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July 2012

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on the cover 4 When components need to keep their cool 6 Antenna simplifies LTE indoor coverage 12

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March 2012 Total CAB Audited Circulation (Aust + NZ) 5,989 (90% personally requested) Printed and bound by Pegasus +61 2 8822 0716 Print Post Approved PP247345/00005 ISSN No. 0728-3873 All material published in this magazine is published in good faith and every care is taken to accurately relay information provided to us. Readers are advised by the publishers to ensure that all necessary safety devices and precautions are installed and safe working procedures adopted before the use of any equipment found or purchased through the information we provide. Further, all performance criteria was provided by the representative company concerned and any dispute should be referred to them. Information indicating that products are made in Australia or New Zealand is supplied by the source company. Westwick-Farrow Pty Ltd does not quantify the amount of local content or the accuracy of the statement made by the source.

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on the cover

Specifying and buying a bench power supply Having problems deciding which DC bench power supply you need? Are you confused with the vast number of power supplies available in the market? It’s important to recognise that all power supplies are not created equal and price alone is not the best way to select a power supply. For any application, it is essential that a power supply provide clean and stable DC power. It is also important that it is affordable, easy to use and will not damage the device under test (DUT). Consider the DUTs that need to be tested. How much power is required? Will the DUTs need maximum power at one specific point? Does maximum power need to be supplied at various voltage and current configurations? What is the range of power that you want to supply? For instance, a range of 30 to 200 W can be supplied by Agilent E3600 series bench power supplies. Multiple outputs are vital when a supply is used to test multiple devices simultaneously. When choosing a multiple output power supply, consider if the outputs need to be isolated from one another. Also consider the supply’s tracking capabilities. Another point to consider is the type of load that the supply needs to power: resistive, inductive or capacitive. This is because the nature and behaviour of the load inherently affects the voltage programming response time. Once the amount and type of power have been established, the features and specifications of these supplies need to be considered. One of the first misconceptions people have is that any number which appears on a data sheet is a guaranteed specification. However, there are, in fact, two different types of specifications: guaranteed and typical. A guaranteed, or warranted, specification is determined by the manufacturer through complete error analysis and by accounting for all the sources of uncertainty that can affect performance of the product. Such a specification is also referred to as a worst-case specification. In other words, even with the combination of worst-case parameters expected to occur, the measurement still remains within the specification. A typical specification is an average or normal value of the product’s capability. A typical specification is usually based on test results from a predetermined set of measurements taken from a number of product units. In reality, it is acceptable to have the measurement value vary above or below the stated typical specification; however, a product is considered to have failed once its measurement value is above the stated guaranteed specifications.

4 What's New in Electronics - July 2012

When dealing with power, safety comes first. It is important that a power supply not only protects itself but also protects the DUT. Protection circuits in the supply can limit the voltage or current to a preset level or shut down the power supply when an overvoltage or overcurrent condition occurs. Some power supplies also have a down programmer circuit to quickly discharge the DUT while some, on receiving a fault trigger, can open a relay and isolate the DUT from the power source. For instance, the Agilent E3600 Series power supplies offer a host of protection features, including overvoltage, overcurrent and current limit protection. Power supplies are available in various sizes and weights. Higher power usually means more space, AC power and cooling. DC power supplies are in either linear or switch mode. Linear power supplies have the advantages of low output noise, fast transient response and high programming speed. Their disadvantages are low efficiency, more cooling required, higher level of low frequency magnetic radiation that causes flicker in CRTs and larger in size. Switch mode power supplies offer benefits like smaller in size, high efficiency and less cooling. However, some switch mode power supply products have drawbacks like slower transient response, higher output noise, slower programming speed and availability at 150 W and above. Ultimately, the goal is to select a supply that can provide clean power day in and day out, while being able to protect itself and the DUT. element14 au.element14.com

Agilent Technologies www.agilent.com

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Test & measure

When components need to keep their cool Many functional and reliability tests performed on electronic or passive devices require thermal cycling. It usually involves the rapid and repeated heating and cooling of the device under test (DUT). Gino DiBartolomeo - CEO, Environmental Stress Systems, Inc

Heating is a simple and straightforward process that involves passing an electric current through a resistive device. The heat that is produced is then applied to the DUT by convection or conduction. Cooling the DUT, though more difficult than heating, can be accomplished by several different methods. To cool a device, some form of heat removal is necessary and there are many different ways of accomplishing this. This article looks at some of these various methods. The simplest way to cool the DUT is to use expendable refrigerants such as liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide. Expendable refrigerants remove heat from the device by absorbing it and then they are exhausted into the atmosphere. These refrigerants have three main advantages: • The equipment designed to use them usually has a lower initial cost due to a simpler design and fewer component parts. • The cooling rates can be very fast. However, faster cooling rates are not guaranteed because there are a several factors that determine just how quickly expendable refrigerants can cool a device. Some of these factors will be covered in another section. • Expendable refrigerants have the ability to remove large amounts of heat quickly. This is advantageous if the DUT dissipates a large amount of heat, the heat is concentrated or if shock (very rapid thermal change) testing is required. The disadvantages of expendable refrigerants are: • Over time, expendable refrigerants are expensive to use due to several factors. Since they are only used once and not recovered it is necessary to continually replenish the supply. Some companies claim that their expendable refrigerant budget can be several hundred thousand dollars a year. • Safety is also an issue. Expendable refrigerants are usually exhausted directly into the work area and this can result in elevated levels of carbon dioxide or nitrogen in the air. Proper ventilation and 6 What's New in Electronics - July 2012

air quality monitoring may be necessary to ensure worker safety. There are also the inherent dangers in handling cryogenic fluids and the associated heavy, bulky cylinders. • Delivery of an adequate supply of expendable refrigerant to the test area can also be expensive. Delivery is usually achieved by one of two methods. Bulk delivery systems use a large storage tank outside the building to hold a vast quantity of expendable refrigerant. The refrigerant is then distributed to the various test areas via an insulated delivery system. Another method is to use separate storage cylinders of refrigerant to supply each test site individually. The bulk method has a very high initial cost and is inflexible in its application. The main advantage is that it eliminates the trouble of filling and handling individual cylinders. Some companies claim that it can cost up to $500 per half metre to install the distribution lines in a bulk system. Since the distribution lines in a bulk system are hard plumbed, relocating a test site is not easy. The use of individual cylinders at each test site also has its disadvantages. The need to regularly refill and replace the cylinders is labour-intensive and can create health and safety problems. However, it is more www.electronicsonline.net.au


Test & measure

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pressure liquid carbon dioxide has an additional undesirable trait. It is supplied in high-pressure cylinders. Each cylinder is typically filled with 22 kg of liquid carbon dioxide. However, only about 16 kg can be drawn off as liquid and therefore be usable as a refrigerant. The remaining material exists only as a vapour and therefore has no value as a refrigerant. In fact, if the storage temperature of the high-pressure carbon dioxide cylinder is above 30°C, its critical point, it cannot exist as a liquid at all and “Expendable refrigerants are therefore is useless as a refrigerant. Considering that high-pressure liquid usually exhausted directly into the carbon dioxide has only about half the heat work area and this can result in removal capacity of low-pressure liquid carbon dioxide and that on average only elevated levels of carbon dioxide about 70% of the high-pressure liquid carbon or nitrogen in the air.” dioxide is usable, it is clear how inefficient this approach can be. When comparing the strengths and weaknesses of the different expendable refrigerants, it may at first appear that there is no best choice. However, there is one approach that makes the most efficient and cost-effective use of expendable refrigerant. It is a hybrid system that takes advantage of the best characteristics of the high- and low-pressure liquid carbon dioxide. This method combines the high heat removal capacity of the low-pressure liquid carbon dioxide with the economical storage and delivery characteristics of the high-pressure liquid carbon dioxide. The device that makes this possible is called a satellite condenser. This is a simple mechanical refrigeration and storage system that converts carbon dioxide vapour into liquid. It is usually close to the test site. The bulk liquid carbon dioxide is stored remotely and delivered as a room temperature vapour. The carbon dioxide vapour is distributed to the test site through noninsulated tubing. The carbon dioxide vapour is recondensed into liquid by the satellite condenser at the test site. Depending on its size, a satellite condenser can serve a single or several test sites. A properly installed unit can guarantee plenty of liquid carbon dioxide at the test site anytime it is needed. This type of installation yields four primary benefits: • Almost no refrigerant is lost maintaining storage temperature and distributing the refrigerant. • Inexpensive and flexible distribution lines can be used. This is because the refrigerant is in a relatively low-pressure vapour öm dstr state and can be distributed at room temperature. Lin us c r a • More of the refrigerant that is purchased is used. This is because /M m the satellite condenser recondenses the vapour into a liquid. As long as there is sufficient condensing vapour pressure delivered to the satellite condenser then liquid refrigerant will be produced. • A ready supply of liquid carbon dioxide is always available at the test site. If the condenser is properly installed then any vapour bubbles in the liquid carbon dioxide will rise up to the condenser and be recondensed into liquid. There is no waiting for the vapour to be purged from the supply line. But there is still a better way. Mechanical refrigeration is even better. It uses a vapour compressor and special refrigerant(s) in a closed loop system to cool the DUT. The refrigerant is used repeatedly. Expendable refrigerants such as liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide require a great deal of energy to produce in the first place. By adding to that the cost of storage, distribution and handling, it is easy to see why expendable refrigerants can be so costly to use. © iS toc kp ho to .co

flexible and has a lower initial cost than a bulk system. An additional disadvantage in the case of liquid nitrogen and low-pressure liquid carbon dioxide is that the refrigerant is continuously being used up in the process of keeping itself at storage temperature. An average of 3% a day can be lost in this process. This means that a full cylinder will be empty after a month of storage even if none of the refrigerant is used for thermal testing. By using high-pressure liquid carbon dioxide, losses can be reduced because it can be stored at room temperature with no losses. However, high-pressure liquid carbon dioxide has roughly half the potential heat removal capacity of low-pressure liquid carbon dioxide. So, depending on the test and delivery system, a lot more of the highpressure liquid carbon dioxide will probably be used to achieve the same results. Heat removal capacities of expendable refrigerants, in practice, are complex to estimate. In the case of liquid nitrogen and low-pressure liquid carbon dioxide, a lot of heat can be absorbed in the process of delivering the refrigerant to the test site. This effectively reduces the net heat removal capacity of the refrigerant. The amount of heat removal capacity reduction is directly related to how well the refrigerant lines are insulated and how consistently the refrigerant is being used. Liquid nitrogen has a much lower boiling point and under proper conditions can remove a lot more heat and produce much lower device temperatures than liquid carbon dioxide. Due to its low storage temperature, liquid carbon dioxide can absorb an enormous amount of heat in the process of being delivered to the test sight and therefore its higher BTU/pound capacity can be very installation dependent. It does not suffer as much as liquid nitrogen does to delivery conditions because is has a much higher storage temperature. High-pressure liquid carbon dioxide is stored at room temperature and low-pressure liquid carbon dioxide is stored at -17°C. When liquid carbon dioxide is used as a refrigerant it changes state from a liquid to a solid to a vapour. This phenomenon is known as sublimation. As the pressure drops, the liquid carbon dioxide can pass through a solid phase. Solid carbon dioxide is called dry ice. The dry ice phase of carbon dioxide is very difficult to manage and requires special expertise when using it as a refrigerant to prevent clogging of the evaporator. High-

