Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Highlighting Code Mercenaries: USB Interface ICs That Need No Drivers!

Easy-use USB Interface ICs that need No Drivers!

Warrior ICs from Code Mercenaries are a family of universal I/O controllers for USB that handle all USB’s complex protocol details. No Windows software drivers are needed since Warrior ICs appear as HID Device Class (Human Interface Device). This means that Warrior ICs are controlled without screen-prompting for additional software - system drivers allow access to Warrior ICs directly from application programs. A Linux driver is also included.
Controlling Warrior ICs from your software is very simple. For Windows (XP, 2K, Vista) you can use any standard programming language to access the libraries, including Visual Basic. For MacOS X, support includes a software library which even allows access via AppleEvents™. Want to make a FileMaker™ solution to open a cash drawer, for instance? Easily done with IO-Warrior!
Code Mercenaries has been a supplier for industrial input device and peripheral manufacturers since 1998. 
The keyboard/mouse controller family KeyWarrior, and the mouse controller family MouseWarrior serve as basis for a large number of industrial input devices, such as products for the disability market and other specialty input devices.
The joystick controller family JoyWarrior serves a broad range of customers from industrial machine/vision control, professional and semiprofessional simulator control, to hobby and model building. Joystick/mouse hybrid controllers MW24J8 and MW24H8 make good options for front panel design – they are switch selectable to work as a mouse or joystick allowing both cursor control and data input via a joystick.
JoyWarrior24F8 is a low cost three axis acceleration sensor. With its small size and simple USB connection, it opens a lot of new application options. The MouseWarrior24F8 variant of this sensor is a mouse replacement that needs no surface for operation.
Applications for the IO-Warrior universal USB I/O controllers are very diverse. Only the number of pins and the data rate limit the use of IO-Warrior. It is used in laboratory setups, test equipment, as well as in hobby projects or full scale device production - either as the core of a device or just the USB interface.  IO-Warrior chips control robots and telescopes, perform quality control on production lines, take measurements in labs, control switches, and displays in front panels or simulator cockpits, or work as the USB interface in many kinds of manufactured products.
SpinWarrior is a family of rotary encoder controllers with USB interface. Variants allow from 3 to 6 encoders to be USB-connected, and are suitable for motion control, measurement, or human interface applications.
Recently, Code Mercenaries started developing and manufacturing products for LED lighting applications, delivering maximum efficiency and maximum life cycle to match the potential of modern LED technology.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Phase Locked Loop Tutorial | PLL Basics

The UK site Electronics Notes recently posted a helpful tutorial about PLLs (Phase-Locked Loops).

Phase locked loops are used in many RF systems: radios, as FM detectors as well as within frequency synthesizers that form the local oscillator in radio receivers. Here's a video introduction to their design and use.

PLLs are a key electronics building block for "locking" on incoming frequencies. They consist of a phase detector, voltage controlled oscillator and a loop filter as well as a reference signal source. Within the phase locked loop, the incoming reference hits the phase detector along with a signal from the PLL voltage controlled oscillator. A signal proportional to the phase difference between the two is generated and this is passed through a loop filter to remove unwanted signals. The resulting error signal is applied to the input of the voltage controlled oscillator with the effect that the phase between the reference and the VCO signals is reduced. Eventually  a steady fixed phase difference is reached. At this point the phase lock loop is said to be in lock and the frequency of the reference and VCO are exactly the same.

Using the basic phase locked loop, it is possible to achieve a wide variety of functions, but possibly they are most widely known for their use in frequency synthesizers. Here they enable a single highly stable frequency source to be used to generate a host of other frequencies, all with the same accuracy as the reference.

This phase locked loop tutorial gives all the basics required for an understanding of PLL technology.

Associated website:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Study: Ice Cream For Breakfast Boosts Brain Performance - Really!!

All the years of your parents saying “NO” to ice cream for breakfast may have actually stunted your brilliance.

According to The Telegraph, a new study performed by Yoshihiko Koga, a professor at Kyorin University in Tokyo, revealed that eating a certain amount of ice cream immediately after waking up in the morning can actually make you smarter.

No, you did not misread that!

According to the study, test subjects who indulged in ice cream immediately upon waking up and right before participating in a series of computer exercises had an increased reaction rate and were better able to process information. In order to rule out whether or not the brain was just shocked to a higher level of performance, the same test was done with regular ice-cold water, but the results did not compare.

According to The Guardian, a similar test performed back in 2005 by researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry in London revealed that one spoonful of ice cream gives your brain the same type of pleasure as winning money or listening to your favorite music.

For all you ice cream lovers out there, I’m sure you probably didn’t need science to tell you all of this.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Best Handheld Spectrum Analyzers in the World!

