Friday, May 26, 2017

Economical 3.2GHz Spectrum Analyzers from Rigol


Affordability, performance, and advanced features make these RF analyzers ‘must-have’ test equipment

The Rigol DSA832E Spectrum Analyzer is a high performance, economical, and compact 9kHz to 3.2GHz Spectrum Analyzer. A tracking generator function is available with the “-TG” model. The digital IF circuitry guarantees reliability and performance that meets the most demanding RF applications. The rugged but very affordable DSA832E Spectrum Analyzer has a broad set of features and specs, including a large 8” WVGA color LCD and intuitive front panel controls.  Available options include a preamplifier for very small signals, a VSWR measurement toolkit for configuring and evaluating antennas, as well as an advanced measurement kit that enables additional functions such as channel boundaries and signal-to-noise ratio measurements.





  • 10Hz Minimum Resolution Bandwidth: with -148dBm Displayed Average Noise Level (DANL) for low-level signal measurements. 
  • Zero Span Function:  allows the signal envelope to be seen when demodulating an AM signal
  • Peak Table Function:  readout of up to 10 peak Frequency/Amplitude values. 
  • Low Phase Noise:  excellent single sideband phase noise allows nearby small signals to be accurately measured.
  • Powerful PC Software: remotely control and setup, read back the data, perform measurements and data analysis; display powerful spectrograms and waterfall graphs.
  • EMI Pre-compliance Test Software: quickly locate product problems, enabling them to pass subsequent formal EMC testing.

For Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other RF designs, high performance specs like SSB Phase Noise as low as -90 dBc/Hz (10kHz offset) allow engineers to more accurately analyze modulation and noise issues in signals of interest.  Whether debugging an RF transceiver set, designing layout or configuration changes to maximize efficiency, or testing a system in noisy environments, the economical DSA832E Spectrum Analyzer helps to quickly and affordably identify and examine areas of RF concern.



DSA832E Spectrum Analyzers are made by Rigol Technologies, a rapidly growing manufacturer of high quality, high performance and value-priced test equipment.     Offered with a remarkable 3-year warranty, DSA832E Series Spectrum Analyzers are available now from Saelig Company, Inc.  1-888-772-3544  info@saelig.com   

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Rail Professional Magazine's Editorial on ABI Electronics Ltd


Check out pages 138-141 of this European Rail magazine:   https://issuu.com/railpro/docs/june_issue_abc6379c0907e4

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

JRKerr’s Motion Control Systems Make Motor Movement Easy!

JEFFREY KERR, LLC.  (JRKerr) makes easy-to-use PIC-based motion control boards. Their PIC-SERVO motion control boards have integrated power amplifiers for DC servo motors, brushless servo motors and stepper motors; or use their versatile controller chips for your own motion control board design. They are easily connected to standard serial ports for creating powerful multi-axis, mixed-motor control systems.
We take the mystery out of motion control!  See product brief.


JRKerr’s PIC-SERVO motion control systems are installed around the world in applications as diverse as biotech automation, oilfield automation, mass data storage systems and NASA experimental vehicles. We offer motion control boards with integrated power amplifiers for DC servo motors, brushless servo motors and stepper motors, as well as controller chips for your own custom boards.   They are easily connected to standard serial ports, so you can quickly create powerful multi-axis, mixed-motor control systems.   The boards are based around a Motion Basic Controller IC - a microcontroller which allows you to create simple stand-alone motion control programs for up to 8 of our NMC motion control modules. Using our easy-to-use Windows based programming and debugging utility you can quickly create BASIC language programs which include motion commands. Motion Basic programs can also communicate with another computer over an RS232 or USB port. The Motion Basic controller chip is designed for use with our SSA-485 board to allow non-programmers to create simple motion control applications. 
The brush, brushless and stepper motor control modules all integrate high level motion control functions and power amplifiers into a single board. Each board gives you everything you need to control your motor from a PC or other host controller.
There are two basic options for implementing your motion control application:
1) Use a PC or other host to send commands directly to the motion controllers, or
2) Use our SSA-485 adapter board as a stand-alone controller.
Option 1 All controllers can communicate with a host computer (PC, PLC, embedded processor, etc.) using fullduplex (4-wire) RS485 serial communications. Up to 32 control modules (PIC-SERVO, PIC-STEP, or PIC-I/O) can be connected to a single serial port. Host controllers with a standard RS232 port or USB port can use our SSA-485 Smart Serial Adapter.
For optimal efficiency, your host can send commands directly to the motion control modules using their native binary NMC communications protocol. For non-demanding applications, however, your host can also use a simplified ASCII Command Interface (ACI) mode. Use of the ACI mode requres the Motion Basic controller chip described below. Example programs for Windows and other systems can be found on our software page.
Option 2 Alternately, the controllers can be operated in a stand-alone mode with our SSA-485 Smart Serial Adapter with our optional Motion Basic controller chip installed. You can create simple BASIC programs using our Windows based Motion Basic programming application and then download the program to the SSA-485 / Motion Basic controller. (More sophisticated applications may also be implemented in C using a PIC18Fxxx processor instead of the Motion Basic chip.) 

