Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Characterizing a System Like a Motor Drive

Some motor spec sheet are seriously lacking in detail.  What to do?  Tech Support Manager Al MacRobbie has made a series of videos showing how to use a torque sensor set-up to find out the limitations of an electrical/mechanical system.

The first video is here:

Monday, July 24, 2017

Facing the Counterfeit IC Issue

 “Fake” chips in the marketplace is a huge issue for manufacturing companies and distributors alike.  The Problem ICs are not like banknotes – hard to copy, and making fake “lookalike” parts which resemble real ones takes very little skill. It simply requires finding cheap parts in the same package and merely painting new marks on them. This problem has arisen due to the high value of electronics parts, and the whole manufacturing chain from assembly house to end-user is vulnerable. The number of companies that have been duped by batches of fake devices is incalculable. Counterfeiting semiconductors has been rapidly increasing, impacting a wide variety of electronics systems used by a wide gamut of involved parties - consumers, businesses, and military customers. The detection of counterfeit components has become an increasingly important priority, especially for electronics manufacturers and component suppliers worldwide.

The most prevalent counterfeiting technique is re-badged product. It is a simple matter to remove the existing mark from a chip package and put on a new logo and part number, or a different brand, a different speed – and sell the semiconductor to an unsuspecting buyer who has no way of making sure that the product is “real”. Sometimes the chip is only an empty package with no die inside. It is true that the finished system would fail before it left the factory – but this still requires expensive investigation and rework, with no part available to replace the bad one, causing the dreaded exclamation “Line Down!” But the failure of borderline ICs may not occur until the system is in the field, and field repairs can cost ten times as much to fix as those caught before they leave the factory. Counterfeiting can also be from chips which are gleaned from discarded scrap boards. After remarking with a different manufacturer’s logo, they are inserted into the supply chain and sold to innocent buyers - who naturally who assume that the products are genuine.

Usually, it is impossible to identify counterfeit components until they are fitted on a PCB when the first tests are made on the final product. Failure requires the costly identification of the components at fault and then lifting them from all boards in the production line. Complete batches of finished products may need to be recalled to the factory – directly hurting a company’s bottom line. Technical measures to solve this problem have previously included visual inspection of devices for marking errors – which needs a trained eye for all possible variations in marking. Electronically testing or x-raying every incoming batch is another technique. Another destructive method is to use a complex decapsulation system in order to visually inspect IC die sample, immediately losing revenue due to the component’s destruction. Not only is this expensive and time consuming, it requires complex training, skilled operators, and expensive equipment.

Here is a solution to that problem: 

The ABI SENTRY is a unique solution for the quick and easy detection of Counterfeit ICs and components. ABI Electronics has over 27 years of experience in the field of Test & Measurement equipment as well as Contract Electronics Manufacturing. Knowledge of both industries has allowed ABI to design this product around two main concepts: 

  • To offer a simple and easy to use system that can be operated by any personnel, and particularly non-technical staff.
  • To provide a powerful solution that would lead to the detection of counterfeit devices, thus protecting a business from very high unexpected costs.

SENTRY is an easy to use tester, aimed at goods inwards inspectors and designed to measure the unique electrical signature (PinPrint) of components. The information collected is managed through a database and is used to compare known good devices against suspect components. Typically, SENTRY can easily detect missing or incorrect dies, lack of bond wires, inaccurate pin outs and pin impedance variations. Simple pass or fail results are returned after testing, offering a high level of confidence in the authenticity of components. SENTRY does not require any knowledge of electronics to use efficiently. For in-depth analysis though, PinPrints can be reviewed and full reports can be generated. The SENTRY software also offers options for customization and the ability to store essential documentation such as photos, PDF datasheets, web pages and images.  SENTRY is able to accommodate virtually all types of components, from simple two pin devices to more complex packages such as BGA. A range of standard and universal adapters is available and custom designs can also be supplied. In order to ensure consistency throughout the whole supply chain, SENTRY is designed to support data sharing. This means that the PinPrints of a given component can be shared between users, from the OEM through to the distributor and end user. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

13 Examples of Driver-assisted Systems

Willian Santos (ABI Electronics) writes:

Automotive safety technology is pretty easy to wrap your head around, but advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are a little harder to pin down. At this point, the debate over whether anti-lock brakes are really necessary is pretty much nonexistent, but most technologies classified as ADAS are still seen as luxuries or even amusing curiosities.

