DN Staff

June 17, 2002

9 Min Read
20 ways to love electronics

-1- Food for thought

Hungry for knowledge in image processing? Then Bob's Brain Snacks, offered at Coreco Imaging's website, www.imaging.com, may satisfy your cravings. These whimsical tutorial tidbits explain image-processing concepts, such as noise reduction and convolution, to design and development engineers in easily digested language. The Snacks started as an internal information resource. Their popularity led the company to give them a wider audience via the Web. Bob's Brain Snacks tutorials fromCoreco Imaging: Enter 551

-2- Running on empty?

If your portable tool products run out of juice too abruptly, check out battery "fuel gauges" from International Components Corp. (ICC). Designed for nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, the devices provide continuous feedback via LEDs and support the Smart Battery Data Specification v1.1. By knowing how much power is available, you can also avoid needless charging cycles, which can shorten battery life. Battery fuel gauges fromInternational Components Corp.: Enter 552

-3- Washable chips

Plastic encapsulation of microelectronic chips and conductive fabric wiring has led to "smart fabrics." Developed by Infineon Technologies, the fabric has been applied in personal entertainment (an MP3 player), medical sensors for athletes and seniors, and smart labels to control counterfeiting and track sales. Vital is a silicon-based thermogenerator chip that uses the usual 5C (9F) temperature differential between skin and clothing to supply 1.0 muW/cm2 at a voltage of 5 V/cm2 under load. Wearable electronics fromInfineon Technologies: Enter 553

-4- Set 'em up, Joe

Wanna keep tabs on your bar tab? Technical Solutions has products to help both bartenders and bar owners. The Intellipour (TM) family of devices automatically audits liquor poured from bottles and beer pulled from coolers. Exact amounts are sent wirelessly to cash registers, POS systems, and liquor management software. The embedded network capability allows bar managers to keep an eye on things onsite and offsite via any Web browser. Adding only about one cubic inch to the side of the bottleneck, the Intellipour Jr. (TM) products uses Microchip's rfPIC (TM) single-chip CPU and transmitter to process and send data and to help bartenders pour a more consistent drink. For further information, contact Technical Solutions at www.technicalsolutions.com or Microchip at www.microchip.com .

-5- Terminal block plug-ins

Diode-plug versions of Wieland Electric's WKC 1 and 2.5 taris insulation-displacement contact (IDC) disconnect terminal blocks add electronic functions of a diode to prevent damage to expensive electronics, such as a PLC, due to connection to the wrong voltage or polarity. The diode block offers engineers the convenience of a pluggable housing, allowing test and maintenance without removing wiring. The housing can also be used for components such as a MOV or resistor. Diode-plug terminal blocks fromWieland Electric: Enter 555

-6- Small SLIC

The Dual ProSLIC(TM) (subscriber line integrated circuit) from Silicon Laboratories takes up less than two square inches of board space. But within it are a complete two-line POTS (plain old telephone service) interface and highly programmable analog telephony interfaces for traditional access networks and customer premise applications. Included are codec (code/decode) functions and remote diagnostics. Parts count is reduced by up to 50%, allowing single-sided boards with fewer insertions. Dual ProSLIC is programmable for global compliance with a single hardware design. Dual ProSLIC fromSilicon Laboratories: Enter 556

-7- Snugged-down connectors

Targeted for tight spaces, Molex RF/Microwave Connector Division's 75-ohm, right-angle BNC connectors come in profile heights of 0.625, 0.5 and 0.342 inch. Engineers slimmed the latter down by eliminating unused body height and positioning the connector barrel a bit below the circuit board edge. And the short lead lengths coming out of the connector bottom give better frequency response. Applications go from dc to 2 GHz. BNC connectors fromMolex Inc.: Enter 557

-8- Attainable infotainment

The Tornado for Car Infotainment development system by Wind River Systems is aimed at providing low-cost application development. It gives OEMs the necessary pre-integrated tools and components so they can shift focus from the integration and testing of enabling technologies to applications software instead. The system includes the Tornado development environment, VxWorks real-time operating system, embedded development tools, multimedia libraries, and Java. Support is also furnished for CANbus, Media Oriented System Transport (MOST), and Bluetooth. Tornado development system fromWind River Systems: Enter 558

-9- Embedding Ethernet

Rabbit Semiconductor processor modules no bigger than a credit card enable easy implementation of embedded systems with integrated Ethernet capability. Core modules, with up to 1 Mbyte of memory, can be mounted on a user-designed motherboard and can act as either the system's controlling microprocessor or as a satellite processor to off-load network communications. Each module includes four serial ports, a battery-backable clock, and upwards of 40 I/O lines. RCM2100/2200 core modules fromRabbit Semiconductor: Enter 559

-10- Memory loss?

