June 13, 2017 Volume 13 Issue 22

Electrical/Electronic News & Products

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Mike Likes: TI doubles power density with motor control

Texas Instruments recently introduced two new device families that help reduce size and weight in motor drive applications. When used together, the brushless DC (BLDC) gate drivers and power blocks require half the board space of competing solutions. An 18-V compact BLDC motor reference design demonstrates how these components can drive 11 W/cm3 power and enable engineers to jump start their designs for smaller, lighter weight power tools, integrated motor modules, drones, and more.
Read the full article.


Cool Tools: Laser scanner for reverse engineering

The new FARO Laser Tracker Vantage product family sets a new price/ performance standard for addressing challenges in large-scale metrology such as assembly alignment, part and assembly inspection, machine installation and alignment, and reverse engineering. Two high-performance Vantage models are available: E model (operating range to 25 m) and S model (operating range to 80 m). Both compact units offer industry-leading portability with an integrated master control unit (MCU), hot swappable batteries that eliminate the need for AC power and cabling, and industrial-grade Wi-Fi. A single carrying case makes for easy transport.
Click here to learn more.


Specifying intrinsically safe remote monitoring sensor systems for hazardous environments

Josh Schadel from SignalFire Telemetry lays out the plan for how to specify remote monitoring sensor systems for hazardous environs such as a tank- or well-level monitoring application that involves the storage of dangerous or volatile materials. Intrinsically safe (IS) equipment is designed so that energy levels are low enough not to generate an arc, spark, or temperature that could ignite an explosive area. IS equipment differs from explosion-proof (XP) systems where ignition is contained within an enclosure so as not to ignite the explosive environment.
Read Schadel's informative blog post.


Passive component design kit for IoT

The new Passive Components for the Internet of Things Design Kit (Part No. KIT-IOT) from AVX allows engineers to quickly identify effective solutions for IoT devices with widely varying requirements for power, data-processing speed, form factor, and price. The kit contains RF microwave components (capacitors, inductors, circuit protection, and SAW filters), input voltage filtering and decoupling devices, and high-precision crystal products to address a wide span of IoT applications including: wearable devices, smart-home applications, medical electronics, industrial automation tasks, connected cars, and traffic control.
Click here to learn more.


Cool Tools: New Fluke motor diagnostics tool incorporates machine learning

Fluke and Veros Systems have collaborated on asset performance and condition monitoring technologies to increase visibility into the efficiency and reliability of electric motor-driven machines. The Fluke 438-II Power Quality and Motor Analyzer is the first tool to result from that partnership. It analyzes three-phase power-quality measurements and uses an innovative method developed by Veros to calculate motor output torque, speed, horsepower, and efficiency. Using this information, engineers and technicians can evaluate system performance and detect overload conditions while the motor is operational, without the use of any mechanical sensing devices such as tachometers, strain gauges, or other intrusive sensors.
Click here to learn more.


Light pipes used in jetpack controls

Here's a neat application for you: LPC rigid light pipes from VCC were used in an advanced jetpack pilot warning display. Light pipes (light guides) transmit light from an LED mounted on a PCB board to the user interface to communicate vital information. The light pipes offer design flexibility, easy installation, and multiple LED packaging options. The LPC rigid light pipe was selected due to its rugged material, easy assembly, superb daylight visibility, and wide 160-deg viewing angle.
Read the VCC case study here.
Check out VCC's full line of light pipes, indicators, displays, and LEDs.


Wireless and batteryless pull-wire switches

Wireless pull-wire switches from Steute Industrial Controls feature an internal electrodynamic energy generator. No battery required! Displacement of the actuator generates power to send a unique, coded telegram to one or more compatible, easily programmed receivers. If the pull-wire switch does not receive a signal that the telegram was received by the receiver within 15 ms, it transmits a second telegram. Transmits at 915 MHz. Maximum nominal transmission range: 164 ft (50 m) indoors, 2,300 ft (700 m) outdoors. Check out the full range of clever wireless switches from Steute.
Click here to learn more.


Infrared LED optimizes license plate recognition and more

Osram Opto Semi-conductors is expanding its family of high-power infrared Oslon LEDs for illumination solutions to include a new wavelength, 810 nm. The new SFH 4703AS infrared emitter will improve the performance of inspection and scanning camera systems, such as those used to read license plates. The additional wavelength enhances image contrast, making it easier to read patterns from recorded images at any time of day. At 1 amp current, the emitter generates 1 W of optical power. With this new device, designers can now choose from mutually compatible emitters in three different wavelengths.
Click here to learn more.