Many advanced driver assistance systems are right on the bleeding edge of emerging automotive technologies, and the jury is actually still out on some of them. Some of these systems will have the staying power to stick around, and you can expect to see at least a few of them in your next car. Others may fizzle and disappear or be replaced by better implementations of the same basic idea. Since ADAS rely on electronics and often include firmware elements, the development of these cutting-edge systems is governed by international safety standards like IEC-61508 and ISO-26262.

Advanced driver assistance systems are tweaked every year, but here are thirteen different options that you might want to check out the next time you're in the market for a new car.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Social Media, Social Schmedia

YouTube is becoming more important for technical folks as they seek to find out specs and recommendations on products. Here at Saelig we have our own video studio where we can do online demos and shoot product photos and videos.

We now have 350 videos on our YouTube Channel, with more than 400 subscribers and over 146,000 views.

Our most popular video "Choosing the best 100MHz Scope" has been viewed more than 9,000 times!

FaceBook and Twitter also remain important for sharing our latest news.  Keep checking on us there!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Commercial EMC Test Summary

Ghery Pettit wrote a nice summary of commercial EMC testing in  a recent "Interference Technology".  

Commercial EMC tests cover a wide range of products.  These include the obvious ones like computers and their peripherals, but also cover household appliances, electric tools and a wide variety of other products.  While the standards, including limits and test methods may differ, all EMC test standards have a few things in common.  The most basic are the limits for emissions and the types and levels of immunity testing.

The article covers: Conducted Emissions, Radiated Emissions, Commercial Immunity Tests (ESD, Radiated electric field immunity, Electrical Fast Transients, Electric Surge, Conducted RF, Power Frequency Magnetic Fields, and Dips & dropouts.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

LED Lighting Grows - So Must Advances in Fabrication Technology

Clive Beech (Plessey Semiconductor UK) writes in

As Expectations for LED Lighting Grow, So Must Advances in Fabrication Technology

Clive Beech
LED Components Manager
LED technology has advanced a long way in recent years - from he small LED indicators used years ago, LED lighting is now a major technology providing everything from television displays to domestic and commercial lighting as well as having many automotive applications.

LED lighting is no longer a novelty – consumers, businesses and governments now appreciate the very real energy-saving and environments benefits this technology is capable of. Users have also been won over on the advantages of LED lights compared to other energy-saving alternatives, so much so that they are now demanding even better solutions for an ever-wider range of applications.
The battle for improved energy efficiency, especially in the home, began some 30 years ago with the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), which offered an energy reduction of up to 75% and, with an 8 times life expectancy, promised significant cost savings over the bulb’s life despite an initial high cost. But convincing consumers to adopt CFLs wasn’t easy and, in the early years, often required governments to subsidize bulb costs via energy utilities to encourage uptake.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Vector Network Analysis for Everyone from Pico Technology

The prestigious Microwave Journal just published a nice piece on Pico's new Vector Network Analyzer.  

It states: " Pico Technology has applied its expertise in compact USB instrumentation, combined with its experience with high-performance sampling oscilloscopes and time domain reflectometry, to bring an outstanding value in a high-quality, low-cost vector network analyzer.

If you work with high-speed data, communications or computing, you often need to characterize high-frequency interfaces, devices, multi-path interconnect and antennas. Today’s engineers and systems integrators do not have time to become microwave specialists. They need a straightforward, accurate, fast, portable and low-cost measurement instrument, and ideally one that can support developing applications such as 5G, IoT, radar and tissue and materials imaging.
Pico also included in their free-of-charge PicoVNA 2 software two utilities to tackle gain compression (P1dB) and AM to PM. Both of these use a port power sweep at each test frequency. Both measures are extracted using second-order interpolation.
Calibration standards and interconnect for vector network analysis can dominate both performance and costs. Pico offers PC3.5 and SMA, male and female test ports via flexible and flex-formable, phase- and flatness-stable test leads. Four mating calibration standards, with traceable data, are assembled into convenient male and female SOLT housings. Like the test leads, the SMA and PC3.5 calibration standards all use robust, high-precision stainless steel connectors.
More here: