Extensible Processing Platforms: Giving Designers the Best of Both Worlds

Creating a new field programmable gate array is no small feat. FPGA vendors spend tens-of-thousands of man-hours simply researching markets to determine the feature set a given device will require and the silicon process that they will use to manufacture the device. This starts years before they embark on the ever more difficult task of actually designing the IC and the software to allow users to program it.

Posted in: Articles, Articles

Vote for Product of the Year

Voting is officially open for the 2011 NASA Tech Briefs Readers’ Choice Product of the Year awards. You can cast your vote for one of 12 nominees featured this year as Products of the Month.

Posted in: Articles, Consumer Product Manufacturing, CAD, CAM, and CAE, Medical equipment and supplies, Product development, Test equipment and instrumentation

Beyond 'Smart': The PC Camera Arrives

Machine vision systems have three basic components: a camera to acquire images; software to extract actionable information about the objects in the images; and a computer to run the image processing software. In the 1990s, the machine vision industry placed all three components into a single housing and called it a “smart camera” to reduce the cost and size of the vision system, and improve its usability for manufacturing process controls and quality inspection.

Posted in: Articles, Cameras, Imaging, Machine Vision, Embedded software, Imaging and visualization, Optics

Going ‘Digital’ Simplifies Medical Device Inspection

At various times throughout the manufacturing process, medical device and orthopaedic implant manufacturers need to carry out a wide range of inspections and measurements of the parts that they produce. Operators in the orthopaedic industry, for example, may check hip stems against a template many times during the grinding and polishing process. Like many manufacturers across a wide range of industries, they have traditionally used optical comparators to check parts directly on the shop floor.

Posted in: Articles, Medical, Measurements, Medical equipment and supplies, Prostheses and implants, Quality control, Inspections

Reducing Design Time for Linear Motion Systems

Design time can be reduced while ensuring durability and high performance.

Reducing design time is critical in engineering because the result is lower costs and faster time to market. Design time often includes a number of non-value-added activities such as re-design, over-design, or scope creep that can be minimized by thoroughly understanding all of the application criteria and verifying calculations and analysis via parametric testing of components, modules, and full assemblies with data acquisition equipment, and proving out projected performance results with testing.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Design processes, Supplier assessment, Production engineering

Expanding the Use of Smart Operator Panels

The evolution of operator interfaces has moved quite far beyond the pushbutton. Once, the intelligence resided in the operator’s brain, and considerable experience and training were required to operate any complex piece of machinery or process. The evolution of the operator panel is actually two parallel evolutionary tracks. First is the movement of that intelligence from the operator’s brain into the operator panel itself. So, we now refer to them as “smart operator panels.” The other track is how the evolution of the operator panel tracks Moore’s Law, making them more powerful and less expensive.

Posted in: Articles, Automation, Software, Human machine interface (HMI), Displays, Instrument panels, Product development, Technical review, Automation

John H. Glenn Research Center

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center design game-changing spaceflight technologies that advance exploration of our solar system. They have also established themselves as global leaders in aeronautics by building safer, quieter, more fuel-efficient, and environmentally responsible aircraft.

Posted in: Articles, Research Lab, Design processes, Sustainable development, Research and development, Spacecraft

Vote for NASA Tech Briefs’ 17th Annual Readers’ Choice Awards

It’s that time of year when we ask NASA Tech Briefs readers to vote for the annual Readers’ Choice Product of the Year Awards.

Posted in: Articles, Consumer Product Manufacturing, Electronic equipment, Medical equipment and supplies, Product development, Test equipment and instrumentation

Silicon Block Inspection with SWIR Imaging

In a world where oil production is declining, and where both nuclear energy plant and spent-fuel storage safety have proven to be inadequate, there is increased pressure on solar power generation to fill the gap. In response to the increased demands for energy, the photovoltaic manufacturing industry has focused on two primary objectives: driving down the cost of solar panels and increasing panel efficiency.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Solar energy, Product development, Production, Silicon alloys, Inspections

New Video Documents Three-Year Trek by Mars Rover

A new video compiles 309 images taken by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, providing an historic record of a three-year trek that totaled about 13 miles across a Martian plain pocked with smaller craters. While Opportunity was traveling from Victoria crater to Endeavour crater, between September 2008 and August 2011, the rover team took an end-of-drive image on each Martian day that included a drive. The video featuring the end-of-drive images shows the rim of Endeavour becoming visible on the horizon partway through the journey and growing larger as Opportunity neared that goal. The drive included detours, as Opportunity went around large expanses of treacherous terrain along the way.

Posted in: Articles, Video, Imaging and visualization, Documentation, Historical reference, Spacecraft

The U.S. Government does not endorse any commercial product, process, or activity identified on this web site.