February 2006

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Nearly Direct Measurement of Relative Permittivity

A recently conceived technique for determining the relative permittivity of a material sample at a given frequency is more nearly direct than are prior techniques that involve measurement of such related non-electrical quantities as the size, shape, and/or weight of the specimen. The present...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Ion Milling On Steps for Fabrication of Nanowires

Arrays of nanowires having controlled dimensions can now be fabricated on substrates, optionally as integral parts of multilayer structures, by means of a cost-effective, high-yield process based on ion milling on steps. Nanowires made, variously, of semiconductors or metals are needed as...

Briefs : Medical
Microfluidic Devices for Studying Biomolecular Interactions

Microfluidic devices for monitoring biomolecular interactions have been invented. These devices are basically highly miniaturized liquid-chromatography columns. They are intended to be prototypes of miniature analytical devices of the “laboratory on a chip” type that could be...

Briefs : Medical
Neuro-Prosthetic Implants With Adjustable Electrode Arrays

Brushlike arrays of electrodes packaged with application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) are undergoing development for use as electronic implants — especially as neuro-prosthetic devices that might be implanted in brains to detect weak electrical signals generated by neurons....

Adobe® Acrobat® 3D

Adobe Systems, San Jose, CA

, has released Adobe® Acrobat® 3D that enables engineers to publish and share 3D design information from major CAD applications with virtually any computer user, allowing collaboration within design and manufacturing teams. Users can convert 3D designs from a number of proprietary CAD...
Who's Who
David Wilt, Electrical Engineer, NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH

As part of the Forward Technology Solar Cell Experiment (FTSCE), a team of engineers from NASA Glenn, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Ohio State University has developed a new type of solar cell that is durable, lightweight, and highly efficient. David Wilt...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Dielectric Heaters for Testing Spacecraft Nuclear Reactors

Like the electrical-resistance heaters used heretofore for such testing, the dielectric heaters would be inserted in the reactors in place of nuclear fuel rods. A typical heater according to the proposal would consist of a rod of lossy dielectric material sized and shaped like a fuel rod...

Application Briefs : Aerospace
Digital Thermometer and Surface Probe Help Repair Shuttle Tiles
Fluke 54 Series II digital thermometer and
Fluke 80PK-27 surface probe
Fluke Corp.
Everett, WA
Application Briefs : Software
Software Helps NASA Create Graphics Library
Deep Server™ PGM Software
Right Hemisphere
Fremont, CA
Three Reasons Why New Businesses Fail

The Business Briefs series of articles takes you through the basics of developing and presenting a design idea, obtaining funding, protecting and licensing your intellectual property, and getting your ideas to market. This month, learn how to avoid the most common pitfalls that cause a startup business to...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Modular, Microprocessor-Controlled Flash Lighting System

A microprocessor- controlled lighting system generates brief, precisely timed, high- intensity flashes of light for scientific imaging at frame rates up to about 1 kHz. The system includes an array of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that are driven in synchronism with an externally generated...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Highly Efficient Multilayer Thermoelectric Devices

Multilayer thermoelectric devices now at the prototype stage of development exhibit a combination of desirable characteristics, including high figures of merit and high performance/cost ratios. These devices are capable of producing temperature differences of the order of 50 K in operation at or...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Using Doppler Shifts of GPS Signals To Measure Angular Speed

A method has been proposed for extracting information on the rate of rotation of an aircraft, spacecraft, or other body from differential Doppler shifts of Global Positioning System (GPS) signals received by antennas mounted on the body. In principle, the method should be capable of...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Very High-Speed Digital Video Capability for In-Flight Use

A digital video camera system has been qualified for use in flight on the NASA supersonic F-15B Research Testbed aircraft. This system is capable of very-high-speed color digital imaging at flight speeds up to Mach 2. The components of this system have been ruggedized and shock-mounted...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
MMIC DHBT Common-Base Amplifier for 172 GHz

