December News in Brief
♦ US-based Silicon Laboratories has launched a chip-based AC current sensor that is said to be more reliable and much smaller than traditional current transformers. The Si85xx sensors – available in 5, 10 and 20A versions, with an accuracy claimed to be better than 5% – require no hand winding or calibration at assembly. They have 2V full-scale outputs, eliminating the need for external amplifiers, and provide up to 5kV of isolation.
♦ The FDT Group has announced that version 2.0 of its protocol, intended to simplify its use and to incorporate the latest technologies, will be released in October 2010. It has also added CANopen as the ninth protocol-specific annex for the FDT specification, to be followed soon by Sercos III and EtherCat.
♦ US-based EnOcean has released a third-generation of its energy-harvesting wireless modules for sensor applications. The modules are based on its Dolphin chip, claimed to be the first device to support self-powered two-way wireless communications with ultra-low-power (200nA) sleep currents, and the ability to self-power actuators. The modules, which can extract energy from solar, linear motion or thermal sources, are said to consume 1/10th the power of other low-power radio modules.
♦ Another US company, Functional Devices, is using EnOcean’s technology in a self-powered wireless current sensor that detects load currents from 3–150A and transmits the readings wirelessly to relays that can switch up to 20A.
♦ Semikron has announced a range of low-inductance (15nH) 1.2kV IGBT modules for use in AC/DC converters in the range 20–300kW. The Semitrans modules are said to have a DC link voltage that is 50V higher than rival modules, as well as offering faster and softer switching, resulting in lower switching losses and higher efficiency.
♦ ON Semiconductor has developed a pair of stepper motor driver chips that will deliver currents up to 2.2A continuous (5A peak) for microstepping applications with two-phase stepper motors. The chips include smart motor control, current sensing, protection functions and voltage regulation, reducing the need for external components.
♦ National Instruments is collaborating with Denso Robotics to integrate NI measurement and vision technology into Denso’s robotic arms. NI partner ImagingLab has produced a library of graphical functions that communicate with Denso’s controllers to control robotic arms via NI’s LabView software. The library allows one software environment to control and integrate every aspect of a machine, from part-handling to measurements and vision.