Tag Archives: Electronics

Obama’s Idealists

American Power in Theory and Practice
By Peter Beinart – In different ways, each book traces a narrative arc that begins with a vow, made in young adulthood, to use the United States’ might for good and ends with a sober realization about how hard fulfilling that vow actually is. For Rice, the arc begins with her failure, as a young NSC aide, to rouse the Clinton administration to halt the 1994 Rwandan genocide, after which she pledged “to go down fighting, if ever I saw another instance where I believed U.S. military intervention could . . . make a critical difference in saving large numbers of human lives.” For Power, it starts during her time as a war correspondent in Bosnia, where the besieged residents of Sarajevo asked her to “tell Clinton” about the horrors she had seen. For Rhodes, it begins with 9/11 and the Iraq war, which left him yearning to harness the idealism he felt the Bush administration had squandered.

In each book, three moments during the Obama administration play outsize roles in chastening this youthful idealism: the decision to bomb Libya in 2011, the decision not to bomb Syria in 2013, and the 2016 election.

The problem isn’t that Rice, Power, and Rhodes shade the truth to make themselves look good. To the contrary, all three are, at various points, admirably frank about their mistakes. The problem is that by refusing to reveal what happened behind closed doors, they fail to help readers understand what lessons to draw from the Libya debacle. Is the lesson that presidents who lack the stomach for nation building shouldn’t topple regimes? Is it that the United States needs greater diplomatic capacity? Is it that brutal dictatorships are better than failed states? By not explaining Libya’s lessons, liberal internationalists like Rice, Power, and Rhodes make it easier for nativist bigots like Trump to proffer a lesson of their own: that Washington should care less about people overseas, especially if they are not Christian or white.

In each, the saga of disillusionment reaches its nadir in 2016, with Russia’s electoral interference and Trump’s election. After witnessing the limits of the United States’ ability to defend democracy and human rights abroad, Rice, Power, and Rhodes realize to their horror the limits of its ability to defend those principles at home. When Obama asks Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader, to issue a joint statement condemning Russian interference in the election, McConnell refuses, a move that Rhodes calls “staggeringly partisan and unpatriotic.”

Although none of the authors puts it this way, it’s possible to read their books not only as tales of tempered idealism but also as chronicles of America’s declining exceptionalism. In retrospect, the belief in democracy promotion and humanitarian intervention that Rice, Power, and Rhodes embraced early in their careers rested on a faith that democracy was stable at home. With that faith now eroded—and the United States battling its own rising tribalism, authoritarianism, and brutality—it is hard to imagine a book like Power’sA Problem From Hell,” a critique of the country’s repeated failure to stop genocide, becoming the sensation it did in 2002.

As Americans have grown more preoccupied with, and more pessimistic about, their own country’s moral condition, they have turned inward. As a young woman, Power helped expose concentration camps in Bosnia. Today’s young activists are exposing them in Texas. As of September, foreign policy has barely figured in the Democratic presidential debates. more>

Updates from Siemens

Revolutionizing Plant Performance with the Digital Twin and IIoT eBook
By Jim Brown – How can manufacturers use the digital twin and industrial IoT to dramatically improve manufacturing and product performance?

The manufacturing industries are getting more challenging. Manufacturers must evolve as new technologies remove barriers to entry and enable new, digital players to challenge market share. Operational efficiency is no longer enough to compete in today’s era of digitalization and Industry 4.0.

To remain competitive, companies have to maintain high productivity while offering unprecedented levels of flexibility and responsiveness. We believe this is a fundamental disruption that will change the status quo. To survive, manufacturers need to digitalize operations in order to improve speed, agility, quality, costs, customer satisfaction, and the ability to tailor to customer and market needs.

One of the most compelling digitalization opportunities is adopting the digital twin. This approach combines a number of digital technologies to significantly improve quality and productivity. It starts with comprehensive, virtual models of physical assets – products and production lines – to help optimize designs. But the value is much greater because the physical and virtual twins are connected and kept in sync with real data from the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial IoT (IIoT).

Further, companies can use analytics to analyze digital twin data to develop deep insights and intelligence that allow for real-time intervention and long-term, continuous improvement.

The digital twin holds significant productivity and quality opportunities for the plant. It can be used to understand when the plant isn’t operating as intended. It can identify or predict equipment issues that can result in unplanned downtime or correct process deviations before they result in quality slippage, scrap, and rework. more>

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Eye diagrams: The tool for serial data analysis

By Arthur Pini – The eye diagram is a general-purpose tool for analyzing serial digital signals. It shows the effects of vertical noise, horizontal jitter, duty cycle distortion, inter-symbol interference, and crosstalk, all of which can close the “eye.” While engineers have used eye diagrams for decades, oscilloscopes continually get new features that increase its value.

