August 2007

Better Be Running! Tools to Drive Design Success (part 2)

This is the second in our series of excerpts from "Better Be Running! Tools to Drive Design Success" by Dr. Ronald Hollis, President, CEO, and Co-founder of (Atlanta, GA). Written for business managers, the book focuses on manufacturing processes, tooling choices, and...

Articles : Electronics & Computers
Cyber-Training Today’s Fighting Forces

Dramatic changes are taking place in the way U.S. service men and women prepare for their assignments. Since 9/11, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is moving from a training cycle in which pre-deployment training events for units and staffs were predictable and occurred every 18-24 months, to one in...

Articles : Electronics & Computers
Embedded Development and the .NET Micro Framework

The scenario:

You’ve been assigned the task of designing and producing an embedded device. You’ve been given time, cost and size constraints that impact your design. An initial analysis of the requirements leads you to the conclusion that a 32-bit processor with a relatively small...

Better Be Running! Tools to Drive Design Success (part 1)

This is the first in a series of excerpts from "Better Be Running! Tools to Drive Design Success" by Dr. Ronald Hollis, President, CEO, and Co-founder of (Atlanta, GA). Written for business managers, the book focuses on manufacturing processes, tooling choices, and...

Articles : Test & Measurement
Taking Advantage of Parallel Parametric Testing

The production of many electronic devices begins with wafer processing. In addition to complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) integrated circuits (ICs), this can include such diverse devices as radio frequency (RF) components based on III-V compounds and chemical detectors based on carbon...

Application Briefs : Imaging
Imaging Software Provides Access to Critical Mission Images Across NASA
Presto Imaging Software
Woburn, MA

With every space shuttle mission, hundreds of individuals across NASA need to access extensive photographs, video footage, and other imaging assets in order to monitor...

Application Briefs : Software
Simulation Software Enables Development and Validation of NASA Probe Bus and Probe Carrier
MSC Nastran and MSC Adams Enterprise
Simulation Software
MSC.Software Corp.
Santa Ana, CA

NASA’s MIDEX Mission THEMIS (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Using G⁴FETs as a Data Router for In-Plane Crossing of Signal Paths

Theoretical analysis and some experiments have demonstrated that siliconon- insulator (SOI) 4-gate transistors of the type known as G4FETs could be efficiently used for in-plane crossing of signal paths. Much of the effort of designing very-large-scale integrated...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Radiation-Tolerant Dual Data Bus

An architecture, and a method of utilizing the architecture, have been proposed to enable error-free operation of a data bus that includes, and is connected to, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) circuits and components that are inherently susceptible to single-event upsets [SEUs (bit flips caused by impinging...

Briefs : Software
Program Merges SAR Data on Terrain and Vegetation Heights

X/P Merge is a computer program that estimates ground-surface elevations and vegetation heights from multiple sets of data acquired by the GeoSAR instrument [a terrain-mapping synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) system that operates in the X and P bands]. X/P Merge software combines data from...

Briefs : Information Technology
Two Algorithms for Processing Electronic Nose Data

Two algorithms for processing the digitized readings of electronic noses, and computer programs to implement the algorithms, have been devised in a continuing effort to increase the utility of electronic noses as means of identifying airborne compounds and measuring their concentrations. One...

Briefs : Software
General-Purpose Front End for Real-Time Data Processing

FRONTIER is a computer program that functions as a front end for any of a variety of other software of both the artificial intelligence (AI) and conventional data-processing types. As used here, "front end" signifies interface software needed for acquiring and preprocessing data and making...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Cumulative Timers for Microprocessors

It has been proposed to equip future microprocessors with electronic cumulative timers, for essentially the same reasons for which land vehicles are equipped with odometers (total-distance-traveled meters) and aircraft are equipped with Hobbs meters (total-engine-operating time meters). Heretofore, there has...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Nanocomposite Photoelectrochemical Cells

Improved, solid-state photoelectrochemical cells for converting solar radiation to electricity have been proposed. (In general, photoelectrochemical cells convert incident light to electricity through electrochemical reactions.) It is predicted that in comparison with state-of-the-art photoelectrochemical...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Using Isolated Signal Conditioners to Protect Equipment and Ensure Measurement Accuracy

Whenever a data acquisition (DAQ) system is moved from the controlled environment of the laboratory to validation testing or the manufacturing floor, measurement inputs can become corrupted. Isolating power sources and sensor signals is the most effective...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Ultracapacitor-Powered Cordless Drill

The figure depicts a portable, handheld power drill with its attached powersupply unit, in which ultracapacitors, rather than batteries, are used to store energy. This ultracapacitor-powered drill is a product of continuing efforts to develop the technological discipline known as hybrid power management...

