October 10, 2017 Volume 13 Issue 38

Electrical/Electronic News & Products

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Cool Tools: Wireless pocket oscilloscope

Saelig has introduced the IkaScope WS200, a pen-shaped battery-powered wireless oscilloscope that streams captured signals to almost any Wi-Fi-connected screen. This tool offers a 30-MHz bandwidth with its 200-MSa/s sampling rate, and the maximum input is +/-40 Vpp. It provides galvanically isolated measurements even when a USB connection is charging the internal battery. The IkaScope WS200 will work on desktop computers (Windows, Mac, and Linux) as well as on mobile devices like tablets or smartphones (iOS and Android Q4 2017). Application software can be downloaded for whichever platform is needed.
Click here to learn more.


Multi-axis robotic controller

Aerotech’s HEX RC is a 6-axis motion controller ideal for controlling robotic systems like hexapods. It is 4U rack-mountable and compatible with the Automation 3200 (A3200) motion platform. A high-performance processor provides the intense computing power needed to run up to 32 axes, perform complex, synchronized motion trajectories, manipulate I/O, and collect data at high speeds. This unit features 6 axes of drives capable of controlling any combination of brush, brushless, or stepper motors (both current loop and servo loop closures). An optional 6-axis jog pendant permits easy, manual control of the positioning system.
Click here to learn more.


Using natural refrigerants in cooling system design

The use of natural refrigerants is on the rise, creating a new set of challenges for cooling system design. You can optimize safety and efficiency by understanding the implications of the trend on component design and selection. This new white paper from Sensata Technologies provides an overview of methods used to mitigate these technical challenges as well as a look at some of the HVAC and refrigeration hardware and safety technologies required, especially pressure switches and pressure sensors.
Read the white paper (no registration required).


Compact touchless position sensors

TFD Series touchless linear position sensors from Novotechnik provide wear-free operation in tight spaces for measurement of short stroke lengths. They use a magnetic position marker to provide a touchless measurement range of 0 to 14, 24, or 50 mm (depending on model). These sensors make measurements through air and non-magnetic materials. Applications include textile machinery, packaging machinery, sheet metal machinery, medical applications, marine, mobile engine management systems, industrial trucks, construction machinery, and agricultural and forestry machinery.
Click here to learn more.


Connectors: High-current DC power in compact design

Amphenol Industrial Products Group now offers a versatile connection system that distributes high-current DC power in a compact design. Designed to connect wire to wire, wire to board, and busbar terminations, the Amphe-PD series distributes higher currents with less heat than similar-sized connectors on the market. Ideal for use in datacenter equipment, robotics, and industrial automation, the Amphe-PD series connectors offer wire terminations ranging from 12 AWG to 4 AWG.
Click here to learn more.


Cool Tools: Wireless digital micrometer

The new 40 EWRi is the latest addition to Mahr's Integrated wireless family of products, including digital calipers, indicators, and depth gages, which allow users to measure faster, more easily, and more reliably. Measurement data is transferred to an i-Stick on a computer without any interfering data cables, and MarCom software makes data acquisition simple: Just take a measurement and transmit measuring data directly into MS Excel or via a keyboard code into any Windows program or existing SPC application.
Click here to learn more.


EMI shielding gaskets offered in many materials

Tech-Etch offers EMI shielding D-Connector gaskets in a wide variety of materials. Five standard sizes of 9-, 15-, 25-, 37-, and 50-pin configurations are available in Stainless Steel; Beryllium Copper; X-, Y-, Z-axis Conductive Foam; and Metalized Fabric consisting of a metalized fabric over a polyurethane foam core. Additionally, four conductive elastomers fill out the D-Connector product line: Series 1000 Supershield silicone elastomer filled with conductive metal particles; Series 4000 Multishield composite material environmental seal; Series 5000 Monoshield for applications where the gasket is limited to 0.02-in. thickness and gap irregularities do not exceed 0.003 in.; and Series 5500 Weaveshield composite (woven aluminum wire screen impregnated with either a neoprene or silicone elastomer), and EMI shielding and pressure seal gasket material used for very small gaps. Custom gaskets can be manufactured.
Click here to learn more.


