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WHAT'S NEW IN ELECTRONICS MAY/JUNE 2013

COVER STORY

CONTENTS 4

Fibre still coming to terms with copper

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Upgraded PCB design

14

F-35 soars when it comes to stealth and sensors At element14, we are celebrating our 25-year

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Short circuits

anniversary in ANZ of providing high-quality components and service to our valued customers.

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Fourfold increase in TV screen resolution

We believe in innovation, not only of our products, but also of our overall value offering. Over this next season we will be continuing to drive change

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Commercialising battery with super storage

in the electronic component market, to lead and pioneer the way for the benefit of our customers and the industry. You’re talking, we’re listening.

31

Multijunction solar cell breaks efficiency barrier

Over the last few months we have driven change right across our own business to enhance our quoting capabilities. Within the first month of

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The Grumpy page

launching this initiative we have had over 5000 quotes arranged and saved our customers over 50% on standard pricing. We have also enhanced the abilities of our on-site technical support staff by implementing rigorous training programs to enhance their knowledge of over 80,000 locally stocked products and our additional 320,000+ components that we can source from one of our many worldwide warehouses. Additionally, we have pushed deeper into our top-tier supplier relationships so we can offer more value for your product investment. In 2013, we will continue to be wherever our customers are - whether it is bringing the element14 Macquarie Park Roadshow, attending CeBIT or even hosting OzBerryPi event nights, we’re there. We are committed to setting the benchmark in high-value products and service. Here’s to another 25 years of the continued partnership of our valued clients. element14 au.element14.com


FIBRE STILL COMING TO TERMS WITH COPPER Bob Hult, Bishop & Associates Inc

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Fibre-optic links have been a mainstay media in the telecommunications industry for many years. Fibre offers a number of specific advantages over copper interfaces, including: much-reduced attenuation and signal distortion over long distances; greatly increased bandwidth; immunity from EMI/ESD; much-reduced cable bulk and weight; reduced latency; no electrical shock hazard or ground loop potential; and greater data security.

F

ibre has become the media of choice in medium- to long-haul, high-speed applications across additional segments, including remote storage, networking, cable television and high-performance computing. The compelling advantages of fibre prompted many predictions of the demise of copper with a fibre alternative. The limiting factor has largely been economic. Until optical computing becomes a reality, fibre links must include electro-optic conversion at both ends, a process that takes up valuable space, consumes power and adds cost. Although the economically practical range of fibre-optic cable assemblies continues to shorten as component costs go down, copper continues to dominate today. Continuing advances in high-speed signal conditioning together with improved cable and connector design have allowed engineers to push copper interconnects to 10+ Gbps with the next target shaping up to be 25 Gbps. At some point, the laws of physics, including the effects of attenuation, skew, crosstalk and sensitivity to EMI, will begin to limit the practical length of high-speed copper links. All these negative effects increase with speed and length of the link. Many system designers today are choosing copper patch cables from the servers to top of rack, but going with fibre on longer rack-to-rack links to support the aggregated speed. Indeed, shorter cables have become the fastest growth segment for fibre-optic cable assemblies. To ‘futureproof’ an installation, some systems have adopted fibre in all I/O ports, taking advantage of the reduced cable bulk now, while having the installed infrastructure capable of supporting the bandwidth requirements of next-generation equipment. Many system designers are choosing to use pluggable I/O interconnects, including SFP+ and QSFP+, which provide both copper and fibre options. These modules offer high-speed I/O as well as increased port density. Active optical cables, which mate with traditional copper I/O connectors, offer another alternative. Electrical signals are converted to optical pulses within the connector body, which are propagated through fibre cable. Active

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optical cables add a degree of configuration flexibility in existing installations. Active optical cable assemblies are available with standard SFP+, QSFP+, CXP and CX4 connectors. At 25 Gbps, it may be difficult for copper backplane interconnects to reach 1 m preferred channel length target without the use of exotic PCB materials, advanced signal conditioning silicone and greatly tightened manufacturing tolerances, all of which add cost. These limitations will continue to open new opportunities for the use of fibre both inside and outside the box. Efforts to determine how the advantages of FO links can be used inside the box have been under investigation for at least 15 years. A variety of backplane concepts that featured embedded light pipes have been proposed. Optical signals generated on daughtercards would be channelled down to the surface of the PCB, where they would be directed 90° into an optic plane. Unique backplane connectors would conduct the optic signal across a pluggable interface. Optical links embedded in the backplane would direct high-speed signals to the appropriate daughtercards. Other concepts embedded the electro-optic conversion into the backplane connector, which allows the use of conventional copper-based daughtercards. Again, added costs, additional risk due to the introduction of new technology and the lack of a compelling application have kept these concepts in the development lab. Several connector manufacturers, including Amphenol, Molex and TE Connectivity, have introduced optical interconnect systems designed to facilitate the use of discrete optical transmitters on the daughtercard. A pigtail fibre from the transceiver is passed through a conventional backplane to a mating optical connector with an optic loop to another board slot. These physically large transceivers and proprietary connector systems have tended to be expensive and have seen limited commercial acceptance. More recently, advances in miniaturised optical transmitters, as well as the science of silicon photonics, are presenting opportunities to bring cost-effective optical links inside the box.

MAY/JUNE 2013 5


LINKING UP IBM AND INTEL HAVE DEVELOPED HYBRID SILICON OPTICAL DEVICES THAT OPERATE AT UP TO 40 GBPS. THE OBJECTIVE IS TO INCREASE THE BANDWIDTH OF CHIP-TO-CHIP COMMUNICATION BY TRANSITIONING FROM ELECTRICAL TO OPTICAL SIGNALLING

Š iStockphoto.com/tunart

ON THE SAME CHIP.

About two years ago, Intel announced its LightPeak optical I/O interface, with a bidirectional bandwidth of over 10 Gbps. It remains in the lab, while its copper Thunderbolt sister product has been implemented into a number of Apple-related products. A series of new optical interfaces designed for high-speed applications inside the box have entered the market. Reflex Photonics introduced its PCBmounted LightABLE optical engine that mates with an MT-terminated ribbon fibre connector. Each of these low-profile modules provides 12 transmit or receive channels at up to 11.2 Gbps. The module is surface mounted via BGA attachment. The light on board concept is designed to support optically enabled ASIC packaging by mounting active devices and LightABLE optical engines on the common substrate. The PRIZM LightTurn connector from US Conec is a miniature separable ribbon fibre connector designed for applications that use high-speed parallel optical transceivers. The unique housing provides accurate prealignment as well as keying and latching. Suppliers, including Molex and Timbercon, now offer custom cable assemblies using the PRIZM LightTurn connector. Avago has introduced its MicroPOD and MiniPOD parallel optical transmitters, which provide 12 channels, each transmitting at more than 10 Gbps over ribbonised fibre-optic cable. MicroPODs are only 8.2 x 7.8 mm and are designed for direct solder or LGA socket attachment to the PCB. Altera, a manufacturer of embedded processors, ASICs and FPGAs,