Briefs : Materials
Photocatalytic/Magnetic Composite Particles

Photocatalytic/ magnetic composite particles have been invented as improved means of exploiting established methods of photocatalysis for removal of chemical and biological pollutants from air and water. The photocatalytic components of the composite particles are formulated for high levels of...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Separation and Sealing of a Sample Container Using Brazing

A special double-wall container and a process for utilizing the container are being developed to enable (1) acquisition of a sample of material in a "dirty" environment that may include a biological and/or chemical hazard; (2) sealing a lid onto the inner part of the container to...

Briefs : Medical
High-Speed Noninvasive Eye-Tracking System

The figure schematically depicts a system of electronic hardware and software that noninvasively tracks the direction of a person’s gaze in real time. Like prior commercial noninvasive eye-tracking systems, this system is based on (1) illumination of an eye by a low-power infrared light-emitting diode...

Briefs : Medical
Detergent-Specific Membrane Protein Crystallization Screens

A suite of reagents has been developed for three-dimensional crystallization of integral membranes present in solution as protein-detergent complexes (PDCs). The compositions of these reagents have been determined in part by proximity to the phase boundaries (lower consolute boundaries)...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
A New Approach to Railgun Operation Requires Analysis of Electromagnetic Fields

Railguns, which propel a projectile using electromagnetic forces instead of chemical explosions, promise to revolutionize projectile launchers. Such guns have been built and operated successfully on a test basis, but several problems are holding them back from usage...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Plasmonic Antenna Coupling for QWIPs

In a proposed scheme for coupling light into a quantum-well infrared photodetector (QWIP), an antenna or an array of antennas made of a suitable metal would be fabricated on the face of what would otherwise be a standard QWIP (see figure). This or any such coupling scheme is required to effect polarization...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Evaporation-Cooled Protective Suits for Firefighters

Suits cooled by evaporation of water have been proposed as improved means of temporary protection against high temperatures near fires. When air temperature exceeds 600 °F (316 °C) or in the presence of radiative heating from nearby sources at temperatures of 1,200 °F (649 °C)...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Electronic Tongue Containing Redox and Conductivity Sensors

Electronic tongue 2 (E-tongue 2) represents the second generation of the apparatus described in "Electronic Tongue for Quantitation of Contaminants in Water" (NPO-30601), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 28, No. 2 (February 2004), page 31. To recapitulate: The previously reported apparatus, now...

Briefs : Information Technology
Improved Heat-Stress Algorithm

NASA Dryden presents an improved and automated site-specific algorithm for heat-stress approximation using standard atmospheric measurements routinely obtained from the Edwards Air Force Base weather detachment. Heat stress, which is the net heat load a worker may be exposed to, is officially measured using a...

Briefs : Information Technology
A Method of Partly Automated Testing of Software

A method of automated testing of software has been developed that provides an alternative to the conventional mostly manual approach for software testing. The method combines (1) automated generation of test cases on the basis of systematic exploration of the input domain of the software to be...

Who's Who
Jing Li, Scientist, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

NASA recently tested the Nano ChemSensor, the first nanotechnology- based electronic device to fly in space. The test showed that the sensor could monitor trace gases inside a spaceship. This technology could lead to smaller, more capable environmental monitors and smoke detectors...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Rover Wheel-Actuated Tool

A report describes an interface for utilizing some of the mobility features of a mobile robot for general-purpose manipulation of tools and other objects. The robot in question, now undergoing conceptual development for use on the Moon, is the All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer (ATHLETE) rover, which is...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Second-Generation Electronic Nose

A report discusses the second generation of the JPL Electronic Nose (ENose), an array of 32 semi-specific chemical sensors used as an event monitor to identify and quantify contaminants released into breathing air by leaks or spills. It is designed to monitor the environment for changes in air quality, and is...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Automated Aerial Refueling Hitches a Ride On AFF

The recent introduction of uninhabited aerial vehicles [UAVs (basically, remotely piloted or autonomous aircraft)] has spawned new developments in autonomous operation and posed new challenges. Automated aerial refueling (AAR) is a capability that will enable UAVs to travel greater distances and...

