Now includes an interface to design simulators, enhanced circuit-element grouping capability and design calculators – [via]
RS Components (RS), on November 7 unveiled Version 3 of DesignSpark PCB, the company’s free professional standard PCB design software, used by professional designers, hobbyists and students.
Developed by RS, in conjunction with Number One Systems, the latest version of DesignSpark PCB provides extra functionality and enables the PCB design software to be used with Spice simulation tools from several major manufacturers. In addition to the tool’s new simulation interface, Version 3 includes enhancements such as component and circuit element grouping, and design calculators, which model circuit performance characteristics.
“The success of DesignSpark PCB, the world’s most powerful free PCB design tool, is unparalleled in our industry,” said Mark Cundle, Technical Marketing Manager at RS Components. “The release of the third version of this award-winning software clearly demonstrates the commitment from RS to continually improve this highly successful product. We promise to carry on supporting DesignSpark PCB and continue to make it available free-of-charge to users. We’ve gathered feedback from engineers through our fast-growing DesignSpark community to integrate the new features they’ve requested in Version 3,” added Cundle. “Additionally, the tool is fully functional – with no limitations or locked features – and is well suited to commercial use, which is not always the case with some free tools.”
DesignSpark PCB design software upgraded to version 3 – [Link]
Research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has led to solar cells with record-breaking efficiency. Contrary to conventional scientific wisdom, it turns out that efficient solar cell materials are characterised by high photon emission instead of high photon absorption.
According to the researchers, external fluorescence is the key to approaching the theoretical maximum efficiency for conversion of sunlight into electricity. The maximum efficiency, called the Shockley-Queisser (S-Q) efficiency limit, is approximately 33.5% for a single p-n junction. An analysis by a member of the research team indicated that gallium arsenide is capable of approaching the SQ limit. Based on this work, Alta Devices Inc., a private company spun off by the researchers, has fabricate gallium arsenide solar cells that achieved a record conversion efficiency of 28.4%. [via]
Researchers find key to better solar cell efficiency – [Link]
Safety in traffic depends on a number of factors. One decisive aspect is how fit the driver is. A research team at the Munich Technical University (TUM), in collaboration with researchers at the BMW Group, managed to develop a sensor system integrated into the steering wheel that can monitor the driver’s state of health while driving. The driver can use his time behind the wheel for a minor health check. At the same time the device might be used recognize the onset fainting spells or heart attacks.
If you spend a lot of time driving, in addition to listening to the radio or making phone calls, in the future you will be able to undertake a small health check. Together with researchers from the BMW Group, scientists at the TU Muenchen Chair of Micro Technology and Medical Device Technology (MiMed) directed by Professor Tim C. Lueth have developed a system that monitors vital signs such as heart rate, skin conductance and oxygen saturation in the blood via simple sensors in the steering wheel. [via]
Health check as-u-drive – [Link]
The first of the bricks that built the IT world
On November 15, 1971, 40 years ago this Tuesday, an advertisment appeared in Electronic News for a new kind of chip – one that could perform different operations by obeying instructions given to it.
That first microprocessor was the Intel 4004, a 4-bit chip developed in 1970 by Intel engineers Federico Faggin, Ted Hoff, and Stanley Mazor in cooperation with the Japanese company Busicom (née the Nippon Calculating Machine Corporation) for that company’s adding machines.
Busicom held the rights to the 4004 in 1970, but released them to Intel in 1971. Intel then offered the world’s first processor for sale, and 40 years later that world is a very, very different place.
At the time, only the most far-thinking futurists could have imagined the 4004’s impact. For starters, the chip itself wasn’t all that impressive. It ran at 740KHz, had around 2,300 transistors that communicated with their surroundings through a grand total of 16 pins, and was built using a 10-micron process.
Happy 40th birthday, Intel 4004! – [Link]
MCP9501/2/3/4 family of devices are temperature switches with ±1°C (typical) accurate factory set output thresholds. These devices are ideal for high power supply systems where an overtemperature protection circuit is needed. These devices do not require external components, consume 25 μA (typical), and the factory set thresholds provide simplicity.
MCP9501 – Temperature Switch with Selectable Hysteresis – [Link]
TRIAC Dimmable LED Driver
LT3799 isolated LED controller with active power factor correction (PFC) is specifically designed for driving LEDs over a wide input range of 24V to 480V+. It is ideal for LED applications requiring 4W to over 100W of LED power and is compatible with standard TRIAC in-wall dimmers. The LT3799’s unique current sensing scheme delivers a well regulated current to the secondary side with no opto-coupler, enabling it to provide ±5% LED current accuracy. It also offers low harmonic distortion while delivering efficiencies as high as 90%. Open and short LED protection ensures long term reliability and a simple, compact solution footprint addresses a wide range of applications.
TRIAC Dimmable LED Driver – [Link]
Now, you can experience the energy-saving benefits of LEDs combined with Sharp’s true-to-life color rendering in applications previously limited to a 50W incandescent, halogen, or compact fluorescent equivalent. Meet Sharp’s new 10W Mini Zenigata.
This new module utilizes a 6 (series) x 10 (parallel) LED matrix that delivers a luminous flux between 610 and 690 lm. Sharp’s entire Mini Zenigata product line delivers an impressive CRI value of 87, exceeding ENERGY STAR requirements (minimum of 80 CRI).
The new 10W Mini Zenigata joins Sharp’s existing 3.6W, 4W, 6.7W and 7W Mini Zenigata products to offer chromaticity performance tighter than that defined by existing ANSI CCT standards (under 3 Macadam ellipse). Be sure to review our specification table below on this page to view updated features to many of our 3.6W, 4W, 6.7W, 7W and 10W products.
The Mini Zenigata product family gives a new meaning to “compact,” with approximately half (56%) the surface area of previous models and a significant reduction in the emissive area when compared to our Zenigata offering. Mini Zenigata modules provide an operating life exceeding 50,000 hours at a service temperatures of 80°C.
Mini Zenigata Leds – [Link]
New technology improves both energy capacity and charge rate in rechargeable batteries.
EVANSTON, Ill. — Imagine a cellphone battery that stayed charged for more than a week and recharged in just 15 minutes. That dream battery could be closer to reality thanks to Northwestern University research.
A team of engineers has created an electrode for lithium-ion batteries — rechargeable batteries such as those found in cellphones and iPods — that allows the batteries to hold a charge up to 10 times greater than current technology. Batteries with the new electrode also can charge 10 times faster than current batteries.
The researchers combined two chemical engineering approaches to address two major battery limitations — energy capacity and charge rate — in one fell swoop. In addition to better batteries for cellphones and iPods, the technology could pave the way for more efficient, smaller batteries for electric cars.
The technology could be seen in the marketplace in the next three to five years, the researchers said.
A paper describing the research is published by the journal Advanced Energy Materials.
“We have found a way to extend a new lithium-ion battery’s charge life by 10 times,” said Harold H. Kung, lead author of the paper. “Even after 150 charges, which would be one year or more of operation, the battery is still five times more effective than lithium-ion batteries on the market today.”
New technology improves both energy capacity and charge rate in rechargeable batteries – [Link]
The new DM3730 provides best-in-class ARM and Graphics processing performance coupled with low power consumption
15 November 2011 – London element14, Premier Farnell’s global online eCommunity for electronic design engineers, has today announced availability of the DM3730 ARM® based development kit, a complete embedded development system that accelerates time to market for media-rich, portable applications.
The kit provides developers with an ARM based TI DaVinci™ digital media processor tailored for digital audio, video, imaging, and vision applications. The DM3730 device includes a general purpose processor, video accelerators, and C64 DSP, and is tailored for a range of applications like Portable Data Terminals, Navigation, Auto Infotainment, Gaming, Medical Imaging, Home Automation, Human Interface, Test and Measurement and Industrial Control.
The kit, available via element14 at a promotional price while supplies last, provides easy access to ARM® Cortex™-A8 Core based MCU design, enabling engineers to design their applications with high quality graphics and video apps with low power consumption. The kit is supported by multiple hardware peripherals including LCD touch screen interface and works with Android™, Microsoft® Windows® CE and Linux® operating systems.
For a full list of the DM3730 Development Kit features please visit:
element14 launches its latest ARM® based development kit – [Link]