Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines

Using Microelectrode Arrays for Cerebral Applications

The fundamental understanding of cerebral systems and associated diseases relies on the electrical recording of single neuron activity. This requires in vivo interfacing with neurons using micrometer-scale electrodes. Traditionally, this challenging task is being performed using: single wire electrodes, probes containing small ensembles of electrodes or, more recently, multi-electrode arrays. These electrode arrangements have the potential to gather signals in three-dimensional space and to provide important laminar information. However, the types of arrays that have been proposed so far are either restricted to sampling in a given plane or have difficulty in collecting data in complex regions, such as those found in highly convoluted cortices. Moreover, state-of-the-art micro-electrode systems are not (yet) suitable for obtaining highly stable signals over extended recording periods. In some cases, the probes are just too bulky to follow cortical motion in chronic applications. Also, the damage inflicted to tissue and the way tissue responds to the presence of a foreign body are presently restrictive to chronic neural recordings. Such a chronic use is, however, highly needed, since it allows the study of changes in population activity at single neuron level and at the interaction level with learning, memory and training.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Electronic equipment, Electronic equipment, Diseases, Medical equipment and supplies, Nervous system
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Designing and Implementing COM Express Modules

Computer-on-Module Express (COM Express) has become a widely accepted way to implement embedded computing solutions in a very compact form factor. The main principle of the COM Express standard is to implement the processor and memory on a small module (basic module size for the type 2 specification is 125 × 95 mm) and then implement specific functions and interfaces for a particular application on the baseboard.

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How Cool Is That? Ensuring Effective Thermal Design

Proper thermal design of any electronics-based system is key to its long-term reliability. NASA engineering expertise in this area is renowned. The International Space Station (ISS) operates in a temperature environment from 250 degrees F (121 °C), down to a minus 250 degrees F (-157 °C), while maintaining a survivable internal temperature. Yet, in the commercial electronics industry many systems engineers have limited knowledge about thermal design. Furthermore, military and industrial customers with wide temperature range applications, want to save money by using commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Electronic equipment, Electronic equipment, Thermal management, Thermal management
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Managing a Network of Self-Encrypting Hard Drives

With high-profile data breaches making headlines regularly, organizations are carefully evaluating their options for protecting mobile data. For years, software full disk encryption, (FDE), has been the preferred means of addressing this threat. But widespread adoption has been hampered by the complexity and cost surrounding these software-based FDE deployments.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Cyber security, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Cyber security
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CompactDAQ Chassis

National Instruments (Austin, TX) has introduced the NI cDAQ-9174 four-slot and cDAQ-9178 eight-slot NI CompactDAQ chassis, suitable for mixed-signal data acquisition systems. The 9174 offers a smaller footprint and can measure up to 128 channels in a 16cm × 9cm x 9cm system. The 9178 features external BNC triggers to synchronize with an external device or another system without installing or wiring a digital module. Both systems contain four advanced counters and operate in temperatures from -20 to 55°C. They can withstand up to 30g shock and 3g vibration.

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Real-Time Avionics Operating System

The ThreadX® real-time operating systems from Express Logic (San Diego, CA) have been integrated into Avidyne Corporations' DFC90 attitude-based digital flight control systems in Cirrus SR20 and SR22 aircraft. The DFC90 is an integrated flight computer and control panel designed as a slide-in replacement for existing rate-based STEC 55X flight computers. The DFC90 flight control system receives input regarding the aircraft’s attitude, heading, and altitude, as well as input from the pilot and navigation system that specify the desired attitude, heading, altitude, and rate of climb/descent. As the operating system powering Avidyne's flight control system, ThreadX controls all functions in the DFC90.

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CompactPC® Multicore Board

Kontron (Poway, CA) has introduced the CP308 3U CompactPCI® multicore board with the CP308-MEDIA extension card, featuring the new HD digital display interface standard DisplayPort. It includes S/P-DIF-Out audio and stereo audio ports for Line In, Line Out, and Microphone. It also features the 45nm Intel®CoreTM2 Duo processor up to 2.26 GHz, the embedded Intel® GS45 Graphics and Memory Controller Hub, up to 8 GBytes of energy-efficient DDR3 RAM, and the Intel® I/O Controller Hub ICH9M.

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Microcontroller Tool Suite

LDRA (San Bruno, CA) has announced the integration of its LDRA tool suite and Microchip Technology’s MPLAB PIC18, PIC24, and dsPIC32/33 tool chains. Microchip’s PIC18, PIC24, and dsPIC32/33 families are 8- and 16-bit micro-controllers designed to provide optimal functionality in a low-overhead design. The scalability of LDRA’s components enables LDRA to offer full tool suite functionality with kilobytes of RAM and tens of kilobytes of ROM. By hooking into the PIC serial I/O ports, developers gain identical output across each of the PIC families. Similarly, the LDRA tool suite fully integrates with the PIC tool chains, allowing for compilation, linking, and programming in the PIC tool chain environment. End users gain full use of graphical test planning and automatic test vector generation tools in the target environment, reducing the need for programmers and testers to have an in-depth knowledge of the extensive differences represented by each PIC platform.


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BGA Socket

Ironwood Electronics (Burnsville, MN) now offers a BGA socket for 0.5mm pitch 51 pin BGA. The SG-BGA-7154 socket is designed for 4mm × 4mm × 0.8 mm package size and operates at bandwidths up to 10 GHz with less than 1 dB of insertion loss. The contact resistance is typically 20 milliohms per I/O. The socket connects all pins with 10 GHz bandwidth on all connections. The socket is mounted using supplied hardware on the target PCB with no soldering, and its small footprint allows inductors, resistors, and decoupling capacitors to be placed very close to the device for impedance tuning.

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Protocol Analyzer Mid-Bus Probe

Anew mid-bus probe for the Summit™ T3-16 Protocol Analyzer from LeCroy (Chestnut Ridge, NY) can be connected to systems that utilize the Intel® mid-bus probe footprint specification. The probe uses a full-size connector that supports PCle® x8 lanes at 8 GT/s. Two mid-bus probes can be connected to a Summit T3-16 Analyzer and will support x16 lane widths. These probes can be used in conjunction with the unique lane swizzling feature on the Summit T3-16 Analyzer, which allows probe signals to be reorganized logically, to give developers flexibility in PCB layout.

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