I’d like to take a moment to shine some light on an area of our business that is generally unthought of and under appreciated — packaging and shipping. The stuff that happens to get your product from the shelf to your doorstep. If you’ve ever received a package from us, I think you’ll fully agree that great pride and care has been put into the packaging to ensure your product arrives undamaged. The packing department has obviously learned quite a lot over the course of 35+ years of business and developed a fantastic process for creating robust packaging. They’ve thought of everything from perfectly sized, double-walled boxes and foam lining down to extra heavy duty packaging tape. Before moving on, let’s take a moment to really appreciate the time and attention the packing department puts into it. The team truly deserves it and I’m genuinely impressed every time I get a package from them. The Amazon smile packages got nothing on them!
Technology has become more than just a battle of sheer numbers. It has somewhat morphed into a “less is more” philosophy to see what’s possible with less. We pitted these three ARM CPUs together to find out if there are any positive impacts to using a slower clock speed CPU:
- 800 MHz PXA166 ARM CPU (TS-7250-V2)
- 1066 MHz PXA168 ARM CPU (TS-7250-V2)
- 696 MHz i.MX 6UltraLite ARM CPU (TS-7553-V2)
What we found is very promising in that in most tests, the 696 MHz i.MX 6UltraLite provided a huge advantage over the 800 MHz PXA166 and even the 1066 MHz PXA168. Let’s take a quick look at our findings.
Radiation tolerance, power efficiency, and fast write performance also characterize F-RAM non-volatile storage technology.
Ferroelectric Random Access Memory (F-RAM) is a non-volatile storage technology that offers low power, fast write performance, and a greater write endurance when compared to EEPROM or flash technologies. For example, the write endurance of F-RAM from Cypress Semiconductor is 10^14 (100 trillion) write cycles. Presuming the device takes 4 ms to rewrite every cell, it would take a minimum of 126 years for a failure to occur. However, EEPROM and NOR Flash have write endurance of just 10^6 (1 million) write cycles. Additionally, F-RAM data retention is very robust, supporting a minimum of 10 years, and more than 121 years of data retention at + 85 °C, depending on the individual product.
The high-speed nature of the device combined with its non-volatility and data retention makes this memory device useful in many applications. The F-RAM used in Technologic Systems’ products is an AT25 compatible SPI device. The TS-7553-V2 board support package implements the F-RAM as an extra EEPROM-like memory and presents the whole device as a flat file.
CES 2018 is in the bag. There were some highs and lows as the show continues to grow and slowly encompass the entire Vegas Strip. This is my unofficial awards ceremony for this years CES.
Most Omni-Present Tech
Google. Google, everywhere. This CES was definitely the battle of the virtual assistant market share and “hey google” was making a big splash. From wrapping the monorail to banners covering entire buildings to the oompa-loompah like assistants running all around the show it was hard to get away from Google. However, while Google had the crown for the most marketing materials it seemed like developers were leaning more towards Alexa in the vendor booths.
Runner Up (tie)
Screens. It’s no surprise for a show that started partially as a showcase for televisions that screens are still king at CES. From the massive LG OLED canyon to wafer thin screens that worn as watches, there were screens of all shapes, sizes and clarity were everywhere.
Robots. Every shape, style and size of robot was on display. From autonomous two wheel “tank” bots cruising the aisles to small desktop balancing robots responding to voice commands the robots were at CES in a big way this year. My personal favorite was Buddy, who looked like he came straight out of a Pixar movie.
Line I Wish I Stood In
Teslasuit. There were a lot of VR/AR experiences and a line to go with everyone of them. However, the standout seemed to be the Teslasuit full haptic feedback suit and I wish I would have experienced that one first hand. Next year.
Most Impressive Demonstration
For this one you had to go to the mydevices suite in Mandalay Bay. If you were lucky enough to get invited you saw Benny Estes, product manager for mydevices put together a complete working sensor suite from scratch. Using auto-discovery and QR codes Benny took devices out of the box and had them online and reporting to a central dashboard in a matter of seconds. Truly inspiring to see how quickly you could deploy and the variety of sensors you can have available.
