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Articles from 2001 In March

Product News

Product News


This analog output version of the E3MC RGB color sensor is reportedly able to discriminate different shades of the same color. The unit provides three separate analog outputs (0 to 10V) for the three primary colors. The actual color is determined using reflection ratios. The sensor can discriminate color without being influenced by changes in ambient temperature, brightness, or positioning of sensing objects.

Omron Electronics , 1 Commerce Dr., Ste. 250, Schaumburg, IL 60173; FAX: (847) 843-7787;

Proximity sensors

Designed for typical industrial inductive proximity sensor applications, the 871P Equal Sensing VersaCube(TM)is reported to offer equal sensing ranges for all metals. It's also said to offer increased sensing ranges for non-ferrous metals when compared to standard devices. Transient noise, false pulse, short circuit, overload, and reverse polarity protection are among its electrical safeguards.

Rockwell Automation, Dept. 1088, 10701 Hampshire Ave. S., Bloomington, MN 55438; FAX (800) 500-0329.

Thermocouple reference junction

RJ series thermocouple reference junctions are intended for digital and analog meters, recorders, and thermocouple potentiometers. They are described as compact and battery-operated, but are also offered with an adapter, which can be used to compensate for ambient temperature when using thermocouples or to back off the built-in reference junction in a device when calibrating it.

Cropico Ltd. , Hampton Rd., Croydon, England CR2 2RU, FAX: 020 8684 4094;

Absolute encoder

Incorporating a built-in Profibus-DP interface, this multi-turn absolute encoder is recommended for a range of applications in automation, robotics, and motion control. The encoder provides data on step position, number of revolutions, position error, and low battery capacity. Additionally, all data is reportedly retained in the event of a power failure. GXP3W is said to have a resolution of 25 bits, a code switching speed of 800 kHz, and a maximum data transfer rate of 12 Mbaud.

CTL Components , Falcon House, 19 Deer Park Rd., London, England SW19 3UX;

Temperature controllers

1100 Series solid state temperature controllers from this company feature digital or analog panel readout modules. Snap-Track(TM)quick mounts are standard on all models, as are screw terminals for thermocouple input, and an SPDT relay output rated at 10A 120/240V ac. The product also features push-on terminals to ease installation, and a choice of inputs and ranges.

Burling Instruments Inc. , 16 River Rd., Chatham, NJ 07928; FAX (973) 635-9530; .

Motor control

OSC-462H Analog Speed Control Boards from this company are said to offer engineers high performance intelligent velocity control at a low price and in a compact package. The product features a digital oscillator for accurate velocity control with an output frequency of up to 100 kHz. The product is programmable through a 10-command instruction set consisting of 2 to 7 character mnemonics.

Intelligent Motion Systems Inc. , Box 457, 370 N. Main St., Marlborough, CT 06447; FAX (860) 295-6107; .

LCR meter

1920 Precision LCR meters are the latest addition to this company's 1900 series of impedance measuring instruments. The series was designed to provide high reliability as well as integration with SMD components in applications where accuracy and broad frequency range are required. The product measures series or parallel capacitance, ac resistance or inductance, dissipation factor, quality factor, impedance, phase angle, dc resistance, and other parameters.

QuadTech , 5 Clock Tower Place 210 East, Maynard, MA 01754; FAX (978) 461-4295; .

Roughness/waviness measurement

The Perthometer S2 portable surface measurement system is said to provide the highest mobile measurement accuracy of roughness/waviness profile depth under the latest standards. The product provides statistical functions for 200 measurements, and 10 parameters for every measurement program. The product also has an intergral battery pack and can be mounted directly to a machine tool.

Mahr Federal Inc. , Box 9400 1144 Eddy St., Providence, RI 02940; FAX (401) 784-3246; .

Data collector/analyzer

Entek Enpac(TM)handheld data collector and signal analyzers are designed to provide maintenance personnel with a tool for monitoring of machinery which doesn't require embedded monitoring. The unit weighs less than 2 lbs, is said to be compatible with a variety of machines, and can collect vibration information and process variables in a range from 10 to 2,400,000 cpm.

Rockwell Automation , Dept. 1088, 10701 Hampshire Ave. S., Bloomington, MN 55438; FAX (800) 500-0329; .

Position sensor

DDCP Transducers are said to be a completely self-contained displacement system which requires no auxiliary signal conditioning. The unit is made of stainless steel, operates from a low voltage dc power supply or battery, and is available in five displacement ranges. The spring-loaded shaft assembly is said to allow mounting in any position, and is also said to be unaffected by mounting in gauging fixtures.

