Articles

The 3D Product Development Triple Play

By Steve Luby President & Chief Executive Officer VISTAGY, Inc. Waltham, MA Steve Luby, President & CEO, VISTAGY (Waltham, MA).Today, every company is searching for a sustainable competitive advantage, and getting great products to market quickly at a good price is what matters most. Product innovation and speed are the keys to success, and PLM and the latest 3D CAD tools can play a part in achieving these goals. But there are more significant rewards for organizations that take a broader process-oriented view of the entire product development cycle.

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2006 Product of the Year Awards and Design Contest Winners

The 2006 NASA Tech Briefs (NTB) and Photonics Tech Briefs (PTB) Readers’ Choice Product of the Year Awards were presented recently by the editors of NTB and PTB at an awards dinner in New York City. The event honored the top three products of 2006 as chosen by each magazine’s readers. Also honored at the event were the Grand-Prize and First-Prize winners of the Emhart Teknologies “Create the Future” Design Contest.

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The Power of Data Acquisition Technology Convergence

Modern digital technology and a little imagination have led to today’s most popular devices, like the MP3 player — a tiny digital music player that you can carry in your shirt pocket, and yet which can hold countless songs, TV shows, and movies. And they have led to cell phones that are serving as cameras and PDAs. Thankfully, this same technology “push” from the last 10 years has had its effect on the data acquisition system, albeit in a slightly more serious way.

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NASA Announces 2006 Invention of the Year

A team from Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA, has been awarded the 2006 NASA Government Invention of the Year for an actuator and sensor system that is more durable than a piezoelectric system, and provides increased unidirectional control. In addition to being used in a number of NASA programs, the technology can be used in military, automotive, medical, and consumer product applications. The Invention of the Year is selected by NASA’s General Counsel, with the support of the Inventions and Contributions Board (ICB). For more information on the awards and this year’s winner and finalists, visit http://icb.nasa.gov/03-07-board/IOY2006/ index.htm.

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Multi-Fabric Switching Enables New Architectures for Military Systems

With multiple switched interconnects gaining momentum in the embedded space, selecting just one to address a wide range of military systems requirements is not easy. Individually, switched fabrics such as Gigabit Ethernet (GbE), Serial RapidIO (SRIO), and PCI Express (PCIe) have their own particular technical merits, and each is poised to carve out a piece of the interconnect market. However, when combined in nextgeneration Serial Switched Backplanes (SSB) like VPX (VITA 46/48), multi-fabric switching can enable powerful new military architectures by leveraging ‘best of breed’ interconnect technology to address specific application requirements ( Figure 1).

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Filtered Conduction Empowers Mil-Spec Desert Systems

As embedded computing systems become more powerful, so are the challenges to protect and cool the payload. In the past few years, we have seen the power of a single board increase in most cases to over 100W per slot. To further challenge the designers, these systems are being deployed in rugged environments with a push to use COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) products. Recently, liquid-cooled systems have been developed to combat these However, there are some challenges with liquid cooling that can make this technology prohibitive. For example, not all boards are available in conduction- cooled format, or there may not be an external chiller/pump available to implement the liquid approach. So how does a designer handle an environment where there is no liquid coolant available, ambient temperatures hover around 55°C, the enclosure has a payload of 500W, and the client wants the system to operate on numerous rugged platforms (ground vehicle, rotary wing, UAV, etc.)? Oh, and the enclosure has to be sealed to protect the COTS boards from the harsh environments and EMI concerns. And with all of this, there is a desire to monitor the temperatures/ health of the system to protect the expensive payloads.

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Bringing Modularity to MicroTCA

MicroTCA is a new specification that offers very high performance packed in a small form factor. The new specification is expected to be used in a wide variety of applications, including mil/aero, telecom edge, medical, enterprise and data, and scientific applications. However, there are so many possible configurations, it can be overwhelming. How can one develop various systems and offerings without starting from scratch — and the time to market, high costs, and implementation issues this brings? One solution is using modularity in MicroTCA designs. Prototyping and development of a new system enclosure design can be a time-consuming and costly process. Building upon a proven modular platform allows a wide range of design options with significantly reduced effort.

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