Board Versus Box: The Age-Old DAQ Dilemma

Since the beginning of PC-based data acquisition and control in the 1980s, one question has remained a constant consideration for all who would specify a new DAQ system. Is this application better served by an external I/O "box" connected to the PC via some communications link, or an internal "board" system plugged into a slot within the computer? If anything, this question has become more complicated as technology has progressed.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Integrated circuits, Technical reference

Adopting Aerospace Development and Verification Standards for Software

An ever-increasing reliance on software control has meant that many companies from non-aerospace business sectors (automotive, nuclear power, MRI scanners, financial systems) that do not have a traditional requirement for sophisticated software development processes now find themselves compelled to undertake safety-critical and safety-related analysis and testing. With the need for increased software quality across different industries, a tendency has emerged for companies to look outside their own market sector for best practice approaches, techniques or standards. Examples of such industry crossover have been seen in the automotive and avionics industries with the adoption of elements of the DO-178B standard by the former and a similar adoption of the Motor Industry Software Reliability Association (MISRA) standards by the latter.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Computer software / hardware, Standardization, Safety testing and procedures

Seven Practical Steps for Designing Networking Enclosures

The design of enclosures to house networking servers and components should be guided by one overriding concern — heat. Servers, in particular, generate a great deal of heat, so an enclosure must be capable of dissipating that heat to ensure that the components deliver their expected life.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Electronic equipment, Thermal management

Radiation-Tolerant FPGAs

Xilinx (San Jose, CA) has introduced radiation-tolerant Virtex®-4QV field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) for processing needs of video, audio, radar streams, and packet processing functions in space applications. The FPGAs feature reconfigurable logic fabric, built-in memory, embedded computing, and digital signal processing on a single chip. The devices provide system integration among FPGA-based offerings for space applications with up to 200,000 logic cells, 10-Mbit of RAM/FIFO, two built-in PowerPC® processor blocks with auxiliary processing unit controller, 512 DSP slices, and four built-in Ethernet MAC blocks.

Upset mitigation features address environmental circumstances such as charged particles that can alter the state of configuration elements within the FPGA, causing a single-event upset that produces adverse effects on the FPGA. These features include triple modular redundancy reference designs, and the Xilinx TMRTool to automate logic triplication in the FPGA fabric.

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Posted in: Products

Time-Coding of Asynchronous Data Transmissions

A method for providing a time code for multiple streams of simultaneously received data has been developed in order to allow reconstruction of the data after asynchronous transfer. It is often desirable to transmit data collected from a plurality of sensors. When the data is received, it is desirable that the original signal be reconstructed to have the same timing as the originally received data.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Data exchange, Data management, Identification

Thermal Technology System Acquires Heat Data to Count People

The Flowslide, developed by Royal Boon Edam Group Holding BV, is a combination of a revolving door and curved sliding panels, installed at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris. The Flowslide offers a complete physical separation between two crossing passenger flows on a single floor, allowing arriving and departing passengers to use a single door. The entry and exit points open and close alternatively within the curved wall of the revolving door, while keeping the passengers separate. As the two sets of passengers never come into contact with each other — despite using the same doorway — the Flowslide has enabled today's higher levels of security to be met, without the need to redevelop the terminal.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences

Digital-Image Data Acquisition System for Turbulent Mixing and Combustion

An equipment and instrumentation system for high-speed digital image data acquisition and processing includes components for Planar Laser Induced Fluorescence (PLIF), flame-speed, and ignition and extinction measurements of laminar flames at variable pressure; tracking flow structures in a high-speed mixing layer using high-speed color schlieren; laser-beam manipulation and volume scanning for three-dimensional turbulence measurements; and an expanded infrastructure capability for processing experimental and numerical-simulation data.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences

Tool for Processing and Displaying Genomics Data in Spreadsheets

ChromaBlast is a computer program that facilitates and accelerates processing and display of data by use of Microsoft Excel or other spreadsheet software that affords similar capabilities. The development of ChromaBlast was prompted by a need for improved means of analyzing and reviewing massive data sets produced in genomics and microarray-based gene-expression experiments. ChromaBlast is also generally applicable to other data sets that are amenable to spreadsheet representation.

Posted in: Briefs, Software

Magnetic Memory Devices for Embedded Computing

A program of research has been dedicated to the development of magnetic memory devices than can be incorporated into complementary metal oxide/semiconductor (CMOS) integrated circuits, wherein these devices can be made to function as radiation- hard logic elements and as components of small random-access memories. The goal of this development was not to provide for large-scale, bulk memories, but, instead, to provide for latches and flip-flops that can serve as state and data registers for sequential logic and as configuration registers for configurable logic. A major benefit afforded by these devices is the ability to retain the logical state of a subsystem that contains the devices when turning off the power to that subsystem to save energy until operation of the subsystem is required. The subsystem can then be powered up and begin operating within a time of the order of milliseconds.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

Hybrid Micro-Electro-Mechanically Tunable Optical Filter

A prototype hybrid micro-electro- mechanically tunable optical filter (MEM-TF) based partly on an electrostatic-actuation principle has been built and tested as an essential component needed for the further development of a prototype micro-electro- mechanically tunable vertical- cavity surface emitting laser (MT-VCSEL). In turn, MT-VCSELs are needed as essential controllable-wavelength sources in diverse advanced optoelectronic devices and systems including, for example, wavelength-division multiplexers in fiber-optic communication systems; lightweight, compact, portable spectroscopic instruments for detecting chemical and biological warfare agents; holographic memory devices; fiber-optic sensors; optoelectronic signal-processing systems; and remote-sensing systems. The development of the prototype MEM-TF also has additional significance in that it demonstrates the merit of the hybrid approach (in comparison with the monolithic-integration approach) to design and fabrication of some advanced optoelectronic devices.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics