Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Phymetrix Expands Hygrometer Calibration Facility

Phymetrix has expanded its calibration facility in Medford, New York, offering full service and calibration of dew-point analysers with a 10-day turnaround time. The company has a dedicated laboratory conforming to the ANSI American National Standard for Calibration. It performs calibration of dew-point hygrometers with Certificate of Calibration traceable to NIST.

Phymetrix's environmentally controlled laboratory is continually monitored for fluctuations of humidity, temperature and dust to ensure constant accuracy, resulting in precise measurements for customers' instruments. The calibration laboratory is equipped with a NIST-traceable chilled mirror device, buck research model CR-1A with a range of -120C to +30C, and a proprietary mixing station with a flow control system.
F-Series System Meets Machine Safety Standards

Mechan Controls has announced that the F-series electronic safety system has achieved the highest possible rating under EN ISO 13849-1, the international standard for machine safety. The F-series is a modular, multi-gate safety system that features a flexible control unit capable of monitoring up to 30 tamper-proof safety switches simultaneously.

In tests recently conducted by TUV Nord in Germany, the system achieved a Category Four rating, with Safety Integrity Level Three and Performance Level E. The F-Series main control module has dual safety outputs and monitoring for external circuits, while each connected safety switch has both LED and volt-free contact indication at the control unit.

For larger plants or where a complete production line is being monitored, the modular system can be expanded using Mechan's FX1 and FX2 extender units, which work alongside the FM1 master control module. The safety switches are robust, fully encapsulated and available in three sizes with the standard tamper-proof coding, while the CMA version gives the option of half a million unique codes.

The switches have a 10mm operating distance, which makes them easy to install and free from nuisance tripping, and they are well suited for use in harsh conditions and environments where frequent cleaning is essential. As a result, the F-series provides safe and reliable protection on machine guards of all kinds. It is used in industries such as food processing, dairies, pharmaceutical plants and the manufacture of concrete blocks and other construction materials.
Amplicon Invests In Online Conferencing System

Amplicon has invested in a new Webex facility, an online conferencing system that will give customers direct access to company specialists and suppliers in the US and the Far East. The company's portfolio of industrial computing, data communications and measurement and control products and the projects in which they are applied can often be very complex.

By clicking on a link, Webex customers will be able see product demonstrations and bespoke presentations, as well as a dialogue on commercial and technical matters.
Keynote Speakers To Discuss Use Of DS Simulation
Dassault Systemes (DS) has announced that there will be keynote addresses from Exxonmobil Upstream Research Company and Tetra Pak at this year's Simulia Customer Conference (SCC). Keynote speakers Bruce A Dale, senior consultant of Exxonmobil Upstream Research Company, and Mattias Olsson, manager of virtual engineering at Tetra Pak, will provide insights into how realistic simulation is being used by their respective companies to drive research and product innovation.

Dale's presentation will highlight technical achievements from Exxonmobil's history of using Simulia's Abaqus finite-element analysis to enable engineering advancements in the upstream oil-and-gas industry. Olsson will share Tetra Pak's experience in using realistic simulation solutions from DS's Simulia brand to develop product packaging for delivering liquid-food products to global consumers at a low price while extending shelf life and ensuring safety.

The 2010 SCC, which is scheduled to be held on 25-27 May 2010 in Rhode Island, US, will showcase presentations by engineers representing more than 70 international manufacturing and research organisations, including Cordis, Halliburton, Honda RandD, Kimberly-Clark, Medtronic, Michelin RandD, Nokia, PSA Peugeot, Rolls-Royce and Verney Yachts. Sessions will include topics on fracture and failure, nonlinear analysis, multiphysics, process automation, design optimisation and simulation lifecycle management.
Compression Board Suits Mobile Video Surveillance

Multipix Imaging has launched the Euresys 4 video input capture and H.264 compression board, targeting mobile video-surveillance applications. The Picolo U4 board also features high-quality audio capabilities. Each video input simultaneously delivers a compressed and an uncompressed video stream, leading to a total of eight video streams delivered. The compressed video stream may be recorded or transmitted, while the uncompressed one is typically used for local display or video analytics.

Both streams are independently configurable. Thanks to a high resistance to extreme temperatures, shocks, vibrations and humidity, the Picolo U4 H.264 PCI-104 is suitable for embedded security systems for rail and road transportation, police vehicles equipment or any mobile or outdoor video-surveillance application. The ruggedised characteristics of the board are also targeted at the video-surveillance systems installed in extreme industrial environments.

The Picolo U4 H.264 PCI-104 is a PCI-104 board that, for system integration, implements eight general-purpose input/output lines, an onboard watchdog and a pass-through buffered video output with cascade capability. To operate the Picolo U4 H.264 PCI-104, a Directshow filters interfaces for Windows and a Virtual File System driver for Linux either in 32-bit or 64-bit is provided.
Keithley To Broadcast Phase Change Memory Webinar

Keithley Instruments is to broadcast a free web-based seminar entitled 'Phase Change Memory: Fundamentals and Measurement Techniques' on 25 February 2010. This one-hour seminar will teach techniques for measuring and characterising Phase Change Memory devices. Phase Change Memory is a type of non-volatile computer memory also known as PRAM, PCM or PCRAM.

It uses the behaviour of chalcogenide glass, which can be switched between two states - crystalline and amorphous - with the application of heat. Recent versions can achieve two additional distinct states, effectively doubling its storage capacity. The webinar will provide basic information on the physics and operation of PRAM memory elements. Common characterisation and measurement techniques will be described and compared, including the R-Load method and a technique using Keithley's ultra-fast I-V unit.

The webinar is primarily recommended for test engineers and test engineering managers who are new to making PRAM measurements, although it will also be useful for more experienced users. The live broadcast is accompanied by an interactive question-and-answer session, which will give attendees the opportunity to ask the presenter for an additional insight on this topic. The event is free to the public, but participants must register in advance via the company's website.
Cadac Explorer Features Advanced Document Creation

Cadac Organice has announced Advanced Document Creation for Cadac Organice Explorer 2010, a Sharepoint-based engineering-document management solution. In the new version of Cadac Organice Explorer, users are able to create sophisticated templates in Microsoft Word for letters, faxes and reports, etc. These templates can include fields that are automatically synchronised with Sharepoint metadata.

Advanced Document Creation also makes it possible to create predefined text building blocks and signatures that users can easily reuse to create their documents. It helps users to set up new documents quickly and easily and to automatically populate these documents with Sharepoint metadata. Advanced Document Creation is said to be beneficial to companies that want to standardise the layout of their documents and increase the efficiency in their document-creation process. Cadac Organice Explorer 2010 will be introduced on 8 March, 2010.
Platinum Temperature Sensors Offer High Accuracy

A range of temperature sensors from Platinum Sensors offer high levels of measurement accuracy and stability at low cost, according to the company. They are suitable for all temperature-measurement and temperature-compensation applications, due to their near-linear output and operating temperature range of -70 to 500C.

Designated the MN range, the sensors are Platinum thin-film devices to the Pt 100, Pt 500 or Pt 1000 standards and are available to three tolerance classes: DIN A (approximately +/-0.06 per cent at 0C), DIN B (+/-0.12 per cent) and DIN 2xB (+/- 0.24 per cent). The sensors are fully RoHS compliant, measure 2.3 x 2.1mm and are supplied with 10mm-long nickel connection wires.

Their small size and robust construction makes them suitable for use in temperature-sensor assemblies in all industrial applications.
Laider Consultancy Enables CE Marking For Bridge

With the aid of services provided by Laidler Associates, the refurbished Portumna road bridge in Galway has become the first bridge in the Ireland to carry CE marking. Laidler Associates also helped to ensure that the bridge met the requirements for EMC certification and that it satisfied the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations.

Waterways Ireland awarded the order for design specification, contract preparation and project supervision to Royal Haskoning, who appointed L and M Keating to carry out the building and installation work. Royal Haskoning recommended that Laidler Associates should be used to provide the consultancy services needed to ensure that the bridge met all relevant legal requirements and, in particular, the requirements for CE marking. Jane Arbuckle, technical director, mechanical and electrical engineering, at Royal Haskoning, said: 'The company offered a one-day safety workshop and two presentation sessions at the start of the contract to ensure that all of those working on the project were fully briefed on health and safety issues.

After these preliminary sessions, Laidler Associates carried out detailed hazard assessments covering all aspects of the bridge design and construction. Consultants from the company also visited the site during the construction work and, when the work was complete, they carried out a detailed final inspection before certifying the structure.
Elesa Introduces Light/Medium-Duty Castors

Elesa has announced the RE.F8 technopolymer monolithic range of castors, which are available from 100mm to 194mm total height. These unitary moulded wheels are suitable for general-purpose industrial applications - such as trolleys and equipment material transfer - for up to 750kg per wheel on smooth, tiled or similar surfaces with good wear resistance.

The RE.F8 series feature low rolling resistance with easy turning thanks to the dual Elesa standard ball race cage. An optional total brake mechanism on the turning version locks both the wheel and the chassis bracket from turning as required. The fully moulded wheel features an integral plain bearing on a spacer tube within a rugged zinc-plated or stainless-steel chassis. This castor is suitable for light-duty, low-cost, low-maintenance applications.
P-80 Redilube Eases Tight-Fitting Assemblies

International Products has added P-80 Redilube to its line of temporary rubber assembly lubricants. P-80 Redilube provides temporary lubrication that can ease assembly of tight-fitting parts. It is designed for use on non-porous and coated rubber surfaces. It provides a high degree of lubrication but dries quickly, making it suitable for sub-assembly.

Uses include installation of hoses, bushings, seals, O-rings, grommets and grips. P-80 Redilube is biodegradable and does not contain alcohol, petroleum distillates or silicone. It is safe to use on most natural and synthetic rubbers, metals and plastics.

