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.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Free Software with Teledyne LeCroy HDO3000/4000 oscilliscopes!

HDO4000 High Definition Oscilloscopes
>> Save over $6,000 in free software options
500 MHz Bandwidth, 4 Ch, 2.5 GS/s
HDO4104 1 GHz Bandwidth, 4 Ch, 2.5 GS/s
HDO4054-MS 500 MHz, 4 Ch, 2.5 GS/s
HDO4104-MS 1 GHz, 4 Ch, 2.5 GS/s

HDO4000 oscilloscopes combine Teledyne LeCroy’s HD4096 high definition technology with long memory, powerful debug tools, and mixed signal capability in a compact form factor with a 12.1” wide touch screen display.

Buy one of the above models and receive the following software options at no charge:

WaveSurfer 3000 Oscilloscopes
Save $1,490 in free software options

WaveSurfer 3054 500 MHz Bandwidth, 4 Ch, 10 Mpts/ch, 4 GS/s
WaveSurfer 3074 750 MHz Bandwidth, 4 Ch, 10 Mpts/ch, 4 GS/s

WaveSurfer 3000 oscilloscopes have the same MAUI advanced user interface as used on our high performance oscilloscopes. Touch screen simplicity provides quick access to time-saving debug tools, with optional mixed signal capability.

Buy one of the above models and receive the following software options at no charge:

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Syscomp SIG-101 Signature Analyzer for Educators

The Syscomp SIG-101 Signature Analyzer is of interest both to educators
and to those who have to do quality control or troubleshooting of circuit boards.
Analog signature analysis is a technique whereby an AC voltage
is injected into the test point of a circuit board.  The voltage and

current are plotted on an XY display, and the resultant pattern is a 'signature'
of that particular test point.  This pattern may be compared with the pattern
obtained from a known good board at the same test
point.  If the patterns
do not match, the test board has some defect.  Signature analysis is popular in

production test because it requires no understanding of the circuit operation,
and so it can be used by unskilled personnel.

The SIG-101 SIG-101 is based on the popular CircuitGear Mini CGM-101,
which includes an oscilloscope, waveform generator, spectrum analyzer,
bode plotter and digital IO port in one package.  All those features continue
to be available in the SIG-101. An impedance vs frequency plotter will be
available with the next software release.

In several respects, the Syscomp SIG-101 is an advance over existing
signature analysis instruments.

        - it's a fraction of the cost of existing instruments

        - the frequency range of the test signal is continuous and extended

          over a wide range, which allows a wider range of useful

          measurements of impedance.

        - the test voltage and measured current are calibrated, and so the

          results can be translated into component values.

        - as usual for Syscomp, the software is open source and runs on the
                  Linux, Windows and Mac operating systems.

The product page has the technical manual, datasheet, and a paper on
signature analysis. The unit is currently available for $399.95 through
our webpage store

6 exercises on various aspects of test equipment and electronics: 
Introduction to the Oscilloscope, The Signal Generator, Probes,
Exploring the Microphone, The Capacitor in the Time Domain,
The Spectrum Analyzer These are organized as exercises that a hobbyist
or student can do to learn key concepts of the measuring instruments and
electronics.  Based on years of experience in teaching these ideas in a
college environment, each exercise is designed to be self-contained,
completed in one session of an hour or so, and provide fundament information. 
You are welcome to use them in classes or as an individual guide. 
The exercises can be found in the Education section of our website at this link.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Brazil’s WEG shortens test time by 50% with ABI’s MIS4

WEG, a leading electric engineering, power and automation technology manufacturer recently reported gains of 50% in PCB assembly testing time following the implementation of ABI’s MIS 4 module in Brazil.  The globally known manufacturer of electric motors, generators, transformers and drives with operations in around 100 countries, completed the implementation of ABI’s SYSTEM MIS 4 for the final production test of complex controller cards used in the company’s popular variable speed drives.  The operation, which previously required employees to follow lengthy work instructions and use traditional instrumentation, was optimized by the use of ABI’s test sequence manager called TestFlow and the SYSTEM 8 MIS4 module. Integral to ABI's SYSTEM 8 Ultimate software, the TestFlow Manager allowed WEG’s test engineers to create a fully interactive and semi-automatic test sequence integrated with the company’s SAP system.

The traditional process which included measuring high voltage test points was made more robust and error proof by the addition of safety checks and prompts in the programmable TestFlow testing sequence software. Users are required, for example, to enter data provided by the HMI of the device under test prior to proceeding to the next step. Operators also benefit from masks with set tolerances and expected results displayed by in the TestFlow for every task, along with pictures to help less experienced operators connect to WEG's developed test rigs currently.

