August 2008

Articles: Robotics, Automation & Control
Selecting the Optimal Vision Equipment to Meet Automation Needs

Solving a machine vision application, whether it involves quality inspection, part verification or any number of additional tasks, requires taking several factors into...

Machine vision systems are playing an increasingly important role in many industrial applications, whether it is counting parts on an assembly line or examining surfaces for defects....

Recent advances in motion control and machine vision technologies present tremendous opportunities for Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) systems. Thanks to recent developments in these fundamental...

Application Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Cognex Machine Vision System Helps Meister Reduce Part Defects

The Meister Group, a Belgian industrial group supplying the automobile market, successfully deployed Cognex’s machine vision system to help its robotic assembly cell sort out...

Application Briefs: Imaging
IDS Camera Automates Inspection

Until now, machine-based surface inspection methods have checked visual quality by means of direct or transmitted light in conjunction with a camera system. When it comes to the automated inspection of reflective and smooth surfaces, however, these methods involve problems. The resulting reflections need to be...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Linear Positioning Stage

The Slipstream Series from LM76 (East Longmeadow, MA) 1 linear stage features 0.2mm/300mm accuracy and 0.1mm repeatability. Available in travel lengths to 6 meters, the precision stage has T-Slots on three sides for...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Piezo Motor

The P-653 piezo motor from Physik Instrumente (Auburn, MA) is smaller than other miniature linear stages and provides higher velocity and resolution. The linear motor system comprises only four parts and provides speeds of up to...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Variable Frequency Drive

Lenze-AC Tech (Uxbridge, MA) has introduced the enhanced SMVector NEMA1 variable frequency drive, in power ratings to 30 hp. The drive’s increased capabilities include an additional programmable digital input,...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Linear Positioning Stage

The DR (dual profile rail) positioning stages from H2W Technologies (Valencia, CA) provide travel lengths to 160in. (4m). These wide footprint (to 15.6 in/396 mm) brushless linear motor stages handle loads up to...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Brushless DC Motor

Maxon Motor (Fall River, MA) is launching a range of flat brushless DC motors with integrated electronics. The EC 20 flat, EC 32 flat and EC 45 flat motors with integrated electronics reduce the user’s need for control...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Infrared camera

FLIR Systems Inc. (Boston, MA) has introduced the ThermoVision A320G infrared camera for machine vision applications. The A320G is reportedly the only infrared camera designed to be compatible with GigE Vision and supports the GenICam protocol for easy integration with digital cameras.

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Motion Control Software

ACS Motion Control (Plymouth, MN) has enhanced its motion control software to support the IEC61131-3 programming language. Designated Application Development Kit (ADK) 6.0, the PLC Open compliant control software...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Encoder

The HC20 encoder from Dynapar (Gurnee, IL), for brushless servo and step motor applications, is capable of up to 2,500 pulses per revolution, and is available with commutation tracks for 4, 6, or 8-pole variants of brushless motors....

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Multi-Rib Belt

The PolyVee belt driven roller and RollerDrive from Interroll (Wilmington, NC) provides reliable torque transmission up to 300 percent higher than traditional O-rings. Unlike other multi-rib belts, the PolyVee belt features a...

Test engineers are facing new pressures to develop high-performance test systems that maximize efficiency. Despite rapidly increasing device complexity, they have to deliver higher-speed...

Application Briefs: Aerospace
NASA Probes Gather Solar Information
STEREO observatories and Solar Probe
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Laurel, MD
240-228-5000
www.jhuapl.edu

NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory...

Application Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Spacecraft Leak Detection System Uses Ultrasonic Sensors
Spacecraft leak detection system
Invocon
Conroe, TX
281-292-9903
www.invocon.com

NASA has selected a spacecraft leak detection system from Invocon that would...

Products
iMonitor 2.0

Aegis Software, Horsham, PA, has introduced iMonitor 2.0 software that enables manufacturers to create real-time dashboards to monitor their enterprise, factory, and processes through Web browsers. It provides interactive...

As Engineering Branch Chief for NASA's Advanced Supercomputing Division, Bill Thigpen led the team that built and deployed the 10,240-processor Columbia...

A hand-held instrument that would include an ultrasonic camera has been proposed as an efficient means of reading matrix symbols. The proposed instrument could be operated without...