Columbia Research Laboratories , 1925 Mac Dade Blvd., Woodlyn, PA 19094; FAX (610) 872-3882; .


Series 555 Electro-Pneumatic Valve/Sensor System is said to be a complete valve, wiring and plumbing solution for pneumatically actuated accumulation-type conveyors operating in singulation mode. The product is supplied as a complete module, including electrical quick-connects, made to order cabling, and integrated pneumatic fitting connections.

Humphrey Products , Box 2008, Kalamazoo, MI 49003; FAX (616) 381-4113; .

Interconnect system saves weight, space, cost

Interconnect system saves weight, space, cost

Paris, France -Flex cable consists of copper tracks sandwiched between two layers of flexible insulation, typically 0.25 mm thick. Though used in consumer products for a long time, flex cable has not yet been adopted for volume car manufacture due to high applied costs. There is no point in reducing cost on parts, say automotive OEMs, and then losing the savings on a more expensive assembly process.

An interconnect technology called ModuPack(TM)supplements its new connector design with a complete support system, letting harness manufacturers assimilate flex cable into their production lines for weight/space savings as well as low-cost assembly. Specifically developed for the auto industry by FCI Automotive, ModuPack encompasses three automation-enabling designs:

pre-loaded connector modules,

reel-based packaging, and

termination without cable preparation.

Each connector module is supplied pre-loaded with customer-specified terminals, removing one step from the traditional assembly process. Conductors, furthermore, can be scaled to match specific electrical requirements of each route. For example, both 0.64- and 2.80-mm terminals can be mixed in single-row and multi-row modules for a combination of signal and power terminals. Such design flexibility, FCI notes, makes the replacement of most wires within the passenger compartment practical.

Reel-based packaging on Mylar tape permits automated delivery of the connector modules. This, in turn, allows mass termination of the flex circuitry. Most termination systems for flex cable require preparation of the cable and individual conductor termination: the harness maker first crimps the terminal to the cable, and then manually inserts the terminal into the connector. Because the process is difficult to automate, it is comparatively expensive.

FCI's StarCrimp(TM)termination technology, applied to ModuPack, requires no flex cable preparation since it pierces the insulation as the connection is made. The entire termination process takes less than four seconds, while the four point star pattern provides strength and integrity. In addition, ModuPack interconnect technology incorporates an integral strain relief mechanism that clamps the flex cable at the same time as the terminations are made.

Other ModuPack benefits include consistent termination due to punch and die tooling, and easy integration into existing press tools. A complementary range of products and technologies for producing more advanced harness structures such as splicing, shunting, and grounding are available.

Additional Details

Contact Framatome Connectors International, Tour Framatome, La Defense 6, Paris la Defense Cedex, France 92084; Tel: +33 1 47 96 08 09; Fax: +33 1 47 96 08 22; E-mail: [email protected]

New system design opportunities

FCI flex interconnects also enable product design engineers to do more with flex technology than simply replace traditional wires. Consider the LED. It offers low power, high reliability, and low cost. Unfortunately, it does not like 12V. Adding a resistor becomes a problem for a conventional wiring harness, but flex pcb technology provides a proven route to introduce not just resistors, but a whole range of intelligent electronics. Because flex interconnects offer complete freedom to mix and match between flex cable, flex pcbs, and wires, designers can replace a heavy wire harness with a simple flex cable, which in turn can be replaced by a flex interconnect sub-system for extra functionality. The same flex interconnects are used, and there is no extra box to mount. ModuPack can even support sections of the harness moving from wire to flex cable to flex pcb at different times, since the system permits all formats to be mixed and interconnected.

Schottky diode key to tight temperature control

Schottky diode key to tight temperature control

Mansfield, OH -As appliance and HVAC engineers push the design envelope, they are striving for ways to achieve more affordable and accurate temperature control. On one hand, economical, traditional bimetal and bulb-and-capillary sensors cannot always provide the degree of accuracy required in products such as under-the-sink hot water heaters. Electronic control modules (ECM) coupled with thermistors, on the other hand, provide greater control, but the cost is often prohibitive.

"Up until now, precise temperature control has been available, but at a cost. And products such as appliances are very cost-sensitive items," says Martin Leslie, manager of new product development at Therm-O-Disc.