Automation: Robotic joint control how-to

Versatile and adaptive robotic armatures have the benefit of increasing manufacturing productivity by automating and performing complex, repetitive tasks 24/7. Designed to obey commands or to work in unison as cooperative robots (cobot/co-robot), these robots greatly simplify the design of automation systems. To further improve performance, reaction torque sensors are placed in-line with the drive motors inside each joint, allowing development of closed loop control laws to ensure smooth, repeatable, and efficient arm motion.
Learn about precision torque feedback for robotic arms and co-robots.


Tiniest load cell yet!

The LLB130 Miniature Load Button from FUTEK has a capacity range from 1,000 g to 50 lb and is RoHS compliant. All capacities are in stock and ready to ship. This mini load cell features low deflection and fast response time, and it is fully internally temperature compensated.
Click here to learn more.


New super-accurate magnetic scales equal the quality of optical scales

BOGEN has introduced a more compact version of its magnetic measuring head IKS9. In addition to an 11-mm-wide body, IKS9 is now available in a 9-mm width to be used in the most confined spaces, providing the highest accuracy for magnetic measurements with freely selectable resolutions. The IKS9 impresses customers in automation, instrumentation, and motion control applications with its extremely high accuracy and a particularly high degree of modularity. Distributed in the USA by Electromate.
Click here to learn more.


Mike Likes: Latest thermal imaging for smartphones, tablets

The third-generation FLIR ONE provides a powerful, introductory-level thermal camera that attaches to iOS or Android devices. Featuring the new OneFit adjustable-height connector, including a USB-C version for Android, the latest FLIR ONE easily attaches to more smartphones without needing to remove your phone case. As the most affordable FLIR ONE to date at $199.99, this unit is the perfect camera to introduce people to the benefits of thermal imaging. Also comes in a PRO version for $399.99. Available the first half of 2017.
Click here to learn more.


Carbon-composition resistors for non-inductive pulse handling

The RC Series of carbon composition axial leaded resistors from Stackpole is an outstanding choice for high-speed or high-energy pulse handling requirements. The large mass of the carbon resistive element efficiently dissipates high-energy surge events, while the almost negligible inductance allows for higher switching speeds than comparable wirewound resistors. Carbon Comp remains a favorite choice for switch mode power supplies as well as many other snubber and energy-dumping applications. It is also a popular choice for surge withstanding in meters and data collection devices as well as a variety of lighting products. Available in 1/4-W and 1/2-W sizes in resistance values from 1 ohm up to 22 Meg ohm. Standard tolerances are 5 and 10 percent.
Click here to learn more.


Power converter for industrial, smart grid, e-mobile applications

Siemens has a new addition to its popular Sinamics DCP product family of scalable (4X), bi-directional DC-DC drives. The DCP 120 kW facilitates the integration of larger energy-storage systems such as batteries and supercapacitors into multi-generator applications for a wide variety of industrial, smart grid, marine, and e-mobile uses, including photovoltaics, fuel cells, wind power, and high-dynamic uses such as peak shaving. This new drive features combined buck/boost capability in a single device for optimized interconnection between DC sources and energy-storage devices plus the DC link for both motor inverter and infeed/grid inverter.
Click here to learn more.


Ultra-miniature in-line load cell

Introducing FUTEK's brand new in-line load cell: the LCM100 model. It’s an ultra-miniature threaded load cell that has a capacity range of 1,000 g to 25 lb. RoHS complaint, the load sensor is great for both tension and compression applications. The most impressive feature of the LCM100 is its very low deflection, which allows it to provide high response rates and superior settling times.
Check out this video!


'Expert in a suitcase' aims to cut power bills 10% in small commercial buildings

The Sensor Suitcase is licensed by two companies to make energy efficiency easier. [Credit: Andrea Starr/PNNL]

 

 

The knowledge and expertise of a seasoned energy-efficiency professional has been packed into a high-tech suitcase.

The Sensor Suitcase is a portable case that contains easy-to-use sensors and other equipment that make it possible for anyone to identify energy-saving opportunities in small commercial buildings. The automated and reusable system combines hardware and software in one package so its users can identify cost-effective measures that save small commercial buildings about 10 percent on their energy bills.

Jointly developed by two Department of Energy labs, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Sensor Suitcase has been licensed by two companies that plan to provide products or services based on the technology. The licensees are GreenPath Energy Solutions and Cultural Quotient.