Monday, May 22, 2017

This board has been a best-seller for YEARS!

DeVaSys specializes in USB-I2CI/O boards for easy access to I2C peripherals.
Ideal for integrating into equipment (e.g. manufacturing test set-ups) with your existing or planned application software – where you know that only your own software will suit your needs and you must have a reliable interface board! USB-I2CIO provides simple long-life hardware, a simple API, and ROCK SOLID firmware, dll, and driver…. all for a very reasonable price.  When we say ROCK SOLID CODE, this is where most other I2C boards fall down.  All this, with custom support available too!  This board is used by manufacturers around the world.
The USB-I2C/IO interface board provides a simple, "drop-in", solution for customers that need to connect hardware to a PC. The new Rev. C1 board provides up to 32 bits of user-configurable digital I/O, an I2C/SMBUS interface with a configurable clock (100Kbps, 400Kbps, 1Mbps, etc.), and more.


Key Features:
12Mbps USB 2.0 interface (full-speed device) to host P.C.
Silicon Labs C8051F340 micro-controller (48Mhz, 63KB flash, 4KB sram, USB, I2C/SMBUS, SPI, etc.).
Up to 32 bits of user configurable, general purpose digital I/O via commonly available 0.1" spacing connectors.
I2C/SMBUS multi-channel interface supporting configurable clock speeds, onboard 16KB I2C eeprom (fully available to user, and on it's own I2C bus segment for isolation), 5 pin connectors for attaching external I2C hardware.
USB Status LED, lights on enumeration, blinks to indicate USB traffic, off when suspended.
Error LED, indicates when the board's firmware has detected an error, error can be read and cleared via API.
Small form factor (3.0" X 2.25") with 0.125" mounting holes in corners.
Downloadable board firmware, simplifies updates and allows for code customization.
Included API (applications programming interface) software implemented as Windows DLL in C, gets your application up and running fast!
Applications:
USB to I2C/SMBUS bridge for interfacing to a wide variety of I2C/SMBUS components.
USB to general purpose digital I/O bridge for interfacing to switches, LEDs, and other hardware.
Can be used as low cost prototype hardware for developing your own Silicon Labs C8051F340 micro projects.
Test fixture interface.
Rapid prototyping interface.
Data Acquisition.
Hardware:
The full-speed USB interface provides your application hardware with a "Hot Plug and Play", 12Mbps, industry standard connection to your P.C. host.
Utilizes Silicon Labs C8051F340 USB micro-controller.
Power configuration jumper allows board to be powered by USB or by external circuitry.
I2C power configuration jumper allow I2C bus to be powered by variety of sources (+5V, +3.3V, External voltage).
Debug Connector footprint provides for using board as low cost development hardware for your own C8051F340 projects.
EEPROM Write Protect jumper provides protection from accidental onboard EEPROM erasure.

Software:

The included device driver, dll, and example application software make it easier than ever to access your application hardware from your PC.
The software provides support for connection of multiple boards, making the USB-I2C/IO a great solution when multiple equipment instances are required (test fixtures, production equipment, instruments, etc.). Each board can be uniquely identified and accessed by your application software via a serial number.


Friday, May 19, 2017

PICO PicoLog 1012 10-bit 12-Channel Datalogger (PP546) Logs Data!

The PicoLog 1012 Multi-Channel DAQ is a 10-bit 12-channel datalogger designed to meet the needs of a wide range of general-purpose voltage, sensor and transducer logging applications.  It features independent software-configurable scaling and control outputs, an external terminal board for custom front-end circuitry and 2 output channels. Logging at up to 1 MSa/s sample rate, it is USB connected and powered.  Data acquisition software and SDK is included
The PicoLog 1000 Series is the result of a distinguished lineage that goes back to the release of our first multi-channel data logger — the ADC-11 — in 1993. The original ADC-11, and its successor the USB ADC-11, proved to be the perfect choice for users wanting a low-cost way to measure and record multiple signals. The PicoLog 1000 Series builds on this success to give you the same low-cost data acquisition but with greater power and performance. (Because the ADC-11 was so popular we’ve also added a USB ADC-11 compatibility mode which allows you to use your PicoLog 1000 logger as a direct replacement to the USB ADC-11.) 






