May 16, 2023 Volume 19 Issue 19

Electrical/Electronic News & Products

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Smallest rugged AI supercomputer for avionics

Aitech Systems has released the A178-AV, the latest iteration of its smallest rugged GPGPU AI super-computers available with the powerful NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier System-on-Module. With its compact size, the A178-AV is the most advanced solution for artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning, and video and signal processing for next-gen avionic platforms.
Learn more.

Touchless angle sensors get CAN SAE J1939 interface

Novotechnik has added the CAN J1939 interface (developed for heavy-duty vehicles) to its RFC4800 Series of touchless angle sensors measuring angular position up to 360°, turn direction, turns, speed, and operational status. It can provide one or two output channels. It has a longer life and robustness than an optical encoder. It can signal if a sensor needs replacing or average a programmable number of values to output to reduce external noise if present. This is wear-free angle measurement made easy.
Learn more.

Radar level sensor monitors liquids and powders

The innovative FR Series non-contact radar level sensor from Keyence has been designed to monitor the level of both liquid and powder in any environment. This sensor features short- and long-range models, as well as chemical and sanitary options to address a wide array of level sensing applications. Works even when obstructions or harsh conditions are present, such as build-up, steam, or turbulence.
Learn more.

Raspberry Pi launches $70 AI Kit

Artificial intelligence (AI) is all the rage, and the makers of Raspberry Pi have created a way for enthusiasts of the single-board computer systems to take part and do a lot of experimenting along the way.
Read the full article.

3D model sharing at Brother Industries cuts rework

When Brother Industries, maker of printers, computers, and computer-related electronics, deployed Lattice Technology's XVL Player as a viewer for sharing 3D models throughout the processes of product design, parts design, mold design, mold production, and QA of molded parts, they reduced rework significantly -- especially from downstream departments. XVL Studio with its Difference Check Option helped address the rework in mold design, for example, by always keeping everyone informed of design changes.
Read this real-world case study.

What is 3D-MID? Molded parts with integrated electronics from HARTING

3D-MID (three-dimensional mechatronic integrated devices) technology combines electronic and mechanical functionalities into a single, 3D component. It replaces the traditional printed circuit board and opens up many new opportunities. It takes injection-molded parts and uses laser-direct structuring to etch areas of conductor structures, which are filled with a copper plating process to create very precise electronic circuits. HARTING, the technology's developer, says it's "Like a PCB, but 3D." Tons of possibilities.
Learn more (video included on page).

New! Thermoelectric dehumidifiers for enclosures

Seifert Systems has just introduced its line of compact Soliflex® Series thermoelectric dehumidifiers, with or without condensate pump. These IP 56-rated units are designed to dehumidify enclosures and small control panels, can be used indoors or outdoors, and are maintenance free. When used with a hygrostat, Soliflex dehumidifiers will keep enclosure humidity below a defined level and only operate when needed.
Learn more.

More Stego enclosure heater options from AutomationDirect

Automation-Direct has added more Stego enclosure heaters to their Enclosure Thermal Management lineup. These new 120 to 240 VAC/VDC units include small, flat versions that distribute heat evenly within compact enclosures and are available with 8- or 10-W heating capacities. Also added are compact loop heaters that feature a patented loop body design for increased natural convection airflow, reduced thermal stress on the heater, and better heat transfer. Loop heaters are available in 10- to 150-W heating capacities.
Learn more.

Great design: Handle with integrated lighting/signaling

Signaling and indicator lights, switches, and buttons -- elements that hardly any machine can do without. The new JW Winco cabinet U-handle EN 6284 integrates all these functions into a single, compact element. The new U-handle is designed to enhance the operation of systems and machines. It features an integrated button and a large, colored, backlit area on the back of the handle. These elements can be used individually or in combination, providing a versatile tool for system control and process monitoring that can be seen from across the room.
Learn more.

Engineer's Toolbox: What is ground loop feedback?