Virage Logic seemingly took a step back in performance to jump ahead in affordability in developing its NOVEA RAM(TM) reprogrammable, non-volatile memory. While the new memory takes up more silicon area, its fabrication is compatible with current standard 0.18 and 0.13 micron silicon processing, resulting in an overall cost saving of two to three times that of Flash or EEPROM reprogrammable memories, which have extra silicon layers, adding complexity and cost. For security, single-chip NOVEA RAM thwarts hacking since all components are within the chip without exposed leads between them to act as taps. NOVEA RAM fromVirage Logic: Enter 560

-11- Motion sickness cure

National Instruments Motion Assistant(TM) automatically generates LabVIEW(TM) code to help build applications that use motors and positioning devices. With companion system Measurement Studio(TM), users can also use it to develop code for Microsoft Visual Basic and Visual C++. Motion Assistant is useful for creating motion applications ranging from simple single-axis motions to demanding multi-axis movement. The point-and-click, drag-and-drop interface let users quickly program and prototype systems and graphically edit motion paths. Motion Assistant fromNational Instruments: Enter 561

-12- DAQ for LANs

The 2680A DAQ (data acquisition) system from Fluke Corp. is aimed at providing fast measurements on local area networks (LANs). The chassis is designed for small to large multi-channel, data-logging applications requiring Ethernet communications. Five slots accommodate combinations of 20-channel patented Universal Input Modules that connect and measure many electrical or physical parameters (such as resistance, current, voltage, thermistor, and totalizer inputs) without the need for external signal conditioning. A sixth slot is for an additional input module or digital I/O relay module. 2680A DAQ fromFluke Corp.: Enter 562

While the entertainment industry attempts to sort out the issue of digital copyright protection, Xilinx has come up with a technological solution for consumer appliances. Its low-cost(&$10) line of Spartan programmable gate arrays features cryptographic algorithms and has the ability to process a new encryption or decryption every 16 cycles for enhanced security. Target applications include set-top boxes, prepaid smart cards, and cell phones. Spartan FPGA fromXilinx: Enter 563

-14- Full vision on a playing card

DVT just dealt engineers coping with space constraints a winning hand with its new CMOS-based full vision system. It includes a standalone imaging sensor with on-board image acquisition, processing, digital I/O, serial and Ethernet communications, and on-line diagnostics-all in a compact, 1.6 x 2.2 x 4 inch volume. Series 500 vision system fromDVT: Enter 564

-15- See your true colors

Subtle differences in shading can make it difficult to distinguish between colors. Unlike other color sensors, which use three different LEDs, Balluff's new BFS-26K color sensor uses an integrated pulsed white-light source, eliminating the need for an external light source. The compact (50 x 50 x 17 mm) sensor can even distinguish among the toughest color types of all-shades of gray. BFS-26K compact color sensor fromBalluff: Enter 565

-16- A little enlightenment

The ZEN nano controller from Omron is a diminutive 70 x 90 x 56 mm for simple control applications almost anywhere. The device can be expanded with up to three I/O expansion modules for a maximum of 34 I/O points. A memory cassette lets users transfer the same program to any ZEN, to repeat programs during machine manufacture or for fast in-the-field changeovers. ZEN nano controller fromOmron Electronics: Enter 566

-17- Suppress that surge!

Phoenix Contact's COMBOTRAB combines lightning arrestor and Transient Voltage Surge Suppression (TVSS) functions in one system. At its heart is the FLASHTRAB PLUS CTRL lightning arrestor tested to the 10 x 350 muS waveform standardized direct strike lightning test (IEC 61024). The TVSS components protect against switching-type transients and are easy to replace in minutes. Such modularity allows indoor, outdoor, or control-cabinet mounting. COMBOTRAB fromPhoenix Contact: Enter 567

-18- High current, tight space

The WAGO 745 Series of PCB Cage-Clamp terminal strips accommodate wire gauges from #24 to #6 AWG in a width of only 10 mm and a 50A current rating. Pin spacings range from 5 to 20 mm. The strips allow you to use jumpers to loop through potentials or connect current circuits in parallel, and separate test slots can be accessed even with connected conductors. 745 Series terminal strips fromWAGO: Enter 568

-19- Plastic goes with the flow

Added to the Gems Sensors line of brass and stainless steel OEM flow sensors is the FS-380P Series-a molded polypropylene design more tolerant of particulates and less susceptible to sticking. With a reported low pressure drop and mounting in any attitude, the sensors have operating pressures up to 200 psi at 70F and 100 psi at 212F, with set points from 0.25 to 2.0 gpm. FS380P flow sensors fromGems Sensors: Enter 569

-20- Gold standard

Medical and other high-performance applications often demand electronic connectors that survive high cycling rates. Tyco's mini CPC and micro CPC miniaturized circular connectors fit the bill, thanks to a gold-plated, spring-loaded contact that lends robustness to the design. The connectors are available in diameters as low as 9/16 inch. Mini CPC and micro CPC connectors fromTyco: Enter 570

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