Design News is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Articles from 2001 In February

Test, Measurement, and Control

Test, Measurement, and Control

Plasma data

SmartPIM(TM)is an inline plasma measuring device which is designed to fingerprint the plasma through simultaneous measurement and display of current, voltage, and phase of the first five Fourier components. Applications include production fabs which demand high yield, productivity, and efficiency, and research and development facilities which require precise knowledge of plasma parameters.

Scientific Systems USA , 111 N. Market St., Ste. 621, San Jose, CA 95113; FAX (408) 938-3929.

Digital camera

The MegaPlus ES:310 Turbo is a progressive-scan digital camera which features a timing clock and 684x484 pixel interline-transfer CCD, which is said to provide images at 125 frames per second. Eight-bit dynamic range is said to allow comparison of bright and dim areas within the same image. The camera can be remotely controlled, and a multi-drop feature is said to allow 99 units to be controlled from a single computer.

Roper Scientific MASD , 11633 Sorrento Valley Rd., San Diego, CA 92121-1097; FAX (858) 792-3179; www.

Precision measurement

Microgage 2D laser measurement systems are designed for machine alignment, calibration, and other industrial applications which require precision measurement. The product is said to be capable of measuring in two axial directions at the same time at up to 35 feet. The product features a laser transmitter, and a compact receiver for tight spaces.

Pinpoint Laser Systems , 3 Graf Rd., Newburyport, MA 01950; FAX (978) 462-3561.

Thermoswitch testing

This company is offering a portable thermoswitch test kit. Made of aluminum, the product accommodates cartridge-type thermoswitches and some thermal fire detectors. A glass thermometer is supplied with the kit for visual verification, while the test cell is controlled by a 1/16 DIN temperature controller with PID.

Gaumer Process Heaters , 13616 Hempstead Hwy., Houston, TX 77040; FAX (800) 460-5700;


The HS25 is an industrial-grade, hollow-shaft encoder which is sealed for industrial environments. The product has an outside diameter of 2.5 inches, accepts standard 5/8 inch diameter motor shafts, and is said to operate at temperatures up to 85C. The product also features the Slot-Blok(TM)compact, anti-rotation tether mount. Applications include heavy-duty industrial motors, and machine vision.

BEI Sensors & Systems , 804-A Rancheros Dr., San Marcos, CA 92069-3009; FAX (760) 744-0425;

Pressure sensors

P510 Series miniature pressure sensors are a new product family with capacities ranging from 150-10,000 psi. The products are available in mV output range standard or 5V dc, 4 to 20 mA when accompanied by Futek's JM-2 external signal conditioner. Thin film and strain gauge versions are also available. Applications include water purification, utility, hydraulic, automotive, agricultural manufacturing, aerospace, and medical.

Futek , 10 Thomas, Irvine, CA 92618; FAX (949) 465-0905.

Digital tester

Differential TTL and LVDS I/O capability lets the SR2500 Digital Test Subsystem communicate with two of the more common interfaces for transmitting serial data in data communications applications. The unit can perform both serial and parallel testing of standard TTL, differential TTL, differential ECL, LVDS, variable voltage, and 5V CMOS logic devices, assemblies, or systems having up to 576 I/O pins.

I nterface Technology , 300 S Lemon Creek Dr., Suite A, Walnut, CA 91789; FAX (909) 595-7177;

Panel meters

Blue LEDs provide a bright, high-contrast display for DMS-30PC-BS Series digital panel meters. The meters' rugged, epoxy-encapsulated package measures 55 x 23 x 14 mm; the 31/2-digit readouts are 14 mm high. Power consumption is 750 mW from a 5V supply.

DATEL Inc. , 11 Cabot Blvd., Mansfield, MA 02048; FAX (508) 339-6356;




Bridging the gap between batteries and capacitors, Type MEC electrochemical capacitors are said to provide high-capacity storage, long service life, and low maintenance. Capacitance is as high as 100,000 farads; voltage ratings are up to 11V. The components can augment existing batteries or replace batteries in high-power applications, such as starting engines.

North American Capacitor Co., 7545 Rockville Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46214; FAX (317) 273-2400;

Power distributor

Designed to be reused from site to site, NEMA Power Distribution Stringers are available with three to five blocks and in either single-phase, 3-wire or three-phase, 5-wire configurations. Each block consists of two NEMA 5-20 duplex receptacles or two 20A GFCI receptacles, and 30A locking connectors are installed on cable ends.

Duraline , 75 Hoffman Ln., Central Islip, NY 11722; FAX (516) 234-2360;

Circuit breakers

SAE Type II and Type III circuit breakers protect wiring, equipment, and subsystems in construction and farming vehicles, marine systems, and industrial applications. Both types are available in both stud and plug-in versions.