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announced the first optical FPGA featuring the Avago MicroPOD optical interface. The result is a 12-channel link between devices with an aggregate bandwidth of 150 Gbps. Questions have been raised about these connectors interfering with heat sinks, but the concept of direct chip-to-chip optical links is appealing. Samtec has entered this market with its FireFly micro flyover system that allows a designer to choose either copper or fibre interfacing to a common PCB connector. The copper option uses 38 AWG ribbon coax cable, while the fibre version includes a miniature optical engine with an integrated heat sink. Both provide up to 28 Gb, bidirectional, protocol-agnostic transmission. The PCB connector can be mounted on a daughtercard or directly on a semiconductor package to minimise PCB trace losses. Applications include chip-to-chip, board-toboard and system- to-system interconnections. High-speed communication between chips on the same board can become a performance bottleneck. Copper links experience dielectric attenuation, as well as via structure reflections, skew and frequency-dependent crosstalk. As system speeds continue to increase, this problem will only grow worse. Silicon photonics enables the integration of electrical and optical elements on the same chip. Building optical components on the common silicon substrate allows fabrication of advanced electro-optical chips using conventional chip manufacturing processes. IBM and Intel have developed hybrid silicon optical devices that operate at up to 40 Gbps. The objective is to increase the bandwidth of

chip-to-chip communication by transitioning from electrical to optical signalling on the same chip. These development projects are focused on hybrid photonic devices fabricated on silicon substrates, the base of most current integrated circuits. Except for the verticalcavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) light source, all elements of the optical transmitter and receiver are integrated at the wafer level. IBM recently announced the ability to fabricate optical and copper structures on the same die. This opens the possibility of powerful processors that feature optical I/O using conventional manufacturing processes. Research is being carried out with the aim of creating direct high-speed optical chip-tochip communication channels. Cisco recently joined the ranks of photonic IC developers with a prototype chip that integrates a laser, an optical lens, multiplexer and a CMOS modulator. Additional optical communication specialists working on integrated photonic devices include Aurrion, Kotura, Luxtera and OneChip Photonics. Advances in silicon photonics may provide the technology to eventually usher in true photonic computing. New applications for fibre-optic links inside the box continue to pop up. There have been several recent articles written about interest in implementing PCI Express Gen 3 via optical cabling. Huge potential exists as networks evolve to 40 and 100+ Gbps data rates. Initial applications would likely appear in enterprise equipment, but could eventually expand into the vast market for consumer products. Dow Corning and IBM recently announced the development of a new flexible polymer material that can be fabricated into optical waveguides using conventional printed circuit board manufacturing techniques. It is possible that we may start seeing optical backplanes in high-end systems within the next five years. Broad adoption of on-chip optical interconnects may be the next disruptive technology to shake up the market, but is likely many years off. In the long haul, photon-based computing, if ever realised, could revolutionise the industry. In the short term, miniature active optical cable assemblies now entering the market may offer a cost-effective alternative to copper for interconnection within the box. Robin Pearce, Bishop & Associates rpearce@bishopinc.com

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What’s New now features MORE PRODUCTS. Use the link at the end of each item for MORE information. We also now feature Case Studies … see page 10 this issue!

TUNABLE RF COMPONENTS ON Semiconductor’s family of tunable RF components (TRFC) is designed to aid engineers developing the latest generation smartphones. The devices combine tuning range, RF quality factor (Q) and frequency operation, providing a good solution to existing fixed approaches.

Arrow Electronics Australia Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T413

SECURITY LIGHT The Marl 742 Series security light is a solid state lighting (SSL) product with only 20 W power consumption to replace a 70 W SON. The light output offers high compatibility with CCTV and significantly enhances the quality of image capture, eg, face recognition. The product has a 100-240 VAC input and is coloured daylight white. Other features include reduced light pollution and optional dawn/ dusk sensor.

Aerospace & Defence Products For more info on this product wf.net.au/S669

USB 3.0-SATA3 BRIDGE SoC The SuperSpeed Universal Serial Bus (USB 3.0) to Serial ATA (SATA) Revision 3 [Note] bridge SoC (system on chip, part number µPD720231) enables the reduction of the total BOM significantly. The uPD720231 enables effective multigigabit per second (Gbps) data transfer between a USB 3.0 host system and a SATA device used in widely adopted external USB hard drives and solid state drives (SSD).

I7/I5/I3 MINI ITX MOTHERBOARD Axiomtek’s MANO861 industrial-grade Mini ITX motherboard based on the Intel H61 Express chipset is designed for the 3rd Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3 processors in LGA1155 socket.

Adept Total Turnkey Solutions For more info on this product wf.net.au/T512

Renesas Technology Singapore Pte Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T328

SOLAR CHARGER With its MPPT algorithm ensuring close to 100% panel utilisation and efficiency up to 96.5%, the galvanic isolated solar charger sets new standards for renewable and hybrid power in telecommunications.

Eltek Australia For more info on this product wf.net.au/T292

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MAY/JUNE 2013

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New technology helps Daimler achieve 70% energy savings

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he potential for innovations in enclosure cooling units is far from exhausted. There is still significant scope for boosting efficiency, as verified by a pilot application at Daimler AG in Sindelfingen. The automotive manufacturer, one of the world's leading suppliers of premium cars, put the new energy-saving cooling

units from Rittal's ‘Blue e’ generation through an exhaustive battery of live tests. The outcome revealed that converting more than 250 cooling units to the new energy-saving technology would enable savings of 490 tonnes of CO2 each year - which translates into six-figure savings in operating costs. For Daimler AG, environmental protection is an integral part of the corporate strategy. The automotive manufacturer’s claim to ‘Green Technology Leadership’ begins with the vehicle technology - hybrid, fuel cell and electric vehicles - and extends into its production plant. For example, at the Sindelfingen press plant that consumes around 40,000 MWh a year, there is significant potential for improving energy efficiency. At this plant, pressed parts are manufactured for virtually the entire vehicle portfolio, which includes Smart, Mercedes-Benz and Maybach. Significant savings can be made here with the efficient cooling of enclosures and switchgear systems. Until now, Daimler has relied predominantly on standard cooling units from Rittal, with a few exceptions. However, a direct comparison with the new Rittal ‘Blue e’ refrigeration units revealed potential energy savings of up to 70%. While the former demanded 1169.6 kWh of primary energy, the new units required 345.8 kWh for operation under identical conditions. On the basis of these test results, Daimler AG decided to replace the old cooling units with new ones as soon as possible, and to refit all switchgear in the press plant by 2012. The automotive manufacturers placed an order for more than 250 new units, even before they were officially available.  Once all the cooling units have been replaced, the electricity saving at the Sindelfingen press plant will total some 754,000 kWh a year, corresponding to around 490 tonnes of CO2 - not to mention operating costs of around 116,000 a year. In the past, maintenance work on the conventional cooling units was a major cost factor for Daimler AG. “We invest a lot of time and effort in frequent replacement of the filters. The tough ambient conditions mean that they need to be replaced every week,” said Harald Bölle, Head of Industrial and Building Systems - Electrics at Daimler AG in Sindelfingen. The nano-coated condensers of the new cooling units, on the other hand, cut maintenance costs to an absolute minimum. Their surface is refined with a glass-hard and extremely smooth coating (RiNano) and the energy consumption for cooling no longer increases with time. “The nano-coated units will significantly reduce our maintenance requirements. It is sufficient to simply blow out the cooling fins,” says Bölle. The cooling units feature an integrated condensate evaporator and are available in wall- and roof-mounted versions.  Rittal recently launched the ‘Blue e’ generation cooling units for the output range from 500 to 4000 W at the Hannover Messe 2013. The product range covers variants with single- and three-phase power supplies or for operation at 50/60 Hz. The TopTherm units will continue to be supplied where customers require a basic controller. Both product families are designed with identical dimensions, enabling exchange in both directions without mechanical modifications to the enclosure. Rittal Pty Ltd

Contact info and more items like this at wf.net.au/T674

10 MAY/JUNE 2013

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UPGRADED PCB DESIGN Can your printed circuit board (PCB) operate in a liquid? Is your PCB secure against reverse engineering? Do you want your PCB to be smaller? Do you want better performance from your PCB? Hybrid Electronics Australia manufactures thick film hybrid electronic circuits which can replace PCBs, be integrated with PCBs or upgrade PCBs.

A

thick film hybrid is an alternative to a printed circuit board (PCB).  It is generally smaller, claimed to be competitively priced, gives intellectual property protection by being fully encapsulated and is more robust than a PCB.  A hybrid can work underwater, buried in sand and in extreme heat. In most cases a PCB cannot.

What is a thick film hybrid? A hybrid is a combination of semiconductor and ceramic (or metal) technologies. Resistors on PCBs are mounted, whereas on hybrids they are printed, fired and laser trimmed to any value. A hybrid can be more precise and smaller in size than a PCB.

