The software may be the instrument, but at NIWeek, the hardware is the entertainer. It’s the hardware demos that help attract thousands of engineers to enjoy the 100 degree Texas heat. Software demos spark the mind, but the image of senior vice president of R&D Tim Dehne swinging a bat or test driving a virtual car while wearing a helmet prompt greater response.
Dehne demonstrated the performance of CompactDAQ by hitting a baseball. Using a bat equipped with an accelerometer, temperature and strain gauge sensors, he showed the 3 Msamples per second speed of the modular hardware without causing concern that he will be tested under baseball’s steroid crackdown.
Another colorful demo showed NI’s hardware in the loop testing capability. A compactRio-based antilock braking system was tied to a vehicle/road simulator. The vehicle skidded out during a turn made without the aid of the ABS hardware, courtesy of invisible black ice that was built into the program. When Dehne drove across the icy surface with the ABS unit enabled, the vehicle remained manageable until it stopped.
The hardware demos also included outsiders. Two recent grads from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute explained how they used NI’s Graphical Design System concept to create a Human and Object Transport Vehicle that’s akin to the Segway People Mover.
The two created virtual sensors to test out the performance of the inclinometer and MEMS gyroscope that help keep the HOT-V upright as it travels. When they progressed to building hardware, they used the same software to run it through its paces. Reusing software let them focus on the higher level aspects of design, so finalizing the vehicle’s operation required only three days.
Software reuse helped students develop the HOT-V during a single semester.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
Microchip recently released the 3D TouchPad, the first USB PC Peripheral device that couples 2D multi-touch input with 3D air gesture technology. The company seeks the help of developers to further enhance the capabilities of the technology.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
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