Cole Hersee Co. , 20 Old Colony Ave., Boston, MA 02127-2467; FAX (617) 314-9490;


A patented auto-detect feature automatically configures the circuitry of the GMR switch to function as a sinking or sourcing device. The 4-mm solid-state switch senses actuator position, and fits in a track within a cylinder's geometry. Giant magnetoresistive technology enables a response rate of 0.10 msec and low symmetrical hysteresis.

Bimba Manufacturing Co. , Box 68, Monee, IL 60449; FAX (708) 534-5767;


Part of the StarCore-based family of digital signal processors, the MSC8102 integrates four 300-MHz SC140 extended cores and 11.5 megabits of memory to deliver 4,800 MMACS (million multiply-accumulates per second). This level of processing power suits high-channel networking applications, such as G3 wireless base stations.

Motorola , 6501 William Cannon Dr. W, Austin, TX 78738;


Contained in a TO-220 plastic package, the IRF1704 HEXFET(R)power MOSFET has a maximum temperature rating of 200C. Applications include: electric power steering, electro-hydraulic power-assisted steering, electric braking and valve operation, wiper motor control, and fuel pump control.

International Rectifier , 233 Kansas St., El Segundo, CA 90245; FAX (310) 252-7100;

Power supplies

HWD Series 200W laboratory power supplies incorporate digital meters. The adjustable, single-output units offer maximum voltages of 6, 10, 20, 40, 60, 100, 200, or 400V dc. Features include: 100-msec response time, remote programming and sensing, 0.02% regulation, 1-mV ripple, and an optional RS485/RS232 port.

Technology Dynamics Inc., 100 School St., Bergenfield, NJ 07621; FAX (201) 385-0702;


A proprietary hardware-based CAN bridge lets the Atomic and CarGate 32-bit microcontrollers serve as communication gateways between various networks in a vehicle. The devices can simultaneously manage multiple tasks from as many as five CAN networks because the hardware-based bridge reduces the drain of routine tasks on the CPU.

NEC Electronics Inc. , 2880 Scott Blvd., Santa Clara, CA 95050-2554; FAX (800) 729-9288;


Qualified to MIL-PRF-55342, thin- and thick-film QPL chip resistors suit critical applications, according to the company. RM0502, 0402, and 0603 have power ratings up to 70 mW; tolerances as low as 0.1%; and maximum voltage ratings of 25, 40, and 50V (respectively).

State Of The Art Inc. , 2470 Fox Hill Rd., State College, PA 16803-1797; FAX (814) 355-2714;


Integral RFI shielding lets the Ultra SCSI-II Shielded Connector eliminate the need for on-board RFI shielding and control devices. The connector features 68 SCSI-II data contacts, 14 user-control contacts, and 4 power contacts. High-temperature thermoplastic construction lets the devices withstand high-volume reflow soldering; rated operating temperature is-40 to 160C.

Ranoda Electronics Inc. , 1900 Columbia Ct., Tracy, CA 95376; FAX (209) 836-1087;


The CL150 line of micro PLCs features rugged metal cases, high-density I/O, and an open bus interface. Users can add high-current/relay output modules, thermocouple inputs, voltage or current analog outputs, and extra digital I/O.

Bosch Automation Technology , Box 2025, Racine, WI 53406-2025; FAX (262) 554-7117;


The sensing end of GS Series gram force sensors is a 6-32 tapped through hole, which offers many attachment options for tension and/or compression from top to bottom. A bonded foil strain gauge provides a selectable output of 1 or 2 mV/V. Sensors are available in full-scale ranges of 10, 25, 50, 100, 150, 250, and 1,000 grams.

Transducer Techniques , 43178 Business Park Dr., Temecula, CA 92590; FAX (909) 676-1200;

Terminal block

The Series 826 Feedthrough Terminal Block is reported to ensure an automatic and reliable contact to a metal enclosure wall. The compact, multiple-pole block connects 28-12 AWG wire and is rated for 32A and 500V.

WAGO Corp. , Box 1015, Germantown, WI 53022; FAX (262) 255-3232;

Miniature lamps

This company's line of miniature lamps are available in a range of voltages, light outputs, and mounting configurations in stock or custom styles. Voltages range from 1.25 to 28V, incandescent light output up to 1.2 MSCP, and up to a reported 100,000 hours service life in wire lead, miniature flanged or grooved, midget screw, and bi-pin configurations. The lamps are available for immediate delivery from stock in standard sizes, and in custom configurations.

Gilway Technical Lamp , 800 W. Cummings Park, Woburn, MA 01801; FAX (781) 938-5867;

Interface module

A new module for the GPIO mode interfaces with this company's Zeus radio modem. The product is said to allow remote switching for controls and remote switch applications. Currently available for the stand-alone transceiver, the unit is said to be a true frequency hopper with 500 mW output, and operates in the 2.4 GHZ ISM band, eliminating the need for a license.

