Articles

The Engineering of IndyCar Racing

IndyCar racing features some of the most technologically sophisticated automobiles in the world today. Weighing just 1,565 pounds and powered by single- or twin-turbocharged 2.2L V6 engines that produce anywhere from 550 to 700 HP, the sleek, aerodynamic vehicles are capable of speeds in excess of 220 mph. Not surprisingly, all of the space-age technology used in modern IndyCars tends to attract high-tech companies to the sport. Two such companies – Mouser Electronics and Littelfuse – have joined forces this year with the KV Racing Technology team. The team’s chief technology director, Eric Cowdin, spoke with Tech Briefs Media Group editor Bruce A. Bennett to answer some typical questions an engineer might ask. NASA Tech Briefs: How big a role does electronics play in an IndyCar? Eric Cowdin: Electronics are actually the backbone of running an IndyCar — everything from the engine management to the data acquisition system. It’s really the basis of controlling everything that’s going on in the IndyCar, as well as feeding us information back to make it perform better. Because of all the electronics on the car, there’s a very important circuit protection system on our car: the PDU, or power distribution unit. That PDU has eight outputs and each one has a pre-set current on it. Each one of those outputs is designed specifically to the electronic system that it’s providing control to, or current to, and that PDU protects every one of those delicate circuits. The other thing that allows us to do is monitor that output, via telemetry or recorded data, which gives us a chance to help the driver avoid a serious problem.

Posted in: Features, Articles

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Ensuring Safe Operation and Accurate Characterization of Laser Diodes

Laser diodes are very sensitive to electrostatic discharge (ESD), current/ voltage transients, and temperature changes, and extra care must be taken to ensure the laser diode is protected during all operating conditions. Unlike general-purpose power supplies or current supplies, laser diode drivers, mounts, and cables greatly improve the protection of laser diodes and allow low noise operation. A temperature controller helps stabilize the temperature of the laser diode packages, which provides for safe operation and wavelength stability of the laser. For fast and reliable characterization, an optical power meter and integrating sphere-based photodiode detectors are often employed where a good understanding of optical measurements is required.

Posted in: Features, Photonics, Articles

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Think Outside the Chip: MEMS-Based Systems Solutions

MEMS is an acronym for Microelectro mechanical Systems; however, most MEMS implementations to date have not been systems at all, but rather devices. This article reports the constituents and some applications of what is defined as MEMS-based systems solutions, or MBSS. In Europe, this concept is commonly referred to as ”Smart Systems In tegration.” These MBSS use front-end MEMS devices — either one or a combination of many sensors, actuators, and/or structures — that work in conjunction with several other devices including signal conditioning commonly using application specific integrated circuits (ASICs), digital signal processing (DSP) with embedded microcontrollers and software, energy creation and storage, and networking communications functions.

Posted in: Features, Articles, Semiconductors & ICs

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Organic Photovoltaics - Forecasts for the Next Decade

Today there are multiple devices available for harnessing solar energy. Each device offers a different set of characteristics. Wafer-based devices consist of mono or polycrystalline and are the most mature technology due to the experience borrowed from the microelectronics industry.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Solar Power, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Energy Harvesting, Automotive, Articles, Features

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Camera Trends 2012: Speed, Resolution, and Software

Cameras are still an important technology feature in manufacturing and inspection applications, but they are also increasingly valuable in non-traditional sectors. As part of June’s OEM Camera Directory & Guide, we look at three factors driving imaging tools: speed, resolution, and software.

Posted in: Imaging, Articles

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VPX: The State of the Ecosystem

You can never have too much bandwidth. High-speed processing and growing amounts of data to be communicated require generous bandwidth from the board level to the I/O. VPX, with a backplane connector system supporting 6.25 Gb/s in a switched fabric architecture, is the latest generation of VMEbus and offers new levels of performance for embedded computer systems. VPX systems are designed for flexible application of demanding highspeed protocols, such as 10G Ethernet, RapidIO, InfiniBand, and Hyper Transport protocols, in ground, aerospace, and marine applications.

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Thin Cavity Cooling of Electronic Circuitry

Anovel tested technology for cooling electronic circuitry is also useful in many other industries. The method is called “Thin Cavity Fluidic Heat Exchanger”(TCFHE). Technology details can be viewed at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Web site, at application 20100078155.

Posted in: Semiconductors & ICs, Articles

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