Taking advantage of a normally negative feature of the Schottky diode-the fact that its characteristics change with temperature-engineers at Therm-O-Disc have developed the patented Silicon Temperature Control (STC). An alternative to existing temperature control devices, it achieves a workable tradeoff between accuracy and cost.

Due to the slower thermal response of a bimetal sensor, the variation around set point will always be greater than that of an electronic sensor. A small variation is desirable, particularly in appliances such as cofee brewers, that require temperature control.

Two important characteristics in temperature sensors are set point and differential. Set point is the desired temperature setting; differential is the variation in set point at which the sensor is able to detect a temperature change. In both cases, bimetal and bulb/capillary typically have tolerances around plus or minus 5C, whereas the tolerances on the STC are plus or minus 1C over an operating range of 10-150C. What this performance difference means in an HVAC application, for example, is that the bimetal device will allow higher room temperature fluctuations, potentially causing inhabitants of the room discomfort or annoyance.

Bimetal works through the bonding together of two leaves made of dissimilar metals to form a composite leaf. As the leaf is heated and cooled it bends one way or the other-due to the difference in the metals' thermal expansion rates-activating a set of electrical contacts.

In contrast, the STC uses a Schottky diode as the temperature sensor. As the temperature fluctuates, the diode exhibits a sharp voltage change that can be as high as 400 mVdc/ degrees C across a 10-150C operating range. With such a high mV dc/ degrees C ratio, circuits can easily be incorporated to detect temperature changes that are as small as 1C.

"Circuit designers have long been aware of the fact that diode characteristics change with temperature. However, these designers don't tend to work in the temperature control industry," says Leslie. "Conversely, temperature control designers don't normally use diodes. Once we [Therm-O-Disc] realized that a diode could be used to sense temperature change the design challenge was to scour the diode world for an off-the-shelf diode that was best for temperature sensing."

Additional Details

Contact Martin Leslie, Product Manager-New Product Development, Therm-O-Disc Inc., 1320 South Main St., Mansfield, OH 44907; 419-525-8500; [email protected];

Typical Applications

Hot water heating applications

Brewing appliances

Home and commercial heating/air conditioning units

Automotive cabin heating/air conditioning control

How the temperature sensor technologies stack up
Bimetal Bulb/Capillary STC ECM w/thermistor






Set point tolerance
( degrees C)

Approx . plus or minus 5C

Approx. plus or minus 5C

plus or minus 1C present; plus or minus 0.1C future

plus or minus 1C or better

Temperature differential

Approx. plus or minus 5C

Approx . plus or minus 5C

plus or minus 1C present; plus or minus 0.1C future

plus or minus 1C or better

Other features



Multiple set points, variable set points, dry start/boil dry protection, LED display

All features offered by STC plus: timers, digital display, complex logic, multiple users

Table source: Therm-O-Disc

Fastening, Joining and Assembly

Fastening, Joining and Assembly

Plastic chain

MWS series plastic chains are designed to be low-wear, friction-resistant, and resistant to bacteria. The line includes top chains, plastic belt chains, and block chains. Sprockets, idler wheels, return rollers, and running rails are also available. Possible applications include conveyors in bottling plants, conveyors where foodstuffs are carried directly on the chain, and frozen food and packing conveyors. Plastic chains are intended to keep mold and bacteria from forming in small damp areas.

Tsubakimoto UK Ltd. , Osier Dr., Sherwood Park, Annesley, Nottingham UK NG15 0DX; FAX: +44 01623 688789.

Sealing elements

NYPLAS(TM)and NYSEAL(TM)sealing elements are intended to replace O-rings, gasket seals, and sealant compounds when preventing leaks. The NYPLAS process applies a Plastisol material under the heads of fasteners, pop-style rivets, and double-ended flanged screws to seal out water, dust, and air. It is also said to dampen noise and reduce rattle. NYSEAL is a pre-applied, permanently-fused sealing element for threaded and unthreaded fasteners. According to the company, it creates a gasket-type seal to prevent leakage of fluids up to 500 psi.

Nylok Fastener Corp. , 15260 Hallmark Dr., Macomb, MI 48042; FAX (516) 678-5783; .

Electrical enclosures

TK plastic enclosures are designed to offer protection from dust, water jets, and temporary flooding. They have an ingress protection up to IP 67 and metric knockouts for simpler cable fitting allowing between 4 and 42 entries. There are eleven models in the range available in polystyrene and glassfiber reinforced polycarbonate material.

Spelsbergels UK Ltd. , Unit 17, Stafford Park 12, Telford, Shropshire UK TF3 3 3BJ; FAX +44 0 19 52 20 07 25; .

