December 2006

p1411A RF vector signal generator

PrecisionWave Corp., Colorado Springs, CO, has introduced the p1411A RF vector signal generator that includes a spectrum analyzer display and an internal IQ waveform generator.

It is available in both benchtop and ATE configurations. User-created IQ waveforms can generate other signal types, specify data...

Who's Who
Dr. Michael Bicay, Science Director, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Having served at both JPL as a member of the Project Office science staff for the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech where he helped establish the Office of Education and Public Outreach, since May 2005, Dr. Bicay has served as...

Application Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
IP Engine Helps NASA Crew Visually Inspect Shuttle's Heat Tiles
iPORT PT1000-CL IP Engine
Pleora Technologies
Ottawa, ON, Canada
Application Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Position Sensors Help Cassini Mission Provide Clues to Planetary Formation
Novotechnik U.S.
Southborough, MA
Techs for License
Multiple Networks from One WiFi Card

This software solution virtualizes multiple WiFi cards within the same computer. It creates two or more software WiFi cards in computer memory so that multiple WiFi connections can take place essentially at the same time, using a single WiFi card and antenna system. The same computer simultaneously can be...

Techs for License
Flexible Absorbent Binder

The Flexible Absorbent Binder (FAB), is a liquid coating that, once dry, forms a cross-linked, water absorbent hydrogel film on many substrates. The coating binds glass, metal, plastics, cellulose, and polypropylene, and may bind covalently to hydroxy-functional surfaces. The coating can also absorb moisture, bodily...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Coating MCPs With AlN and GaN

A development effort underway at the time of reporting the information for this article is devoted to increasing the sensitivity of microchannel plates (MCPs) as detectors of photons and ions by coating the MCPs with nitrides of elements in period III of the periodic table. Conventional MCPs are relatively...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Automatic Locking of Laser Frequency to an Absorption Peak

An electronic system adjusts the frequency of a tunable laser, eventually locking the frequency to a peak in the optical absorption spectrum of a gas (or of a Fabry-Perot cavity that has an absorption peak like that of a gas). This system was developed to enable precise locking of the...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Noise Source for Calibrating a Microwave

A correlated-noise source has been developed for use in calibrating an airborne or spaceborne Earth-observing correlation microwave polarimeter that operates in a pass band that includes a nominal frequency of 10.7 GHz. Deviations from ideal behavior of the hardware of correlation polarimeters are such as...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Self-Passivating Lithium/Solid Electrolyte/Iodine Cells

Robust lithium/solid electrolyte/iodine electrochemical cells that offer significant advantages over commercial lithium/ iodine cells have been developed. At room temperature, these cells can be discharged at current densities 10 to 30 times those of commercial lithium/iodine cells....

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Hybrid Deployable Foam Antennas and Reflectors

Hybrid deployable radio antennas and reflectors of a proposed type would feature rigid narrower apertures plus wider adjoining apertures comprising reflective surfaces supported by open-cell polymeric foam structures (see figure). The open-cell foam structure of such an antenna would be compressed...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Gesture-Controlled Interfaces for Self-Service Machines

Gesture-controlled interfaces are software-driven systems that facilitate device control by translating visual hand and body signals into commands. Such interfaces could be especially attractive for controlling self-service machines (SSMs) — for example, public information kiosks, ticket...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Domed, 40-cm-Diameter Ion Optics for an Ion Thruster

Improved accelerator and screen grids for an ion accelerator have been designed and tested in a continuing effort to increase the sustainable power and thrust at the high end of the accelerator throttling range. The accelerator and screen grids are undergoing development for intended use as...

Articles : Electronics & Computers
30 Years of Computer Technology

Throughout 2006, we’ve been celebrating the 30th anniversary of NASA Tech Briefs with special feature articles highlighting the past 30 years of a different technology category each month. This month, we conclude our anniversary coverage by tracing 30 years of computer technology.

Briefs : Software
User Interactive Software for Analysis of Human Physiological Data

Ambulatory physiological monitoring has been used to study human health and performance in space and in a variety of Earth-based environments (e.g., military aircraft, armored vehicles, small groups in isolation, and patients). Large, multi-channel data files are typically...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Inferring Gear Damage From Oil-Debris and Vibration Data

system for real-time detection of surface- fatigue-pitting damage to gears for use in a helicopter transmission is based on fuzzy-logic used to fuse data from sensors that measure oil-borne debris, referred to as "oil debris" in the article, and vibration signatures. A system to detect...

