March 09, 2021 Volume 17 Issue 10

Electrical/Electronic News & Products

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What's a strain wave harmonic gearing torque sensor?

Strain wave harmonic gearing sensors from FUTEK are an alternative to six-degrees-of-freedom (DOF) sensors used in applications such as robotic arms that are used in surgery. For example, during some laparoscopic surgery procedures, surgeons must hold the position of the end effector (the instrument inside the abdominal cavity) while the robot arm is moving. This maneuver is difficult to perform with 6-DOF sensors only, because it requires torque measurement on each joint. Strain wave harmonic gearing sensors can handle it, and they are less expensive to implement because torque measurement can be obtained for selected joints only if necessary.
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Raspberry Pi: Pico microcontroller

The Raspberry Pi Pico is built around the brand-new Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller, delivering a flexible, highly affordable development platform that can also be directly deployed into end products -- all for 4 bucks. At the heart of the Raspberry Pi Pico is RP2040, which features two ARM Cortex-M0+ cores clocked at 133 MHz; 264 kB of on-chip SRAM; 30 multifunction GPIO pins; dedicated hardware for commonly used peripherals alongside a programmable I/O subsystem for extended peripheral support; a four-channel ADC with internal temperature sensor; and built-in USB 1.1 with host and device support. Also look for the RP2040 chip to be sold as a standalone product very, very soon.
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New robust angle sensors for off-highway and more

Novotechnik, U.S. introduces the RFE 3200 Series of resilient, touchless Hall-Effect angle sensors. These sensors are specifically designed to operate in demanding environments like off-highway equipment and feature ingress protection to IP69K, EMC immunity, and a decoupled sensor/magnet. The RFE Series measures from 0 to 360 deg and can be ordered with one (partially redundant) or two (fully redundant) channels. High resolution with great dynamic response, large mechanical tolerances, and feasibility of customer-specific output options are added benefits of this wear-free technology.
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Automotive single-chip solution for ultra-wide touch displays

Microchip Technology has just announced its maXTouch MXT2912TD-UW touchscreen controller. This is the industry's first automotive-qualified, single-chip solution that addresses display sizes up to 45 in. with a very wide aspect ratio, supporting LCD and OLED display technologies. This controller reduces the need for multiple touch controllers within a vehicle's HMI display. It provides the highest report rate for wide displays and is independent of the display resolution.
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Automotive antenna-on-package mmWave sensors with Texas Instruments RFIC

D3 Engineering, a Texas Instruments platinum design partner, recently announced their DesignCore RS-1843AOP and RS-1843AOPU mini mmWave Radar Sensors. They feature a 1-in. cube form factor, heat-spreading metal body, and mounting tabs. They may be used with a PC or embedded platform to facilitate field testing, sensing evaluation, algorithm development, and application demonstrations. Automotive applications include parking assist and collision avoidance. Other applications include robotics, autonomous machines, industrial vehicle systems, and facility monitoring, as well as people counting and tracking.
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Pinpoint the leading cause of Industrial Ethernet failures

Fluke Networks introduces the LinkIQ-IE Cable+Network Industrial Ethernet Tester designed to troubleshoot network cabling, the leading cause of Industrial Ethernet failures. With Ethernet-based technologies increasingly the default for automation networks, the need for easy-to-use tools to troubleshoot these networks is growing rapidly. By combining Fluke Networks' state-of-the-art cable measurement technology and basic tests for Industrial Ethernet switches, LinkIQ-IE speeds and simplifies the discovery of network failures in a simple-to-use touchscreen interface akin to a smartphone.
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Premium Hi-Temp ETX Series thermoelectric coolers

Laird Thermal Systems has developed a thermoelectric module series that is rated for high temperature in emerging optoelectronic applications, including LiDAR and CMOS sensors for autonomous systems in vehicles and drones, digital light processors (DLP) used in 3D machine vision and advanced lighting systems, and optical transceivers. The HiTemp ETX Series thermoelectric cooler has a robust construction that allows it to survive in temperatures up to 150 C, exceeding most outdoor applications. These solid-state heat pumps are assembled with advanced materials that boost cooling capacity by up to 10% compared to traditional thermoelectric coolers.
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Compact power module with side flange mounting

