Cradle and rock
Delphi's XM SKYFi™Radio. Can't live without your music? Delphi lets you take that nifty 101-channel satellite radio system for cars and bring it to your home stereo or into other vehicles. Using the vehicle cradle or home stand docking stations, the receiver integrates into any vehicle with a stereo cassette slot or any home system with an audio line-in connector or powered speakers. "A car is a very noisy environment electrically and each vehicle is different," notes Engineer Lloyd Jhanson, describing the biggest design challenge. An FM modulator option is available for filtering noise. Features include a display that concurrently shows channel number and name, artist, song title, and channel category. But for those aging baby boomers, there is a large, scrolling single-line mode to the display, visible from across the room. Lead Engineer: Lloyd Jhanson (www.delphiauto.com/electronics/skyfi). Enter 695
Oreck XL2. Don't plan to work out with Oreck's newest vacuum cleaner; at 8 lbs, it's too light and you won't break a sweat. But the engineering team did some mental gymnastics to shave half-to-two-thirds of the weight of typical products in its class. The solution: eliminate the traditional plastic upper-body support structure and make the entire upper body out of a four-layer polypropylene outer filter bag (same as used in surgical masks). In combination with a triple-layer cellulose inner bag, it filters down to 0.3 microns. The design cuts weight and provides a large media surface area for filtering, with little back pressure. The unit has a custom ac brush motor and a roller brush that moves at 6,500 rpm, among the fastest in the industry. (www.oreck.com). Enter 696
More (electrical) power to you
International Rectifier Active Integrated Rectifier Regulator. New cars demand more and more electrical power. Now, to boost alternator electrical output without having to resort to new 42V technology, International Rectifier has developed the AIRR for use in a Delphi alternator on the DaimlerChrysler Mayback premium luxury car. The AIRR combines in one module a voltage regulator (governs output voltage) with an active rectifier (changes ac from the alternator into usable dc). Big breakthrough from active rectification comes from using field-effect transistors (FETs) to reduce power losses, which then boosts fuel economy. Alternator output power is up about 25% at idle speeds where most generation systems function the worst. Lead Engineer: Mario Linke (www.irf.com). Enter 697
World in the mirror
STMicroelectronics ST-GIPsy chipset for GPS. Everyone loves a free ride. Now engineers at STMicroelectronics have given automotive designers the option of placing a GPS receiver within the rearview mirror—eliminating external antenna holes and protrusions and affording a good electronic view of the positioning satellites. This arrangement cuts wiring harness cost and interference from any formerly co-located cell-phone antennas. Key technology is a new GPS receiver and radio frequency (RF) front end, which integrates with the vehicle instrument cluster's CANbus. The unit furnishes position, heading (no need for a separate magnetic compass), speed, and precise time.
Engineer: Jeff Wilson (http://us.st.com/stonline/carmultimedia/index.htm). Enter 698
A blend of engineering and research
Oster®In2itive™Blender. Here is a surefire recipe for user-friendly design: Start by watching how consumers use a product, then blend what you learn into the mix of features in a redesign. That's what Sunbeam and its partners at Newton, MA engineering firm Design Continuum did. The resulting technology makes everyone a Julia Child by showing users on an LCD what the ingredients are for what they want to make, then making it for them. Key enablers: an off-the-shelf IC with software that reduces 40 recipes and respective blending times to zeros and ones; a keyboard that boils choices down to a bare minimum; and a proprietary universal ac motor that automatically reverses to keep ingredients close to the blade. Engineers used PTC's Pro/Engineer CAD software for design. Engineers: Stuart Perry at Design Continuum (www.dcontinuum.com); and Doug Wulf at Sunbeam (www.sunbeam.com). Enter 699
Pumped up on design
Powerbox Solutions fuel-pump control panel. Elegant electronic packaging is the key to design of a control panel for new gasoline pumps that may soon be gracing your local service station. Powerbox Solutions, a supplier to the gas-dispensing industry, and Phoenix Contact teamed up to save space and assembly/repair time of the fuel-pump control panel. It was a tall order. The previous design was filled with wiring that was hard to assemble, hard to get at, and hard to service. But forget about eliminating components to save space. Gas pumps today let you order coffee, a newspaper, a car wash, and groceries, which requires a lot of switches and other components. Engineers cut required space in half by doing the wiring on a printed circuit board. That slashed assembly time in half and eliminated the wiring mistakes. The packaging makes room for additional circuits in the same footprint. Also, engineers made fuses externally pluggable for easy servicing. CAD software for the project was Autodesk Mechanical Desktop.
Project Lead: Arnold Offner (www.phoenixcon.com). Enter 700