SolidWorks® 2008 3D CAD Software

SolidWorks Corp., Concord, MA, has announced SolidWorks® 2008 3D CAD software that features a new user interface and 3D graphics, an enhancement of the SolidWorks Intelligent Feature Technology (SWIFT), and advanced design analysis capabilities. A new intuitive workflow predicts which tools users will need in...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Cobra Probes Containing Replaceable Thermocouples

A modification of the basic design of cobra probes provides for relatively easy replacement of broken thermocouples. [Cobra probes are standard tube-type pressure probes that may also contain thermocouples and that are routinely used in wind tunnels and aeronautical hardware. They are so named...

NASA Tech Needs
High-Birefringence Optical Material

A high-birefringence optical material suitable for implementation in optical systems is sought. This material has several qualities of interest beyond high birefringence: high hardness, making it amenable to standard polishing and manufacturing processes; low CTE (coefficient of thermal expansion); low CTRI...

NASA Tech Needs
Freshness Indicator for Consumer Packaging

A technology is sought that indicates that a product packed into a rigid metal container has not been tampered with and/or degraded over time. The solution must incorporate a method of communicating this information to the packager, retailer, or consumer. After packaging, and depending on the product,...

Techs for License
Printable Biosensor for On-Site, Online Measurements

Bioactive Hybrid Materials for Photonic Microsystems It allows samples to be analyzed on site within a few minutes by integrating biotechnology, information technology, electronics, physics, and chemistry to realize small and cost-effective bio-photonic microsystems.

Techs for License
High Performance Single Crystal Piezoelectrics

The new single crystals offered here possess exceptional properties and are poised to revolutionize piezoelectric materials applications. In addition to strain levels exceeding 1% (usable strain: 0.5% at 35 kV/cm), these crystals exhibit five times the strain energy density of conventional...

Techs for License
Novel Nano-Structured Concept for Thermal Protection System

Lightweight carbon-carbon (C/C) composites produced by pressure-assisted co- polymerization of carbon fibers, hydrocarbons and fullerenes have excellent mechanical properties and high thermal stability that make them ideal for thermal protection applications.

Techs for License
Mathematically Lossless Compression for Real-Time Medical Imaging

Qbit’s proprietary line of data compression software offers 100% mathematically lossless data reconstruction that ensures that every bit is reconstructed. It allows for an increase in digital throughput, workflow speed, and acts as an enabling technology for applications that...

Techs for License
Automated, In-Process Method for Surface Contamination Inspection of Panels

This patented surface contamination detection system enables accurate, automated, in-line inspection of metallic and composite panels prior to bonding, coating, painting, or welding operations. This technology is currently used for realtime, in-process panel inspection...

Articles : Motion Control
Encoders for Linear Motors in the Electronics Industry

The semiconductor industry and automation technology increasingly require more precise and faster machines in order to satisfy growing demands on miniaturization, quality, and manufacturing cost reduction. Linear motors gradually are becoming more important in such highly dynamic...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Magnetostrictive Sensor System Helps High-Performance Car Brake Quickly

The Bugatti Veyron is the world’s fastest street-legal motor vehicle, a high-end passenger car that can reach speeds of more than 200 miles per hour. These high speeds require extra braking power, which comes from raising an aerodynamic rear wing and generating additional...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Creating Motion Control and Drive Electronics With an FPGA-based System

Complex machines in semiconductor manufacturing often have tough performance requirements for motion control. When traditional PLCor PC-based motion controllers fail to meet these requirements, machine builders turn to custom board development — a time-consuming and...

Servo Controller/Driver

QuickSilver Controls (San Dimas, CA) has released the QuickSilver IGF, a simple servo controller/driver for its line of NEMA 11, 17, and 23 frame high-torque, direct-drive servomotors. The QuickSilver IGF features a DIN rail-mountable design, 7 TTL level I/O with optional 24 V, and an RS-232/285 interface. The device also...

Sub-Miniature Fans and Blowers

Nidec Copal USA Corp. (Torrance, CA) has announced its family of brushless DC sub-miniature fans and blowers suitable for use in office automation machines, video cameras, and portable medical and small industrial inspection devices. The tube axial family of sub-miniature fans comes in two fan models and one blower...

Servo Motors

Elmo Motion Control (Westford, MA) has announced the integration of its SimplIQ core servo technology with plug and play capabilities into the Duet series of brushless DC servo motors. The Duet can support resolver feedback, programming capabilities, and communication protocols. The technology’s CANpen support in the motor enables...