Gasket tape

BG gasket tape is a form-in-place sealant product made with multidirectional 100% pure expanded PTFE, which is said to expand in multiple directions to reduce creep relaxation after compression. Available in three thicknesses, the tape is also said to maintain its original width and profile when compressed, which ensures high gasket stress retention and a tight, long-lasting seal.

W.L. Gore and Associates , 201 Airport Rd., Elkton, MD 21922-4817; FAX (410) 392-4817; .

Air cannon

This company's Ion Air Cannon is said to eliminate static electricity and cleans at distances of up to 15 feet. With no moving parts, the design incorporates the patented Super Air Amplifier, which is said to minimize air use by inducing surrounding airflow at a ratio of 22:1. This design is said to carry ions to the target which reportedly enables the airstream to eliminate static electricity in less than half a second.

Exair , 1250 Century Circle N., Cincinnati, OH 45243-3309; FAX (513) 671-3363; .


TRA-BOND 789-3 is a moisture resistant epoxy adhesive system which is designed to provide excellent moisture resistance for microelectronic applications. It is said to exhibit strong adhesion to metals which are usually difficult to bond such as gold, silver, and copper. The product also reportedly acts as an electrical insulator, and can also be packaged in premixed and frozen syringes.

Tra-Con Inc. , 45 Wiggins Ave., Bedford, MA 01730; FAX (781) 275-9249; .

Work support

StayLock(R)work supports are pneumatically or spring actuated, and rely on a positive metal-to-metal latching mechanism to stay in place. The manufacturer says that the product has a very high load capacity, will not move once activated, and will remain locked even if disconnected from its power source.

Jergens , 15700 S Waterloo Rd., Cleveland, OH 44110; FAX (216) 481-6193; .


The two-component Plus(TM)9 ml Micro Dispenser for adhesives and sealants is de-signed for electronics, home, and industrial use, and is said to precisely place tiny amounts of material. A 1:1 ratio cartridge and choice of mixers is said to eliminate measuring and mess associated with hand mixing of materials from separate containers.

TAH Industries Inc. , 107 N. Gold Dr., Robbinsville, NJ 08691; FAX (609) 259-0957; .

Snap hooks

These multipurpose snap hooks are recommended by the company for light duty marine use, securing cargo to racks, and automotive and home uses. They are made from UV resistant nylon and should not scratch painted or decorated surfaces. Designed to reduce the risk of accidental release, they are available to fit rope diameters of 6.4, 9.5, and 12.7 mm. The hooks range in length from 40.5 to 80.2 mm in widths from 21.4 to 42.1 mm.

Micro Plastics International Ltd. , Unit 2, Henley Industrial Park, Henley Rd., Coventry UK CV2 1SR; FAX +44 02476 614 831; .


This chrome-plated hinge is designed to enable easy lift-off door removal and replacement or permanent door installation. The lift-off feature is intended to allow unrestricted access to the inside of enclosures. The company recommends it for use on cabinets, enclosures, furniture, doors, panels, lids, and covers in industries such as telecommunications, industrial machinery, medical devices, and HVAC/R.

Southco Europe Ltd., Midway House, Staverton Technology Park, Cheltanham, Glos. UK GL51 6TQ; FAX +44 1452 715490;

Networking cabinet

IMnet 310 is a wall-mounted enclosure recommended by the company as a breakout or distribution cabinet in larger systems, or as a server housing in smaller installations. It is available in heights of 7, 12, and 17U, in depths of 400 and 500 mm. It has a static load rating of 40 kg. The top and bottom covers are ventilated and have a cable entry gland. The front door is reversible, and the units inside can be bayed together side by side or one above the other.

APW Electronics Ltd. , Electron Way, Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh, Hants UK SO534ZR; FAX +44 2380 265126; .

Product News

Product News


PIC16C432 and PIC16C433 small footprint microcontrollers are designed with built-in Local Interconnect Network transceiver capabilities. According to the company, they offer high performance with 2K words of OTP program memory, 128 bytes of data RAM, and require only 35 powerful single-cycle instructions, each 14 bits wide, with the exception of two-cycle program branches. Other on-chip peripherals include an 8-bit real-time clock/counter with 8-bit programmable prescaler, wake-up on bus activity and require only 12V battery operation for the transceiver.

Arizona Microchip Technology Ltd. , Microchip House, 505 Eskdale Rd., Winnersh Triangle, Wokingham, Berks, UK RG41 5TU; FAX +44 0 118 921 5835; .

