Saturday, October 2, 2010

IS for SOS

Excellent Performance in Hazardous zones

ESI Technology has now integrated its proven Silicon-on-Sapphire pressure sensing technology into a range of intrinsically safe transmitters.

Hazardous Zones
Explosive atmospheres can be caused by flammable gases, mists, vapours or combustible dusts. If there is enough of the substance mixed with the air, one source of ignition can cause an explosion, leading to major damage, serious injury and even loss of life. Using the correct intrinsically safe equipment is a significant factor in the prevention of such explosions.

ATEX is the name commonly given to the framework for controlling explosive atmospheres. The regulations apply to all equipment intended for use in hazardous zones whether mechanical or electrical, and all protective systems. Intrinsic safety equipment must be tested and approved by an independent body to assure its safety. It involves a detailed process of examination, testing and assessment of equipment, with the end result being the issue of an ATEX certificate and report confirming that the product is safe to use within potentially explosive environments.

ESI now has an extensive range of intrinsically safe Silicon-on-Sapphire pressure transmitters, all ATEX approved to EEXIA IIC T4 standards by SIRA- a world leader in the conformity assessments field.

Silicon-on-Sapphire (S.O.S.) technology was initially utilised in the advancement of high temperature integrated circuits for the NASA space programme. ESI has taken this technology and developed a sensor that is capable of accurately measuring vibration, torque, force or pressure in extreme temperatures over long periods of time. The big advantage of an S.O.S. sensor over conventional silicon based sensors is that it is free from residual stresses caused during processing which can lead to reduced performance. The excellent elasticity of the sapphire is a very important factor. The ability to bend the wafer and bring it back down to its original position- known as repeatability- is a highly desirable characteristic for sensors.

Incorporating SOS into applications where ATEX approval is required offers a reliable and durable solution with unbeatable performance and value. The range includes absolute, differential, submersible, high pressure, high accuracy, hygienic and rugged oil & gas transmitters.

Conveyer belt alignment!

Conveyor belt alignment and rip detection switch

4B Braime Elevator Components have launched the new 4B Bulldog belt alignment and rip detection switch. This electro-mechanical system has been designed to detect dangerous misalignment of the conveyor and also detection of belt tear damage.

The switch will detect horizontal misalignment of belts when contact is made with the roller; the roller arm will be forced to pivot by the belt activating a switch at 15º to trigger an alarm, and 30º to trigger a shut down procedure of the conveyor. The sensors are usually installed in pairs on opposite sides of the belt.

A steel flexible wire is set below the running conveyor belt approx 20-30mm attached by a rare earth magnet at each end. If the belt is ripped or damaged the wire is pulled away releasing the magnet connection which in turn will activate a switch.

The Bulldog’s robust design makes it suitable for the use in heavy duty applications such as quarrying and mining. It is easy to install and doesn’t need calibrating. The Bulldog is compatible with 4B’s CBS2 belt alignment monitor and the Watchdog Elite monitoring system. It has been approved for use in hazardous areas according to ATEX.

Environmental specialist appointed

New environmental specialist at Ashtead Technology

Ashtead Technology has appointed a dedicated Sales Manager specifically for customers within the environmental monitoring market.

Jay Neermul, who joined the company two years ago in a regional sales capacity, is now responsible for Ashtead Technology’s comprehensive range of environmental monitoring instrumentation available for hire.

Jay, who had 8 years experience within the Continuous Emissions Monitoring Systems (CEMS) industry prior to joining Ashtead Technology, is now the single point of contact for all new and existing customers within the British environmental sector.

Popular products within Ashtead Technology’s environmental monitoring range of instrumentation this year include the Horiba PG250 Gas Analyser and the advanced MultiRAE PID Gas Monitor from RAE Systems.

Explaining the advantages of his new position, Jay said: “My experience enables me to recommend the best instrument for the job so that our hire customers can get the most accurate, cost-effective data.”

Alan Hasson, General Manager at Ashtead Technology, added: “With an experienced Sales Manager dedicated solely to environmental monitoring, repeat customers know exactly who they are talking to and both new and existing customers will be able to able to benefit from Jay’s considerable experience.”

Vision recovery in sight!

Vision industry shows strong indications of recovery

A number of recent indicators suggest that the vision industry has weathered the worst of the global recession and is poised to emerge with positive signs of growth. Recently published surveys for 2010 from the European Machine Vision Association (EMVA) and the Automated Imaging Association (AIA) in the US predict an 11 per cent increase in turnover and a 2.6-4.6 per cent increase in sales respectively in their particular regions. Similarly, an informal survey of UK Industrial Vision Association (UKIVA) members attending Britain’s Advanced Manufacturing exhibition earlier in 2010 revealed an upturn in enquiry levels and actual business since the beginning of 2010.

One of the reasons for these positive predictions may be the increased role of vision in industrial automation in manufacturing, where the two keys to competitiveness for manufacturing in the western economy in a world where labour costs are lower elsewhere are automation and quality. Vision can help to both reduce costs and ensure quality to a consistent and high standard, thus increasing competitiveness.