How is it made? Hybrids are made using screen printing processes with stainless steel screens and firing the printed and dried inks into the surface of the ceramic or dielectric coated metal substrate. This firing process is generally at 850°C ±1° for resistor firing.

Why use hybrids rather than PCBs? Smaller size:  Resistors are printed, fired and laser trimmed and can be smaller than soldered chip resistors (that are the same technology). Generally, the space saving is at least 50% of PCB board area. Higher accuracy:  • Resistors can be laser trimmed to closer tolerances. • Resistors can be ratio trimmed with other resistors. • Resistors can be ‘active trimmed’ to calibrate the function of a circuit running during the trimming process or to match the tolerance values of capacitors. • Resistors are more stable as hybrid electronics uses inks generally capable of ±50 ppm/°C compared with chip resistors of 200 or 300 ppm/°C. • Resistor values can be fractional ohms to gigohms without leakage problems or thermal problems causing instability or noise. Higher reliability: The ‘fired’ connections of resistors, tracks and dielectrics are claimed to be more reliable than the soldered and plated through connections of PCBs. Higher security: Hybrid circuits are usually encapsulated in epoxies that are very difficult to remove

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without damaging the circuitry. This provides added security of intellectual property that is necessary in this day of ‘reverse engineering’.

Questions frequently asked: What about EMC? Ceramic substrates (with an earth plane on the back) are more resistant to EMC issues than PCBs due to the high dielectric constant of the ceramic ~8.5. Also, metal substrates can have the metal grounded and, of course, isolated with a dielectric layer from the multilayer circuitry on the higher layers.

What about cost? Hybrids manufactured at Hybrid Electronics are claimed to be cost competitive with PCBs.  The company has  developed a 100% plate microprocessor programming and testing robotic technology that programs and tests assembled multicomponent plates. This is claimed to give  it an ‘edge’ over PCB assembled circuits.

What about high frequencies? Hybrid Electronics has made 1 gigahertz antenna amplifiers using printed inductors, capacitors and resistors that had a flat response as well as what is claimed as the lowest noise figure on the market.

Is the company quality certified? Hybrid Electronics Australia is quality certified and complies with the requirements for ISO 9001:2008. Technologies of hybrids at Hybrid Electronics include: • Stable thick film thermistor ink used for temperature measurement and fluid flow measurement. • Two-thermistor element and single-thermistor element fluid flow technologies. • Patented thick film technology on titanium used for fluid temperature and flow measurement as well as fluid pressure measurement. • Strain element on titanium technology allowing more sensitive strain sensing measurements and fluid pressure measurements due to the relative flexibility of titanium. • Robotic 100% plate testing of circuits. Hybrid Electronics Australia Pty Ltd

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DIGITAL PRESSURE TRANSMITTER Automated Control and STS introduce the DTM digital pressure transmitter. The DTM is a compact unit with robust stainless steel assembly, incorporating a piezoresistive measuring element.

Automated Control Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T329

TECHNICIAN TABLE Tech Innovations Australia has introduced TechTable, a technician table which is designed specifically for the telecommunications industry. The table is designed to improve a technician’s efficiency, performance and comfort. It is claimed to provide up to a 24% increase in daily productivity and eliminate manual handling risks associated with terminating LAN infrastructure cabling.

Anixter Australia Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T425

3U COMPACTPCI SERIAL PROCESSOR BOARD The Kontron CPS3003-SA 3U CompactPCI Serial (CPCIS.0) processor board comes equipped with the latest 3rd generation Intel Core i7 processors and, for the first time, offers PCI Express Gen 3.0, USB 3.0, SATA 6G and gigabit ethernet over backplane.

Kontron Australia Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T459

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F-35 SOARS WHEN IT COMES TO STEALTH AND SENSORS Lauren Davis

It has taken over 10 years and $60 billion, but Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II aircraft is edging closer towards becoming a reality. The fifth-generation military aeroplane is currently being promoted on a five-week tour of Australia that will culminate at the Avalon Airshow. The tour includes a mobile flight demonstrator that showcases the actual size and operation of the plane’s cockpit.

S

peaking on the Sydney leg of the tour on 15 February, Dave Scott, Director of F-35 Customer Engagement for Lockheed Martin, explained that the aircraft has been developed to cover both current and emerging threats for which existing models - the F-15s, F-16s and F-18s - would not suffice. So in 2001, the US and eight partner nations, including Australia, joined together to develop the F-35 program, a new type of aeroplane that was based around stealth. Australia has contributed $125 million for the development phase of the project and will be adding another $70 million when we buy planes in the production phase, which should be delivered in about a year. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin has 78 contracts totalling $300 million with 26 Australian companies who are providing components - as the project progresses into the build process, this will grow to $5-6 billion. There will be nearly 4000 F-35s built for the US and internationally across three different variants - normal take-off, vertical take-off and carrier-based. The plane has one engine

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and cockpit, with Scott saying only one pilot is needed to fly the plane because of its advanced electronics systems. Furthermore, data links will allow groups of aeroplanes to fight cooperatively, exchanging information back and forth and being “much more integrated than in any current generation aeroplane”. “Capability is built around software,” said Scott. “We have about 9.4 million lines of code in this aeroplane, which is about four times larger than fourth-generation aeroplanes.” Explaining the electronic features in detail was Elliot Clemence, who has been a test pilot since 2003. He said the three main things pilots like about the plane are its sensor fusion, stealth, and electronic attack and electronic protection. Sensor fusion is important because it reduces a pilot’s workload in a high-threat environment, where the pilot has to be focused at all times. “Think of it as if you’re driving along and you’re texting on your phone, and you’re turning the radio down, and you’re programming the GPS - are you really driving? No, you’re worried about all those other tasks,” said Clemence.

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MULTIROLE FIGHTERS

THE LOCKHEAD MARTIN F-35 COCKPIT IS DESIGNED TO BE INTUITIVE, WITH A TOUCH SCREEN AND VOICE ACTIVATION TO CONTROL SIMPLE FUNCTIONS LIKE TEMPERATURE, SO THE PILOT DOESN’T NEED TO BE

© Lockheed Martin

REACHING AROUND FOR DIFFERENT SWITCHES.

“Sensor fusion simplifies all those tasks in the cockpit. It takes all the information from the sensors and automatically combines it into a coherent, common operating picture for the pilot. So he doesn’t have to cue his sensors; so he doesn’t have to go search for information somewhere; so he doesn’t have to do those texting-type tasks that really distract. “And if it’s missing a piece of data that it needs, like threat identification, it will task a certain sensor automatically to go get that piece of information.” The stealth of the aeroplane comes down to the design of its body, each part of which is intended to avoid radar detection. So the fuel and weapons tanks are internal, the engine is at the back of the plane and the antennas have been embedded into the craft. Furthermore, the plane’s own radar operates in special modes that enable it to avoid detection. This stealth allows the F-35 to get closer to the threat, which allows it to employ its electronic attack (ie, radar jamming) and electronic protection. “We’re dealing with who can see who first and who can shoot who first,” said Clemence. “If you have a good jamming platform, then you can blind the other guy. If you have good electronic protection, that means you can prevent him from blinding you, which means you can see him first and get your missiles off first. “That is where the F-35 really shines.” Unlike