Thursday, May 18, 2017

Samsung Semiconductor USA: "How incredibly powerful ABI systems are!"


So pleased to hear yesterday from managers at Samsung Semiconductor in America how incredibly powerful our systems are! It's great when a customer thanks you for helping them make the right decision! #Repairdontwaste

Saelig - our partners in the USA - have successfully delivered ABI's advanced training program to Samsung Semiconductor in Austin, Texas. Samsung recently acquired a full set of solutions from ABI for PCB diagnostic, schematic generation and boundary scan test. We're very pleased with the outstandingly positive feedback received at the end of the training yesterday! #ABISavesYouTime

Here are some of the products they will be using to fix their PCBs:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

It's International Recycling Day today

ABI's customers save electronics PCBs from the landfill and save money too!  Instead of discarding failed PCBs, it makes sense to repair them, especially if they are hard-to-get, obsolete, or valuable.

PCB REPAIR PRODUCTS from ABI Electronics are fast-to-learn, suit most electronics technologies, minimize your equipment downtime, and fight obsolescence - all at an affordable price!  Create functioning test programs quickly!  More economical than other solutions, ABI equipment pays for itself quickly, and keeps equipment running longer. Relied on worldwide by armed forces, transport, education, and other maintenance facilities, full hands-on, on-site training can be provided if requested. Rapid and local test requirements, the detection of counterfeit devices, together with increasing financial pressures and performance goals, all increase the demands for efficient maintenance, safe operation, and equipment availability.  ABI has your solution!

Electronic Products Repaired – Fast!  

Need a solution which tests and finds electronic system faults quickly? Which can keep circuits working, extending product life, and help eliminate obsolescence and lack of documentation?  For over 40 years ABI Electronics has designed, manufactured and marketed automatic test equipment for supporting and maintaining products that incorporate electronics PCBs.

ABI Electronics products can assist  … whoever you are

Whether it’s Mass Transit, Defense, or Industry - with profits and funding eroding and severe consequences for equipment failure, the efficient and reliable maintenance of electronic circuits over their working life is vital for modern systems. Many of the world's largest transit organizations, military, and manufacturers rely on ABI Electronics for testing, repair and support of their electronic modules in trains and trackside equipment, including SNCF (France), Metro Sao Paulo (Brazil) and other members of the Latin American Alamys group. 

ABI products can keep your electronics working – close to where they are used, saving time and costs. For safety issues: PCBs can be tested for full confidence, and improved reliability.  Products can have their life extended through regular maintenance – cheaper in-house! Fast turnaround times are now possible for repairs by less-skilled technicians, saving money and time for high value electronic circuits

Benefits of using ABI Electronics products:

  • Shorter repair times, inventory reductions and cost savings
  • Accepted by major transportation suppliers around the world
  • Improves safety and extends operational life
  • Repairs and testing can be done by less qualified personnel
  • Supports third party and obsolete equipment

Self-maintaining complex, high-value electronic systems require a reliable service provider.  With over 30 years' experience in the test and repair of electronic circuits, ABI Electronics can create and even custom-design the right solution for you.

ISO9000-2001 certified ABI Electronics is a leading manufacturer of test, measurement and fault diagnosis equipment with direct applications in R&D, repair, manufacture, test and education.  Manufacturers worldwide use ABI Electronics test equipment. 

ABI Electronics offers a wide range of products, starting with the flagship BoardMaster 8000 PLUS as a versatile, self-contained and easy-to-use board test system. It offers a comprehensive set of test instruments for fault-finding on almost any kind of PCBs and allows users to generate test sequences. The System 8 Range makes use of a design versatility by offering any combination of the modules found in the BoardMaster 8000 PLUS. The CircuitMaster 4000M simplifies the safe probing of fine pitch PCBs and reduces measurement set-up time.   The JTAGMaster can test, fault-find and program complex PCB assemblies with JTAG ports, including QFPs and BGAs.  The unique RevEng Schematic Learning System generates professional schematics from a sample board. And the award-winning SENTRY Counterfeit IC Detector solves the supply-chain problem of counterfeit components.
More here!

Ching W. Tang

At a concert last night, I met up with someone I had not seen for more than 30 years.  Ching Tang was the inventor of OLEDs while at the Eastman Kodak research Labs, where I also worked in the 1980s.  At that time this brilliant scientist was looking for applications for OLEDs and we were designing blood analyzers that used LEDs as reflectometer light sources. But at that time OLEDs were not very bright and had lifetime issues.  But they did have the blue wavelength we were seeking!

