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.

FireFly’s revolutionary smart harvesting machines

Hand-stacked turf harvesting is still widely used in the industry. Farm equipment companies have tried to build machines to automate turf slab cutting and stacking over the years to improve productivity, but the machines’ traditional approach makes them either perform inconsistently or increase productivity only slightly more than the hand-stacking process. They incorporate common mobile equipment such as electrically operated valves that control fluid power to hydraulic cylinders and motors for motion control. Though reliable for simpler systems, these components have been less effective for performing many parallel operations in tight synchronisation with other processes as well as implementing the complex math needed for advanced signal processing and high-speed motion control trajectory generation. In addition, limited data processing power and closed system architectures limit advanced functionality and remote monitoring and diagnostics.

It’s Time to Overdesign for Flexibility - Don’t Let the IIoT Catch You With Your Head in the Sand

Tired of the countless articles talking about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)? Surely all of the pundits, industry-leading companies, and technology providers excited to share their perspective on the growing impact of the IIoT have exhausted the topic. Instead of focusing on what the IIoT is, this article takes the opposite approach and talks about what the IIoT isn’t. Let’s be honest, the IIoT isn’t defined. It isn’t a known target with a clear set of parameters and rules. But there’s one thing we do know—as we build and define the IIoT, it’s critical that providers overdesign their technology offerings for flexibility.

Keeping pace with increasingly intelligent machines

Embedded systems are providing new levels of efficiency, performance, and safety to off-highway vehicles. Advances in fuel-efficiency through improved combustion techniques and hybrid powertrains are impacting the cost to operate while automatic GPS navigation and software-enabled implements are allowing equipment to accomplish more during operation.

Solutions at hand to test 3D-stacked IC technology

Research on 3D stacked IC (3D-SIC) technology has advanced to the point where most semiconductor companies have released or announced 3D-SIC products. These packages require multiple chip dies to be stacked vertically, which results in dense integration in an ultra-small footprint, but with benefits in terms of performance, power and cost.

New and old tech required to develop space apps

Generally large and imposing, it can safely be assumed that satellites – such as Gaia, the Rosetta probe and the Hubble Telescope – required many thousands of hours of designing and testing; not least because of the harsh radiation and thermal conditions in space.

Protect your instrumentation investment with software

For more than 50 years, test engineers have been taking a PC-based approach to automating stand-alone instrumentation. With so much investment tied up in capital assets for test equipment, engineers are looking for reassurance that they can satisfy current and future testing needs. While capital expenditure on hardware is often the easiest cost to associate with test, the importance of a good software investment is commonly overlooked. Instrumentation will continue to evolve, but one thing remains consistent over time – software. Software is at the heart of every instrument control system, and it can help you future proof your application.

Changes in the test and measurement market

With enormous change in the types of product coming to market and the way in which they are being designed, it is obvious that those companies that deliver test and measurement equipment are also having to adapt.

mmWave sensors up their game

A revolution is unfolding amongst manufacturing companies, with an increasing number investing in smart factory technology – intelligent machines, devices and measurement and testing equipment – to monitor every critical parameter of the manufacturing process.

Innovation and integration in the oscilloscope world

It’s probably fair to say that an electronic engineer’s ‘go to’ instrument is an oscilloscope. Recognising that, test and measurement product developers have regularly updated their portfolios; not only adding more features, but also providing devices which meet a much broader range of user needs.

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.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Editor's Choice

A single source of truth

Version control – increasingly a de facto part of the embedded software development ...

Apps processor attractions

When Freescale introduced the i.MX processor line in 2001, it’s probably fair to say ...

Power in their hands

The pressure on those developing new battery chemistries is increasing as consumers ...