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Celebrating the year’s best products

December 5, 2008 8:32 am | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Comments

All around, 2008 has been a very trying year. Each day seemed to bring a new round of bad news, whether it was the real estate bubble bursting, stock markets plummeting, or the “big three” automakers petitioning congress for a bailout similar to the one given to some of the nation’s largest banks. In the electronics industry, lackluster consumer confidence, fueled by the global economic crisis...


Industry Focus: When Electronics Go Green, Everybody Wins

December 4, 2008 11:45 am | by Jeff Ittel, senior vice president of semiconductors, Avnet Electronics Marketing | Comments

For members of the electronics supply chain, going “green” is not just a short-term marketing scheme rife with buzzwords but short on substance. Granted, the tech sector has jumped on its share of bandwagons, but this movement is different. It’s not just about pioneering technologies, building a positive public image, padding the bottom line or even “doing the right thing.” It’s all of the above. When state-of-the-art electronic products are energy efficient, environmentally sustainable, and cost effective, everyone wins.


Brainstorm: New Year Tech

November 24, 2008 9:34 am | by Edited by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Comments

What technology will have the biggest impact in 2009?


Industry Focus: Eliminating Medical Device RF Interference

November 19, 2008 9:44 am | by Christopher Keuling, Associate Editor | Comments

Wireless RF interference found in medical devices causes tainted results and misdiagnoses. Medical professionals and patients rely on these results to pursue the correct course of action for a given illness. There are several companies and collaborations looking into solutions of how to reduce and/or remove interference in the medical field. This month, we take a look at some of the causes of wireless interference and answers that are being worked on now in today’s medical devices, as well as future devices.


Cover Story: PCB Routers Cut Time and Copper

November 19, 2008 9:12 am | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Comments

At 3:00 PM on a Friday afternoon you devise a new design for a low-noise amplifier you've worked on for months. You want to try the circuit right away, but a quick-turn printed-circuit board (PCB) house cannot deliver boards until next week. You know another engineering group uses a PCB router to produce prototype boards in about an hour, so you decide to try it.

Embedded Systems: C and C++ Tools Reduce Code Errors

November 19, 2008 8:44 am | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Comments

Programmers now have many tools that help reduce or eliminate problems. Unfortunately, they might not know these tools exist. "In 1998, the UK's Motor Industry Software Reliability Association (MISRA) published their standard for the C language to promote 'safe C' in the UK automotive industry," explained Chris Tapp, a field-applications engineer at LDRA. "The software industry has seen MISRA-C as a way to encourage good programming practice, focus on coding rules, and ensure well designed and tested safe code."


Semiconductor Highlight: Leadless Packages Empower Your Design

November 19, 2008 6:15 am | by Ian Moulding, Business Manager, Diodes Incorporated | Comments

Semiconductor packaging has evolved from the through-hole packages of the 1970’s, through  surface mount leaded packaging in the 1990’s to leadless package technologies of today such as quad/dual flat no leads (QFN/DFN), ball grid arrays (BGA) and chip scale packaging (CSP). It can be argued that it is semiconductor package innovations such as these that have allowed the industry to exploit the successive IC process shrinks and achieve product performances that were previously unobtainable.


Holiday wishes

November 18, 2008 8:46 am | by Alix Paultre, Editor-in-Chief | Comments

As Halloween blurs into the great amorphous mass that is the combined orgy of Thanksgiving eating and Christmas Holiday shopping, we take the time to look at some of the things we’d like to see in our holiday gift baskets. Beyond the obligatory wishes for world peace and international understanding, there are some nice toys out there, too.


On the Light Side: Optical Sensors Aid Oil Drilling

November 17, 2008 10:00 am | by Alfred Poor, Contributing Editor | Comments

If you’re not familiar with the modern oil industry, you might think that drilling for oil still resembles the scene in the movie “Giant”, where James Dean’s character hits a classic Texas gusher. The truth is that it’s much harder than that to get oil out of the ground these days. Most of the oil exists in a solid form, trapped in rock crevices or layers of sand. And oil drilling companies are using light to help get it out.

Semiconductor Highlight: Solutions for Complex DC/DC Power Conversion Needs

November 17, 2008 6:03 am | by Ingrid Kugler & Alfred Hesener, Fairchild Semiconductor | Comments

In embedded DC-DC converters in industrial applications like test and measurement equipment or embedded computing, the system architecture can be quite complex, with many different output voltage and current, ripple, EMI and power sequencing requirements. This article will explore the impact of the choice of the converter power stages in DC-DC applications.


Brainstorm: Holiday Wish List

November 13, 2008 6:15 am | by Edited by Jason Lomberg | Comments

As the holidays approach, what product or technology is on your wish list?


Issues and Answers

November 11, 2008 11:37 am | Comments

Compliance and compatibility are critical factors in the design of medical electronics equipment. The following are responses to questions posed by ECN regarding how vendors address certification issues and what types of testing are required.


Low-Power is Life Saver for Medical Electronics Devices

November 11, 2008 11:24 am | by Steve Kennelly, Microchip Technology Inc. | Comments

Designers of portable medical devices face unique challenges. Their chosen field is known for regulatory scrutiny, protracted design and life cycles, and a need for unparalleled robustness in the finished product. In addition, design objectives that are common to all electronics can have special significance when it comes to medical devices. For example, low power consumption is always an objective for designers of portable electronics. Less power means a smaller and lighter battery, which enhances portability.


Design Talk: The New Face of Test Part 2

November 3, 2008 10:42 am | Comments

Software-defined instrumentation is the new face of automated test. Scientists and engineers performing leading-edge research and designing custom measurement and control systems have used software-defined instruments, also known as virtual instruments, for more than 20 years. Software-defined instruments were critical for these often one-of-a-kind applications due to their unique system requirements.


On The Light Side: The CellScope(2)

November 3, 2008 5:50 am | by Alfred Poor, Contributing Editor | Comments

Somewhere in Africa, a traveling health worker arrives at a remote village and finds a patient who may have malaria. The nearest health clinic is hundreds of miles away, and it will take days to get there. Diagnosis requires a trained clinician to examine a blood sample under a microscope, but how can you make that happen? Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to create a digital microscope that will capture high magnification images, record additional medical information, and transmit the entire package of data wirelessly to the distant clinic.



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