Wi-Fi high-temp air flow monitor for hazardous environments

Wind Probe LLC has introduced a high-temp air flow monitor Wi-Fi instrument for large- and small-size ovens. This instrument combines the latest advances in materials, process control, and microprocessor technology and hardware and software design. The model 200 is small, lightweight, and suitable for harsh environments seen in high-temperature curing ovens. One of the most exciting markets includes air flow monitoring at 200 deg C in carbon composite honeycomb ovens. The software permits selecting data rates and running averaging in both temperature and air flow. The software is easily updated, and reference tables can be uploaded using the RS-232 communications interface.
Click here to learn more.


New Canfield Connector magnetic sensor adds reliability and safety to vehicles, machines, systems

The rugged Series CS Cylindrical Threaded Mount Sensor from Canfield Connector senses magnetism and triggers action in a variety of applications. The sensor’s first field application equips a cement truck, where it picks up a signal from a magnet mounted to the mixing drum and controls how much the drum rotates. In an industrial automation setting, the sensor can detect the closure of a door and allow a machine to run, enhancing safety. The CS Sensor can also react to magnetism that identifies changes in liquid levels or positions of parts in a wide range of vehicles, machines, and systems.
Click here to learn more.


Industrial cybersecurity for small and medium-size businesses

The International Society of Automation, at the request of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has developed a white paper designed to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) recognize their vulnerability to industrial cyberattack and forge an effective cybersecurity plan based on established standards and practices. “Industrial Cybersecurity for Small and Medium Sized Businesses: A Practical Guide” leverages ISA’s in-depth knowledge of industrial automation and control systems (IACS) and subject-matter expertise in industrial cybersecurity.
Get this valuable resource.


SNAP-TOP fasteners hold printed circuit boards securely without mating screws

New PEM SMTSS ReelFast SNAP-TOP standoff fasteners from Penn-Engineering hold printed circuit boards securely in assemblies without requiring mating screws or other loose threaded hardware to complete attachment. These unthreaded standoffs promote streamlined production by easily installing in boards in the same manner and at the same time as other surface-mount components prior to the automated reflow solder process. They ultimately enable precise and reliable mounting and spacing of boards using less hardware and fewer operations.
Click here to learn more.


FUTEK mini load cells take on Shark Week

On the Discovery Channel’s special “Shark School with Michael Phelps” last week, the team engineers at Peacock Productions used three FUTEK Donut/Through Hole load cells as well as FUTEK instrumentation to test a great white shark’s bite force. The three LTH500 Donut/Through Hole Load Cells were placed in a special mold that mimicked the shark's prey. By combining the IHH500 Digital Hand Held Display and IAC200 4 Channel Summing Junction Box with the load cell setup, the production team was able to accurately measure the force of the great white shark's bite, which registered at 10,000 Newtons -- equivalent to a car crashing into a wall at 100 mph! The force reading was unprecedented; it was the first shark bite to register above 6,000 Newtons.
Check out the FUTEK setup for the Discovery Channel's "Shark School."
Watch the Discovery Channel's bite tester in action.


Everything you wanted to know about heatsinks

How well a heatsink performs depends on particular aspects of its design, such as the thermal conductivity of the material it's made of, its overall dimensions, fin type used, airflow rate, and system. A theoretical model can be used to predict performance, or it can be measured experimentally. But because of the complex 3D nature of today’s electronic systems, engineers often use the numerical method via computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to determine the thermal performance of a heatsink before prototyping. This informative blog post from Mentor features two on-demand webinars to run through the basics of heatsink design and considerations.
Read the Mentor blog on heatsink design.


Mike Likes: Unit Conversion Tool

Convert popular spring units such as force or retaining ring thrust capacities into metric units with Smalley’s engineering tools. Convert units such as mass and weight, angular measurements, velocities, temperatures, pressures and densities, and more.
Click here to learn more. You should bookmark this one.


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.


Can we bypass the limits of Moore's Law? Fast-moving magnetic particles could enable new form of data storage

By David Chandler, MIT

New research has shown that an exotic kind of magnetic behavior discovered just a few years ago holds great promise as a way of storing data -- one that could overcome fundamental limits that might otherwise be signaling the end of "Moore's Law," which describes the ongoing improvements in computation and data storage over recent decades.

