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Articles from 2001 In September



Micro dc/dc converter

Surface-mount micro dc/dc converter measures only 0.225 x 0.165 x 0.093 inch (LWH). The converter functions with a portable device's battery to provide a distributed power source that minimizes power loss via supply voltage control of the device's RF power amplifier circuit. The micro converter has 20 W/cm3 power density with 85% efficiency that the company says, for example, can increase cell phone operational time by 39%-180 to 250 minutes. The company uses flip-chip bonding with precise high-density component mounting, and the converter has compatibility with standard tape-and-reel dispensers. The chip accepts input voltages from 3.0 to 5.5V and provides adjustable output from 0.8 to 3.0V dc at 350 mA.

Taiyo Yuden (USA), Enter 587

Telecom cables

The DS-1 and DS-0 Central Office telecom cables come in three types. The 1100 Series terminating communications cable operates with multi-pairs of 24 AWG solid tinned copper. The 600 Series ABAM network interface cables utilize multi-pairs of 22 AWG solid tinned copper. Lastly, the 1249C Series network interface terminating communications cable incorporates multi-pairs of 26 AWG solid tinned copper.

Helix/HiTemp Cables Inc.,

Enter 588

GPS antenna

The active GPS patch antenna, dubbed the Micro Skymaster, measures 33.95 x 25.20 x 10.60 mm. It is a 24-dB gain antenna that includes a magnet or screw mount and a universal FME connector. The FME connector permits the attachment of SMB, SMA, BNC, TNC, MCX, or N-type connectors to the antenna to mate with a variety of receivers in the market. Power consumption is 11 mA with a supply voltage of 3 to 5V. In addition, all connectors can be specified in straight or right-angle configurations.

Tri-M Systems,

Enter 589

Data logging

5590 Series dataloggers feature programmable ALMEMO connection plugs that allow the user to connect a variety of sensors and display/log with programmable zero-adjust, scaling factor, and engineering units. Up to 999 sensors may be connected and all measurements may be time and date stamped. Available sensors include temperature, humidity, pressure, pH, gas concentration, and air velocity. Memory is also optional for storing up to 400,000 measured values.

E. Clark & Associates,

Enter 590

Machine vision system

FiberInspect(TM) automatically detects and measures scratches, cracks, and spots on fiber cable that form during the polishing process. The machine vision system can reportedly detect fiber-end defects smaller than a single micron, even when there is poor image contrast between the defect and background. The system can also be configured to classify defects by type to help users better quantify problems during the polishing process.

Cognex Corp.,

Enter 591

Marker sensor

The STEALTH(R) Laser Sensor is designed to detect invisible marks formulated with ISOTAG S ClirCode(R) markers. This combination of a laser sensor and invisible marker performs a variety of registration-mark and product-inspection tasks. The system's usefulness is increased because ambient or UV fluorescent light from either man-made or natural materials do not affect it.

Tri-Tronics Inc.,

Enter 592

Ac source

The 61600 Programmable AC Source is produced in 12 models ranging from 500 to 18,000 VA and supplies ac, dc, or ac+dc power. The source's distortion is 0.3% and delivers peak current capability six times the RMS level. Ac output voltage is programmed from 0 to 150 or 0 to 300V ac, 15 to 1,000 Hz.

Chroma ATE,

Enter 593

Digital thermometer

For hostile work environments, a portable, quality control digital thermometer is contained in a cast-aluminum enclosure. Temperature accuracy is plus or minus 0.3% of reading and the 1/2-inch LCD display can present the results in Fahrenheit or Celsius. The display also incorporates 1/10 degrees resolution to 999.9 for either Fahrenheit or Celsius, and 1 degrees resolution to 2,462F or 1,350C.

Pyrometer Instrument Co. Inc.,

Enter 594

Handheld counter

The Digital Hand Tally Counter permits counts up to 99,999. The water-resistant, O-ring-sealed counter produces an audible click that signals the count when its button is pressed. A fail-safe design eliminates accidental resetting. It weighs 1 oz and is 2.5 inches x 2 inches x 0.75 inch. Contained in a shock-resistant ABS plastic case, the LCD display and counter electronics are sealed against dust, dirt, and humidity.

Control Company,

Enter 595

Scanning CMM

The Endeavor FlexScan series Scanning Coordinate Measurement Machine (CMM) features a motorized, articulating probe head that eliminates the need for clusters of special probe configurations and extensions. It is flexible and can reportedly handle an analog probe, a touch-trigger probe, or both. Users can use the CMM to combine scanning and discrete point measurement on the same part without interruption.

Giddings & Lewis,

Enter 596

Digital panel meter

The Trident Digital Panel Meter is factory calibrated to accept process voltage and current inputs, 100-ohm platinum RTDs, and four types of thermocouples. Setup and programming is jumper-free, and can be completed via a four-button programming method or a computer. If multiple meters need to be programmed, a copy capability allows one meter's setup to be automatically copied to another meter. The Trident's universal power supply allows any voltage between 85 to 265V ac or 90 to 260V dc.

Precision Detroit Co. Inc.,

Enter 597

Temperature/process control

Housed in a 1/4 DIN package, the LCU204 universal temperature/process controls integrate a 19.7-mm process variable display and 132-mm set variable display. The system features 0.1% accuracy, universal input for thermocouples, RTDs, differential, and process input. A standard 24V isolated, regulated power supply is included to power most 4 to 20 mA transmitters.

Dwyer Instruments,

Enter 598


Field-tested pressure sensors are resistant to exhaust gasses, soot, and acids. Useful in emission control systems such as exhaust gas recirculation or evaporative emission control, the sensors are encased in lightweight composite housings. Output is 0.5 to 4.5V dc and the sensors also offer EMI/RFI protection. Depending upon requirements, the sensors can be specified in ceramic capacitive, piezoresistive, or InCap(R) styles.


