Latest In Depth Technology News

New Electronics brings you a selection of in depth Technology Articles, covering key issues and innovations within research & development, embedded design, power, communications design, test & measurement, programmable logic, system design and more.

Maintaining lightning protection systems in wind turbines

Wind turbines can present a unique challenge for maintenance teams. Due to the turbine height and remote location, often in areas of high elevation, wind turbines are at heightened risk of receiving lightning strikes, particularly on the blades. Lightning produces an electromagnetic field that can damage conducting elements inside the blade, such as sensors or beacons and so for this reason turbines need protection from the direct and indirect effects that lightning current has on these structures. The lightning protection system for wind turbine blades usually consists of a metallic conductor cable that drives the current from the extreme of the blade to the root. Over time, this cable could become damaged, increasing the risk of loss of function of the turbine, leading to knock on effects on energy production and revenue.

Simplifying industrial control design

The face of industry is changing as the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) promises a future in which highly connected machines communicate, coordinate, and make decisions autonomously.

Choosing between PCAP and resistive touchscreen technologies

Resistive touchscreens are typically found in retail electronic point of sale (EPOS) devices and companies have traditionally used them in industry. These have several layers, including two thin transparent, electrically resistive layers, separated by a thin space. When an object such as a fingertip or stylus tip presses down on the outer surface, the two layers touch to become connected. These touchscreens simply need enough pressure for the touch to be sensed and can be used while wearing gloves or other personal protective equipment (PPE).

Developments in low cost VNAs to find new applications

As test equipment has evolved, there has been a drive to provide unique and identifiable differentiations in feature sets and capabilities, suggesting to customers they will have an advantage over their competitors by providing tighter specification thresholds. For most modern Vector Network Analysers (VNAs), this trend has led to their capabilities becoming complex, resulting in an increased cost of ownership for the user, not just in terms of capital equipment costs, and calibration and support costs, but also in the time required for user understanding and training, as well as for any control software control or drivers to be written.

Affordable next generation clusters

Sophisticated graphics displays in the instrument cluster are a proven way for makers of premium vehicles to add consumer appeal and cachet to new high-end models of car. Audi has won rave reviews for its ‘Virtual Cockpit’ instrument cluster in the 2016 TT roadster.

Technology to integrate FPGA functionality into SoCs

FPGAs are rarely out of the news, but the acquisition of Altera by Intel in 2015 pushed the technology firmly into the headlines. Intel’s main reason for buying Altera was to provide a way to accelerate the performance of its Xeon processors, used widely in data centres. But Intel hasn’t been the only company turning its attention to the use of FPGAs in such applications; earlier in 2015, Microsoft said that Project Catapult used Altera’s Arria 10 FPGAs to boost data centre power/performance.

Advances in technology to meet frequency mixing needs

Frequency mixing is one of the most critical sections of the signal chain and, in the past, many applications were limited by the performance of a mixer – frequency range, conversion loss and linearity defined whether a mixer could be used for the application or not. Designs for frequencies of more than 30GHz were difficult and packaging the devices at those frequencies was even harder.

Energy regulations in power adaptors

The external power supply has become a staple part of system design for the electronics engineer. It provides a convenient means by which to add an AC front-end to a product which already meets international safety approvals. It also provides a faster time to market, with the option to use a connector which suits the application and reduces the risk of a generic power supply being plugged in and causing damage. By supplying a lower DC voltage to the equipment, it becomes easier to design a compact product that complies with all the necessary safety standards – a key consideration in applications in the consumer, industrial and medical markets

What are your obligations when it comes to labelling?

If you ask a designer of electronic or electrical products about the various pieces of European legislation which apply, they will probably discuss EMC and WEEE. If you’re lucky, they might also talk about RoHS and REACH. ?If you ask Richard Poate, senior compliance manager with TÜV SÜD Product Service, about these various requirements, he’ll say there has been a significant increase in the amount of such legislation and that it will continue to grow.

Security risks in the connected world

To say the Internet of Things (IoT) is here to stay may be the understatement of the decade. We are all knee-deep in the IoT and there is no turning back – gone are the days of thinking connecting refrigerators, security systems and vending machines to the Internet is in a land far, far away.

Overcoming visual impairment

In 2015, more than 2million people in the UK were living with some degree of sight loss. It affects people of all ages, but the older we get, the more likely it is that our vision will be impaired. According to statistics from RNIB, one in five people aged 75 and more are living with sight loss and nearly two-thirds of those living with sight loss are women.

Composite amplifiers can improve performance

It is a familiar situation. An application needs an amplifier with excellent output drive capability, say several hundred milliamps, to drive a large capacitive load. The supplier’s engineering team can fairly quickly recommend a suitable part. But then the designers throw in additional requirements, such as low noise and high DC precision. This time, no single device is available to meet that specification. While you might think that placing a precision amplifier and high-output-current amplifier in series would give designers the best of both worlds, sadly, this turns out to be not the case.

CEMs engage in communication technology

The demand for better communications systems has grown exponentially in recent years and wireless communication technology is now truly pervasive, but the pace of the technology’s continual development presents Original Electronics Manufacturers (OEMs) with challenges.

The rise of the hyperscale data centre

The modern data centre is becoming more complex as it attempts to handle the proliferation in mobile devices and billions of newly connected devices, all of which are increasing the pressure on data infrastructure. Customer expectations have never been higher and they will expect a seamless level of service, even as the demand for data increases exponentially.

LabVIEW and CompactDAQ get the Skylon space plane project off the ground

An aircraft that takes off from a runway, travels to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere and delivers its payload, or even travels into space, then heads back to earth and lands on the same runway it took off from. It sounds like science fiction, but Reaction Engines Limited (REL) has laid a solid foundation towards making this a reality. Using National Instruments LabVIEW design software and CompactDAQ, they created a test-bed that is both scalable and flexible in its implementation and allows for the test data to be viewed and logged simultaneously at high speed for further analysis.

Focusing light on industry’s problems

One of the longest established such centres in the UK, the Institute of Photonics at the University of Strathclyde is working in optogenetics and neurophotonics, as well as more traditional areas such as solid state lasers.

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