Briefs : Software
Representation of Serendipitous Scientific Data

A computer program defines and implements an innovative kind of data structure than can be used for representing information derived from serendipitous discoveries made via collection of scientific data on long exploratory spacecraft missions. Data structures capable of collecting any kind of data...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Forecasting of Storm-Surge Floods Using ADCIRC and Optimized DEMs

Increasing the accuracy of storm-surge flood forecasts is essential for improving preparedness for hurricanes and other severe storms and, in particular, for optimizing evacuation scenarios. An interactive database, developed by WorldWinds, Inc., contains atlases of storm-surge...

Briefs : Software
Dynamically Alterable Arrays of Polymorphic Data Types

An application library package was developed that represents data packets for Deep Space Network (DSN) message packets as dynamically alterable arrays composed of arbitrary polymorphic data types. The software was to address a limitation of the present state of the practice for having an...

Briefs : Software
Identifying Trends in Deep Space Network Monitor Data

A computer program has been developed that analyzes Deep Space Network monitor data, looking for changes of trends in critical parameters. This program represents a significant improvement over the previous practice of manually plotting data and visually inspecting the resulting graphs to...

Briefs : Software
Predicting Lifetime of a Thermomechanically Loaded Component

NASALIFE is a computer program for predicting the lifetime, as affected by low cycle fatigue (LCF) and creep rupture, of a structural component subject to temporally varying, multiaxial thermomechanical loads. The component could be, for example, part of an aircraft turbine engine....

Briefs : Software
Partial Automation of Requirements Tracing

Requirements Tracing on Target (RETRO) is software for after-the-fact tracing of textual requirements to support independent verification and validation of software. RETRO applies one of three user-selectable information-retrieval techniques: (1) term frequency/inverse document frequency (TF/IDF) vector...

Briefs : Software
Automated Synthesis of Architectures of Avionic Systems

The Architecture Synthesis Tool (AST) is software that automatically synthesizes software and hardware architectures of avionic systems. The AST is expected to be most helpful during initial formulation of an avionic-system design, when system requirements change frequently and manual...

Briefs : Software
SSRL Emergency Response Shore Tool

The SSRL Emergency Response Shore Tool (wherein “SSRL” signifies “Smart Systems Research Laboratory”) is a computer program within a system of communication and mobile-computing software and hardware being developed to increase the situational awareness of first responders at building collapses....

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Four-Quadrant Analog Multipliers Using G4-FETs

Theoretical analysis and some experiments have shown that the silicon-on-insulator (SOI) 4-gate transistors known as G4-FETs can be used as building blocks of four-quadrant analog voltage multiplier circuits. Whereas a typical prior analog voltage multiplier contains between six and 10...

Briefs : Materials
Carbon-Nanotube-Carpet Heat-Transfer Pads

Microscopic thermal-contact pads that include carpetlike arrays of carbon nanotubes have been invented for dissipating heat generated in integrated circuits and similarly sized single electronic components. The need for these or other innovative thermal-contact pads arises because the requisite high...

Briefs : Materials
Wholly Aromatic Ether-Imides as n-Type Semiconductors

Some wholly aromatic ether-imides consisting of rod-shaped, relatively-low-mass molecules that can form liquid crystals have been investigated for potential utility as electron-donor-type (n-type) organic semiconductors. It is envisioned that after further research to improve understanding of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Nuclear Reactor Cooling Valve Design Optimized With FEA

Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd., a subcontractor of Societatea Nationala Nucleoelectrica S.A. (SNN) of Romania, contracted Badger Meter to model, test, and produce a set of precision valves for Cernavoda Unit 2, the second nuclear power plant in Cernavoda, Romania. The main concern for the...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Pulse-Flow Microencapsulation System

The pulse-flow microencapsulation system (PFMS) is an automated system that continuously produces a stream of liquid-filled microcapsules for delivery of therapeutic agents to target tissues. Prior microencapsulation systems have relied on batch processes that involve transfer of batches between different...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Automated Low-Gravitation Facility Would Make Optical Fibers