Briefs: Information Technology
Visual Data Analysis for Satellites

The Visual Data Analysis Package is a collection of programs and scripts that facilitate visual analysis of data available from NASA and NOAA satellites, as well as dropsonde, buoy, and conventional in-situ observations. The package features utilities for data extraction, data quality control, statistical...

A method and apparatus have been developed to solve the problem of automated acquisition and tracking, from a location on the ground, of a luminous moving target in the sky. The method...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Customizable Digital Receivers for Radar

Compact, highly customizable digital receivers are being developed for the system described in "Radar Interferometer for Topographic Mapping of Glaciers and Ice Sheets" (NPO-43962), NASA Tech Briefs,...

Briefs: Information Technology
A Data Type for Efficient Representation of Other Data Types

A self-organizing, monomorphic data type denoted a sequence has been conceived to address certain concerns (summarized below) that arise in programming parallel computers. ["Sequence" as used here should not be confused with "sequence" as the word is commonly understood or with...

Several improved designs for complementary metal oxide/semiconductor (CMOS) integrated- circuit image detectors have been developed, primarily to reduce dark currents (leakage currents)...

A new version of the double-Y balun, transitioning from an unbalanced microstrip to a balanced coplanar strip (CPS) line, has been designed to feed a complementary spiral antenna with an...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
A Topographical Lidar System for Terrain-Relative Navigation

An imaging lidar system is being developed for use in navigation, relative to the local terrain. This technology will potentially be used for future spacecraft landing on the Moon. Systems like this one could also be used on Earth for diverse purposes, including mapping terrain,...

Integrated circuits have been invented for managing the charging and discharging of such advanced miniature energy-storage devices as planar arrays of microscopic energy- storage...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Programmable Low-Voltage Circuit Breaker and Tester

An instrumentation system that would comprise a remotely controllable and programmable low- voltage circuit breaker plus several electric- circuit-testing subsystems has been conceived, originally for use aboard a spacecraft during all phases of operation from pre-launch testing through launch,...

This innovation consists of a set of methodologies for preparing large area (>1 cm2) domains of single-atomic-layer graphite, also called graphene, in single...

Solar Power Industries' (SPI) current annual production capacity for processing polycrystalline silicon feedstock into completed solar cells has grown to 40 megawatts, with...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Support for Diagnosis of Custom Computer Hardware

The Coldfire SDN Diagnostics software is a flexible means of exercising, testing, and debugging custom computer hardware. The software is a set of routines that, collectively, serve as a common software interface through which one can gain access to various parts of the hardware under test and/or...

Briefs: Information Technology
Providing Goal-Based Autonomy for Commanding a Spacecraft

A computer program for use aboard a scientific- exploration spacecraft autonomously selects among goals specified in high-level requests and generates corresponding sequences of low-level commands, understandable by spacecraft systems. (As used here, "goals" signifies specific scientific...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Dynamic Method For Identifying Collected Sample Mass

G-Sample is designed for sample collection missions to identify the presence and quantity of sample material gathered by spacecraft equipped with end effectors. The software method uses a maximum-likelihood estimator to identify the collected sample's mass based on onboard force-sensor...

Briefs: Information Technology
Optimal Planning and Problem-Solving

CTAEMS MDP Optimal Planner is a problem- solving software designed to command a single spacecraft/rover, or a team of spacecraft/ rovers, to perform the best action possible at all times according to an abstract model of the spacecraft/rover and its environment. It also may be useful in solving logistical...

Briefs: Information Technology
Attitude-Control Algorithm for Minimizing Maneuver Execution Errors

A G-RAC attitude- control algorithm is used to minimize maneuver execution error in a spacecraft with a flexible appendage when said spacecraft must induce translational momentum by firing (in open loop) large thrusters along a desired direction for a given period of time. The...

Briefs: Information Technology
Grants Document-Generation System

The Grants Document- Generation System (GDGS) software allows the generation of official grants documents for distribution to the appropriate parties. The documents are created after the selection and entry of specific data elements and clauses. GDGS is written in Cold Fusion that resides on an SQL2000 database...

Briefs: Materials
Precipitation-Strengthened, High-Temperature, High-Force Shape Memory Alloys

Shape memory alloys (SMAs) are an enabling component in the development of compact, lightweight, durable, high-force actuation systems particularly for use where hydraulics or electrical motors are not practical. However, commercial shape memory alloys based on NiTi are...

A heat-storage module based on a commercial open-cell graphite foam (PocoFoam or equivalent) imbued with lithium nitrate trihydrate (LiNO3•3H2O) has been...