International Products manufactures and distributes environmentally friendly temporary rubber assembly lubricants and precision cleaners from its ISO 9001-certified facility in Burlington, New Jersey. Its on-site laboratory is equipped for analytical work and consultation on assembly and cleaning processes.
Hazardex 2010 To Feature Compex Competency Scheme
EEMUA will publicise the Compex competency scheme at Hazardex 2010, which will take place 24-25 February at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate. EEMUA and JTL, the certification body, developed Compex in collaboration with employers, unions, government and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). EEMUA believes Compex is the industry benchmark for determining core competency for working in hazardous areas.

At Hazardex, EEMUA will also discuss its hazardous-area publications and activities. Compex courses are closely associated with EEMUA Publication 186: 'A Practitioner's Handbook - Electrical Installation and Maintenance in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres'. Compex combines classroom training with an examination, plus practical hands-on training with practical competency validation assessment.

It does this in an environment that utilises equipment found in the workplace. More than 24,000 candidates have been certified via the Compex scheme. There are 13 licensed Compex Competency Validation centres in the UK.
Adept Offers Jai's 040 Progressive Scan Cameras

Two new Mini Camera Link (MCL) 0.4-megapixel progressive scan cameras from Jai are now available from Adept Electronic Solutions. The CM-040MCL (monochrome) and CB-040MCL (Bayer colour) cameras are targeted at clients requiring small, high-quality devices with advanced functionality at a cost-effective price. Jai has designed these MCL models for applications that require higher-bandwidth, real-time signalling and a lower latency than is possible using GigE interfaces.

At 776 x 582 pixels, the 040 models provide slightly greater resolution than basic VGA versions while maintaining a high frame rate of 60fps. The cameras utilise the Sony ICX415 charge-coupled device and, while at full resolution output is at 61fps, higher frame rates can be achieved by using the partial-scan or vertical-binning modes.

The CM-040MCL and the CB-040MCL feature auto-iris lens video output to support the dynamic lighting conditions usually found in outdoor applications such as intelligent traffic systems and surveillance. Both models are available with an optional factory-installed right-angle adapter, which enables the camera to 'look' at a 90 angle. Both are designed for a range of inspection tasks where physical access is limited.

The cameras provide practical, versatile solutions in a range of deployments, including in the automotive industry, such as for inspection, high-precision gauging and process monitoring; pharmaceuticals, such as for the inspection of blister packages and for fill level control; in the beverage industry, such as for the control of the fill levels of defective bottles; in the food industry, such as for sorting; and for electronics inspection.
Servo2go Adds Tachometer Generator To Range
Servo2go has added a high-performance DC Tachometer Generator to its range of analogue feedback devices and sensors.

Manufactured by Servo-Tek, the CS-7514F-51C tachometer features: low-ripple tach generator 1.5 per cent peak to peak (with 72HKz filter); Gettys motor compatibility 3V/1,000RPM standard - other voltages available; 0.250 diameter stainless-steel shaft; two shaft extensions 0.650in (CS-7561F-51C) and 0.875in (CS-7514F-51C); standard servo and face mount with 0.5in pilot; one-piece anodised housing; lead wires and rear cover included; high-quality ball bearings; varnish-impregnated armature for high-speed reversing applications; linearity 0.1 per cent; and silver commutator.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Workshop Reviews Photonic Sources And Detectors

The Scottish Optoelectronics Association, Photonics and Plastic Electronics (PPE) KTN and Optocem have announced that they will host a Photonic Sources and Detectors workshop. The event will be of interest to companies and researchers in the field and everyone will be given an opportunity to contribute. Speakers at the event will summarise recent advances in the field.

The event will build on the UV, IR and THz Solid State Sources and Detectors workshop held in January 2009. Output from the 2009 event included a document created by delegates that details key applications, features, technology drivers and barriers for UV, IR and THz sources and detectors. This material will be reviewed and discussed.

The Photonic Sources and Detectors workshop will take place on 3 March 2010 in the Still Room, IET Teacher Building, 14 St Enoch Square, Glasgow.
Voltammetric Device Measures Labile Copper Content

The Metrohm 797 VA Computrace can be used for the determination of labile copper in sea water. Spectroscopic methods can only determine the total concentrations of metals, but with voltammetry it is possible to differentiate between the different oxidation states of copper. This allows statements to be made about the biological availability and toxicity, making voltammetry an essential tool in environmental analysis.

Copper is one of the most toxic-heavy metals known to marine life, generally concentrations of heavy metals are comparatively low in open sea areas where human activities have not yet had a major detrimental effect. However, in coastal area, contamination is usually more widespread often in offshore sediments close to municipal and industrial discharge points. Many marine and research institutions are interested in determining the relationship between the labile (or free copper) and total copper, both of which can easily and reliably be performed using the 797 VA Computrace from Metrohm.

The 797 VA Computrace is a modern voltammetric measuring instrument that connects to a PC via a USB connection. The Windows XP-based PC software controls the measurement, records the measuring data and allows full evaluation of the recorded information. The sample and auxiliary solutions are added to the reaction vessel and the labile copper is determined on a mercury film formed at the surface of the ultra-trace electrode. By performing the analysis first using an ultra-trace electrode then separately using a classic mercury electrode, it is possible to measure first the values of labile and then total copper to determine the ratio of the different species.

Whether the labile or total copper is being determined, the process can be partially or fully automated through the use of Metrohm Dosino dispensing devices and autosamplers. The low running costs are an additional bonus point for voltammetry requiring no expensive combustible gases or reconstruction of the laboratory infra-structure to accommodate specialist ducting and fume hoods. Apart from the small amounts of reagents required for the analysis, only small volumes of pure nitrogen are required.
GEA Presents Spray And Fluid Bed Drying Technology

GEA Niro will be exhibiting technologies in the field of spray and fluid bed drying for the pharmaceutical, food and beverage, and chemical industries at Powtech 2010. The company will be displaying one of its smallest spray dryers, the SDMicro, on its stand. The lab-scale spray dryer is equipped with a two-fluid nozzle for atomisation and can be applied for both water and organic solvent-based formulations. The SDMicro is designed with the smallest possible spray drying chamber that allows for retaining the same air flow pattern as a large-scale spray dryer.

This makes it possible to conduct realistic tests at a very small scale and produce small quantities of powder for product and concept evaluations. The company will also exhibit its Drynetics method, which allows drying parameters to be established based on the study of one droplet of a given substance. The technique allows real-world measurements (for example, drying time and stickiness of a given feed) to be incorporated into CFD simulations. This makes it possible to establish the spray dryer performance by precisely analysing the results of one-droplet experiment.

The Drynetics analysis is used to investigate product formulations and to optimise spray drying plant designs - for new or existing plants. The company will also display a set of 3D animations showing a GEA Niro spray dryer with heat recuperation, a Contact Fluidizer fluid bed dryer and a Swirl Fluidizer dryer in operation. The 3D animations are an opportunity to see what takes place inside the dryers and to learn what happens during the drying process.

The company's process technologists and sales managers will be available to discuss how GEA Niro's range of drying systems can be applied for production of a wide range of chemical, food and pharmaceutical products. GEA Niro specialists are also available to discuss plant upgrades and rebuilds. The GEA Niro stand will be located in hall 1, 1-115, at the Powtech event, from 27-29 April 2010.
Sandvik Focuses On Granulation Systems At Powtech

Sandvik Process Systems has announced that it will exhibit products this year's Powtech fair. With granulation systems available for applications such as foodstuffs, subcooling melts, thixotropy, abrasive and corrosive products, Sandvik offers a wide ranges of process solutions. Working examples of two steel belt-based granulation systems - the Rotoform 3000 and Rotoform HS (high-speed) models - will provide the focus of the company's stand, booth 425 in hall 7.

The steel belt cooler is designed as an integrated system, incorporating everything needed to complete the solidification process, from Rotoform feeding, steel belt and automatic belt tracking, to release agent, discharge device and exhaust air system. Each of the nine different members of the Rotoform range has been designed to meet specific process requirements and all are based around the same basic concept. At the heart of every system is a special drop depositor, the Rotoform, which feeds droplets of the molten product onto a continuously running steel belt.

This is cooled by water from the underside, rapidly solidifying the product. The droplets are discharged in the form of dry, uniform, free flowing and dust-free pastilles - suitable for transport, storage and subsequent processing. It is a flexible process capable of handling molten products at temperatures of up to 320C and viscosities up to 50.000 cP. Depending on the system used, pastilles can be produced in diameters from 1mm up to 30mm, and the diameter can be adjusted on the machine or, in the case of more major change, by switching components.

The system is also environmental friendly. The fact that there is no contact between cooling water and the product being processed means no risk of cross contamination; while fast cooling times mean little or no exchange of gases, vapour or oxygen between chemical product and the surrounding atmosphere. The Rotoform 3000 is the standard unit and is widely used for products such as hot-melt adhesives, resins, sulphur and waxes. However, some oil and gas refineries need higher capacity solutions and it was to meet this need that the HS model was developed.

Through the use of a bigger rotating shell, reducing the centrifugal force on the droplet shape - Sandvik said it has been able to produce a system that delivers up to two times the throughput of a standard Rotoform, while maintaining control of end-product quality and delivering a consistent pastille with a regular, hemispherical shape. Sandvik can also supply conveying, storage and loading facilities, together with associated control systems. The company has invested in a network of test centres where all nine Rotoform types are available for demonstration and tests on customer products. Transportable units have also been developed to allow tests and pilot production to be carried out at customer sites.
Malvern Will Display Zetasizer Range At Analytica

Malvern Instruments will display products for characterising proteins and other macromolecules at Analytica 2010, which will take place from 23-26 March 2010 in Munich, Germany. These include the Zetasizer range, which employs dynamic and static light scattering to measure size and molecular weight, and the full range of Viscotek advanced gel permeation / size-exclusion chromatography (GPC/SEC) systems and detectors for rapid, reliable characterisation of both molecular weight and molecular structure.