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other planes, the F-35 does not have a fixed heads-up display (HUD) containing its flight information - rather, the pilot wears a helmet which projects a virtual heads-up display into its visor. The HUD is linked to the plane’s distributed aperture system six electro-optical infrared sensors placed around the aeroplane. “The data from these sensors are stitched together to give the pilot a 360° spherical image of the outside world. No other aeroplane has that,” said Clemence. He added that not only does this give the plane an advantage when it comes to missile and aircraft detection, but video can be pumped into the visor to allow the pilot to see the outside world. “We’ve done recent testing where the test pilot actually put a vision-restrictive device over his visor, so he couldn’t optically see the outside world, but he had the sensor information pumped into his visor and he was able to virtually see the outside world,” said Clemence. “We can basically make the night into day and see in other spectrums.” The cockpit is designed to be intuitive, with a touch screen and voice activation to control simple functions like temperature, so the pilot doesn’t need to be reaching around for different switches. Clemence said it is the simplest cockpit he has ever been in. “It seems pretty bare, but that’s because all the functions are pretty much on the glass,” he said. “For somebody who is used to knobs and switches and old avionics, it takes a little bit of getting used to. But after a couple of flights, you start building cockpit efficiency and you really start to enjoy it.” One certainly does not need to be a computer genius to operate the systems, with Clemence saying that though he is not computer-savvy, he can operate the plane “because it is designed to be that easy”. Indeed, when attendees of the event were given the opportunity to ‘fly’ in the cockpit demonstrator, we found out what Clemence meant. The screen in front of us displayed information such as altitude, air speed, distance from potential targets and more. With just a few directions from Lockheed Martin staff about which buttons to press and which way to direct the control stick, we were able to take off, land and even shoot down targets. Scott admitted that it will be a while before the project is completed, with development testing set to conclude in late 2016 and US services still to conduct their own operational tests after that. But Lockheed Martin is clearly confident about the F-35, with Scott saying the plane is “essential for future security and for future deterrence”, especially in the midsts of a shift in the capabilities of fighter fleets around the world. “This is the move from VCRs to DVDs,” he said. “You do not want to be left buying the last VCR.

MAY/JUNE 2013 15


USB HOST CONTROLLER IC The FT313H host controller IC supports USB 2.0 high-speed (480 Mbps), full-speed (12 Mbps) and low-speed (1.5 Mbps) implementations. Designed for easy integration, it adds high-speed connectivity capability into a system through its support of standard USB class drivers.

Glyn Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/S731

FPGA FOR MINIATURE SYSTEMS Enabling designers to rapidly add new features and differentiate cost-sensitive, space-constrained, low-power products, the small footprint iCE40 LP384 FPGA from Lattice Semiconductor is suitable for applications such as portable medical monitors, smartphones,

USB COAXIAL SWITCH

digital cameras, e-readers and compact embedded systems.

The U1810B USB-powered, single-pole, double-throw coaxial switch operates from DC to 18 GHz. Claimed to be the firstto-market microwave switch driven by a USB port, the switch

Allyanz Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T523

will provide system-design and manufacturing engineers a long-operating-life solution with convenient RF switching. The switch will support the standard plug-and-play functionality of typical USB devices, eliminating the need for additional power adapters or drivers, and simplifying set-up.

Agilent Technologies Aust Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/S700

DC/DC SWITCHING REGULATOR MODULES 2.4 GHZ SoC

Recom has released two series of switching regulators, the

Nordic Semiconductor has produced

R-78E in SIP3 and the ROF-78E, in

a lower cost variant of its nRF51822

low-profile SMD packages. The R-78E

Bluetooth low energy and proprietary

has an input range from 5 to 28 V while

2.4 GHz SoC (system-on-chip) that will

the ROF-78E has a wider input range

offer an identical feature, peripherals

of 5 to 36 V.

and performance set but half the flash

RECOM Asia Pte Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/S777

memory at 128 KB and be based on the same nRF51 Series technology platform.

Nu Horizons Electronics Asia Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T375

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FANLESS EMBEDDED CONTROLLER The Neousys Nuvo-1300af is claimed to be the world’s first i7 fanless embedded controller with integrated gigabit PoE ports. It integrates four gigabit PoE ports, compliant with the IEEE 802.3af standard.

Madison Technologies For more info on this product wf.net.au/T456

ONLINE THERMAL SIMULATION TOOL Vishay Intertechnology has introduced the latest version of its free ThermaSim online thermal simulation tool for power MOSFETs, microBUCK power ICs and DrMOS products: ThermaSim 3.0.

Future Electronics For more info on this product wf.net.au/T467

APPLICATION BOARD RS Components has available an mbed application board that supports rapid prototyping. The board is 54 x 86 mm and is specifically designed for use with the mbed NXP LPC1768 microcontroller module. Providing multifunctional capability, the board enables the maximum number of potential experiments and projects, while retaining board footprint at a minimum.

RS Components Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T243

EMBEDDED WIRELESS MODULES Sierra Wireless’s architecture for embedded wireless communications is designed to simplify and accelerate the development and deployment of M2M solutions. The architecture will be available across 2G to 4G technologies in the next generation of AirPrime embedded wireless modules, which are equipped with powerful multicore processor with dedicated application core and integrated M2M functionality that simplifies system design, lowers total system cost and dramatically reduces power consumption.

Sierra Wireless For more info on this product wf.net.au/T341 WWW.ELECTRONICSONLINE.NET.AU

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SHORTcircuits BORING INTO THE SURFACE OF MARS Since its landing on Mars last August, NASA JPL’s rover had yet to utilise its drilling arm to full capacity. However, that all changed in February 2013 when the Mars Rover Curiosity officially bored its first hole into the Martian surface. Seen as the rover’s most complex device, the robotic drilling arm penetrated what is identified as a “flat, veiny rock” to collect its first samples. This collection marks the first sampling of any rover on Mars. Helping to ensure the success of this drilling mission, Futek Advanced Sensor Technology designed and developed two customised sensors. Within the drill sits a thru-hole load cell Futek manufactured to measure the forces of the drill bit as it bores into the Martian terrain. Meanwhile, a multi-axial sensor sits at the base of the rover’s robotic arm, monitoring the arm’s manoeuvres. This three-component sensor provides feedback to the operating device identifying the levels of torsion and force applied to the arm. These precision instruments led to a 16 mm wide and 63 mm deep hole in the Martian bedrock. This particular location showed evidence of water/ moisture saturation. Futek awaits Curiosity’s analysis of the rock sample over the next few days to confirm this theory. Ground controllers will guide Curiosity through multiple stages of investigation within the rover’s Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) device. Futek Advanced Technology is represented in Australia and New Zealand by Metromatics.

NEW AUSTRALIAN/NEW ZEALAND STANDARD FOR ELECTRONIC WASTE

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© iStockphoto.com/Rafal Glebowski

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Standards Australia has released a new Australian/New Zealand Standard for electronic waste. “The standard will help to divert e-waste from landfill by providing a rigorous process for its collection, storage and recycling,” said Colin Blair, Chief Executive Officer, Standards Australia. The joint Australian and New Zealand Standard, ‘AS/NZS 5377:2013 Collection, storage, transport and treatment of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment’ will outline minimum requirements for the safe and environmentally sound handling of e-waste. Blair said the standard sets out principles and minimum requirements for end-of-life electrical equipment in order to maximise re-use, reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, safeguard worker health and minimise environmental harm. “The standard states that a lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation or adverse health and safety effects. The standard sends a strong message regarding the environmental concerns of e-waste,” Blair said. Blair said the standard recognises that there are laws in place regulating how to comply with occupational health and safety requirements and environmental performance, and that Australia and New Zealand are signatories to international agreements on environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and pollutants. “The standard enhances existing environmental protections and international obligations, while establishing the processes required to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill,” Blair said. Senator Don Farrell, Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, welcomed the new standard, which aligns with the Australian Government’s goal of ensuring that e-waste is managed in a manner that protects human health and the environment. c . “The new standard will complement the Australian Government’s National Television o ot ph ck o t and Computer Recycling Scheme under which recycling services for televisions and S ©i computers are being rolled out to communities across Australia,” Senator Farrell said. “Householders and businesses can drop off unwanted e-waste products confident that the valuable materials they contain will be recovered and that any hazardous materials will not enter the environment. The standard also provides environmentally effective guidelines for industry and will help ensure that, from 1 July 2014, at least 90% of all materials in e-waste collected under the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme are recovered for use in new products.”


