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Energy Harvesting in the Military

November 16, 2007 9:18 am | Blogs | Comments

Productive Product: I wrote about energy harvesting a few times before, and now there's a practical application: power for field soldiers. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on M2E Power, a Boise, Idaho start-up that says it has a (no pun intended) more efficient way to perform energy harvesting -- the general idea of energy harvesting from mechanical movements traditionally does work but hasn't been worth the trouble.

Transmission Line Pulse (TLP) is an Effective Analysis Tool for ESD

November 15, 2007 7:26 am | by Robert Ashton, Ph.D., ON Semiconductor | Articles | Comments

Electrostatic discharge (ESD) occurs when objects -- including people, furniture, machines, integrated circuits or electrical cables -- become charged and discharged. Electrostatic charging brings objects to surprisingly high potentials of many thousands of volts in ordinary home or office environments. ESD produces currents which can have rise times less than a nanosecond, peak currents of dozens of Amps and durations that can last from tens to hundreds of nanoseconds. Unless ESD robustness is included during design, these current levels can damage electrical components and upset or damage electrical systems from cell phones to computers.

ATCA: It's More Than a Bus

November 15, 2007 6:45 am | by John Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

Competitive telecom businesses have realized they can no longer design proprietary hardware. In response to this changed business climate, members of the PICMG, a consortium of industrial-computer vendors, developed PICMG 3.0, or the Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (ATCA). Marc LeClaire, a product manager in the Advanced Blades and Servers Division at Kontron, stressed that the ATCA standard covers boards, enclosures, interconnections, communications, and other architectural components. "Designers must think of the ATCA as a complete architecture, not simply as a bus."

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But What About the Sunburn on My Ear?

November 13, 2007 8:50 am | Blogs | Comments

Productive Product: Not everyone can live in a solar-powered European city or build a solar-powered cubist house, but Iqua Ltd.'s solar Bluetooth headset will soon be available to all, the Register reports. Will it work when the skies are cloudy or dark? Will it have comparable sound quality and between-charges life to standard headsets? Will it cause any sunburn on your ear?

PV Start-up Shines in NREL's Eyes

November 12, 2007 7:14 am | Blogs | Comments

Energy News: More from the NREL: they announced that a photovoltaics start-up, Wakonda Technologies, is the winner of the Clean Energy Entrepreneur of the Year award. Wakona's name derives from a native American word regarding spirit and nature; they're working on thin films of gallium arsenide for solar cell substrates. Typically thin-film

An Efficient Hodgepodge of News

November 7, 2007 9:06 am | Blogs | Comments

Op-Ed: Plenty of energy-efficiency news piled up while I was on vacation last week. Much of the time I was at the Mountain View, Calif. Computer History Museum, where they happen to be hosting a few Smart cars. That made me wonder what I was missing back home, so here are

What Is the Best Measure of Software Development Productivity?

November 6, 2007 11:34 am | by Dr. Adam Kolawa, CEO, Parasoft | Articles | Comments

I think the simplist productivity metric which should be used across the industry is the total number lines of code in the organization divided by the number of people who are working on that code (including QA as well as development).

Brainstorm - Medical Electronics

October 29, 2007 12:45 pm | Articles | Comments

The trend toward miniaturizing medical electronics devices also brings with it a number of challenges. In this month's edition of Brainstorm, we ask industry experts in the medical electronics market what they believe to be the most critical of these challenges and what current and developing technology is available to help the designer meet those challenges.

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ECN Brainstorm: Portable Power

October 29, 2007 12:14 pm | Articles | Comments

What do you consider to be the most important factors that will further the development of power management in portable systems? What do you think are some of the customer misconceptions about power management that must overcome to move the industry forward?

US Energy Lab Gets High-Tech Home

October 29, 2007 11:32 am | Blogs | Comments

Energy News: Colorado didn't get a World Series victory, but here's something they can be charged up about: tomorrow the National Renewable Energy Lab will break ground on its new home there. From the press release, Secretary [Samuel] Bodman also is expected to announce two renewable power projects at NREL and

Digital Signal Controllers Enhance Motor Control

October 25, 2007 11:29 am | by Jorge Zambada, Microchip Technology Inc. | Articles | Comments

Designers are always on the lookout for semiconductors and algorithms that help to boost the efficiency of appliances with a minimum addition to the overall system cost. Motor-control systems need to compensate for system input changes and can use control algorithms to ensure the efficient operation of the motor. Using advanced algorithms, such as a field oriented control (FOC), motor torque can be controlled dynamically, keeping it constant within the rated speed range (see Figure 1). Toward this, the most commonly used motor-control loop is the Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) controller, which comprises error calculation (reference minus measured variable), compensator (controller), and output generation to the system.

The end of region-specific TV designs?

October 25, 2007 11:12 am | by Brian D. Mathews, Marketing Director, TV Segment, Xceive Corporation | Articles | Comments

Consumer electronics manufacturers must develop completely different television receiver product designs for different countries or regions. The standards and technologies for television reception vary considerably so it has been impractical to consider a single flexible design covering multiple standards or regions. However, new technologies are emerging which will make it possible to have a single product design address multiple countries or regions.

Dial-Up Modems Still Ring a Bell

October 25, 2007 10:41 am | by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

Years ago I ditched my 9600 bps modem, but I still rely on dial-up modems. Those modems exist in automated teller machines, gasoline pumps, traffic controllers, medical instruments, security systems, point-of-sale (POS) equipment, and other devices. According to several sources, dial-up modems still provide the largest number of access points to the Internet. Fortunately, several OEM vendors supply dial-up modem modules that offer drop-in communications in small packages.

