Test & Measurement

Every Measurement Starts with a Trigger

As today’s products in consumer electronics, automotive, and aerospace applications get more complex with every generation, the requirements on test instruments increase even more because test capabilities need to advance, while test times and time-to-market are expected to decrease. One important requirement for instruments like oscilloscopes is the ability to detect and trigger on an event of interest within a stream of unsuspicious signals fast and reliably. The quicker a specific event can be detected, the faster a problem in an electronic design can be debugged, reducing development and manufacturing test times.

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Using Hardware Handshaking to Reduce ATE Test Times

Developing an automatic test equipment (ATE) system takes time, and there can be different approaches to achieve the same goal. Without the right approach, the system can become less efficient, contributing to more time spent or more resources used to complete the task. With advances in technology, ATE systems are becoming more widely used across a range of industries including manufacturing, avionics, aerospace, military, and defense. ATE systems are efficient and can be incredibly useful, allowing quick and accurate testing that communicates across a set of devices. However, it can become a complicated task to properly set up an ATE system to achieve the user’s desired outcomes.

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Motion Controller Automates Hydrostatic Pressure Testing

A flexible hydrostatic test system for the oil and gas industry must precisely measure a wide range of pressures. Because the items tested vary widely, most testing is done manually. A test engineer sets appropriate parameters, and a skilled operator adjusts the pumping system for the specimen under test. After the technician sets up the test, he or she is usually seated at the pressure source and controls the specified pressure. The human interaction lacks precision and repeatability; each time the test is performed, there is a variation in results. In extreme cases, the maximum rated pressure is exceeded, causing damage.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Test & Measurement

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Improved Detection of Kidney Stones Using S-mode Ultrasound

Steps were developed to improve kidney stone detection relative to surrounding tissue. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Ultrasound has been a useful tool in the detection of kidney stones. It is a low-cost solution that does not require ionizing radiation that would be harmful to vulnerable populations such as children and recurrent stone formers. However, it suffers from a broad range of sensitivity (78 to 96%) and specificity (31 to 100%) in the detection of stones.

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Vector Network Analyzer Calibration for Quasi-Optical Dual Ports

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland It is desirable to measure the electromagnetic properties of devices and materials in the millimeter part of the spectrum. For guided wave-based devices and materials (waveguides, coaxial devices), a vector network analyzer (VNA) is an excellent tool for this purpose since it provides full reflection and transmission characterization at high precision.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Test & Measurement

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Measurement of the Mechanical Properties of Thin Film Polymers at Cryogenic Temperatures

A new apparatus uses pressurized liquid nitrogen to measure deformation. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida The measurement of structural properties of materials at cryogenic temperatures is a daunting task. The measurement of thin films at low temperatures is even harder. Current practices of immersing the material in a cryogenic fluid and then removing and testing it does not work due to the rapid warming of the low-mass thin film. Similarly, exposing it to a cold vapor environment, unless well controlled procedurally, does not yield data at a known temperature (the temperature of the material is unknown). Thus, gathering basic material properties of thin film materials at low temperature requires a new approach.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement

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Estimation of Algae Growth Stage, Growth Rate, and Lipid Content

Applications include diesel fuel production, renewable energy, biofuels, and pharmaceuticals. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California This invention provides a method using light of different wavelengths to estimate freshwater and marine algae growth stage and algae growth rates as well as lipid content in standard media. Light absorption by the algae is measured for a specified light intensity in each of two or more narrow wavelength ranges, correcting for absorption in the medium without algae. The net light absorption is compared with a reference set of absorption values for the algae at different growth stages.

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