Oscilloscopes form eye diagrams—the separation between the two binary data states “1” and “0”—by overlaying multiple single clock periods on a persistence display. The accumulation shows the history of multiple acquisitions.

Additive noise tends to close the eye vertically while timing jitter and uncertainty closes the eye horizontally. Duty cycle distortion (DCD) and inter-symbol interference (ISI) change the shape of the eye. The channel will fail if the eye closes to the point where the receiver can no longer recognize “0” and “1” states.

In the days of analog oscilloscopes, the eye diagram was formed by triggering the oscilloscope with the serial data clock and acquiring multiple bits over time using a persistence or storage display. This technique adds the trigger uncertainty or trigger jitter to the eye diagram for each acquisition. Digital oscilloscopes form the eye by acquiring very long record with many serial bits.

The clock period is determined, and the waveform is broken up or “sliced” into multiple single-bit acquisitions overlaid in the persistence display. In this way, all the data is acquired with a single value of trigger jitter that’s eliminated by using differential time measurements within the eye. more>

Updates from Siemens

By Maria M – The foundation of smart manufacturing is an integrated platform that unites the domains required to engineer, manufacture and deliver today’s smart products. Smart manufacturing is a digitalized development strategy that is particularly critical for the electronics industry. Today it’s considered a must have and no longer touted as state of the art or nice to have, cost prohibitive, functionality.

Smart manufacturing is for every company, any size large and small and no longer thought to apply only to high volume production. It is in fact the perfect solution for high mix, low volume manufacturers. Providing them with the agility and flexibility they need to be most efficient and adaptable to change.

To take full advantage of smart manufacturing all processes from printed circuit board (PCB) design and factory floor optimization to incorporating customer feedback in new designs must be included. This approach has been shown to reduce time-to-market by up to 50 percent, shrink development costs by as much as 25 percent and enable electronics companies manufacturing processes to yield near-perfect results.

Most electronics manufacturers have digitalized their operations in a piecemeal fashion over time. Their digital landscapes have expanded as the technologies and their business cases have evolved, and manufacturers have applied solutions for a range of individual functions.

To truly reap digitalization’s potential benefits, electronics manufacturers need integrated smart manufacturing solutions that break down the silos. Such solutions use product lifecycle management (PLM) technologies to link design verification, manufacturing planning and process engineering, allied with electronics-specific manufacturing execution systems (MES) that unite production scheduling, production execution, and manufacturing analytics. more>

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Electrical power systems for space missions require careful consideration

Requires the optimal combination of primary and secondary sources
By Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio – A satellite needs an energy source to provide perfect performance, with the battery inside it working continuously for many years. The electrical power system is, perhaps, the most fundamental requirement for the satellite payload, as power system failure results in the loss of the space mission. It’s interesting to note that many of the early satellite systems failed due to these power system failures.

Power systems cover all aspects of energy production, storage, conditioning, distribution, and conversion for all types of space applications. Missions can last from a few minutes (launchers) to decades, such as interplanetary probes or the International Space Station (ISS), and can require from a minimum of a few watts (cubes) to tens of kilowatts (large space vehicles for telecommunications such as for the ISS). The electrical loads of a satellite often vary depending on which instruments or subsystems are running at a given time.

Therefore, power systems engineering (also called the electrical power system, or EPS) for satellites requires the selection of the optimal combination of primary and secondary sources for the architecture. more>

Updates from Siemens

New technology in industry is creating a platform economy
By Frank_Fang – Twenty years ago, product-centric companies dominated a list of the most valuable companies in the world. The list was a Who’s Who of automotive, manufacturing, oil and gas, and brick-and-mortar retailers.

Today, platform-based businesses rule.

This new economy forces product-centric manufacturing companies to rethink how they transform digitally to survive and thrive in a data-rich market. It’s no secret that new technology and new approaches eventually supersede the old.

We’re witnessing one of these periods now. As manufacturers look for ways to radically redefine processes through the hype of the sharing economy, online platforms, the end of money and all the other buzzwords people use today, digital twin evolution will lead to platform economy, a state Viktor Mayer-Schönberger foresees in his book Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data.

Digital twins, which evolve from decades of simulation and analysis in engineering, are high fidelity models for actual physical objects such as a product or production process. Using computer aided-design, model-based system engineering and multiphysics simulation tools, a designer or engineer creates a digital representation for a physical object or process.

