March 20, 2012 Volume 08 Issue 11

Electrical/Electronic News & Products

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Mini-FAKRA cable assemblies for automotive and industrial applications requiring high data transfer rates

Amphenol RF has expanded its AUTOMATE Type A Mini-FAKRA product series with pre-configured cable assemblies. These assemblies feature a straight quad port mini-FAKRA jack on both ends and are designed on low-loss TFC-302LL. AUTOMATE assemblies support data transmission rates up to 20 Gbps, which makes them ideal for automotive and industrial applications that require high data transfer rates to communicate information for safety, performance, and entertainment without lag.
Learn more.


New compact touchless linear position sensors

The TFD Series of touchless linear position sensors from Novotechnik provides wear-free operation in tight spaces. The TFD-4000 Series uses a magnetic position marker to provide a touchless measurement range of 0 to 14, 24, or 50 mm -- depending on model. These sensors make measurements through air and non-magnetic materials. Sensing direction can be either parallel or perpendicular to mounting holes. Applications include textile, packaging, and sheet metal machinery; medical applications; marine; mobile engine management; and construction, agricultural, and forestry machinery.
Learn more.


Top Tech Tip:
2D, 3D, or 2.5D? Choosing a vision system for your automation project

If you're looking at machine vision systems for automation, you will need to decide whether to invest in a 2D, 3D, or 2.5D camera system. That choice will have a major impact on the deployment's cost, complexity, capabilities, and functionality. OnRobot's Kristian Hulgard, General Manager - Americas, explains the differences, benefits, and shortcomings of each system type.
Read this informative OnRobot article.


Next-generation electronic digital comparators

The Millimess 2000 W(i) and 2001 W(i) Digital Comparators from Mahr set new standards in metrology with unique and innovative features such as touch display, inductive measurement system, and integrated wireless connectivity. The systems combine practical and reliable operation with maximum precision using a unique inductive measuring system.
Learn more.


All about slip rings: How they work and their uses

Rotary Systems has put together a really nice basic primer on slip rings -- electrical collectors that carry a current from a stationary wire into a rotating device. Common uses are for power, proximity switches, strain gauges, video, and Ethernet signal transmission. This introduction also covers how to specify, assembly types, and interface requirements. Rotary Systems also manufactures rotary unions for fluid applications.
Read the overview.


Customizable encoders for white goods, automation, controls, more

Elma Electronic now offers the E18 family of price-competitive, robust mechanical incremental encoders that offer a high-quality alternative to system designers struggling to find a drop-in, rugged encoder for harsh environments with a footprint that matches their current PCB design. E18 encoders are available in a variety of configurations, including with or without push buttons and threaded bushings. Their "Swiss Click Indexing System" epitomizes quality turning feel.
Learn more.


Protect battery packs against overcurrent and overcharging

Littelfuse has announced the new ITV4030, a series of 22-A, three-terminal, surface-mountable Li-ion battery protectors ideal for use in a wide range of data communications interfaces for consumer electronics including tablets, robotic appliances, and power tools. These 4- x 3-mm devices protect battery packs against overcurrent and overcharging (overvoltage) conditions. The innovative design uses embedded fuse and heater elements that provide fast response and reliable performance to interrupt the charging or discharging circuit before the battery pack becomes overcharged or overheated.
Learn more.


Raspberry Pi Pico W adds Wi-Fi to popular microcontroller board

Raspberry Pi launched the $4 Pico microcontroller board in January of last year. It has sold almost 2 million units and proven to be a great tool for commercial, industrial, and maker applications, but it still lacks one important element: wireless connectivity. That is about to change.
Read the full article.


Cool Tools: The oscilloscope that feels like a tablet

Tektronix says, "Get ready to change the way you work forever!" Introducing the Tektronix 2 Series Mixed Signal Oscilloscope (MSO) -- the only full-featured bench oscilloscope that works where you work. It weighs less than 4 lb, is just 1.5-in. thick, and can accommodate an optional battery pack for up to 8 hours of unplugged power.
View the video.


Smart contactors with CAN bus

Sensata Technologies has announced the availability of the new GXC and MXC series of Smart-Tactor contactors with CAN bus communication, which provide valuable data for improved system performance, reliability, and diagnostics in military, battery system, energy storage, commercial vehicle, and industrial applications. This new series of CAN bus-enabled contactors are easily integrated and simplify data acquisition, making them ideal for data logging, telematics, and predictive maintenance.
Learn more.


What can you do with touchless magnetic angle sensors?

Novotechnik has put together a really informative video highlighting real-world applications for their RFC, RFE, and RSA Series touchless magnetic angle sensors. You may be surprised at the variety of off-highway, marine, material handling, and industrial uses. You'll learn how they work (using a Hall effect microprocessor to detect position) and their key advantages, including eliminated wear and tear on these non-mechanical components. We love when manufacturers provide such useful examples.
View the video.