6GHz Spectrum Analyzer PSA Series 5 from AIM-TTi & Saelig

AIM-TTi Series 5 Models from Saelig are available in 3.6GHz and 6.0GHz versions: handheld format with bench-top instrument-quality features. ( 
The PSA3605 and PSA6005 fit comfortably into the hand and provide more than 3 hours of operation from each charge of the built-in lithium-ion battery.
Despite their compact dimensions, these analyzers incorporate a large high resolution color TFT display with touch screen control. The Series 5 is all-digital from the second IF onwards. This enables it to offer a full range of RBW/VBW (resolution bandwidths/video bandwidth) settings, multiple detector modes, and advanced features such as waveform demodulation and automatic measurements. The large 4.3” TFT color touch-screen provides a high resolution display, and an intuitive menu system that makes set-up fast and easy.

Watch this video and see for yourself! 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Real-time Control Drives Efficiency In Dry Bulk Handling Operations

Dry bulk cargos have to be loaded and unloaded quickly, efficiently, cost effectively and safely if shipping operations are to be profitable. The processes have long been mechanized, but by harnessing the power of computers to monitor the handling equipment, operational performance can be improved, scheduling for maintenance can be optimized and billing of customers can become automated. 

Fifty years ago ships were loaded and unloaded manually, so each port employed a small army of strong men who worked long and hard as soon as a ship came in. But nevertheless the handling operations protracted and so the ships were in harbor for extended periods. It is also worth noting that back then, health and safety legislation was virtually unknown and it was practically impossible to accurately account for the whole cargo.

However, dockside operations have long since changed for the better and even in developing countries harbors now bristle with cranes, elevators and loaders.

There is a simple rule that drives the development of such technologies – a ship at sea is earning its owners money; a ship in port is costing its owners money. Therefore shipping companies drive harbor operators to constantly improve their services and will transfer their loyalty to new docks if necessary. Quite simply, rapid loading and unloading are critical to the success of a shipping company and so dockside technology continues to develop to provide ever more speed and efficiency.

So, from manual operations, cranes, elevators, augers and loaders were developed, each one suited to a handling a different product - grain, coal, gravel or chemicals. While these were motor driven, they were controlled by human operators – and no matter how skilled the operators became, they had no real way of telling if they were optimizing processing and working efficiently. Then computers were brought in to automate the calculations and decision making and efficiency took a turn for the better; further, the computers could automatically collect operational data and convert it into commercial information for billing customers.

Today, another new generation of technologies is emerging and it is taking bulk cargo handling operations to new levels of efficiency, accuracy and flexibility. Put simply, robustly built sensors are being installed on dockside handling equipment; these constantly measure operational parameters of the machinery in ‘real time’ and feed live information back to a controlling computer, which can adjust operations on the fly so that efficiency is maintained. Further, all this data can be collated to provide billing information, and analyzed to determine how much work the machinery has done so that pre-emptive maintenance can be scheduled for minimal disruption to normal operations.

Unloaders come in a number of different designs, each suited to different materials. The core technologies include bucket wheels, flighted vertical conveyors and elevators, augers, horizontal belt conveyors and pneumatic systems. The mechanical principles of each of these are self-explanatory, but it is essential that control and monitoring of this equipment are maintained at all times to both ensure trouble-free operation and to calculate the weight of cargo being unloaded.
New sensors

The fundamental parameter to be measured is load (which can also be called weight or mass). The weighing scale was invented in ancient times, but is of no use in modern bulk handling operations; a load cell is required. This is an electronic sensor (in a robust housing if it is to be used in a harsh working environment) that constantly sends a signal to a remote computer proportional to the load being experienced at every moment in time.

As such it is simple to see that a load sensor is very useful on a crane; each load is weighed and the figures added up to give the total amount of cargo lifted.

However a load cell is not appropriate on a conveyor, auger, or other equipment that works by constantly having a quantity of cargo ‘in flight’. The amount in flight will be approximately constant, and the duration of the operation will determine the total amount of material handled. For this type of handling system you measure the torque of the motor’s drive shaft.

Torque is in effect a measure of the amount of power being transmitted in a rotational direction. A simple example that aids understanding is riding a bike: to accelerate or go uphill you need to pedal harder – or apply more torque via your leg muscles. The same principle applies with conveyors, augers, etc; the more heavily loaded they are the more power the drive motor needs to supply and therefore the total amount of power supplied over time is proportional to the total load handled.

It is increasingly common to fit torque and/or load sensors to handling equipment to obtain a real time measurement of their performance. They constantly feed information to the control computer, which can then adjust machine settings to optimize operations. The computer also collects the data for commercial purposes and maintenance planning.

As noted earlier these sensors are mounted inside a strong housing so that they can withstand the rigors of dockside life. Significantly they must transmit their data back to the control computers; the normal way to do this would be with electrical wiring, but that could not be expected to last long in the demanding environment of a busy port. One solution would be to use armored cable and to route via the most benign areas; however a better solution is wireless transmission of the signals.

Now, with over 20 years of research and development into digital non-contact torque monitoring, Sensor Technology UK Ltd is at the forefront of an important enabling technology. Its TorqSense transducer is based on the patented technology of measuring the resonant frequency change of surface acoustic waves (SAWs) generated by rotating shafts. It's a proven technology that has solved torque measuring challenges in a host of industries.