RF Connectors , 7610 Miramar Road, San Diego, CA 92126; FAX (858) 549-6345;

Laser-diode driver

Developed for optical telecom and datacom equipment, the VSC7991 OC-192 electroabsorption modulator/laser-diode driver operates at up to 10.7 Gbps. Features include: 3 Vpp output swing, differential outputs with 50mu(omega) resistive back termination, rise and fall times less than 35 psec, and low jitter.

Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. , 741 Calle Plano, Camarillo, CA 93012; FAX (805) 987-5896;

Increase your memory in a flash

Increase your memory in a flash

Sunnyvale, CA -As the mobile Internet converges with ever-shrinking cell phones and pagers, engineers have to boost memory and save energy at the same time. An impossible task?

The answer may be flash memory, a solid-state chip that is non-volatile-meaning it does not need electric power to hold its content. Thanks to flash memory, cell phones will always boot up faster than laptops, which have to first write their hard drives to RAM (random access memory). And without a constant power drain, flash uses just 5% as much electricity as conventional memory, so it's often used in place of spinning disk drives in power-sensitive applications.

Flash memory has two basic applications: high-speed writes, such as hard drives; and write-once-read-often applications, such as cell phones, says David Guidry, a product manager at SanDisk Corp., which makes removable flash memory cards such as the MultiMediaCard and CompactFlash, and a new embedded memory card called TriFlash.

Because of these strengths, flash is also used on airplanes' "black box" flight data recorders so the chips will store data even when their power source on the plane has been destroyed. Another high-profile application is the AIBO robotic dog, a hot holiday gift item last year which uses Sony's "Memory Stick" to learn up to 50 words by voice recognition. Other flashcard and Memory Stick applications include: digital cameras and camcorders, handheld GPS units, and set-top boxes.

Intel and AMD also make flash chips. And IBM recently announced plans to team with Infineon Technologies to create magnetic random access memory (MRAM) by 2004. Like flash, this next-generation memory method spurns electricity, instead using magnetic charges to store data. And it uses very little battery power, retains information when the power's turned off, and can provide instant-start PCs, without waiting for the memory to boot up.

Also in the future, SanDisk plans to supply SD (secure digital) cards in 2001 for applications in Palm Pilots. SanDisk is one of the 150 members of the SD Association, which sets standards and researches new applications. The company projects it will be able to store 60 minutes of video data on a 1GB flash disk by 2002, and a full-length feature film on a 16GB chip by 2008.

Nanonurses to patrol innerspace

Nanonurses to patrol innerspace

Ithaca, NY-In another small step for mankind, nanobiotechnologists at Cornell University have assembled functional biomolecular motors with propellers measuring approximately 750x150 nm.

The primitive motors, made by a bacterium in Cornell's Nanofabrication Facility, comprise an engine and tiny nickel propellers, attached to 200-nm tall posts. The whole device is about 1/5 the size of a red blood cell.

During the experiment, the propellers rotated at a top speed of eight revolutions per second for up to 21/2 hours in the presence of adenosine triphospate (ATP-the fuel of all cellular life). "It's a chemical engine," says Carlo Montemango, associate professor of biological engineering at Cornell. "It takes the ATP and hydrolyzes it, converting the ATP into adenosine diphosphate and an extra phosphate molecule." The energy released from breaking the chemical bonds powers the motor, which in turn produces about 120 piconewtons per nanometer of torque.

The possible precursors of nano-sized medical aides, the devices may one day-scientists hope-be able to produce their own energy through photosynthesis and self assemble inside living cells to fight viruses and other diseases on their own turf.

Working outside the box

Working outside the box

Marlborough, MA-Engineers sometimes joke that the real way to get a product developed quickly and cheaply is to cancel the project. That was literally the case for a team of self-described "rogue" engineers at Compaq, who willed the AlphaServer DS10L ultra-thin, high-speed server into existence after the initial proposal and funding request had been rejected.

Engineering Manager Richard Dischler and Systems Engineer Mike Rolla came up with the idea for the new server by looking at where the market was going for products like the company's AlphaServer DS10, a powerful, high-speed server based on the 64-bit Alpha microprocessor. It is designed for floating-point intensive tasks, such as computer animation, that can be partitioned among multiple machines to achieve higher throughput.

"We knew there was a market out there looking for pure processing power at a lower cost than the DS10. Basically all some people want is a CPU, with none of the extra stuff around it," says Dischler.

Size matters. Dischler and cohorts Rolla and Mechanical Engineer Jeff Lewis began thinking about how they could reduce the size and cost of the original AlphaServer currently under development, while still offering the power that customers craved. They figured if they could reduce the 3U (5.25-inch) height of the DS10 by two thirds to create a 1U (1.75-inch) tall machine, they could fit an unprecedented 40 machines in a single rack. By also reducing the amount of memory and offering fewer bells and whistles, they'd have the ideal low-cost, high-density server.