The digital twin is no longer science fiction. For example, NASA used this approach to design, engineer and produce two Mars rovers: Curiosity and InSight.

Since you can’t build a Mars environment on earth, you simply bring Mars to the computer and digitally test your Mars rover. more>

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Updates from Georgia Tech

Signals from Distant Lightning Could Help Secure Electric Substations
By John Toon – Side channel signals and bolts of lightning from distant storms could one day help prevent hackers from sabotaging electric power substations and other critical infrastructure, a new study suggests.

By analyzing electromagnetic signals emitted by substation components using an independent monitoring system, security personnel could tell if switches and transformers were being tampered with in remote equipment. Background lightning signals from thousands of miles away would authenticate those signals, preventing malicious actors from injecting fake monitoring information into the system.

The research, done by engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has been tested at substations with two different electric utilities, and by extensive modeling and simulation. Known as radio frequency-based distributed intrusion detection system (RFDIDS), the technique was described February 26 at the 2019 Network and Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS) in San Diego.

“We should be able to remotely detect any attack that is modifying the magnetic field around substation components,” said Raheem Beyah, Motorola Foundation Professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and co-founder of Fortiphyd Logic, Inc. “We are using a physical phenomenon to determine whether a certain action at a substation has occurred or not.”

Opening substation breakers to cause a blackout is one potential power grid attack, and in December 2015, that technique was used to shut off power to 230,000 persons in the Ukraine. Attackers opened breakers in 30 substations and hacked into monitoring systems to convince power grid operators that the grid was operating normally. Topping that off, they also attacked call centers to prevent customers from telling operators what was happening. more>

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Updates from Autodesk

3D Printed Wireless Earbuds Help Enhance Hearing and Reduce Stigma Around Traditional Hearing Aids

Autodesk – Manchester Metropolitan University graduate Elen Parry, a current Industrial Digitalization masters student at the university and an International Autodesk Student Ambassador for the UK, is focused on using “Human-Centered Design methods” to reduce exclusion against people. Her current project is a 3D printed wireless earbud concept, aimed at helping people with hearing disabilities fight the stigma around traditional hearing aids, while enhancing their hearing at the same time.

Parry’s HeX earbuds, which were chosen by the Design Council’s CEO Sarah Weir as the top pick for this year’s ‘New Designers’ event, are audio headphones that can also be used as an advanced hearing device. The concept calls for the use of an advanced chip, which would receive and process sound signals and be able to differentiate and control what you actually want to hear and normal background noise. Users could decrease or increase the volume of their environment, which could help extend their ability to hear while at the same time protecting them against hearing loss.

Thanks to technology like 3D printing and connected manufacturing systems, it’s now possible to produce devices like hearing aids and earbuds, and combined products like HeX, on a large scale. more>

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Air Gaps Key to Next-Gen Nanochips

By Kenny Walter – A new type of transistor—which uses air gaps to eliminate the need for semiconductors—could help scientists produce more efficient nanochips.

RMIT University researchers have engineered a new type of transistor that send electrons through narrow air gaps where they can travel unimpeded, rather than sending electrical currents through silicon.

“Every computer and phone has millions to billions of electronic transistors made from silicon, but this technology is reaching its physical limits where the silicon atoms get in the way of the current flow, limiting speed and causing heat,” lead author and PhD candidate in RMIT’s Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group Shruti Nirantar said in a statement.

“Our air channel transistor technology has the current flowing through air, so there are no collisions to slow it down and no resistance in the material to produce heat.”

While the power of computer chips has doubled about every two years for decades, recently the progress has stalled as engineers struggle to make smaller transistor parts.

However, the researchers believe the new device is a promising way to create nano electronics that respond to the limitations of silicon-based electronics. more>

Updates from Georgia Tech

Finally, a Robust Fuel Cell that Runs on Methane at Practical Temperatures
By Ben Brumfield – Fuel cells have not been particularly known for their practicality and affordability, but that may have just changed. There’s a new cell that runs on cheap fuel at temperatures comparable to automobile engines and which slashes materials costs.

Though the cell is in the lab, it has high potential to someday electrically power homes and perhaps cars, say the researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology who led its development. In a new study in the journal Nature Energy the researchers detailed how they reimagined the entire fuel cell with the help of a newly invented fuel catalyst.

The catalyst has dispensed with high-priced hydrogen fuel by making its own out of cheap, readily available methane. And improvements throughout the cell cooled the seething operating temperatures that are customary in methane fuel cells dramatically, a striking engineering accomplishment. more>

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