Sensing physical phenomena and preserving the fidelity of the resulting, often-tiny, sensor signals is a craft of its own within the broader discipline of analog circuit design. One of the most common and, counter intuitively perhaps, more challenging sensing tasks is that of measuring electric current.
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will be part of a national effort, announced today by...
Pretty much everyone in our industry is familiar with the long evolution of microcontrollers. So...
When the vision of a smart grid first appeared over a decade ago, it was revolutionary and broadly recognized as being so. Yet even an informal assessment of the facility and technology development necessary to realize that vision made it clear that smart grids would require a lengthy evolution.
When it comes to circuit protection, the first line of resistance is resistance. Resistance limits current flow and resistance, in conjunction with capacitance, slows the rate of increase of voltage, giving other protection measures in the circuit time to act. But, resistance has its drawbacks. If the current through the resistance is significant, it wastes power....
Should you use primary batteries or energy harvesting for your low power isolated from the grid application? Are primary batteries better or worse than energy harvesting? Can you use one or the other or do you need both? Neither? It is an interesting question depending on the application, the power required, and the costs involved.
Test and measurement starts with standards. You have to have standards for mass, distance, charge, and time (plus a few others) so all standards refer back to those fundamental unit standards. But you don't measure volts in units of amps, kilograms, meters, and seconds, that requires something more convenient (i.e. measuring volts in volts).
The Smart Grid is coming. It is needed in order to raise or lower prices for consumers depending on the time of day. It is needed to control consumer loads to better integrate intermittent alternative energy into the grid (industrial loads are already demand controlled by the grid operator depending on the type of service contract they have).
While the cloud promises to reduce enterprise network infrastructure and operating costs, the remote execution of applications makes factors such as latency, performance, and reliability critical considerations in the design and deployment of cloud computing platforms. A key factor determining server performance, cloud or not, is maintaining a bit error rate (BER) on the order of 1.E-12 for the overall system.
Engineers at Agilent Technologies found a need for a digital multimeter (DMM) technicians and electricians could use in cold environments. "I went to college in Canada where temperatures often got down to below -20°C," said Boon Juan Tan, R&D manager in Agilent's Basic Instruments Division.
Josh Norem, an application engineer at Silicon Laboratories, gave me a demonstration of the company's Power Estimator tool available within the larger, free AppBuilder software. The Power Estimator tool now covers the SIM3L1XX Device, although Silicon Labs plans to add sleep-mode power conditions and other MCUs soon.
Electronics, computer, and science kits can help kindle technical interests in kids of all ages. Each year the holidays seem to arrive sooner than expected and parents of young people interested in science and technology search for gift ideas. This column provides some suggestions. Some projects require adult help or supervision.
Graphical approaches to processing audio information lets designers concentrate on how their products sound rather than on DSP and programming chores. It seems few people lack an audio device, which can include an MP3 player and small sound bar up to a custom HiFi sound system in a home theatre.
A brushed-DC motor comprises external permanent magnets and electromagnets wound on a rotating core. Brushes manufactured from graphite and other materials switch, or commutate, electricity to the coils as they rotate to sustain motion. A brushless-DC (BLDC) motor turns this construction inside out and places
Near-field communications, which arose from earlier RFID applications, have gained in popularity as manufacturers added NFC capabilities to smart-phone and tablet-computer and as merchants have installed NFC payment devices. So instead of carrying a wallet full of credit and debit cards, consumers can use their smart phones as a mobile-payment "account"...
Design West remained true to its embedded-systems roots and companies offered a cornucopia of new products for engineers. This year, the Embedded Systems Conference occurred as part of the larger Design West conference and exhibition, but clearly the emphasis remained on embedded systems...
A conclusion at the start of a report and the active voice improve engineers' written communications.
Many engineers see engineering and writing as mutually exclusive skills. They think people can do one or the other, but not both. Engineers can write well, although it takes some practice.
Analog guru Jim Williams died in mid 2011, but his work lives on in circuits, magazine articles, books and photographs. Part of his lab lives on, too, in the exhibit, "An Analog Life: Remembering Jim Williams," at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.
In late 2011 I wrote about the GA144 "multi-computer" integrated circuit from GreenArrays that provides 144 cores on one chip. Engineers and programmers use the company's arrayForth tools to create
Lead-free solder has yet to yield documented benefits.
When you evaluate alternate-energy sources look at your entire system to find ways to reduce power use.
You need not roll your own wireless security protocols. Many standards already include them.
Arduino MCU electronic kits and projects make good gifts during the holidays.
You might wonder whether engineers who design embedded systems can benefit from using simulation software. "If you plan to control something like a nuclear reactor or a large piece of machinery, where you'd pay a high price for creating a bad controller...
About two years ago, the Radio Frequency for Consumer Electronics (RF4CE) Consortium joined with the ZigBee Alliance to create a wireless protocol specifically for consumer-electronic products. Manufacturers and consumers have tired of handheld infrared (IR) controls...
You might think of Android only as an operating system (OS) for high-end mobile phones, but it extends beyond that type of device.
Whether you use a handful or thousands of sensors in a wireless network, communications can occur in many ways. But each approach requires a thoughtful analysis of distances between sensor nodes, node-power requirements, protocols, and network layouts, among other characteristics.
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