Enter 599


The K1526EAMX voltage-controlled crystal oscillator is aimed at applications requiring tight temperature stability from -40 to +85C. Features include 5.0V power supply, plus or minus 100 ppm frequency deviation, and 9- x 14-mm ceramic construction with a metal lid. This device is available in discrete frequencies ranging from 2.0 to 40 MHz.

Champion Technologies Inc.,

Enter 600


LEDs are available in both bullet-shaped and chip packages. The bullet-shaped LEDs are available in 3-, 4-, and 5-mm sizes and can take an oval, round, concave-tip, bow, or block-type shape. The typical size for the chip LED is 1.4 x 1.5 x 3 mm and color types include red, green, and blue; and brightness spans the range from several millicanderas to candelas.

Allegro Microsystems Inc.,

Enter 601


REB2000 and 2100 GPS receivers deliver major advancements in GPS performance, accuracy, integration, and computing, according to the company. The technology developed allows full GPS functionality in a postage stamp-sized footprint by combining a high-performance GPS engine, full function CPU, memory, and radio frequency front-end in two chips. Both receivers are 12-channel, NMEA-0183 protocol compliant, and require only 3.3V dc power with a current consumption of 65 mA while in trickle power mode, or 170 mA pack current.

Tri-M Systems,

Enter 602

Hot Products

Hot Products

Handspring Visor tests automated

TestQuest has extended its Pro System automated testing to Handspring(TM) Visor(TM) handheld computers. Pro System for Handspring is targeted at reducing time for manual design testing for software and hardware developers. The system is a "virtual tester," providing functional testing of Handspring devices by automatically simulating a user's actions such as pressing keys, writing with a stylus, or reading the screen. Pro then captures images on the Handspring LCD output and uses font recognition or bitmap comparison to verify test success or failure. Joe Toste, TestQuest engineer and VP of marketing, notes, "Pro for Handspring exercises a test SpringBoard module in the device non-intrusively. We can run 90% of those tests that are now done manually." Average test time is a third or quarter of manual test time. "The system connects electronically to the handheld computer via keypad and touchpanel contacts," says Toste. Keys to the functionality, he adds, are the software scripts developed to run on a Windows 2000(TM) system.

TestQuest : Enter 563

Picosecond accuracy for jitter analysis

J250 and J260 Jitter and Timing Analyzers from LeCroy feature a 16 GSample/sec sampling rate and up to 2 GHz bandwidth (J260). Jitter accuracy for the J260 is 1 ps with 3 sigma confidence. Applications include those with many clocking functions, such as communications equipment and component testing. The analyzer displays are custom designed for jitter testing. The VL model of each analyzer has 32 million points maximum memory, versus 16 million for the standard models. Mike Lauterbach, LeCroy director of product management, says the analyzers don't just detect jitter but "give insight as to the source and how to correct it with the easy-to-use analysis tools"-with many found on the unique Jitter Views toolbar. This allows quick access to viewing, statistical, measurement, and analysis functions for average-skill users. He also notes a log histogram scale can show rare and intermittent problems. New types of measurements possible include PLL loop bandwidth, accumulated jitter, and half-period jitter for analyzing clocking done on rising or falling signal edges.

LeCroy : Enter 564

Circuit testing speed boosted

The latest version of Mentor Graphics automated test pattern generation tool, FastScan 2001.2, offers new pattern optimization and improved "at-speed" test generation. The test patterns (or vectors) are digital and clock signals that are then used in electronic chip production defect testing. Greg Aldrich, engineer and product marketing manager for Mentor Graphics, says the optimization includes "having the most effective vectors ordered first in each pattern set for the highest coverage first. More failures are found quickly and those chips are off the tester sooner"-reducing test time for finding failing devices and overall test cost. Such optimization also allows maximum test coverage if a test set (number of vectors) is truncated due to test equipment limitations. Aldrich adds, "Unique compression of vectors allows each vector to find more faults as well," reducing the overall number of vectors needed.

Mentor Graphics : Enter 565

BERT eases optical network testing

Tektronix is marketing and supporting the Advantest D3371-2V-3V Bit Error Rate Tester (BERT) to give designers of low-cost optical networks an accurate means of testing and analyzing the performance of communications components and systems. The 3.6 Gbit/sec maximum test frequency is critical to testing Fibre Channel, Gigabit Ethernet, and other transmission standards. "The D3371's specialized and custom components and amplifiers allow for up to 3V output amplitude with no loss of waveform quality or offset range," notes Jeff Adams, applications engineer with Tektronix' Optical Business Unit. "This allows for user variable cross point adjustment for stress testing. Special attention was also paid to the design of the output impedance-matching circuit to ensure the high quality waveform output throughout the full bit-rate range of the instrument." Built-in pattern editing software simplifies data-pattern design for exercising communications elements. And a search tool automatically sets measurement parameters to save time when setting up tests.

Tektronix : Enter 566

Find your shorts quickly

The Wavetek Meterman(TM) SF-10 Electronic Short Finder uses a patented wire brush to quickly sweep printed circuit boards, multiconductor cables, mass termination systems, backplanes, etc., to find short circuits. "Shorts are one of the most common failures for electronics and one of the most difficult problems to detect," says Phil Salditt, general manager, Meterman Test Tools. "With its wire brush and fast continuity response, the SF-10 is a simple way to quickly locate an electrical short without the traditional and cumbersome method of probing every test point." An audible tone indicates continuity, the exact point of which is identified by using the rigid probe tip within the area identified by the brush. Low 0.5V dc test voltage protects sensitive circuitry and eliminates false continuity indications.

Wavetek Meterman : Enter 567

Scope calibrator can be upgraded

Fluke's latest oscilloscope calibrators, the 9500B series, support oscilloscopes from dc to 6 GHz, and beyond in the future, via firmware upgrades. Peter Dack, engineer and Fluke Precision Measurement business manager notes that maintaining the integrity of the calibrated signal source at the unit under test (UUT) requires short transmission lengths and an optimized impedance match. Toward this end, designers integrated circuits into a compact Active Head(TM). "Active Heads are self-contained signal sources that allow close proximity to the input of the UUT," he says. "Through short transmission links, this approach minimizes aberrations and reflections [normally associated with the use of cables] during calibration." Previous 9500 units can be upgraded to support the latest head and 6-GHz bandwidth. The 9500 base unit can control up to five Active Head modules in automated operations.

