April 07, 2020 Volume 16 Issue 13

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.


MIT-based team works on rapid deployment of open-source, low-cost ventilator that uses plentiful Ambu bags

A newly designed device fits around an Ambu bag (blue), which hospitals already have on hand in abundance. Designed to be squeezed by hand, instead they are squeezed by mechanical paddles (center) driven by a small motor. This directs air through a tube which is placed in the patient's airway. [Image courtesy of the researchers]

 

 

 

 

By David L. Chandler, MIT

One of the most pressing shortages facing hospitals during the COVID-19 emergency is a lack of ventilators. These machines can keep patients breathing when they no longer can on their own, and they can cost around $30,000 each. Now, a rapidly assembled volunteer team of engineers, physicians, computer scientists, and others, centered at MIT, is working to implement a safe, inexpensive alternative for emergency use, which could be built quickly around the world.

The team, called MIT E-Vent (for emergency ventilator), was formed on March 12 in response to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its members were brought together by the exhortations of doctors, friends, and a sudden flood of mail referencing a project done a decade ago in the MIT class 2.75 (Medical Device Design). Students and faculty working in consultation with local physicians designed a simple ventilator device that could be built with about $100 worth of parts, although in the years since prices have gone up and the device would now cost $400 to $500 in materials. They published a paper detailing their design and testing, but the work ended at that point. Now, with a significant global need looming, a new team, linked to that course, has resumed the project at a highly accelerated pace.

The key to the simple, inexpensive ventilator alternative is a hand-operated plastic pouch called a bag-valve resuscitator, or Ambu bag, which hospitals already have on hand in large quantities. These are designed to be operated by hand, by a medical professional or emergency technician, to provide breaths to a patient in situations like cardiac arrest, until an intervention such as a ventilator becomes available. A tube is inserted into the patient's airway, as with a hospital ventilator, but then the pumping of air into the lungs is done by squeezing and releasing the flexible pouch. This is a task for skilled personnel, trained in how to evaluate the patient and adjust the timing and pressure of the pumping accordingly.

The innovation begun by the earlier MIT class, and now being rapidly refined and tested by the new team, was to devise a mechanical system to do the squeezing and releasing of the Ambu bag, since this is not something that a person could be expected to do for any extended period. But it is crucial for such a system to not damage the bag and to be controllable, so that the amount of air and pressures being delivered can be tailored to the particular patient. The device must be very reliable, since an unexpected failure of the device could be fatal, but as designed by the MIT team, the bag can be immediately operated manually.

The team is particularly concerned about the potential for well-meaning but inexperienced do-it-yourselfers to try to reproduce such a system without the necessary clinical knowledge or expertise with hardware that can operate for days; around 1 million cycles would be required to support a ventilated patient over a two-week period. Furthermore, it requires code that is fault-tolerant, since ventilators are precision devices that perform a life-critical function. To help curtail the spread of misinformation or poorly thought-out advice, the team has added to their website verified information resources on the clinical use of ventilators and the requirements for training and monitoring in using such systems. All of this information is freely available at e-vent.mit.edu.

"We are releasing design guidance (clinical, mechanical, electrical/controls, testing) on a rolling basis as it is developed and documented," one team member says. "We encourage capable clinical-engineering teams to work with their local resources, while following the main specs and safety information, and we welcome any input other teams may have."

The researchers emphasize that this is not a project for typical do-it-yourselfers to undertake, since it requires specialized understanding of the clinical-technical interface, and the ability to work in consideration of strict U.S. Food and Drug Administration specifications and guidelines.

Such devices "have to be manufactured according to FDA requirements, and should only be utilized under the supervision of a clinician," a team member said. "The Department of Health and Human Services released a notice stating that all medical interventions related to COVID-19 are no longer subject to liability, but that does not change our burden of care," he said. "At present, we are awaiting FDA feedback" about the project. "Ultimately, our intent is to seek FDA approval. That process takes time, however."

This setup used for preliminary testing of an earlier version of the low-cost ventilator prototype design. [Image courtesy of the researchers]

 

 

The all-volunteer team is working without funding and operating anonymously for now because many of them have already been swamped by inquiries from people wanting more information, and are concerned about being overwhelmed by calls that would interfere with their work on the project. "We would really, really like to just stay focused," says one team member. "And that's one of the reasons why the website is so essential, so that we can communicate with anyone who wants to read about what we are doing, and also so that others across the world can communicate with us."

"The primary consideration is patient safety. So we had to establish what we're calling minimum clinical functional requirements," that is, the minimum set of functions that the device would need to perform to be both safe and useful, says one of the team members, who is both an engineer and an MD. He says one of his jobs is to translate between the specialized languages used by the engineers and the medical professionals on the team.

That determination of minimum requirements was made by a team of physicians with broad clinical backgrounds, including anesthesia and critical care, he says. In parallel, the group set to work on designing, building, and testing an updated prototype. Initial tests revealed the high loads that actual use incurs, and some weaknesses that have already been addressed so that, in the words of team co-leads, "Even the professor can kick it across the room." In other words, early attempts focused on super "makability" were too optimistic.

New versions have already been fabricated and are being prepared for additional functional tests. Already, the team says there is enough detailed information on their website to allow other teams to work in parallel with them, and they have also included links to other teams that are working on similar design efforts.

In under a week, the team has gone from empty benches to their first realistic tests of a prototype.

The cross-disciplinary nature of the group has been crucial, one team member says. "The most exciting times and when the team is really moving fast are when we have a design engineer, sitting next to a controls engineer, sitting next to the fabrication expert, with an anesthesiologist on WebEx, all solid modeling, coding, and spreadsheeting in parallel. We are discussing the details of everything from ways to track patients' vital signs data to the best sources for small electric motors."

The intensity of the work, with people putting in very long hours every day, has been tiring but hasn't dulled their enthusiasm. "We all work together, and ultimately the goal is to help people, because people's lives understandably hang in the balance," he said.

The team can be contacted via their website.

Published April 2020

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