Rather than reading and writing data one bit at a time by changing the orientation of magnetized particles on a surface, as today's magnetic disks do, the new system would make use of tiny disturbances in magnetic orientation, which have been dubbed "skyrmions." These virtual particles, which occur on a thin metallic film sandwiched against a film of different metal, can be manipulated and controlled using electric fields, and can store data for long periods without the need for further energy input.

In 2016, a team led by MIT associate professor of materials science and engineering Geoffrey Beach documented the existence of skyrmions, but the particles' locations on a surface were entirely random. Now, Beach has collaborated with others to demonstrate experimentally for the first time that they can create these particles at will in specific locations, which is the next key requirement for using them in a data storage system. An efficient system for reading that data will also be needed to create a commercializable system.

The new findings were reported recently in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, in a paper by Beach, MIT postdoc Felix Buettner, graduate student Ivan Lemesh, and 10 others at MIT and in Germany.

One of the biggest missing pieces needed to make skyrmions a practical data-storage medium was a reliable way to create them when and where they were needed. [Illustration by Moritz Eisebitt]

 

 

The system focuses on the boundary region between atoms whose magnetic poles are pointing in one direction and those with poles pointing the other way. This boundary region can move back and forth within the magnetic material, Beach says. What he and his team found four years ago was that these boundary regions could be controlled by placing a second sheet of nonmagnetic heavy metal very close to the magnetic layer. The nonmagnetic layer can then influence the magnetic one, with electric fields in the nonmagnetic layer pushing around the magnetic domains in the magnetic layer. Skyrmions are little swirls of magnetic orientation within these layers, Beach adds.

The key to being able to create skyrmions at will in particular locations, it turns out, lay in material defects. By introducing a particular kind of defect in the magnetic layer, the skyrmions become pinned to specific locations on the surface, the team found. Those surfaces with intentional defects can then be used as a controllable writing surface for data encoded in the skyrmions. The team realized that instead of being a problem, the defects in the material could actually be beneficial.

"One of the biggest missing pieces" needed to make skyrmions a practical data-storage medium, Beach says, was a reliable way to create them when and where they were needed. "So this is a significant breakthrough," he explains, thanks to work by Buettner and Lemesh, the paper's lead authors. "What they discovered was a very fast and efficient way to write" such formations.

Because the skyrmions, basically little eddies of magnetism, are incredibly stable to external perturbations, unlike the individual magnetic poles in a conventional magnetic storage device, data can be stored using only a tiny area of the magnetic surface -- perhaps just a few atoms across. That means that vastly more data could be written onto a surface of a given size. That's an important quality, Beach explains, because conventional magnetic systems are now reaching limits set by the basic physics of their materials, potentially bringing to a halt the steady improvement of storage capacities that are the basis for Moore's Law. The new system, once perfected, could provide a way to continue that progress toward ever-denser data storage, he says.

The system also potentially could encode data at very high speeds, making it efficient not only as a substitute for magnetic media such as hard disks, but even for the much faster memory systems used in Random Access Memory (RAM) for computation.

But what is still lacking is an effective way to read out the data once it has been stored. This can be done now using sophisticated X-ray magnetic spectroscopy, but that requires equipment too complex and expensive to be part of a practical computer memory system. The researchers plan to explore better ways of getting the information back out, which could be practical to manufacture at scale.

The X-ray spectrograph is "like a microscope without lenses," Buettner explains, so the image is reconstructed mathematically from the collected data, rather than physically by bending light beams using lenses. Lenses for X-rays exist, but they are very complex, and cost $40,000 to $50,000 apiece, he says.

But an alternative way of reading the data may be possible, using an additional metal layer added to the other layers. By creating a particular texture on this added layer, it may be possible to detect differences in the layer's electrical resistance depending on whether a skyrmion is present or not in the adjacent layer. "There's no question it would work," Buettner says, it's just a matter of figuring out the needed engineering development. The team is pursuing this and other possible strategies to address the readout question.

The team also included researchers at the Max Born Institute and the Institute of Optics and Atomic Physics, both in Berlin; the Institute for Laser Technologies in Medicine and Metrology at the University of Ulm, in Germany; and the Deutches Elektroniken-Syncrotron (DESY), in Hamburg. The work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and the German Science Foundation.

Published October 2017

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