Fluke : Enter 568

Nitrogen as a semiconductor material

Nitrogen as a semiconductor material

What do you get when you subject Nitrogen to pressures 2.4 million times the atmospheric pressure at sea level? The answer is a new form of Nitrogen that is a semiconducting solid. For the first time, scientists at Carnegie Institute at Washington made electric measurements on the condensed gas. This new dense form of Nitrogen stores energy, which they say makes it viable for semiconducting material. The material remains stable after the pressure is removed. The institute's work is partially funded by the National Science Foundation's Division of Materials Research. The findings also confirm theories about superconductivity properties in other elements, such as Hydrogen. For more information, contact the institute's team leader Russell Hemley at (202) 478-8951.

Sensors emerge as machine vision tools

Sensors emerge as machine vision tools

A new category of machine vision has emerged: vision sensors. They are increasingly seen as the low cost general-purpose form of today's machine vision technology.

Some of the more obvious uses for a vision sensor would be for traditional vision applications where machine vision has already been applied. But due to ease of use, lower cost, and functionality, vision sensors can also be applied to applications that traditionally use mechanical gauging or sensor technology. Measurement sensors, proximity and photoelectric sensor arrays, or mechanical gauges that perform inspection and measurement can, in many applications, be replaced by a single vision sensor. Even though the part cost of these inspection and measurement techniques may be lower than vision sensors, their engineering, installation, constant calibration, and maintenance costs (including change over time for different or new products) make a vision sensor a potentially competitive and cost-effective solution. And in many cases, due to their functionality, vision sensors can add new inspection or measurement capability with fast, easy on-line modification.

Depending on the choices made, several different kinds of detection methods can be employed, including binary, gray scale, or single CCD color. The type of detection method usually depends on the inspection or measurement required. For example, high-contrast images using back or simple front lighting can use binary (black or white only) imaging to count pixels for area or basic dimensioning or presence/absence applications. Applications that require searching for features, pattern matching, or simple defect detection benefit from the use of gray scale detection (usually 256 levels of gray). Color detection can be used for isolating features by their color, then inspecting presence/absence based on color, or for advanced defect inspection by subtle color definition or shift.

Among different hardware configurations are: the all-in-one "smart camera" approach, where light source, lens, camera, and processor/controller are in a single package; and a (typically) smaller remote camera, lens and light source with a separate processor/controller. The camera's imaging element sizes (usually a CCD array) can vary to provide pixel resolutions from 200H x 190V to 640H x 480V. The single all-in-one approach has advantages of acting as a stand-alone unit with I/O or communication outputs to other devices like PLCs, SCADA, or an information-collection network. The transfer of the image to the processor is not exposed to a cable transmission. This can also offer a slight speed increase in total processing time.

A remote camera with a separate processor/controller allows for a more compact camera assembly, typically 2- x 2-inch square or smaller (not including the lens or light assemblies). The use of a separate processor/controller also allows for I/O wiring termination points to be located on the controller housing. Room for additional connections like external monitors and communication ports is also available. A separate processor/controller allows the controller to be located in a control cabinet or enclosure, close to the PLC equipment for example, to minimize wiring.

Some types of vision sensors combine several software methods to maximize flexibility. A pushbutton interface can be used for pattern matching, presence/absence and feature comparison by simply putting good and/or bad parts in the field of view and teaching the sensor the parts (usually with a single push of a button on the device). Any deviation or change can be analyzed or compared to a good model, and a pass or fail judgment or data can be given with setup or changes being easily made.

Drop-down menus or interfaces with a Windows(R) appearance or based GUI offer the user a customized configuration capability that allow individual settings or changes to be made to many aspects of each measurement or inspection. The measurement tools, their execution order, and the data they produce can all be configured or changed without the use of programming commands or languages.

Today's vision sensor de-signs can accomplish what was once only possible with high-end, high-cost vision systems or lower cost, but complexly engineered, high-maintenance sensor arrays. One of the fundamental advantages of vision sensors is that their low cost and ease of use allow the process of inspection, measurement, and part rejection to be distributed out along the production line at each point of production, instead of being concentrated at the end of the line after value has been added to a part or parts have already assembled. This is similar to the advantage seen when the PLC became distributed along a production line also. Besides the reduction in wiring runs, problems and troubleshooting also become a much simpler task, with no one sensor shutting down the entire vision system. Downtime and changeover costs, as well as tooling for different or new parts to a production line, are also reduced. Feedback of location or measurements can also be provided to motion control systems or robotics at any point required.

Another advantage of vision sensors is that design considerations don't only apply to a new production line. Vision sensors can be added to an existing line or replace existing sensor arrays without the expense of a capital appropriation or extensive training and engineering man-hours. What designers should consider is where they want to make these inspections, or where feedback is required, and identify where critical inspections and rejection of parts must take place to improve quality and efficiency. Existing mechanical gauging, measurement, proximity, or photoelectric sensor arrays can also be considered as good locations for vision sensors, especially if mechanical changes must be made for different part runs and/or constant calibration or if maintenance is required by the sensors or arrays.

A designer or user must also consider what the demands are for the application-for example, if it only requires pattern matching or simple feature comparison with pass/fail output only and no customized lighting or lenses, then a vision sensor with simple functions, built-in light and lens may be all that is required. If lighting is critical for seeing features and/or a variable focus lens is required, then controllable lighting and an industry standard C-mount lens capability should be considered. In applications where dimensioning, feature inspection, or defect detection is required, a vision sensor with menu or Windows(R) based GUI and configurable inspection and measurement tools may be best to solve the application.

Vision sensors can solve many non-contact inspection and measurement problems, replace complex sensor arrays, provide feedback to robotics, and solve problems where machine vision was once thought too expensive and complex.