Improper grounding can create problems in data logging, data acquisition, and measurement and control systems. One of the most common problems is known as ground loop feedback. Experts at CAS DataLoggers run through five ways to eliminate this problem.
Read the full article.

AI development kit for multi-camera products

The QCS6490 Vision-AI Development Kit from Avnet enables engineering teams to rapidly prototype hardware, application software, and AI enablement for multi-camera, high-performance, Edge AI-enabled custom embedded products. The kit facilitates design with the new, energy-efficient MSC SM2S-QCS6490 SMARC compute module based on the Qualcomm QCS6490 processor. Provides support for up to four MIPI CSI cameras and concurrent Mini DisplayPort and MIPI DSI displays.
Learn more.

High-temp cabinet cooler keeps incineration process in business

An EXAIR client company handles waste treatment on a large ship by operating an incinerator. The area where the incinerator is located gets very hot (over 120° F). This causes failures in the electronics package used to control the incineration process. Since compressed air is readily available, EXAIR's Model HT4225 Cabinet Cooler System is being used to keep the panel cool. It saved the customer from having to replace their control units due to the hot conditions in the incinerator room. Thermostat control is also available, conserving air and operating only when needed to minimize air consumption.
Learn about EXAIR's huge selection of Cabinet Coolers.

Compact snap-in capacitors for general-purpose applications

TDK's new EPCOS B43659 series of snap-in aluminum electrolytic capacitors is the next generation of ultra-compact, general-purpose components for voltages of 450 V (DC) featuring an extremely high CV product. It provides the same features and serves the same applications as the previous series but is much more compact. These RoHS-compliant capacitors can be used in a wide range of applications, such as switched-mode power supplies, frequency converters, UPS, medical equipment, and solar inverters.
Get all the specs.

Conductive Brush Ring overcomes current leakage in EV powertrains

SKF's new Conductive Brush Ring paves the way to greater reliability and longer life in high-performance electric vehicle powertrain systems. Using pure carbon fiber bristles, it provides a reliable electrical connection between an EV eAxle rotor shaft and its housing. When used in combination with SKF Hybrid ceramic ball bearings, it helps to alleviate parasitic current effects that can lead to premature failure in bearings and other components. Available in different configurations for wet (oil-lubricated) motor designs -- and soon for dry (sealed) applications.
Learn more.

Intro to reed switches, magnets, magnetic fields

This brief introductory video on the DigiKey site offers tips for engineers designing with reed switches. Dr. Stephen Day, Ph.D. from Coto Technology gives a solid overview on reed switches -- complete with real-world application examples -- and a detailed explanation of how they react to magnetic fields.
View the video.

New algorithm can make satellite signals act like GPS -- with super accuracy

Researchers have developed an algorithm that can "eavesdrop" on any signal from a satellite and use it to locate any point on Earth, much like GPS. The study represents the first time an algorithm was able to exploit signals broadcast by multi-constellation low Earth orbit satellite (LEO) satellites, namely Starlink, OneWeb, Orbcomm, and Iridium.

The researchers found that by listening to the signals of eight LEO satellites for about 10 minutes, their algorithm could achieve unprecedented accuracy in locating a stationary receiver on the ground and was able to converge on it with an error of only about 5.8 m.

The research, led by Zak Kassas, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at The Ohio State University and director of the Department of Transportation Center for Automated Vehicles Research with Multimodal AssurEd Navigation (CARMEN), was presented in April at the IEEE/ION Position Location and Navigation Symposium (PLANS) 2023 conference in Monterey, CA. Along with Ohio State PhD students Sharbel Kozhaya and Haitham Kanj, the paper, which demonstrated the first-ever exploitation of unknown OneWeb LEO satellite signals, won the conference's Best Student Paper award.

The researchers did not need assistance from the satellite operators to use the signals, and they emphasized that they had no access to the actual data being sent through the satellites -- only to publicly available information related to the satellites' downlink transmission frequency and a rough estimate of the satellites' location.