The balanced-piston relief valve with side vented reaction cavity has been proposed as an improved alternative to a conventional high- pressure, high-flow relief valve. As explained...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Using Composite Materials in a Cryogenic Pump

Several modifications have been made to the design and operation of an extended-shaft cryogenic pump to increase the efficiency of pumping. In general, the efficiency of pumping a cryogenic fluid is limited by thermal losses (the thermal energy that the pump adds to the fluid). The sources of the...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Safety Modification of Cam-and-Groove Hose Coupling

A modification has been made in the mating halves of a cam-and- groove hose coupling to prevent rapid separation of the halves in the event that the cam levers are released while the fluid in the hose is pressurized. This modification can be duplicated on almost any commercially available...

It has been proposed to develop special-purpose electronic noses and algorithms for processing the digitized outputs of the electronic noses for determining whether tissue exposed...

Briefs: Medical
Producing Newborn Synchronous Mammalian Cells

A method and bioreactor for the continuous production of synchronous (same age) population of mammalian cells have been invented. The invention involves the attachment and growth of cells on an adhesive-coated porous membrane immersed in a perfused liquid culture medium in a microgravity analog...

Scintillation-based fast-neutron detectors that are smaller and less power-hungry than mainstream scintillation-based fast-neutron detectors are undergoing development. There are...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Particle-Charge Spectrometer

An instrument for rapidly measuring the electric charges and sizes (from ≈1 to ≈100 μm) of airborne particles is undergoing development. Conceived for monitoring atmospheric dust particles on Mars,...

A proposed instrument for measuring a static electric field would be based partly on a conventional rotating- split-cylinder or rotating-split-sphere electric-field mill. However, the design of the...

A method of real-time quantification of the hardness of a rock or similar material involves measurement of the temperature, as a function of time, of the tool bit of an...

A method of accelerating and facilitating production of video and film motion- picture products, and software and generic designs of computer hardware to implement the method, are...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
FIDO-Class Development Rover

A report describes a rover-type robotic wheeled vehicle recently built for use as a testbed for development of software for future rover-type vehicles. This vehicle is a derivative of the Field Integrated Design and Operations (FIDO) rover, which is a prototype Mars- exploration rover that also serves as a...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Tone-Based Command of Deep Space Probes Using Ground Antennas

A document discusses a technique for enabling the reception of spacecraft commands at received signal levels as much as three orders of magnitude below those of current deep space systems. Tone-based commanding deals with the reception of commands that are sent in the form of precise...

As an agency, NASA invests a significant amount of resources in the development and advancement of highend computing...

Techs for License
Platform Technology for Electromechanical Position Sensor

This technology provides an efficient and cost-effective way to measure absolute position in one or two dimensions using a new Point Coupled Linear Transformer (PCLT). The PCLT detects movement and position on flat or curved surfaces. The nature of its design provides the sensor with...

Techs for License
Dispelling Light Sources

Philips is offering an innovative technology to dispel humans (and animals) from an area where they are unwanted. The new and patented dispelling light source (DLS) concept is based on disturbance of humans and/or animals using photosensitive stimuli. When switching a DLS system to the specifically programmed flickering...

Tech Needs
Gripping Hand or Chuck Technology for Automated Applications

A company is seeking unique technologies for automated hand, chuck, and grip product assembly applications (not CNC machining). Multiple sizes of gripping device are acceptable for different sized parts. The chuck or hand technology should be general purpose in nature, and show...

Tech Needs
Natural Technology for Food Preservation

Technologies are sought that will provide a natural method for extending shelf life, the prevention of food deterioration (oxidation and/or spoilage), and growth of pathogenic micro-organisms along the full chain of fresh or processed food. The solution could be effective at any stage, from feedstock to...

Podcasts
Interview with Bill Thigpen, Engineering Branch Chief of NASA’s Advanced Supercomputing Division

As Engineering Branch Chief for NASA's Advanced Supercomputing Division, Bill Thigpen led the team that built and deployed the 10,240-processor Columbia supercomputer in just 120 days. Listed as one of the world's fastest and most powerful...

Blog
Embedded Telescope

Tiny telescopes have long been mounted on glasses to help visually impaired people perform tasks, such as driving. But many potential users have resisted using them due to their appearance, whereby the lens is mounted atop the regular lens or above the frame. Moreover, the magnified view through the telescope is...