As vision sensor technology progresses, look for higher speed processing, more advanced measurement and inspection tools, better resolution, and greater networking capabilities for information exchange and multiple camera capability. As each new version of vision sensors is released and as new players enter the market, look for continued low cost and improved functionality to benefit all users.

Rolling-ring throttle control

Rolling-ring throttle control

Rotating the smooth, unthreaded driveshaft through the series of ring bearings, with specially contoured inner races, creates compression and friction that drive the bearing housing back and forth.

Continuous vibration from a diesel engine powering a sizable sea-going vessel shook apart conventional lever throttles with mechanical linkages. The resulting "play" decreased throttle accuracy and efficiency, and caused excessive maintenance. The problem prompted design engineers at a large European shipbuilder to develop an engine throttle control system that uses a "rolling-ring" linear actuator to control the throttle adjustment arm's advances and retractions.

On the ship's bridge, a transmitter potentiometer sends an electronic signal to a variable speed gearmotor located in a water-tight box in the engine room. Since the output shaft on the variable-speed gearmotor holds a spur gear that meshes with a gear on the rolling ring linear actuator drive shaft, the signal generates the appropriate gearmotor response to rotate the drive shaft. The rolling ring actuator moves when the drive shaft turns, and is attached to the throttle adjustment arm via a metal bracket.

Equal resistance values of the transmitter and receiver potentiometers trigger a switch that shuts off the motor. Moving the speed control on the bridge reactivates the system, and switches the motor back on. The system not only overcomes the vibration problems, but also is said to dramatically reduce maintenance because the design lends itself to being sealed against the intrusion of moisture, dirt, and debris.

Mark Wilson, Amacoil Inc., Box 2228, 2100 Bridgeton Rd., Aston, PA 19014; Tel: (800) 252-2545; Fax: (610) 485-2357; E-mail: [email protected].

For more information, enter 509

Submit your ideas and rough drawings for this section to John Lewis, Designer's Corner, Design News, 275 Washington St., Newton, MA 02458

Why stock exchanges were slow to re-open

A "disaster center" called Exchange Resources is among the backup facilities for New York’s stock exchanges. Located in Minneapolis, MN, Exchange Resources holds a full backup for the central New York data, "kept ‘cold’ – that is, manned only by security and facility management personnel – until IT people get there to run it," says Paul Magnussen, head of Magnus U.S. Inc. (Minneapolis), a leading contractor for data centers.

After the attack on the World Trade Center and subsequent loss of power to all of lower Manhattan, Wall Street needed its backup data to re-start trading. However, in all the scenarios that led to development of the disaster center, no one had imagined cessation of all air transportation and the consequent difficulties the stock exchange companies would experience in getting the necessary people from New York to Minneapolis. The only answer proved to be trains and hired cars.

Exchange Resources is a subscription service for stock exchange members, each of which needed to get IT specialists on the road as quickly as possible.

"Throughout the history of data centers – a matter of some 30 years – it’s always been the seemingly small and insignificant type of item that causes trouble," says Magnussen. "Earthquakes taught us that we needed power to come from more than one utility substation, and have more than one supplier of fiber-optics for data communication. Alternative sources aren’t always available."

Despite the terrible events of September 11, at least the "cold" stored data was unaffected.

Designs float from the skies

Designs float from the skies

Wanted: one 80-ft2 piece of cloth to safely land a 275-lb person traveling 120 mph through Category 3 hurricane force winds and falling about 10,000 ft/min on a 5-cm wide target. Such are the design requirements confronting today's parachute engineers. And they are being met using improved manmade fibers, computers, and better designs.

Once thought of as a dangerous, daredevil sport, skydiving now boasts of its safety and gentle landings as 99-year-old women jump tandem from planes. "The advances in skydiving equipment in the last 20 years are nothing short of miraculous," says Kate Cooper, vice president of Square One, a skydiving equipment distributor in the U.S. And she should know. Cooper has made 6,000 jumps since she started parachuting in 1978.

Gone are the 24-ft-diameter, 40 lb, round, ripcord activated parachutes, with rough landings. Today's sport parachutes, including harness, hardware, and two canopies, weigh less than 20 lbs on average. Skydivers wear stronger, lighter nylon harnesses with stainless-steel hardware; fiberglass or carbon-fiber helmets instead of leather; audible altimeters; and automatic reserve parachute activators.

"Before, skydivers had to take what the military used, and like it. But today, people in the sport drive the equipment advances," says Cooper.

Credit: "Parachuting: The Skydiver's Handbook" by Dan Poytner and Mike Turoff.

Better canopies. John LeBlanc and William Coe are two such examples. LeBlanc, vice president with an aerospace engineering background, and Coe, a mechanical engineer, started Performance Designs (DeLand, FL) 17 years ago. Thanks to computers and old-fashioned engineering, the company is "the largest ram-air inflated canopy manufacturer in the world," says LeBlanc.

Ram-air inflated canopies are colorful rectangular or elliptical shapes, resembling a large air mattress with the front or leading edge cut open. As the skydiver falls, air is literally rammed into the individual cells creating a wing. Jumpers can steer and flare the parachute, controlling it much like an airplane. The canopies range in size from 100 to 200 ft2, to match the jumper's weight, size, and skill-the smaller the "wing," the faster one travels. As the sport becomes safer, says LeBlanc, jumpers demand smaller chutes for faster, flashier landings.

Although, in some companies, the individual panels of the chute or canopy are still sewn by hand, cutting and much of the design are computerized. Coe and LeBlanc moved from pencil-and-paper to CAD when the company purchased its first package of AutoCAD from Autodesk (San Rafael, CA) in 1990. Equipped with a couple of Silicon Graphics and Sun workstations, and an Okidata plotter, LeBlanc and Coe drew their design, then printed each parachute cell full size. "From these, we would cut templates for the actual design," says LeBlanc. Today they run their operation on PCs with Mechanical Desktop, the 3D CAD program from Autodesk. "Now that PCs are faster, we don't need workstations anymore," adds LeBlanc.