Investing in machine vision offers many benefits. Using data from a vision system to feed into a statistical control system can be the ultimate integration of vision into an automated manufacturing process. It can make sure that a factory never produces scrap material since corrections can be made before the product goes out of tolerance. Using vision systems to accurately measure what is delivered to a customer can have a direct effect on the profitability of the company. Using vision to work accurately to the minimum within-tolerance parameter, rather than the middle of a tolerance band, can save a huge amount annually in raw material costs. When vision is used to check that items have been correctly assembled, warranty costs are reduced.

Options for connectors

New options for Harting's har-mik® miniature D connectors

Three new bellows-type surface-mount (SMC) female right-angled connectors have been added to the Harting har-mik® family of miniature D 1.27 mm pitch connectors.

Designed for cable-to-board applications where space saving and high data transfer rates are demanded, the new variants complete the har-mik® bellows SMC portfolio by offering 20, 50 and 68 poles, respectively.

Availability of these new connectors will ease automated assembly, since they can be terminated in the same solder reflow process as all other board-mounted SMC components. The connectors are available in suitable tray or reel packaging, which are fully compatible with the various handling equipments of an automated assembly line.

The bellows mating technology used in these har-mikR connectors makes them an ideal choice for applications requiring repetitive plugging and blind mating.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

T&M acquisition announced

Danaher to acquire Keithley Instruments

Danaher Corporation and Keithley Instruments announced today that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement pursuant to which Danaher will acquire all of the outstanding Common Shares and Class B Common Shares of Keithley at a purchase price of $21.60 per share in cash for an enterprise value of approximately $300 million net of cash to be assumed. The acquisition has been unanimously approved by the Keithley Board of Directors.

Keithley Instruments designs, develops, manufactures, and markets complex electronic instruments and systems geared to the specialised needs of engineers at electronics manufacturers and academic institutions for research, product development, high-performance production testing and process monitoring. The Company currently offers approximately 150 products used to source, measure, connect, control or
communicate direct current (DC), and alternating current (AC) signals. Their product offerings include integrated systems solutions, along with instruments and data acquisition modules that can be used as system components or stand-alone solutions. Upon closing Keithley will be part
of Danaher's Tektronix business.

"We are excited about the opportunity to acquire a premier brand and technology leader in bench solutions," said Jim Lico, Executive Vice President - Danaher. "Along with Fluke and Tektronix, Keithley further solidifies Danaher's leading position in the Test & Measurement industry and presents an attractive value creation opportunity."

"We believe this transaction creates significant value for Keithley's shareholders and I am excited about the opportunity this transaction represents for Keithley's customers and employees," said Joseph P. Keithley, Chairman, President and CEO of Keithley. "Danaher has a great history of nurturing leading brand names within the Test & Measurement industry and we look forward to joining the Danaher team."

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory approvals and adoption of the merger agreement by Keithley's shareholders, and is expected to be completed during the fourth quarter of calendar 2010. A partnership affiliated with Joseph
P. Keithley has agreed to vote a number of Class B Common Shares representing 19.99% of the voting power of the Company in favor of the merger.

Automation scholorships

The International Society of Automation (ISA) is now accepting applications for its 2011 ISA Educational Foundation Scholarships. These scholarships are awarded to students worldwide in two- and four-year colleges and universities, and graduate students, who demonstrate outstanding potential for long-range contribution to the fields of automation, instrumentation, and control. The scholarships support tuition and related expenses and research activities and initiatives. The recipients will be chosen at ISA’s annual Spring Leaders Meeting in 2011 which is scheduled for St Louis (MO US).

Scholarships of $5,000 are provided to the top two undergraduate students, while the amounts of the other scholarships vary. More than $62,000 was awarded to the 2010 recipients.

To be eligible for consideration, applicants must be currently enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate program in an instrumentation, systems, or automation discipline (two-year program or four-year baccalaureate program or its equivalent) at an educational institution in their country of residence. Two-year-program applicants must have completed at least one academic semester or 12 semester hours or the equivalent. Four-year-degree program applicants must be in the sophomore year or higher of their study, or the equivalent, at the time of application. Also, applicants must be full-time students and have an overall grade-point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

Contributions to the ISA Educational Foundation come from the following sources: Norman E. Huston Endowment, the Paros-Digiquartz Fund, the Bob and Mary Ives Endowment, the Wilbanks scholarship, the ISA Chemical and Petroleum Industries Division Endowment, the ISA Food and Pharmaceutical Industries Division Endowment, the ISA Executive Board Scholarship, ISA Life Members Committee Scholarship, ISA Section and District Scholarships, the General Education Fund, and others.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New biobank poster

The benefits of integrating comprehensive solutions for biobanks
Thermo Fisher Scientific is offering a new technical poster demonstrating its comprehensive portfolio of offerings for biobanks and biorepositories. Thermo Fisher Scientific has the world's largest breadth of offerings for biobanks, from biospecimen collection, processing, testing and storage to sample and data management. The new poster, The Cure for Your Biobanking Informatics Challenges, was authored by senior technical managers from Thermo Fisher Scientific and highlights the growing need for modern biobanks to find efficient and cost-effective methods of storing and accessing samples.