In addition to the established and widely used Zetasizer Nano system, Malvern's Zetasizer series now includes a system dedicated to the analysis of proteins and other biomolecules. Designed and optimised for maximum sensitivity and minimum sample volume, the Zetasizer Micro V is a dedicated system that supports improved understanding and management of a range of biomolecule applications. These include: optimising sample and storage conditions; verifying the quaternary structure of protein complexes; identifying thermal characteristics; and assessing protein solubility and sample purity.

When it comes to GPC/SEC, Malvern provides a wide choice for chemists seeking either a complete system or an additional detector to enhance an existing set-up. At the heart of the company's chromatography range are Viscotek advanced GPC/SEC systems. These include the powerful yet easy to use TDAmax, which can be configured with up to four detectors to deliver maximum information from a single experiment. Light scattering, viscosity, concentration, refractive index and UV detection are all available on the TDAmax.

The system delivers information on absolute molecular weight without correction or extrapolation, oligomeric composition and aggregation, protein size and density, conjugate composition and second virial coefficient. Omnisec software offers standard methodologies for instrument control, analysis and customised reporting. It can also deal with specialised applications, such as the analysis of pegylated proteins.
Siemens Enhances Service Offering

Siemens Drives Technology has linked up with a number of industry suppliers and distributors to deliver products and systems faster to customers. Siemens drive train products, which include variable speed drives, induction motors, geared motors and gearboxes, are being offered through established partner companies.

Siemens has also increased its service offering and is now providing a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week call-out service for all of its motors. UK stock profiles have also been increased and widened to meet the additional expected demand created by the partners. Siemens is now able to supply a wide range of Eff1 industrial motors up to 200kW direct from stock at its Bradford site. The Siemens partners are able to supply Siemens motors up to 90kW from stock, along with other services offered to customers such as motor and drive installations, and manufacturer warranted motor repair facilities.

'This new partnership enables Siemens to deliver its drive train products and services through a strong national and regional parts network to its large and varied customer base,' said Paul Dudley, Siemens channel manager (Drives Technology). The selected partners are Brammer, Hayley, Fraser and Macdonald, Southern and Redfern, Dorlec, Anstee Ware, CPM and MR Engineering.
Bruel And Kjaer Helps To Test Lift Sound Quality

Orona has used Bruel and Kjaer's Head and Torso Simulator (HATS), binaural microphones and Pulse sound-quality software to analyse the sound-quality behaviour of its lifts. This equipment allowed it to correlate the sound quality with the different noise sources and to study the most appropriate ways to improve lift comfort. Orona (manufacturer of lifts), Mondragon Goi Eskola Politeknikoa (MGEP [Engineering Faculty of Mondragon University]) and Ikerlan (Research Centre) formed a consortium to investigate the sound quality in Orona's lifts.

According to Unai Galfarsoro, the coordinator of the acoustic and vibration group at Mondragon University: 'The reason for establishing the sound-quality project is the need to go beyond the traditional A-weighted sound pressure level, which is usually used to rank different noise sources, because we believe that a complete sound-quality analysis gives wider and more reliable results.

'The objective is to analyse the actual sound-quality performance of the various types of Orona lifts, to correlate the sound quality with the different noise sources and to study the most suitable approaches to improve the comfort of the lifts,' he added. Before carrying out the sound-quality process, the types of lifts to be analysed were selected and six of each type were tested. Three up and three down full travelling cycles (doors closing, acceleration, constant speed, deceleration and doors opening) were measured from the bottom to the top floor and back and the time data was the basis for the following sound-quality analysis.

The equipment used consisted of Bruel and Kjaer's Sound Quality Head and Torso Simulator (HATS) Type 4100-D, equipped with two microphones for binaural noise measurements. The two signals were recorded using a Pulse IDAe front-end and time data recorder software. 'The Pulse front-end is useful for measurements inside a moving lift as it makes no noise at all (its fan can be switched off during measurements) and it can be battery operated. 'Besides, time data recorder software is extremely simple to configure and use for time data measurements,' added Galfarsoro.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Imaging Tool Expands Research Opportunities

The installation of a Jeol Electron Probe Microanalyzer (EPMA) aims to expand research and educational opportunities for students, faculty and industry in southeastern North Carolina. In January, Jeol completed the installation of its latest EPMA, also known as a microprobe, at the Southeastern North Carolina Regional Microanalytical and Imaging Center (SENCR-MIC).

The state-of-the-art facility opened in 2009 as a joint collaboration between Fayetteville State University (FSU) and the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Pembroke. The microprobe enables detailed surface analysis that reveals a lot of information about both hard and soft samples. FSU and UNC students will have access to this electron microscope to advance environmental, geological and forensic science research.

'We'll be able to use it to compare paint chips, analyse soil samples, gunshot residue and micro tool marks,' said Dr Steven Singletary, director of the SENCR-MIC. Singletary sees this resource as benefiting both future careers and the future of the region in southeastern North Carolina. Research at this level is an opportunity for students who typically hold down jobs while attending school and have responsibilities that would prevent them from obtaining this type of training away from home.

Singletary and his fellow faculty members are hopeful that access to this instrumentation will produce a more highly trained workforce, which will in turn attract more businesses to the area. The SENCR-MIC will be a resource for both Fayetteville State University and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Additionally, local industry and government will have access to the facility for research.
Cold-PCR Technology Detects Tumour Mutations

Transgenomic has validated the use of its licensed Cold-PCR technology to detect colorectal tumour-associated KRAS mutations that determine efficacy of recently developed therapies. These mutations were detected in plasma samples in which the mutation levels were too low for detection by standard DNA analysis methodologies such as Sanger sequencing. The study, which was performed by Transgenomic's Pharmacogenomics Services Laboratory in Omaha and the company's molecular biology research team in Gaithersburg, consisted of testing DNA extracted from colorectal tumour-matched plasma samples.

Screening with standard Sanger sequencing of the plasma samples resulted in only 70 per cent concordance between matched plasma and tumour due to missing KRAS codon 12 and 13 mutations. The samples were enriched by Transgenomic's Cold-PCR mutation enrichment technology before analysis with the Surveyor Scan KRAS assay. Cold-PCR preferentially amplifies genomic DNA mutations in comparison to normal, wild-type sequences. This enrichment and screening method can detect matched-tumour KRAS mutations in serum mutation levels at less than 0.1 per cent of total wild-type DNA.

This resulted in the accurate detection of all KRAS codon 12 and KRAS codon 13 mutations with full discrimination against wild-type or normal samples tested concurrently. Due to the extent of the enrichment process, all of these KRAS-containing plasma samples could subsequently be verified by DNA sequencing. It was confirmed by the study's pharmaceutical partner that there was a 100 per cent concordance between Transgenomic's mutation results and the matched-tumour KRAS genotypes.

'We believe that the developments in Cold-PCR that we are pursuing at Transgenomic will open the way for detecting tumour mutations in surrogate tissues and body fluids such as serum, plasma and urine rather than by tumour biopsy,' said Craig Tuttle, chief executive of Transgenomic. 'We intend to participate in further studies such as this with the aim of developing Cold-PCR serum assays for key gene mutations that are biomarkers for early tumour detection, tumour therapy efficacy, emergence of drug resistance biomarkers and relapse,' he added.

Cold-PCR was discovered in the laboratory of Dr Mike Makrigiorgos at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. It has been exclusively licensed by Transgenomic for all Sanger Sequencing and mitochondrial DNA applications.

It can be coupled with Transgenomic's DNA mutation detection technologies to improve its sensitivity. When mutant and reference DNA samples from the same gene are mixed and re-annealed, variations between these sequences cause double-stranded DNA heteroduplexes to form. The Wave system employs denaturing HPLC to separate these homo- and hetero-duplexes by ion-pairing reverse-phase HPLC.

This technology has been in widespread use for genomic analysis being cited in more than 2,000 peer-reviewed publications. As an alternative offering, Transgenomic's Surveyor Nuclease cleaves such heteroduplexes with high specificity at sites of base mismatch or small insertions/deletions. It is a robust and reliable tool for analysing DNA variations, especially where the mutant alleles are at a very low concentration within the sample (less than one per cent of the total wild type allele concentration).

Cold-PCR protocols preferentially amplify heteroduplexes such that mutant alleles become enriched compared to normal alleles. The range of enrichment demonstrated to date varies from three to 100-fold, which will contribute to Transgenomic's target of achieving a 1/10,000 mutant to normal allele ratio detection in a routine, cost-effective and high throughput protocol. This level of detection will allow straightforward tumour analysis via surrogate tissues such as blood and urine.
Capsugel Launches Xcelolab Powder Dispenser

Capsugel has announced that the bench-top Xcelolab powder dispenser is now available, offering scientists a rapid and reproducible solution for precise weighing tasks. The Xcelolab dispenser, the latest addition to Capsugel's Xcelodose precision powder micro-dosing range, has been created in response to demand from existing Xcelodose system customers, according to the company. To avoid losing clinical trial manufacturing time, resource and money, pharmaceutical company development teams can now perform method development, powder dispense head selection and powder characterisation studies in the laboratory environment using the Xcelolab dispenser.

The data produced and methods developed can then be directly transferred to their Xcelodose system so they can continue manufacture of clinical trial materials without interruption or unnecessary downtime. The Xcelolab dispenser uses Capsugel's powder dispensing technology, which builds 'micro-bridges', making it ideal for scientists who repeatedly weigh small amounts of any type of powder by hand or need to dispense amounts too small to be accurately dosed by conventional techniques. Using the 'micro-bridge' technology it is possible to dispense any type of powder, whether cohesive, micronised, free-flowing, or inhalation powder.