Nor do they need templates. The implementation of a computer-operated laser-cutting table, designed and manufactured by Coe, allows the parachute engineers to design a canopy in CAD and convert the drawing directly to computerized cutting instructions. LeBlanc says, "This reduced a great deal of time and labor."

Designed in AutoCAD and constructed in the company's machine shop, the table is basically an air hockey table in reverse. Air, sucked through little holes on the 108-ft long, 72-inch wide cutting surface, pulls the canopy taut and holds it flat. A spreader carriage runs horizontally, smoothing out the fabric evenly. A 100W CO2 laser travels up and down on a toothed carriage that parallels both sides of the table. A servomotor with a controller inside the drive carries the laser left to right across the table, creating an x and y motion.

CAD-generated computer files dictate the x-y coordinates for each individual part. In addition to cutting the outside perimeter of each panel, the laser marks where the material needs to be sewn with needle-sized holes. "By matching up these little marks from one part of the canopy to the next, we guarantee that everything lines up properly and the canopy goes together the way we want," LeBlanc says. A third-generation cutting table, complete with faster motors and carriages, went on line late last year.

Another major advance was Coe's customized CAD system based on parametric modeling. The software, a preprogrammed routine based on Autolisp commands, allows LeBlanc to insert the variables he wishes to change. "Say that I want to change the canopy shape by increasing the wing span. I change that one variable, expressed in a ratio of wingspan to length of wing from front to back. I input the data, kick off the program and go skydiving! When I come back, I have a new canopy, compete with exploded views, and all the files necessary to run the laser table."

Automatic openers. One of the many technologies making parachuting safer are automatic activation devices (AAD). Required for students, they release the reserve if the jumper fails to activate his or her main parachute. Although some AADs operate using a mechanical or electro-mechanical system, the Cypres, developed by Airtec GmbH, (Wunnenberg, Germany) uses a microprocessor to calculate the jumper's altitude and rate of descent on the basis of barometric pressure.

A jumper switches Cypres on in the morning prior to the jump. The device begins calibrating to ground elevation by measuring the air pressure several times in a short period of time, taking the average as the value for ground level. Before takeoff, the AAD continuously checks the ground air pressure, adjusting to changing weather if necessary.

Once in freefall, the device checks the altitude and rate of descent of the jumper. If there are signs that she is in a dangerous position, like being in freefall at a low altitude, the processor triggers the release unit to open the reserve.

The mother of invention. Materials play a big part in modern day chutes. The first advance in materials came on Dec. 7, 1941, says Dan Poynter, author of The Skydiver's Handbook. Up until then, parachutes were made from silk. But when the Japanese cut off the silk supply at the start of War World II, Allied countries scrambled to find alternative materials. Nylon came up the winner. "And nylon was even better than silk," says Poynter. "Silk has many natural enemies, such as mildew. But nylon only has two...ultraviolet light (sun) and acid."

However, untreated nylon can have a high permeability that negatively affects the performance of the chute by creating a less efficient airflow. "We need the air to go over and under the air foil (or canopy) instead of through the fabric," says LeBlanc, so the canopy will act more like an airplane wing. To decrease fabric permeability, the fabric is calendered or run through heavy rollers at high temperature.

However, as a canopy is used, permeability increases. So Performance Designs uses a silicone-based compound to coat the chute, bringing the permeability of the material down to zero without affecting the fabric's tear strength or opening characteristics.

Suspension lines, once made from nylon, were too elastic for ram-air parachutes, causing serious changes in the trim angle of the canopy due to each line supporting a different load, says LeBlanc. Looking for a high strength material with low drag, Performance Designs wove spectra fiber from Honeywell, formerly Allied Signal, into a hollow core braided line for a low drag, low bulk, abrasion-resistant line. Today, this is the industry standard.

Oldies but goodies. Despite all these changes, round canopies are still used, particularly by the military. Parachuting can be the fastest, safest, and simplest way of getting soldiers down in many situations. And because round chutes basically fall straight to the ground, that is they drift evenly with the wind, Poynter says, a large number of solders can be deployed at the same time without flying into each other.

Primarily due to this improved equipment, sport jumping is growing. Approximately 3.4 million jumps were made in 1999; 2.8 thousand were first time skydivers.

So why does someone jump anyway? It is an addiction. "I've been doing it for over half my life and find it to be an incredible physical, emotional, and mental high," says Cooper.

Actuator is precise enough for aerospace

Actuator is precise enough for aerospace

The SR31 from Exlar Corp. is an inverted roller screw actuator with a lead accuracy of 0.001 inch per foot. It converts rotary motion from a brushless dc motor into linear motion in aircraft-assembly riveting and flight simulators.

"It's a roller screw with a motor wrapped around it," says Brian Bendel, a design engineer at Exlar. "We took the nut and made it into the motor's rotor, then attached a screw to the rod that comes out of the actuator end."

The SR31 is suitable for use in closed loop servo systems where electronic control of positioning and velocity is required. Quadrature encoders provide the position feedback.

The actuator has a 3.3-inch frame size, stroke lengths of 5.9 and 10 inches, and motors with either 20 or 30 in-lb torque. Depending on the motor used, the SR31 has between a 225 and 900 lb thrust capacity. It operates at 10 and 25 inches per second linear speed.

All converting components are mounted within a sealed IP54-rated housing. The housing is made from black anodized aluminum.

A smooth extending rod allows use of a bushing and seals that prevent abrasive particles and other contaminants from entering the actuator's mechanisms. The SR31 replaces ball screws, cams, and hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders. Other characteristics for the linear actuator include front-flange or rear-clevis mounting and shielded cables. The company configures the actuators for compatibility with different brands of servo amplifiers.