A report describes a proposed automated facility that would be operated in outer space to produce high-quality optical fibers from fluoride-based glasses, free of light-scattering crystallites that form during production in normal Earth gravitation. Before launch, glass preforms would...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Surface Acoustic Wave Sensor for Viscosity Measurement

Viscosity is a measure of the resistance of a liquid to flow, and is an important measurement requirement in industrial process control and OEM applications. Viscosity describes the retarding force that is proportional to the rate of deformation. This so-called shear rate has units of...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Alignment Cube With One Diffractive Face

An enhanced alignment cube has been invented for use in a confined setting (e.g., a cryogenic chamber) in which optical access may be limited to a single line of sight. Whereas traditional alignment-cube practice entails the use of two theodolites aimed along two lines of sight, the enhanced alignment...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Graphite Composite Booms With Integral Hinges

A document discusses lightweight instrument booms under development for use aboard spacecraft. A boom of this type comprises a thin-walled graphite-fiber/matrix composite tube with an integral hinge that can be bent for stowage and later allowed to spring back to straighten the boom for deployment in...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Tool for Sampling Permafrost on a Remote Planet

A report discusses the robotic arm tool for rapidly acquiring permafrost (RATRAP), which is being developed for acquiring samples of permafrost on Mars or another remote planet and immediately delivering the samples to adjacent instruments for analysis. The prototype RATRAP includes a rasp that...

Briefs : Information Technology
Special Semaphore Scheme for UHF Spacecraft Communications

A semaphore scheme has been devised to satisfy a requirement to enable ultrahigh- frequency (UHF) radio communication between a spacecraft descending from orbit to a landing on Mars and a spacecraft, in orbit about Mars, that relays communications between Earth and the lander spacecraft....

Articles : Electronics & Computers
Multi-Fabric Switching Enables New Architectures for Military Systems

With multiple switched interconnects gaining momentum in the embedded space, selecting just one to address a wide range of military systems requirements is not easy.

Individually, switched fabrics such as Gigabit Ethernet (GbE), Serial RapidIO (SRIO), and PCI Express...

Application Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Multicores Affect Algorithm Choices

Design engineers soon will need to bridge the growing gap between hardware reality and software capabilities in the highperformance computing (HPC) realm as the use of multicore microprocessors grows. If your software development or sourcing plans haven't anticipated these development situations, your...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Multi-Processor VME64x Computer With PowerPC Processor

Themis Computer (Fremont, CA) has introduced the TPPC64 multi-processor VME64x computer using IBM's 970FX Superscalar RISC processor. It can be configured with one or two 1.8-GHz PowerPC 970FX processors. The 970FX features VPX SIMD Vector Processing Units, bringing enterprise server-class...

Products : Electronics & Computers
High-Speed Ethernet Communication for PLCs

AutomationDirect (Cumming, GA) has released the H4-ECOM100 Ethernet communication module for the DirectLOGIC DL405 PLC. The H4-ECOM100 can be inserted into any I/O slot of any local DL405 base, including expansion bases when using the DL450 CPU and -1 bases to implement master/slave Ethernet...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Graphics Card for Advanced Visualization Systems

The NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 X2 graphics card from NVIDIA Corp. (Santa Clara, CA) is designed for advanced visualization systems requiring scalable graphics performance, such as CAD and geo-seismic applications. The card features two NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 graphics processing units (GPUs) in a...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Ultraminiature Microswitches Offer Long Life Ratings

ALCOSWITCH ultraminiature SPDT microswitches from Tyco Electronics (Harrisburg, PA) have extended cycle life ratings up to 1 million cycles. The PC-mount product is available with straight or right-angle PC terminals, allowing for multiple mounting options.

Products : Electronics & Computers
FPGA-Based Carrier Card Reduces Processor Board Count

TEK Microsystems (Chelmsford, MA) has announced the PowerRACE® 3A carrier card combining highdensity FPGAs, an onboard switched fabric, PowerPCs, and PMC interfaces. High-speed I/O and image processing are performed in one slot. The PowerRACE-3A uses two 800-MHz 440GX PowerPC processors...