The Xcelolab dispenser is said to offer high flexibility, allowing users to dispense powder weights as low as 100ug up to 230g precisely with a typical RSD of ~2 per cent. A range of interchangeable balances makes it easy to dispense into a variety of receptacles including capsules, vials, beakers and flasks. Touch-screen operation, featuring a colour-coded progress bar, means scientists can run fully automated dispense cycles as soon as the system is installed, as well as program and store multiple settings for different samples.

The Xcelolab dispenser has many dispense options, from a manual one-button dispense right through to full method development, making applications such as powder characterisation, sample preparation or stability testing quick and easy to set up.
NanoKTN Calls For Industrial CASE Award Proposals

The Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network (NanoKTN) has opened the application call for two Industrial Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering (CASE). The NanoKTN said the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) awarded it with two Industrial CASE awards for 2010, to provide funding for two PhD studentships. The Industrial CASE awards are allocated by UK research councils and are a way of linking academic research with industrial need.

The studentships are supported by companies that offer funding to students, in addition to their already-secured EPSRC funding. The company takes the lead in defining a student project and selects a university to work with, which then recruits a suitable candidate to carry out the project, jointly supervised by the academic and industrial partners. The awards are available to students with a relevant connection in the UK, usually established by residence and an upper-second-class honours degree or a combination of qualifications and experience equivalent to that level.

The successful applicants will receive EPSRC funding of GBP66,838 over the course of the intended project (three and a half years). To be an Industrial CASE sponsor, companies must have research or production facilities in the UK and it is normally expected that the student will spend time at these facilities. In addition to hosting the student for a minimum of three months, the company must provide an additional cash top-up of at least a third (GBP22,419). The NanoKTN is inviting proposals by 4 March 2010. The NanoKTN has identified its priority areas as healthcare and life sciences, ICT-hardware, engineering applications, chemical products and metrology, instrumentation and standards.

Project proposals should align with one of these key areas. To apply for a 2010 Industrial CASE award, applicants must submit a general description covering the proposed scope of work, the NanoKTN technical priority area to which the work best aligns, the objective of the research and the scientific challenge and brief outline of the innovative aspects of the work.
Pipetboy Pro Pipettor Features White LED Light

Integra Biosciences's Pipetboy Pro is designed for comfortable and error-free pipetting. An integral white LED light in the Pipetboy Pro provides optimal illumination of the area around the pipette, ensuring accurate pipetting and preventing eyestrain even when dispensing liquids out of an opaque centrifuge tube or dark container.

The Pipetboy Pro is said to enable the user to dose liquids quickly, accurately and reliably by applying variable finger pressure on the pipettor trigger buttons, changing between drop-by-drop dispensing or fast motorised pipetting at an adjustable speed of up to 10ml/sec. The Pipetboy Pro weighs 190g and is ergonomically designed to comfortably fit in the user's hand.
Qiagen Acquires Exclusive Licence Of key PI3K Gene

Qiagen has announced that its DXS subsidiary has acquired the global and exclusive licence for biomarker PI3K from Johns Hopkins University to develop real-time-PCR and endpoint PCR assays. Research has shown that variation in the PI3K gene could be a key biomarker for use as a companion diagnostic with certain cancer treatments. The studies suggest that mutations in the PI3K oncogene are predictive for the success of certain treatments of patients suffering from lung, breast, colorectal and other cancers.

Qiagen has an active PI3K assay development and partnering programme with pharmaceutical companies to develop and market tests for new cancer drug candidates. Qiagen already markets a PI3K test for research use. This test is based on real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), a widely available technology to make DNA sequences visible through amplification. The assay, which uses technology that allows a very significant sensitivity, detects mutations frequently missed by sequencing methods.

Johns Hopkins researchers assessed the biomarker during their evaluation of tyrosine kinase inhibitors targeting the EGFR (Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor) pathway. Various EGFR inhibiting drugs have shown to be not effective in cancer patients with mutations in genes of the EGFR pathway (EGFR, K-RAS, B-RAF and so on). Qiagen already markets several tests determining the mutation status in oncogenes. This portfolio includes tests for mutations of K-RAS and B-RAF, which are indicative for metastatic colorectal, lung and other cancers. The K-RAS test is CE-marked for companion diagnostic use with EGFR inhibitors Vectibix and Erbitux and is expected to be submitted for FDA approval shortly.
Kontron Server Includes PCI Express Functionality

Using the PCI Express Butterfly Backplane, the Kontron Industrial Silent Server (Kiss) 2U may be equipped with up to four PCI Express x4 cards and one PCI Express x16 (PEG) card. The highly integrated 2U industrial server is suitable for complex visualisation and image processing tasks that require the independent operation of up to eight high-definition monitors or the integration of four PCI Express x4 frame grabber cards for machine vision or video surveillance.

The industry server is designed particularly for applications in control rooms and operation centres of energy suppliers, rail companies or airports. Additional applications are found in infotainment and digital signage on trains and airplanes as well as in the gaming industry as a central computer for multiple gaming machines. A bandwidth of up to 8GB/s enables graphic-intensive simulations for weather forecasting, digital mock-ups, or virtual reality for operator training.

By integrating Cuda (Compute Unified Device Architecture) compliant graphics cards, the Kiss 2U PCIe can act as a compact supercomputer (with around 500 gigaflops), accelerating complex image processing operations through parallel processing. The Kiss 2U industrial server with compact PICMG 1.3 system host boards (SHB) packs scalable processor performance up to an Intel Core 2 Quad processor and up to 8GB of DDR2 dual-channel RAM.

Equipped with the Kontron PCI-760, the long-term available 2U industrial servers offer up to three GB Ethernet ports, eight USB 2.0, two RS232C and HD audio. The integrated Intel GMA 3100 graphics media accelerator provides resolutions up to QXGA (2048 x 1536) at 75Hz via VGA. For high data throughput, an integrated RAID (RAID 0/1/5/10) controller for SATA drives can improve speed and/or data safety.

Application-specific extensions are adaptable via a Type IIA miniPCI connector. Specific Kontron extensions are available for LAN, WLAN and SCSI. With an MTBF of 50,000 hours, the robust and shock-resistant systems are designed to ensure high availability and low maintenance costs. This is also achieved with integrated Intel Active Management Technology 3.0, which allows remote management of the server. Designed for continuous operation, the Kiss systems are CE certified and UL suitable.

The highly integrated Kontron Kiss 2U PCIe supports Linux and the complete Windows desktop and server range, including Windows 7. It is available direct from the warehouse as a standard configurable system, or it can be customised as needed and delivered as a tested and independently certified solution. The Kiss 2U PCIe is available in EMEA now and will be available in North America and APAC at the end of Q1.
Aaeon Introduces Half-Size CPU Module

Aaeon has released the HSB-945P, a PCI SBC in a half-size form factor and embedded with the Intel Atom N270 to provide multimedia performance and low power consumption. The HSB-945P utilises the Intel 945GSE and ICH7M chipset to support the Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor. The SBC has one 200-pin DDR II SODIMM for system memory up to 1GB.

Network communication is achieved with the option of Ethernet devices 10/100Base-T Intel 82562GZ and 10/100/1000Base-T Intel 82573L, or dual 10/100/1000Base-T devices Intel 82573L and Intel 82574L. The HSB-945P uses the Intel 945GSE and Chrontel 7307 to support simultaneous CRT and LCD displays and the integrated Intel GMA950 graphics engine is used for enhanced graphics and 3D rendering.

The HSB-945P has one DB15 VGA and one DVI interface through a box header. An optional AC97 codec daughter board can be installed onto the HSB-945P in order to allow the SBC to support audio for multimedia applications. The HSB-945P targets applications in the industrial automation, transportation, banking, information technology, HMI and workstation markets.
EAO Releases Flush-Mounting Switches

EAO has launched a low-depth switch range for mounting in shallow and space-restricted areas. The Series 51 is a flush-mounting switch collection that offers a low behind-panel depth of 34mm, including the contact block. The switches are offered in a compact mono-block design for faster mounting and to provide more room for additional system components.

The range comprises illuminated pushbuttons, indicators, selector switches and key switches in a choice of sizes, shapes and materials, including hard-wearing plastic and aluminium. A variety of different lens and bezel colour combinations are also available. Up to four normally open (NO) and four normally closed (NC) contacts can be mounted per switch. The switches can accommodate a wide range of operating voltages from 10uA/100uV up to 250V/5A depending on the switching element.

EAO offers a choice of terminals including solder, solder/plug-in and PCB. With front protection to IP65, guaranteed for more than one million cycles, and compliance to all important national and international standards, Series 51 switches are suitable for panel building, machinery, lifting and moving, transportation, process control and medical applications.
Bluetooth Modules Target Embedded Applications

With the brand Wirelessembedded, Emxys is launching a renewed portfolio of Bluetooth modules specifically targeted to the embedded applications developer community. At the core of this latest promotion are the Uiceblue2 and BTswitch embedded modules. Uiceblue2 is an embedded bluetooth module based in the PIC18F4550 microcontroller and Pearlblue Bluetooth module, also from Wirelessembedded.

The device (a new version of the former Uiceblue) is enhanced with this USB PIC micro, which offers the possibility to implement simultaneous USB and Bluetooth communications through one device. The module has a micro-USB connector included with the option to power the module directly from a USB port.

BTswitch is a Bluetooth Pearlblue-based board with four power relays for applications up to 240VAC/1A. With this module, it is possible to retrieve and to operate over the state of the switches and to retrieve the logic state of the included opto-isolated digital input. It is suitable for remote control applications in fields such as industrial control.
Ecopac Offers High-Density Open-Frame Power Supply

Ecopac Power has released its ECO-365 series, an open-frame ultra-high-density power supply with 19W/in power density in a 3in x 5in footprint. The ECO-365 series is a compact and low-profile, medically approved 365W AC/DC power supply that is suitable for applications and designs where space is at a premium.

It provides up to 365W with 400 LFM cooling and 200W with convection cooling. The ECO-365 series has a built-in active PFC function and a 12V auxiliary fan output with an additional 5V stand by, operating from -20C to 50C at full load. Protections include over-temperature, over current and over-voltage, meeting EN60601-1 and ITE EN60950-1 safety standards.

The ECO-160 series is medically approved and meets VDE approval, which is essential for distributing power supplies into Europe. VDE is the German regulatory agency that tests power supplies to the specific safety and performance standards required in Germany.
Adacore Enhances Gnat Pro Development Software

Adacore has announced the latest release of its Gnat Pro Ada development environment. Gnat Pro 6.3 is now available on several new platforms including 64-bit Windows, Windows 7, Mac OS X Snow Leopard, VXWorks Mils and PikeOS (Arinc 653). The product incorporates a variety of enhancements, many based on customer feedback, and offers implementation of new Ada 2012 features.

Gnat Pro 6.3 works with a number of complementary tools, sold separately, including the Codepeer automated code review and validation tool. Gnat Pro 6.3 features improvements to tools such as the Pretty printer, coding standard verifier (Gnatcheck) and stack size analyser (Gnatstack). Other tool enhancements include: unused dispatching subprogram elimination (Gnatelim); more flexible project handling; more efficient Gnatmake and gprbuild; and C and C++ binding generation.

Compiler and debugger enhancements include: additional warnings; more flexible enabling/disabling of warnings; faster unbounded_string implementation; removal of redundant run-time checks; support for Ada 2012 conditional expressions; code generation (speed and size) improvements; more compact debugging information; and improved interfacing with C++.

Gnat Pro 6.3 also includes a new version of the Gnat Programming Studio (GPS) IDE, GPS 4.4.1 and an improved download interface in Adacore's Gnat Tracker support tool.
Link Introduces Lynx Coaxial Attenuators

Link Microtek has expanded its portfolio of Lynx non-ITAR components with a range of low-cost 50-ohm coaxial attenuators covering the frequency range DC to 6GHz. The attenuators are available with SMA or N-type connectors and offer power ratings from 2W to 100W. Apart from the 2W versions, all devices in the range incorporate cooling fins to provide optimum heat dissipation.

Particularly suitable for use in communications and radar systems, the Lynx attenuators are said to provide excellent performance, with VSWRs as low as 1.1:1 and a typical operating temperature range of -30 to 65C. The most popular models are now available from stock with no minimum order quantities.

Lynx is a brand resulting from the collaboration of Elexo of France, Globes Elektronik of Germany and Link Microtek of the UK. The attenuators are available throughout Europe from any of the three Lynx partner companies.
Test System Simulates LTE Fading Profiles

Aeroflex is introducing a one-box test system for mobile phone signal fading simulation to speed up real-world testing of mobile handsets for LTE (Long-Term Evolution) networks. Integrated within the 7100 Series digital radio test set, the new fading simulator option offers RF engineers an inexpensive and reliable baseband tool for signal fading profiling, a requirement for LTE certification. Until now, testing and simulating LTE fading profiles meant buying and cabling together two separate test instruments.

By integrating the LTE fading simulator into the 7100 Series, Aeroflex saves customers the cost of purchasing additional test equipment and circumvents potential calibration errors that cause faulty test results. In addition, customers can be confident in the repeatability of the fading profiles, said Phil Medd, product manager at Aeroflex Test Solutions. Fading simulators, combined with noise generators, modify RF signals transmitted by the LTE system simulator (in this case the 7100 Series) and emulate degradations introduced into the radio channel by real-life obstacles such as buildings and foliage.

For LTE developers who must profile signal fading on mobile handsets to meet 3GPP requirements before a network is available, the 7100 Series fading simulator allows engineers to perform realistic signal fading simulations in a reliable and repeatable lab environment. As the world's mobile network operators work towards adopting LTE, the demand is growing to meet all of the LTE requirements, including fading profiles specified by 3GPP in 36-521-1. The Aeroflex 7100 Series test platform provides fading simulation that meets or exceeds all 3GPP requirements, as well as flexibility in allocating cells and fading taps for LTE user equipment (UE) without the need for manual reconfiguration.

The repeatable test scenarios presented by the 7100 Series with the fading simulator include the emulation of dynamic environments and realistic and accurate testing of MIMO (multiple-input/multiple output) scenarios. RF engineers, system integrators and regression test engineers need to be ready to test new frequency allocations for LTE features at any time. The 7100 Series fading simulator supports all LTE bandwidths to 20MHz with a frequency range up to 6GHz. The Aeroflex fading simulator supports all 3GPP fading profiles, allowing users to determine if their device conforms to 3GPP test specifications. Based on Aeroflex's tried and tested RF and baseband technology, the 7100 Series digital radio test set supports both RF parametric and protocol testing for LTE terminal devices.

It simulates a network from the physical layer to the core network IP infrastructure. Focused on the RandD market from components to handsets, the Aeroflex 7100 Series is a comprehensive test system for LTE mobile devices incorporated into a small footprint, single bench-top instrument. The 7100 digital radio test set with fading simulator is available immediately for order. The Fading Simulator (option 101) is a software option and can be licensed and installed on units already in the field.
LTM8027 Regulates Output Voltages From 2.5V To 24V

Linear Technology has announced the LTM8027, a 4A system-in-a-package DC/DC Umodule regulator capable of operating from a 60V supply without any input protection. The LTM8027 includes the inductor, power switches, switching regulator and all support components in a small 2.6g 15mm x 15mm x 4.32mm land grid array (LGA) plastic package.

The device can regulate an output voltage ranging from 2.5V to 24V from an input supply of 4.5V to 60V (65V absolute maximum). The LTM8027's rugged voltage rating makes it a suitable voltage regulator for 12V and 24V automotive and heavy equipment such as industrial robotics, 48V telecom, as well as avionics and industrial control systems. The LTM8027's operating frequency can be adjusted with a resistor from 100kHz to 500kHz or the device can be synchronised to an external clock to optimise efficiency for a given input-to-output voltage ratio or to prevent the device from interfering with a system's sensitive operating frequency.

Because of synchronous switching of the internal Mosfets, the LTM8027 can deliver 4A at 12Vout from 24Vin with 93 per cent efficiency. The device draws just 10uA when in shutdown. The LTM8027 is offered in temperature grades of -40C to 125C and -55C to 125C.
LED Light Source Aids Close Visual Inspection

The energy-efficient Ring LED light source and magnifier from Waldmann Lighting is suitable for a wide range of applications where precise examination is required. Applications include measuring, testing and quality control in laboratories, production and assembly areas - and other areas requiring close visual inspection.

The Ring LED combines a compact design to occupy minimum space with a specially coated, scratch-resistant 2.8in (70mm) diameter Eschenbach magnifier lens, offering magnification of 3.1 distortion-free dioptres. Equipped with six LED light sources in a luminaire head measuring 0.5in (12mm) high and 5in (122mm) in diameter, the Ring LED is said to provide four times more light per watt of power compared to compact fluorescent, thus reducing energy consumption by 75 per cent without compromising on light levels.

The LEDs are designed to offer a minimum of 50,000 hours of operating life at 100 per cent brightness level - delivering maintenance-free lighting for six years running 24/7. Housed in a robust metal frame, the Ring LED is connected to a strong, flexible tubular hose that facilitates precise adjustment while absorbing vibration. A soft-touch on/off sensor, integrated into the luminaire head, ensures ease of operation with no mechanical wear and tear to shorten switch life.

The Ring LED connects straight to workstations via a connector pin as standard, or can be supplied with an optional table clamp if preferred.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

McLennan Releases Miniature B138F Gearmotor

McLennan Servo Supplies has brought out a low-cost miniature brushed DC gearmotor from its Italian distribution partner Micro-Motors. The B138F features a durable spur gearbox in a 34mm-diameter moulded-plastic housing with three-point mounting built-in for straightforward installation. A wide range of standard reduction ratios is available, from 12.25:1 to 1470.82:1, with maximum output torque from 1.5 to 50Ncm.

It is just 37.5mm long. The sturdy gearmotor boasts a 20N radial-shaft loading with axial shaft load to 5N. Steel-housed gearbox versions are also available for increased application durability. Available in a choice of 6 or 12V DC and with VDR interference suppression included, the motor includes precious metal brushes and flying leads for flexible installation.

Alternative windings for application-optimised performance are also available. McLennan has an active stock programme for popular ratios and voltage ratings across the range and provides a custom-design service to build the B138F into complete mechatronic solutions complete with drives, motion controls and custom-designed mechanics.
KTR Develops Coupling For Measurement And Control

KTR's Countex Coupling is a three-part, backlash-free, torsionally stiff coupling used mainly in measuring and control technology, such as encoders and tachometers. The compact design of the coupling is characterised by its simple assembly, reliable performance and suitability for use in confined spaces. The double cardanic design allows the coupling to compensate for all potential misalignments with minimal restoring forces.

The axial 'plug-in' of the coupling ensures an easy blind assembly. The coupling has aluminium crown-shaped hubs on the outside diameter, with a toothed cage made from temperature-resistant nylon. Set screws secure the hubs against axial movement. Countex can be used in temperatures of up to 160C. The first Countex Coupling available was a size 14 with rated torques of 1Nm and maximum bore diameter of 14mm.

KTR has now extended the range to include the smaller size 6 Countex Coupling with a rated torque of 0.3Nm and maximum bore diameter of 6mm. The coupling is available from stock at KTR with a range of bore sizes.
Westermo Enhances Wolverine Line-Extruder Range
Westermo Data Communications has expanded and improved its Wolverine range of industrial Ethernet line extenders with the addition of the DDW-225 and an enhanced version of the existing DDW-120. These rugged industrial products form part of Westermo's range of Ethernet SHDSL extenders that are used to establish reliable long-distance, high-speed remote connections between simple and complex Ethernet networks using any existing twisted pair copper cables. The DDW-225 line extender includes the WeOS system, which is already employed in Westermo's Redfox industrial routing switches.

WeOS is said to provide advanced switching and routing functionality that enable the management of complex industrial networks. The enhanced DDW-120 is aimed at simple point-to-point applications, or as a start or termination unit, together with any of the DDW-220/221/222/225 products, in daisy-chain applications. The latest version of the extender enables data transmission rates as high as 15.3Mbit/s in both directions, and transmission distances of over 10km, depending on cable quality. This increased data transmission rate will help the ever-increasing demands for bandwidth from applications such as transmitting high-definition video from remote sites.

The DDW-225 supports two SHDSL interfaces and has a built-in four-port managed Ethernet switch, enabling users to build complete Ethernet networks with daisy chains and ring topologies. Suitable for use in harsh industrial environments, the device offers a data transfer rate of 5.7Mbit/s in both directions, and transmission distances of up to 15km. This makes it useful for applications such as railway trackside, tunnels, highways, harbours, power stations and extended industrial plants. The DDW-225 also includes Westermo's FRNT (fast recovery of network topology) technology - claimed to be the fastest protocol on the market to reconfigure a network in the event of any failure of a link or hardware, which provides support for redundant rings.

The DDW-225 can also support multiple rings, with a FRNT ring running from the SHDSL interface and a RSTP ring from the switch port. Device functionality, including VLAN, Static Routing, Layer 3 switching, IGMP Snooping Firewall, SNMP V3 and VPN support, all help improve bandwidth support and network security. The DDW-120 is designed to be transparent for multicast addressing, is suitable for VLAN networks, allows VPN (Virtual Private Network) pass-through for IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) and can be used with protocols like Modbus/TCP and Profinet I/O. The DDW-120 is said to be simple to install, with no software configuration required.

When long or poor cabling is used, the settings can be adjusted via DIP-switches for optimised performance. The unit is also supplied with an advanced diagnostic utility that allows the installer to analyse the quality of the line and the connection status. As with other products in the Wolverine series, both models are suitable for tough industrial environments. The rugged units can operate in a wide temperature range and total galvanic isolation and transient protection are standard for all interfaces. The line interface is also equipped with extensive protection against over-voltages and transients.
HSTA And HSTAR Sensors Resist Heat And Vibration

Macro Sensors' HSTA and HSTAR LVDT-based linear-position sensors offer the environmental resistance and short-stroke sensor body length for cylinder applications where these are critical. While linear-position sensors were once considered too long for hydraulic applications, the development of new winding techniques, such as computerised layer winding and improved microprocessing, has considerably reduced the length of the linear-position sensor body compared with its measurable stroke length. In fact, for short-stroke actuators and cylinders (less than 6in), Macro Sensors' linear-position sensors can be much shorter than a magnetostrictive sensor.

These linear-position sensors are hermetically sealed and AC-operated. They measure 3/4in (19mm) diameter and can survive in temperatures up to 200C and withstand high levels of shock and vibration. Coil windings are sealed against hostile environments to IEC standard IP-68. They are offered with either an axial (HSTA) or radial (HSTAR) connector - units can have a through bore for the fluid to pass or can seal the fluid in the RAM. The radial connector makes the installed length of the HSTAR LVDTs at least 2in shorter than comparable units, with an axially mounted connector for easier installation in tight spaces.

Accessible from both ends, the linear-position sensors can be easily cleaned of grit, dirt, dust or other contaminants for greater reliability and longer life. Available in ranges of +/-0.050in (+/-1.25mm) to +/-10.0in (+/-250mm), the HSTA and HSTAR sensors feature the high resolution, excellent repeatability and low hysteresis associated with LVDT (linear variable differential transformer) technology, as well as the highest sensitivity consistent with good linearity. The maximum linearity error for any of these sensors is +/-0.25 per cent of full-range output using a statistically best-fit straight line derived by the least squares method.

Macro Sensors offers custom designs for higher temperatures and pressure resistance, smaller diameters and connector options. HSTA and HSTAR Series LVDTs operate properly with any conventional differential input LVDT signal conditioner. Ranges of 1in or greater will also work with ratiometric LVDT signal conditioning. Macro Sensors offers a full line of LVDT signal conditioners that deliver optimum performance from any HSTA and HSTAR linear-position sensor.
KINO-QM57A Controls 1080p Digital-Signage Player
IEI's KINO-QM57A Mini-ITX CPU board includes the socket G CPU socket for Intel Core i7 and i5 processors and the Mobile Intel QM57 Express chipset with Intel Active Management Technology 6.0. The KINO-QM57A is suitable for high-resolution digital signage, surveillance security monitoring and public infotainment applications. The KINO-QM-57 is based on the 32nm Intel Corei7/i5 processor and supports two DDR III SO-DIMM memory modules up to 4GB.

The Mobile Intel QM57 Express chipset allows the playback and transmission of high-quality video. The chipset includes embedded Gbit Ethernet capabilities. The KINO-QM57A has an integrated graphics engine to support up to 1080p HD video playback and the on-board Intel 82577LM GbE LAN controller offers high-speed network-transmission rates. The display output interfaces include two HDMI ports, a VGA port and 18/24-bit dual-channel LVDS option.

The onboard graphics can support two grouped video signals on two sets of displays, or the same signal broadcast over all four outputs. The IEI KINO-QM57A is good for public-surveillance security applications. The Intel 82577LM GbE LAN controller supports Intel Active Management Technology 6.0 and enables remote control and monitoring functions over the network. The KINO-QM57A has a variety of I/O interfaces, including: a VGA port, an LVDS connector, two HDMI ports, two Gbit Ethernet ports, an SPIDF pin header, four RS-232 serial ports, eight USB 2.0s, six SATA II connectors, three SATA power connectors powering two SATA drives each, an external 12V DC power input and an internal 2x2-pin power connector, and a PCIe Mini card extension and a PCIe x16 interface.

The PCIe x16 is suitable for graphics and I/O use. The IEI KINO-QM57A is a powerful platform for digital signage and surveillance-security applications.

Festo Actuators Offer +/-10 Micron Repeatability
Festo has brought out an extensive range of ultra-compact precision electric actuators that can be ordered from its online shop. This means that machine designers and builders can now take delivery of positioning actuators offering +/-10 micron repeatability within 24 hours of placing their order. Downloadable PC-based software for dimensioning electromechanical linear axes and electric motors, backed by native CAD models of the actuators, helps users accelerate design-in and machine build. Festo's new EGSK and EGSP series actuators provide exceptionally accurate positioning capabilities.

Featuring a one-piece solid-steel housing that also serves as a guide rail - conveying a high degree of rigidity to the design - they are ideal for applications demanding short and precise moves, especially where space is limited. Their low profile makes them particularly suitable for the type of small pick-and-place systems and X-Y tables used in the semiconductor manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries. The EGSK and EGSP electric actuators offer a choice of three classes of precision, with repetition accuracies of +/-3, +/-5 or +/-10 microns.

They are available in two performance categories, to help maximise applications flexibility. The EGSK range of standard-performance electric actuators comprises five models, with profile heights from 15 - 46mm. All five models employ a ball-screw drive, with a choice of pitches, and offer a wide variety of stroke lengths - from 25 to 800mm, depending upon the particular model. The +/-10 micron precision class versions of all EGSK actuators, which are suitable for the majority of applications and are therefore likely to prove the most popular, are available off-the-shelf from Festo.

The EGSP range of high-performance electric actuators use caged re-circulating ball bearings between the carriage and the guide, to further reduce friction and noise. There are four models in the range - with profile heights of 20, 26, 33 and 46mm - and again, each model is available with a choice of ball-screw drive pitches and a variety of stroke lengths, ranging from 25 to 800mm. The two largest-size actuators also employ caged ball-bearing chains in the ball-screw drive assembly, to ensure smooth, trouble-free operation under heavy load conditions.

All Festo EGSK and EGSP electric actuators feature four rows of ball bearings circulating within the loaded area of the moving carriage to maximise rigidity and help ensure a long service life. The ball bearings run between the honed grooves of the carriage and the linear guide until they are returned by means of the reversers in the end plates and the recirculation channels. The four rows of balls are arranged at a contact angle of 45 degrees, which means the guide carriage has the same basic load ratings in both radial coordinate directions; the actuator can therefore be used in any mounting position and can accommodate a wide range of load conditions.

EGSK and EGSP electric actuators are fully compatible with Festo's range of stepper and servo motors and controllers, and can also be used with third-party motors. Festo produces a comprehensive range of motor mounting flanges and couplings, as well as actuator-mounting plates and axial mounting kits. The company also offers optional cover kits for these actuators, plus a sensor rail kit that enables inductive position sensors to be attached to the left or right side of the actuator body. Festo has also developed a powerful PC-based software tool to help machine designers and other potential users make the best use of electric-drive technology such as the EGSK actuators.