Slimmest enclosure air conditioner on the market!

Seifert's SlimLine Series of enclosure air conditioners integrate unique technologies -- maximum power-to-size ratio, mounting of merely 4.5 inches inside-cabinet-depth -- making the SlimLine Series the slimmest air conditioner in the market. Cooling capacity: 1,090 to 5,120 Btu/hr.
Learn more.


Radiation-hardened GaN transistor for space applications

EPC has just introduced the EPC7018 radiation-hardened GaN FET. With higher breakdown strength, lower gate charge, lower switching losses, better thermal conductivity, and very low on-resistance, power devices based on GaN significantly outperform silicon-based devices. They enable higher switching frequencies resulting in higher power densities, higher efficiencies, and more compact and lighter-weight circuitry for critical spaceborne missions, including DC-DC power, motor drives, lidar, deep probes, and ion thrusters.
Learn more.


Low-cost motion control: CLICK PLUS PLCs

Automation-Direct has released the new CLICK PLC programming software version 3.30, which allows any CLICK PLUS CPU to be configured as a 3-axis PTO/PWM motion controller. 100-kHz high-speed inputs and outputs are offered with any DC option slot I/O module placed in slot 0 of the CPU. With this module, CLICK PLUS PLCs can easily perform velocity moves, homing commands, or interpolated positioning. Six CPUs available starting at less than 100 bucks.
Learn more.


EdgeCool cools computer servers in the rack

The new EdgeCool system for rack-mounted computer servers revolutionizes IT cooling by transforming server racks into their own portable, energy-saving server rooms. The patented split system from DENSO Products and Services Americas is made up of a condenser and an evaporator that fit easily into almost any open or sealed server rack. The self-contained equipment eliminates the need for more floor space, a dedicated server room, or disruptive and costly building modifications.
Learn more.


Experimental smart outlet aims to bring flexibility, resiliency to power grid architecture

Sandia National Laboratories has developed an experimental "smart outlet" that autonomously measures, monitors, and controls electrical loads with no connection to a centralized computer or system. The goal of the smart outlet and similar innovations is to make the power grid more distributed and intelligent, capable of reconfiguring itself as conditions change.

Decentralizing power generation and controls would allow the grid to evolve into a more collaborative and responsive collection of microgrids, which could function individually as an island or collectively as part of a hierarchy or other organized system.

"A more distributed architecture can also be more reliable because it reduces the possibility of a single-point failure. Problems with parts of the system can be routed around or dropped on and off the larger grid system as the need arises," says smart outlet co-inventor Anthony Lentine.

Anthony Lentine with the smart outlet. [Photo by Randy Montoya]

 

 

Such flexibility could make more use of variable-output energy resources such as wind and solar because devices such as the smart outlet can vary their load demand to compensate for variations in energy production.

"This new distributed, sensor-aware, intelligent control architecture, of which the smart outlet is a key component, could also identify malicious control actions and prevent their propagation throughout the grid, enhancing the grid's cyber security profile," Lentine says.

Anatomy of a smart outlet
The outlet includes four receptacles, each with voltage/current sensing; actuation (switching); a computer for implementing the controls; and an Ethernet bridge for communicating with other outlets and sending data to a collection computer.

The outlet measures power usage and the direction of power flow, which is normally one way, but could be bi-directional if something like a photovoltaic system is connected to send power onto the grid. Bi-directional monitoring and control could allow each location with its own energy production, such as photovoltaic or wind, to become an "island" when the main power grid goes down. Currently, that rarely occurs due to the lack of equipment to prevent power from flowing back toward the grid.

The outlet also measures real power and reactive power, which provides a more accurate measurement of the power potentially available to drive the loads, allowing the outlets to better adapt to changing energy needs and production.

Similar technology could be built into energy-intensive appliances and connected to a home monitoring system, allowing the homeowner greater control of energy use. What is different about the smart outlet is that distributed autonomous control allows a homeowner with little technical expertise to manage loads and the utility to manage loads with less hands-on, and costly, human intervention.

Utilities currently use mostly fossil fuels and nuclear reactors to generate baseload electric power, the amount needed to meet the minimum requirements of power users. Utilities know how much power they need based on decades of usage data, so they can predict demand under normal conditions.

"With the increased use of variable renewable resources, such as wind and solar, we need to develop new ways to manage the grid in the presence of a significant generation that can no longer supply arbitrary power on demand," Lentine says. "The smart outlet is a small, localized approach to solving that problem."

The research was supported by Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD), Sandia National Laboratories, U.S. Department of Energy under contract DE-AC04-94AL85000, LDRD Project Number 130752, titled "Scalable microgrid for a safe, secure, efficient, and cost-effective electric power infrastructure."

Source: Sandia

Published March 2012

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