Products : Electronics & Computers
PowerPC Single-Board Computer for Mil/Aero Applications

Cornet Technology Communications (Springfield, VA) has introduced the Celero CVME-7448S PowerPC single-board computer available for the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) VersaModule-Eurocard (VME) community. The computer provides a single-board solution for embedded military and aerospace...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Load Switches Offer Thermal & Packaging Performance for Portables

Fairchild Semiconductor (South Portland, ME) offers the FPF100x family of IntelliMAX™ load switches featuring WL-CSP or MLP packaging, integration (slewrate control, ESD protection, and load-discharge capability), and lowvoltage operation of 1.2V. The FPF1003, FPF1005, and...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Gigabit Ethernet Test Solution for Compact Platform

EXFO Electro-Optical Engineering (Quebec City, Canada) has launched the FTB-8510 Packet Blazer Ethernet test module for the FTP-200 Compact Platform. The combination of the Ethernet test module with the Compact Platform provides field technicians with Ethernet testing capabilities in a...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Embedded Software Verification for Early Device Testing

S2 Technologies (San Diego, CA) has released the STRIDE 2.0 embedded software verification platform providing infrastructure and tools that enable development teams to perform testing, verification, and integration of embedded software. By using STRIDE, developers do not have to wait until...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Low-Profile Surface-Mount Inductors for Small PCBs

Datatronic Distribution (Romoland, CA) offers the DR331-5 surface-mount inductor for designers of small, compact, or portable electronic equipment with limited printed circuit board (PCB) space. The inductor is 0.39" tall, and measures 0.263 × 0.220".

Products : Electronics & Computers
Ethernet Switch With Port-Based VLAN Support

The PRV-1059 VLAN-enabled 5-port PC/104 Ethernet switch from Parvus Corp. (Salt Lake City, UT) is designed and tested to MIL-STD-810F, and features low power consumption of 1.5 watts and extended-temperature operation to 85°C.

Articles : Motion Control
Achieving Positioning Accuracy Goals

The task of choosing the correct mix of motion control components for a successful servo positioning system involves a combination of art, science, and experience. It also includes a little luck, but luck is not needed when you fully comprehend the principle of operation, accuracy, resolution, and...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
CNC Wood Routers Use Drive for Precision Control

The woodworking industry is as advanced and under pressure to deliver high-quality goods quickly as any. One of the most versatile tools devised to quicken production with flat panels of wood is the wood router, used to rout (hollow out) an area in the face of a piece of wood, and used for 3D...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Drive Utilized in Filament Respooler

Optical fiber, now the mainstay of telecommunications as well as sensor, illumination, and imaging systems, is made by first pulling a large-diameter preform into a long, filimentous fiber. Then divided into bunches, a resin cladding is applied to keep the transmital of light uncontamintated. The finished...

Application Briefs : Test & Measurement
Guide Used in Leak-Testing System or Plastic Bottles

Container leaks can range from mildly annoying to potentially dangerous. To avoid faulty containers from ever leaving the production line, producers have installed testing devices as part of the bottle production process to ensure integrity. As many bottle/container manufacturing systems were...

Products : Motion Control
Brushless Motor Drive

Intelligent Motion Systems (IMS, Marlborough, CT) released the MDrivePlus motion control system for brushless motor applications. The unit features 20 microstep resolutions to 51,200 (full step, degrees, metric, and arc minutes), a motion control system-on-a-chip, electronic gearing, 6,385 bytes of program storage, and...

Products : Motion Control
Motor Drive Module

International Rectifier (El Segundo, CA) released the IRMCT3UF1 fully integrated high-reliability hybrid motor control modules enabling digital, sensor-free vector control of permanent magnet motors. The module combines digital control, analog interface, and power stage. Speed and torque control are provided with commutation...

Products : Motion Control
Hub-Fastening Gears

Sterling Instrument (New Hyde Park, NY) released the “S1268Z-...M” series of 84 combination aluminum-acetal gears. Coming in metric and imperial sizes, the gears are 20° pressure angled, AGMA Q10 and ISO Class 7. Sizes range from 21 – 210 teeth with outer diameters ranging from 0.958 – 4.083". The gears are designed...

Products : Motion Control
Translation Stage

Physik Instrumente (PI) LP (Auburn, MA) introduced the P-652 piezoelectric linear-motor driven translation stage, measuring 9.0 × 6.5 × 2.4 mm. Consisting of four parts (ultrasonic piezoelectric resonator, two lateral sliders, and a spring doubling as the moving carriage), the device can replace classical drive elements in a...