The new poster outlines how the company's work with some of the world's most renowned biobanks, including UK Biobank and HUNT Biobank, has enabled it to feature a range of expertise in its biobanking module. It also demonstrates how Thermo Fisher Scientific solutions allow customers to get up-to-speed quickly with the flexibility to meet individual requirements and business needs. The company's end-to-end portfolio for biobanks includes centrifuges,
concentrators, freezers, robotics, 2D barcodes, microplate readers, mass spectrometers and comprehensive services that enable turn-key biobanking solutions.

In addition, the poster highlights the company's innovative services and software for biorepositories, including laboratory information management systems, laboratory equipment and storage and related services. The emergence of biobanking modules that facilitate integration with laboratory information management systems (LIMS) provide biobanks with the tools needed to manage sample login, tracking and shipping as well as securely store critical donor information. Thermo Scientific Nautilus LIMS biospecimen tracking software is specifically designed for data capture, location management, chain-of-custody and handling assurance requirements. Furthermore, this information can be integrated with laboratory instruments, assay/test request, and results capture and reporting.

New trace detection technology attracts huge interest!

New trace detection technology offers improved security

Quantitech has reported enormous levels of interest in a new trace detection technology that was launched at this year's Transport Security Expo at London's Olympia (GB).

The new technology was developed by TeknoScan Systems of Canada and their Vice-President Larry Wardrop was present at the Quantitech booth to explain the many advantages of the new instrument over existing techniques. Commenting on the success of the event, Larry said: "A considerable amount of time and money has gone into the development and assessment of this technology, so we were delighted to receive such an enthusiastic reception at the Expo."

The TeknoScan TSI-3000 is a highly sensitive and selective portable system for detecting banned substances, capable of simultaneously detecting target substances from a library of up to 50 separate compounds, providing complete analysis of a sample in 3 minutes or less. A major feature of the equipment is the virtual elimination of false alarms.

During field trials, TeknoScan demonstrated detection and identification of threat substances from samples as small as 0.1 nanograms in a polluted environment. Therefore, there is an extremely high probability of detection if an individual, object or container has been in contact with a target substance, even if masking agents are present.

Quantitech’s Managing Director Keith Golding said: “There are three important features to this new technology. Firstly, samples are acquired by aspiration and we are able to detect substances both in the volatile state and attached to other tiny particles of dust. Secondly, the number of false alarms is dramatically reduced by concentrating and purifying the sample with a number of sequential techniques, and thirdly, it is a networkable product that can be updated as and when new drugs or explosives become a threat. "A reliable technology for detecting banned substances on passengers and in freight cargo is critically important to every aspect of security, so we are very excited about the prospects for the TeknoScan technology."

Environmental track at #ISAwk

Sessions and Participating Companies of Its Environmental Track at ISA Automation Week 2010

The International Society of Automation (ISA) has announced the offerings of its Environmental Track at ISA Automation Week 2010: Technology and Solutions Event, Tuesday, 4-7 October 2010 in Houston (TX US).

This track offers professionals focused sessions covering emerging industry topics including continuous emissions spills, sampling systems, detectors, and chemical analysis.

Environmental Track sessions offer open forums for professionals to interact with presenters from top industrial companies including Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc.; PAI Partners; SpectraSensors, Inc.; Emerson Process Management; Pepperl+Fuchs; Baytown Engineering Services-ExxonMobil Chemical; and others.

Automation professionals have a variety of environmental sessions from which to choose including:
  • EPA Regulations
  • ISA Analysis Division GTFK Award
  • Process Analyzer Marketplace Update
  • Dinosaur Process Analysis Technologies—Are They for Real?
  • Emission Monitoring Systems to Meet EPA Requirements
  • Online Measurement
  • Benefits Achieved with Process Analyzers
  • Analyzer Shelter Safety Concerns
“ISA Automation Week’s Environmental Track offers conference topics centered on the most critical issues in the industry including safety, energy concerns, and compliance at industrial facilities,” said ISA Automation Week Program Committee Co-chair, Gerald Cockrell of Indiana State University. "These key topics will bring attendees together in Houston to address industry challenges and discuss new opportunities.”

ISA Automation Week is a technical conference that covers two and a half days of sessions, and includes two keynote addresses, networking and social events; and a 10,000-square–foot exhibit area that features more than 100 exhibitors.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

#EMRex Beaten by an avalanche of tweets

Jim Cahill, Emerson's blogger par excelance sets up the EMrex Tweet station in San Antonio
See his Day 1 Recap

We rather foolishly thought that we could reproduce an edited version of each day's twitter messages as a sort of report and flvour of what a virtual attendee might make of the Emerson User Group (#EMRex) meeting now happening in San Antonio (TX US).

Last year it was possible to manage and we talked about it in our report - "#EMRex tweets rule" but this year the sheer quantity of tweets made this next to nigh impossible. There were around 227 tweets on the first day alone and by the time we had ploughed through the first two hours or so we gave it up as a bad job.

We suggest that you put in the #EMRex as a search and you will find the unedited and unexpurgated raw tweets in all their glory.

There are a lot of advances too in this years event with video interviews, podcasts and an almost non-stop flow of pictures and comments. The live broadcasts too are made available virtually instantaneously afterwards too on the Livestream Page.

In any case here is the edited version c/w links from that exhausting yet exhilerating first day.

Gary Mintchell talks with Mike Boudreaux about Safety Lifecycle management, among other topics, at #EMRex,

Book signing by @Mark_Sanborn after his keynote at #EMRex

@EmersonExchange DeltaV roadmap session at #emrex has a great following

Clever marketing. Connected my blackberry to wifi at #EMRex and now my phone says Emerson Smart Wireless (the SSID) at the top.

Everyone is attending their first Product Roadmap session this morning. For me, it's Non-Emerson Systems Migration.

@EmersonExchange Asia team planning for #emrex sessions

Product roadmap sessions today. First up for me: @DeltaV

#EMRex - love is a commitment to treat others with dignity and respect.

RT @garymintchell: Pre-show interview with @RuneReppenhagen about @DeltaV happenings at #emrex

#EMRex - you don't have time for relationships; you make time. Reinvent yourself everyday. a

Something is more powerful than technology, it's ingenuity, & ingenuity is even more powerful when leveraged w/technology. M. Sanborn

#EMRex- competitive advantage: replace money with imagination. Ingenuity is more powerful than technology. about 21 hours ago via mobile web

#EMRex keynote @Mark_Sanborn: Etymology of politics - poly = many and ticks = blood suckers about

Emerson is hosting educational Safety Lifecycle Seminars. Request a seminar in your area

# Joanne Salazar JoanneMSalazar

#EMRex - When you value people, you add value to people.

#EMRex @Mark_Sanborn: USA Today is the adult coloring book for US media.

#EMRex - A story illustrates; statistics validate. You make difference: either positive or negative. You are not neutral.

#EMRex keynote @Mark_Sanborn: Don't treat your customers like they're customers... Treat your customers like they're your friends.

"Fear nothing, but to waste the present moment." - Mark Sanborn #EMRex

A professional is more worried about your problems than you are #emrex keynote

#EMRex Keynote speaker - @Mark_Sanborn describes TED talk by @TEDchris: How YouTube is driving innovation

#emrex crowd accelerated innovation.

#EMRex - keynote speaker: power of collaboration - accelerate innovation with three things crowd light and desire

Keynote speaker is about to start here @EmersonExchange #EmrEx

If you haven't yet seen the #EMRex Youtube channel, check out the growing list of videos

Awesome! RT @MikeBoudreaux: .@JimCahill is setting up the #EMRex Twitter Station in the registration area.

Watch @MikeBoudreaux's interview with Peter Welander about Safety Lifecycle Management at #EMRex.

Steve Sonnenberg honoring John Berra for a "job well done" for his long tenure of leadership at Emerson #EMRex as John retires.

Read The #EMRex Daily - today's top stories are contributed by @ReadoutSignpost @keithlarson and @nancybartels

Solutions Area at #EMRex - bringing it all together. Great idea! about 22 hours ago via Twitter for iPad

Looking forward to visiting the Human Centered Design Usability Experience at the #EMRex Technology Exhibits this week.

#EMRex - HCD delivered: electronic marshaling, device dashboards, subsea maintenance, asset performance management.

Sonnenberg is talking about all the new Emerson Process Management innovations

Excellent recap of all emerson innovations at #emrex by steve sonnenberg

#EMRex - human centered design: reduce complexity, eliminate work, and embed knowledge. Increase organizational efficiency.

#EMRex "collaboration creates purpose" User collaboration with Emerson is delivering results for end users.

#EMRex Steve S - Emerson continues to expand it's global presence. We have opened many new locations throughout the world.

Sonnenberg optimistic about coming year.

Wow! @EmersonExchange attendance is 2200! That's a strong indicator that the economy is turning around. Good news. #EMRex

#EMRex Emerson encourages users to submit enhancement ideas at

#emrex Emerson Exchange is off and running. Have fun!

#emrex online daily

The first Exchange Today #EMRex just hit my mailbox now

#emrex - Just announced: over 2200 registrants so far! about 23 hours ago

Good crowd for opening session at #EmrEx about 23 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone

#emrex The ballroom is filling up. Come join us!

Want to join the #EMRex board planning next years conference? Contact the guys in the red shirts.

#EMRex Flight Delays in Boston, won't make Exchange til later tonight. US Airways Fail

Excited for the start of Emerson Exchange. #Emrex

Welcome to the 2010 #EMRex in San Antonio. This week is packed with short courses, workshops, management sessions, roadmaps and many more

Good morning from San Antonio, Texas #emrex

Greetings to all my friends & followers at #EMRex from the Irish west coast

Registration for #emrex strarted nw. early birds here

Be sure to attend the DeltaV SIS Roadmap in Room 214A at 1PM today.