SCHURTER's proven power entry module, series DD11, provides a high level of functional integration in the most minimal of package dimensions. The power module is ideally suited for equipment with low-profile panels. Consisting of an IEC appliance inlet (C14), which is compatible with cord retention, 1- or 2-pole fuse holder, and power ON/OFF switch, the DD11 is now available with side mounting flanges in addition to the existing model with top and bottom flanges. The new model is designed to minimize height when vertically mounted. Applications include medical, IT and telecom, office and household equipment, and automation systems.
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Automotive Ethernet cables

The ODU MINI-SNAP for Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) enables Ethernet connections via copper cables with a single twisted wire pair, while allowing for the voltage supply of terminal devices via PoDL (Power over Data Line). The simpler design of the new generation of connectors and the associated weight and space reduction are good for designers and developers in various areas. SPE is currently being introduced in new automotive generations, replacing CAN and other bus systems. In the future, communication, controls, and security functions will be managed uniformly via Ethernet.
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Cool Tools: Complete 3D scan and reverse engineering suite for under 15 grand

Verisurf Software is offering special limited-time pricing on its 3D scanning and reverse engineering solution bundle. It has everything needed to quickly deploy the system, including: Verisurf Scan Data and Reverse Engineering Suite with Quick Surface, Verisurf online training, Peel 2 3D handheld scanner, 1-year hardware warranty, and Peel 2 and Verisurf installation and setup video. The Verisurf Scan Data Reverse Engineering Suite is part of the recently released Verisurf 2020, the only measurement, inspection, and reverse engineering software dedicated to Model-Based Definition (MBD) and built on a CAD/CAM platform.
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Asset tracking down to the centimeter

ON Semicon-ductor's Quuppa Intelligent Locating System enables real-time tracking of Bluetooth tags and devices -- with centimeter-level accuracy even in challenging environments. Quuppa technology allows positioning updates to be sent up to 50 times per second, providing a reliable and versatile Real-Time Locating System (RTLS) solution for all industries. Users can design ultra-low-power indoor asset-tracking applications with Direction Finding features and advanced Angle of Arrival (AoA) technology.
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Noncontact measurement of speed and length

With the SPEETEC, SICK has expanded its product range for speed and length measurement of objects moving in a linear path to include technology that measures directly on the material surface. The non-contact sensor is able to measure a wide range of web and continuous materials, as well as blanks, with incredible accuracy. This speed sensor closes the gap between tactile, indirect-measuring encoder solutions and laser velocimeters, which are often expensive to purchase and require considerable effort to integrate and operate.
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Displays: New HMI and drive faceplates

ABB's CP600 Gen 2 HMIs offer NEMA 4X rating, an expanded temperature range, 33% brighter screens, additional communications ports, and integral web server capability, allowing users to expand HMI usage into more applications. Available in 7-, 10-, and 15-in. sizes, the CP600 Gen2 HMI units join the CP600-eCo units and the CP600-Pro units to cover the full range of industrial display needs.
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Cool Tools: Hexagon RS6 high-speed laser scanner

The handheld or arm-mounted RS6 laser scanner available from Exact Metrology is designed for high-speed and high-accuracy scanning. When compared to other scanners, the RS6 has a 3x faster frame rate, a 30% wider laser stripe, and excellent scanning performance on difficult surfaces (including glossy black plastic automotive body parts or molded carbon fiber components). Its unique SHINE technology allows you to scan 99% of parts without touching the scanner exposure. It scans up to 1.2 million points/sec with a scan rate of 300 Hz.
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New Intellistat Ion Air Gun for static elimination

EXAIR's patented Intellistat Ion Air Gun is a handheld and lightweight solution for static elimination in clean processes or sensitive assembly work such as scientific and electronic test facilities, laboratories, and clean rooms. The Intellistat was designed to consume minimal compressed air while simultaneously delivering precise blow-off, and exceptional static decay rates capable of reducing 1000 V to less than 100 V in less than a second at up to 24 in. away.
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10X faster than USB: New data transfer system connects silicon chips with ultra-thin cable

Researchers have developed a data transfer system that pairs high-frequency silicon chips with a polymer cable as thin a strand of hair. [Image: Courtesy of the researchers]

 

 

 

 

By Daniel Ackerman, MIT

Researchers have developed a data transfer system that can transmit information 10 times faster than a USB. The new link pairs high-frequency silicon chips with a polymer cable as thin a strand of hair. The system may one day boost energy efficiency in data centers and lighten the loads of electronics-rich spacecraft.