Additional Details...Brian Bendel, Exlar Corp., 1470 Lake Dr. W., Minneapolis, MN 55317; Tel: (952) 368-3434; FAX: (952) 368-4877; or Enter 576

Fastening, Joining, & Assembly

Fastening, Joining, & Assembly

Ejector pins

True-Hard(TM) ejector pins are made from M-2 high-speed steel and uniformly hardened to Rc 60-63 from surface to core, useful in glass-filled molding applications. Combining flexibility and wear resistance, they are supplied in stock in straight and shoulder types 6 and 8 inches long with .50-, 2-, and 4-inch shoulder lengths. Diameters range from 1/32 to .25 inch in 0.0001-inch increments and metric sizes from 0.8 to 2.5 mm.

Royal Diversified Products Inc.,

Enter 603


TRA-BOND 2106T is a fast-setting, thixotropic epoxy adhesive designed for applications where initial handling strength is required. This medium-viscosity and solvent-free system provides adhesion to such substrates as metal, glass, ceramic, and most plastics. It is electrically insulating and chemically resistant making it useful in casting, potting, and sealing applications. TRA-BOND 2106T gels in five minutes and offers most of its mechanical strength within one hour.

Tra-Con Inc.,

Enter 604

Filter bags

GORE-TEX(R) High Durability Filter Bags utilize a new generation of membrane and polyester backing engineered for dimensional stability and flex endurance. For use in dry particulate capture systems, the filter bags are presented in either 16 oz/yd2 or 12 oz/yd2 polyester needlefelts. For applications requiring static dissipative properties, GORE NO-STAT(R) filter bags are also available.

W.L. Gore & Associates,

Enter 605


A 12-cc syringe incorporates a double o-ring installed at the end of the plunger to prevent the contents from escaping out of the back. Used in industrial and health applications, the syringe can be specified in either clear or white. Imprinting services can be used to enhance the appearance. The 12-cc syringe is available in quantities of 1,000 pieces or more.

Mil-Comm Products Co.,

Enter 606

Gap-filling adhesive

LITE LOK(R) 482 adhesive is designed primarily to bond ultraviolet-light absorbing plastics, such as polycarbonate. It is a thixotropic, gap-filling material that cures using an ultraviolet light source. Cure time can be as quick as six seconds with direct exposure to a 300W-inch UV bulb emitting light in the 380 to 420 nm wavelength range. Specific cure times depend on the substrate type and gauge.

National Starch And Chemical Co.,

Enter 607

Locating patch

A temporary locating patch holds fasteners in place during transport and while on automated assembly production lines. It can be applied to both threaded and unthreaded fasteners. The polymer is pre-applied 360 degrees around the fastener and allows the user to pre-install certain components. This patch can be used to replace methods that require the use of plastic washers to hold solid rivets.

Nylok Fastener Corp.,

Enter 608

Rivet nuts

SpinTite(TM) threaded rivet nuts are specially designed for use in blind attachment applications where only one side of a workpiece is accessible for fastener installation and final component assembly. Installed from the accessible side of a workpiece, these rivet nuts provide metal threads in panels as thin as 0.02 inch. The fasteners can serve as alternatives to weld nuts and rivets.

Atlas Engineering,

Enter 609


J-Series continuous clamp-cover enclosures feature an oil-resistant gasket that protects against oil, dust, and water entry. They are manufactured from 14-gauge mild or stainless steel with continuously welded seams. External mounting feet, a grounding stud, and weld nuts are also provided.

Control Engineering Co.,

Enter 610

Leveling mounts

For leveling and height-adjustment needs, nylon-base machinery mounts have a tapped socket and swivel 15 degrees in all directions. The tapped socket is manufactured from hex bar stock that acts as a stop when moving the socket beyond the 15-degree swivel point. Available in steel and stainless steel with or without lag holes, the mounts have a glass-filled nylon plastic base and a non-skid elastomer rubber pad that resists many acids, chemicals, alkalines, and salts.

J.W. Winco Inc.,

Enter 611

Splicing tape

Scapa 598 is a single-coated polyester tape that uses a modified silicone adhesive to withstand high temperatures. The product unwinds smoothly and leaves no adhesive residue. The film's blue color allows for easy splice identification. Functional for splicing silicone-coated backings and pressure-sensitive adhesive-coated tapes and labels, Scapa 598 can also wrap idler rolls that come into contact with tacky surfaces.

Scapa Tapes,

Enter 612


Zip Grip(R) 404 is a clear-drying cyanoacrylate adhesive that offers a 20-30 cps viscosity for bonding close-fitting parts with gaps less than 0.002 inch. Used for splicing o-rings, rubber weatherstripping, or gaskets, it permanently bonds metal to metals, plastics, or rubber. A medium-viscosity version, Zip Grip 4495, fills gaps to 0.006 inch.


Enter 613

Solder paste

A no-clean solder paste reportedly suitable for fine-pitch, high-speed stencil printing up to 200 mm/sec does not produce solder balls after reflow. For easy visual inspection, the solder paste leaves a minimal, colorless, non-corrosive residue after reflow. It is classified as Type RO L0 to ANSI/J-STD-004 standards. It functions with a range of alloys, including lead-free and high-temperature materials, and provides good wetting on difficult to solder materials such as OSP copper.

Multicore Solders Inc.,

Enter 614


UV curing potting compounds provide an instant UV curing feature that allows curing at room temperature to a depth of 1 inch or more in areas under components where light does not reach. Designated 960A/B and 961A/B, these 2-part plus UV curing potting materials provide the fast cure benefits of light-curing products with the chemical cure of traditional potting compounds. The resins are suitable for a variety of electrical and electronic applications including the potting of sensors, printed circuit boards, and LEDs.

Dymax Corp.,

Enter 615


Metal Welder(TM) is a methacrylate structural adhesive formulated to bond metals and dissimilar substrates. It produces permanent load-bearing bonds that are resistant to weathering, humidity, temperatures up to 250F, and thermal shock. With impact and peel resistance, the product provides durable bonds to a variety of metals, including aluminum, cold rolled and stainless steel, copper, and brass.