NEWS, VIEWS & REVIEWS

TRANSIENT AND VANISHING ELECTRONICS FOR THE BATTLEFIELD

National Instruments has released Embedded Systems Outlook 2013. The report outlines technology, application and business-level trends that will impact the development of embedded systems in the next one to three years. It is intended to assist engineers and scientists in a wide variety of application areas, from energy and life sciences to industrial control and transportation, as they navigate the rapidly changing business and technology landscape. With insight from the report, engineers and managers will be better prepared to develop and maintain innovative embedded systems. The report discusses the following trends: • Reconfigurable heterogeneous architectures: when faster CPU cores fall short, embedded system designers are combining heterogeneous processing elements to meet application needs. • The digital energy revolution: digital technologies are changing the way we manipulate, move, control and store energy. • Democratisation of embedded system design: many design teams are abandoning larger specialised teams for smaller groups focused on translating domain expertise into realised innovation. • Total economic profitability: more companies are adopting a comprehensive approach that considers not only cost benefit analysis but also factors like flexibility and risk. • Embedded vision: technology originally used in high-volume consumer devices is powering a new generation of intelligent embedded systems. To read the report, visit http://www.ni.com/eso.

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© iStockphoto.com/kyoshino

NI RELEASES EMBEDDED SYSTEMS OUTLOOK 2013

The sophisticated electronics used by warfighters in everything from radios, remote sensors and even phones can now be made at such a low cost that they are pervasive throughout the battlefield. These electronics have become necessary for operations, but it is almost impossible to track and recover every device. At the end of operations, these electronics are often found scattered across the battlefield and might be captured by the enemy and repurposed or studied to compromise a country’s strategic technological advantage. What if these electronics simply disappeared when no longer needed? In the US, DARPA has announced the Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program with the aim of revolutionising the state of the art in transient electronics or electronics capable of dissolving into the environment around them. Transient electronics developed under VAPR should maintain the current functionality and ruggedness of conventional electronics, but, when triggered, be able to degrade partially or completely into their surroundings. Once triggered to dissolve, these electronics would be useless to any enemy who might come across them. “The commercial off-the-shelf, or COTS, electronics made for everyday purchases are durable and last nearly forever,” said Alicia Jackson, DARPA program manager. “DARPA is looking for a way to make electronics that last precisely as long as they are needed. The breakdown of such devices could be triggered by a signal sent from command or any number of possible environmental conditions, such as temperature.” DARPA has posted a special announcement for a Proposers’ Day to be held in advance of a full solicitation in the form of a broad agency announcement. Performers are sought to conduct basic research into materials, devices, manufacturing and integration processes, and design methodology that will enable a revolutionary shift in transient electronics capabilities. The program seeks to culminate in a technology demonstration that builds a circuit representative of an environmental or biomedical sensor that is able to communicate with a remote user. “DARPA has previously demonstrated that transient electronics might be used to fight infections at surgical sites,” said Jackson. “Now, we want to develop a revolutionary new class of electronics for a variety of systems whose transience does not require submersion in water. This is a tall order, and we imagine a multidisciplinary approach. Teams will likely need industry experts who understand circuits, integration and design. Performers from the material science community will be sought to develop novel substrates. There’s lots of room for innovation by clever people with diverse expertise.”

MAY/JUNE 2013 19


RESISTANCE METER The Hioki Model 3544 resistance meter is a four-terminal instrument providing a basic resolution of 1 µΩ and has a large measurement range from 30 mΩ to 3.5 MΩ at a maximum measurable current of 300 mA.

Power Parameters Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T141

SUBRACK SYSTEM DIGITAL STORAGE OSCILLOSCOPE SERIES The Tektronix TBS1000 digital storage oscilloscope series

The Verotec KM6-HD subrack system, although primarily designed for military use, is suitable for any rugged application

provides affordable performance in a compact design. It offers

where resistance to shock and vibration is required.

ease-of-use features including 16 automated measurements,

Lektronics Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T195

built-in waveform limit testing, a probe check wizard and multiple language user interfaces.

element14 For more info on this product wf.net.au/T491

DIGITAL 800 W BULK FRONT-END POWER SUPPLY The DS800SL-3 800 W bulk front-end power supply has a high efficiency of 92% when operating at half load from a 230 VAC input, combined with a typical power factor in excess of 0.99.

Emerson Network Power For more info on this product wf.net.au/T455

20 MAY/JUNE 2013

2.4 GHZ BALUN DESIGN STMicroelectronics has developed an integrated 2.4 GHz balun design for Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF51 and nRF24 series transceivers and SoCs (systems-on-chip). It eliminates the need for RF antenna matching circuitry comprising up to eight passive components (capacitors and inductors) and the interconnections between them.

Avnet Electronics Marketing For more info on this product wf.net.au/T129

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TROUBLESHOOTING CAMERA WITH INFRARED HEAT MAP The Fluke VT02 Visual IR Thermometer is a troubleshooting camera with an infrared heat map. It helps fill the gap for when a singlespot temperature reading isn’t enough and a high-resolution thermal image is more than users need.

PRODUCT SELECTOR APP Rittal’s latest iPhone app, Rittal In-

Fluke Australia Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T458

dustrial Solutions, is a tool to assist users to create a complete Rittal solution. The product selector tool provides simplicity when choosing highest quality industrial enclosure and climate control solutions and accessories. With over 10,000 products, step-by-step selection by enclosure type, material and dimension lands the user on the exact product and specific part number with all details and accessories provided.

Rittal Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T244

FADING SIMULATION MODULE The CMW-B510F fading simulation module has been introduced for the CMW500 wideband radio communication tester. Now it is possible for smartphone or chipset manufacturers to carry out standard-compliant MIMO performance tests during LTE testing, for example. Only a single instrument is required for these tests, which minimises space requirements and set-up effort. In addition, the module supports the GSM and WCDMA standards.

Rohde & Schwarz (Australia) Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T035 WWW.ELECTRONICSONLINE.NET.AU

MAY/JUNE 2013 21


UNIVERSAL ENCODER The Turck RI360P-QR24 is a non-contact inductive universal encoder with highresolution, wear-free operation, which is at the same time immune to magnetic fields.

Turck Australia Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T416

CABLE SYSTEM Samtec’s line of coax cable systems includes a micro discrete wire coax solution for high-speed applications. The coax cable assembly (FCF8 Series) and board level connector (FCS8 Series) create a high-performance system featuring a compact design

INDUSTRIAL VIDEOSCOPE

and rugged features suitable for applications that require a

The palm-sized IPLEX Ultralite industrial videoscope weighs

space-saving, economical solution for high-speed transmission

700 g and the compact, durable body delivers high-quality

of data in micro-industrial, medical/military instrumentation and

images from inspections in tough and confined areas.

many cable-to-board, high-speed signalling applications.

Olympus Australia Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T463

Samtec ANZ For more info on this product wf.net.au/T468

Talk to the transformer company that speaks your language. Faraday offers a range of: RFI / EMI / EMC Power RF Filters EMC Antennas – Dipoles to Horns Amplifiers – RF & Microwave (DC – 4000W) and RF Modules Shielded Enclosure – Anechoic Chambers – Antenna Measurement Systems Absorber – EMC Test Boxes – MIL-STD Test Equipment RF Shielding – Magnetic Shielding – MRI Shielding

(03) 9729 5000

22 MAY/JUNE 2013

sales@faradayshielding.com.au

• Real technical engineering support • Custom Design to the major standards • Make direct replacements of standard parts • One local manufacturing facility • Two company owned China production facilities

And all available to you, so contact:

Designers & Manufacturers of Transformers and Wound Components

www.marque-magnetics.com Ph: +64 9 818 6760 F: +64 9 818 1442 E: info@marque-magnetics.com 11 Culperry Rd, Glendene, Auckland, New Zealand

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IEC INLET FILTERS

Well Connected

TDK Corporation has expanded the EPCOS B84771 IEC inlet filter series with two series: the B84773 series features an integrated fuse, while the B84776 series has both a switch and a fuse. All series are also available as versions for medical applications with a maximum leakage current of 2 µA. This makes them particularly suitable for applications for which a minimised leakage current is important.

TDK Australia For more info on this product wf.net.au/T453

DISTRIBUTED MOTOR STARTERS The distributed ELR 50xx IP PN motor starters offer all of the advantages of distributed drive technology. They offer a compact and rugged design, a stainless steel housing with IP54 protection, simple commissioning and service friendliness.