Prepared and ready to head out for day one of #emrex. Two great podcast interviews yesterday. Who wants to be next? 12:52 PM Sep 27th via Seesmic Web

#EMRex YouTube video channel is live with session previews:

news page of Emerson Exchange 2010 is now live: ..

Morning, Twitterland & esp. all you folks at #EMRex. Up early getting ready for a very Emersonish day. Lots o presentations & news to come.

Don't miss the roadmaps on Monday at #EMRex. Lots of exciting new products have been released and more are coming this next year.

The start of two hectic weeks...

Getting ready for a long but fun week at work covering #EMRex

Tall tales, fun & music with Morley

“Morley Unplugged: An Evening of Music, Fun, and Semi-Tall Tales” at ISA Automation Week 2010

The International Society of Automation (ISA) tells us that Dick Morley, father of the programmable logic controller (PLC), will be the featured speaker at its dinner event, “Morley Unplugged: An Evening of Music, Fun and Semi-Tall Tales.” The event will take place at ISA Automation Week 2010: Technology and Solutions Event, Wednesday, 6 October 2010, from 6:30-9:00 p.m. at the Westin Galleria Hotel in Houston (TX US).

Morley is best known to automation professionals as the inventor of the PLC. Some of his achievements include receiving the Franklin Institute's prestigious Howard N. Potts Award and induction into the Automation Hall of Fame. He is a well-known author, engineer, consultant, and ISA member. He has held positions such as chairman of the Board of the National Center of Manufacturing Sciences, director at large for the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and member of the Manufacturing Advisory Board for Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Morley’s passion for and work in the field of technology have helped to leverage his success and earn him more than 20 US and international patents, including those for the parallel inference machine, the hand-held terminal, the programmable logic controller and magnetic thin film. His contemporaries enjoy his quick wit and legendary story telling, which makes “Morley Unplugged” a fitting event for ISA Automation Week 2010.

“Morley Unplugged” will feature a casual, western theme, offering ISA Automation Week 2010 attendees and exhibitors a Texas-style evening filled with music and entertainment. The event is included with ISA Automation Week 2010 registration.

New OPC server

OPC Server for LonWorks maximizes security and interoperability in building automation.

MatrikonOPC™ has released its newest OPC Server for LonWorks. This OPC Server provides open connectivity for real-time data access between LonWorks—a control networking technology platform—and other control system components such as HMIs, historians and ERP systems.

From a “single seat” workstation, building automation professionals can control and monitor their LonWorks-enabled systems such as lighting control, shading control, HVAC, access and security, and energy management systems. Flexibility and ease of use were key design factors in the development of this OPC Server. As a result, the MatrikonOPC Server for LonWorks also includes an integrated device discovery and exploration tool that enables users to easily view all devices on their LonWorks network.

With its built-in tag-level security, the LonWorks OPC Server helps protect the integrity of building automation systems. Based on each user’s login, this OPC Server selectively grants or denies access to specific tags, providing secure access to building automation data. Granular control over data access helps prevent accidental or intentional unauthorized OPC data access. This role-based security adds another layer to a system’s overall defense-in-depth strategy.

“Secure access to real-time data is critical in building automation systems and data center applications. The MatrikonOPC Server for LonWorks provides maximum security and connectivity to help users run their buildings and data centers more efficiently,” said Seán Leonard, Matrikon’s vice president of OPC products.

Benefits of the MatrikonOPC Server for LonWorks include:
• Auto device discovery (including LonWorks devices and routers)
• Support for Lontalk protocol
• OPC Security: configure users to have read-only tag access

New family of I/O boards

First in new family of I/O boards significantly enhances functional density

GE Intelligent Platforms has announced the first in a new family of VME multifunction I/O boards designed specifically to address the problems caused by the growing constraints on size, weight and power in today’s military platforms. It is also highly appropriate for commercial applications that are similarly challenged. The VME-6500 6U VME Multifunction I/O Board can deliver in a single chassis slot the analog and digital I/O capabilities that could previously have occupied four slots, and can therefore make a significant contribution to substantially enhanced performance and functional density.

With data acquisition becoming an increasingly common requirement in military applications such as radar, image capture and processing and video tracking, the rugged VME-6500 also responds to the requirement to place data acquisition hardware as close as possible to the sensors with its ability to operate over wide temperature ranges and to withstand shock and vibration. Further, the VME-6500 provides a highly cost-effective, off-the-shelf alternative to a custom-built solution.

“Modern military embedded computing platforms are being deployed in an increasingly diverse and challenging range of scenarios – scenarios like unmanned vehicles - that require them to be as compact and light weight as possible,” said Rob McKeel, Vice President, Military & Aerospace Embedded Computing at GE Intelligent Platforms. “Systems designers need to pack the maximum functionality and maximum computing performance into the smallest space possible – and the VME-6500 is designed to enable them to do that. Expect to see further, similar multifunction products from GE in the near future that will continue to offer our customers a sustainable competitive advantage.”

The VME-6500 features eight analog input channels, eight analog output channels, 16 digital input channels and 16 digital output channels. Each analog input channel is equipped with a 16-bit ADC (analog-to-digital converter), and each analog output channel with a 16-bit DAC (digital-to-analog converter). Analog inputs are software-programmable to provide exceptional flexibility in sample rates, gains, filters and current ranges, while analog outputs are similarly flexible with programmable voltage and current rates, together with waveform generation.