Enter 616

Cable markers

Grabber(TM) cable markers identify indoor and outdoor cables and are constructed of UV resistant, rigid plastic that completely wraps around the cable. The legends on the Grabbers are printed in alternate directions for 360 degrees readability. Stock legends include "Caution-Fiber-Optic Cable" and "Caution-CATV Cable"; they are available in lengths from 4 to 8 inches for cables with outside diameters of 0.375 to 2 inches.

VIP Division,

Enter 617


Fasteners for use in wet environments provide an airtight seal against liquids, air, and other gases. They are designed with a groove under the head to accommodate a rubber O-ring that, when compressed, forms a complete seal and permits full metal-to-metal contact. Made of 18-8 stainless steel, the fasteners are passivated per QQP-35.

Zago Mfg. Co. Inc.,

Enter 618


MXR DIN overall length roll form taps displace material without generating chips and are said to produce stronger threads with a thread finish. Able to operate at higher spindle speeds, the result is lower cycle times without risk of failure due to ineffective chip evacuation. Features include "Cam Form" lobe design generating lower torque requirements, and coolant feeding for horizontal and deep hole applications.

Union Butterfield,

Enter 619


RF-equipped electronic hand torque wrenches include TTI-EKDS-RF models that transmit an accept or reject status signal via a 433-MHz carrier frequency. The signals from the wrenches are transmitted more than 100 ft to a receiver equipped to process the information, display the status, and count the number of accepts and rejects. Each wrench stores 2,000 torque readings for uploading to a PC or interfaced to a PLC.

TorqTec Int'l.,

Enter 620


Different colored cables can make the assembly process faster, easier, and safer, particularly in complicated installations. These customized color cables improve functionality since the jacket colors can identify certain cable characteristics. These colorful options have been used such areas as industrial robots, measurement and control devices, and medical equipment.


Enter 621


Poly-Tite(R) Sidelatch Couplings are designed for sealing in pneumatic control and instrumentation circuits, and for many pneumatic-powered devices, such as handheld tools. The devices are available in through- and shutoff-type inserts and in a range of bulkhead quick-coupler configurations. These compact brass fittings are said to have an exclusive acetal copolymer sleeve that offers excellent dimensional stability and prevents creeping and stress caused by compression.

Parker Hannifin,

Enter 622


"S" series connector systems feature a patented clamping mechanism that reportedly will replace traditional screw and wire wraps. It allows a straight-in application that squeezes the wire, forming a tight connection and a clean, strong signal. Additional features include ASTM color coding for identification, compensated alloys for accurate readings, and glass-filled thermoplastic to provide high-impact strength.

Watlow Electric Mfg. Co.,

Enter 623


The basis for the increase in efficiency on the PGN-plus Gripper is reportedly the newly designed jaw guidance. Forces and moments of the gripper-or acting on the gripper-are spread over several surfaces of a multiple-tooth guide, allowing finger length increases of up to 30% and more than doubling the maximum payloads. The gripper can be mounted and plumbed from three sides and offers sensing options from inductive and magnetic switches to a Flexible Positioning System.


Enter 624

Plastics, Metals, and Other Materials

Plastics, Metals, and Other Materials


Low-friction urethanes use an internal lubrication system that maintains physical properties of the base material while improving frictional performance to levels approaching PTFE. They are also reported to assist production efficiencies as well as part performance due to lower molded-in stress and improved part filling. Applications include mating medical components, especially surgical tubing assemblies.


Enter 643

Prototype materials

A full line of ProtoFunctional(TM) materials replicates the performance parameters of production materials. From thermoplastic elastomers to polyethylene and polypropylene, these materials can be utilized in stereolithography and selective laser sintering technologies. Large, complex parts can be produced as a single, one-piece unit assuring structural strengths and weaknesses are modeled correctly.

DSM Somos,

Enter 644


Hydak(R) coatings are made of hyaluronan, a biopolymer found in human tissues, for biocompatibility. They provide a high degree of hydrophilicity, lubricity, and flexibility for the functioning of medical device design. Application of coatings is a simple process using conventional dip-coating equipment and curing ovens, and can be used on external and internal surfaces.

Biocoat Inc.,

Enter 645


Complying with FDA biocompatibility guidelines for medical products, silicones are compatible with human tissue and body fluids. Silicones offer heat stability, resisting shape, clarity, strength, and flexibility changes following repeated sterilizations. Components designed from this material are odorless, tasteless, and do not support bacteria growth.

Vesta Inc.,

Enter 646

Polyethylene film

Crosslinked polyethylene film has a softening point of 350F, and is provided in thicknesses from 1 mil to 10 mils. It can be manufactured in rolls that measure up to 80 inches wide, or slit to customer specifications. The crosslinking process uses an electron beam that rearranges the material's molecular bonds into longer chains, which improves strength, heat resistance, and dielectric properties.

Metallized Products Inc.,

Enter 647


Durablend foam grips, supplied in three densities with either smooth or textured surfaces, are formulated to last in harsh environments. Resistant to rips and tears, the foam is a blend of CPE and EPDM. It is resistant to sunlight, water, oil, and gas. The material combines the soft, ergonomic qualities of most foams with durability similar to rubber grips.


Enter 648

Photonics components

Molded photonics components include optical subassemblies with integral lenses and micro-lens arrays with 250 mum centers. The parts can incorporate holes under 250 mum threads, custom finishes, and inserts. Depending upon size and material, the components can also feature 4 mum tolerances on a 2.5 mm hole, =15 mum concentricity, and positional tolerances of =3 mum.

Matrix Inc.,

Enter 649


Machinable glass ceramic can be produced in sizes up to 20 inches and is readily machinable on conventional equipment with standard cutting tools. Rescor 914 is dense and vacuum tight, inert to oxidizing and reducing atmospheres, and has low thermal conductivity. With a maximum operating temperature of 1,000F, it can be utilized in such applications as electrical insulation, furnace components, and RF heating fixtures.

Cotronics Corp.,

Enter 650


A thermal resistant wire for use in furnaces or temperature-rated electronics combines the conductivity of copper with the corrosion resistance of pure nickel. It features a hermetically sealed metallurgical bond, and can be specified in nickel ratios from 10 to 40%. Aside from copper, other core materials such as bronze, brass, and steel can be used. It is supplied in wire or rod formats from 0.01- to 1-inch OD in a standard 27% nickel ratio.

