Engineer's Toolbox: How to choose the right relay
Relays come in a variety of form factors, styles, and technologies. Depending on your application, only one relay type may be suitable. In other cases, multiple relay types may be appropriate. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the different relays, you should be able to pick the one that is best suited for the job at hand. National Instruments lays out the options.
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Cool Tools: New Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+
Fans of the extremely popular credit card-sized computer called Raspberry Pi have something new to celebrate. The line of highly customizable base units has expanded with the third-gen A+ board, which brings the latest features and capabilities to a more compact form factor and lower price point -- only 25 bucks (and we have seen this on sale for under 20)!
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Vandal-resistant sealed switches
C&K has just launched its ATP19 and ATP22 series anti-vandal sealed pushbutton switches. The new high-strength, lightweight switches are IP67/IK10 rated, ensuring their suitability for operation in harsh conditions and ability to withstand potential malicious damage. The switches are also corrosion resistant and offer the industry-standard ring-illuminated version in 19-mm and 22-mm diameters.
New inductive-technology position sensors
Novotechnik's TF1 Series touchless linear position sensors overcome issues with legacy magnetostrictive technology. They are unaffected by strong magnetic fields and metal flakes or filings present in a user's environment. The TF1 Series consists of an inductively coupled position marker attached to a moving rod/piece of the user's application that requires a position measurement and the sensor with operational and programming status LEDs. While operating, LEDs indicate whether the sensor is operating and the marker within measuring range or out of range, as well as indicating results of internal diagnostics for valid output from the sensor. Can also measure speed and temperature.
Sensor development kit for power-optimized IoT applications
The RSL10 Sensor Development Kit from ON Semiconductor is designed to provide engineering teams with a comprehensive platform for developing IoT applications with cutting-edge smart sensor technology, enabled by the industry's lowest power Bluetooth Low Energy radio. The kit brings together the highly integrated RSL10 System-in-Package (RSL10 SIP) with a range of advanced low-power sensors from Bosch Sensortec. The development platform provides nine degrees of freedom (DoF) detection and environmental monitoring, including ambient light, volatile organic compounds (VOC), pressure, relative humidity, and temperature. An ultra-low noise digital microphone is also included, along with a user-programmable RGB LED, three programmable push-button switches, and 64 kb of EEPROM. Using the RSL10 Sense and Control mobile application, developers can connect to the RSL10 Sensor Development Kit to monitor sensors and to evaluate the kit's features. The app also supports multiple commercial cloud platforms for uploading sensor data.
EC fans offer spark-proof IP68-ATEX protection for harsh AC applications
Orion Fans has expanded its family of Electronically Commutated (EC) fans to include spark-proof IP68-ATEX-rated versions for applications involving explosive atmospheres or flammable gases. Implementing IP68-ATEX fans into a design decreases the possibility of an explosion or fire. Available in a range of sizes including 60 mm, 120 mm, and 172 mm, the EC IP68-ATEX fans are ideal for a broad range of applications including appliances, commercial and process control, refrigeration, HVAC, electronic enclosures, and cabinets. By maintaining the same interface between the fan and equipment, EC fans can be used as drop-in replacements for equivalent-sized AC fans. The AC input fans utilize a brushless DC motor and incorporate voltage transformation within the motor for significantly lower power consumption. This equates to power savings of up to 50 percent.
Cable assemblies for demanding microwave and RF applications
Intelliconnect has expanded its cable assembly offering for high-frequency and mission-critical applications. Comprised of high-quality cables, connectors, and terminations, the highly reliable RF cable assembly product offering now includes Low Loss, Semi-Rigid, Semi-Flex, and Conformable versions. The microwave and RF cable assembly line is designed for a wide range of applications including marine, medical, mil/aero, microwave communications, oil and gas, rail traction, test and measurement, and more. Available in a variety of sizes and performance specs, these assemblies operate up to 70 GHz and beyond and can be armored internally or externally. Phase matching is also available. Assemblies can be specified as matched sets or built to a specified phase length.
How electronic flow sensors help spread road salt
Salt spreading trucks use a pre-wetting system when ice needs to be removed from roads and the temperatures are too low for direct salt spreading to work. The system sprays salt water onto the road salt as it is being spread to "jump start" the melting process. But how do you monitor the amount of pre-wet salt used?
Read this short, informative blog from Gems Sensors & Controls.
Bend the rules of lighting design: Cut and form LED sheets
VCC is bending the rules of lighting design with its new VentoFlex tiles. The VentoFlex modular lighting system opens up countless ways for architects and lighting designers to make an impact. Available in 12-in. x 12-in. sheets, these innovative LED tiles can be cut and formed around any design element, including rounded corners and tight spaces, without taking up much room at all -- just 0.15 in. (3.81 mm). A pair of scissors is the only tool required to cut VentoFlex tiles to the size and shape you desire. Ten or 15 tiles can be linked together to one driver and dimmer to create thousands of square inches of versatile lighting power!
Learn more about this new and exciting lighting technology.
Slip rings improve Ethernet transmission
The Kuebler Group offers contact and contactless slip rings for reliable Ethernet transmission, achieving higher data rates and greater cycle synchronicity in demanding industrial environments. Application examples include industrial automation, bottling plants, labeling machines, rotary tables, and other processes requiring high transmission rates. The standard Slip Ring SR120 features an innovative three-chamber system and shield to enable parallel, interference-free Ethernet transmission up to 100 Mbps. It boasts a long service life up to 500 million revolutions and a rugged, modular structure that can be expanded up to 20 channels. Another model, the Slip Ring SR160 with integrated Sendix Encoder, provides position information in addition to contactless Ethernet transmission -- either two channels at 100 Mbps multiplexed or one channel at 1 Gbps.
How to convert from hydraulic to electric high-force linear actuators
Machine designers are converting existing linear motion systems from hydraulic to electric due to the technology's many benefits, but the process involves considering the actual force output of the cylinder, the duty cycle, and the motion profile. Specialists at Tolomatic tackle these points. Includes a very informative video.
Read the Tolomatic blog.
Integrate Alexa and more into your product or project
The MATRIX Voice Development Kit from MATRIX Labs aims to lower the barriers to entry for the creation and deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) voice applications. This platform enables users to develop voice recognition and detection projects that utilize Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa -- or any other voice recognition API. This open-source platform for the Raspberry Pi consists of a 3.14-in.-diameter development board, a radial array of 7 MEMS microphones, a Xilinx Spartan6 FPGA with 64 Mbit SDRAM, 18 RGBW LEDs, and 64 GPIO pins. It can also be used as a standalone device with the ESP32. Available from Newark element14.
Learn more from MATRIX Labs.
See purchase options from Newark element14.
Cool Tools: New Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+
Newark element14 is now shipping the new Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+ for same-day dispatch. Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+ delivers the enhanced thermal performance and ease of use of Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ in a smaller form factor, with a choice of memory variants suitable for a broad range of embedded applications including IoT devices and industrial automation, monitoring, and control systems. Compute Module 3+ simplifies the design process engineers need to undertake when developing a System on Module (SoM) solution into their final product. Engineers do not need to concern themselves with the complexities of interfacing with the BCM2837B0 processer directly and instead can concentrate on designing the interfaces to their own IO board and their application software -- simplicity that fosters rapid development.
360-degree static eliminator is CE, UL, and RoHS certified
EXAIR's new Gen4 Super Ion Air Wipe provides a uniform 360-degree ionized airstream that clamps around a continuously moving part to eliminate static electricity and contaminants. It is ideal for removing dust, particulates, and personnel shocks on pipe, cable, extruded shapes, hose, wire, and more. This engineered product has undergone independent lab tests to certify it meets the rigorous safety, health, and environmental standards to attain the CE and UL marks. It is also RoHS compliant. New design features include a metal armored high-voltage cable to protect against abrasion and cuts, a replaceable emitter point, integrated ground connection, and electromagnetic shielding.