Hong Kong-born American physical chemist Ching W. Tang and his co-worker Steven Van Slyke built the first, revolutionary practical OLED device at Eastman Kodak in 1987.  It used a novel two-layer structure with separate hole transporting and electron transporting layers such that recombination and light emission occurred in the middle of the organic layer; this resulted in a reduction in operating voltage and improvements in efficiency.



OLEDs have come so far since those days - and he commented how amazing it was to have his invention everywhere - on his cellphone, on a 77" TV in his office in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Bloom where you're planted ...

https://cyclingindustry.news/dont-underestimate-your-abilities-says-bike-mechanic-as-customer-offers-job-at-nasa/ 


A bike mechanic working at Bike Effect in Los Angeles posted an inspiring message to the Professional Bike Mechanic’s Association board, reminding those working in the industry to never “underestimate your abilities as bicycle mechanics”.

The mechanic in question, Stephen Partida, is a Santa Monica local now destined for a role at NASA having impressed a customer who worked at the space agency.

“He liked my attitude, work ethic and my quality of work,” said Partida. “I kept his bicycle in top shape and it paid off tremendously. I’ll be building spacecraft that will travel to Mars and beyond.”
Leaving a vacancy at the pro road shop, Partida says that he posted the message, “not to brag, but instead to inspire.”

He continued: “You do great things. You stem from a long lineage of greats and you are capable of doing greater things.

“Don’t discount a single customer that walks in your doors. Treat everyone with the same level of respect you would want to be treated with. The alter egos of your customers would surprise you.

Cycling Industry News

Monday, May 15, 2017

To Successfully Grow A Business, You Must 'Expect Chaos'


 Really interesting article in this month's Entrepreneur Magazine by Reid Hoffman (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/292749)

He's the billionaire co-founder of LinkedIn, Greylock Partner, a mentor to many, and, starting in May, the host of a new podcast called 'Masters of Scale.' Here, Hoffman gives an inside look at how he teaches entrepreneurs to grow successful businesses.


“One of the first things that you learn when you are trying to do scale at speed,” says Hoffman, “is to focus on your learning loops.” The simplest way to define “learning loop” is as a process in which your goals are constantly modified by experience. One of the worst mistakes a startup entrepreneur can make is to stick blindly to plan A when market realities are telling you it is way past time to go to plan B. Hoffman has done a lot of thinking about pragmatic ways to enhance learning loop efficiency.
It’s all about “OODA,” he explains. “Observe, orient, decide, act. It’s fighter pilot terminology,” says Hoffman. “If you have the faster OODA loop in a dogfight, you live. The other person dies. In Silicon Valley, the OODA loop of your decision-making is effectively what differentiates your ability to succeed.”

The critical point Hoffman is always trying to get across -- in his books, his podcasts, his interviews with journalists and his mentoring sessions with company founders -- is that no one really knows what is going to happen next. Rare indeed is the business plan that survives contact with reality intact.
  

Friday, May 12, 2017

ComProbe BPA Bluetooth Protocol Analyzer - only $995!

Automobile and accessory manufacturers are finding the ComProbe BPA Low Energy Bluetooth Protocol Analyzer a great debug tool for only $995!  Decodes all traffic including advertising packets, data packets and LL control packets; provides visibility into all three advertising channels concurrently, even before the connection is established; follows multiple connection requests from the same master to capture the resulting connections. 

In an increasingly mobile world, it’s more important than ever that developer tools are just as mobile as the devices and technologies they’re creating. Frontline puts problem-solving literally in the palm of your hand with the ComProbe BPA low energy Bluetooth Protocol Analyzer. Smaller than a deck of cards and running on USB power, the ComProbe BPA low energy packs a serious punch, decoding all traffic including advertising packets, data packets and LL control packets, and providing visibility into all three advertising channels concurrently, even before the connection is established. A single BPA low energy follows multiple connection requests from the same master to capture the resulting connections.

But powerful tools don’t have to be hard to use. With the ComProbe BPA low energy, setup is easy and requires no synchronization to devices - just start capturing. Working with custom protocols? No problem. The BPA low energy includes DecoderScript, which allows specifying decodes for custom protocols.

The ComProbe BPA low energy Bluetooth Protocol Analyzer from Frontline is the first name in portable, USB-powered, and affordable Bluetooth low energy analysis, and features the rich decoding toolset represented by the powerful ComProbe Protocol Analysis System software at the core of all Frontline developer-class protocol analysis products.