"Most small commercial building owners believe it costs too much to make their facilities significantly more energy efficient," said scientist Michael Brambley, who led PNNL's development team. "But the Sensor Suitcase system can change that. It helps someone with minimal training collect and automatically process building data, which the system uses to generate specific recommendations to improve energy efficiency. The U.S. could reduce its national energy costs by about $5.1 billion if all small commercial buildings used this technology."

The Sensor Suitcase packs the knowledge of a seasoned energy-efficiency professional into a high-tech suitcase, which contains easy-to-use sensors and other equipment that make it possible for nearly anyone to identify energy-saving opportunities in small commercial buildings. PNNL research associate Eric Gonzalez is shown here using a tablet computer to program the Sensor Suitcase's sensors. [Credit: Andrea Starr/PNNL]

 

 

 

 

Implementing energy-efficiency measures in small commercial buildings has been notoriously difficult, said mechanical engineer Jessica Granderson, who led Berkeley Lab's development team.

"The real innovation is in the streamlining," said Granderson, who is also a deputy director of Berkeley Lab's Building Technology and Urban Systems Division. "It's kind of like the 'for dummies' version of how to identify improvements in your building. Instead of hiring a professional engineer to conduct a full energy evaluation, you could get just about anyone to do it."

The Sensor Suitcase is designed to reduce energy use in existing buildings by finding ways to improve the way they operate, a practice energy-efficiency professionals call "retro-commissioning." Large commercial buildings often have the resources needed for retro-commissioning, while smaller buildings with 50,000 sq ft or less don't. PNNL and Berkeley Lab developed the Sensor Suitcase to overcome that hurdle.

How it works
Inside the suitcase sit 16 pocket-sized sensors that can measure three things: temperature, whether lights are on or off, and how a heating and cooling system is operating. Users follow clear instructions from the Sensor Suitcase's operations software, which runs on a separate tablet, to install sensors inside a building.

About a month later, users gather the sensors and return them to the suitcase, which users then connect to a personal computer so they can transfer the collected energy data. The system's unique analytical software is used to automatically crunch the sensor data, eliminating the need to hire a professional to manually plot, inspect, and interpret data.

PNNL research associate Eric Gonzalez is shown placing sensors from the Sensor Suitcase near a thermostat and lights in an office building. [Credit: Andrea Starr/PNNL]

 

 

 

 

The final result is a report that identifies problems (such as excessive lighting), recommends low- and no-cost ways to fix problems (such as installing occupancy sensors that turn lights on only when a room is being used), and provides estimated cost savings for addressing each problem.

Improvements
The Sensor Suitcase system focuses on eight of the most common and cost-effective areas to improve energy efficiency in small commercial buildings. As a result, it can help building owners save about two-thirds of the energy that can be saved with the traditional approach to retro-commissioning, which requires the hands-on labor of several energy-efficiency professionals, who are often engineers. Conducting a traditional retro-commissioning assessment takes six months or longer, while doing the same assessment with a Sensor Suitcase takes four to six weeks and costs about a third of traditional retro-commissioning services.

Small building owners can buy and use the Sensor Suitcase themselves, but it will likely be more practical for them to hire an outside company that provides services based on the technology. Additionally, utilities could lend the technology to commercial building-owning customers or otherwise encourage its use. Though the Sensor Suitcase is intended for small commercial buildings, it could also be used to supplement energy retrofits at large commercial buildings.

Heading to market
GreenPath Energy Solutions of Orlando, FL, a provider of energy-efficient building solutions, will offer both a product and services with the Sensor Suitcase technology. The company helps facility managers and building owners control their operational, energy, and facility costs by providing energy auditing, retro-commissioning, and software solutions. GreenPath plans to market its product and services to federal, state, and local governments through its GSA Schedule contract with the General Services Administration.

Cultural Quotient of Arlington, VA, will also offer a product based on the technology. The company will make and sell its product as a partner with the manufacturing firm Zepher, Inc., of Bingen, WA. CQ Corporation is also partnered with the Chicago-based nonprofit Invent2026 to sell CQ's Sensor Suitcase-based product to local and state government entities in the Midwest, as many small businesses lease or occupy local government-owned buildings.

Both licenses are non-exclusive, meaning the Sensor Suitcase technology is also available for other companies to license. Those interested in learning more about a license can contact Jenn Lee at PNNL (Jennifer.Lee@pnnl.gov).

PNNL and Berkeley Lab jointly developed the Sensor Suitcase concept, with PNNL focusing on the technology's hardware and tablet software and Berkeley Lab focusing on its analytics software. DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory helped create the technology's sensors for its second prototype. The technology's development was supported by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Source: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Published June 2017

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