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In Brief

01 January, 2006

In Brief

The Gibraltar-based motor developer Chorus Motors has signed a deal with Magnetek to develop a compact traction motor and drive technology for use in mines. Magnetek says that the Chorus technology will enable it to offer AC motor and drive packages with torque performance at least as good as its current DC controls, but with much lower downtime.

• National Instruments is collaborating with Lego to develop programming software for the next generation of Lego`s Mindstorms robotics kits, which will be based on NI`s LabView graphical development software. The software will provide click-and-drag programming for the Mindstorms, which will also take advantages of recent technologies such as 32-bit processors, new motors and sensors, and wireless communications.

Colorado-based UQM Technologies is developing motor/generator controls using silicon carbide (SiC) power devices for the US Air Force under a $1.08m contract. The controls, to be tested in an all-electric pickup truck, will require high-power SiC modules that are not yet available. SiC devices can operate at higher temperatures and in harsher environments than traditional silicon devices. The new contract is an extension of an existing contract to convert the pickup truck to electric operation.

The organisations behind Sercos are preparing a specification for an extended I/O device profile based on the Sercos profile. To minimise costs, a custom communication controller chip will be developed which is expected to sell for less than $5. The development will simplify the integration of peripheral I/O devices into Sercos networks. The I/O specification and the first prototype products are expected to become available later this year.

• INA FAG has launched a range of coatings designed to improve bearing performance and to protect them from corrosion, wear, friction and slippage, especially in extreme applications. The coatings are applied to the surfaces of rolling bearing components without forming a material bond. In many cases, it will be sufficient to coat only part of the bearing, or one of the surfaces in a rolling contact.

• Siemens has reached an agreement with NEC Electronics under which NEC will manufacture Siemens-developed Ertec (Enhanced Real-Time Ethernet Controller) chips, based on the Profinet standard. The Ertec devices support isochronous real-time communication at rates of up to 100Mbit/s, enabling up to 150 axes to be controlled in a 1ms cycle. The initial Ertec devices will include one with a four-port switch for motion control applications, and another with a two-port switch for drive applications. NEC expects the deal to generate sales worth £25m by 2010.

• Allegro Microsystems has developed a chip that integrates a full-bridge driver circuit for single-phase, two-pole, brushless DC motors, with a Hall Effect sensing element which detects the position of an alternating-pole ring magnet. The result is a single-chip controller that does not need external devices (although use of a bypass capacitor is recommended). The A1441 chip is optimised for controlling vibration motors used in portable devices such as phones and pagers, but can also be used to drive fans that draw up to 150mA.

The CANopen Interest Group has released the specification for an Ethernet-to-CANopen gateway. The first device to comply with the new CiA 309 specification has been developed by Port, while Schneider Electric has produced a compliant ModbusTCP-to-CANopen gateway.




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