July 2012 - What's New in Electronics

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Graph 3

Graph 1 Comparative costs of using LN2 vs MRTP over 1 year Four 1 hour soaks periods at -55 C with 125 watt load MRTP system can pay for itself after only 9 months

$18,000 $16,000

LN2

$14,000

MRTP

$12,000 costs

$10,000 $8,000 $6,000 $4,000 $2,000 $0 Jan

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Graph 2

Expendable refrigerants are commonly used because the initial system cost is usually lower. Often only the initial acquisition cost is considered rather than the total cost of operation. But probably more important is the fact that a lot of environmental stress screening equipment has been available for use only with expendable refrigerant. This is no longer the case. A growing awareness of the high costs involved when using expendable refrigerant has driven many companies to re-examine its use as the cooling medium for thermally cycling devices. When all the expenses involved in manufacturing a product are closely scrutinised, including items such as electricity consumption and expendable refrigerant usage, it becomes obvious that there is tremendous potential for savings in this area. If expenses such as power consumption and expendable refrigerant usage are merely considered as unavoidable operating costs or simply part of general overhead, then there is little incentive to initiate change. It has been said that the expertise required to build electronic components in general and high-frequency analog devices in particular is uniformly distributed among the companies that are involved in this endeavour. However, there is tremendous disparity in the approach and the efficiency of the functional test process. How efficiently the devices that are built are tested may to a great degree determine how competitive and profitable the final product is. It was this realisation by several product managers and the subsequent communication with the manufacturers of environmental stress screening equipment that has resulted in the development and manufacture of thermal cycling equipment that uses closed-loop mechanical refrigeration. Mechanical refrigeration has several advantages over expendable refrigerant as a means to cool electronic devices in thermal cycling. Probably the greatest single advantage of mechanical refrigeration is that it relies on a fixed quantity of refrigerant that is installed at the factory and never needs replenishment. 8 What's New in Electronics - July 2012

In many cases, this single feature allows a mechanical refrigeration system to pay for itself within the first year of operation. The complete storage and distribution system of expendable refrigerants is now eliminated. No more tanks, no more insulated distribution lines, no more bulky storage cylinders in the test area. There is no more need to connect, disconnect, transport or fill portable storage cylinders. There will be no more ice balls on the piping, dripping water and puddles on the floor. Because the mechanical refrigeration system only requires electricity to operate, the system can be rolled to anywhere in the facility that it is needed and plugged in to an AC outlet. Mechanically refrigerated systems require some rethinking though. The systems must be properly sized to the job they are expected to perform. With expendable refrigerants there is a virtually inexhaustible supply of available heat removal capacity. With mechanical refrigeration you essentially make what you need as you go along. Therefore, it is very important that the system is capable of supplying the necessary heat removal capacity, which can be determined by considering four factors: • The total amount of heat that is dissipated by the device that is being tested. • The lowest temperature that the device under test must be cooled to. • The rate of temperature change in degrees C per minute that will be required. • The total weight of the device and its primary construction material. With this information the mechanically refrigerated thermal cycling system can be properly sized to the application. By far the most compelling reason to consider mechanical refrigeration as the source of DUT cooling in a thermal cycling system is cost. In some cases, the cost savings returned by switching to mechanical refrigeration from expendable refrigerant can pay for the entire system in less than a year. The savings over 10 years can be massive. Environmental Stress Systems www.essproducts.com

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newproducts DMM remote monitoring A wireless connectivity solution that links up to three Agilent handheld digital multimeters to smartphones, tablets and PCs enables remote viewing and control from up to 10 m. It enhances convenience and safety for engineers and technicians when troubleshooting live machinery or working in hazardous conditions. The core of the system is the U1177A, a compact Bluetooth wireless adapter that plugs into any of the company’s 11 handheld DMMs. The solution includes two free mobile applications based on Google’s Android operating system - one for basic monitoring and another for data logging. The ‘mobile meter’ application enables real-time interaction with connected DMMs on the screen of an Android-based smartphone or tablet. The ‘mobile logger’ application simplifies data logging and remote monitoring. A free data-logging application that runs on Windows-based PCs is available through the Android market and the Agilent website. Agilent Technologies Australia Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q237

Pipeline inspection The Vivax VCam digital 60 m pipeline inspection system includes a transmitting sonde with 512 and 640 Hz, for cast iron piping, and 33 kHz, for deeper detection. The system is installed in a stainless steel, rugged housing for tough environments. The system is supplied with a keyboard to title up to 16 pages of text along with audio commentary. It also allows the user to upload to a PC via USB interface and make copies or capture images for reports. Features include a self levelling D33/ SL (41 mm diameter) camera and MPEG4 recording (up to 40 h) and playback on a built-in sound system.

Modular patch panel

TechRentals

The Belden MIPP is said to be the first modular industrial patch panel capable of combining copper and fibre management in one while offering space and cost savings. Designed for industrial use, it offers greater system reliability and ease of installation and provides a suitable connection between cables and ethernet switches. Using patchcords to connect to active equipment, cables can be terminated outside the cabinet in an organised and structured manner to ensure the highest level of reliability. The small housing, high port density and modularity keep cabinet space to a minimum.

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/N830

Madison Technologies Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q037

Flat panel computer GE Intelligent Platforms has released the Wolverine III rugged flat panel computer, designed to withstand harsh, hazardous applications such as oil and gas exploration and drilling where salt, spray, dust, shock, vibration and extremes of temperature are present. The resistive, 38 cm antiglare, scratch resistant touchscreen is readable even in direct sunlight and enables it to operate within a temperature range of -20 to 60°C, as standard, and to withstand extreme shock and vibration. The computing platform is a COM Express module and carrier board. At the heart of the module is a Core2 Duo 2.26 GHz processor with 4 GB of DDR3 memory. It also has a reduced component and subassembly count, together with edge connection and a 32 GB solid state disk drive. Metromatics Pty Ltd

Ethernet testing The LinkRunner AT network auto-tester is designed to troubleshoot or verify ethernet connectivity. With one touch of a button, it performs six connectivity tests and returns the results to the user in less than 10 s. It makes it possible for technicians at every skill level to automatically perform a standardised set of tests and reduce errors and speed problem resolution. The tests, which ensure ethernet connectivity, include continuity, link/speed/ duplex, DHCP and DNS server availability and performance, key resource connectivity through TCP port open or ping, nearest switch and port identification and power over ethernet performance (with TruePower line loading). The instrument features a full-colour VGA display and can store up to 50 results. It offers a profile that lets organisations create a custom testing methodology with a variety of tests, and standardises those tests as one or more profiles on a single tester (or fleet of testers) for more consistent results. Fluke Australia Pty Ltd

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/N984

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/N659

10 What's New in Electronics - July 2012

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newproducts Rugged RF cable An 18 GHz cable assembly has been added to the Gore Phaseflex microwave/ RF test assemblies range. The assembly is specifically engineered for high-throughput production test applications in the wireless infrastructure market. The connectors on these assemblies minimise failure by incorporating maximum strain relief at the point where the cable and connector meet. The assembly’s internally ruggedised construction is more durable, delivering crush resistance of 85 kg/cm. Available in 1.0 and 1.5 m lengths with both SMA and N-type male connectors, the cable is easier for the operator to use because it is smaller and lighter weight, and it can be connected and disconnected manually. The assemblies withstand 100,000 flexures at a minimum bend radius of 2.4 cm. WL Gore & Associates Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q014

Reduced height MOSFETs Diodes has launched a range of N- and P-channel MOSFETs in low-profile DFN2020-6 packages. With an offboard height of 0.4 mm and a footprint of 4 mm2, the DFN2020H4 packaged DMP2039UFDE4, a -25 V rated P-channel device, is said to be 50% thinner than similar devices. The other MOSFETs in the series are provided in the 0.5 mm high DFN2020E package, which is claimed to be 20% thinner than the common 0.6 mm high alternatives. Targeted at load-switching applications, the DMP2039UFDE4 also provides circuit designers with 3 kV protection against human-borne electrostatic discharge. The MOSFETs’ low typical RDS(on), for example is 13 mΩ at a VGS of 4.5 V for the -12 V P-channel DMP1022UFDE, which means conduction losses can also be minimised in battery-charging applications. The 20 V N-channel DMN2013UFDE makes a suitable load switch or high-speed switch in DC/DC buck and boost converters and also has a high 2 kV ESD protection rating. Operating at a VDS of 60, the DMN6040UFDE is one of the first high-voltage MOSFETs to be introduced in the DFN2020 package and suits small form-factor industrial and HVAC controls. Suitable for smartphones, tablets and digital cameras, the initial series of nine MOSFETs comprises -12, -20, -25 and -40 V P-channel and 12, 20 and 60 V N-channel parts. Future Electronics Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q048