Phoenix Contact Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T403

Wide range of Cable Assemblies including: • FFCs and FPCs • Custom-Made such as Moulded RS232 Data Communications • Automotives • Waterproof & RF Cable Assemblies • Locally made Cable Assemblies for prototyping 3 Small Volumes 3 Quick Turnaround • UL Approved and RoHS Compliant Cable Assemblies Semiconductor IC’s Resistors Capacitors Potentiometers Crystals

DIGITAL POWER METERS The WT300 series digital power meters can be integrated into laboratory test benches or automated test set-ups on production lines. USB and GPIB or RS232 is fitted as standard and ethernet is available as an option.

Rapid-Tech Equipment For more info on this product wf.net.au/T381

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Oscillators Filters LED’s & LCD’s Relays Sensors

Switches Connectors Fasteners Enclosures GPS Modules

Ampec Technologies Pty Ltd Sydney: Web: E-mail:

(02) 8741-5000 www.ampec.com.au sales@ampec.com.au


FOURFOLD INCREASE IN TV SCREEN RESOLUTION A new video standard enables a fourfold increase in the resolution of TV screens, and an MIT chip was the first to handle it in real time.

I

t took only a few years for high-definition televisions to make the transition from high-priced novelty to ubiquitous commodity - and they now seem to be heading for obsolescence just as quickly. Now manufacturers are debuting new ultrahigh-definition, or UHD, models (also known as 4K or Quad HD) with four times the resolution of today’s HD TVs. In addition to screens with four times the pixels, however, UHD also requires a new video-coding standard, known as high-efficiency video coding, or HEVC. Broadcom has already announced the first commercial HEVC chip, which it said will go into volume production in mid-2014. MIT researchers have also unveiled a HEVC chip. The researchers’ design was executed by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, through its University Shuttle Program, and Texas Instruments (TI) funded the chip’s development. Although the MIT chip isn’t intended for commercial release, its developers believe that the challenge of implementing HEVC algorithms in silicon helps illustrate design principles that could be broadly useful. Moreover, “because now we have the chip with us, it is now possible for us to figure out ways in which different types of video data actually interact with hardware,” says Mehul Tikekar, an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer. “People don’t really know, ‘What is the hardware complexity of doing, say, different types of video streams?’”

24 MAY/JUNE 2013

In the pipeline Like older coding standards, the HEVC standard exploits the fact that in successive frames of video, most of the pixels stay the same. Rather than transmitting entire frames, it’s usually enough for broadcasters to transmit just the moving pixels, saving a great deal of bandwidth. The first step in the encoding process is thus to calculate ‘motion vectors’ - mathematical descriptions of the motion of objects in the frame. On the receiving, end, however, that description will not yield a perfectly faithful image, as the orientation of a moving object and the way it’s illuminated can change as it moves. So the next step is to add a little extra information to correct motion estimates that are based solely on the vectors. Finally, to save even more bandwidth, the motion vectors and the corrective information are run through a standard data-compression algorithm, and the results are sent to the receiver. The new chip performs this process in reverse. It was designed by researchers in the lab of Anantha Chandrakasan, the Joseph F and Nancy P Keithley Professor of Electrical Engineering and head of the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. In addition to Chandrakasan and Tikekar, these include Chiraag Juvekar, another graduate student in Chandrakasan’s group; former postdoc Chao-Tsung Huang; and former graduate student Vivienne Sze, now at TI.

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© iStockphoto.com/Oleksiy Mark

VIDEO-CODING STANDARD

A new video-coding standard - known variously as ultrahigh-def (UHD), Quad HD or 4K promises four times the resolution of today's high-definition video.

The chip’s first trick for increasing efficiency is to ‘pipeline’ the decoding process: A chunk of data is decompressed and passed to a motion-compensation circuit, but as soon as the motion compensation begins, the decompression circuit takes in the next chunk of data. After motion compensation is complete, the data passes to a circuit that applies the corrective data and, finally, to a filtering circuit that smooths out whatever rough edges remain.

Finetuning Pipelining is fairly standard in most video chips, but the MIT researchers developed a couple of other tricks to further improve efficiency. The application of the corrective data, for instance, is a single calculation known as matrix multiplication. A matrix is just a big grid of numbers; in matrix multiplication, numbers in the rows of one matrix are multiplied by numbers in the columns of another, and the results are added together to produce entries in a new matrix. “We observed that the matrix has some patterns in it,” Tikekar explains. In the new standard, a 32-by-32 matrix, representing a 32-by-32 block of pixels, is multiplied by another 32-by-32 matrix, containing corrective information. In principle, the corrective matrix could contain 1024 different values. But the MIT researchers observed that, in practice, “there are only 32 unique

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numbers”, Tikekar says. “So we can efficiently implement one of these [multiplications] and then use the same hardware to do the rest.” Similarly, Juvekar developed a more efficient way to store video data in memory. The “naive way”, he explains, would be to store the values of each row of pixels at successive memory addresses. In that scheme, the values of pixels that are next to each other in a row would also be adjacent in memory, but the value of the pixels below them would be far away. In video decoding, however, “it is highly likely that if you need the pixel on top, you also need the pixel right below it”, Juvekar says. “So we optimise the data into small square blocks that are stored together. When you access something from memory, you not only get the pixels on the right and left, but you also get the pixels on the top and bottom in the same request.” Chandrakasan’s group specialises in low-power devices, and in ongoing work, the researchers are trying to reduce the power consumption of the chip even further, to prolong the battery life of quad-HD mobile phones or tablet computers. One design modification they plan to investigate, Tikekar says, is the use of several smaller decoding pipelines that work in parallel. Reducing the computational demands on each group of circuits would also reduce the chip’s operating voltage.

MAY/JUNE 2013 25


50 W DC-DC CONVERTERS Mornsun has announced the release of its 50 W DC-DC converter. The VRB_LD-50W series comes in a small (2 x 1″) package. It features high efficiency of up to 93%. It also features low ripple and noise, and smart internal design architecture. The converters come with remote on/off with trimming and are fully protected for undervoltage, overvoltage, overcurrent and short circuit.

COMPACTPCI SERIAL SBC MEN’s G22 CompactPCI serial SBC combines the latest Intel Quad Core technology with the features of the CompactPCI

DLPC Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T543

serial standard: fast serial data transfer and full mesh capability without additional configuration overhead.

Dominion Electronics For more info on this product wf.net.au/T378

WEARABLE ENCLOSURES OKW Gehäusesysteme has introduced a smaller size to its Ergo-Case range - the XS. The dimensions of the XS version are 80 x 56 x 22 mm (L x W x H). The XS is available in the standard colours of off-white (RAL 9002) and black (RAL 9005), made of ABS (UL 94 HB).

Soanar Limited For more info on this product wf.net.au/T364

LIGHTNING AND SURGE PROTECTION Weidmuller’s lightning and surge protection VPU range meets the current IEC 61643-11 and EN 61643-11 standards. Included are models for Category C3 to A for energy networks with about 200

BOUNDARY-SCAN TOOLSET JTAGLive Studio is a package of

variants available to ensure optimal choice for users.

Weidmuller Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T337

JTAG/boundary-scan tools that enable designers and manufacturing test engineers to develop complete test and programming

COAXIAL RESONATOR OSCILLATOR

applications. The claimed benefits

Crystek’s CVCO55CXT-4812-4812 coaxial resona-

offered by the JTAG Technol-

tor oscillator (CRO) is a coaxial-based VCO

ogy for debugging, testing and

with an internal proprietary frequency doubler.

in-system programming are not

The CVCO55CXT family’s frequency doubling,

limited to complex designs with

2X fundamental technology provides low phase

many JTAG devices.

noise and low harmonics while achieving lower

ProDigital Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T405

current consumption.