In order to leverage the existing DS10 design, engineers had to figure out how to fit everything into a box only one third the height of the original.

Although management at Compaq initially declined to fund the project so that engineers could focus 100% of their efforts on the about-to-ship DS10, they didn't discourage work on the DS10L. "There were a few winks as we were being told to stop work," recalls Rolla. In fact, engineers say that Compaq's culture actively encourages skunkworks-type projects.

Having no funding and working on their own time, the team knew that if they were to be successful they would have to leverage as much as they could from the DS10 and other products. "Our goal was to prove we could use the existing Alpha motherboard, and steal and borrow from other programs in order to cobble up a low-cost, high-performance 1U Alpha machine," says Rolla.

That decision turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. The benefit of using a common motherboard was that it minimized risk and qualification efforts by allowing engineers to use a subset of the already qualified DS10 peripherals. And since the two boards would be identical (with the exception of two items installed at final assembly), manufacturing would essentially have to build just one board instead of two.

But the fact that the DS10's motherboard design was essentially frozen meant that the team working on the new server had to be really, really creative. "To get to 1U, all components taller than 1.75 inches had to be redesigned (see chart), including memory DIMMS, which are 1.755 inches tall," says Rolla.

Similarly, they had to squeeze the height of the power supply down from 3.4 to under 1.75 inches. Helping matters was the fact that it would only need to generate just 150W, as opposed to the 300W power supply used in the DS10. "At 1.6 inches tall and just 74 cubic inches, the new power supply is tiny. Since we budget about 25W per PCI option, it really helped that we were offering just one option instead of four," says Power Supply Engineer John Arduino. With no funding to develop a power supply from scratch, Rolla tackled the problem by scouring the Internet for vendors. Incredibly, Rolla found a power supply that required only minor modifications.

Chilling out. The biggest challenge by far, however, was thermal management. Given the low profile of the box and tight 1U spacing of units in a rack, Thermal Engineer Bob Sullivan and Acoustic Engineer Bob Hellweg wondered how they would get rid of all the heat generated by the powerful Alpha CPU chip. Not to mention avoiding a design that would sound like a 747 taking off. The chip dissipates 74W at 616 MHz; a full rack of 40 units dissipates more than 8,000W.

Using the existing blower/heat sink, which stands 2.75 inches high and requires an additional 0.5-inch clearance for airflow, was out of the question. "Had we been able to change the configuration of the motherboard, we would have had more flexibility in terms of thermal management," says Sullivan. "Given the constraints, it was necessary to use closely packed fins on the CPU heat sink in conjunction with a small, powerful blower to force air through it.

In the new cooling system, three front-mounted fans build up pressure inside the box while one rear-mounted fan exhausts the air. An airflow baffle on the patent-pending CPU heat sink ensures that the blower does not recirculate on itself. To further improve heat transfer, the top of the CPU has a copper-tungsten heat spreader with two studs. The heat sink, which has a machined surface flatness of 0.005 inch, is bolted to the package with a torque of 20 inch-lb. A thin sheet of thermally conductive grafoil is sandwiched between the blower and the heat sink.

To make room for a full-length PCI card, engineers removed the heat sink from the CPU regulator and placed a black label on it. This label primarily provides PCI-to-regulator "short circuit" protection. Through "fan fail" condition (limited airflow) testing, Sullivan found that the label also increased the surface emissivity of the CPU regulator, lowering the surface temperature an additional 4C via natural convection. With 40 systems in a rack, engineers used flushing fans located in the rear of the cabinet to evacuate the hot air.

A global product. The fact that engineers were able to meet all goals on this skunkworks project in less than a year and ultimately help to create a multi-million dollar business is all the more remarkable when considering the product's global reach. Not only did engineers have to design the DS10L to meet numerous international standards, many of the components inside are sourced from overseas companies (below).

Good relationships with vendors-wherever they were located-paid off in spades for the team, reaping such benefits as a reduction in lead times to build prototypes. Prescott says tooling changes on this project totaled only $25K-a drop in the bucket compared to the typical project.

Unbelievably, the team was able to keep the project on track, even with no hard dates on the schedule or formal team meetings early on. They did discuss the project during their regularly scheduled Monday meetings, but only to go over the nagging issues such as, "Still need to know if the disk overheats."

"To be successful, you can't bother people with the little things," says Dischler. "Leave them alone and let them do their job."

And for the engineers involved in this project, they wouldn't have had it any other way. "If squadrons of people had worked on this product, it probably would have taken twice as long to develop and cost twice as much to produce," Rolla says. "And we would have only sold half as many."

Compaq specs components and parts for the DS101 from all over the world. Key to managing this effort: Constant communication via email, voice mail, and FAX; weekly, late-nigh conference calls; and a dedicated FTP site for dropping CAD drawings, database files, and other documents.