Linear Actuator

Bishop-Wisecarver Corp. (Pittsburg, CA) has released the SRX-150, an aluminum profile linear actuator in belt- or ball-screw-driven versions. Both versions are available in 400, 600, 1000, 1500, and 1900 mm stroke lengths. The SRX-150 provides to 66kN dynamic load capacity, roll moment capacity to 3,380 Nm, and speeds to 5 m/s. A...

Slide Product Systems

TOPBALL® slide products from NB Corp. (Hanover Park, IL) offer 27 times more travel life to automation equipment, machinery, optical, and measuring instruments. Since the slide products have three times the load capacity, they minimize space requirements. The TOPBALL® slide products are suitable for new designs and are...

Products : Motion Control
DC Gearmotor

Midwest Motion Products (Watertown, MN) has released the Model MMP-TM55-12V GPk52-124, a DC gearmotor that accepts any 12-volt DC source including battery power. This gearmotor measures 2.14" in diameter by 7.7" in length, and has a keyed output shaft of 12 mm in diameter by 25 mm in length. Mounting is done with 4 face-mount M5...

Slotted Brushless DC Servomotors

AMETEK Technical and Industrial Products (Kent, OH) offers the PITTMAN® Series 1300 slotted brushless DC servomotors that are available in three lengths: 1.5", 2", and 2.5". The servomotors are housed in precision-machined aluminum to promote lightweight designs and to integrate the front-endbell. Optional...

Rotating Machinery Software

Vector Fields (Aurora, IL) has announced a design software for rotating electrical machinery that is part of the OPERA electromagnetic design tool. The software combines finite element analysis modeling with a design entry system that allows users to create electric motor or generator models. The software provides a...

VHD Assemblies

Kerk Motion Products (Hollis, NH) offers the VHD Series anti-backlash assemblies suitable for eliminating drag and wear associated with high pre-load forces. The VHD assembly uses Kerk’s patented axial take-up mechanism, creating a space that will continually expand to accommodate wear that may occur during use. The...

Micro-Positioning Stages

LM76 (East Longmeadow, MA) offers micro-positioning stages available in travel lengths from 10 mm to 200 mm. The Micro Stage linear positioning stages are available with 6-mm anti-backlash lead screws or 4-mm lead ball screws. They are suitable for pick-and-place, assembly, sampling, testing, and robotics. The Lead Screw...

Direct-Drive Frameless Motors

The ULT Series of direct-drive frameless motors from Applimotion (Loomis, CA) is available in sizes down to 27 mm in diameter with axial length to 8 mm and up to a 20-mm through hole. They operate from traditional three-phase trapezoidal or sinusoidal motor controllers ranging from 12 to 320 volts DC. They can...

Flexured Couplings

Helical Products (Santa Maria, CA) offers miniature couplings, u-joints, and machined springs with integrated attachment components. The line includes couplings with an unlimited variety of customized ends. All of these products utilize the HELI-CAL® Flexure. The configuration of attachments can vary from plain bore to pinion...

Linear Actuators

Haydon Switch & Instrument (Waterbury, CT) has added the size 14 hybrid to its line of linear actuators. The devices are available with a 0.9-degree step angle and come in all four designs: captive, non-captive, external linear, and linear rotary. Combined with a stainless steel lead screw, the linear actuator provides...

Pressure-Compensated Flow Control Valve

Beswick Engineering (Greenland, NH) has released the PCFCD-1N1, an ultra-miniature pressure-compensated flow control valve with low-friction diaphragm. The device is designed to maintain a constant flow rate, which the customer can adjust, regardless of upstream or downstream pressure variations. It works...

Shaft Grounding Ring

The AEGIS SGR™ Conductive MicroFiber™ Shaft Grounding Ring from Electro Static Technology (Mechanic Falls, ME) is suitable for predictive maintenance programs on VFD-controlled AC and DC motors. By protecting bearings from electrical damage, the SGR may extend motor life by preventing bearing noise, downtime, and motor...

Rotary Air-Bearing Stage

Aerotech (Pittsburgh, PA) offers the ABRT series rotary air-bearing stages that provide 360-degree continuous travel with resolution to 0.027 arc sec. Payload capacity is up to 69 kg.

Question of the Week
Would You Ride in a Flying Car?