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In Brief
Published:  01 March, 2006

In Brief

Avago Technologies claims to have developed the first industrial Fast Ethernet optical transceiver to incorporate a digital diagnostic interface supporting remote, real-time monitoring. Fast Ethernet can be used to upgrade fieldbus networks, providing speeds of up to 125MBd, compared to 12Mbd for Profibus. The multi-protocol interface allows standard and proprietary fieldbuses to inter-operate. IP or MAC addresses can be assigned to shopfloor devices, allowing high-speed remote diagnostics and machine sequence changes via the Internet. Avago`s transceiver is optimised for ProfiNet.

• Perpetuum, the UK company developing a wireless microgenerator technology for turning vibrations into useful energy, has secured £2.2m of second-round venture capital funding, capitalising the company at £5.2m. The tiny generators, which generate up to 5mW, could replace batteries for powering devices such as sensors and transmitters in applications such as condition monitoring.

• Siemens has introduced a software package for use with its motor starters and soft-starts with communications capabilities. The Motorstarter ES package allows users to access individual switching devices in a Simatic network, which can then be diagnosed and started up. The software can also be used for parameterisation, commissioning, and preventive maintenance.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has added an interactive "Techline" to its Web site, showing scientists and inventors who have made major contributions to the development of electricity and electronics, from ancient Greece to today. Visitors can explore the timeline by technologies, by important dates - or by IEC technical committees (in order of creation).

The ISA has set up a committee to help accelerate the wider use of fieldbus devices by creating a standard based on the Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL), specified in IEC 61804, to describe the properties of automation components. The IEC standard includes recent enhancements for advanced visualisation of intelligent device information using Profibus, Foundation Fieldbus or Hart communications.

One of the motors that drive the six-wheeled Mars rover Spirit has stopped working after turning more than 13 million times. NASA engineers say that the motor is not drawing current, possibly because its brushes have lost contact. The vehicle is still managing to move using its five remaining motors. The rover, which was designed to operate for 90 Martian days, has now been moving around the planet`s surface for more than 800 days. The high-efficiency wheel motors, supplied by the Swiss motor-maker, maxon, are slightly modified versions of standard machines.

A US capacitor manufacturer, SB Electronics, has developed a ring-shaped capacitor which, it says, could be used to produce compact, efficient motors with on-board inverter electronics.The company suggests that integrated three-phase motors based on its Power Ring technology will have high power densities and reduced electromagnetic interference problems. The capacitors, available with various inner and outer diameters to fit around different motor shafts, can be produced in capacitances up to 9,500ĶF.

A pan-European project is aiming to develop affordable nanoscale machine tools capable of making precision cuts for applications such as mechatronics and medical devices. One partner in the Masmicro project is Leeds Metropolitan University which is developing the project`s machine tool mechanics in partnership with the motion control specialist, Delta Tau.

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