Global Sourcing on the DS101

Fans Japan/Taiwan

  • CPU and fan China/Taiwan

  • Chassis Hong Kong/Mainland China

  • PCI riser card Scotland

  • Power Supply China/Taiwan/Mexico

  • Heatsink U.S.

How to pull off a skunkworks project successfully

Here are some tips from the engineering team that developed Compaq's DS10L computer in the back room of their lab. Although the company provided no initial funding for the project, engineers say the environment at Compaq fosters innovation and creativity and rewards them for pursuing projects on their own time:

Consider yourself freed from the constraints of corporate bureaucracy. With no one in the way to slow you down, you can engineer as you see fit, make instant design decisions, and work at your own pace.

Choose the most talented, most experienced engineers for the team. Then hide them.

Leverage existing resources, including current product designs, standard part numbers (Many of the parts on Compaq's DS10L are common to other products), friends in other departments, vendor relationships, test rigs, etc.

Trust your intuition-you won't necessarily have the time or resources to do all the testing you would like to do.

When you are ready to show management your creation, you can't just impress them-you've got to literally blow them away.

Never, ever forget that failure is not an option.

GPS, lost balls, and the PGA

GPS, lost balls, and the PGA

The advancements being made through the development and commercialization of high technologies are being used throughout industry to improve the quality and productivity of our every-day workplace. Some of these technologies are also being applied to standard products with the goal of developing niche markets for specific use items.

I propose that we take some of these technologies and apply them to recreational goods so that we can realize improvements in the quality of every-day life. One specific application I have in mind is the use of GPS (Global Positioning System) technology in the game of golf.

Everyone who has ever played the game, except maybe Tiger Woods, has experienced the wasted time and expense of searching for a lost ball. The adverse effects of losing a golf ball during a record-breaking round can have traumatic effects on the golfer. Time spent in searching for the lost ball breaks the rhythm that the golfer had, and shifts the focus away from the sport and into the role of "search and rescue." GPS technology applied to golf balls would also enable the game to be played quicker. Slow play has plagued the sport for decades, and it's only getting worse.

It's been said that a reduction in the number of balls used (and lost) could have a negative effect on the golf ball market, but these effects can be offset by the higher price associated with the Golfball Positioning System (GPS). After all, who wouldn't pay a little more for a ball they couldn't lose?

A quick scan of the available specialty balls on the market shows there is indeed a market for the GPS ball. Special-use balls are already designed and sold, including: floating balls for water holes, exploding balls for the quick joke, practice balls, distance balls, cut-proof balls, and glow-in-the-dark balls for golfing at night. There's even a market for "used" balls that have been found or retrieved from water hazards (I understand that the proper term for used balls is "experienced," which justifies their high price). The market for a ball you can't lose would be tremendous!

The problem before us is how to best utilize GPS technology and to develop a portable scanner (hand-held or bag-held) for the golfer to track the ball's flight and final resting spot. (Keeping in mind, of course, that the design solution should probably also be waterproof).

We need to identify the ball's design parameters to assist in development of the GPS capability:

Dimple profile in ball's cover amplifies the GPS signal (works like 382 tiny radar dishes)

  • GPS sensor and transmitter designed to withstand 45 G impact (62 G impact for PGA players)

  • Internal rechargeable battery for the sensor/transmitter (could also aid in aligning putts!)

  • Balanced weight for the components and assembled ball (you don't need any help to slice)

  • Waterproof assembly (for rain and dew conditions only, of course)

  • Ability to withstand direct lightning strike (external ground wire is NOT recommended)

  • Internal GPS spin stabilization (to survive gyro-dynamic effects of backspin during chips)

These enhanced design features will be used synergistically to maintain proven ball flight characteristics while still providing full GPS capability. Who knows, we could even end up with a ball that flies farther, holds better, and travels straighter than anything already on the market.

This report is one of a series of occasional columns exploring the not-altogether-serious side of engineering by Ken Foote, a mechanical engineer at GDLS. You can reach Ken at [email protected] or e-mail your comments to us at [email protected] com. For the worked out solution, visit magazine/dn/archives/headwork/headwork.html.


Ken, a beginning golfer, hits a ball at an angleBwith the horizontal. If its speed at the highest point of its trajectory is 10 ft/sec, the radius of curvature of the trajectory at that point is most nearly:

A) 0.32 ft

B) 3.11 ft

C) 3.22 ft

D) 31.1 ft

E) Cannot be determined without knowing the angleB

See answer below.

Source: Adapted from the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination, Eugene L. Boronow, Prentice Hall Press, 1986.

Answer: B

Cameras extend driver's vision

Cameras extend driver's vision

Dearborn, MI -Even if you drive a king-of-the-road SUV, at one time or another you've probably wanted to see around an even bigger SUV or truck. Now Ford has developed its Traffic View(TM)system to enable a driver to view all around a vehicle.