Anomet Products,

Enter 651


Flexane(R) compounds are castable, nonshrinking, two-component liquid urethanes that cure at room temperature. Flexane 80 Liquid is a medium-viscosity compound that cures to a semi-rigid rubber material and will return to its original shape even after 650% elongation. It has a demolding time of 10 hours. Flexane 94 Liquid is a low-viscosity compound that cures to a rigid, rubber material and demolds in 5 hours.


Enter 652


ECTFE-based composite coating engineered for use on metallic surfaces has a maximum operating temperature of 300F. Coating thickness ranges from nominal 0.045 inch on interior and wetted surfaces to a nominal 0.010 inch on exterior surfaces. It can also be applied at a thickness of up to 0.12 inch to provide adequate abrasion resistance. Food-contact and conductive versions of the material are also available.


Enter 653


New process technology is said to produce a PEEK slab with improved physical properties, lower stress levels, and an enhanced surface finish. Physical properties include: specific gravity of 1.32; tensile strength yield at 14,500; and wear factor against steel of 200. Available in 2 x 4 slabs with standard thicknesses ranging from .25 to 2 inches, thicker slab sections and larger sizes for specific applications can be provided upon request.

A.L. Hyde Co.,

Enter 654


SeriFlex graphic technology allows for such specialized looks as phosphorescent, translucent, granite, neon, glitter, and pearl effects. It is resistant to UV exposure, salt water, chlorine, impact, abrasion, and cold crack. Standard molds offer reproduction of fine lines and minute detail. Precision molds allow for the creation of bevels, contours, and controlled depths.


Enter 655

PTFE media

Emflon PTFE media, utilizing a state-of-the-art lamination technique, is available with polypropylene and polyester supports. This reproducible, hydrophobic product reportedly performs well in automated fabrication, and is said to be suited for healthcare and other air-venting applications.

Pall Corp.,

Enter 656


A thermally conductive urethane potting compound, 50-2366 FR, is a flexible potting and encapsulating system designed to provide low stress on components during and after cure. Properties include: low shrinkage, high thermal conductivity, and water resistance. With its low viscosity and easy mix ratio, this system is reportedly suited for potting applications containing surface mount components or high thermal conductivity.

Epoxies, Etc.,

Enter 657

Silicone gel

HumiGel is a solventless, air curing, 100% solids silicone material contained in pressurized controlled delivery containers. It can be dispensed similarly to window caulking material, in lines or films of various sizes, ranging from a very thin film up to approximately 500 mils (.50 inch), all from the same delivery system. The gel is a clear, thixotropic encapsulant specifically designed to protect select areas of printed circuit assemblies where extra protection against heat and humidity, or against electric or mechanical stresses, is required.

Humiseal Protective Coatings,

Enter 658


Uniprene(TM) 7010 Series thermoplastic vulcanizate compounds are approved for potable-water applications in accordance with NSF Standard 61. This compound is rubber-like, and provides elasticity and strength under sub-freezing conditions or after prolonged use at elevated temperatures. The series can be specified in 13 individual injection-molding and extrusion grades. Gaskets, seals, and hoses are just some of the material's applications.

Teknor Apex,

Enter 659


Cast aluminum bake and chill platens are manufactured for wafer processing applications. These platens use a high-density mineral-insulated heating element, formed to provide a specific heat profile and cast onto 99.7% pure aluminum. Cooling tubes of different materials can be run systematically with the heat pattern for uniform chill requirements.

Durex Industries,

Enter 660

Thermal interface

POLARCHIP(TM) thermal interface material can fill unwanted air gaps between heat generating devices on printed circuit boards and the heat sinks, heat spreaders, and metal chassis that dissipate the heat. A fluoropolymer composite that consists of an expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) matrix filled with boron nitride particles, the low elastic modulus of the ePTFE matrix gives improved softness and compressibility to the composite. It is reportedly suited for gap-filling applications where gap thickness is large or the surface is variable, such as laptop computers, high-speed telecommunications equipment, and wireless infrastructure equipment.

W.L. Gore & Associates Inc.,

Enter 661


SPC-PRO 5 module is an analysis tool kit for plastics molders, providing process and production management information and DOE capabilities. Its features include: a display of continuous updates of actual values; a display of pre-control and PQS view options; and parameters updated in real time during data logging and graph sampling. Tool kit also contains proprietary class factor(C) technology that is said to provide molders automatic and accurate machine-to-machine comparison to determine how well equipment should be operating.

Hunkar Laboratories Inc.,

Enter 662

Hand wheels

Hand wheels are now available in cast iron and stainless steel. The cast-iron type has a chrome-plated finish with a polished rim. The stainless-steel version of the hand wheel has a square design, machined to a fine finish from solid 300-series stainless steel, and it is center drilled.

Carr Lane Manufacturing ,

Enter 663

Gasketing materials

Heat curable, cured-in-place silicone foam gasketing material, Durafoam(TM) 5975 offers high- and low-temperature performance and compression-set resistance. It reportedly conforms easily to channels or grooves, and seals out a wide array of environmental contaminants. The gasketing material reduces noise, vibration, and harshness for various automotive applications such as wiper motors, connector seals, and timing belt covers.

Loctite Corp.,

Enter 664

Chain material

HP(TM) (High Performance) material has been reformulated to yield greater chain benefits. Properties include: lower sliding friction, reduced wear, reduced backline pressure, increased production speeds, and lower power requirements. The primary application for this material is conveying lines.

Rexnord Corp.,

Enter 665


TRA-BOND 224-8 is a structural epoxy that is said to reach a complete cure at room temperature in only four hours. It is electrically insulating, thermally conductive, and is available in custom bipaxs for convenience. Suitable for staking applications, this product is also available in pre-mixed and frozen syringes.

Tra-Con Inc.,

Enter 666