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News and Notable Product Design

News and Notable Product Design

MORE THAN GAMES ON THE GO

Tapwave Zodiac Mobile Entertainment Console. PDA functionality with fun, in the form of mobile gaming and multimedia image playback, are the ideas behind this hand-held. But the biggest challenge in providing an improved gaming experience was incorporating a true analog joystick, says Product Line Manager Tim Twerdahl. He notes such existing analog controls are too large, even at the size of a sugar cube, and digital joysticks are only full on/off. The patent-applied-for analog stick uses a pair of small potentiometers. "Wear characteristics change when you make these smaller, so testing tools and determining failure points and how wear occurs were critical," he adds. Tests (which surpassed a one-million cycles-to-failure design goal) included 360-degree and shorter arcing motions of the stick as well as linear inputs. Product Line Manager:Tim Twerdahl, [email protected]http://rbi.ims.ca/3843-576

DOCK, DOWNLOAD, AND PRINT

Extech Instruments Model 42276 Programmer with Printer. This self-standing, portable programmer/printer permits downloading and plotting temperature and humidity data-logger information without a PC or separate printer. Engineers were able to design in such functionality using 16k RAM memory and unique software. Product Manager Scott Black says, "A control algorithm allows printing graphics on the limited thermal-printer paper-strip area without loss in quality." Product Manager:Scott Black, [email protected]http://rbi.ims.ca/3843-577

GLOBAL RECHARGER

DigiPower Ultra Fast Rapid Charger. Patented, nested switchblade plugs with axially rotating flat blades allowed shrinking the size of this universal charger (110 or 220V) for digital camera batteries. But also important was compatibility with numerous battery sizes and contact configurations, says Product Manager Mike Mizrahi. Engineers used multiple contacts and a movable adapter plate in one model to allow just four different models, based on the battery compartment arrangement, to recharge 80% of camera batteries in use, whether 3.6 or 7.2V types. Product Manager:Mike Mizrahi, [email protected]http://rbi.ims.ca/3843-578

HOOPS (THERE IT IS) WITHOUT TOOLS

Huffy Sports InstaHoop(TM) Technology Basketball System. To allow assembling this portable basketball hoop without any tools engineers were challenged to maintain strength and integrity, notes VP Jeff Breitzman. Features they used include putting the "flat" of the two pole support struts on the inside of the strut cross-section, next to the pole, rather than symmetric in the center. The factory-assembled struts can then pivot and fold-up along the pole. The wheel-carriage support is a single piece with a threaded hole, rather than eye bolts and nuts. Turning the pole, with a mounting bolt on the end, into the threaded hole secures the pole and wheels to the base. And a single nylon knob molded around a proprietary-ribbed fastener to ensure grip threads the rim into a recess in the backboard face. VP Product Engineering and Quality Assurance:Jeff Breitzman, [email protected]http://rbi.ims.ca/3843-581

FAN FAULT FINDER

SKF(R) Copperhead Fault-Detection System for Industrial Fans. Thanks to the "acceleration enveloping" possible with this monitoring system, bearing problems in industrial fans can be spotted early. An SKF-developed vibration and temperature sensor uses a piezoelectric crystal to sense vibrations. These motions are algorithmically filtered to eliminate background vibrations, leaving only repetitive impact vibrations. Such signals are then amplified to detect the smallest change in a bearing or gear. In the event of jolts from external object personnel strikes, special circuitry dissipates any potentially damaging high-voltage spikes generated by the piezo. Faults detected include imbalance (due to debris buildup or component loosening), bearing misalignment, and inadequate lubrication. Program Manager:Keith Meyers, [email protected]http://rbi.ims.ca/3843-579

SOFT-SURFACE ROLLING

Roleez Wheels Balloon Wheel. Unlike conventional tires, high flotation wheels roll over terrain rather than "plowing through" and getting stuck in soft surfaces such as mud and sand. Now thanks to its thin-wall (3-mm) Bayer Texin 985 polyurethane construction, the Roleez Wheel conforms to the ground better than previous PVC high-float wheels, according to President Peter Reich. The material has a tensile strength of 5,500 psi and an elongation factor around 500%, roughly twice the performance of PVC. And because the polyurethane is an amorphous elastomer without the plasticizers of semi-crystalline PVC, it maintains its flexibility even at temperatures of freezing and below. President:Peter Reich, [email protected]http://rbi.ims.ca/3843-580

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