Programmable chip

The company says its FS6219, designed for use in video set-top boxes, is the first 3.3V programmable, three phase-lock loop clock chip with two fully integrated voltage-controlled crystal oscillators. The programmable chip is also said to provide precise tuning, which permits designers to use the same device to meet signal frequency standards for anywhere in the world, thus reducing inventory while increasing cost efficiency.

American Microsystems , 2300 Buckskin Rd., Pocatello, ID 83201; .

Power inductors

Nine new series of drum-core shielded power inductors from this company are now available. The devices feature a maximum height as low as 2.79 mm, and are magnetically shielded. They are designed to offer power supply makers a wide range of inductor solutions for applications such as digital handheld devices, digital telephones, pagers, electroluminous backlighting, and other applications.

Pulse , 12220 World Trade Dr., San Diego, CA 92128; FAX (858) 674-8262; .

Fiber optic connectors

2Quick(TM)fiber optic, crimp SC and ST style connectors are a non-adhesive crimp style connector designed to assemble onto the fiber in a reported two minutes. The product is said to meet or exceed all TIA/EIA-568-B.3 requirements and exceed the pulling requirements of that standard. A 2Quick crimp termination tool is also available with every 15 boxes.

Hubbell Inc. , 185 Plains Rd., Milford, CT 06460; FAX (800) 255-1031; .

Heat sink

This company says its Super-CPU-Sink model TS-12088-AA, designed to cool the Intel "Willamette" processor up to 1.5 GHz, is the most powerful CPU cooler available. Cooling is driven by a 60 mm 12 V dc high speed fan which is said to generate 24 CFM, and is mounted on top of the heat sink to maximize surface area. The product comes with factory applied interface material of the customer's choice.

Thermshield , Box 1641, Laconia, NH 03247; FAX (603) 524-6602; .

ADSL low-pass filter

Designed for the central office and specially targeted at the NAFTA and Asian markets, this device is reported to be the first ADSL low pass filter module that completely fulfills every loop of ANSI T1.413. It is described as very compact in design and is said to allow a very high density of ADSL lines per board. Operational temperatures range from -40 to 85C. Also, the unit carries a loop current of 100 mA dc.

Vacuumschmelze GmbH ; Postfach 22 53, Hanau, Germany D-63412; .

Breakout modules

IO8 and IO24 breakout modules are designed to provide extra convenience and protection for this company's 2000 and 4000 family Intelligent Operator Interfaces. The products are said to feature removable screw terminal connectors for easy wiring of external connections, ribbon cable connection for quick hook up of the interface, and are DIN-rail mountable.

Eason Technology Inc. , 241B Center St., Healdsburg, CA 95448; FAX (707) 433-3706; .

Battery holders

Densi-Pakbattery holders from this company are designed to be placed on or off a board, or between components, cards, or anywhere space is available. The product features self-adjusting contact springs which are said to compensate for variations in battery length and ensure positive low-contact resistance connections. Models are available to hold either two or three AA batteries, or three AAA batteries.

Keystone Electronics Corp. , 31-07 20th Rd., Astoria, NY 11105-2017; FAX (718) 956-9040; .


These relays are reported to offer EMC compliance and improved thermal characteristics inside the industry standard "hockey puck" package. They are surface mounting, optically coupled, and have optional covered or open terminals. They also feature Direct Copper Bonded technology which, along with the internal design, is said to extend the unit life and reduce the size of the required heat sink.

Crouzet Ltd. , 3237 Commander Dr., Carrolton, Texas 75006; FAX: (972) 447-6786; .

Ac/dc power supply

High current output 70 series module configurable ac/dc power supplies feature an adjustable output voltage which can go as low as 1.45V dc and as high as 5.6V. They are specifically designed to meet the requirements of ultra high-density microprocessor chips. The company's power supplies are available with 400, 600, or 1,000W power output capabilities, and offer users a choice of 1, 2, or 13 isolated outputs, each of which can be configured from any of nine output modules, spanning voltages from 1.45 to 59V.

Excelsys Technologies Ltd. ; Swords Business Park, Swords, Co. Dublin, Ireland; .


IR2170 600V over-current sensing ICs are for ac or brushless dc motor drive applications up to a 230V ac input. It senses motor current directly through an external sense resistor and reports an error if the current exceeds a preset threshold in both the positive and negative polarities. The unit is recommended for light industrial ac and brushless dc motors drives and appliance applications.