Digital input channels are capable of multiple voltages and current ranges, and feature programmable input thresholds and de-bounce times. Digital outputs support high voltage and current drivers, and are protected for short circuit, over current and over temperature conditions.

Semiconductor testing

New levels of usability, convenience, and productivity for semiconductor test applications

Keithley Instruments has announced a new release of its ACS Basic Edition Semiconductor Parametric Test Software for semiconductor test and measurement applications. ACS Basic Edition Version 1.2 adds new levels of usability, convenience, and productivity in the characterization of component or discrete (packaged) semiconductor devices. It features a
Trace Mode that allows an instantaneous check of results and interactively controls voltage sweeps to avoid impending device breakdown. In addition to full support for Keithley's broad line of source-measure instrumentation, ACS Basic Edition combines high speed hardware control, device connectivity, and data management in an easy-to-use tool optimised for part verification, debugging, and analysis.

Productivity Features
ACS Basic Edition offers an incredibly rich set of quick and easy-to-access test libraries, so no programming is needed. An intuitive GUI further simplifies many types of I-V testing, data collection, and analysis. Even novice users can test a semiconductor component in seconds, generate a family of curves, and then compare them with reference curves immediately. While pre-configured tests minimise startup time, the user still has the flexibility to optimize a test or
the entire test system.

The new Trace Mode feature of ACS Basic Edition Version 1.2 supports interactive testing of a device. It can be used to map out the operating range and characteristics of a DUT while avoiding damage to the device. This interactive mode includes a convenient method of controlling the
voltage level of a sweep with either a virtual slide bar or the arrow keys on a PC keyboard.

Serving a Wide Range of Applications
ACS Basic Edition maximises productivity for technicians and engineers responsible for packaged part characterization in applications ranging from early device research through development, quality verification, and failure analysis. It will serve university researchers and
developers of novel devices equally well, aiding in the transition from pure research to commercial application. It can also be used in semiconductor facilities and companies involved in pilot production for process refinement at the component level, supporting engineers involved in QA, failure analysis, and post-production testing.

Web-configurable and network-controllable

NI GPIB-ENET/1000 Gigabit Ethernet-to-GPIB Controller Transfers Data up to 4X Faster
National Instruments has announced their GPIB-ENET/1000 Gigabit Ethernet-to-GPIB controller along with new instrument control software including enhanced features in LabVIEW 2010, VISA 5.0 and new instrument drivers. GPIB-ENET/1000 performs up to four times faster on large data transfers, and up to three times faster on small byte transfers than its predecessor, the NI GPIB-ENET/100.

It comes with a password-protected Web interface for easy configuration. It is RoHS-compliant and can communicate and be configured through networked computers, as well as control IEEE 488 devices from anywhere on an Ethernet-based (LAN) TCIP/IP network. Engineers can use the GPIB-ENET/1000 to share a single GPIB system among many networked users or to control several test systems from a single networked host computer.
“With the new higher-performance NI GPIB-ENET/1000 and LabVIEW 2010, controlling instruments will be even more intuitive,” said Phil Hester, Senior Vice President of Research and Development at NI. “National Instruments continues to invest in and support the instrument control product platform and maintain the company’s three-decade market leadership in instrument control.”

GPIB-ENET/1000 can interface with up to 14 GPIB devices that engineers can access from several network hosts via Intranet or Internet. It is compatible with 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX and Gigabit networks with maximum GPIB transfer rates of up to 5.6 MB/s. It comes with an external DC power supply, optional rack-mount and DIN-rail/wall-mount hardware and is currently supported on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

With an intuitive graphical programming interface, extensive support with more than 8,500 instrument drivers and other time-saving configuration and troubleshooting tools, LabVIEW 2010 makes instrument control easier for engineers using GPIB and other instrument control buses such as USB, Ethernet and serial. LabVIEW 2010 includes an enhanced Instrument Driver Finder (IDFinder) Wizard to help engineers locate instrument drivers and example code on the Instrument Driver Network and install them for immediate use. LabVIEW and the IDFinder significantly reduce time to first measurement by helping engineers get up and running without leaving the LabVIEW environment. Additionally, with the release of VISA 5.0, a standard for configuring, programming and troubleshooting instrumentation systems, engineers can now launch the IDFinder Wizard directly from Measurement & Automation Explorer (MAX), making it easier to find the drivers.

Space saving dual bridge load cells

Where data integrity is an essential requirement and space limited, then dual bridge load cells from transducer specialists RDP Electronics Ltd can offer an effective answer.

For critical structural testing and monitoring in the aeronautics and automotive industries, for example, a load cell with two separate and independent sets of strain gauges combines sensor redundancy within a single unit. This permit two sets of signal conditioning electronics to be deployed so that in the event of failure of one, the second signal conditioning set maintains system integrity until the fault can be rectified. Additionally, under normal operating conditions, the two outputs can be compared for greater certainty of data integrity, allowing rapid diagnosis of any faults.