The research was presented at February's IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference. The lead author is MIT's Jack Holloway '03, MNG '04, who completed his PhD in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) last fall and currently works for Raytheon. Co-authors include Ruonan Han, associate professor and Holloway's PhD adviser in EECS, and Georgios Dogiamis, a senior researcher at Intel.

The need for snappy data exchange is clear, especially in an era of remote work. "There's an explosion in the amount of information being shared between computer chips -- cloud computing, the internet, big data. And a lot of this happens over conventional copper wire," says Holloway. But copper wires, like those found in USB or HDMI cables, are power-hungry -- especially when dealing with heavy data loads. "There's a fundamental tradeoff between the amount of energy burned and the rate of information exchanged." Despite a growing demand for fast data transmission (beyond 100 gigabits per second) through conduits longer than a meter, Holloway says the typical solution has been "increasingly bulky and costly" copper cables.

One alternative to copper wire is fiber-optic cable, though that has its own problems. Whereas copper wires use electrical signaling, fiber optics uses photons. That allows fiber optics to transmit data quickly and with little energy dissipation. But silicon computer chips generally don't play well with photons, making interconnections between fiber-optic cables and computers a challenge. "There's currently no way to efficiently generate, amplify, or detect photons in silicon," says Holloway. "There are all kinds of expensive and complex integration schemes, but from an economics perspective, it's not a great solution." So, the researchers developed their own.

The team's new link draws on benefits of both copper and fiber-optic conduits, while ditching their drawbacks. "It's a great example of a complementary solution," says Dogiamis. Their conduit is made of plastic polymer, so it's lighter and potentially cheaper to manufacture than traditional copper cables. But when the polymer link is operated with sub-terahertz electromagnetic signals, it's far more energy efficient than copper in transmitting a high data load. The new link's efficiency rivals that of fiber optic, but it has a key advantage: "It's compatible directly with silicon chips, without any special manufacturing," says Holloway.

The team engineered such low-cost chips to pair with the polymer conduit. Typically, silicon chips struggle to operate at sub-terahertz frequencies. Yet the team's new chips generate those high-frequency signals with enough power to transmit data directly into the conduit. That clean connection from the silicon chips to the conduit means the overall system can be manufactured with standard, cost-effective methods, the researchers say.

The new link also beats out copper in terms of size. "The cross-sectional area of our cable is 0.4 millimeters by a quarter millimeter," says Han. "So, it's super tiny, like a strand of hair." Despite its slim size, it can carry a hefty load of data, since it sends signals over three different parallel channels, separated by frequency. The link's total bandwidth is 105 gigabits per second, nearly an order of magnitude faster than a copper-based USB cable. Dogiamis says the cable could "address the bandwidth challenges, as we see this megatrend toward more and more data."

In future work, Han hopes to make the polymer conduits even faster by bundling them together. "Then the data rate will be off the charts," he says. "It could be one terabit per second, still at low cost."

The researchers suggest "data-dense" applications, like server farms, could be early adopters of the new links, since they could dramatically cut data centers' high energy demands. The link could also be a key solution for the aerospace and automotive industries, which place a premium on small, light devices. One day, the link could replace the consumer electronic cables in homes and offices, thanks to the link's simplicity and speed. "It's far less costly than [copper or fiber-optic] approaches, with significantly wider bandwidth and lower loss than conventional copper solutions," says Holloway. "So, high fives all round."

This research was funded, in part, by Intel, Raytheon, the Naval Research Laboratory, and the Office of Naval Research.

Published March 2021

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