available in the third quarter of this year. Skycross owns commercial rights to the technology. For more information, contact Skycross, 300 A North Dr., Melbourne, FL 32934, www.skycross.com or Greer at (321) 308-6618.
In a bid to boost the viability of lithium-based electric car batteries, a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed a chemistry that could possibly double an EV’s driving range while cutting its battery cost in half.
Using Siemens NX software, a team of engineering students from the University of Michigan built an electric vehicle and raced in the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. One of those students blogged for Design News throughout the race.
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.
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.