Figure 1 shows a single-stage monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) power amplifier in which the gain element is a double-heterojunction bipolar transistor (DHBT) connected in common-base configuration. This amplifier, which has been demonstrated to function well at a frequency of 172 GHz, is...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Tunable-Bandwidth Filter System

A tunable-bandwidth filter system (TBFS), now undergoing development, is intended to be part of a remote-sensing multispectral imaging system that will operate in the visible and near infrared spectral region (wavelengths from 400 to 900 nm). Attributes of the TBFS include rapid tunability of the pass band over a...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Polarization Phase-Compensating Coats for Metallic Mirrors

A method of compensating for or minimizing phase differences between orthogonal polarizations of light reflected from metallic mirrors at oblique incidence, as, for example, from weakly curved mirrors, is undergoing development. The method is intended to satisfy a need to maintain...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Monitoring Temperatures of Tires Using Luminescent Materials

A method of noncontact, optical monitoring of the surface temperature of a tire has been devised to enable the use of local temperature rise as an indication of potential or impending failures. The method involves the use of temperature-sensitive paint (or filler):...

Briefs : Information Technology
Methodology for Designing Fault-Protection Software

A document describes a methodology for designing fault-protection (FP) software for autonomous spacecraft. The methodology embodies and extends established engineering practices in the technical discipline of Fault Detection, Diagnosis, Mitigation, and Recovery; and has been successfully...

Briefs : Information Technology
Ground-Based Localization of Mars Rovers

The document discusses a procedure for localizing the Mars rovers in site frame, a locally defined reference frame on the Martian surface. MER onboard position within a site frame is estimated onboard and is based on wheel odometry. Odometry estimation of rover position is only reliable over relatively...

Briefs : Materials
Polyimides From a-BPDA and Aromatic Diamines

Polymers having low color and a favorable combination of other properties, including high glass-transition temperature (Tg) and high mechanical properties (strength, tensile modulus, and toughness) will find use in a variety of terrestrial and space applications. Some of the space...

Briefs : Materials
Making Plant-Support Structures From Waste Plant Fiber

Environmentally benign, biodegradable structures for supporting growing plants can be made in a process based on recycling of such waste plant fiber materials as wheat straw or of such derivative materials as paper and cardboard. Examples of structures that can be made in this way include...

Briefs : Software
Analyzing Power Supply and Demand on the ISS

Station Power and Energy Evaluation Determiner (SPEED) is a Java application program for analyzing the supply and demand aspects of the electrical power system of the International Space Station (ISS). SPEED can be executed on any computer that supports version 1.4 or a subsequent version of the Java...

Briefs : Software
X-Windows Information Sharing Protocol Widget Class

The X-Windows Information Sharing Protocol (ISP) Widget Class ("Class" is used here in the object-oriented -programming sense of the word) was devised to simplify the task of implementing ISP graphical-user-interface (GUI) computer programs. ISP programming tasks require many method calls to...

Briefs : Software
X-Windows Socket Widget Class

The X-Windows Socket Widget Class ("Class" is used here in the object-oriented -programming sense of the word) was devised to simplify the task of implementing network connections for graphical-userinterface (GUI) computer programs. UNIX Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) socket programming...

Briefs : Software
Simulating Humans as Integral Parts of Spacecraft Missions

The Collaborative-Virtual Environment Simulation Tool (C-VEST) software was developed for use in a NASA project entitled "3-D Interactive Digital Virtual Human." The project is oriented toward the use of a comprehensive suite of advanced software tools in computational simulations for...

Briefs : Software
Processing Raman Spectra of High-Pressure Hydrogen Flames

The Raman Code automates the analysis of laser-Raman- spectroscopy data for diagnosis of combustion at high pressure. On the basis of the theory of molecular spectroscopy, the software calculates the rovibrational and pure rotational Raman spectra of H2, O2,...