From transportation to communication systems to the power grid and emergency services, nearly every aspect of modern society relies on positioning, navigation, and timing data from global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), or GPS, that orbit the Earth. Despite this, because GPS system signals are weak and susceptible to interference, they can often become unreliable in certain places such as indoor environments or in deep urban canyons. In addition, GNSS signals are spoofable, which poses serious security risks in safety-critical applications, such as aviation.

In the long term, such complications could lead to a number of navigational and cybersecurity issues, especially as virtually all of our current systems rely heavily on GPS, Kassas said. Technologies on the rise, such as autonomous vehicles, he noted, are beginning to amplify the limitations of our current GNSS systems.

"It's becoming more pressing to find civilian and military alternatives to GPS, whether as a backup or in the case when GPS isn't there whatsoever," said Kassas.

This study builds on previous research by Kassas' lab that solely used six SpaceX satellite signals to pinpoint a location within 10 m of accuracy, which was recently reduced to 6.5 m.

"The Starlink study scratched the surface of what is possible," said Kassas.

His work suggests utilizing signals from LEO satellites as an alternative for humans' positioning, navigation, and timing needs, as they reside about 20 times closer to Earth compared to GNSS satellites, which reside in medium Earth orbit -- a little more than 20,000 km above the planet. According to Kassas, the technology could potentially usher in a new era of positioning, navigation, and timing.

"We are witnessing a space renaissance. Tens of thousands of LEO satellites will be launched into space over the next decade, leading to what is referred to as mega-constellations," he said. "Signals transmitted by these satellites will revolutionize numerous technologies and benefit scientific inquiry in fields such as remote sensing."

What also makes the study so different from all other attempts at creating an alternative to GPS is, unlike previous studies, this algorithm doesn't reverse engineer the signal, said Kassas.

"Our algorithm is agnostic to the LEO constellation," said Kassas. "Our receiver can listen to virtually any satellite signal, trains on the data it's receiving on-the-fly, then deciphers certain features of the signal in a way where we can reconstruct what they are transmitting into location data." To demonstrate the team's new approach, the team applied the algorithm to four different LEO satellite constellations: Starlink, OneWeb, Orbcomm, and Iridium. The algorithm cracked all these signals, with virtually no prior knowledge about what is being transmitted.

Additionally, their algorithm is so sophisticated that the researchers were also able to estimate where the satellites are in space. In order to use the satellite to position ourselves, we need to know where the satellite is located. "That's a very challenging problem, because LEO satellites don't normally broadcast their location, and our publicly available estimates of where they are is off by a few kilometers," said Kassas.

During a stationary experiment to test how the signals worked as an accurate positioning system, researchers set a ground receiver's initial position estimate to the roof of an engineering parking structure at the University of California, Irvine, a spot more than 2,000 miles away from its actual position: the roof of Ohio State's Electroscience Laboratory (ESL) in Columbus, OH. Using the satellite constellations to guess where exactly in the country the receiver actually was, the algorithm was only off by about 5 m.

In another experiment, the researchers tested how the algorithm would fare on a moving vehicle, and mounted the receiver onto the top of a car. First, they used today's navigation technology, which relies on a GPS receiver coupled with an inertial navigation system (INS). They navigated for about 100 m before cutting GPS off, after which they drove for nearly a kilometer. They found that by relying on today's GPS-INS system, they were said to be located about 500 m away from their true location, but with their algorithm, they were found about 4.4 m away. "Our result showed that our system is getting close to what you can do with GPS today," said Kassas.

Although a patent has been filed on the algorithm, the team does plan to continue evolving all of the algorithm's technical abilities, said Kassas.

"GPS is a very mature system that we trust with our lives," he said. "To be able to trust new types of signals with our lives, there will have to be more studies on their accuracy, integrity, and continuity."

Source: The Ohio State University

Published May 2023

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