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Test & measure

Antenna simplifies LTE indoor coverage According to recent statistics, more than 80% of all mobile data calls are initiated inside a building, whether an office, airport, railway station, stadium or home. As a result, it is absolutely critical for service providers to provide both good coverage and quality of service inside buildings. How well they meet this goal will ultimately determine which one emerges as the market leader in the 4G era. In the past, operators provided indoor coverage by using outdoor macro sites. The goal was to provide just enough coverage for voice calls. Unfortunately, this ‘just enough’ approach to coverage no longer presents a viable solution. While an acceptable voice call needs only about a 9 dB signal-to-noise ratio, this is not the case for a data connection. To achieve good data throughput, the SNR should be better than 15 dB. As an example, consider the long term evolution (LTE) standard, which employs 16QAM and 64QAM to achieve higher throughput. To achieve the desired data connection speed, both the LTE uplink and downlink must maintain a better SNR - something that is almost impossible to achieve using outdoor macro sites. Because of this, distributed antenna systems (DASs) are now being deployed to provide indoor coverage. Deployment of indoor DASs can be extremely challenging, both from a hardware perspective and an over-the-air signal quality perspective. To begin with, the cable and antenna system for an indoor DAS is very complicated. It includes many RF components like attenuators, splitters, combiners, diplexers, bidirectional amplifiers, filters and even a fibre system (eg, a passive optical network), which macro sites typically don’t use. Mitigating interference also presents a challenge for DASs, since inside buildings signals are affected by reflections. Many DASs share the same infrastructure, which makes indoor systems prone to co-channel, adjacent channel, external (illegal transmitters) and inter-modulation interference. When deploying an indoor DAS a number of different tests and optimisation tasks must be performed, including: • Indoor coverage test. One of the key tasks that must be performed when deploying a DAS is to conduct a site survey. Doing so allows the technician to decide where to put the system's transmitters and antennas. This location is crucial as it must enable optimum coverage and avoid interference from other networks. The test 12 What's New in Electronics - July 2012

generally requires one signal generator that is connected to the antenna under test. The generator sends a continuous wave signal to the antenna where a spectrum analyser or scanning receiver is used to measure the signal’s range. • Leaky coax testing for tunnel coverage. Coverage testing is particularly essential for a leaky coax, a special type of DAS. A leaky coax is made by cutting predefined slots on a cable shield to allow signals to leak out of the cable and is used to cover the long tunnels (generally 10s of kilometres long) on train and subway tracks. Ensuring coverage in these tunnels is critical because train control signals, public safety communications and commercial communications all share the same leaky coax cable. Two performance indicators that are key for a leaky coax are cable loss and signal coupling factor. Measurement of these indicators is accomplished by sending one or a few CW signals from one end of the cable along the tunnel. The signal strength is then recorded using a spectrum analyser. This test is critical to perform since people’s lives are on the line, but because there are many cables that need to be tested in a single tunnel, it can be quite tedious. Return loss or voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR) are two performance indicators that are commonly used to evaluate cable and antenna systems. This is espewww.electronicsonline.net.au


Test & measure

Rolland Zhang, Agilent Technologies

cially true for 3G and 4G DASs, which have more RF components, each of which can either add loss or create reflection in the system. If the system is not properly installed, matched and tested, the resulting reflection may reduce coverage and create interference. For instance, an unacceptably high return loss on a transmit path will reduce the amount of energy transmitted OTA on the downlink. In this situation, the SNR of the downlink is degraded, causing the mobile phone to think it is far away from

a base station. In response, it increases transmit power to make the uplink RSSI higher, setting off an uplink interference alarm. As previously mentioned, LTE requires much higher SNR to provide higher data throughput. Because of this, poor cable and antenna system performance will have a much bigger impact on an LTE network than it will on 2G or even 3G networks. DASs provide indoor coverage for LTE networks, but they usually have much bigger loss than a standard outdoor site due to their longer cables, combiners, splitters and couplers. The loss of the system degrades the SNR, which can trigger the mobile to transmit too much power and bring up the noise floor. The higher noise floor degrades the quality of service and system capacity. Therefore, it is essential to make sure the indoor system is properly designed and tested. When it comes to determining the health “Because of this, distributed of a signal, SNR is the key performance antenna systems (DASs) are indicator. Many forms of unwanted signals exist now being deployed to provide inside buildings today. These may include: indoor coverage.� co-channel and adjacent channel interference, active and passive intermodulation, external interference from transmitters not registered in the network (eg, BDA/repeater), multipath interference, and penetration interference to/from outside. Maintaining good SNR across the building is, therefore, essential to achieving good data throughput. Key to streamlining indoor DAS testing is to use an integrated, multiple functional handheld RF analyser that is flexible enough to quickly and consistently perform the required measurements outlined earlier. The integrated nature of the instrument gives engineers access to multiple test functions in one tool. Portability is also critical since DAS testing is conducted in the field. Therefore, the handheld instrument should be lightweight, have a small size and be weather resistant, rugged and battery powered. One such instrument that meets this criterion is the FieldFox RF analyser (Figure 1). It integrates a number of different functions including a built-in QuickCal that allows users to make cable and antenna measurement without having to carry a calibration kit, and a built-in independent CW generator that is convenient for testing indoor coverage.

Figure 1: The FieldFox RF analyser is claimed to be the most integrated handheld instrument for wireless network installation and maintenance.

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Figure 2: The spectrogram and waterfall displays on FieldFox allow the user to detect and monitor intermittent interference signals. The interested signals can be recorded and played back

July 2012 - What's New in Electronics

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Test & measure

The QuickCal feature greatly simplifies field test work and improves measurement repeatability. A cable and antenna analyser provide return loss, distance-to-fault, insertion loss and VSWR measurements, as well as one-port cable loss measurements up to 30 dB (Figure 2). Two-port insertion loss measurements up to 100 dB loss or antenna isolation can also be made. Additionally, FieldFox provides a spectrum analyser with a dynamic range up to 96 dBc, enabling it to find small unwanted signals in the presence of large network downlink “If the system is not properly signals, and an interference analyser with installed, matched and tested, record and playback to more quickly capture intermittent signals (Figure 3). the resulting reflection may An accurate broadband power meter reduce coverage and create provides good calibration of transmitters, interference.” while a vector voltmeter is suitable for measuring multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) and other phase array smart antennas in the field. With deployment of LTE, service providers are looking to integrate indoor DASs into the network. While DASs offer service providers a way to provide users with indoor coverage, that benefit comes at a price - the introduction of a number of unique complexities and challenges. Use of an integrated, handheld RF analyser like FieldFox offers engineers an optimal means of addressing these challenges.

Figure 3: FieldFox can make both return loss and distance to fault measurements at the same time. This helps correlate overall system degradation with specific faults in the cable and antenna system.

Using it not only streamlines DAS testing and leaky coax test, but it is also improves field test efficiency and measurement reliability. Agilent Technologies Australia Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q114

Rack power distributor

Embedded PC board IEI Technology’s 3.5″ embedded computer board, the WAFER-OT-Z650/Z670, is based on the Atom Z650/Z670 processor optimised platform with small form factor and low-power design, enabling the new embedded board to be used on industrial portable devices. The board supports dual display with 1 x HDMI and 1 x 18-bit single-channel LVDS. It features onboard 800 MHz 1 GB DDR2 SDRAM support, HDMI, 18-bit single-channel LVDS display output and ultra low power consumption. It is supplied with complete I/O options including seven x USB ports, one x SATA 3 Gbps connector, one x SD slot, four x COM ports and an audio connector. These features make it a suitable fanless system for digital signage. An integrated Graphics Media Accelerator 600 supports HDMI and up to 1080p video decoding. This platform also supports Windows 7, WES 2011 and MeeGo operating systems. ICP Electronics Australia Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net. au/N934

A set of enclosure power distribution units, ePDUs, that provide intelligent power distribution to optimise available power in a data centre and control the total cost of ownership is now available. The set consists of enhanced managed ePDUs and a new range of switched and advanced monitored ePDUs. The advanced monitored devices include features such as highly accurate kilowatthour monitoring and the switched ePDU enables remote shut-off and restart of data centre equipment. Managed ePDUs combine the features from switched and advanced monitored for total control. Designed for the needs of the modern data centre, the models monitor down to the individual server with 1% accuracy (over 2 A), to provide control over individual outlets. They also allow switching and sequencing of outlet groups. The outlet number identifications are colour coded to match the outlet section to the appropriate circuit breaker. An optional environmental monitoring probe is available to track temperature, humidity and contact closure at the rack level. Temperature monitoring can be used to identify hot spots and reduce cooling costs. Each model features a pixel LCD that provides local readings for phase balancing and loading. All the ePDUs are fully integrated into intelligent power manager monitoring software, so that the user can monitor and trend right down to the individual outlet from a single interface - and view the whole data centre at one glance. Eaton Industries Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/M987

Demo RF amplifier Polyfet has released its demonstration RF amplifier, the TB221. It was designed and built to demonstrate the GaN device GX242 putting out 60 W across 200-2000 MHz with 10 dB gain typical. The operating voltage is 48 VDC and the complete data package can be viewed or downloaded from the ‘Designs’ section of the Polyfet website. Mostyn Enterprises (Technologies) Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q038

14 What's New in Electronics - July 2012

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newproducts 18-slot chassis

Ethernet switches The IES series of industrial ethernet switches supersedes an existing range to meet the increasingly complex and demanding tasks of monitoring and controlling operational data. With three ranges to choose from, the series offers a broad choice of fast ethernet or gigabit ethernet managed switches with various port combinations. Users can select from entry-level IES21 fast ethernet, IES31 fast ethernet with gigabit uplink, up to IES41 full gigabit ethernet switches. The switches feature ring redundancy with floating master, latest security features, IGMP snooping and a built-in virtual cable tester. The family meets all current Australian Standards. Equipped with the all-new WRing, the family delivers far more redundancy and greater reliability and simplifies network requirements by eliminating master/slave settings in a redundant ring, while providing a network reinstatement time of less than 20 ms. The switches also feature MSTP for additional redundancy. MSTP furnishes the network with spare links that automatically provide backup paths should the active links fail. The switches also have a builtin virtual cable tester that checks a twisted-pair connection status by using time domain reflection. It can identify the type of fault as well as the distance from the switch port within five seconds. The family can prioritise network traffic using the 802.1p standard, IP TOS as well as DSCP. They are compatible with SMNP3, radius and tacas and for integrating into Cisco secured networks.

