Special Coverage


Agile Aperture Antenna Tested on Aircraft to Maintain Satellite Connection

Two of Georgia Tech's software-defined, electronically reconfigurable Agile Aperture Antennas (A3) were demonstrated in an aircraft during flight tests. The low-power devices can change beam directions in a thousandth of a second. One device, looking up, maintained a satellite data connection as the aircraft changed headings, banked and rolled, while the other antenna looked down to track electromagnetic emitters on the ground.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Electronic Components, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics, Power Management, Software, Test & Measurement, Measuring Instruments, Communications, Wireless, Aerospace, Aviation, RF & Microwave Electronics, Antennas, News


Simulating Data Flow via Multiple Secure Connections

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland A software simulator was developed to simulate data flow from the Interface Data Processing Segment (IDPS) to the Science Data Segment (SDS) for the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) via multiple Secure FTP (sftp) connections. The simulator is a multi-threaded Java program that handles the continuous sftp transfer of large amounts of data with some error-handling capabilities built in.

Posted in: Software, Data Acquisition, Briefs


New Algorithms Enable Self-Assembling, Printable Robots

In two new papers, MIT researchers demonstrate the promise of printable robotic components that, when heated, automatically fold into prescribed three-dimensional configurations.One paper describes a system that takes a digital specification of a 3-D shape — such as a computer-aided design, or CAD, file — and generates the 2-D patterns that would enable a piece of plastic to reproduce it through self-folding.The other paper explains how to build electrical components from self-folding laser-cut materials. The researchers present designs for resistors, inductors, and capacitors, as well as sensors and actuators — the electromechanical “muscles” that enable robots’ movements.“We have this big dream of the hardware compiler, where you can specify, ‘I want a robot that will play with my cat,’ or ‘I want a robot that will clean the floor,’ and from this high-level specification, you actually generate a working device,” said Daniela Rus, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.SourceAlso: Learn about Self-Assembling, Flexible, Pre-Ceramic Composite Preforms.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Electronic Components, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Power Transmission, Sensors, Software, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Mathematical/Scientific Software, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, News


Motion-Sensing Keyboard Lets Users Hover and Swipe

Microsoft engineers have developed a new type of augmented mechanical keyboard, sensing rich and expressive motion gestures performed both on and directly above the device. A low-resolution matrix of infrared (IR) proximity sensors is interspersed with the keys of a regular mechanical keyboard. This results in coarse, but high frame-rate motion data.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, PCs/Portable Computers, Mechanical Components, Sensors, Software, Mathematical/Scientific Software, News


Cyberlearning Platforms Improve Design Collaboration

Two new "cyberlearning" platforms allow non-artists to create illustrations rivaling the work of expert designers. The platforms sidestep a key creative barrier by eliminating the need for drawing skills in developing new designs. "Non-experts are becoming more empowered and interested in means of creative self-expression," said Karthik Ramani, Purdue University's Donald W. Feddersen Professor of Mechanical Engineering. "More importantly, I think this is the beginning of a new field of computer-supported creativity where you are extending the human mind." The new platforms — called skWiki (pronounced squeaky) and Juxtapoze — may usher in a new era of digital-scribbling and creative collaboration. The platforms operate on servers and do not require users to install any software. The skWiki platform allows collaboration with multimedia, including text, sketches, photos and "vector images" important for computer-aided design and other applications. Source Also: Learn about a Workflow-Based Software Development Environment.

Posted in: Software, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), News


Multiphysics Modeling of MEMS Devices

There are many excellent reasons to simulate microelectromechanical system (MEMS) devices. For example, if you're going to create a new product or process, such as a capacitive pressure sensor, you'll first want to get the concepts right. The most important decisions are often made early in the product development cycle when multiphysics simulation can give you the valuable insight you need. The benefits of multiphysics simulation can also extend easily to the design and optimization of a product by reducing the time and money spent on prototypes. And, if you integrate multiphysics simulation with manufacturing and quality assurance, you'll end up with a product that's much better understood and better characterized.

Posted in: Software, White Papers


Gridded Atmosphere Products from GPS Radio Occultation Measurements with Bayesian Interpolation Technique

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California GPS radio occultation measurements are vital for climate monitoring and atmospheric temperature change detection. However, the data are irregularly distributed in space and time, which makes it inconvenient for many applications.

Posted in: Test & Measurement, Software, Briefs, TSP