The ELMO USA pencil-sized cameras of the Traffic View system cover both forward and rear-facing blind spots.

Gary Strumolo, senior staff technical specialist in research and vehicle technology, and his design team have come up with a system that places small, low-cost video cameras on a Lincoln Navigator demonstrator called the CamCar. This concept vehicle will help Ford explore the issues, including ergonomics and robustness, of camera vision systems.

"While the first application is toward long-vehicle vision needs, the system can also be used to provide views for small cars," says Strumolo. One component of the system uses two ELMO USA (Plainview, NY) pencil-diameter cameras angled out to the rear and mounted in what first appear to be side marker light housings on the front fenders. The cameras each use one of ELMO's standard lenses to provide a 49 degrees angle of coverage, more than double that of any mirror, notes Strumolo. Images from the camera are displayed on the left and right side lobe screens of a three-screen display in the center of the instrument cluster.

How effective are these? I always thought that by slightly overlapping the side and rearview mirror views, coupled with my peripheral vision, that I had a good view to the rear. Traffic View revealed one of Strumolo's colleagues "hiding" from the mirrors off to the left side, in a blind area between the side mirror image forward to my eye's field of view.

Two similar forward looking cameras are mounted on the outside of the sideview mirrors. To avoid any view ambiguity on the display, a button on the steering wheel must be held down to keep the forward looking cameras displayed on the side screens. Because of their 22 degrees view angle and outboard position, these cameras allow the driver to "see around" vehicles immediately ahead-useful in making left turns in traffic or spotting cars and pedestrians entering the road on the right.

Hindsight. In addition, four cameras are mounted in a fan configuration in the rear window. Each of their views is stitched together via computer algorithms to provide a seamless overall image of a 160 degrees arc across the rear. A 60 degrees slice of this, which can be panned left or right (or a view zoomed in or out in a 4:1 ratio), is shown on the center screen of the display. Such features would not necessarily be used while underway, but rather to look around the vehicle when waiting for someone or to provide security.

Other features on the CamCar include a rear-facing NightEye low-light (0.004 lux) camera viewing the area immediately behind the vehicle for safe maneuvering. (The other cameras need 20 lux to operate.) A second "hitch camera" allows easier backing up to a trailer hitch for a hookup.

The driver's display uses ThinCRT technology (which is really an FED, field emission display-a solid-state vacuum device about 10-mm thick) from Candescent Technologies for a non-glare, flat-panel video display. Strumolo notes that true CRTs had too much glare while existing flat-panels had viewing angle and cold temperature problems. The ThinCRT also has a fast response to eliminate blurring.

Additional details

Contact: Gary Strumolo, Ford Motor Co., Scientific Research Laboratory, Rm. 2122, MD 2115, 2101 Village Rd., Dearborn, MI 48124; Tel: (313) 323-8935; Fax: (313) 248-4602;

E-mail: [email protected].

Other Applications

Police stop documentation

Accident recording

Potential night and 360-degree vision, and collision-avoidance sensing

Special bike for a spunky tyke

Special bike for a spunky tyke

Amber pedals DARMA down the hall, with some help from Ogle.

Evansville, IN-"Watch your feet, watch your feet! Thank you."

Students and professors jump out of the way as four-year-old Amber steers her tricycle down a hall at the University of Evansville.

It's a fairly normal scene for most rambunctious little girls, but this one has a few extra challenges: cerebral palsy has left her legally blind and deaf, undersized, and prone to seizures. So the achievement of building her a specialized vehicle was impressive-especially when you hear it was done by four undergraduate engineering students.

For their work, they have won Design News' first annual College Design Engineering Award. Courtesy of contest sponsor ANSYS, they win a $10,000 prize and a $10,000 grant to their school's scholarship fund, as well as a commemorative plaque awarded at the Design News Engineering Awards Banquet in Chicago.

The process began when Prof. Douglas Stamps invited Monica Duff to visit his senior mechanical design course and describe her daughter's disabilities. A former dialysis nurse and EMT, Monica lives in Cynthiana, IN with her children Ashleigh, 10, and Amber.

She flooded the students with medical and anecdotal details, and with the help of a physical therapy professor, the students translated the tales into design requirements. The vehicle had to be: stable, mobile, safe, inexpensive, transportable, and adjustable to a child's growth in size, strength, and coordination.

Then the class broke into four teams, and created competing solutions. The winning design, chosen by Stamps and Duff, was an "inverted tricycle with front steering axle," created by Dalen Zuehsow, Andy Nicholson, Ryan Ogle, and Mike Strange.

Officially, the vehicle is called DARMA, an acronym for the students' first names (the final "A" is for Amber). But in the words of the squirming four-year-old in the driver's seat, it's a Darmasicle (rhymes with "popsicle").

