Adding SCADA to a Hydraulic Power Unit

With an increased focus on plant productivity and equipment reliability, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems have become vital tools to reduce downtime while increasing asset reliability in hydraulic systems. A SCADA system is a computer system that essentially gathers and analyzes real-time data.

Posted in: Articles, Fluid Handling, Motion Control, Computer software and hardware, Hydraulic and pneumatic hybrid power, Productivity, Hydraulic control

PLCs Improve Control of Radio Broadcasts

PLCs are slowly replacing the outdated hardware and software used at many remote transmitter sites in radio and TV broadcasting applications.

Broadcasting employs the latest technology in many areas, but controlling the broadcast hardware connected to the antenna and the related transmission power, source, and facilities is usually still a low-tech operation. Typically, a broadcast engineer will drive to the unattended transmitter, translator, or repeater site to flip switches and make other manual adjustments (Figure 1).

Posted in: Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Software, Antennas, Electric cables, Radio equipment, Reliability


Chances are that most of us have used a printed electronic device, whether it's a security tag on a piece of clothing, or a plastic badge used to open the door of our workplace. Printable electronics have diverse potential applications in flexible solar cells, batteries, sensors, lighting products, medical diagnostic devices, drug delivery devices, smart packaging and clothing, and displays. Following are several innovative applications incorporating printable electronics.

Low-Cost Printable Electronics Fabrication

The need for low-cost and environmentally friendly processes for fabricating printable electronics and biosensor chips is rapidly growing. NASA has developed a unique approach for an atmospheric pressure plasma-based process for fabricating printable electronics and functional coatings. This system involves aerosol-assisted, room-temperature printing in which an aerosol carrying the desired material for deposition is introduced into a cold plasma jet operated at atmospheric pressure.

Posted in: Articles, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Electronic equipment, Sensors and actuators, Additive manufacturing, Magnetic materials, Nanomaterials

Laser Vision Helps Package Shippers See Clearly

An analyzer developed for Hubble mirror testing helps FedEx scan packages.

For more than 25 years, the Hubble Space Telescope has provided stunning photos of the universe unequalled in their depth, detail, and distinction. But in its early days, Hubble wasn't capable of sending back such breathtaking photos. Within weeks of launch, the images beamed back to Earth were fuzzy and out of focus. It was determined that Hubble's primary mirror had been ground to the wrong shape and was too flat by 2.2 micrometers, causing reflected light from the edge of the mirror to be focused on a different point than light coming from near the center. It was determined that the device used to create the nonspherical mirror had been incorrectly assembled, and the mirror's manufacturer had failed to notice the problem before Hubble was launched.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Lasers, Optics, Logistics

Farzin Amzajerdian, Principal Investigator, Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA

Since 2003, Farzin Amzajerdian has worked on the Navigation Doppler Lidar (NDL), a sensor designed to support safe and precise vehicle landings on Mars and other destinations. The breadbox-sized NDL contains three lasers, a small electronics box, and lenses connected by fiber-optic cables. Amzajerdian will soon oversee the testing of the technology in California's Mojave Desert.

Posted in: Who's Who, Sensors

The Basics of Encoder Selection

Positioning: Resolution and Accuracy

An application’s required positioning resolution dictates the choice of encoder resolution. A well-tuned system can maintain the position within one encoder state (quadcount). Therefore, the encoder resolution in quadcounts (states) should at least correspond to the maximum permissible positioning error. Depending on the response time of the system, a higher encoder resolution should be chosen for the controller to detect deviations faster and counteract quicker.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Calibration, Navigation and guidance systems, Reliability

Branimir Blagojevic, Technologist, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

During his time with former employer Science and Engineering Services, LLC, Branimir Blagojevic helped build a remote-sensing device that detected biological agents. The technology, originally made for the Department of Defense (DoD), may soon find a place on Mars. Blagojevic currently leads the development of the Bio-Indicator Lidar Instrument (BILI), a device that could be used to spot organic molecules and signs of life on Mars.

Posted in: Who's Who, Detectors

Laser Diode Modules

BEA Lasers (Elk Grove Village, IL) has introduced two new low-profile additions to their rugged MIL Series of laser diode modules. The new MIL RA Model features a right angle, and the new MIL Compact Model features a straight housing. Both new models utilize a low profile 3/8” rugged laser housing, fitted with a M12 connector, 2 meter long PVC jacketed cable, and integrated power supply. The optional sensor-style bracket, or multi-adjustable “LB” bracket, completes the laser system. The new MIL Series laser diode modules are offered with standard 515nm (green) or standard 635nm (red), with 1mW or 5mW.

Posted in: Products, Products, Lasers & Laser Systems

Time-to-Digital Converter

Mouser Electronics, Inc., (Mansfield, TX) is now stocking the TDC7201 time-to-digital converter from Texas Instruments (TI). The TDC7201 is designed for use with ultrasonic, laser, and radar range finding equipment using time-of-flight (TOF) technique. TI’s TDC7201 time-to-digital converter has two built-in time-to-digital converters (TDCs) that can be used to measure distance down to 4 cm and up to several kilometers using a simple architecture. The TDC7201 features a wide measurement range of 0.25 ns to 8 ms and high accuracy of 28 ps. The device has a single shot resolution of 55 ps, (equivalent to 0.825 cm).

Posted in: Products, Products, Data Acquisition, Measuring Instruments

Single Photon Counting Module

Excelitas Technologies® (Waltham, MA) has introduced SPCM-NIR, a Single Photon Counting Module specifically selected and performance-optimized for the near-infrared (NIR) wavelength spectrum. This NIR-spectrum enhanced device is designed to support long-range LIDAR, quantum communication and microscopy applications. The Excelitas SPCM-NIR uses a specially selected silicon avalanche photodiode (SLiK) with peak single photon detection efficiency (PDE) at 780nm, typically better than 73%, while maintaining uniformity over a 180 μm diameter active area.

Posted in: Products, Products, Data Acquisition, Measuring Instruments

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