Special Coverage

Iodine-Compatible Hall Effect Thruster
Precision Assembly of Systems on Surfaces (PASS)
Development of a Novel Electrospinning System with Automated Positioning and Control Software
2016 Create The Future Design Contest Open For Entries
Clamshell Sampler
Shape Memory Alloy Rock Splitter
Deployable Extra-Vehicular Activity Platform (DEVAP) for Planetary Surfaces
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3D Navigation Devices

3Dconnexion(r), a Logitech company, San Jose, CA, has released two new 3D navigation devices, SpaceNavigator and SpaceExplorer, that provide designers with intuitive 3D computer navigation control. SpaceNavigator is an entry-level device that lets users move naturally and fluidly in 3D environments without making repetitive mouse movements or having to type multiple keyboard commands. It features six optical sensors that communicate multiple threads of navigation data to 3D applications. It is used as a companion to a mouse, in the alternate hand, and lets users simultaneously pan, zoom, and rotate 3D objects. A small, heavy steel base holds the device to the desktop and supports a controller cap that flexes in all directions. The SpaceExplorer is a mid-range device that features a key console and 15 pre-configured function keys within comfortable reach of the controller cap. It comes with 3DxSoftware, which offers support for Autodesk Design Reviewer and DWF Viewer, and Google Earth and SketchUp. For Free Info Visit http://info.hotims.com/10960-120

Posted in: Products

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The Problems With CAD Tools: Vendors Address User Pain Points

CAD systems can be a design engineer’s best friend or their worst enemy. They help engineers create better products faster, but can prove daunting and frustrating in the process.We spoke to executives at several CAD companies to find out how they are helping their customers get past issues of ease of use, collaboration, and functionality, as well as other pain points users are still facing with their CAD tools.

Posted in: Articles

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Flexible Skins Containing Integrated Sensors and Circuitry

Densely arrayed tactile sensors measure multiple, spatially registered physical quantities simultaneously. Artificial sensor skins modeled partly in imitation of biological sensor skins are undergoing development. These sensor skins comprise flexible polymer substrates that contain and/or support dense one- and two-dimensional arrays of microscopic sensors and associated microelectronic circuits. They afford multiple tactile sensing modalities for measuring physical phenomena that can include contact forces; hardnesses, temperatures, and thermal conductivities of objects with which they are in contact; and pressures, shear stresses, and flow velocities in fluids. The sensor skins are mechanically robust, and, because of their flexibility, they can be readily attached to curved and possibly moving and flexing surfaces of robots, wind-tunnel models, and other objects that one might seek to equip for tactile sensing.

Posted in: Briefs

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Artificial Hair Cells for Sensing Flows

Small, robust sensors can be fabricated on a variety of substrates. The purpose of this article is to present additional information about the flow-velocity sensors described briefly in the immediately preceding article. As noted therein, these sensors can be characterized as artificial hair cells that implement an approximation of the sensory principle of flow-sensing cilia of fish: A cilium is bent by an amount proportional to the flow to which it is exposed. A nerve cell at the base of the cilium senses the flow by sensing the bending of the cilium. In an artificial hair cell, the artificial cilium is a microscopic cantilever beam, and the bending of an artificial cilium is measured by means of a strain gauge at its base (see Figure 1).

Posted in: Briefs

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Optical Beam-Shear Sensors

Simple sensors measure radiant fluxes in beam quadrants. A technique for measuring optical beam shear is based on collecting light from the four quadrants of the beam and comparing the optical power collected from each quadrant with that from the other three quadrants. As used here, “shear” signifies lateral displacement of a beam of light from a nominal optical axis.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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The PICWidget

The Plug-in Image Component Widget (PICWidget) is a software component for building digital imaging applications. The component is part of a methodology described in “GIS Methodology for Planning Planetary-Rover Operations” (NPO-41812), which appears elsewhere in this issue of NASA Tech Briefs. Planetary rover missions return a large number and wide variety of image data products that vary in complexity in many ways. Supported by a powerful, flexible image-data-processing pipeline, the PICWidget can process and render many types of imagery, including (but not limited to) thumbnail, subframed, downsampled, stereoscopic, and mosaic images; images coregistred with orbital data; and synthetic red/green/blue images. The PICWidget is capable of efficiently rendering images from data representing many more pixels than are available at a computer workstation where the images are to be displayed. The PICWidget is implemented as an Eclipse plug-in using the Standard Widget Toolkit, which provides a straightforward interface for re-use of the PICWidget in any number of application programs built upon the Eclipse application framework. Because the PICWidget is tile-based and performs aggressive tile caching, it has flexibility to perform faster or slower, depending whether more or less memory is available.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Fusing Symbolic and Numerical Diagnostic Computations

“X-2000 Anomaly Detection Language” denotes a developmental computing language, and the software that establishes and utilizes the language, for fusing two diagnostic computer programs, one implementing a numerical analysis method, the other implementing a symbolic analysis method into a unified eventbased decision analysis software system for real-time detection of events (e.g., failures) in a spacecraft, aircraft, or other complex engineering system. The numerical analysis method is performed by beacon- based exception analysis for multimissions (BEAMs), which has been discussed in several previous NASA Tech Briefs articles. The symbolic analysis method is, more specifically, an artificial-intelligence method of the knowledge-based, inference engine type, and its implementation is exemplified by the Spacecraft Health Inference Engine (SHINE) software. The goal in developing the capability to fuse numerical and symbolic diagnostic components is to increase the depth of analysis beyond that previously attainable, thereby increasing the degree of confidence in the computed results. In practical terms, the sought improvement is to enable detection of all or most events, with no or few false alarms.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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