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Astronaut pee could help get us to Mars

April 21, 2014 8:16 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Urine, made up of more than 95% water, is one of the cleanest fluids in the human body. And on a protracted space mission lasting more than a year (one-way) — to Mars, for example — that fact becomes critically important....

Always connected: How the Internet of Things utilizes digital ICs

April 18, 2014 12:14 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

A tremendous convergence of technology is taking place at homes across the globe. The number of wireless sensing Internet of Things (IoT) devices is expected to reach 5 billion by 2019, according to ON World. For one, the Internet has moved beyond letting consumers access oceans of information from their living room....

This is what shooting a drone with a machine gun looks like

April 18, 2014 9:59 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

On today’s edition of destroying things with machine guns, we find ourselves in Arizona during the semi-annual Big Sandy Shoot, which is the largest machine-gun shoot in the US. We also find ourselves learning a valuable lesson: It’s really hard to shoot down drones....

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Excellence in electronics

April 18, 2014 8:32 am | by David Mantey, Editor-in-Chief | Articles | Comments

Last year, ECN opened up nominations for the 2014 ECN Impact Awards in an effort to recognize the top products and services spanning the design engineering landscape. At first, I was skeptical of this new endeavor coming out of a recent economic slump that seemed to halt....

5 engineers with fatally terrible inventions

April 16, 2014 2:19 pm | by Aubrey Schaefer, Engineer Jobs | Blogs | Comments

If I stopped to count how many engineers have positively affected my life, I would have no time for anything else. Instead, let’s look at those other engineers – the ones with fatally terrible inventions.The staggering talent of thousands of engineers bears fruit with every processor cycle of the slick little laptop I’m typing this on....

Solar-powered plane can "fly forever"

April 16, 2014 8:25 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Aviation pioneers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg — who previously had circumnavigated the globe in a balloon — plan to make history again with the Solar Impulse 2, which will undertake the first solar-powered flight around the world....

The GM ignition switch recall: Too little too late?

April 15, 2014 1:18 pm | by Karl Stephan, Consulting Engineer, Texas State University, San Marcos | Blogs | Comments

How much stuff do you carry on your keyring? Besides keys, I mean. Some minimalists like my wife carry car keys separately from other keys, with nothing attached except maybe a small plastic tag to make it easier to find in her purse....

Photos of the Day: The amazing, foldable V-22 Osprey

April 15, 2014 8:18 am | by ECN Staff | News | Comments

Consider this an “oldie but goodie.” The V-22 Osprey is the world’s first production tiltrotor aircraft. It’s also capable of both vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and short takeoff and landing (STOL). But one of the Osprey’s coolest features is its ability to fold its rotors back for compact storage capabilities....

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Watch a V-22 Osprey fold itself for storage

April 14, 2014 3:07 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

 It’s pretty crazy to think that a huge aircraft with an 85’ foot wingspan is possible of folding itself up to reduce the amount of space it occupies on a massive ship. Yet, the V-22 Osprey does just that. This video is a little dated—it was taken in 2010 at Nellis Airforce Base in Las Vegas....

Mini-DIN connector meets the requirements of UL 910 for plenum applications

April 11, 2014 2:14 pm | Product Releases | Comments

The new 4.1/9.5 mini-DIN straight male connector TC-SPP250-4195M-LP from Times Microwave Systems (Wallingford, CT) is now available for the company's SPP-250-LLPL (SuperFlexible Plenum Pim) 50 Ohm low loss plenum rated coaxial cable assemblies for use in distributed antenna system (DAS) applications....

Military plans to use drones as flying Wi-Fi hotspots

April 11, 2014 10:38 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

For civilians, a dearth of Wi-Fi is a minor inconvenience. First-world problems. But for our troops in the field, a lack of connectivity can kill you. No connection means no close-air support and no reinforcements. Hence the military’s push to turn drones into mobile Wi-Fi hotspots....

Engineers can prevent the intellectual downfall of the nation

April 11, 2014 8:47 am | by David Mantey, Editor-in-Chief | Blogs | Comments

According to several outlets, a dearth of science and engineering students, coupled with the underqualified workforce unable to fill current need, is leading to the intellectual downfall of the nation.If you strike up a conversation with “that guy” in the office, he may even tell you a yarn about the once great superpower falling....