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

Coaxial connector

Designed for 3rd generation mobile telecommunications, the Mini Coax+ reportedly offers transmission frequencies up to 4 GHz, minimal insertion loss, and adjusted levels of impedance for all inner sections of the connector. Additionally, the ground pins in the connector have been configured according to the Pin-in-Hole SMC approach.

HARTING KGaA ; Marienwerderstrasse 3, Box 1133, Espelkamp, Germany D-32339; .

Dc/dc converters

Aimed at powering low-voltage silicon, these 3 dc/dc converter families comprise 16 different models. Two families are designed for surface mounting. The third is for plated-through hole mounting. All feature a 33-75V input and are available with single 5V at 3A, 3.3V at 4.5A, or 2.5V or 1.8V at 6A outputs. The company recommends them for use in systems employing 48V distributed power architectures.

Artesyn Technologies ; Springfield Industrial Estate, Youghal, Co. Cork, Ireland; FAX: 353 24 93257;


DT/DT420 Displacement Transmitter/ Transducer is said to determine the displacement of moving objects up to 500 inches in applications such as auto suspension and crash tests, fork life position, bending/forming processes, valve positioning, and robotics. The product is also said to be dust-tight, while a constant torque spring controls cable tension.

Scientific Technologies Inc. , 6550 Dumbarton Enter, Fremont, CA 94555; FAX 510-744-1442; .

High-speed cables

This company has introduced what it says are the first double speed fiber channel and gigabit Ethernet assemblies, which offer high-speed interconnects which operate at reported speeds of 2.1 and 2.5 gigabits per second between computer peripherals. The product is said to be cost effective, and tested to exceed T11 standards.

C & M Corp. , Box 348, Wauregan, CT 06387; FAX (860) 774-7330; .


QTH/QSH series matched impedance micro interfaces are available with 60, 120, 180, 240, and 300 I/Os. A discrete ground plane between rows is surface mounted to provide what is said to be a 100% surface mount system, which eliminates the need for through-hole penetrations found with other products. The products are also said to provide a low profile board to board spacing of only 5 mm between boards.

Samtec Inc. , 520 Park E. Blvd., New Albany, IN 47151-1147; FAX (812) 948-5047; .

IP module

LAN-15 dual redundant bus terminals are said to meet MIL-STD-1553B requirements, and supports bus controllers, remote terminal, and bus monitor modes. The product uses 128K shared memory, which is said to allow it to support larger applications such as monitoring. On-board isolation transformers are said to allow direct connection for short and long stub operation modes.

Actis Computer , 1601 East Sharon Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85022; .

Crystal oscillator

A series of low jitter, Voltage Controlled Crystal Oscillators (VCXOs) is now available from this company at frequencies ranging from 1.024 MHz to 170 MHz. The products come with CMOS or PECL outputs, are packaged in a hermetically sealed 6-pin J-lead ceramic package, and are available in 3.3 or 5.0 V options. Typical performance is reported to be less than 0.5 ps rms at the output frequency for the CMOS version, and less than 1 ps for the PECL option.

Vectron Int'L , 166 Grover Ave., Box 5160, Norwalk, CT 06856; FAX (203) 847-3711; .

Product Spotlight - Know your customer

Product Spotlight - Know your customer

Making sure your designs meet user needs is critical to a product's success. Taking time in the beginning of the design process to understand those needs will pay off in the long run.

Fluke Corp.'s (Everett, WA) success in bringing hand-held test equipment and other devices to market is a good example of comprehending customers' needs. Rosemary Baisch, product line manager for digital multimeters, notes several tools that Fluke uses to zero in on what customers want and need. These include: focus groups to discuss product likes and dislikes; surveys that solicit customer input on desired features; the gathering of trade show attendees' hands-on opinions about the products on display; and site visits to customer workplaces to observe how equipment is actually used. To generate even broader user input, the company continuously runs a survey on its website ( Visitors who respond are entered in a drawing for a free digital multimeter.

Baisch says that one industry trend Fluke is seeing is an increasing need for electronics measurements. "Users are demanding higher reliability, and ease of maintenance," she notes, "along with premium features at lower prices." They also want a simple user interface and good ergonomic features, such as a hand-held "feel," probe holders, tilt stands, and straps for "hanging" the meters in view in tight spaces.