National Instruments has introduced the NI PXIe-1066DC 18-slot chassis, which adds high-availability features to the PXI Express platform to maximise system uptime. These features are said to improve the system-level mean time before failure (MTBF) and mean time to repair (MTTR) of PXI systems in many demanding, mission-critical test, measurement and control applications. The chassis adds critical component redundancy and remote monitoring to the uptime-focused capabilities of existing NI PXI instrumentation. Features include: redundant hot-swappable DC power supplies and fans facilitate maximum system uptime; front-accessible power supply and fan tray provide flexibility in position-restrictive applications; ethernet port gives engineers remote in-band chassis health monitoring capabilities for advanced system management. National Instruments Australia Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q105

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Thermal cameras The T400-series thermal imaging cameras are designed for the user who needs image quality of 320 x 240 pixels. Especially for the building inspection sector, a compass has been integrated into the T440bx model. Both the T400- and T400bx-series are supplied with a tiltable optical unit, which makes it possible to measure and take images of objects in all angles, still in a comfortable working position. The top-of-the-line T440 and T440bx models are equipped with the Multi Spectral Dynamic Imaging (MSX) feature, which produces an extremely detailed image. The T440 measures temperatures between -20 and +1200ºC (T440bx -20 and +650ºC). Objects of interest, both on the thermal image and the visual image, can be highlighted by sketching directly on the camera touch screen. An ‘instant report’ of the inspection (with sketches or other text comments included) can be created directly in the T440. A programmable button provides access to favourite functions. Built-in Wi-Fi allows connecting smartphones or tablet PCs to transfer images or remotely control the camera. The Bluetooth-based Meterlink function transfers readings from external measurement instruments to the thermal image.

The VME/VXS single board computer unveiled by Emerson Network features the Freescale P5020 QorIQ processor supported by up to 8 GB of high-speed DDR3-1333 MHz ECC memory and 8 GB eMMC NAND flash. The board also features 512 KB of non-volatile F-RAM, which is suitable for data storage, data logs, dynamic program updates and dynamic security. The MVME8100 is designed for a range of high-end industrial control applications such as semiconductor processing equipment and photo lithography, as well as military applications such as C4ISR, including radar/sonar.

Fully rugged variants are available for extreme environments with extended shock, vibration, temperature and conduction cooling. Extended temperature variants of the device have an operating temperature range of -40 to +85°C. Rugged models are capable of operating with up to 10 G of vibration (15 to 2000 Hz) and can withstand an 11 ms shock of up to 40 G. The device offers I/O including PCIe and SRIO fabric connectivity and multiple USB, serial and ethernet ports. Onboard expansion includes an optional mounting kit for a 2.5″ SATA drive and two PMC/ XMC sites. Supported operating systems include Linux, Wind River VxWorks and Green Hills Integrity.

FLIR Systems Australia Pty Ltd

Emerson Network Power

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q046

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/N663

Vector network analyser The Planar 304/1 vector network analyser’s capabilities include embedding and deembedding, gating is a standard feature, and frequency offset for testing mixers. Transformation between the frequency and time domain, mixer/converter measurements and other analysis methods are also possible. With an operating range of 0.3 to 3.2 MHz, the instrument has measured parameters of S11, S22, S12 and S22 magnitude and phase. Dynamic range is 135 dB, measurement time per point is 125 µs and the output range is -55 to +10 dBm. Clarke & Severn Electronics Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/N873

16 What's New in Electronics - July 2012

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newproducts Roto-moulded 19″ racks Amazon racks are rugged, lightweight rotomoulded 19″ racks for extreme conditions in desert, field, sea and air. Fe a t u r e s i n c l u d e : performance tested and accredited to MILSTD-810; 6U - heights fr o m 4 to 14 units, standard depths - 480 and 610 mm (rack to rail); extra-deep chassis sizes (740 and 870 mm) are available to suit portable servers; water-tight (IP65), provides protection from moisture, salt spray and windblown dust/sand. The 19″ rackmount chassis is made of fully welded alochromed aerospace-grade aluminium and eight elastomeric antivibration mounts are pitched at 45° to provide optimum attenuation to impact shock and vibration. The stacking ribs on top and bottom ensure racks align at the front face.

Broadband amplifier Amplifier Technology has released the 8817 broadband amplifier that operates across frequencies between 0.5 and 2.5 GHz. The amplifier is suitable for electronic counter measures and counter IED applications, and is likely to be integrated with other EW equipment on vehicles or aircraft such as helicopters and UAVs. It is a GaN HEMT amplifier and provides a minimum saturated output of 50 W over the full frequency range. Its gain is typically 48 dB while the harmonics are low at 16 dBc.

Amber Technology Limited

South Tech Systems

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q100

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q003

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July 2012 - What's New in Electronics

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Entries invited for design competition Element14, part of global electronics distributor Premier Farnell, has teamed up with CadSoft Computer to invite engineers to take part in the Eagle Design Competition until 31 August 2012. Electronic design engineers and enthusiasts will need to submit their design projects to win prizes with a pot value of $7000. The competition, which is powered by Microchip and hosted on the element14 Community, aims to bring the most innovative design engineering communities together using CadSoft EAGLE’s Version 6. To enter, the competition applicants must ensure that all designs use EAGLE Version 6 and that a Microchip MCU or DSC is integrated in the design. After registering on the element14 Community, users can submit a screenshot of their layout and add a description of their project on the competition page. Users who do not have an EAGLE licence can download a free 30-days trial version to participate in the contest. The prizes are a Dell Alienware M17x r3 + Eagle version 6 Professional including all three modules; Microchip - DV164037 - kit, eval, ICD3 W/ EXPLORER 16 and DM163022-1 8-bit development board + Eagle Version 6 Professional including all three modules; Eagle Version 6 Standard including all three modules. The outcome of the competition will feature peer-voting from the element14 community. Members of the leading global technology community can ‘like’ entries and comment on the submission. Based on the community likes and comments, a judging panel consisting of CadSoft, Premier Farnell and Microchip representatives, along with independent Eagle expert Prof Dr Francesco Volpe from the University of Applied Sciences in Aschaffenburg, will choose the winners. Judging criteria include clarity in description of the product, the electronic concept, the design complexity, the design quality and the functionality. For more details and terms and conditions, please visit the website.

Planning the right Wi-Fi network Fluke Networks has teamed up with Cisco to offer AirMagnet Planner for Cisco Small Business. The solution will help Cisco small business resellers meet the challenges associated with deploying and planning an 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless network and help organisations better address emerging performance challenges associated with the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon. AirMagnet Planner offers predictive modelling to determine the ideal quantity, placement and configuration of Cisco Access Points (APs) for optimal security, performance and compliance. © iStockphoto.com/Shawn Hempel

Memory chips to replace flash drives? Researchers at Rice University have created 3D memory chips that are transparent, flexible enough to be folded like a sheet of paper and capable of withstanding 537°C temperatures. “Devices with these chips could retain data despite an accidental trip through the drier or even a voyage to Mars. And with a 3D internal architecture, the chips could pack extra gigabytes of data while taking up less space,” said James M Tour, who led the research team. “The chips are really big for the electronics industry because they are now looking for replacements for flash memory,” he said. “Because of the way that the new memory chips are configured, namely with two terminals per bit of information rather than the standard three terminals per bit, they are much better suited for the next revolution in electronics - 3D memory - than flash drives.” The chips were originally composed of a layer of graphene or other carbon material on top of silicon oxide, which has long been considered an insulator, a passive component in electronic devices. Originally, the researchers thought that the memory capability was due to the graphene. But they recently discovered that the silicon oxide surface was actually making the memories. Current touch sceens are made of indium tin oxide and glass, both of which are brittle and can break easily. However, plastic containing the memory chips could replace those screens with the added bonuses of being flexible while also storing large amounts of memory. Tour hopes to send the chips on a future mission to see how the memory holds up in the high-radiation environment of space. 18 What's New in Electronics - July 2012

It can take into account the wireless properties of more than 10 Cisco small business access points and wireless routers, including the WAP121 and WAP321, to accurately design the Cisco small business network for maximised coverage and performance.

www.electronicsonline.net.au


Low-voltage sensor from superconducting strip? Researchers studying a superconducting strip found an intermittent motion of magnetic flux that carries vortices inside the regularly spaced weak conducting regions carved into the superconducting material. The vortices resulted in alternating static phases with zero voltage and dynamic phases, which are characterised by non-zero voltage peaks in the superconductor.

© iStockphoto.com/Henrik Jonsson

The study was carried out by scientists from the Condensed Matter Theory Group of the University of Antwerp, Belgium, working in collaboration with Brazilian researchers. Superconductors, when subjected to sufficiently strong magnetic fields, feature vortices that carry quantised magnetic flux, although the natural tendency of superconductors is to expel such flux. The authors relied on the GinzburgLandau theory to study the dynamics of the nanometric- to millimetric-scale-width superconducting strip, which was subjected to a magnetic field applied at right angles and a current applied lengthwise. Typically, weakly acting superconducting regions are natural impediments for the passage of electrical current. However, the authors found that they also work as efficient pathways for vortices to enter and exit the superconducting strip. The increasing magnetic field also increases the density of mutually repelling vortices, which stimulates vortex motion across the strip in the presence of an external current. At the same time, the barrier for vortex entry and exit on the strip boundaries is also dependent on the magnetic field. This interplay of magnetic-field-dependent barriers and vortex-vortex interaction results in an on/off vortex motion in increasing magnetic fields. The findings could be applicable in gate devices used to control various modes of on/ off states in electrical systems that operate in specific windows of temperature, applied magnetic field, current and voltage. www.electronicsonline.net.au

20% solar cell wins award A solar cell that has broken through the 20% efficiency barrier has won a Collaborative Innovation Award at the Cooperative Research Centres Association conference in Adelaide. Research was carried out at the ARC Photovoltaic Centre for Excellence where Profs Martin Green and Stuart Wenham worked in collaboration with Suntech-Power to produce the device, which has been named Pluto technology. They broke through the 20% target which many experts considered impossible and they have lowered the costs compared with other technologies, said Green from The University of NSW. Martin said they brought their photovoltaic know-how to Suntech. Their manufacturing expertise used new tools and processes to create solar cells 10 times the size of the lab-scale devices. Suntech-Power’s expertise was particularly important in lowering the costs of the cells by using cheaper processing methods, like laser patterning and replacing expensive silver and titanium parts. “Without this collaboration and its funding through the Australian Solar Institute, Pluto would have remained a lab prototype rather than a commercial reality,” said Stuart Wenham. “Pluto is rapidly increasing its market share with many companies around the world looking to replace their existing 30-year-old production technologies.” International studies predict that the present $100bn/year photovoltaic industry will grow to well over a trillion dollars/year as it becomes the major supplier of the world’s electrical energy needs. “While many photovoltaic researchers around the world are focused on the holy grail of higher and higher efficiencies, we believe Pluto technology has struck the ideal balance between conversion efficiency and manufacturing costs to create a truly viable alternative means of electricity production right © iStockphoto.com/blackred now,” said Green.