Five from EELive, part two

April 10, 2014 3:59 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Winsystems, Versalogic Corp., Rigol Usa, Texas Instruments, Cymbet Corporation | Blogs | Comments

Here are five more notable products, plus one soon to be released product, from EELive 2014. Be sure to check out Part 1 of this series for more. Embedded computers were well represented, with announcements by WinSystems and VersaLogic. For rugged applications, WinSystems’ The SBC35-CC405 Series multi-core Intel Atom E3800 embedded computers feature onboard USB, Gigabit Ethernet, serial ports, and

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Engineering Update #53 bloopers

April 10, 2014 12:51 pm | by Jon Dipierro, Multimedia Production Specialist | Videos | Comments

Who says ECN's editors can't have a bit of fun? Enjoy these bumbles, stumbles, and hilarious outtakes from the latest edition of ECN's premier video series, Engineering Update. Thanks to David Mantey, Jason Lomberg, and Kasey Panetta for being such great sports....

Engineering Update #53: A guide to charging your phone in 30 seconds

April 10, 2014 10:38 am | by Jon Dipierro, Multimedia Production Specialist | Videos | Comments

Israeli startup StoreDot is taking the lead on shortening the amount of time it takes to charge your phone from a few hours to about 30 seconds by creating chemically synthesized bioorganic peptide molecules—called nano dots—that—as the name suggests—are really tiny....

This technology could save your car from disaster

April 10, 2014 8:11 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

The automotive industry is making some pretty large improvements in terms of technology. In the past few years, there have been improvements in vehicle communications—including V2V and V2X systems—as well as in areas like vehicle safety and infotainment systems....

Crowdfunding is killing the hardware revolution

April 9, 2014 11:48 am | by Melissa Fassbender, Associate Editor, @melfass | Blogs | Comments

Positioning itself to save the “hardware revolution” from “prototype purgatory,” Dragon Innovation is a crowdfunding site for hardware — and only hardware. But with so much more. “The hardware revolution has gotten a running start as new technologies like 3D printing have sped up the process of designing a prototype....

How trends in electronics are affecting connectors

April 9, 2014 8:14 am | by Bob Stanton, Director of Technology, Omnetics | Blogs | Comments

Rapidly changing demands and designs in product performance and electrical integrity are having a huge effect on electronic connector systems. New smaller and more portable electronics in aerospace, defense, and other stressful environments, like those encountered in robotics....

This program can make your phone more secure than ever

April 9, 2014 8:04 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

With the advent of smartphones came a great debate about the security of technology. With all of the sensitive information stored in the phones—bank account numbers, emails, credit card information—keeping the security tight is of the utmost importance....

Wire-to-board, crimp-style connectors designed for LED light applications

April 8, 2014 4:11 pm | Jst Corporation | Product Releases | Comments

The new LEX Series wire-to-board, crimp style, disconnectable connectors recently introduced by JST Corporation (Waukegan, IL) offer subminiature size and reliable contact construction for high-density applications. These 2.5 mm (.098”) pitch, bottom entry, SMT connectors are polarized....

Watch an engineer deal with moronic requests from marketing

April 8, 2014 10:34 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

This sketch provides a decent approximation of what meetings feel like for engineers — or anyone with a technical job, really — as they try to interpret the vague, confusing, and otherwise bizarre requests from non-technical people. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this on occasion....

This ‘electronic skin’ will revolutionize medicine

April 8, 2014 8:56 am | by Allegra Sparta, Contributor | Blogs | Comments

It’s as thin as a temporary tattoo, but you definitely won’t get one in a cereal box. The creators of this “electronic skin” say that the technology could “one day aid patients with movement disorders or epilepsy.” It’s the first of its kind that can store information and deliver medicine through the skin....

Five from EELive, part one

April 8, 2014 8:27 am | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | eConais, Inc., Microchip Technology Inc., Icon Labs | Blogs | Comments

The 2014 edition of EELive is in the rear-view mirror. Along with the damp weather, spirits were dampened, too. Perhaps the show is going through an identity crisis given the recent name changes or the success of Embedded World. In fact, when I spoke to exhibitors about their new product offerings that coincide with the show, some responses began with

Swivel lid socket operates at bandwidths up to 40 GHz

April 7, 2014 12:21 pm | Ironwood Electronics, Inc. | Product Releases | Comments

Ironwood Electronics (Eagan, MN) has recently introduced a new QFN socket design using high-performance elastomer capable of 40 GHz, very low inductance, high endurance, and wide temperature applications. The SM-QFN-9019 socket is designed for 13x19 mm package size....

Keep politics off of the space station

April 7, 2014 8:37 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

When the Ukraine v. Russia (winner gets Crimea) battle began, one of the first things I said was, “Man, I bet it’s super awkward in space right now.” While Russian and U.S. relations have never been great, there hasn’t been an international issue to this degree between the two countries in quite some time.

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