26 MAY/JUNE 2013

Wireless Components For more info on this product wf.net.au/T462 WWW.ELECTRONICSONLINE.NET.AU


SWITCH WITH GPO CONNECTORS PMI Model No. P4T-10G40G-60-T-GPO is a single-pole, four-throw, absorptive, solid-state switch that operates over the frequency range of 10 to 40 GHz. It provides over 60 dB of isolation and has an insertion loss of 6 dB maximum. The switch is supplied with GPO connectors at all RF ports and the housing is radial and measures 1.25 x 1.25 x 0.5″.

Mostyn Enterprises (Technologies) Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/S974

RIGHT-ANGLE CONNECTORS Belden has extended its Lumberg Automation product program in the EMEA region to include moulded M12 male and female right-angle connectors with 360° shielding.

Belden Australia Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/S915

MONITORING SOFTWARE FOR WIRELESS INSTRUMENTATION DATA Mantracourt’s T24LOG100 is a data logging software package that complements the T24 wireless telemetry range. It allows the user to view and log up to 100 channels of wireless data simultaneously, while also offering a range of maths functions that will enable engineers to optimise system monitoring and control.

Mantracourt Electronics Ltd http://www.mantracourt.co.uk

WWW.ELECTRONICSONLINE.NET.AU

MAY/JUNE 2013 27


COMMERCIALISING BATTERY WITH SUPER STORAGE Mike Smyth, specialist technical writer

A CSIRO invention that turns a conventional lead-acid battery into a two-energy super storage device could contribute to a wider take-up of hybrid electric vehicles among other uses.

C

alled the UltraBattery, the device is a brand new technology that combines the attributes of a lead-acid battery with a super capacitor to give higher output, longevity and, eventually, a reduced charging rate. One of its great attractions is that it is some 70% cheaper to produce and can be made using current manufacturing facilities. As a result, it is seen as a suitable back-up power supply for remote areas, as emergency supplies and for powering machines such as forklifts. The battery has a capacity range from five to 1000 Ah in 2 and 12 V configurations. The open cell voltage is still 2.1, the same as the normal lead-acid device and the weight ranges from 3.7 to 75 kg. At present the charging time is the same as for normal leadacid batteries and depends on the capacity.  However, the CSIRO is developing fast charging to improve the charge rate not only for the UltraBattery but also for other battery technologies as well. In normal use it is expected to have four to eight times the life of a lead-acid device. In terms of performance, the new battery is comparable with nickel metal hydride (NiMH) as regards life but the density is still much lower when compared with lithium ion, but the UltraBattery has the advantage of being recycled and does not have the environmental issues of disposal faced by lithium ion. The battery is already in production, the challenge having been taken up by two companies.  East Penn Manufacturing and Furukawa Battery Co are commercialising the battery for vehicle and renewable energy storage applications while the CSIRO is researching next-generation technologies that are still some way off being commercially available.

28 MAY/JUNE 2013

The man behind much of this development is Dr Lan Trieu, who, after 25 years with the CSIRO, is retiring with not only the UltraBattery to his credit but also a novel plate processing technology for Exide Powerlift batteries.  His other achievements include: • Bismuth containing lead oxide for valve-regulated batteries, now known as Zinifex. • Two specifications for lead used in batteries now widely accepted in the industry.  The CSIRO and the Advanced LeadAcid Battery Consortium have been granted a patent for this work. • A mechanism explaining the premature failure of a lead-acid battery under HEC duty and the discovery of the battery life enhancing benefits of fast charging and Novel Pulse device for electric vehicles.  Both the CSIRO and ALABC have been granted patents for this research. • The UltraBattery is covered by four patents and the technology is licensed to Furakawa Battery Co in Japan. He has been a key advisor to eight Asian countries, a keynote speaker at several international conferences and workshops and has served on the panels of both the Asian and European Battery Conferences. He became a doctor of engineering at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in 1982 and since then he has won numerous awards including the 2011 Gaston Plante Medal, the Technical Development Award of the Electrochemical Society of Japan in 2009, the CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement in 2008, the International Lead Medal in 2005 and the CSIRO’s Chairman’s Medal in 2000. Since joining the CSIRO, Dr Lan has published 33 papers, 83 industrial reports and registered 15 patents.

WWW.ELECTRONICSONLINE.NET.AU

© iStockphoto.com/pagadesign

POWER


FIRE RETARDANCY IN POLYMERS BOOK In recent years there has been an increasing demand for fireretardant versions of a range of plastics. Such applications are fire retardancy in vehicles, aircraft, manned space vehicles, marine and industrial applications such as electronics and a wide range of applications in the building industry including roofing and interior walls. Also in domestic applications such as furniture, clothes, bedding, upholstery and electrical goods.

Smithers Rapra http://www.rapra.net

CATALOGUES NHP has released its 2013 catalogues. The updated

SWITCH MODULES

Part A, Part B and Part CPB NHP Catalogues contain

National Instruments has released 20 PXI and PXI Express switches with a

all of the latest technical product information, including

variety of power ranges and relay types, offering engineers higher density and

frequently used reference charts. To complement these

higher bandwidth switches to meet a range of automated test requirements.

catalogues there is also a separate price list.

National Instruments Australia For more info on this product wf.net.au/S817

NHP Electrical Engineering Products Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T340

WWW.ELECTRONICSONLINE.NET.AU

MAY/JUNE 2013 29


MODULAR PANEL PCs RE and IPPC19A9-RE are pow-

NANO-SIZED I/O COMMUNICATIONS SUBSYSTEM

ered by third-generation Intel

The NIU1 is an integrated, compact, nano-sized

Core processors based on the

subsystem with I/O capabilities that connects

22 nm manufacturing process,

to existing platform ethernet networks, making

also known as Ivy Bridge.

data available to any system on the network.

Backplane Systems Technology Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T423

Unitronix Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T142

The modular panel PCs IPP17A9-

INTERCONNECTS CATALOGUE Samtec has released its 2013 Interconnect Solutions Catalog. This edition includes a number of new products and new product features designed for routing signals in high-speed and high-power applications where signal integrity, rugged environments and/or space constraints

CIRCUIT BOARDS? For all your prototyping requirements

present design challenges. The 2013 catalogue details Samtec’s comprehensive line of interconnects that includes signal integrity, micro and rugged solutions for board-to-board, cable, and panel and I/O applications.

Samtec ANZ For more info on this product wf.net.au/T404

from budget …

… to fully-

featured Quick Circuit allows

you to make your own prototype circuit boards and perfectly machined panels in next to no time.

Shouldn’t there be one on your bench?

HUMAN BODY AS COMMUNICATION CHANNEL Microchip Technology has announced its BodyCom technology, which provides designers with a framework for using the human body as a secure communication channel. Compared to existing wireless methods, BodyCom technology provides

Tel +61 2 9807 7081 satcam@satcam.com.au

www.satcam.com.au

30 MAY/JUNE 2013

lower energy consumption, while further increasing security via bidirectional authentication.

Microchip Technology Australia For more info on this product wf.net.au/T548 WWW.ELECTRONICSONLINE.NET.AU


© iStockphoto.com/Pedro Castellano

© iStockphoto.com/Alex Slobodkin

SOLAR POWER

MULTIJUNCTION SOLAR CELL BREAKS EFFICIENCY BARRIER A collaboration of scientists from the US Naval Research Laboratory Electronics Technology and Science Division, Imperial College London and MicroLink Devices has proposed a novel triple-junction solar cell with the potential to break the 50% conversion efficiency barrier, which is the current goal in multijunction photovoltaic development.

“T

his research has produced a novel, realistically achievable, lattice-matched, multijunction solar cell design with the potential to break the 50% power conversion efficiency mark under concentrated illumination,” said NRL research physicist Robert Walters. “At present, the world record triple-junction solar cell efficiency is 44% under concentration and it is generally accepted that a major technology breakthrough will be required for the efficiency of these cells to increase much further.” In multijunction (MJ) solar cells, each junction is ‘tuned’ to different wavelength bands in the solar spectrum to increase efficiency. High bandgap semiconductor material is used to absorb the short wavelength radiation with longer wavelength parts transmitted to subsequent semiconductors. In theory, an infinite-junction cell could obtain a maximum power conversion percentage of nearly 87%. The challenge is to develop a semiconductor material system that can attain a wide range of bandgaps and be grown with high crystalline quality. By exploring novel semiconductor materials and applying band structure engineering, via strain-balanced quantum wells, the research team has produced a design for an MJ solar cell that can achieve direct bandgaps from 0.7 to 1.8 eV with materials that are all lattice-matched to an indium phosphide substrate.