This positioning drive software enables users to choose the optimum components for a complete, high-efficiency positioning system, and can be downloaded free of charge from the electric-drive technology page at Festo's website. Once a few application details have been entered, the software automatically calculates the ideal combination of electric linear axes, motors, gear units, controllers and software, from a widely coordinated product range. By specifying various project parameters, users can also obtain the load-characteristic values for the selected drive, quickly and reliably.
Modified PTFE Can Be Processed As A Thermoplastic

A structurally modified PTFE can now be processed as a thermoplastic. This gives designers a new range of freedom and enables hitherto impossible applications for this fluoropolymer.At the same time, part production is more efficient. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a high-performance material with a range of properties that have made it particularly suitable for challenging applications. By modifying the polymer, it has become possible to obtain a product, the newly developed Moldflon, that can be processed by thermoplastic techniques.

This material opens up further applications due to the freedom offered by thermoplastic shaping. It can overcome the conventional disadvantages of PTFE processing methods, particularly high material waste as a result of machining and poor surface quality. Due to the thermoplastic process ability of Moldflon, PTFE parts can be produced in a single operation. With traditional PTFE, at least three steps - pressing, sintering and machining - were necessary. The possibility of overmoulding individual parts that is now available can simplify product design.

Lean manufacturing replaces the previous complicated multicomponent solutions. For manufacturing PTFE coverings, processors have so far had two methods available. In isostatic pressing, the insert is embedded in the PTFE raw-material powder, which is then sintered. The surface usually only has to be finished by machining to meet the tight tolerance specifications. It is difficult to achieve smooth surfaces and challenging contours. Another way of producing the PTFE skin consists in prefabricating the individual parts from PTFE. Then the insert part is embedded in further shaping steps, or the PTFE components are welded to form the end shell contour.

Because Moldflon can be processed as a thermoplastic, the inserts can now be overmolded, greatly shortening the process chain. This results in a huge savings potential, particularly for large-scale production. Typical parts that are difficult to produce by conventional PTFE processes include joint capsules of ball-and-socket joints. Generating this outer skin from Moldflon not only requires a great deal of experience with the material behaviour, but also detailed technical knowledge about the production technology. Since Moldflon has a melting point of about 320C, melt temperatures of 360C and mould temperatures of about 260C are necessary.

The parts to be overmoulded must consequently pass through a pre-heating station before they are transferred to the cavity. If required, retaining the centring pins can be used to reduce the part tolerances. To prevent the plastic melt solidifying prematurely in the region of the pins, they are heated together with the surrounding components. During the injection, the pins are retracted, requiring special mould equipment. For top part quality, it is essential to coordinate all the relevant process parameters, from injection to demoulding. The sliding layers in the ball joints undergo steady, as well as intermittent, compressive loading during use and, in cars and trucks, they also experience high temperatures in the region of the drive components.

Fluctuating pressures and temperatures both require the material to have high compression resistance, but it should not have relaxation properties. This property combination is essential to minimise play during use. Frictional loads require the capsule material to have a low coefficient of friction and high abrasion resistance. The possibility of dry running during continuous operations reduces the maintenance outlay and system costs. What must be the composition of a material that can optimally meet these requirements? The structure of this semi-crystalline material is composed of lamellar crystallites and the amorphous zones between them. To achieve good mechanical strength of the material, the crystallites must be joined by sufficient numbers of tie molecules.

The tie molecules are anchored in various lamellae and tied together. The main difference from standard PTFE is that the lamellae in Moldflon are about a factor of 10 smaller than in conventional PTFE. As a result, comparatively small molecular chains can act as tie molecules. Short molecular chains in turn reduce the viscosity of the polymer melt, which is the prerequisite for thermoplastic processing. It is therefore possible to process Moldflon by the traditional methods used for thermoplastic, such as injection moulding, extrusion or transfer moulding.

Even melt spinning can be used to produce very thin fibres with an extremely smooth surface. The close-meshed crosslinking of the very small crystallites make the material extremely compression resistant compared to conventional PTFE and it therefore features low cold flow. Because of the molecular displacement within the crystalline regions, it can act as a dry lubricant similar to graphite, molybdenum disulfide or PTFE micropowders. This is the guarantee for the low-friction coefficient and the consequent low abrasion of this material. At normal processing temperatures, Moldflon has a corrosive effect on steel.

All the melt-contacting parts should therefore be made of corrosion-resistant metals. The screw and cylinder are made of materials such as Hastelloy C4 and Inconel 625, which are familiar for processing PFA (perfluoroalkoxy polymer) and FEP (fluorinated ethylene-propylene). The moulds and dies are made from nickel, nickel alloys and specially coated tool steels. Large runners are used because of the melt's shear sensitivity. For small injection moldings, the weight for the cold-runner system is often larger than the weight of the parts. Due to Moldflon's good recyclability, the sprue scrap can be easily returned to the product stream.

PTFE's properties combined with the possibility of thermoplastic processing open up a variety of new applications, which it has not been possible to cover in this way before. Although the product is still in the launch phase, a range of new system solutions are already emerging. The possibility of producing a large number of compounds additionally extends the range of the natural material. The possibility can be illustrated with reference to automotive applications. Moldflon components are primarily accessible via extrusion and injection moulding.

However, secondary processing methods such as blow moulding or thermoforming, as well as automatic machining of simple extruded profiles, are used here. The combination of traditional properties of PTFE - with the new process techniques of this material, such as injection moulding, transfer moulding and extrusion, but also thermoforming, blow molding or melt spinning - will allow completely new products to be produced economically on a large scale. It will also be easier to produce compounds based in Moldflon. This will allow the applications of this material to be expanded significantly beyond the existing limits of fluoropolymers.


PI has introduced the N-216 Nexline high-load piezo linear motors - ultra-precision nanopositioning actuators that provide travel ranges to 20mm and push/pull forces to 600N (130lb). The operating principle is based on coordinated motion of a number of highly preloaded linear and shear piezo elements acting on a ceramic runner. Nexline Piezowalk drives can be used in ultra-precision manufacturing and semiconductor test equipment to astronomy and high-energy physics applications.

Their reliability makes them suitable for applications in difficult-to-access internals of instruments, where nanometer-realm adjustment and/or vibration cancellation are required. To promote long lifetime, the Piezowalk controller can reduce the operating voltage on the piezo elements to zero at any position without affecting the full holding force (up to 800N, 177lbs). The piezoceramic clamping and shear elements act directly on a moving runner coupled to the load.

For maximum velocity and long-distance movements, the runner can be driven in full step mode. Extremely uniform motion and constant velocity is achieved with the nanostepping mode. Combining long travel ranges with piezo-class precision, Nexline Piezowalk drives offer a high-dynamics analogue operation mode over smaller distances. Open- and closed-loop operation N-216 linear motors come in two versions for open- or closed-loop operation, as well as in two different load configurations.

Closed-loop versions are equipped with a linear encoder for direct position measurement of the moving runner. The encoder features 5nm resolution over the full travel range. In open-loop operation a positioning resolution to 30 picometers can be realised by use of the analogue operation mode.
Objet Geometries To Exhibit Connex350 3D Printer

Objet Geometries will showcase its latest 3D printer, the Connex350, at two customer events in France in March. Illustrating the benefits of high-performance rapid-prototyping technology, the 'A vitesse grand V' events will be hosted at Le Mans 24-hour circuit (9 March) and Actua GT Driving (11 March) in Lyon. The Connex350 maintains the Connex range's ability to produce 3D models by simultaneously printing multiple materials with different mechanical and physical properties.

Widely established through the Connex500, the Polyjet Matrix Technology enables two polymers to be printed as separate entities or mixed during printing. In this way it can simulate overmoulding or create different material characteristics such as variable shore hardness materials, due to Digital Materials. The Connex350 offers these capabilities at a lower investment, through its build volume of 350 x 350 x 200mm, while delivering the same performance as its larger counterpart.

The 'A vitesse grand V' events will introduce the features of the Connex350 through product demonstrations, technical explanations and case studies from customers on their experience of the base technology. There will be opportunities to discuss prototyping challenges with the Objet technical team and engineers, as well as explore other products from the Objet range.
Angle Locking Bracket Allows Profile Fastening

Principally for providing incremental angular adjustment, the Angle Locking Bracket allows the profile to be fastened together at any angle in 2.5deg increments. The bracket would typically be used in pairs on large shelves on track-side equipment and parts trolleys, and is designed to be very easy in operation for the user.

When the knurled locking screw is released, spring pressure lifts the toothed disc away from its mating half, allowing easy rotation. Re-tightening of the screw can be done by hand to re-engage the teeth. The unit will then resist very high rotative moments (up to 200Nm).

The Angle Locking Brackets come complete with all the fastenings needed to secure them to item profiles and are available from Machine Building Systems.
Solidworks 3D Mouse Enhances Navigation

3D Connexion has announced 3D mouse capabilities for Solidworks, designed to bring increased navigation intelligence to the design process. With this feature, 3D Connexion 3D mice can automatically follow a designer's point of interest and continuously determine the optimal centre of rotation, enabling an easier and more intuitive exploration of the largest models and the smallest details.

In addition, the centre of rotation can now be seen at all times via an icon. 3D Connexion will be demonstrating the feature at Solidworks World in Anaheim from 31 January to 3 February, 2010. When using the new update, two modes of setting the centre of rotation are available.

The Auto Rotation Centre sets the centre of rotation to a point on the model that is nearest to the display-screen centre, particularly useful for use at higher zoom levels. For additional control, users can easily pick a new centre of rotation point on the 3D model to suit the design task.

The feature will be available in late February via a free 3Dxware software update and will support Solidworks 2005-2010 on Windows XP, Vista and 7 across the entire product line. The 3D Connexion product line includes the Professional Series with the Space Pilot Pro, Space Pilot and Space Explorer, and the Standard Series with the Space Navigator and Space Navigator for Notebooks.
Enersys Battery Bank Optimises Warehouse Space

Co-operative Food Retail Logistics called on Enersys to optimise the warehouse space at its distribution centre in County Durham by minimising the area required for charging warehouse-truck batteries. The solution was to build a three-tier battery bank - with potential to go even higher - served by an electric-powered changing cart. Over 90 per cent of the 2,000+ batteries used across the company's 19 warehouses are Hawker Evolution units. With a gelled electrolyte, Hawker Evolution offers a number of maintenance-free benefits because its sealed units require no topping up and there is no risk of spillage.