Briefs : Software
Modular Aero-Propulsion System Simulation

The Modular Aero-Propulsion System Simulation (MAPSS) is a graphical simulation environment designed for the development of advanced control algorithms and rapid testing of these algorithms on a generic computational model of a turbofan engine and its control system. MAPSS is a nonlinear, non-real- time...

Briefs : Software
Generic Environment for Simulating Launch Operations

GEM-FLO (A Generic Simulation Environment for Modeling Future Launch Operations) is a computer program that facilitates creation of discreteevent simulation models of ground processes in which reusable or expendable launch vehicles (RLVs) are prepared for flight. GEM-FLO includes a component,...

Briefs : Software
Infrastructure for Rapid Development of Java GUI Programs

The Java Application Shell (JAS) is a software framework that accelerates the development of Java graphical-userinterface (GUI) application programs by enabling the reuse of common, proven GUI elements, as distinguished from writing custom code for GUI elements. JAS is a software...

Briefs : Software
DCS-Neural-Network Program for Aircraft Control and Testing

A computer program implements a dynamic-cell-structure (DCS) artificial neural network that can perform such tasks as learning selected aerodynamic characteristics of an airplane from windtunnel test data and computing realtime stability and control derivatives of the airplane for use...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Large Deployable Reflectarray Antenna

A report discusses a 7-meter-diameter reflectarray antenna that has been conceived in a continuing effort to develop large reflectarray antennas to be deployed in outer space. Major underlying concepts were reported in three prior NASA Tech Briefs articles: "Inflatable Reflectarray Antennas" (NPO-20433),...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Periodically Discharging, Gas-Coalescing Filter

A proposed device would remove bubbles of gas from a stream of liquid (typically water), accumulate the gas, and periodically release the gas, in bulk, back into the stream. The device is intended for use in a flow system (1) in which there is a requirement to supply bubble-free water to a...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Switching Chassis Enables Ethernet Control of 3U Modules in LXI Environment

Designed to enable the use of PXI test modules in a LAN extensions for Instrumentation (LXI) environment, Pickering Interfaces' (Woburn, MA) 60-100 and 60-101 chassis are fully compliant with Functional Class C of the LXI standard. They allow 3U PXI switching modules to...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Software and Hardware Automate Cylindrical Coordinate Measurement Machine Control System

The Mechanical Engineering School at the Georgia Institute of Technology needed to reduce the set-up time involved in centering a bearing ring on a rotating spindle in a cylindrical coordinate measurement machine.

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Analysis Software Used to Test Solar Car Steering and Stability

The Toronto, Canada-based Power of One solar car was built to set world distance records and promote the use of sustainable energy, unlike most solar cars that are built for racing. Most solar cars are designed only for controlled conditions on a track, but the Power of One...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Lead Screws Play Role in Case Packer Retrofit

In the industrial automation market, an increase in speed results in an increase in production rates. Increased production rates, in turn, lead to increased profit.

Products : Motion Control
Automation System


(Monroe, CT) has announced the Smart Linear Actuator (SLA) modular automation system featuring DIRECTCONNECT™ technology enabling integration of Robohand pneumatic slides, grippers, and rotaries. The SLA includes integrated servo/pneumatic motion control, an online Web configurator, networking capabilities, and...
Products : Motion Control
Ball Bearings
(Kulpsville, PA) offers self-aligning ball bearings that allow for angular misalignment of the shaft relative to the housing without affecting operation. The ball bearings gain their self-aligning capability from a design incorporating two rows of balls with a common sphere raceway in the outer ring. They are available with...
Products : Motion Control
Frameless Motors

Applimotion (Loomis, CA) has released ULT direct drive frameless motors in sizes up to 355-mm diameter, with 200-mm through holes, covering , and lasers.

Products : Motion Control
Miniature Digital Servo Drive

Elmo Motion control (Westford, MA) offers the “Whistle” digital servo drive with up to 500 watts of continuous power at 99% efficiency. The device weighs 1.76 ounces and measures 2 × 1.8 × 0.6". It interfaces to brush DC, brushless PM, and linear and/or voice coil motors. Power is provided by an external 7.5...