  Easy setup. Just start capturing.
  No need to synchronize to devices.
  Scans and captures all three advertising channels  concurrently.
  Decodes all traffic: Advertising packets, Data packets, LL control packets and more.

More?  See  http://bit.ly/2qA2GKt

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Using a Picoammeter to Investigate Leakage Currents in Clamp Diodes


Clamp diodes are widely used in analog electronic circuits, but, like all real-world components, these diodes have some non-ideal characteristics. This article investigates some of their characteristics.



Reverse Biased Leakage Current

Reverse biased leakage current is a characteristic of concern for a clamp diode. Ideally the leakage would be zero but this is the real world, so what can one live with? In a typical application there might be two clamp diodes, one to +15 V the other to -15 V and a common connection to the signal to be clamped. The leakage current drops as the voltage drops, so if that signal is nearer to +10 V, then the lower clamp diode would have more leakage than the upper one. So in such an application, a diode with both low leakage and a fairly flat leakage vs. voltage would be desirable.

   
Figure 1 is plotted data of leakage measurements versus reverse voltage. A quiet DC supply was used along

with an AMETRIX Instruments’ Model 101 Picoammeter to measure the current (and yes, that is single digit femtoamps in the diagram).



 Comments about reverse leakage:

1. The SST4391 is rated for 35 V gate-drain and gate-source

2. The SST4391 costs $0.057 each

3. The 2n3904 has a Vcb maximum of 60 V

4. The MMBT3904LT1G is $0.0231 each

5. The FLLD261 is $0.0275 each

6. The BAS16 costs $0.0151 each

7. The BAT54 costs $0.0204 each

8. The BAS70 costs $0.0323 each

9. The MMBD4148CC costs $0.0194 each

So even though there is a 3:1 price ratio between the most and least expensive, they are all <6 a="" cost="" decision="" is="" not="" of="" part="" process.="" serious="" so="" span="" the="">



Forward Voltage Drop

The forward voltage drop is another diode characteristic to be considered for a voltage clamp. These measurements were made as follows (the data is presented graphically in Figure 2):

1. Forward bias the diode with a quiet DC supply that has fine resolution; in this case an EDC calibrator

2. With function generator set to pulse, 1 Hz, 1% duty cycle, drive a mercury wetted reed relay. Connect

the relay contacts across DUT such that the DUT is shorted for 990 msec and unshorted for 10 msec; this is to minimize self heating effects.

3. Measure forward voltage with Tektronix MSO4104 scope with 10x probes to minimize the low forward current errors. Set the scope’s bandwidth limit to 20 MHz to minimize noise. Use the scope’s vertical channel’s offset mode and 10 mV range, adjusting the offset knob until trace is in center of screen, then document the offset voltage.




Conclusion

Some simple measurements with a precision picoammeter can provide much insight into the components that you think might be ideal in a given application; and they might reveal some things that are unexpected.






Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Rolls Royce? Who knew!



The electronics on Rolls-Royce's aerospace propulsion systems are supported in the UK and abroad by ABI's BoardMaster. ABI's state of the art electronic troubleshooting hardware & software delivers outstanding value and provides the flexibility needed to support complex repair operations managed from the company's multinational offices. #Repairdontwaste 
PCB REPAIR PRODUCTS from ABI Electronics are fast-to-learn, suit most electronics technologies, minimize your equipment downtime, and fight obsolescence - all at an affordable price!  Create functioning test programs quickly!  More economical than other solutions, ABI equipment pays for itself quickly, and keeps equipment running longer. Relied on worldwide by armed forces, transport, education, and other maintenance facilities, full hands-on, on-site training can be provided if requested. Rapid and local test requirements, the detection of counterfeit devices, together with increasing financial pressures and performance goals, all increase the demands for efficient maintenance, safe operation, and equipment availability.  ABI has your solution!
Electronic Products Repaired – Fast!  
Need a solution which tests and finds electronic system faults quickly? Which can keep circuits working, extending product life, and help eliminate obsolescence and lack of documentation?  For over 40 years ABI Electronics has designed, manufactured and marketed automatic test equipment for supporting and maintaining products that incorporate electronics PCBs.
ABI Electronics products can assist  … whoever you are.  Whether it’s Mass Transit, Defense, or Industry - with profits and funding eroding and severe consequences for equipment failure, the efficient and reliable maintenance of electronic circuits over their working life is vital for modern systems. Many of the world's largest transit organizations, military, and manufacturers rely on ABI Electronics for testing, repair and support of their electronic modules in trains and trackside equipment, including SNCF (France), Metro Sao Paulo (Brazil) and other members of the Latin American Alamys group. 
ABI products can keep your electronics working – close to where they are used, saving time and costs. For safety issues: PCBs can be tested for full confidence, and improved reliability.  Products can have their life extended through regular maintenance – cheaper in-house! Fast turnaround times are now possible for repairs by less-skilled technicians, saving money and time for high value electronic circuits
Benefits of using ABI Electronics products:
  • Shorter repair times, inventory reductions and cost savings
  • Accepted by major rail suppliers around the world
  • Improves safety and extends operational life
  • Repairs and testing can be done by less qualified personnel
  • Supports third party and obsolete equipment
Self-maintaining complex, high-value electronic systems require a reliable service provider.  With over 30 years' experience in the test and repair of electronic circuits, ABI Electronics can create and even custom-design the right solution for you.
ISO9000-2001 certified ABI Electronics is a leading manufacturer of test, measurement and fault diagnosis equipment with direct applications in R&D, repair, manufacture, test and education.  Manufacturers worldwide use ABI Electronics test equipment. 
ABI Electronics offers a wide range of products, starting with the flagship BoardMaster 8000 PLUS as a versatile, self-contained and easy-to-use board test system. It offers a comprehensive set of test instruments for fault-finding on almost any kind of PCBs and allows users to generate test sequences. The System 8 Range makes use of a design versatility by offering any combination of the modules found in the BoardMaster 8000 PLUS. The CircuitMaster 4000M simplifies the safe probing of fine pitch PCBs and reduces measurement set-up time.   The JTAGMaster can test, fault-find and program complex PCB assemblies with JTAG ports, including QFPs and BGAs.  The unique RevEng Schematic Learning System generates professional schematics from a sample board. And the award-winning SENTRY Counterfeit IC Detector solves the supply-chain problem of counterfeit components.


Saelig Introduces Spectran HF-80200 V5 RSA 20GHz Realtime Spectrum Analyzer

Remote-controlled Spectrum Analyzer and RF recorder can continuously stream and store any spectrum of interest up to 20GHz – even remotely!


Saelig has just introduced the Spectran HF-80200 V5 RSA rack-mounted real-time 9kHz-20GHz Spectrum Analyzer that can capture even intermittent signal transmissions.  Most spectrum analyzers take time to scan through the frequency range and can miss sporadic signals.  But the Spectran HF-80200 V5 RSA has been designed with a remarkable scanning speed and recording time: the analyzer scans from 9kHz to 20GHz in less than 20mS, so that even erratic transmissions or interference can be captured.

This versatile unit which can be mounted on a desktop, in an equipment rack, or even in a distant location for remotely assessing signal conditions without requiring personnel to be present. This eliminates costly, inconvenient visits to difficult locations. Mobile use in measurement vehicles or satellite broadcasting vans is also an ideal application for the HF-80200.
The RSA V5 line of 1U rack mount spectrum analyzers includes versions from 6GHz up to 20GHz capability. They are supplied with full-featured real time spectrum analyzer software (RTSA Suite), which provides for remote data monitoring, extended logging, remote spectrum analyzer control, and 3D display. The software’s intuitive layout and useful display options help to identify, capture, demodulate and track signals up to 20GHz.

The HF-80200 V5 is controllable through a USB interface or LAN/Ethernet, allowing continuous logging and streaming of almost any frequency range, and direct access to the analyzer through an Internet-connected PC. Like the others in this series, it offers AM and FM demodulation. All of the V5 rackmount spectrum analyzers are housed in a durable aluminum case - ideal for RF shielding - and they feature a built-in 20dB preamplifier to permit sensing even the weakest of signals.  The analyzer has been designed with extremely low noise: the Displayed Average Noise Level (DANL) specification is -170dBm/Hz (max). 

Made in Germany by Aaronia AG, Europe’s award-winning manufacturer of RF site survey tools, hand held spectrum analyzers, antennas and EMC test probes, the Aaronia Spectran HF-80200 V5 RSA is available now from Saelig Company, Inc., technical distributor for Aaronia USA.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Torque monitoring imporves process and predictive maintenance strategies

Effective non-contact torque monitoring can help production quality as well as identify machine problems before they happen.




The importance of torque measurement in manufacturing environments is a new concept to some, but an everyday essential to others.  Realizing the enormous cost benefits of measuring torque in rotating systems is sometimes not recognized by those tasked with improving profitability.  The challenge is to be able to monitor and measure torque as accurately, unobtrusively, and economically as possible.  For continuous-manufacturing processes where machines are driven by rotating shafts, machinery failure and subsequent downtime must be avoided in order to maintain profitability as well as consistency of output.  The effective use of precision non-contact torque monitoring instrumentation can preemptively identify problems that might affect machinery reliability - extremely important for situations where a single machine failure can lead to costly production losses.