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Germans Win Solar Decathlon

October 24, 2007 6:55 am | Blogs | Comments

Energy News: Congratulations to the students of Technishe Universität Darmstadt for winning the 2007 Solar Decathlon's top prize of US $100,000. The event involved students from 20 schools who all brought solar-powered homes to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. There are beautiful pictures and videos but here are some of mine from

Compiler Cuts Code in Half

October 23, 2007 11:01 am | Atmel Corporation | Product Releases | Comments

Hi-Tech Software has announced a new compilation technology that generates object code based on call- and pointer-reference graphs derived from all the modules in an embedded program. The new technology, called Omniscient Code Generation (OCG), overcomes problems in conventional compilers that can miss inconsistent calling conventions, variable declarations and redundant code because they compile each module independently and separately. OCG results in more easily ported code that is nearly 50 percent more dense than code from competing compilers.

Ann Arbor Trades Maize and Blue for Green

October 17, 2007 12:44 pm | Blogs | Comments

Energy News: City officials in Ann Arbor, Michigan announced a two year plan to convert all 1,046 of its 120W incandescent downtown streetlights to efficient 56W LEDs. They say the $630,000 installation project will save the city $100,000 per year and will reduce

More than Skin Deep

October 16, 2007 7:58 am | by Dan Dodge, CEO, QNX Software | Articles | Comments

Put simply, to create a succesful interface for any complex product, you have to go beyond skin deep. You must be concerned not only with the layer that the user sees, hears, or touches, but also with the underlying software that ensures the interface is constantly available and quick to respond. Because, after all, nobody likes wimpy response times.

Energi To Go or Not To Go?

October 15, 2007 12:08 pm | Blogs | Comments

Productive Product: No, that's not a misspelling: Energizer markets its lithium (not li-ion) backup system for portable gadgets with the "Energi To Go" moniker.  Basically this is a battery holder fitting one or two AA cells, a power charging and management chip from Techtium, and your connector

That's Teleconferencing: Chuck Peddle Video

October 10, 2007 6:14 am | Blogs | Comments

VIDEO | Op-Ed: Here's an example of energy savings at a technology conference. MOS 6502 and Commodore legend Chuck Peddle planned to fly to New Jersey to give a 90-minute computer history lecture. But he was stuck in Sri Lanka for his job, so he videoconferenced instead. The twist: instead of using an expensive, professional videoconferencing "solution", Chuck used ordinary Skype

More new links in our library

October 8, 2007 11:39 am | Blogs | Comments

Op-Ed: Recently we added some new sites to our link library. The total is up to 49 but the three newest are off the beaten path: the Athena Institute, GreenDrinks, and WattWatt. (We truly hope to refer you to sites that are useful, not just a million and one blogs and such.

Clean Demand v. Clean Supply

October 4, 2007 7:35 am | Blogs | Comments

Energy News: America's demand for clean energy will beat supply by 37 percent in 2010, the National Renewable Energy Lab will report next week -- that's according to USA Today. They also explain how half of the states require certain percentages of their providers' power to come from clean energy

The Controversial Viability of Solar

October 1, 2007 12:21 pm | Blogs | Comments

Energy News: CNN posted a very solid overview story about the state of solar power. The technology, if we lived in a proverbial vacuum, can already provide all the world's energy needs by installing panels in a small corner of the Sahara. But in the real world, cost and security are

Big Blue: CIOs Lousy at Energy Monitoring

September 28, 2007 12:52 pm | Blogs | Comments

Energy News: More than a third of enterprise CIOs don't monitor their corporate energy use, according to an Economist Intelligence Unit report, commissioned by IBM. "Although concerns about energy efficiency and global warming are now high on the political agenda, the spotlight

Inertial Sensors Enable Automotive Safety

September 26, 2007 9:24 am | by Mike Layton, Customer Adaptation Center Manager, Systron Donner Automotive | Articles | Comments

Miniature solid-state inertial sensors are now in widespread use in passenger cars and SUVs with electronic stability control (ESC) being one of the primary high-volume applications. Tens of millions of gyros and accelerometers have been installed in vehicles since ESC first appeared in 1995. The primary ESC inertial sensors are a yaw sensor that measures vehicle turn rate and an accelerometer that measures side-to-side acceleration. The success of these sensors can beattributed to the use of extremely stable micromachined structures made from crystalline quartz and silicon with no moving parts and corresponding fatigue failure.

Benefits of Flash EEPROM: Re-programming the End Application Becomes Easy

September 25, 2007 12:42 pm | by Roger Fan, Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. | Articles | Comments

When compared to one time programmable (OTP) or read only memory (ROM) microcontrollers (MCUs), a flash memory-based MCU is distinguished by its ability to be reprogrammed. Many applications today need memory not only for storing the application program but also for storing data, which may need to be updated from time to time and must be retained in the application system, even after power off. For example, with a remote control, the user does not want to lose the preferred settings every time the battery is changed. External serial EEPROM can serve this purpose well, but adding another component to the system means higher system cost, a larger board footprint and degraded system reliability. An MCU with reprogrammable flash memory is a good choice for such an application, particularly if the application program needs a periodic upgrade to a newer version with enhanced features.

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