The four students used Pro/ENGINEER 2000i solid modeling software in the design, and ran a finite element analysis. Since their goal is for Amber to use the bike at any age from 4-10, they had to make the aluminum frame strong enough to hold Amber as she grows from her current 31 lbs to as large as 80 lbs.

FEA testing on teh CAD model showed that DARMA needed a stronger front axle.

They then created a wooden prototype of DARMA, and asked Amber to visit the class again so they could double-check their measurements, says Nicholson. In this stage, they discovered that Amber needed some foot straps to hold her feet on the pedals. And they designed a telescoping pedal arm, so Amber can reach the pedals as her legs grow longer.

The students also had to steer a course between design requirements from Duff-who wanted a fun, mobile trike-and the physical therapist-who wanted an exercise machine.

So they built both at once. DARMA has a small, fourth wheel in the back that lifts the rear-wheel drive off the ground, changing DARMA into an indoor exercise bike. It even has adjustable resistance (leather brake pads taken off a junked exercise machine in Zuehsow's father's garage) so she can pedal inside all winter long.

"Any physical development helps simulate the mind's growth, too," says Stamps. "Especially for the blind and deaf, since they have no input to describe their world."

Like most tricycles, DARMA has fixed gears, so its brakes are its pedals. But hampered in exercise by her disabilities, Amber's muscles are so weak that she is not able to pedal a traditional tricycle. So the students fitted DARMA with a series of six high-ratio gears. The lowest is about equal to the hill-climbing gear on an 18-speed mountain bike. This approach had the added safety benefit of limiting the bike's top speed to about 3 mph, says Strange.

"For us it's not fast, but for her it feels like she's really getting somewhere," says Zuehsow.

Since she's nearly blind, Amber tends to explore her world through touch. Around people, this means she gives frequent hugs and high-fives to students and family. But around a moving bicycle, the mechanical parts could be dangerous. So DARMA has wheel and spoke covers, to protect her inquisitive fingers.

Amber's arms are also weak, so DARMA is simple to steer, with the two front wheels pivoting around a single pin. For safety, the team gave it a low center of gravity and a tipping angle of 38 degrees , so it won't capsize on sidewalk curbs. And Amber sits in a cushioned, safety-belted, recumbent chair, taken from an automotive child's safety seat.

"We tried to get the wheel base as wide as possible, but still fit through a standard doorway," says Ogle. "She just starts playing and steering, and it's great when she realizes she's doing the action."

Along with quick-release wheels, its simple assembly was one of Duff's favorite details: "I'm a single mom, on the go constantly. If I can't pop it apart, throw it in the van, and take it to school, it won't get used."

Cruising down the hallway, Amber calls out, "Mommy, you feel that wheel please," and breaks into giggles. "She's a ham," her mother admits. "But the best part of this is that she comes out on top. She gets the benefit of all these great minds."

For more information

Go to or enter the number on the Reader Service Card:

CAD from PTC: Enter 506

FEA from PTC: Enter 507

Timeline for creating DARMA

Aug. 28, 2000 Duff visits Stamps' class, and students draft conceptual designs

Sept. 1 Students begin technical design

Sept. 12 Create first prototype

Sept. 15 Finish technical design and CAD model

Sept. 26 Make presentation of design to class

Oct. 9 Acquire materials

Oct. 26 Construction complete

Nov. 1 Testing complete

Valve-to-manifold interface reduces lead time

Valve-to-manifold interface reduces lead time

System modules are configurable for meeting most pneumatic logic arrays. The X-Valve also mounts directly to printed circuit boards.

Hollis, NH -Designing a product is one thing. Getting a prototype made is another. When the prototype or other custom component is a specially designed pneumatic valve and manifold system, machining and assembly operations often steal valuable time in the race to market, adding weeks to the schedule. Pneutronics Inc. (Hollis, NH) found a way to give that time back to manufacturers. By developing a modular valve-to-manifold interface that quickly snaps, rather than screws, together, they eliminate assembly and machining steps, which reduces lead times. Pneutronics approach to custom orders-the X-System(TM)-removes steps in the engineering process. Instead of obtaining a schematic from the customer, making an engineering drawing, and sending the part out to be machined as is typically the case with custom orders, the X-System enables mixing and matching of components for producing special orders.

The patent pending valve-to-manifold interface has tightly controlled press-fit regions for assembly. "It looks a little like a Lego(TM)building block," says Andy Weiss, the engineer at Pneutronics largely responsible for development the X-system.

Use of thermoplastic elastomer allowed Pneutronics to make the manifold screw-less and reduce total part count. "The manifold system minimizes the components used for assembly," says Weiss. The mechanical interface between the valve and the manifold requires no seals. In all, there are only six parts per valve station module. Reducing the number of parts also reduces the number of potential leak points.