The TestFlow Ultimate software "Script Editor" facility along with Python provided additional flexibility for the recall of most up-to-date approved work instructions from SAP as well as conditional step approval and fault logging that increased reliability and minimized the risk of a faulty unit to be wrongly approved by the operator.  Sales director Rafael Barreto from ABI distributor in Brazil says:

“following a complete review of WEG Automation’s production test which relied on traditional scopes, DMMs and dense work instructions, it became clear that the company could benefit tremendously from ABI’s software and the Multiple Instrument Station module. We are pleased to report that internal studies carried out by WEG indicate that the full test cycle is completed now in just half the time it used to take with the old method.”

Released in August 2015, the Multiple Instrument Station MIS4, is an all-in-one virtual testing bench that provides all commonly required measurement instruments in one compact USB driven module Controlled by ABI’s user-friendly SYSTEM 8 Ultimate PC software, the MIS4 combines eight instruments:

  • 3-channel 350MHz digital storage oscilloscope with sophisticated triggering options and automatic measurements
  • 1.1GHz universal frequency counter + three 350MHz counters
  • 14-bit dual-channel 25MHz arbitrary waveform function generator
  • Fully floating ammeter
  • Fully floating voltmeter
  • Fully floating ohmmeter
  • multi-rail 4-channel power supplies
  • 8 programmable I/O channels
More details here:

Friday, November 4, 2016

PicoDiagnostics Automotive Battery Tester

PicoScope has long been selected as the number one choice for oscilloscope diagnostics. This outstanding diagnostic oscilloscope is also a first-rate battery tester, at no additional cost.  

Pico Technology staff know that charging and starting systems are the very heart of modern vehicles. They understand how important they are in making sure that all components function at their very best. With this in mind, they developed a vehicle health check, that makes an excellent primary test for every vehicle that enters the workshop. By doing this test you can certify that the vehicles function perfectly, giving your customers peace of mind and generating valuable business. For every Battery Test done you create a report that can be fully customized with your workshop details. You can print this and give it to your customer, both before and after work is undertaken.

Running the Battery Test

Connect Channel A on the PicoScope to the positive terminal on the battery and a ground point on the vehicle. Connect our 2000 A current clamp + BNC adapter to Channel B and position it around the starter motor’s feed cable. Follow the setup wizard in our PicoDiagnostics software to run the test. The test result is displayed in a simple traffic light system, and covers all the starting and charging components. This result can be printed report can be customized with your workshop details and logo, as well as your customer’s information.

Here's a video showing how to do it!

PicoDiagnostics Battery Tester

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

4-channel Oscilloscope Supports Automotive Bus Systems

With a new family of four-channel high-end oscilloscopes, Rigol Technologies addresses the measurement needs of automotive and industrial electronics engineers. The DS4000E supports automotive-specific data bus systems CAN, LIN and FlexRay as well as general-use interface protocols such as RS232, I2C, SPI or USB.

The DS4000E is a versatile high-performance oscilloscope that incorporates the latest technologies and offers bandwidths of 100 MHz and 200 MHz, sample rates up to 2GSa/s per channel.  With four analog channels, the DS4000E series suits many application areas, including automobile servicing, research and development, universities and schools, production and development as well as the markets for communications, aerospace, industrial electronics, and many others.
A large 9" color display shows clear waveforms and optimal display of additional information, such as cursor positions and coordinates, mathematical parameters and more.
For recording and processing of measuring data, 14 million points of memory per channel is available for large amounts of data, and with a waveform capture rate of 60,000 waveforms/sec, the user can capture, display, and evaluate fast signals.
The smallest vertical scale is 1 mV/div at a resolution of 8 bits. It features a dual-XY mode and multiple trigger options like edge, pulse, video, slope and pattern, as well as optional bus decoding for RS232/UART, I2C, SPI, USB, CAN, LIN and FlexRay signals. Hot keys for quick operation are standard as well as a mask input for quick pass/fail decisions.
The price range starts at $1899. An extensive set of accessories is available including active and passive probes, high-voltage probes and a 19-inch rackmount, as well as software drivers for standard packages and high-level languages and the free operating software Ultrascope.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

This is what the FBI uses ...

.. to prevent remote wiping of phones and laptops.  A 'Faraday Cage' that totally eliminates any wireless signals, yet allows manipulation of the device being examined, with a built-in video camera to prove legally and evidentially what is discovered. Topical!