Mother Nature. In the first two days of CES Vegas get one quarter of their annual rainfall. Flooded parking garages, puddles and disabled outdoor escalators were just some of the downsides to this water show. Soggy shoes and walking 18,078 steps is a bad combo. The power outage in north hall on day 3 was also attributed to the rains.
There was a lot of the typical swag at CES this year, as to be expected, but for me a few booths stood out. CNET provided hand screened canvas bag made to order while you wait. I went with the timeless 70s logo, mainly because my other selection “so many gadgets, so little time” was too popular.
A pill you ingest to help you predict and notify you when you are going to experience flatulence. Not sure if you get a text, or how you are notified of the pending eruption. Taking the Internet of Things a bit too far?
Security. This show is massive. Almost unimaginably massive. It has a footprint spanning from the LVCC to the Aria with stops everywhere in between, and is even larger if you count vendor suites. The security was amazing. Omnipresent, but not intrusive you were never far from help but also never standing in long lines for bag searches. Incredibly well choreographed and coordinated from the K9, to LVPD, to the convention center security they were hitting on all cylinders. #vegasstrong
Monorail. My personal favorite mode of travel the monorail kept whisking attendants away to the next venue or to the after parties on a smooth schedule and even at peak hours never seemed over crowded.
Favorite Non-CES Moment
I ran into Caesar’s Forum shops to get out of the rain and saw an Optimus Prime sculpture in a storefront. I took a picture and sent it to my son, who is currently an Optimus fan. When I got home I asked if he got the picture and my son said that he had and asked me, “He’s not real, is he?” and thanks to being to CES 2018 I could answer the question truthfully, “Not yet.”
EECatalog.com both published and featured the second of a multi-part article “HALT 2: Preparation is Everything“, written by our very own Alan Brown, Marketing Communications Manager. In it, he covers tips, tricks, and lessons learned as Technologic Systems prepared for and underwent HALT. Be sure to take a look!
Embedded Computing author Brandon Lewis, Technology Editor, interviewed our own Mark Featherston, Embedded Engineer, on Ubuntu Core. Be sure to take a look! Pages 18 and 19.
Nuts and Volts has published the article “Working with I2C Sensor Devices” in the July 2017 issue. It walks you through how to interface with an I2C device using a single board computer. Be sure to visit your local bookstore and pick up a copy while they’re available!
When washing electronic boards, a common concern among technicians is the purity of their water. Rightfully so because technicians don’t want filthy trace deposits left under and around sensitive components. Some might ask, “If water is bad for electronics, why wash them in the first place?” Washing boards is a common process in the electronics industry because when a board is manufactured or reworked, there is a substance called flux that needs to be removed or it will cause corrosion and longevity issues. Water is a readily available and an effective solution for removing flux. However, technicians need to choose the water carefully.
There are several different levels of water purity. Starting with the least pure option, typical tap water can be used for washing boards. The next quality improvement is using carbon filtered water which marginally helps with the contaminants in the tap water. A quality level above that is Deionized water (DI water) which is commonly used in the board washing process at high quality electronics facilities. Using DI water for the board washing process is optimal due to the absence of contaminants in the water. Because DI water is the purest form of water, electronics manufacturers focused on quality use this as a standard for board washing.
You only have to go as far as your corner coffee shop to realize the new human-machine interface (HMI) preference is screens. From the touchscreen Point of Sale systems to the multitude of people interacting with their phones and mobile devices, screens are king. Industry is following suit and the choice for HMI is quickly migrating away from the keyboard and mouse and towards the screen. With the abundance of touch screens on the market and the decrease in costs there has been a marked increase in their market share and penetration. When picking a screen it’s important to determine which is better for your purposes: capacitive or resistive?