The system's tubing connectors are barbs for each port connection. The manifold is unique because its geometry includes a tubing interface that permits mounting of valves. The module sealing mechanism retains the valve onto the manifold with radial force.

The thermoplastic elastomer creates a leak-tight seal via the radial interface in matching manifold holes. These precision connections permit the axial flow through the X-valve to be redirected perpendicular to the valve so that all ports face the same direction, greatly facilitating manifold mounting and tubing installation.

And just like a Lego block, the plastic X-System manifold gives a little. Unlike metal manifolds, it is forgiving of minor variances. "The module flexes to meet the valve ports by as much as 0.003 inches," says Weiss.

The X-system is configurable to many types of applications where smaller footprints and lighter weights are desirable. It measures 11/4x0.315x0.93 inches and weighs only 0.02 lb per valve station.

Pneutronics estimates that reductions in lead times are as much as 75%.

Additional details

Contact: Andy Weiss, Parker Hannifin, Pneutronics Div., 26 Clinton Dr., Unit 103, Hollis, NH 03049; Tel: (603) 595-1500; Fax: (603) 595-8080;


Portable blood chemistry equipment

Blood-pressure monitoring devices


Paint-spray systems

Hvac systems

A new phase of laser printers

A new phase of laser printers

It's not enough to have the latest workstation or PC. Engineers also need cutting edge peripherals. With each company offering a range of machines, choosing the right printer is all about finding the best balance of accuracy, price, and speed. Here's a roundup of the latest in printers.

The Xerox Phaser(R)790 is a tabloid color laser printer that was designed to beat the pants off its predecessor, the 780. "It's very, very accurate in color and positioning," says product marketing manager Brent Deuth. "We designed it for image-intensive users, like those in graphic arts, publishing, advertising, and technical drawing."

The 790 prints at 6 color pages or 26 black-and-white per minute, compared to the 780's rate of 4 color or 16 black-and-white. And it puts the first page out in 26 sec., compared to the 780's speed of 42 sec. It achieves those performance gains by using a faster chip (an Intel 266MHz compared to the 780's 133MHz), faster networking, and a larger hard drive (up to 8GB from 4.5).

And it offers duplexing (printing on both sides of a page), which the 780 did not. That's possible because the 790 uses an oil-less fusing process, where it prints four times (once for each color layer) onto a wet web, and then onto the page, Deuth says. Its predecessor couldn't duplex, since it used an oil-based fusing process.

The best of black and white

Also new from Xerox is the Phaser(R)1235 color printer, a single-pass, LED machine that is three times faster than its 1200 dpi color laser competitors, the company claims. It prints 12 color pages or 20 black-and-whites per minute, with the first page out in just 18 sec. The machine comes with a 366MHz Pentium processor, and with 64MB RAM standard, expandable to 512MB.

Xerox attributes some its technological leap forward to its January, 2000 acquisition of Tektronix' Color Printing and Imaging Division, says Gerry Perkel, former president of that division and now president of Xerox Office Printing Business. He calls the Phaser 1235 "the first color laser-quality printer with black-and-white speed and reliability."

A SOHO pro

From Minolta-QMS comes the PagePro(TM)1100L laser printer. Along with its cousin, the model 1100, it prints at 10 pages per minute, uses an IEEE 1284 parallel interface, and supports page sizes up to 81/2x14 inches. The 1100L offers 600x600 dpi resolution, while the 1100 produces 1200x600 dpi, offers an optional Ethernet interface, and is optimized for multi-user, small office/home office use.

A triple threat for the Web age

Oceproduces the 9000 series, including the 9300, positioned as a low-volume, high speed, plain paper LED printer. The 9400-II is a mid-volume scanner/printer/

copier designed to offer fast processing of complex files for printing and scan-to-file applications. And the 9600 is a high-volume system that accommodates printing from CAD programs, and offers real-time scan-to-Web functionality and digital storage for engineering and architectural drawings. It can also support decentralized printing, copying, and scanning.

Printing at jet speed

Hewlett Packard offers the DesignJet 500, 800, and 5,000 series. The 5,000 is available in 42- and 60-inch models, and can crank out pages at 569 square feet per hour, with 1200x600 dpi resolution. It offers six-color printing, and uses HP's color-layering technology, which puts multiple drops of ink on a single dot to create a wider range of colors.

The 500/800 series includes the 500, 500PS, 800, and 800PS, each of which comes in 24- or 42-inch sizes, and also offers color-layering, and ranges to 1200 dpi for the 500s or 2400 dpi for the 800s. The 800s come with an onboard computer featuring 96MB RAM, 6GB hard disk, and networking. The 500 and 800 are designed for architects, engineers, construction designers, and mechanical engineers, while the 500PS and 800PS are designed for graphics professionals.