Products : Motion Control
Motion Controller

The RMC75E one- and two-axis motion controllers from Delta Computer Systems (Vancouver, WA) support Ethernet communications that can be used to download parameters and variables to modify motion control programs from a master controller such as a PLC or industrial PC. The interface features speeds of 10/100 Mbps with full- or...

Products : Motion Control
Rodless Cylinders

The HORV Series of rodless cylinders from Humphrey Products (Kalamazoo, MI) have a flat piston that creates a profile that is 40% thinner than conventional rodless cylinders of equal bore and stroke. The block-type end cap eliminates the need for mounting brackets. The body places no loads on either the actuator axis or the...

Linear Encoders
(Schaumburg, IL) has introduced LC absolute linear encoders with multiple scanning units for use with machine concepts where more than one slide is moving along a machine axis — especially through directly driven linear axes. The multi-unit linear encoders include the bidirectional digital EnDat 2.2 interface, which outputs...
Products : Motion Control
Motion Controller/Driver

A CAN bus interface has been added to the SilverDust™ IGB servo motion controller/ driver by QuickSilver Controls (San Dimas, CA) for servo control of NEMA 17 and 23 frame step motors. The CAN interface is fully isolated and supports up to 64 devices on the 1-MB bus. The new bus enables one servo to modify the motion...

Products : Motion Control
Induction Motor Reverser

Teledyne Relays (Hawthorne, CA) has introduced the Series EMCRT solid-state, three-phase induction motor reverser that can be used to turn on an industrial motor in either direction. The maximum current is 50 Amps. The EMCRT48D50 model operates at 400 Vac, 4 kW, while the EMCRT48D75 operates at 400 Vac, 7.5 kW. Each unit...

Products : Motion Control
Linear Actuators

The Bug series of linear actuators from Ultra Motion (Mattituck, NY) includes ABEC-7 angular contact bearings and interchangeable motor mounting plates. A Kevlar drive belt and pulleys provide 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, and 5:1 drive ratios with low backlash and low audible noise by eliminating gears between the motor and the drive...

Products : Motion Control
Rotary Encoders

RESM rotary/angle encoders from Renishaw (Hoffman Estates, IL) combine stainless steel mounting ring/scale and dirt-filtering options with signal processing and IN-TRAC™ auto-phase bidirectional optical reference mark. The device offers speeds to 3,600 rev/min and accuracy to ±0.5 arc seconds, with resolution and repeatability...

Products : Motion Control
Rodless Actuator

Tol-O-Matic (Hamel, MN) has introduced the B3W series electric belt drive actuator that can be used as a direct drop-in replacement for the company’s B3B actuator. The series features a sealed bearing system at both drive and idle pulleys, stainless steel dust band for internal parts protection, and a urethane steel belt. The...

Products : Motion Control
Stock Springs

Lee Spring

(Brooklyn, NY) offers Type 316 stainless steel stock compression springs in wire sizes from 0.006" through 0.072". The compression springs feature squared and ground ends, and are ultrasonically cleaned. The springs are suitable for applications in medical products and processes, pharmaceuticals, food processing...
Products : Motion Control
Tension Stepper

Azonic Products

(Albion, NE) has released the Model 300 switchable tension stepper that allows set-up of up to four predetermined tension levels that adjust during a winding cycle. The switchable tension stepper enables a user to adjust to another tension level for regular winding speed and have another tension level for...
Products : Motion Control
Wire Draw Encoders

SICK Stegmann (Dayton, OH) has released the PRF incremental wire draw encoders providing resolution to 0.025 mm at lengths to 50 m. They are available with HTL or TTL interfaces. The encoders consist of the wire draw mechanism and an encoder. The rotation of the drum is proportional to the length being measured. The drum...