An efficient valve-regulated re-combination technology reduces gas emissions to an absolute minimum, which makes Evolution suitable for busy food-distribution operations. The best way of minimising the charge-area footprint was to create a bank of multiple tiers to accommodate the batteries on charge. Enersys devised a new version of the BBH with fully electric capability to remove any potential restrictions. Co-operative Food Retail Logistics was keen to build redundancy into the system to ensure it could maintain continuous warehouse-truck operations. The solution incorporated two identical banks, each with space for 42 batteries, arranged back to back with their own BBH.

This means that one of the systems can be taken offline for maintenance, while the other continues to supply charged batteries. An added advantage of this layout is that the central aisle running between the two banks allows engineers to check, monitor and maintain the chargers without entering truck-operating areas. This promotes safety and ensures essential maintenance work can continue without disrupting normal warehouse operations. The Pro-Series BBH is a semi-automated electric-powered change cart that runs on concealed rails alongside the row of chargers. When a change is required, the truck approaches the changing area and the driver disconnects its battery.

The trained member of staff dedicated to the battery area then takes over and completes change. A powerful extending electro-magnet on the BBH extracts the battery from the truck onto its onboard roller bed and then pushes it into place for charging. The device can be raised to handle batteries on the second and third levels in the charging banks. Co-operative Food Retail Logistics uses Enersys' Powertech HF chargers, said to offer energy efficiency as much as 20 per cent higher than 50Hz chargers. The chargers automatically detect the battery's level of discharge and will supply only the amount of power needed - and no more - to restore full charge.

This means less mains power is required to charge a battery and the energy costs per charge are considerably reduced, leading to significant savings in electricity costs. With the Evolution battery these savings can be as much as 30 per cent. To ensure maximum efficiency and performance from the power sources, all operations are overseen by the advanced Enersys Battery Management System. The 'intelligent' diagnostic software in the chargers transmits data via the system's PC to a large display screen installed in the battery changing area. The display clearly indicates the order in which batteries for each type of truck should be retrieved, ensuring that only fully charged units are taken.

There is no need to source two spare batteries for each truck because the balanced charging ensures that the equivalent of one spare is enough. The management system operates in conjunction with the remote monitoring and diagnostic Powernet service from Enersys. At any time, managers from Enersys can connect to the management system from their own sites and download a range of battery-related information. This allows them to analyse and assess overall performance and prepare reports for Cooperative Food Retail Logistics. Metrics available include battery status, batteries used, amps available, amps used, power usage, depth of discharge, charger faults by type and recent alarms. Engineers can also isolate individual batteries and carry out diagnostic tasks to identify specific problems.

Information can then be relayed to the warehouse's team of onsite engineers to help them carry out pre-emptive preventative maintenance. In addition to the battery systems, many other aspects of the site have been devised with sustainability in mind: the lighting automatically adjusts to match external conditions with reduced overall energy consumption; a seven-stage rainwater collection and filtration system provides water for use in staff toilets and vehicle washing;and packaging is returned to the site from stores for recycling in a state-of-the-art combined shredder and baler.
Couplings For Individual Encoder Applications

Controlflex from Schmidt-Kupplung is designed for the requirements of shaft encoders. This encoder coupling compensates all kinds of misalignment with very low restoring forces and in a remarkably small envelope. The coupling is electrically insulating, builds short and always works with constant angular velocity.

The coupling manufacture also realises individual systems and encoder-coupling solutions optimised for specific applications. These include, for example, shaft-encoder applications with positive locking and fail-safe for stage technology, with customer-specific hubs for expanding or hollow shafts or with greater misalignment requirements.
Phantom V710 Video Camera Delivers 1,400,000fps

Vision Research has claimed its Phantom v710 provides the fastest image acquisition available in a CMOS high-speed digital video camera. The Phantom v710 delivers 1,400,000 frames per second (fps). Increasing to a higher resolution allows the camera to capture at 7,530fps (1280 x 800). Phantom v710 features remote/automatic black referencing, versatile dual HD-SDI outputs, a component viewfinder port, high-speed synchronisation, range data input and Phantom Cinemag support. The custom-designed CMOS 1280 x 800 sensor provides an aspect ratio that is 25 per cent wider than conventional square cameras and allows the cinematographer to keep moving targets in-frame longer and see more of the event.

The v710's wide-aspect ratio can also capture 1280 x 720 with a one-megapixel camera. he v710 provides 7,500fps at full megapixel resolution. Decreasing the frame rates allows higher frame rates, up to 1,400,000fps. Its unsurpassed sensitivity is possible with an active pixel size of 20 microns and improved quantum efficiency. Even using Phantom's sub-microsecond shuttering, the user can obtain the highest sensitivity with the lowest noise possible. Phantom's optional sub-microsecond shuttering eliminates blur, which vastly improves image clarity. Sub-microsecond shuttering is programmable in 18ns increments, down to 300 nanoseconds.

The v710 supports 8- and 12-bit pixel depth. Smaller bit-depth provides more recording time and smaller files, while greater bit-depth results in more grey levels and finer details. The Extreme Dynamic Range (EDR) feature allows two different exposures within a single frame. Combining these two exposures results in a single very high dynamic-range image. Changing lighting conditions are catered to by the v710's auto exposure. The Phantom v710 has an internal shutter that automatically shades the sensor when performing a current session referencing.

The camera can therefore be used remotely and the CSR performed far more regularly, ensuring the highest quality images in changing conditions. The v710's high-resolution timing system yields a timing resolution of better than 20ns. The trigger signal can be an external TTL pulse (hardware produced), contact closure or open, or via command (software produced). The continuous recording feature can be used to capture automatically, trigger, edit and save image data into any fixed, removable or networked drive accessible from the Phantom camera's control unit.

The camera will then return to recording mode and wait for the next trigger signal, without the need for operator intervention. The combination of 8GB high-speed dynamic RAM (16 or 32GB optional) and segmented memory allows the division of memory into 64 segments, meaning that multiple shots can be taken back-to-back without needing to download from the camera. Alternatively, recording can be made directly to the Phantom Cinemag. Cinemag is a compact, non-volatile, hot-swappable memory magazine that fits snuggly on the camera and is an optional accessory. Vision Research's engineers designed the Cinemag module to fit neatly onto the Phantom range of cameras.

Within the module, cines can be shifted quickly or recorded directly, eliminating the need to download. Not only does the portable Cinemag change workflow, it also protects cines from volatile memory loss. Once saved in the Cinemag, data is secure and the next shot/experiment can be taken almost immediately. The Phantom Cinemag also enables long record times for events that would normally exhaust built-in memory and is available in three sizes: 128, 256 and 512GB. In combination with a Cinestation, a Cinemag can be clipped off the camera, loaded to the Cinestation and while cines are downloaded from the Cinestation at 10GB Ethernet speeds, a second Cinemag can be clipped to the camera to continue shooting.


A three-axis motion platform based on Baldor Electric's Ethernet-compatible drives is increasing the realism of crane training by moving a replica operator cabin in synchronism with computer images. The specialist machine manufacturer Electropneumatics and Hydraulics developed the motion platform for the leading training solutions and services supplier Applied Research International (ARI). Based in New Delhi, India ARI produces a comprehensive range of simulators for marine and allied applications.

Its products include a variety of offshore, quay side and gantry crane-simulators to provide safe, cost-effective operational training for container movement and bulk-handling operations. ARI's simulators emulate the visual, behavioural and operational characteristics of their real-world counterparts to create a fully immersive environment in which the trainee can gain true hands-on experience. A typical crane simulator comprises a modular PC-based control system, a replica operator cabin and seat, a high-fidelity audio-visual system and an instructor station equipped with CCTV for monitoring the actions of the trainee.

When ARI decided to add an optional motion platform to its line of crane simulators, it approached Electropneumatics and Hydraulics for assistance. Electropneumatics and Hydraulics makes metalforming equipment, such as hydraulic presses and tube-bending machines, and also designs and builds special-purpose machinery including different levels of automation with total indigenous content and capability. Electropneumatics and Hydraulics based the motion platform for the crane simulator on Baldor's Powerlink- and Ethernet-compatible drives and servomotors.

'Baldor's Microflex e100 AC servo drives are very cost-effective for this type of application because they can be controlled via TCP/IP direct from the simulator's host PC, without the need for additional hardware,' according to the company's technical director, Ashley Rasquinha. The three-axis motion platform provides X, Y and Z movement of the replica operator cabin, synchronised to the computer-generated images being presented to the trainee. Since it is designed to accurately emulate the movement of a real-life gantry crane, the platform's drive axes are only required to handle relatively simple motion-control tasks such as point-to-point moves and homing sequences and do not require interpolation.

As a consequence, the Microflex e100 servo drives can be used in their basic Ethernet mode, without any additional complexity of real-time control. Each axis is driven by a Baldor BSM three-phase servomotor equipped with an incremental encoder for position and velocity feedback, controlled by a dedicated Microflex e100 servo drive. All three drives are housed in a separate floor-standing control cabinet and are connected via a D-Link 10/100Mbps Ethernet switch to the simulator's host PC. Ashley Rasquinha also said that Baldor's ActiveX development tools for its Mint motion-control language helped to minimise programming effort.

'The tools hide the complexity of Ethernet messages and provide a simple interface to all the Mint programming commands and functions; in conjunction with the excellent libraries of routines that Baldor provides, these made it very easy for us to create and validate all the motion-control sequences,' he added.