Products : Motion Control
Bi-Directional Motors

Oilgear Co. (Milwaukee, WI) introduced the MFW and MVW fixed and variable displacement bi-directional high-speed motors, offered in two frame sizes and four displacements. Features are: cylinder mounted in polymerous journal bearings for special fluids, a hard-on-hard rotating group for greater contaminate resistance, a...

Products : Motion Control
Mini Servo Actuator

Harmonic Drive (Peabody, MA) introduced the FHA Mini Actuator, a hollow shaft, brushless servo actuator. The unit is a combination brushless DC servomotor and an encoder, with a through-bore up to 14 mm in diameter. The flanged output is supported by a bearing structure allowing the load to be mounted to the actuator. The...

Products : Motion Control
Digital Motion Controller

The EPOS P 24/5 from Maxon Precision Motors (Fall River, MA) is a programmable digital motion controller capable of position, velocity, and current mode. The unit’s supply voltage is 11 – 24 V DC; the controller is capable of 5 A maximum continuous current and 10 A peak current. The device, after initial...

Products : Motion Control
3-Phase Motor Control

TURCK (Minneapolis, MN) released the BL20 xStart motor starter modules that allow 3-phase motor control to be connected to the same rack as standard I/O. The units may be mounted next to other BL20 modules, allowing motors to be controlled via DeviceNet, Profibus-DP, or CANopen fieldbus protocols.

Products : Motion Control
Roller Bearings

AST Bearings (Montville, NJ) introduced the High Carbon Chromium Steel Tapered Roller Bearings line, comprised of the inner and outer rings, tapered rollers, and a cage (roller retainer). The rings and rollers carry the load; the cage spaces and retains the rollers on the inner ring. The product is stable under heavy loads, is...

Products : Motion Control
Magnetic Encoders

Baumer Electric (Southington, CT) released four magnetic encoders for harsh or contaminated environments. The devices come in diameters of 30 and 40 mm. The EcoMag 30 and EcoMag 40 are incremental encoders, offering resolution from 2 – 1,024 ppr. Their absolute counterparts, the MagRes 30 and MagRes 40, provide single-turn...

Products : Motion Control
Corrosion-Resistant Bearings

MRC Bearing Services (Kulpsville, PA) released the custom-engineered “HNCR” steel bearings made from high-nitrogen corrosion-resistant steel. The bearings display a hardness of 58 HRC, and have an extended fatigue life. Chromium has been added to further augment durability and corrosion resistance. The bearings...

Products : Motion Control
DIN Motion Controller

From Trio Motion Technology (Pittsburgh, PA), the MC302X DIN rail-mounted motion controller features two axes; the first can be configured in software for servo (with encoder feedback) or high-speed stepper control. The second axis may be either a reference encoder or a stepper axis. Differential line driver stepper outputs...

Products : Motion Control
Ball Splines

Released from THK (Schaumburg, IL), the SLS/SLF Ball Splines feature caged technology, allowing for smooth motion. A synthetic resin cage cradles each ball, separating it from others, while spaces between rolling elements retain the lubricating grease to act as a lubrication system. The units feature a rigidity of ±10%. Outer shaft...

Products : Motion Control
Linear Actuator

From Exlar (Chanhassen, MN), the Tritex™ Series of electric linear actuators, combining a brushless servomotor, servo amplifier, and position control in one unit. Up to 500 watts of continuous power can be applied to the actuator’s brushless servomotor. The standard product is rated IP54 with optional IP65 rating for...

Products : Motion Control
Ethernet Controller

Galil Motion Control (Rocklin, CA) released the DMC-40x0 Ethernet/RS232 controller family as part of the Accelera line, coming in 1- to 8-axis formats. Accepting encoder input frequencies up to 22 MHz and providing servo update rates up to 32 kHz, the line can complete program instructions in 40 microseconds. The device...

Products : Motion Control
DC Gearmotor

Midwest Motion Products (Watertown, MN) released the Model No. MMP-S28-400A GP81-046 BR-015 DC gearmotor. The device accepts any 24 V DC source. The gearmotor is reversible; the output is rated for 61 Nm continuous torque at 43 rpm and 100 Nm peak. Motor windings for 36, 48, 60, and 90 V are available. The integrally mounted...

Technology Leaders