Features

8-Port RS-232 Universal PCI Communication Card

The eAutomation Group of Advantech (Cincinnati, OH) has released the PCI- 1625U, an 8-port RS-232 universal PCI communication card. The PCI-1625U functions as a self-contained computer and features an onboard DSP processor that can take over the processing load from the host PC. The PCI-1625U includes 1 MB of SRAM, which can store serial data and reduce host CPU loading. When the PCI-1625U initializes, it can download the driver software into its onboard DSP. A universal PCI connector is compatible with the 3.3 V PCI bus and 5 V PCI bus. A utility program called ICOM Tools is included that can test the PCI card performance by analyzing the port status.

Posted in: Products, Products

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Wired and Wireless Connectivity on One Single-Board Computer

WinSystems (Arlington, TX) has introduced the LBC-GX500, a singleboard computer based on the AMD GX500@1W processor, designed for machine-to-machine connectivity. The board is a Pentium-class CPU with an x86- native instruction set and 32KB of integrated L1 cache that runs Windows CE/XP Embedded, as well as Linux, VxWorks, and QNX. It features various wired and wireless connectivity options such as 802.11 wireless Ethernet, GSM/ GPRS cellular modem, CDMA cellular modem, and a ZigBee wireless RF module. It also includes a 10/100 wired Ethernet port, global- compliant dial-up modem, six USB ports, and six COM channels. The LBC-GX500 measures 5.75 × 8" and provides an open platform for management of geographically distributed machinery and sensors that operates over an industrial temperature range from -40º to 85ºC.

Posted in: Products, Products

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High-Integrity Java Targets Safety-Critical Systems

High-integrity software plays critical roles in telecommunications, transportation, defense systems, industrial automation, and power management. Because human lives may be lost and tremendous economic costs may result if the software fails, the development of high-integrity software adopts practices that impose greater rigor on the software development processes. This rigor includes documentation of system requirements, architecture, design, test plan, and source code; development accountability audit trails; independent peer review of all development artifacts; full traceability analysis; and extensive test coverage. The goal of this increased rigor is to assure correct operation and reliability of the software. As computer automation expands its reach and influence, the size and complexity of high-integrity software is expanding as well. To deal with the increased development workload resulting from the ever-expanding role of high-integrity software, military and aerospace industries are leading the way towards the use of a safety-critical subset of the Java programming language to help increase developer productivity and reduce the maintenance costs associated with highintegrity software.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs

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Accelerated Testing — Raising the Bar on Electronics Integrity

By now, most test engineers have recognized that both HALT (Highly Accelerated Life Testing) and HASS (Highly Accelerated Stress Screening) are the fastest and most effective new methodologies for quickly passing design verification and testing (DVT), and the most effective production screenings. Leaders across a broad range of industries have now embraced accelerated testing as a strategic move that can increase competitiveness and improve market share..

Posted in: Articles, Articles

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Advanced Ceramic Heaters Improve IC Packaging and System Performance

The continuous increase in the consumption of semiconductor devices and the emergence of new applications in optical components — MEMS, LCD display, flip-chip, chip-onglass, and multichip modules — has created a vast demand for faster throughput and better die-bonding equipment for IC packaging. IC packaging requires a typical ramp rate of 100ºC per second to 400 to 500ºC ±2°C, and a cycle time of 7 to 15 seconds. Similarly, IC chip testing, which stresses chips between -40 to 125ºC while monitoring electrical parameters, also requires a faster cycle rate. To manufacture ICs of all types, a die bonder or die attach equipment is used to attach the die to the die pad or die cavity of the package’s support structure. The two most common processes for attaching the die to the die pad or substrate are adhesive die attach and eutectic die attach. In adhesive die attach, adhesives such as epoxy, polyimide, and Ag-filled glass frit are used to attach the die. Eutectic die attach uses a eutectic alloy. Au-Si eutectic, one commonly used alloy, has a liquidous temperature of 370ºC, while another alloy, Au-Sn, has a liquidous temperature of 280ºC.

Posted in: Articles, Articles

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Sensor Interface Design Demystified

With the rapid expansion of available sensor elements driven by the growth of MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) sensors, the considerations of sensor interface design become ever more important. The design engineer needs to understand both the sensor as well as the application in order to make the proper design tradeoffs in this already tricky art of analog front-end design. The challenge is further compounded with the trend toward MEMS technologies and their inherently smaller signals. This article attempts to cover some of the basics of sensor interface design and gives a cursory overview of the challenges and trade-offs of the possible approaches. It’s Not Just a Resistor Fundamentally, every sensor can be modeled as a simpler component, albeit a component with a value that changes over time. Usually this means we can treat them as either a simple passive impedance, such as a resistance, capacitance, or inductance, or as an active source, such as a current or voltage source. As these values change with time, we need to be able to convert that change into a time-varying voltage. Furthermore, we need to maintain the linearity of the sensor while we do this.

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2006 Product of the Year Winners

The 12th annual NASA Tech Briefs Readers’ Choice Product of the Year Awards were presented April 23rd at a special reception and dinner in New York City. See the June issue for photos and highlights of the awards presentation. Here are the top three winners, chosen by you, the readers of NTB:

Posted in: UpFront

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