RDP’s dual bridge load cells not only provide an accurate, reliable solution but also are cost effective thanks to the dual outputs.

Hygienic level switch for high temperatures

There is no doubt that one of the leading areas in Europe for beer or lager is the state of Bavaria in Germany. So there is little surprise that Brau Beviale, in Nuremberg, is THE exhibition with "a shot of emotion for the European beverage industry!" It is scheduled for 10th till 12th November 2010.

Baumer’s level switch LFFS, which will be on display at the show (hall 4, stand 338), is suitable for high process temperatures of up to 200 °C. A bright blue light on top of the switch shows when a media is detected. The indication can be seen easily even if the sensor is mounted on top of a tank. Thanks to the DN38 process connection, the sensor is excellently suitable for food and beverage industry applications. For the use in hazardous areas, different ATEX versions are available. It can be easily configured on PC via the FlexProgrammer 9701.

The LFFS detects the level of liquids, viscous fluids and even dry media. For particularly difficult media like adhesive substances, the teach-in function enables a manual adjustment of the level to be detected. The switching status can be chosen as “normally opened” or “normally closed”. The output type can be chosen as PNP, NPN or digital out by the programming unit. All wetted parts are made of FDA-approved acid-proof stainless steel or PEEK thermoplastic. The LFFS complies with the EHEDG demands and 3A approval. For the use in open or closed tanks, the device withstands a pressure of up to 40 bar. Since the switch does not contain any moveable parts and its electronic unit is completely integrated, it is practically maintenance-free.

When used with a cooling neck, the level switch is suitable for process temperatures from -40 °C to up to +200 °C. The optional sliding connection is available in 100 and 250 mm length and can serve as a cooling neck or extension, for example if the medium has to be reached through the tank insulation or the level detection has to be adjusted to a certain height. In the standard version, the LFFS is designed for permanent process temperatures from -40 °C up to +85 °C as well as for the use in CIP and SIP facilities with short-term temperatures of up to 140 °C (max. one hour).

For applications in gaseous and dusty surroundings, the LFFS is available in different ATEX versions which enable a safe level detection of explosive gas or dust mixtures, which appear e. g. in the chemical, pharmaceutical or food industry. The ATEX certifications cover the zones 0, 1 and 2 as well as the zones 20, 21 and 22.

Interconnect backbone of extremely high-performance mission computing environments

Mistral Solutions has announced the availability of Curtiss Wright’s new OpenVPX™/VITA-65 compliant VPX6-6902 Serial RapidIO® (SRIO) switch card.

The VPX6-6902 SRIO switch is a rugged 6U VPX board, available in both air and conduction-cooled versions and combines Ethernet and SRIO switching in a single slot for management, control and dataplane switching in high performance embedded military systems. Supporting both Gen-1 SRIO (1.25, 2.5, 3.125 Gbaud) and Gen-2 SRIO (5.0, 6.25 Gbaud), the VPX6-6902 enables systems integrators to quickly and easily architect small to large high-performance systems that adhere to the VITA-65 OpenVPX™ systems specification.

The VPX6-6902 is designed to form the interconnect backbone of extremely high-performance mission computing environments, and simplifies systems design with features designed for redundant and fail-safe architectures. The VPX6-6902 is available in a variety of system configurations, and supports a number of standard OpenVPX™ profiles.

Secure wireless approval

Dust Networks® and Emerson Process Management have announced that Emerson’s Smart Wireless solutions, using Dust Networks’ SmartMesh® IA-510 wireless sensor networking, have been certified by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to meet US government Federal Information Processing Standard-197 (FIPS-197) requirements.

"Dust Networks' SmartMesh IA-510 system is the perfect platform for Emerson's Smart Wireless products, enabling us to provide a highly reliable, scalable solution with low power consumption and built-in security," said Nicholas Meyer, Smart Wireless Gateway Manager, Emerson Process Management. "The addition of FIPS-197 certification by NIST confirms that Emerson’s offering is the most secure solution available."

"Data security is a critical requirement for many wireless sensing applications. Achieving FIPS-197 certification for SmartMesh IA-510 is just the latest example of Dust Networks' on-going commitment to delivering complete wireless sensor networking solutions," added Brenda Glaze, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Dust Networks.

Monday, September 27, 2010

'Rock Star Physicist' to shine at annual conference

‘Why We Need Explorers’ keynote at National Instruments UK & Ireland Annual Conference & Exhibition

National Instruments UK & Ireland has announced that Professor Brian Cox OBE, the ‘Rock Star Physicist’, will deliver the keynote address at NIDays 2010. Cox is Professor of Particle Physics at the University of Manchester (GB) and one of the leaders on the ATLAS experiment at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC), as well as a hugely popular TV presenter, author and media figure. NIDays is the UK and Ireland’s largest graphical system design conference and exhibition, held at the London home of Institution of Engineering & Technology, Savoy Place, on Tuesday 9th November 2010.

