Test & Measurement

Test and measurement equipment underpins the product design process, enabling engineers to verify their design is working in the way they want. If not, these essential devices help them to find out where the problems lie.

In this section, New Electronics keeps design engineers up to date with the Test and Measurement market, bringing a range of information about the products and their application.

ICs to bring longer battery life to portable devices

As users demand more functionality and longer runtime from their devices, the need to understand what is consuming a battery’s charge becomes more important. Hardware developers can use this information to track energy used in different conditions, while software developers can adjust their coding decisions to improve efficiency. Meanwhile, operating systems can monitor how processes use power and consumers can see how their battery is used and realise possible actions to take for longer runtime. The knowledge gained from measuring accurately how a product uses the battery leads to an understanding of the design trade-offs – turning knowledge into power.

Cooling atoms to almost absolute zero

Atoms generally whizz around with very high levels of energy – and it is this degree of activity that allows us to use the concept of temperature. When atoms have very low energy levels, they move much more slowly and we equate this to a very low temperature. Extrapolating, atoms stop moving at absolute zero.

Testing the Big Bang of smart devices

Imagine today’s typical test manager, awash in an alphabet soup of wireless protocols and sensors upon sensors. Thanks to the proliferation of smart devices in the Internet of Things (IoT), it’s a circumstance not unlike a star-filled sky, teeming with a dizzying mix of possibility and disorientation that is surely keeping organisational leaders up at night as they wonder what to do next.

Helping customers determine what sensor they need

Different force-sensing technologies have been around for decades, but Apple’s decision to incorporate force touch into its products has raised the technology’s profile. Rather than interacting with our smartphones or notebooks using simple taps, we can now control them in different ways, depending on how hard we press. Force-sensing solutions enable device-makers and software developers to create much more natural, intuitive and immersive user experiences for those using their kit. However, measuring and using the analogue, non-linear output from force sensors is an entirely different animal than integrating capacitive sensing or traditional buttons, so it’s vital to have the tools in place to make force-sensing solution design and high-quality mass production as straightforward and as reliable as current technologies are. This article looks at some of these emerging use cases, and explain the characteristics that force sensors must have if they’re to deliver the desired performance, particularly in mid-range and high-end applications.

Oscilloscope manufacturers are looking to supply more intelligent probes as engineers seek greater measurement accuracy

Connecting a probe to a device under test can prove to be a time consuming activity, especially in the case of the increasingly complex devices that are now entering the market. While the ideal probe should offer ease of connection, convenience, absolute signal fidelity, zero signal source loading and complete noise immunity, there is currently no ideal probe size or configuration.

Subaru Saves 2,000 Man Hours with PXI-Based Hybrid Vehicle Testing

PXI has long been established as the de facto standard for building automated test systems, but its uses stretch beyond solely manufacturing or production test. With the PXI platform’s capability for running real-time operating systems or deploying code to FPGAs, it is also well suited to use earlier in the development process, particularly for complex devices like electronic control units (ECUs) and full authority digital electronics control (FADEC) systems.

Six techniques for measuring dielectric properties

If you think about dielectric properties at all, it is probably in the context of school physics experiments on charge storage, or perhaps the way in which the choice of dielectric materials influences the characteristics of a capacitor you’re working with. It turns out, though, that the dielectric properties of materials matter to all sorts of industries for different reasons. Measuring those properties accurately, therefore, is important in many contexts. This article looks at some key techniques for measuring dielectric properties, and some of the application areas for each of them.

How to improve your product design efficiency

In an ideal world, when the hardware and software for a new product are mated and the power applied for the first time, everything works just as specified. But we don’t live in that ideal world; we live in a ‘buggy’ world where not everything goes as planned.

Measuring RF power in the field

The output power of an RF or microwave system is a key determinant of its performance. For this reason, signal power is measured at every stage – from design and prototyping to maintenance in the field.

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.

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.

The sky is not the limit for the world's largest optical telescope

Dubbed “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”, the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), aims to help scientists find extrasolar planets that are orbiting other stars, answer fundamental questions regarding planet formation and better understand the nature and distribution of dark matter and dark energy. The E-ELT project was undertaken by the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

NASA selects NI SC Express for accuracy and flexibility in new data acquisition system

NASA has used NI SC Express and PXI hardware to create an advanced, distributed and flexible data acquisition (DAQ) system to meet the challenge of replacing legacy NEFF equipment in one of its largest human-rated environmental chambers. The data acquisition system is capable of accurately synchronising and measuring more than 500 analogue channels distributed throughout the chamber, without the need for additional external signal conditioning. "For the first time, NASA will no longer need the custom signal conditioning equipment in addition to its measurement hardware. With NI SC Express hardware, NASA can achieve the ±3°F end-to-end accuracy requirements for thermocouples with commercial off-the-shelf technology," said James Dean, Jacobs Technology.

Addressing key challenges in automotive infotainment test with the NI PXI Platform

Automobiles have experienced rapid growth in the amount of in-vehicle electronics in recent years and a key area where these electronics are playing a vital role is in the infotainment system of the vehicle. In fact, the infotainment systems have become somewhat of a hub for a number of functions of the vehicle, and represent where both large amounts of information and driver entertainment are converging. Not only do they continue to blur the line between the driver’s mobile phone and the car for entertainment purposes, but there is also an overlap with important components of advanced driver assistant systems (ADAS).

Tracking WiFi signals to passively see through walls using NI USRP and LabVIEW

With dedication and a creative approach, University College London (UCL) research is helping to address the world's most urgent problems. Whether designing healthier cities or grappling with issues such as global health and climate change, the challenges of daily life inspire UCL students and academics. Based at UCL, our team of electrical engineering researchers is investigating passive radar technologies that can see through walls using WiFi radio waves.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Editor's Choice

Powering the VPX sector

FPGA technology has seen a significant change in the last two decades. From ...

Rebuilding reps' reputation

If you thought distribution was all about keeping stock, you’re wrong, according to ...

Examining exosomes

In 2006, IBM unveiled an initiative which it called 5 in 5. This saw the company ...