One of the company's latest products that bears out this research is its 170 Series digital multimeters. These instruments have a true-rms engine, 0.09% accuracy (on the 177 and 179 Models) with 6,000 counts of resolution, and a backlit display. A Min/Max/Ave mode enhances troubleshooting. The Model 179 (see photo) also measures temperature via thermocouple leads plugged into front panel sockets. Fluke has priced these meters from $169 to $209, within high-end consumer market range.

Other features include probe holders integrated into the polyurethane overmolding, which in turn is bonded to a polycarbonate alloy case for shock load dispersion. And for safety, all inputs are designed to withstand an impulse voltage in excess of 8 kV, complying with CAT IV 600V requirements.

Additional Details...Contact Fluke Corp., Box 9090, Everett, WA 98206-9090; Tel: (888) 492-7550; FAX: (425) 446-5116; .

InGaN gains

InGaN gains

San Jose, CA -There's a new record in efficiency for LEDs. According to LumiLeds Lighting (a joint venture of Agilent Technologies and Philips Lighting), its latest InGaN (indium gallium nitride) devices have wallplug efficiencies (WPE) of 25% at 425-nm (purple) wavelength, running at 250 mA dc. The previous reported industry record was 22%. WPE is considered a "real world" quantity, measuring optical output power divided by electrical energy input. The devices emit more than 200 mW of optical power.

Frank Steranka, LumiLeds materials R & D and product development manager, adds, "We are exhibiting up to 55 lumen devices in certain colors." Applications in-clude LCD monitors and TVs, with brighter colors and lower pow-er consumption, and consumer uses such as flashlights.

Sensor Webs for smart data collection

Sensor Webs for smart data collection

Pasadena, CA -Imagine a network

of monitoring instruments that can adjust their operation and deployment based on the type and level of information they are receiving. That's the idea behind the Sensor Web concept, a data-gathering architecture developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

A Sensor Web consists of wireless-linked, sensor "pods," or units, that monitor and explore environments, says Kevin Delin, a member of the technical staff. But don't confuse them with distributed sensors or sensor networks. "The Sensor Web pods matter to each other," notes Delin, "with the unique feature that information gathered by one pod is shared and used by other pods," allowing the network to react and modify its behavior based on the data collected. Key attributes are an open, scalable architecture, local decision making and analysis, networked intelligence, and economy of scale.

The pods come in two basic types: The first are mainly comprised of the sensors that interact with the environment and an omni-directional transmitter for data. The second, less numerous, type serve as the telecom-node uplink "mother" points and computational centers of the network, running the protocol schemes and providing local data analysis.

Data hopping from one pod to another, until received at a mother pod, cuts individual pod power needs. Power for the data transmission need only be enough to reach at least one other pod for retransmission to other pods, and eventually the mother, rather than direct transmission over a long distance. And data hopping allows new pods seeded into the network, or those recovering from a "sleep" mode, to integrate themselves into the web.

"The web itself is the instrument," says Delin, "not the individual pods which make it up. Just like interconnected dendrites in the brain, the wireless-connected pods allow a macro-intelligence to emerge." If a pod goes offline for an instrument or power problem, the remainder of the web compensates by increasing data acquisition rates, for example, giving interpolation with greater time resolution making up for the loss in spatial resolution. If the pods have mobility, some could move into the area where data was lost. Sensors could also self-deploy to areas of increasing interest, such as when a certain chemical or seismic shock is detected-giving greater data gathering where needed.

Product News

Product News

CFD software

FLOTHERM Computation Fluid Dynamics software is intended to allow design and packaging engineers to build and test computer simulations of the thermal performance of proposed handheld electronic products quickly and accurately-thereby saving the time of building physical models. Heat transfer and airflow in and around electronic systems can reportedly be predicted.

Flomerics Inc. , 257 Turnpike Rd. Suite 100, Southborough, MA 01772; FAX (508) 357-2013;

Industrial computer systems

These industrial computer systems are mainly used in the construction of automatic, standard, and special machines, such as visualization or open- and closed-loop control and communication solutions. They arrive ready to run with all hardware and software components pre-configured and pre-installed. The complete assembly, including the system rack, module assembly, and setting of module addresses can be customized and completed by the company.

Siemens AG ; 333 Old Milton Pkwy., Alpharetta, G A 30005;

Ethernet CPU

VersaMax(TM)CPUE05s with embedded Ethernet reportedly have the following capabilities: 10 BaseT Ethernet connections for faster data transfers; full-duplex communication, which is intended to eliminate collisions by using switches to simultaneously transmit and receive data; and Ethernet Global Data and Service Request Transfer protocols. The CPU's hardware includes 64K of user-configurable memory, a Run/Stop switch, and RS-232 and RS-485 ports-which allow extra serial connection points.