Professor Cox will explain ‘Why We Need Explorers’. In tough economic times, our exploratory science programmes - from space probes to the LHC - are first to suffer budget cuts. But Professor Cox will explain how curiosity-driven science pays for itself, powering innovation, fostering a profound appreciation of our existence, and inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.
“We are excited to welcome Professor Brian Cox to NIDays as this year's guest keynote speaker” said Robert Morton, UK & Ireland Managing Director at National Instruments. "As well as his work with the LHC at CERN, Professor Cox is an inspirational and passionate voice for science and technology. His high profile role as a STEM advocate has been influential in popularising and explaining big science to the general public. I'm positive the hundreds of NIDays attendees who are continually innovating and pushing the boundaries of science and engineering will enjoy his perspective on the importance of scientific exploration and discovery."

Brian obtained a first class degree and a PhD in High Energy Particle Physics, at the same time as playing keyboards with the Irish rock band, D’Ream (whose song, ‘Things Can Only Get Better’, was famously used as the Labour Party election song in 1997). He is now Professor of Particle Physics at the University of Manchester and one of the leaders on the ATLAS experiment at the LHC at CERN in Geneva (CH). He has also become a hugely popular TV presenter, author and media advocate for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). Brian’s television credits include the BBC blockbuster, Wonders of the Solar System, which will be followed by a new series on the Universe; he has also fronted Space Hoppers, The Big Bang and numerous specials for Horizon. His book Why Does E=mc2? quickly became a bestseller.

Brian’s talks inspire audiences around the globe, from TED in America to the World Economic Forum in Davos and China. With staggering images, his presentations show that science breaks down barriers and can both shock and excite. He also describes the breathtaking work at CERN, where scientists are recreating conditions a billionth of a second after Big Bang “in the hope of revealing the underlying simplicity of the universe.”

An International Fellow of the Explorers Club, a Royal Society University Research Fellow and winner of the prestigious British Association Lord Kelvin Award for his work promoting science, Brian was awarded an OBE in 2010. When he isn’t filming in far away places, he writes both for tabloids and broadsheets, and co-presents BBC Radio 4’s Infinite Monkey Cage with his friend, the comedian Robin Ince.

Engineers, scientists and educators involved in test, control and design are invited to attend NIDays 2010 and watch Cox’s Keynote speech. NIDays is a multi-track conference and exhibition exploring the latest innovations, tools and technologies from National Instruments and its partners, offering more than 50 hours of in-depth technical sessions, including 30 hours of hands-on training.

Wide or narrow wireless band operation for speed or distance

LPRS has introduced the latest generation of its market leading low power wireless modules, easy-Radio Advanced. eRA continues to offer simple to use, out-of-the-box wireless communication as previous versions, but with a number of new, innovative, features while still offering back compatibility with earlier easy-Radio modules if required.

Key new features of eRA include the ability for users to change the bandwidth of the radio from 150KHz down to 12.5KHz, providing narrow-band performance at a wide-band budget. Internal temperature measurement of the wireless modules ensures less than 1.5KHz frequency drift from ambient 20ºC over a range of -40 to +85ºC. This new feature may also be used as a thermometer to measure the temperature of the end user equipment, accurate to within 1ºC.

Modes of data transmission include the proven easy-Radio protocol with 16-bit encryption and anti cross talk software (DCS) and a new raw data mode that allows customers more flexibility to use their own coding system on any frequency they choose, enabling direct compatibility with other ISM raw data modules from any manufacturer. With the addition of three more (total 4) separate data buffers, easy-Radio performance and data throughput has been greatly improved by up to 25% when compared to 02 versions.

Other new features of LPRS’s eRA include digital RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indication), accurate internal level measurement of signal strength removing the requirement for the host system to handle A-D measurement. A simple command for either the current RSSI level or the signal strength of the last received data packet is used. Temporary channel selection is another new command allowing the user scan other channels if required without storing the settings in the internal EEPROM, maximising its life.

easy-Radio Advanced features a crystal controlled synthesiser for frequency accuracy < +/- 1KHz over full temperature range, a high sensitivity receiver (-117dB @ 12.5KHz Bandwidth), up to 10mW transmission power (at 434MHz) and user programmable frequency (up to 132 channels), bandwidth (down to 12.5KHz) and RS232 data rates up to 115200. easy-Radio Advanced can be powered using a 3V lithium cell or a regulated supply up to 5VDC. Measuring just 38x14x4mm it has been tested to meet European radiated and conducted standards. eRA continues to use the same pin-out arrangement as before allowing seamless integration into existing products wanting to take advantage of the new technology. John Sharples, Managing Director of LPRS comments: "The new easy-Radio Advanced transceiver is a complete sub-system that combines a high performance very low power RF transceiver, a microcontroller and a voltage regulator all in one simple to use package. e-RA continues to offer our customers the fastest and easiest way to get wireless enabled products to market. We are also making available to our customers free flash firmware upgrades ensuring updates and new features can be quickly programmed-in, making easy-Radio Advanced a truly future proof solution.”

Typical applications for the LPRS e-RA wireless modules include hand-held terminals, vehicle to base station data transfer, remote data acquisition, industrial control and communications and wireless security.