Raspberry Pi on slow burner RPi distributor RS Components says the next delivery of the pocket-sized computer is likely to be July or August. Lim Cheng Mong, RS’s head of electronics marketing, Asia Pacific, said only 57 have been shipped to Australia so far, but over 300,000 people have registered interest in the product worldwide. To clear the backlog, the next 75,000 people in the queue will be invited to place an order in the next few weeks, with 15,000 orders being taken every two days. Even though production is being ramped up, Lim said there is still “no visibility” on delivery of new orders.

Microwave agreement Mostyn Enterprises has been appointed as a reseller of MESL Microwave (of Scotland) products. Components and services available will include ferrite and ceramic materials; microwave thin and thick film processing; SAW design and processing; electronic signal processing and control; environmental qualification; SMT PEC population. July 2012 - What's New in Electronics

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newproducts SIM cards SIM cards, in a range of formats including temp spec, standard micro, MFF together with tailored data plans, IP networks and services for users, are now all available from M2M One. The cards operate on Australia’s largest and fastest 3G mobile broadband and the company provides users with access to its control centre where SIMs can be monitored, diagnosed and managed to suit a specific business. The company’s turn-key IPX service provides a high-quality, fully managed IPWAN service, delivering static IP addresses to mobile M2M devices for less cost than setting up a user-own network. Add-ons to the static IP service include a configurable internet gateway that allows devices to initiate connections to external hosts on the internet. Where remote access to devices is required, the company can provide secure IPsec VPN access into a private network. These static IP services take from five to 14 days to set up, depending on complexity.

Touch panel PC

M2M Connectivity

The Avalue LPC-1203 touch panel PC is powered by an Atom N270 processor, which reduces power usage. The decrease of thermal energy makes the computer a high-safety and green product under a fanless condition. The PC is supplied with a 12″ touch panel LED backlight screen, which supports resolution up to 1024x768. Using the modular system-on-module design, the device supports diversified performance levels such as COMe/ETX CPU modules and lower scalable baseboard. It also allows the user to group the boards according to individual needs. Its modular design makes the machine suitable for users to choose system requirements and upgrade it at anytime. The device fulfils serial port connectivity of industrial control for multi-equipments. The PC is waterproof, including front panel, rear data transmission connectors and power sources. Featuring an IP65 safety rating, it is suitable for use in rigorous environments. In particular, the setting of the front side power button is covered by a waterproof membrane for easy use.

Connectors to charge large DC battery units using an interchangeable battery concept for power applications were specifically developed for electric commercial vehicles. The system is designed for currents up to 400 A, voltages up to 750 and 10,000 insertion and withdrawal cycles. As well as providing specific charge management, the integrated data module monitors the temperature to avoid overheating. The spring-damped guide bolts compensate for any tolerance when inserting the connector and dampen any vibration when the vehicle moves.

Backplane Systems Technology Pty Ltd

Phoenix Contact Pty Ltd

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q120

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/N987

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Charging connectors

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20 What's New in Electronics - July 2012

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newproducts Embedded control PC The advanced embedded controller from Aaeon, the AEC-6872, is a standalone PC featuring 10 serial communication ports, fanless operation, compact size, robust construction and low power requirements. It is supplied with an Atom D510 1.6 Ghz processor to provide an energy efficient platform and is equipped with two SODIMM sockets supporting up to 4 GB of DDR2 system memory, two 10/100/1000Base-TX RJ-45 ethernet connectors, four USB 2.0 ports and nine RS-232 ports and one RS-485 port for communication. A 2.5″ SATA hard drive can be internally mounted while an internal CompactFlash slot is provided for additional storage. System expansion is possible via a PCI Express (x1) slot or an optional PCI bus slot. An internal mini-PCI slot and mini-Card slot provide additional expansion options. Other I/O includes VGA graphics, audio and PS/2 keyboard and mouse connectors. The PC can operate from 9 to 30 VDC, making it suitable for vehicle intelligent transport systems as well as factory control applications. It can also be supplied with an external AC power adapter. Interworld Electronics & Computer Industries Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/N971

Approved test leads SilverLine TuffGrip test leads are now qualified, by Anritsu, for use with the Site Master cellular infrastructure test equipment. The leads allow users to make and break RF connectors quickly and easily with one hand. The leads are available in 1.5, 3 and 5 m lengths with either N Type or 7-16 DIN connector configurations. The 7-16 DIN male connector configurations include the OneTurn coupling nut feature for extra fast attachment to site cables.

Lightweight 19″ rack case Designed for engineering personnel, CP Cases’ SatRack is a lightweight rack case that can be hand carried on commercial airlines as checked luggage. The weight restriction for checked baggage on commercial airlines is 23 kg (without premium) up to a maximum of 32 kg. The 4U x 480 mm (internal) chassis depth rack weighs only 8 kg, allowing an additional 24 kg of equipment to be fitted. The outer cover is made from 1000 denier texturised nylon, an abrasion- and weather-resistant material that is tearproof and will not rot. Ventilation panels help to keep equipment cool during operation in warmer climates with protective, velcro-fastened cover flaps for transportation. To protect equipment against shock and vibration, the internal 19″ chassis is shock mounted on eight cylindrical elastomeric antivibration mounts. These are set at a 45° angle to offer optimum shock resistance during handling and transit. Amber Technology Limited Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q099

“Rigol Low Cost 1.5GHz Spectrum Analyser”

RIGOL DSA-815 1.5GHz SPECTRUM ANALYSER Frequency Range 9kHz – 1.5GHz Resolution Bandwidth 100Hz minimum Display 8-inch TFT LCD colour; 800 x 480 pixel resolution PreAmp & AM/FM Demodulation Standard Options: Tracking Generator EMI Filter & Quasi Peak Detector VSWR Measurement Kit Supports Communication with PC and Remote Control via: LAN, USB & GPIB (opt)

Rojone Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/N847

www.electronicsonline.net.au

DSA-815 Spectrum Analyser $1,295 ex GST DSA-815 With Tracking Generator $1,505 ex GST

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EMONA July 2012 - What's New in Electronics

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newproducts Switch range Allied Telesis has expanded its range of AT-8100 series switches, including the first stackable green access edge switches designed to optimise end-user connectivity. Dual fixed redundant power supplies are standard on all but the smallest model. The series is claimed to be an edge workhorse connecting systems requiring advanced layer 2+ and basic layer 3 features combined with a range of connectivity options from copper to fibre. The series also supports the latest security features and is designed to interoperate with platforms such as Network Access Protection. The range includes several models including the 8100S/24 and 24C compact, designed for businesses with limited space, and is suitable for applications such as retail point-of-sales systems.

Laser bars Osram Opto Semiconductors’ laser bars offer efficiency of up to 65% at 200 W optical output power and can simplify the design of laser systems and reduce their cost. The bar series, designated SPL BKxx-40WFT, produces infrared radiation in various wavelengths ranging from 915 to 1020 nm. As a result of their efficiency, the bars achieve a long operating lifetime, amply meeting the requirements for industrial laser systems. Besides the optical pumping of fibre lasers, direct processing of metals - welding, brazing, cutting, hardening, cladding and coating - for use in motor vehicle manufacturing is one of the main applications of infrared lasers with more than 1 kW of power. Direct diode lasers are the most efficient laser light sources for such fibre-coupled systems and are a more efficient alternative to the carbon dioxide lasers that have been traditionally used.

The 8100S/16F8-SC, 8100S/24F-LC and 8100S/24F-BiDi are well suited to industrial and manufacturing environments where optical fibre is used because of its resistance to electromagnetic interference or any other environment where fibre is used extensively. The Power over Ethernet versions, including the 8100S/24POE and 8100S/48POE switches, support the 802.3at standard and deliver up to 30 W per port. PoE capability is suitable for applications such as video surveillance, where cameras require additional power for pan-and-tilt motion or to heat moving parts when used outside in cold climates. The 8100S/16F8-SC also enable mixed-media applications by connecting local copper devices over fibre at distances of up to 2 km.

RS Components Pty Ltd

Allied Telesis International (Aust) Pty Ltd

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q036

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q045

Signage processor

The release of OPM-CDV is based on the next generation of Atom Cedarview N2800 processor for digital signage. It is designed to be installed into any Intel OPS-compliant digital signage platform to enable faster and easier upgrade and maintenance and is designed with the Avalue flexible Qseven module, giving users the option of different platforms according to their requirements. The device uses the EQM-CDV Qseven module and an EAP-OPI Qseven carrier board; it is powered by the Atom N2800 dual-core processor and NM10 Express chipset, which supports onboard 1 GB DDR3 1066 system memory. The I/O includes 1x COM port, 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x HDMI, one mini-PCIe slot and 1x 82574L gigabit LAN. Backplane Systems Technology Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q192

22 What's New in Electronics - July 2012

Embedded box PC A palm-size fanless embedded box computer featuring a compact, low-power design is claimed to provide power efficient performance. Using HDD, CompactFlash or SSD storage, the ARK-1120 is suitable for a wide range of embedded uses. It includes an array of interfaces including serial, USB and gigabit ethernet plus VGA and audio line-in/line-out for space- and power-conscious multimedia. A mini-PCIe socket also allows for add-on expansion such as wireless LAN. Being Intel based, it supports all the Microsoft Embedded and desktop operating systems plus support for Linux and QNX. The company’s SUSIAccess provides remote management including monitoring system status, remote control and remote recovery. Advantech Australia Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/N407

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Measuring

Tandem encoders give two axes and one power input ‘Tandem Encoder ’ is a new term but one which is increasingly being used by mechanical and electrical designers. Mark Howard of Zettlex* explains what a tandem encoder is, how it works, its technical features and where it is best used.