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“Having all lattice-matched materials with this wide range of bandgaps is the key to breaking the current world record,” adds Walters. “It is well known that materials lattice-matched to InP can achieve bandgaps of about 1.4 eV and below, but no ternary alloy semiconductors exist with a higher direct bandgap.” The primary innovation enabling this new path to high efficiency is the identification of InAlAsSb quaternary alloys as a high bandgap material layer that can be grown lattice-matched to InP. Drawing from their experience with Sb-based compounds for detector and laser applications, scientists modelled the band structure of InAlAsSb and showed that this material could potentially achieve a direct bandgap as high as 1.8 eV. With this result, and using a model that includes both radiative and non-radiative recombination, the NRL scientists created a solar cell design that is a potential route to over 50% power conversion efficiency under concentrated solar illumination. Recently awarded a US Department of Energy, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) project, NRL scientists, working with MicroLink and Rochester Institute of Technology, will execute a three-year materials and device development program to realise this new solar cell technology.

MAY/JUNE 2013 31


REDUNDANCY MODULE

CIRCULAR CONNECTOR

Automated Control and FEAS introduce the RZM01-30

Omnetics has introduced the SureCon 360° - a watertight, over-

Redundancy Module for critical power supply applications.The

moulded circular connector - to the Nano 360° series. The product

RZM01-30 has been designed with an additional cooling ele-

uses Omnetics’ rugged Flex-Pin contact system.

ment and reverse voltage protection as an additional safeguard.

Clarke & Severn Electronics For more info on this product wf.net.au/S901

Automated Control Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T457

UV LED TECHNOLOGY Luminus Devices has released engineering samples of a UV big chip LED in Luminus’s PT-39 form factor. The PT-39-UV LED contains a single 3.9 mm2 die that maximises power density by emitting directly into air. They are available in a NIST-traceable power range output of 3.2 W in either 385 or 405 nm wavelengths. They are suitable for UV life science, machine-vision and curing applications.

Mouser Electronics For more info on this product wf.net.au/S973

32 MAY/JUNE 2013

MINI PCI EXPRESS INTERFACE CARD Alta Data Technologies’ MPCIE-1553 is a mini PCI Express full mini type 2 interface off the shelf (COTS) card for MIL-STD 1553 networks. Coupled with AltaAPI, the MPCIE-1553 represents the latest MIL-STD-1553 32-bit FPGA protocol engine technology with multilayer software.

Metromatics Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T022

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Unrivaled Flexibility and Value for Automated Test INTELLIGENT FLASH LED DRIVER ams has launched an intelligent LED driver for mobile phone cameras that maximises the brightness of the flash without causing the phone’s battery to fall below its minimum operating voltage.

Braemac Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/T464

USB POWER SENSORS With the peak and average power measurement capabilities of a power meter, the U2020 X-series of fast USB power sensors allow engineers to test devices faster and with greater efficiency and accuracy. The product’s measurement speed (3500 readings/s or higher), along with its internal zero and calibration function, enables users to reduce the cost of test in areas such as high-volume component manufacturing.

Agilent Technologies Aust Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/S701

NI PXI hardware and LabVIEW system design software reduce cost,

ARM-BASED PANEL PC

accelerate test execution, and

The IOVU-527M is a 5.7″ RISC-based

improve throughput. More than

panel PC with a TFT VGA LCD resistive

500 PXI products make NI the only

touch screen. The industrial-grade panel

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PC features a Marvell XScale PXA310 624 MHz processor and 128 MB NAND Flash +256 MB DDR SDRAM.

ICP Electronics Australia Pty Ltd For more info on this product wf.net.au/S614

Accelerate your productivity at ni.com/automated-test-platform

Australia: 1800 300 800 New Zealand: 0800 553 322 SHORT BURST DATA TRACKER The GTTS-2000B is an Iridium short burst data (SBD) battery-powered modem for tracking and tracing assets globally using the Iridium satellite network.

M2M Connectivity For more info on this product wf.net.au/S998 WWW.ELECTRONICSONLINE.NET.AU

©2013 National Instruments. All rights reserved. LabVIEW, National Instruments, NI, and ni.com are trademarks of National Instruments. Other product and company names listed are trademarks or trade names of their respective companies. 10720

MAY/JUNE 2013 33


A.B.N. 22 152 305 336

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TURN OFF THOSE NIGHT LIGHTS! Mike Smyth, specialist technical writer

W

hat’s with this fetish for having office blocks lit up like Christmas trees that can be seen from outer space and probably beyond? I suspect it might be fashion. Somebody started lighting up their edifice, first with floodlights from the outside and then from the inside. Not to be outdone, others followed, leading to the beacons we have today. The practice has to be wasteful, an eyesore, garish and almost certainly unnecessary as these lit-up temples suck electricity out of a grid that is supposedly suffering and struggling with its outdated infrastructure and giving us major grief with the resultant astronomical price hikes in power of recent months. The most obvious reason for this brilliance is security, light up the building on the inside and men in masks carrying bags marked “swag” over their shoulders can clearly be seen from the outside. Well then perhaps it is to help the prowling security staff and prevent them from having to grope around for light switches; in which case, what ever happened to the oversize torches they used to carry that could easily double as a weapon. I can’t believe it is security especially as today we have sophisticated sensors that can detect a fly walking on the surface of the moon, take its temperature and determine its sex. Of course, power stations, to be economical, have to run full time because of the elaborate run-down and start-up procedures that take time and careful management. You just cannot switch a power station on and off. And while there is usually less demand for electricity at night, the generators are still pouring out amps and volts to feed these edifices. With today’s technology, is it not possible to mitigate the effects of night-time demand and allow some power stations to be shut down completely without the run-down and start-up ritual so saving lots of coal and not a few emissions? Now I am no tree-hugging protesting greenie who gets kicks from building and living on a platform 20 m up a convenient gum tree and ensuring people stay away because I have not washed for a month. But I hate wastage and that is what I see in these over-lit buildings unless there is very good reason for it of which I am unaware. Is it because to switch on all the lights when the offices open in the morning puts too much demand on the grid or the office switchboard? Of course, there are those who stand and go ooh aah at the lights they say make the city look its best but are they just from the dark outer suburbs? But all is not lost. There is a time called Earth Hour that every March draws more and more followers of those interested in the sustainability and environment of our planet. Earth Hour, founded in Australia, has now become an institution as native as kangaroos, koalas and Chips Rafferty and has spread throughout the world. For an hour cities dim their lights and for a brief time the stargazers have their frustrations eased as they can look at the heavens without a refracted glow. So if we can dim our lights once a year, how come we can’t make it permanent? Obviously we need some light for safety and security but do we really need to be able to read a book of small print by the light of office tower blocks while we wait for a bus? I don’t believe we do. We talk a lot about conservation, being greener, saving the trees and whales, but for the size of the problem there is precious little action. Still, cities a quarter the size of Sydney can be seen glowing from space while our not infinite resources are going up in smoke through the power stations’ stacks. And if we have to have excessive and surplus generating capacity, perhaps some enlightened personage could erect a few more street lamps on minor through routes in the outer suburbs that at present are strangely dim.

34 MAY/JUNE 2013

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September 2012 Total CAB Audited Circulation (Aust + NZ) 6,058 (87% personally requested) Printed and bound by Pegasus +61 2 8822 0716 Print Post Approved PP100007394 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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What’s New in Electronics May June 2013  

Since 1981, What’s New in Electronics has provided the professional electronics industry with its premier source of new product and technolo...

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