Products : Motion Control
Indexing Conveyor

The Dual Track Precision Indexing Conveyor from Conveyor Technologies (Milford, OH) permits single-track positioning accuracy for a variety of in-line operations. Dual tracks allow processing of smaller parts on each belt or large parts up to 10 pounds and 24" in length, across both belts. The conveyor is available in 12, 18,...

Products : Motion Control
Stepper Drive

The STAC6-Si stepper drive from Applied Motion Products (Watsonville, CA) is programmable for standalone operation with Si Programmer™ Windows-based software with integrated tuning. A graphical point-and-click format combines motion, I/O, and operator interface functionality for machine sequencing.

Products : Motion Control
Scanning Stages

PI L.P. (Auburn, MA) offers the P-714 high-speed XY-nanopositioning and scanning stages that are piezo-driven and feature a resonant frequency of 2.2 kHz for sub-millisecond response. Integrated position sensors and piezoelectric drives provide sub-nanometer resolution.

Products : Motion Control
Motorized Potentiometers

The MR267 motorized potentiometers from Micronor (Newbury Park, CA) include a current loop controller (CLC) option that remotely controls the potentiometer and/or rotary cam switch via a 4-20 mA current loop, 0- 2.5 V input, or external potentiometer. The CLC option can be specified for any of the company’s line of...

Products : Motion Control
Motor Control Center

The Square D® Model 6 Intelligent Motor Control Center from Schneider Electric (Palatine, IL) enables real-time monitoring and remote control of motor functions for industrial facilities. Motor protection features of Motor Logic® Plus II overload relays provide the capability to customize protection levels. With...

Products : Motion Control

Lin Engineering (Santa Clara, CA) offers the SilverPak 23DE, and integrated NEMA 23 high-torque, 1.8° bipolar step motor; microstepping driver; and encoder. The system is 2.25" wide and is available in three body lengths: 2.52", 2.96", and 3.89". Depending on stack size, the integrated motor/driver is capable of producing...

Products : Motion Control
Thermoplastic Insert Couplings

R+W America (Bensenville, IL) has introduced the SERVOMAX TX1 series of molded thermoplastic insert couplings that are suitable for pump drive and servo applications. The couplings are chemical-compatible and tolerant to heat, and have an elastomer element that is press-fit between two molded coupling halves,...

Products : Motion Control
Brushless Gearmotor

Midwest Motion Products (Watertown, MN) offers the MMP-B23-150H-24V GP52-035 BR-005 brushless DC gearmotor/brake that features Hall Cell Commutation. The gearmotor measures 2.3" in diameter by 9.2" long, and has a keyed output shaft of 12 × 25 mm. Mounting is accomplished with four face-mount M5 threaded holes, equally...

Products : Motion Control
Shock Absorber

ACE Controls (Farmington Hills, MI) has introduced the SC 190-HC high-cycle industrial shock absorber for use in high-speed production equipment. It features quick rod-ready time and short stroke, as well as rapid repeat strokes and time through stroke. It is available in three models with varying effective weight ranges. The...

Products : Motion Control
Worm Gear Speed Reducers

Flexbloc right-angle worm gear speed reducers from NORD Gear Corp. (Waunakee, WI) stop oil leaks and eliminate bolt-on covers and split casting, encompassing all gearing within a single piece. They feature an aluminum alloy housing that is corrosion resistant. The speed reducers are lubricated with a food-grade synthetic...

Products : Motion Control
Rail Brakes

The RB Series of linear profile guide rail brakes from Nexen Group (Vadnais Heights, MN) use spring force to secure the load in holding applications. Each brake clamps directly onto the center of the guide rail for positive braking and holding in all axes. The brakes eliminate drive train backlash and elasticity, and are...

Products : Motion Control
Tie Rod Cylinder

The CA2 metric tie rod cylinder series from SMC Corp. of America (Indianapolis, IN) features aluminum die-cast covers to reduce weight. Cushioning capabilities were improved by increasing the volume of the cushion chamber and by using a floating cushion seal. The seal reduces movements of the piston rod at lower operating...