The term ‘tandem encoder’ refers to an encoder with at least two measurement axes but only one power input and one data output. In other words, two physically independent encoders but with a single electrical interface. These encoders are increasingly being used in applications with one or more of these factors - cost pressure, tight space constraints, weight limits or requirements for high reliability. For most position encoders, the single largest cost element is their electronics and the tandem approach spreads the cost of a single set of electronics across two (or more) encoders. The result is that the cost, weight and volume per sensor are reduced. Another important factor is the use of slip rings in the host equipment. If slip www.electronicsonline.net.au

rings are being used to energise the en- “Furthermore, the electronics coders, it is often the case that a tandem in capacitive or inductive encoder is applicable. This is because the cost, size and complex- techniques can be arranged ity of a slip ring are directly proportional to so that they can be multiplexed the number of its contacts. Eradicating slip across two or more sensors.” ring connections to a second encoder can be a major advantage for the tandem encoder approach. A typical arrangement for a tandem encoder is shown in Figure 1. If we consider the system as a gimbal mounted camera, we can see that axis #1 is the elevation axis and axis #2 is the azimuth axis. Only a single set of connections to both encoders is required via the slip ring. Of course, not all position sensing technologies are suited to tandem encoders. The tandem encoder approach is only applicable when the encoder electronics can be displaced away from the actual sensing point. The tandem encoder approach cannot be applied if electronics are required at the sensing point. Optical and magnetic devices both require electronic devices adjacent to the sensing point. July 2012 - What's New in Electronics

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Measuring

The tandem approach is, however, suited to capacitive or inductive sensing technologies, where the electronics required for sensor operation can be displaced away from the sensing point. Furthermore, the electronics in capacitive or inductive techniques can be arranged so that they can be multiplexed across two or more sensors. While capacitive devices can be made very accurately, they are best suited to applications with tightly controlled operating or storage environments such as offices or laboratories. This is because most capacitive devices suffer from significant temperature or humidity drift as well as serious reliability problems if foreign matter - most notably water in the form of condensation or ice - is adjacent to the capacitor’s plates. Capacitive sensing devices find it impossible to differentiate between the capacitive effects caused by water or humidity and the effects caused by relative displacement of the sensor’s principal components. The potential applications for tandem encoders include: CCTV and security cameras; electro-optic and infrared gimbals; remotely controlled weapons systems; rotary joints and gimbals; actuator servos and motor encoders; robotic arms and CNC machine tools; test and calibration equipment; antenna pointing devices and range finders; and packaging and laboratory “... enables the sensors to automation. Since most of these applications involve withstand very harsh local arduous operating or storage conditions then environments.” it is of little surprise that tandem encoders have become mainly associated with inductive techniques. Such techniques are ideally suited to arrangements where the energisation and signal processing are carried out remotely from the position sensing. Traditionally, such inductive detectors have used transformer constructions in the form of accurately wound wire spools. The basic principle is that as a passive, magnetically permeable element, such as a rotor or a rod, moves, it changes the electromagnetic coupling between at least one primary winding and one or more secondary windings. The energy that inductively couples in to the secondary windings is directly proportional to the displacement of the rod or rotor relative to the primary windings. All windings must be wound accurately to achieve accurate position measurement, and to achieve strong electrical signals, lots of wires are needed. This makes traditional inductive position sensors bulky, heavy and expensive. Traditional inductive position sensors are usually referred to as resolvers, synchros, linearly or rotationally variable differential transformers (LVDTs and RVDTs). Now there is a new generation of inductive encoders that is particularly suitable to the tandem encoder approach. These inductive encoders use the same fundamental physics as their traditional counterparts but rather than the traditional transformer or wire spool constructions, they use printed circuits as their main components. This means the coils can be produced from etched copper or printed on substrates such as polyester film, paper, epoxy laminates 24 What's New in Electronics - July 2012

Tandem encoder schematic.

or ceramic. Such printed constructions can be made more accurately than windings. Hence a far greater measurement performance is attainable at less cost, bulk and weight - while maintaining the inherent stability and robustness. The approach also allows the principle components of the inductive position sensors to be installed with relatively relaxed tolerances. Not only does this help to minimise costs of both sensor and host equipment, it also enables the principal components to be encapsulated. This enables the sensors to withstand very harsh local environments such as long-term immersion, extreme shock, vibration or the effects of explosive gaseous or dust-laden environments. Electromagnetic noise susceptibility is often cited as a concern by engineers who are considering next generation inductive position sensors. The concern is misplaced given that resolvers have been used for many years within the harsh electromagnetic environments of motor enclosures for commutation, speed and position control. The new generation of inductive encoders is produced in either incremental or absolute forms and output digital data. This means that a tandem encoder can produce a digital data stream, with a single data stream carrying data for both axes. *Zettlex is a British company that designs and manufactures sensors; supplies sensor components and integrated circuits. The company offers bespoke sensor design and development for specific customer applications. Zettlex UK Ltd www.zettlex.com

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newproducts Pulse network kit

Miniature accelerometer Dytran Instruments has released the 3334A1, a miniature IEPE accelerometer designed for environmental stress screening and product response testing applications. With a total weight of 2.0 g, the device is suitable for vibration testing where vertical space is limited. Units are available with a sensitivity of 10 mV/g and feature a lightweight titanium housing, a 5-40 mounting stud and 5-44 radial connector. It is hermetically sealed for operation in high humidity and dirty environments. Metromatics Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/N614

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A development kit that allows motor vehicle technicians and engineers to design their own pulse networks is now available. By using the FLX 5510 in conjunction with Teseq’s NSG 5500, motor vehicle EMC laboratories can design their own pulses as well as meet custom specifications including pulse impedance, peak voltage, pulse width and pulse width under load. Compatible with all NSG 5500 systems, the kit does not require firmware or additional upgrades. Included with each are two DIY 5510 submodules, one with a fully functional example circuit as well as an empty one ready for use. Used in conducted immunity testing, engineering investigations, quality control, fault analysis and weak-spot analysis, the kit is designed for applications with special pulse waveform requirements. It has a pulse network peak current of 300 A, a pulse network maximum voltage of 660 and a maximum pulse width of 30 ms. Westek Electronics Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q039

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NEW White Papers

now available online! Building a storage environment for super-efficiency The growth of stored data is being driven by a need to leverage new data sources (web-based social media, for example) to create new business opportunities. The current ways of managing data in this environment are not sustainable, however, so IT administrators must therefore respond by becoming more efficient.

Preparing your network infrastructure for UC collaboration and video deployment When migrating to unified communications (UC) technologies, it is important to review your existing network and security infrastructure. Many organisations try restricting their initial UC implementations to voice-over-IP capabilities but few have implemented business to business (B2B) collaboration. This white paper provides more information.

End-user experience measurement is critical for your business: managing quality of experience Organisations used to predominately use network uptime measurements to evaluate their performance when delivering business-critical data to end users but are now seeking to reduce the time needed to resolve performance issues and also take actions to prevent these problems before they disrupt business processes. Read more in this paper.

Controlling data proliferation and reducing storage complexity with unified storage management The amount of data downloaded is massively increasing, which means that IT departments must collect, secure and archive more content than ever before. The management, protection and mining of this data will replace basic device configuration and backup as the primary task for storage administrators.

newproducts Contact-cooled AC power supplies Cosel contact-cooled AC power supplies are encapsulated power supplies mounted on printed circuit boards designed to dissipate the heat they generate exclusively through an aluminium base plate. Provided they are installed on the appropriate application surfaces, they do not require any additional fans or special flue effects and heat-conductive contact surfaces can reach temperatures of up to 100°C before an integral overtemperature trip puts on the brake. The range extends from the integral single-module solution, in standardised brick form factor, to multiple output modules variations, which are supplied from an EC input front-end to provide several independent supply voltages. The power modules are designed for permanent operation, under full load in 24 x 7 mode. TU series single modules offer a compact solution, requiring only an external EMI filter to attenuate line-based faults. Power supplies range from the 50 W module (on a Ÿ-brick space of 37 x 59 mm with a height of 12.7 mm), though 100 W, in a ½-brick format, up to 300 or 500 W in a full-brick format, measuring 62 x 117 mm, with the same 12.7 mm height. The TUNS basic versions have safety shut-offs, as standard, for overvoltage, overcurrent and overtemperature as well as a settings range for output voltage and additional remote sensor connections to compensate for voltage drops in the output cables. The 500 W version has an additional peak power potential. The 300 to 500 W versions have an optional, additional function package that includes a standby output for standby applications and an insulated remote on/off contact to shut down the main output, so that additional power can be saved in sleep cycles. The current range of DPG/DHS modules has been extended with a plug-and-play enabled option for the SNDPG module and the SNDHS series. Power modules on complete assemblies (in the form of a printed circuit board with a filter, fuse and plug or screw connectors on an aluminium base plate) are now available - the user has only to complete the mechanical assembly, using the 3 mm thick base plate, to quickly assemble a robust CE or UL-compliant AC power supply with an output of up to 750 W. Output modules with 50, 100 or 250 W are supplied from an AC front-end module to correct harmonics with floating output voltages between 3.3 and 48 V. Their flexible and compact design make these modules suitable for use in modern lighting systems and LED signal equipment, robots and industrial automation, compact measuring and analysis equipment, and outdoor applications. Powerbox Australia Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q351

Fibre couplers

For these and more White Paper downloads, visit www.electronicsonline.net.au/white_papers

Phoenix Photonics has released two micron fibre couplers, available in 1x2, 2x2, tap and cascaded configurations. Components are offered built on single-mode fibre, specifically for optimised operation in the 2000 nm wavelength. The company also has available: optical phase shifters, side polished fibres, polarisation scanners/controllers, polarisation scramblers, multichannel polarisation controllers, an electronically driven polarisation controller (manual and PC options) and a fibre depolariser. Phoenix Photonics www.phoenixphotonics.com/

26 What's New in Electronics - July 2012

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newproducts Cable assembly WL Gore has added a rugged 18 GHz cable assembly to its Phaseflex microwave/RF test assemblies range. It is specifically engineered for high throughput production test applications in the wireless infrastructure market. The connectors on these assemblies minimise failure by incorporating maximum strain relief at the point where the cable and connector meet. The assembly’s internally ruggedized construction is more durable, delivering crush resistance of 85 kg/cm. Available in 1.0 and 1.5 m lengths, with both SMA and N-type male connectors, the assembly is easier for the operator to use because it is small and lightweight and can be connected and disconnected manually. The assemblies withstand 100,000 flexures at a minimum bend radius of 2.4 cm. WL Gore & Associates Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/M568

Modulation analyser The portable, and fully integrated, optical modulation analyser with a laptop sized screen is for users who need to analyse complex modulated optical signals during development and manufacturing of 40/100G coherent transmitters and receivers. The N4392A enables engineers to characterise components like in-phase quadrature modulators and integrated coherent receivers designed according to industry standards for 100G coherent transmission. The integrated design accelerates setup and eliminates configuration effort so that users can focus on design. A 15″ analysis screen shows the information. The analyser offers four differential RF input channels to help engineers characterise integrated coherent optical receivers. This makes it suitable for R&D engineers involved in 40/100G characterisation and debugging. All modulation analysers provide a defined interface to customer-developed MATLAB algorithms. This enables consistent results from early research to final manufacturing qualification, including the exchange of configuration files. Features of the instrument include: full support of 32 Gbaud modulation formats; 63 GSa/s real-time sampling; and optical and differential RF inputs in one instrument. Agilent Technologies Australia Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/N983

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July 2012 - What's New in Electronics

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newproducts MicroATX motherboard IEI Technology’s IMB-H612A is a microATX motherboard which supports the 32 nm LGA 1155 Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron CPU with an H61 chipset. Designed for scalability and cost optimisation, the SBC series has the H61 Express Chipset and 2nd generation Intel Core processor. This series allows one DIMM per channel of DDR3 1333 MHz. The board features 2 x RS232 and VGA ports on the rear I/O panel, making it suitable for automation and surveillance that require wireless and dual display applications.