Installing torque sensors in the rotating drive train of operating machinery can track some of smallest changes in a plant’s operating parameters, and diagnose a change in state or viscosity of materials being handled, or the condition of the machinery itself. For instance, measured torque increases on a mixer drive may suggest that contents of a food preparation are thickening exactly as expected for a consistent product result, or that a seal or bearing is sticking and may soon fail.  So it can be seen that data collected from a torque sensor can be vital for a control computer to accurately capture and assess manufacturing situations.


A process engineer’s job is to be responsible for material mixes being transformed from one condition into another, monitoring both consistent and changing variables at all the various stages of the process. Some parameters can be measured directly and simply, such as temperature, fluid levels, volumes, and others.  Other factors, such as chemical bonding reactions or process thickening, can be more challenging to measure.  Instead of directly measuring these more difficult parameters, an often-used technique is to instead measure a related parameter - typically one related to the plant or machinery rather than the process material itself - and to infer from this the desired parameter readings.  For instance, viscosity may change when a desired chemical reaction is completed.


Significantly, many types of processing equipment – mixers, pumps, conveyors - are motor driven, and measuring motor output characteristics or current consumption will often yield vital process information. For instance, the level of motor torque can be an indicator of the quantity, speed, or viscosity of process material being mixed. Electric motor torque monitoring can be an effective strategy for detecting worn bearings or over-tight shafts on equipment such as fans or blowers, the malfunction of which can significantly increase a plant’s overall operating costs.


Torque measurement provides an important set of data on machinery performance and condition monitoring. Knowledge of what data parameters to evaluate will provide proactive or early warning of breakdowns, allowing plant operators to schedule appropriate pre-emptive or predictive maintenance, allowing critical machinery to reliably and continuously run with minimal downtime.  


Today’s torque measurement techniques have become increasingly simpler and user-friendly. Formerly, torque sensors required a fairly complicated and fragile array of slip rings connected to the rotating drive shaft of a machine under test. UK-based Sensor Technology has incorporated surface wave technology in their non-contact method of torque monitoring , known as TorqSense™.   The product requires adhesion of several pads on to the side of the driveshaft, supported by an accompanying electronics unit mounted nearby, which monitors the torque, sending readings as a data signal to the control system. These pads are a series of tiny piezoelectric combs, fully encased in plastic. The combs are designed to open or close under torque effects of drive shaft rotational speed.  A low-power radio frequency signal is emitted toward the combs, feeding back signals to unit’s integral internal electronics. The reflected signal is returned at a different frequency, with the change proportional to the distortion of the combs, and hence also proportional to drive shaft torque.  


Diverse Non-Contact Torque Monitoring Applications


Food Processing
Real time process control for food manufacture involves the flow and mixability characterization of highly non-Newtonian fluids. Transducers monitor the changing flow characteristics of materials that may be as diverse as tomato ketchup, chocolate, pasta sauce and chicken soup, as they are mixed. Many foods are manufactured as neo-liquids, produced in a process-type environment. Real-time process control of these situations has been challenging due to the non-uniform nature of the food, which may contain particulates, fibers, vegetables, meat, nuts, raisins, etc.


Often a key requirement is sufficient mixing in order to achieve a uniform food product without overmixing. Quality can be ensured by monitoring mixer-shaft torque until it reaches a steady state (within the characteristics of a given recipe), and fluid uniformity is achieved.  To achieve real-time control, a torque sensor can detect changes with sufficient sensitivity, yet must be robust enough for regular wash-downs, harsh factory environments, without compromising FDA, OSHA, or other industrial hygiene standards.   


Regenerative Energy/Windmills and Nuclear Industries
Precision gearboxes supplied to the regenerative energy and nuclear industries must be 100% guaranteed to reliably operate without premature failure, making off-line testing vital.    Certain offline test rigs consist of a motor driving a test unit against a load created by an industrial disc brake. Testing generates a performance profile that can be compared with an ideal performance standard.  In the case of an equipment failure within the nuclear industry, a component or system breakdown could mean longer term shutdown of critical operations, automated/unmanned removal of the faulty parts, sealing into a secure flask and automated replacement installation, potentially costing millions of dollars.