TorqSense torque sensors use two tiny SAW detectors made of ceramic piezoelectric material containing frequency resonating combs. These are securely mounted onto the drive shaft at a 90 degree angle to one another. As the torque increases the rotating shaft twists very slightly along its length which causes one comb to expand and the other to contract in proportion to the torque being experienced.

An adjacent pickup device emits radio waves, using the unrestricted 2.4 GHz waveband, towards the SAWs. The combs reflect them back, but because one comb is expanded and the other is contracted they return at two different frequencies. The difference in frequency of the reflected waves is proportional to the torque at any moment in time. This arrangement means there is no need to supply power to the SAWs, so the sensor is non-contact and wireless.

In reality, TorqSense measurement together with the digital outputs it offers is often the only practical way to measure torque in a demanding working environment. And once you are collecting torque data this way and have fed it into a computer, you are well on the way to sophisticated real-time control of complex processes.

Originally developed to solve a particular challenge in the automotive industry, TorqSense is now widely used throughout a range of industries including many bulk solid handling operations, liquid pumping applications, in mixers, in the nuclear industry, for testing aerospace components and running drug trials. It is applicable to all sizes of torque measurement tasks, from dispensing minute amounts of active pharmaceutical ingredients, through stirring industrial quantities of cook-chilled curries, to modelling storm and flood water flows –and indeed monitoring the tonnage of bulk solid cargo loading and unloading.

This innovative method of measuring torque is bringing distinct advantages to handling dry bulk products. A process that was once regarded as very difficult to monitor can now reap the same benefits as many other industrial processes, enabling operations to be optimized so that the highest levels of productivity can be achieved at the lowest cost.
Torque and load

Once TorqSense was fully developed, Sensor Technology found itself very busy working on project after project. Because torque is a fundamental parameter, it is used in many situations across the full spectrum of industrial sectors, so Sensor Technologies could spend one day talking to bakers about dough mixing, the next at a pharmaceutical plant dispensing active ingredients to microgram levels of accuracy, a third day working on a quarry conveyor or a dredger, and then move onto a dockside crane application, a robot arm or an electric vehicle drive.

In fact the company was so busy that it could not find time to develop its next idea until about five years ago. It was only logical to adapt the RF technique for use with straight-line load monitoring, such as is required by cranes and hoists as they lift cargo to and from ships. This would bring the wireless advantages to all types of bulk solid handling plant and allow all cargo handling techniques used in any given situation to be monitored by the same system, which would lead to significant savings in management time and costs as multiple reports do not have to be integrated.

It is notable that while LoadSense can measure any straight line load, can be scaled to work with any size of force and works horizontally and diagonally as well as vertically, it was actually developed for a bulk minerals application (of sorts). In fact it was first used to weigh multiple loads of stone being carried as an underslung cargo by helicopter. The stone was being used to build hikers’ paths in the UK’s most visited National Park, the Peak District. For airborne applications, LoadSense is integrated with a GPS (global positioning system) for pinpointing drop zones and totalizing flight distances.

The modern world requires rapid and efficient transportation of goods from continent to continent. As well as speed of handling, accurate records are also essential. TorqSense and its sister product LoadSense allow real time data to be collected, constantly updated and instantly converted into the critical information required for efficient logistics.

Important BoardMaster sales: Korean Army and the Korea and Israel National Railways

ABI's Business Development Specialist Wesly Lo is in Japan for training at DENSO next week in Nagoya.
Japanese company DENSO has invested in ABI's BoardMaster for the repair of automation systems used at their manufacturing premises in Nagoya. Following an in-depth review of latest technologies for electronics repair and maintenance, DENSO plant managers chose the BoardMaster Universal PCB Tester from ABI. The product was acquired last month for use in the internal repair of automation and robotic systems employed in the manufacturing of car parts after a meeting held at the 19th Embedded Systems Expo with ABI's area manager Wesly Lo in May 2016.
DENSO is a leading supplier of advanced automotive systems and components for all major automakers. With 184 subsidiaries (68 in Japan, 34 in the Americas, 34 in Europe and 48 in Asia/Oceania) this is a great global reference for ABI. DENSO in Nagoya has plans to roll out the BoardMaster onto the other 7 electronics repair labs operating in that same location.
Huge congratulations to RDT (Israel) and Incore Technologies (Korea) for the important orders closed this week.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Focus on PicoScope 4824 8-channel oscilloscope

The PicoScope 4824 is a remarkably compact 8-channel USB-powered oscilloscope. Its 12-bit vertical resolution and 1% accuracy make it ideal for all engineering and scientific applications. The scope also has a built-in 14-bit arbitrary waveform generator, eliminating the need for a separate signal generator on your workbench. The PicoScope 6 software, included, can decode 16 industry-standard serial protocols in any combination. With the PicoScope 4824 you could, for example, monitor the analog and digital ports of an I^2C ADC and an I^2S stereo DAC simultaneously. The PicoScope 4824 also benefits from advanced features such as a spectrum analyzer, mask limit testing, persistence display modes and a free software development kit (SDK) for creating your own applications.