RTD module National Instruments has announced the NI PXIe-4357 RTD module, the latest addition to its SC Express sensor measurement family for PXI Express. The high-performance module is optimised for temperature measurements with Pt100 RTD sensors for a variety of thermal monitoring applications. The module integrates sensor-specific signal conditioning with 24-bit ADCs to sample all 20 channels at 100 S/s and offers typical accuracies of up to 0.09°C. To expand a system’s channel count, engineers can integrate additional NI PXIe-4357 modules or use other SC Express modules to add complementary sensor inputs including thermocouples, strain gauges, accelerometers and FBG optical sensors to the same system. Features include: offers 20 channels that integrate 24-bit delta-sigma analog-to-digital converters with antialiasing and low-pass filters; delivers the claimed most reliable measurements with full support on LabVIEW Real-Time; synchronises with other members of SC Express family within the same PXI chassis, across chassis or across facilities. A technical white paper is available at: http://zone.ni.com/ devzone/cda/tut/p/id/13741.

It has 6 x COM ports, while the IMB-H612B (a microATX motherboard, in the same series) has 10 x COM ports. The IMB-H612 series supports a wide range of I/O options including 4 x SATA 3 Gbps without RAID and AHCI, 1 x RS422/485 port, 2 x PS/2 keyboard connectors, 10 x USB 2.0 ports (4 x rear I/O, 6 x by pin header), 5 x RS232 ports (IMBH612A-R10 only) and 9 x RS232 ports (IMB-H612B-R10 only). The board is part of the H61 series and is supplied integrated with HD Graphics to deliver high-performance graphics and media processing without a graphics card. Some key features include TPM V1.2 hardware security support provided by the TPM module and dual-channel 1333 MHz DDR3 SDRAM DIMM to support 16 GB memory.

National Instruments Australia

ICP Electronics Australia Pty Ltd

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q104

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q191

28 What's New in Electronics - July 2012

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newproducts Tri-wavelength µOTDR module

The latest series of µOTDR modules for Network Master MT9090A platform, a tool for installing and maintaining optical networks, features 2 cm resolution and up to 250,000 data points for accurate mapping events, deadzones of less than 1 m and dynamic range up to 38 dB to ensure accurate and complete fibre evaluation of any network type - premise to access, metro to core - including PON-based FTTX networks featuring up to a 1x64 split. Dynamic range and performance of mid-range pulse widths are also enhanced to provide better resolution, eliminating the need to test at multiple wavelengths. With power meter, stabilised light source, loss test set, PON power meter and connector inspection microscope options, the tri-wavelength instrument is also available as standalone 1625 or 1650 nm models for maintenanceonly applications. What used to take multiple test instruments or something big and bulky is now replaced by a single instrument, with dimensions of 19 x 9.6 x 4.8 cm and a weight of 700 g; and the MT9090A with MU909014C/15C module is claimed to be the most complete, compact, optical I&M tool available.

Simulink support Simulink models can now run directly on Arduino, BeagleBoard and LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT platforms. These devices are widely used in academia for hands-on teaching of robotics, mechatronics, audio signal processing, computer vision and other engineering applications. Simulink models can run, standalone, on these hardware platforms or in tandem with a connected PC. Built-in support is provided for the following platforms: Arduino Uno and Mega 2560 microcontroller boards for robotics, mechatronics and hardware connectivity tasks; BeagleBoard-xM single-board computers for audio, video and digital signal processing; and LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT robotics platform for robotics applications. Built-in support for hardware is available in MathWorks Release 2012a, including MATLAB and Simulink Student Version. MathWorks Australia Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/N858

Anritsu Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q357

SMT inductors

TDK has released a series of EPCOS SMT inductors. The components of the R series offer 30% higher saturation current capability than standard types. The saturation current is between 1.05 and 38.0 A at inductance values from 0.82 to 1000 µH. The DC resistance is between 5.0 mΩ and 1.35 Ω. The B82477R series satisfies the requirements of motor vehicle electronics and is qualified to AEC-Q200. Their magnetic shielding allows them to be placed close to other components on the circuit board. Imation ANZ Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/Q035

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July 2012 - What's New in Electronics

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software use

The use of simulation studies to better understand the dynamic behaviour of a system under investigation is at the core of verifying designs early in the development process. Despite the amount of data that such studies produce, a 3D representation of the system creates a more complete understanding of system behaviour.

This article describes the use of 3D animation in simulation-centric workflows to augment early verification activities, such as those used in model-based design. The evolution of technology and domain specialisation in the simulation and 3D graphics fields presents several challenges to using 3D animation in simulation-centric studies. A set of examples illustrates how to meet these challenges. The last decade has seen the increasing use of computer technology to prototype engineering designs before hardware manufacture or deployment. One area that has generated significant interest is the study of dynamic systems in which nonlinear equations determine the governing dynamics. Providing the means of representing these systems as software programs enables multiple simulations to be run, based on various inputs to the system. This methodology presents opportunities for the simulation engineer, such as the ability to vary system parameters or environmental inputs to reflect possible-use scenarios and to do so exhaustively. Early verification through simulations minimises the risk inherent in the design process by reducing the probability of discovering errors late in the development process. Effective early verification requires the careful analysis of simulation data to enable understanding of system behaviour. For example, an engineer could analyse data sets to discover patterns of unintended behaviours that resulted during multiple runs. The analysis of such data, however, can pose a challenge as it creates the need for domain-specific experts who decipher it. What makes the understanding of simulation data from a dynamic system difficult? Typically, it is the interdependencies in the multi30 What's New in Electronics - July 2012

dimensional data caused by the equations describing the system. In addition to the mathematical analyses that can be done on raw data, visual representations of the data such as 2D and 3D plots for cluster or trend analysis would enrich our understanding of the data relationships due to their placement relative to each other or with respect to a parameter, such as time. Despite the obvious advantages of using the analytic and visual methods together, this approach would provide some challenges to our understanding in specific situations, especially when the dimensionality of the data is large. Consider the simple physics of an aircraft whose physics modelled a rigid body having six degrees of freedom (6DoF). To analyse the motion of this aircraft, the dimension of the data in time would be six, representing three positional and three rotational coordinates. Besides the obvious limitations in deciphering trends in the raw data, graphical representations such as 2D and 3D plots will be insufficient to improve our understanding of the rigid body motion in this six-dimensional data space. www.electronicsonline.net.au

Š iStockphoto.com/Mike Kiev

Enhancing simulation studies with 3D animation


The task becomes harder if we add dimensional complexity to this example by measuring temperature data in time as a function of surface geometry. Much has been written on 3D graphics about a picture being worth a thousand words. Some authors have ambitiously extrapolated that moving images are worth even more. Over the decades, the success of the 3D video game industry and advances in 3D graphics hardware and software lend credibility to this observation. But from a simulation-centric standpoint, data representation using 3D scene representations is promising, if the system under study has interesting interdependencies that can be perceived by the analyst. For example, a 3D animation of multiple agents collaborating to achieve a common or different goal would provide insights in the area of swarm studies. In general, dynamic simulations with their associated physics, such as mechanics, thermodynamics, acoustics or multibody interaction, present opportunities for visualisation through 3D animation. A combined strategy that uses these approaches can enhance early verification. Figure 1 shows an example of vehicle dynamics simulation in Simulink as a hybrid representation that combines the three approaches. The dimensionality of the data associated with this simulation is 78 - mechanical parameters of the four wheels (64) each consisting of positions (three), rotations of wheel axis (nine), spin (one) and forces (three). The remaining (14) are associated with the braking signal (one), steering input signal (one), car position (three) and car rotation (nine). Figure 2 shows examples of simulation performed in the Simulink modelling environment with Simulink 3D Animation for 3D modelling in virtual reality modelling language (VRML). Engineers can use these 3D animation techniques in the early verification process. As shown in Figure 2 (A), testing the algorithm for a lane departure system in this computer vision application would require the capture of several input videos, which can be costly to acquire and difficult to determine in the initial stages of the project. After building the test environment virtually, these input videos can be acquired by recording the motion of a camera through this world and then preprocessing them. As shown in Figure 2 (B), by viewing the trajectory tracing of a spacecraft from different viewpoints, a visual notion of the shape characteristics is obtained. The trajectory is initially coloured blue and then changes to red due to the transitioning between different system operating modes. www.electronicsonline.net.au