GE Fanuc Automation , Box 229, Whitehall, PA 18052; FAX (610) 437-5212;

Plastic part design

Moldflow Plastic Insight 2.0 is an integrated suite of analysis software tools products designed to make it possible for plastics part design, model design, and machine processing conditions to be optimized during the design stage. The software's "Fusion" function reportedly lets users run a complete fiber filling, packing, cooling, and warpage analysis directly on a CAD Fusion solid model without creating a midplane mesh.

Moldflow , 91 Hartwell Ave., Lexington, MA 02173; FAX (781) 674-0267;

Touch panel PC

Touch Panel IPCs use high contrast 12- and 15-inch TFT displays, each with a reported lifetime of 50,000 to 70,000 hours. The panel has five keys-one acting as the mouse-but a 16-key keypad is also available. Power supplies included are monitored for temperature and load, and are designed to supply power to multiple expansion cards. Additional watchdog functions include the monitoring of fan speed and internal temperature.

Phoenix Contact. ; Box 4100, Harrisburg, PA 17111-0100; FAX (717) 944-1625; .

Resistor networks

Mil-914 surface-mount chip resistor networks are available with standard resistance values from 10V to 2.2MV and standard tolerances of 10%, 5%, 2%, and 1%. Network termination consists of a high-adhesion conductive base layer covered by a nickel barrier to prevent solder joint degradation.

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

Project planning

SimVision 3.1 allows executives and consultants to "flight test" large-scale projects before they begin. The software models an organization's work processes to predict the project's outcome, and allow management to identify problems in resources, scheduling, and quality before they happen.

Vite Corp. , 1077C Independence Ave., Mountain View, CA 94043-1601; FAX (650) 428-0329; .

Electric motor design software

Motor-CAD is electric motor design software that simplifies thermal analysis, according to the company. It is designed to provide a link between conventional electromagnetic design and thermal analysis. Reportedly users don't have to carry out their own heat transfer calculations because the software includes heat transfer formulations. However, it also allows the user to override the default calculation to ensure that they can customize the calculation for unique constructions.

Motor Design Ltd. , 1 Eaton Court Tetchill, Ellesmere, Shropshire, UKSY12 - 9DA; FAX (610) 437-5212; .


VX VisionVersion 4 includes capabilities for image embossing, intelligent hole making, support for CAM-fixture assemblies, and multiple incremental surfacing, sheet metal, and mold design enhancements. For image embossing, an image file such as a JPEG or GIF is used as input and applied on the surface of a modeled product. As part of the model, the embossed image is automatically incorporated into mold design and machining operations.

Varimetrix Corp. , 2350 Commerce Park Dr., Suite No. 4, Palm Bay, FL 32905; FAX 407-723-4388; .

Electrodeless lamp mimics sunlight

Electrodeless lamp mimics sunlight

Kyoto, Japan -Engineers at Panasonic are claiming an electrodeless lamp will last as much as 10xlonger than conventional lamps, yet measures 10xsmaller than other electrodeless designs. The new lamp's improved efficiency and overall characteristics of emitted light, they say, are the result of two design features: 1) use of indium-halide (InX) as the emission material, and 2) deployment of a vane-type resonator as the energy supply.

"Conventional electrodeless lamps use a cavity type resonator to discharge the energy," says Akira Hochi, a researcher at Panasonic's Lighting Research Laboratory. "Cavity resonators tend to be large because it is hard to concentrate microwave energy into a small space." The company claims the size of the luminous element used to create light in the electrodeless vane-type resonator is 3 mm as opposed to 30 mm for a cavity resonator.

Indium-halide proved to be the best gas to produce white light practical for projection. "An electrodeless sulfur lamp emits a strong continuous spectrum with a peak wavelength of around 500 nm," explains Hochi. "It is highly efficient but it produces a greenish white light not suitable for lighting in general." Tungsten or rhenium metal clusters have also been used in previous lamp designs because of high rendering properties. However, in these lamps the light reproduction is inefficient as they can only operate under narrow plasma temperature conditions.

Indium-halide, Hochi says, produces peak wavelengths of 410 and 451 nm that produce a strong blue emission. "We found, however, that when powered with a microwave, it produces a light with high color-rendering properties close to natural sunlight."

The company plans to release the product in 2002 and to market the lamp for fiber-optic applications, spotlight design, and LCD camera projection.