Blog
Microscope on a Chip

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have developed a compact, high-resolution microscope small enough to fit on a finger tip. Dubbed an optofluidic microscope, the device operates without lenses but has the magnifying power of a top-quality optical microscope. It can be used in the field to analyze samples...

Blog
Crystal Cloak

In computer simulations, researchers at the University of Illinois have demonstrated an approximate cloaking effect created by concentric rings of silicon photonic crystals. The mathematical proof brings scientists a step closer to a practical solution for optical cloaking.

“When light of the correct wavelength strikes...

Spend a few minutes at your local electronics store and it's obvious — the mobile phone is a device that far surpasses its original intent. With respect to functionality, today's mobile...

Blog
GreenLight Project

The information technology industry consumes as much energy and has roughly the same carbon footprint as the airline industry. Energy usage per compute server rack is growing from about 2 kilowatts (KW) per rack in 2000, to an estimated 30 KW per rack in 2010. Every dollar spent on power for IT equipment requires that another...

Blog
Asphalt Solar Collector

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute is developing a solar collector that could turn roads and parking lots into sources of electricity and hot water. Roads and parking lots are typically resurfaced every 10 to 12 years, so the massive acreage of already installed roads and lots could be retrofitted at that...

Blog
Compressor-Free Fridge

Penn State researchers are investigating electrically induced heat effects of some ferroelectric polymers. "This is the first step in the development of an electric field refrigeration unit," says Qiming Zhang, professor of electrical engineering. "For the future, we can envision a flat panel refrigerator. No more coils,...

Blog
Exhaustible Energy

Researchers at Ohio State University have invented a new material that will make cars even more efficient by converting heat wasted through engine exhaust into electricity. Scientists call such materials thermoelectric materials, and they rate the materials' efficiency based on how much heat they can convert into electricity...

Blog
Lab-On-A-Chip

A new type of device called a "lab-on-a-chip" could result in a future generation of instant home tests for illnesses, food contaminants and toxic gases. But today these portable, efficient tools are often stuck in the lab themselves. Specifically, in the labs of researchers who know how to make them from scratch. University of...

Blog
Pinhole Camera

The pinhole camera has inspired a lens-less, three-dimensional imaging technology that produces some of the brightest, sharpest X-ray holograms of microscopic objects to date. The technology was developed by scientists at the Advanced Light Source of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and...

Blog
Telltale Fish Embryos

Purdue University researchers have harnessed the sensitivity of days-old fish embryos to create a fiber optic-based tool to detect a range of harmful chemicals. By measuring rates of oxygen use in developing fish, the technology could reveal the presence of minute levels of toxic substances. It could thus warn of...

Blog
Quantum Dots

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), a collaborative center of the University of Maryland and NIST, have reported a new way to fine-tune the light coming from quantum dots, by manipulating them with pairs of lasers. The accomplishment could accelerate...

Blog
Polymer Electric Storage

The proliferation of solar, wind, and tidal electric generation, and the emergence of hybrid electric automobiles demands flexible and reliable methods of high-capacity electrical storage. A team of Penn State materials scientists is developing ferroelectric polymer-based capacitors that can deliver power more rapidly,...

Blog
Nanoparticles Speed Light

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have theorized a way to increase the speed of pulses of light that bound across chains of tiny metal particles to well past the speed of light by altering the particle shape. Under the theory, nanosized metal chains would serve as building blocks for high-frequency...

Blog
NNEC

NASA Tech Briefs' National Nano Engineering Conference (NNEC) is the premier event focused on current and future developments in engineering innovations at the nanoscale, as well as the commercialization of nanotechnology. The event returns to Boston this year on November 12-13 at the Boston Colonnade Hotel, featuring the fourth annual Nano...

Question of the Week
Will Self-Erasing Chips Catch On?

Webcasts

Upcoming Webinars: Automotive

Metal Injection Molding’s Role in Automotive

Upcoming Webinars: Materials

Technical Ceramics: The Powerhouse of Advanced Materials

Upcoming Webinars: Software

PPAP Reviews Using AI and Machine Learning

Upcoming Webinars: Motion Control

Customizing Actuators Using COTS Drive Components for Martian...

Upcoming Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control

2020 Create the Future Contest Awards

Upcoming Webinars: RF & Microwave Electronics

Advancement of Spectrum Analysis Techniques for Tracking,...

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Videos