20-in. automotive touchscreens enabled by new controllers
With cars like the Tesla Model S featuring 17-in. touchscreens, the trend in automotive displays is to go bigger and bigger. But unlike handheld mobile devices, screens in automobiles need to meet stringent head impact and vibration tests, so they have thicker cover lenses that potentially affect the touch interface performance. As screens get larger, they are also more likely to interfere with other frequencies and car access systems. These factors pose a major challenge in the design of modern automotive capacitive touch systems, but a new family of single-chip maXTouch touchscreen controllers from Microchip Technology was designed to address these issues.
Army scientists aim to revolutionize cybersecurity through quantum research
Scientists at the RDECOM Research Laboratory, the Army's corporate research laboratory (ARL), have found a novel way to safeguard quantum information during transmission, opening the door for more secure and reliable communication for warfighters on the battlefield.
Recent advancements of cutting-edge technologies in lasers and nanophysics, quantum optics, and photonics have given researchers the necessary tools to control and manipulate miniature quantum systems, such as individual atoms or photons -- the smallest particles of light.
Drs. Brian Kirby (left), Daniel Jones (center), and Michael Brodsky (right) pose near the Quantum Networking Testbed at the RDECOM Research Laboratory, the Army's corporate research laboratory (ARL), in Adelphi, MD. [U.S. Army photo by Jhi Scott]
These developments have given rise to a new area of science -- Quantum Information Science, or QIS -- that studies information encoded in quantum systems and encompasses quantum computing, quantum communication, and quantum sensing, among other subfields.
Quantum Information Science is believed to have the potential to shape the way information is processed in the future.
The laboratory invests in QIS research to guarantee continuous technological superiority in this rapidly developing field, which in turn will bring about multiple new technologies in computation, encryption, secure communication, and precise measurements.
However, to utilize quantum information, scientists need to figure out robust ways to process and transmit it, a task being tackled by Drs. Daniel Jones, Brian Kirby, and Michael Brodsky from the laboratory's Computational and Information Sciences Directorate.
"In our classical world, information is often corrupted during manipulation and transmission -- everyone is familiar with noisy cell phone connections in poor reception areas," Brodsky said. "Communication engineers have been working on a variety of techniques to filter out the noise."
In classical communications, the filtering is rather straightforward as it is done locally, that is, in the very place the information is received, such as directly in your phone or internet router.
In the quantum world, things become much more intricate.
The lab's research team has been looking into ways of filtering noise from little bits of quantum information -- quantum bits or qubits sent across fiber-optic telecom links.
They discovered that the filtering does not necessarily need to be done by the receiving party.
"The nature of the quantum states in which the information is encoded is such that the filtering could be more easily done at a different location in the network," Kirby said.
That's right, to fix a qubit sent over a certain route, one could actually apply a filter to other qubits that traverse a different route.
Over the last year, the researchers have been looking into the problem of transmission of entangled pairs of photons over optical fibers.
"We started with developing an understanding of how physical properties of real telecom fibers, such as inherent residual birefringence and polarization dependent loss, or PDL, affect the quality of quantum communications," Jones said. "We exploited a novel mathematical approach, which has led to the development of a simple and elegant geometrical model of the PDL effects on polarization entanglement," Kirby added.
The developed model predicts both the quality of transmitted quantum states as well as the rate at which quantum information could be transmitted.
Furthermore, the lab's team invented a new technique that helps reduce the deleterious effects of the noise.
The developed models were experimentally validated using the recently built Quantum Networking Testbed at the lab, which simulates the practical telecom fiber infrastructure.
"We believe that this research has a potential to revolutionize cybersecurity and to enable secure secret sharing and authentication for the warfighter of the future," Brodsky said. "In addition, it will have an impact on developing better sensors for position navigation and timing as well as quantum computers that might result in the synthesis of novel special materials with on-demand properties."
According to the researchers, in order to make quantum technology a reality, a large-scale field-deployed testbed must be built, thus guiding the development of both quantum hardware and software.
A journal paper documenting the research, titled "Tuning quantum channels to maximize polarization entanglement for telecom photon pairs," is featured in the prestigious Nature Partner Journal Quantum Information.
Source: U.S. Army
Published December 2018
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