While a state chart animation enables the understanding of the transition between the modes as a function of time, this methodology provides an additional lens by viewing this information in 3D mathematical space. In the later stages of the design, trajectories can be compared by overlaying the simulation and experimental data. As shown in Figure 2 (C), the environment model consists of 3D terrain data of a city visualised for understanding aircraft travel. In Figure 2 (D), the heat distribution data obtained from a finite element analysis on a solid metallic block is visualised through color dynamics. As shown in Figure 2 (E), in situations that require multiple tests on a model where a subset of those encounter failure, then 3D animation can help visualise the nature of the fault, as shown in the crash-test visualisation. As shown in Figure 2 (F), in this dynamic simulation of a portal crane that has been programmed to follow the positional input command, the test engineer can specify the 3D position of the object to be lifted as a test vector for the simulation. The test vector is then mapped to the 3D visual coordinates, providing creative opportunities during interactive testing. In Figure 2 (G), this shows the motion of the coupled fourcylinders inside an internal combustion engine. The visualisation of the motion of the crank, connecting rods and pistons helps to understand the timing of the entire system. 3D graphic technologies also enable objects to be rendered transparently, thus enabling the appearance of other objects within them. In Figure 2 (H), this figure shows the morphing of a 3D polyhedral object whose vertices and their associated motion signals appear and disappear in time, which helps understanding of systems where the dimensionality in the input test vector to a system varies in time. Figure 2 (I), shows simulation that has had details abstracted out such that only a couple of parameters are required for tuning. This abstraction can be used to visually verify and quickly reach the answers. In Figure 2 (J) is an example of rapid prototyping with 3D animation. A 3D animation containing the plant in tandem with the actual view of the hardware provides insight into the differences between the behaviour in simulation and the actual implementation. By using these 3D animation techniques, engineers can overcome the challenges of understanding complex data or sharing information with stakeholders who may not be interested in the technical details of the solutions. The mapping of data in the software model to visual coordinates provides an effective means for understanding and sharing information across teams within an organisation. From a marketing standpoint, a recorded animation of a proposed solution is convincing to customers “The task becomes harder if or project sponsors. Despite the advantages of using 3D we add dimensional complexity animation in early verification of designs, to this example by measuring several technological challenges exist for the temperature data in time as a simulation engineer. The fields of computer 3D graphics and engineering simulation function of surface geometry.� have evolved differently, with important consequences. Increasing specialisation has led to widely divergent skill sets and has affected the growth and development of technology and tools in the two fields. Figure 3 shows the range of possible applications by plotting 3D graphics fidelity against simulation fidelity. The economic cost of any application that brings these domains together depends on the fidelities of the simulation and the 3D models. For example, a large-scale 3D flight simulator project requires domain experts such as graphic designers and engineers, as well as computing hardware. July 2012 - What's New in Electronics

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Š iStockphoto.com/Frank Ramspott

software use


software use

Figure 1.

Figure 2.

The result is the creation of a highly specialised application that meets user needs environment virtually, these but is not easy to customise (Figure 3, top right). A range of applications such as solid input videos can be acquired by modelling and cartoon animation (Figure 3, recording the motion of a camera top left) are not simulation-intensive, but depend on high-quality graphics. through this world and then But what about dynamic simulation propreprocessing them.” jects on an engineer’s desktop that may not require high-fidelity 3D graphics (Figure 3, bottom)? Engineers use 2D graphics to visualise the data in their simulations and face the challenge of trying to build compelling 3D animations to run on top of their simulations. This challenge is represented by the chasm shown in Figure 3. Engineers must cross the chasm for simulation studies to be more effective. From a simulation engineer's standpoint, to cross this chasm will require that the tools and technologies must enable the following: • Complexity management of 3D world authoring including portability across different computing platforms; • Seamless connectivity from the simulation environment including 3D rendering; • Lower cost to the individual user to contain project costs. The plethora of proprietary 3D authoring tools presents a challenge to simulation engineers who want to import the tools into a simulation environment. Open standards for 3D scene authoring enable engineers to build, share and connect to the tools across simulation environments. VRML, a standard accepted by the International Organisation for Standards (ISO), has evolved to the emerging XML-based standard called X3D. The language contains sufficient intuitive 3D constructs that can be used to author 3D scenes. As an example, Simulink 3D Animation provides connectivity to drive 3D worlds authored in VRML from Simulink, thus enabling easy collaboration across different computing platforms. Choosing an open 3D standard also encourages vendors of proprietary tools to support them. Over the last several years, the 3D authoring tools segment has been fiercely competitive as several free and inexpensive tools have emerged and gained popularity. Some examples of these tools are grouped below according to their use in the simulation environment. 3D VRML/X3D editors: An advantage of standardising on an open standard such as VRML/X3D is the availability of free or inexpensive tools for authoring. Simulation engineers who want to author or modify existing 3D models in VRML can use these editors: • V-Realm Builder; • Flux Studio; • Internet Scene Assembler; • SwirlX3D; “After building the test

32 What's New in Electronics - July 2012

Figure 3.

• VrmlPad. 3D non-VRML editors: Non-VRML editors are usually powerful and designed for specific 3D modelling tasks. Most have a rich set of examples that engineers can use for simulations. Legacy 3D work in these environments, such as CAD models, can be re-used. These tools are generally expensive and complex, but some are relatively inexpensive or free. Examples include: • 3ds Max; • AC3D; • Autodesk Maya; • Blender; • CATIA; • Google SketchUp; • LightWave; • modo; • Pro/ENGINEER; • SolidWorks. The following editors support a VRML/ X3D-export feature. Engineers can define precision and complexity of the exported tessellated files to meet performance requirements. Specialised model conversion and optimisation tools offer polygon reduction and model optimisation capabilities. Examples include: • PolyTrans; • Deep Exploration; • VizUp. 3D authoring tools that facilitate model creation in highly specialised application areas such as terrain generation, urban modelling, laser scanning and reverse 3D engineering usually combine connectivity to external data sources with the ability to automatically create 3D models. Examples include: • 3DEM; • World Construction Set/Scene Express; • FARO Laser Scanner software tools. 3D content on the web: Market competition in the online 3D content segment has made the acquisition of 3D elements from a vendor for assembly inside a VRML www.electronicsonline.net.au


software use

Figure 4.

editor very affordable and free in many cases. Popular sites that have emerged in recent years for acquiring such content are: • www.turbosquid.com; • www.amazing3d.com/; • www.3dexport.com; • www.the3dstudio.com; • www.3d02.com; • www.top3d.net/; • sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse. The simulation tool must provide connectivity and features that support 3D

animation. The following examples show different kinds of 3D animation support that are available within the Simulink environment, as shown in Figure 4. Figure 4 (A). Direct connectivity to 3D VRML worlds with Simulink 3D Animation: This product contains blocks that enable the connectivity of Simulink signals to their 3D counterpart. A high-quality animation viewer it brings animation into the simulation environment. Figure 4 (B). Automatic CAD model import into SimMechanics models: This CAD model for a Stewart platform was imported automatically with built-in animation into the Simulink environment as SimMechanics blocks. The model is useful for the visualisation of mechanical parts modelled in CAD. Multiple parts can be combined to form a scene using the VRML-export approach. Figure 4 (C). Direct connectivity to FlightGear simulator project is an open-source, multiplatform, cooperative flight simulator development project. It is a flight simulator framework for visualising flight simulation. Aerospace Blockset provides blocks that can be used to plug data from simulations within the Simulink environment into this simulator. Figure 4 (D). Direct connectivity to MATLAB Handle Graphics: Most simulation tools will have simple 3D geometrical primitives that can be used to author simple 3D objects. This figure shows the overlay of flight simulation and actual trajectory data for a simple aircraft created with Handle Graphics in MATLAB. MathWorks Australia Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/M629

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instruments

© iStockphoto.com/Krzysztof Zmij

When a memory recorder replaces an oscilloscope Memory recorders are often confused with oscilloscopes. The truth is that memory recorders are specfically designed for industrial situations and oscilloscopes are not. A memory recorder comes into its own when, for example, there is a service problem with a PLC-based control system driving, among other things, a phase-fired SCR industrial process heater. Without describing a set of circuits in unnecessary detail, it isn’t hard to imagine that the diagnostic methods will involve thermocouples and perhaps RTDs, limit switches (some of which are in power circuits) and measurement of floating voltages. Measurement of millivolt signals sitting on top of large AC loop voltages, floating at high DC voltage or large voltage value signals (for example, the direct phase angle firing observation on SCRs), becomes a real problem for oscilloscopes but not so for a memory recorder. Of course, there are input signal modules that can be bought to use with oscilloscopes “So it is clear a memory recorder but the measurement procedures get messy. is tailor made for industrial With a vibration problem there’s a possible service situations whereas an very difficult problem with motor bearings showing early failure. There’s a need to measure oscilloscope is suited to benchharmonics directly on the motor windings style servicing.” - for a delta wired field, its phase-to-phase measurement (no ground reference) because there can be a presence of negative sequence harmonics, like the fifth. Not only that, a vibration analyser is needed plus something else like an FFT function to show a frequency spectrum. A service problem has occured with a recloser on a remote SWER system. The CT/PT relay and three-phase recloser require monitoring of course, the recloser operating at 19 kV needs to be taken offline but checking on the timing of the three pole sections is a job for a memory recorder, such as a Hioki MR8880-20. Connected to the PT, the fast response of the recorder is well suited to monitoring input waveforms, as well as the operation of the contacts. A service problem has occured with a CNC - again there’s the complication of control circuitry and large numbers of switches, proximity switches operating at various voltage and current levels. The situation can be handled by oscilloscopes but often in a very complicated way - and using more than just the oscilloscope - as indicated by the vibration analysis example. In building maintenance, adjustment of elevator floor levels, operation of brake thrusters and the overall operation of control logic and operation of DALI lighting control as well as HVAC monitoring and building energy management systems are all well within the capacity of a fast memory recorder that facilitates the servicing. In the case of the MR8880-20 HiCorder, the large number of input modules makes the instrument suitable for the tasks mentioned earlier. 34 What's New in Electronics - July 2012

Not only does it have a fast sampling time (1 µs), large onboard storage (1 MW per channel) but there is a useful range of input modules including temperature, strain, charge-sensitive, FFT, frequency, current and CAN. The latter is useful in vehicle and general CAN-bus systems. Charge-sensitive input modules can be used with piezoelectric transducers to measure acceleration and vibration forces. The FFT modules equipped with antialiasing filters provide a large number of analytical applications including harmonics and interharmonics. Apart from direct measurement of frequency, the frequency module can also function as an integrator with voltage to frequency converters. The eight logic channels that are part of a memory recorder are invaluable in allowing, in addition to logic control monitoring, a flexible triggering range using AND/NAND an OR/ NOR digital signal combinations. Analog triggers include in-window, outof-window, glitch triggering (crossing of a threshold with a pulse width shorter than the reference pulse width) and event triggers based on the occurrence of a number of preset events. So it is clear a memory recorder is tailor made for industrial service situations whereas an oscilloscope is suited to bench-style servicing. In a field situation with a large mix of analog and digital signals, floating signals, signals with large common voltage levels and mechanical parameters to be monitored, an oscilloscope, although theoretically up to the task, would in practice be exceedingly clumsy to use. Power Parameters Pty Ltd Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/N977

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What’s New in Electronics Jul 2012  

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