Chemical Processing, Plastics and Pharmaceuticals
Implementing a precision torque sensor in recipe mixing applications can reduce development costs in the chemical, food and plastics industries, and help nanotechnology advances with in pharmaceuticals. Incorporating instruments which monitor the properties of materials as they are being mixed, capturing torque output to a PC for analysis and real-time control, allows instantaneous reaction to mixer conditions. Often a key parameter is the mix torque itself, which can settle at a constant level once mixing is complete. During process development, many batches may be required before a “recipe” is finalized, so the cost and time involved can be considerable. It is easy to see how quickly torque equipment costs can be recouped by enabling reproducible experiment variations to be constructed, as well as minimizing a resultant consistent process time.


Appliances:  Washing Goes Green
High performance non-contact torque measurement can also improve the energy efficiency of industrial and domestic washing machines. Process plant manufacturers are redesigning machines to reduce power consumption. In horizontal-axis, front-loading washers, the load (wet laundry) is lifted onto one side of the axis, and falls on the other side. In this scenario, regenerative energy recovery is desirable, if it can be practically achieved. A critical element in designing such systems is the capability to make continuous, non-invasive, accurate torque measurements.  A precision torque sensor actually allows a design engineer to measure torque change at the exact moment when a drive is ideally switched from power to regeneration, to make the most of the falling load potential energy release. Since a drive motor within this application could be rotating at up to 1500rpm, accurate data collection and equally responsive control software are essential, and may be built into next-generation washing machines. For industrial-sized loads, torque sensors can assist appliance manufacturers in achieving energy savings of up to 20-30 percent, providing a significant competitive edge in the marketplace.


Aerospace and Defense:  Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Design The development low-cost, flexible search and surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for military, homeland security and environmental monitoring can benefit from torque monitoring. Vectored-thrust propulsion system developers are using torque measurement technology as a key technology for the design and implementation of propulsion systems.


Hybrid Vehicle Design Vehicle designers around the world know that torque measurement in invaluable in mapping the characteristics of combined motor-generator developments in hybrid cars designed to reduce vehicle emissions. The benefits provided by non-contact sensing technology include easy data capture, intelligent calibration, and advanced analysis capabilities.


Intelligent Lubrication Car designers are constantly working on competitive improvements in their vehicles.  Intelligent lubrication systems analyze engine friction and parasitic losses to provide optimal lubrication. Accurate and repeatable measurement of small changes in drive torque is a critical requirement during the development phase.  Controlled oil pumps, each capable of supplying individual engine parts with oil under conditions unique to that part of the engine, react to signals that sense the vehicle operating conditions. For example, the engine head may be fed with oil at pressures different to the engine block, and bearings may need more oil when an engine is under heavy load.  Profiling engine performance under various lubrication conditions can derive optimum performance configurations for future intelligent engine systems. Both gas and diesel engines run much cleaner than years ago. The required need for efficient operation under a wide range speeds and loads, and environmental conditions from -40 to +40 °C, poses a huge challenge. Intelligent lubrication has the potential to improve performance enormously, but quantifying the best configuration is a lengthy and complex task. Torque sensing is critical to measuring friction effects of a range of different oil supply and formulation strategies.  


Cold Extrusion and Recycling Cold extrusion is now playing a greater part in the recycling of waste plastic, and trials are now under way with different processes, feed plastics, additives and final products.  The most important parameter within the extrusion process is the torque in the extruder drive.  Torque indicates the force required to process the material and hence both the power requirements of the drive and the viscosity of the plastic – and the efficiency of the whole process.  Continuous rotary torque sensing allows accurate modeling of the instantaneous load changes.


Research and Development/Test Lab Applications
With regard to research experiments, there is often an inordinate amount of dismantling and reassembling of test equipment. This can be time-consuming and therefore expensive, but choosing a non-contact torque sensing method is ideal for this kind of application since it does not need to be dismantled. A non-contact coupling between the shaft and the controller eliminates any issues of mechanical compliance. Easily embedded within servo drive systems, the best torque transducers can withstand heat, dirt and mechanical vibration. The potential of servo drive trains, for instance, that are ‘intelligently rigid’ and so free from torsional losses could result in commercial servo products that deliver improved performance and vastly superior system dynamics with even the most demanding mechanical loads.  Ongoing research around the world is focused on developing control algorithms that improve the efficiency of servo controllers that maximize the use of torque feedback.


Conclusion The application of precision torque sensing presents many opportunities for developing improved efficiencies in performance, production and maintenance in a wide variety of industries.  Optimal sensing transducers require minimal shaft length, have low inertia, no physical contact between shaft and housing, while offering wide bandwidth, high resolution, high accuracy and good magnetic/RF noise immunity. And they pay for themselves rather quickly!