Products : Motion Control
Brushless Vibration Motors

Nidoc Copal USA Corp. (Torrance, CA) offers the LVB10 line of brushless vibration motors measuring 10 mm outside diameter and 3.4 mm axial length. The LBV10-003 model reaches speeds of 13,500 rpm and draws a rated current of 76 milliamps, while the LBV10-008 model reaches 12,000 rpm at 62 milliamps. The developed...

Products : Motion Control
Voice Coil Actuator

Gee Plus (Elgin, SC) has announced the VM2436 voice coil actuator that provides bi-directional linearity over a maximum linear stroke of 0.59". It develops a peak force of almost 11 ounces in a package size of 0.94" outside diameter by 1.49" long. The actuator is constructed using a Teflon-impregnated coating on the core of...

Products : Motion Control
Servo Motor

Nanomotion (Ronkonkoma, NY) offers the MM industrial servo motor that provides unlimited rotary or linear motion with 0.17 N of driving force and velocity to 235 mm/sec. The motor measures 9 × 17 × 5 mm and weighs 5 grams. It works with the company’s standard amplifiers and any servo control, and can be integrated into most...

Products : Motion Control
Direct Drive Actuator

Copley Controls (Canton, MA) offers the ServoTube actuator with twin outrigger bearings designed for applications subject to high side loading. A ball-bushing option with steel bearing rails provides maximum side-loading support. Optional polymer bushings, which use aluminum rails, are suitable for vertical loads. The new...

Products : Motion Control
Motor Driver

Allegro MicroSystems (Worcester, MA) has announced the A1441 full-bridge motor driver designed to drive single-phase, low-voltage, bipolar brushless DC motors. Commutation of the motor is achieved by the use of one Hall element to detect the position of an alternating pole ring magnet. The IC semiconductor process enables the...

Products : Motion Control
Vibration Analyzer

Datastick Systems (Campbell, CA) offers the VSA-1212 vibration spectrum analyzer, a PDA-based vibration analyzer that uses off-the-shelf ICP®-type piezoelectric accelerometers for machine condition monitoring and maintenance. The system includes the Datastick® analyzer module that attaches to PDAs running Palm OS, the...

Collet Chuck

Lexair (Lexington, KY) has announced the Lexair/ Production Dynamics Full Bore® chuck, a mechanical-grip, air-release, front-mounted collet chuck designed to make the full spindle bore available to handle larger bar stock. The design eliminates the conventional draw tube and external actuator. Air is used only to open the chuck....

Products : Motion Control
Brushless DC Motors

Pittman® Brushless DC servomotors from PennEngineering® Motion Technologies (Harleysville, PA) feature a slotless stator design for applications in data storage, medical, semiconductor, and automation. Features include low inductance and high current bandwidth for control during rapid acceleration in incremental motion...

Products : Motion Control
Electro-Mechanical Actuator

Exlar Corp. (Chanhassen, MN) has introduced the Exlar I Series electro-mechanical actuator with roller screw technology. Users have a choice of motor brand and type, including brushless servo, stepper, DC, or AC motor. Input transmission options include direct coupling, parallel belt and pulley drive, and in-line...

Briefs : Software
Analysis Software Used in Liquids Berth Trestle Structure Design

Madsen Giersing, an Australian consulting engineering firm that specializes in marine engineering and construction solutions, was commissioned to design a new bulk liquids berth at Dampier, Australia, one of the country's largest ports. The berth or dock consists of four...


On-Demand Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Heavy-Duty Engine Design for a Transitioning Market

Upcoming Webinars: Photonics/Optics

High-Powered Directed Energy Laser Projects: Destroy the Target,...

Upcoming Webinars: Photonics/Optics

Optical Coating Design

Upcoming Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Rapid Decompression and Sealed Containers: Why Choose Magnet...

Upcoming Webinars: Motion Control

Advantages of Smart Servo Steppers vs. Smart Brushless Servos

Upcoming Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Large Cable, Large Problems: Considerations for Innovation