Special Coverage


Multi-User Investigation Organizer

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California InvestigationOrganizer (IO) is a Web-based information system that integrates the generic functionality of a database, a document repository, a semantic hyper-media browser, and a rule-based inference system with specialized modeling and visualization functionality to support mishap investigations. The semantic hypermedia component includes a customizable ontology that specifies various types of items (people, places, events, causes, systems, and associated information products) relevant to mishap investigations. The ontology also describes important properties of each item type, and details the potential relationships among items.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers


Unit Conversion Macro for TecPlot Solutions for CFD

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas The invention is a TecPlot macro, which is a computer program in the TecPlot programming language that processes CFD (computational fluid dynamics) solutions in TecPlot format. The TecPlot data is in SI units (International System of Units) [same as CFD solutions]. This invention converts the SI units into U.S. customary units.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Mathematical/Scientific Software


Product of the Month: February 2015

Luxion, Irvine, CA, released KeyShot® 5.1 real-time ray tracing and global illumination software for rendering and lighting of models and assemblies. New features include procedural textures and options, SØrensen Leather materials, and improvements that enable users to edit patterns, and render all cameras and viewsets. The new version supports touch-enabled devices and retina displays. Six new textures are available, including brushed, camouflage, lattice circular, spots, and lattice polygon. The software supports PTC Creo 3.0 with direct import and a free downloadable plug-in that maintains all color assignments and assembly structure while allowing users to select simplified representations. It supports devices with a multi-touch interface running Windows.

Posted in: Products, Electronics & Computers


Digital Controller

ZMDI, Dresden, Germany, released the ZSPM2000 configurable digital PWM controller with integrated MOSFET driver for smart digital point-of-load (POL) solutions. The controller operates as a synchronous step-down converter in a single-rail, single-phase configuration. It features an integrated power-stage driver, and digital communication and control via the PMBus™ interface. Other features include digital-control algorithms, anti-cross-conduction, and power-saving features.

Posted in: Products


Source Measure Instrument

Keithley Instruments, Cleveland, OH, introduced the Model 2460 SourceMeter® Source Measure Unit (SMU) instrument with a capacitive touchscreen graphical user interface. It offers power sourcing up to 105V, 7A DC/7A pulse, 100W max, with 0.012% basic measurement accuracy and 6½-digit resolution. It combines the functionality of a power supply, true current source, 6½-digit multimeter, electronic load, and trigger controller in one half-rack instrument. Other features are a full-color 5" touchscreen, graphical plotting, quickset modes, and instrument control software.

Posted in: Products


JWST IV&V Simulation and Test (JIST) RT Logic T501 Emulator

Emulator using only software implements the behavior of a processor. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland In order to develop a software-only test environment for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) mission, a solution was needed to send commands and receive telemetry between the TCTS (Telemetry and Command Test Set) and CMM-S card. The as-is solution requires the utilization of commercial off-the-shelf hardware (RT Logic Telemetrix T501 processor) and custom CMM-S hardware.

Posted in: Articles, Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers


New Navigation Software Cuts Self-Driving Car Costs

A new software system developed at the University of Michigan uses video game technology to help solve one of the most daunting hurdles facing self-driving and automated cars: the high cost of the laser scanners they use to determine their location.Ryan Wolcott, a U-M doctoral candidate in computer science and engineering, estimates that the new concept could shave thousands of dollars from the cost of these vehicles. The technology enables them to navigate using a single video camera, delivering the same level of accuracy as laser scanners at a fraction of the cost."The laser scanners used by most self-driving cars in development today cost tens of thousands of dollars, and I thought there must be a cheaper sensor that could do the same job," he said. "Cameras only cost a few dollars each and they're already in a lot of cars. So they were an obvious choice."Wolcott's system builds on the navigation systems used in other self-driving cars that are currently in development, including Google's vehicle. The navigation systems use three-dimensional laser scanning technology to create a real-time map of their environment, then compare that real-time map to a pre-drawn map stored in the system. By making thousands of comparisons per second, they are able to determine the vehicle's location within a few centimeters.The software converts the map data into a three-dimensional picture much like a video game. The car's navigation system can then compare these synthetic pictures with the real-world pictures streaming in from a conventional video camera.SourceAlso: See more Software tech briefs.

Posted in: News, Cameras, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics