Successful Endeavours - Electronics Designs That Work!

Innovation


Satellite Internet

There are many areas of the world where Internet services are not readily accessible. One of the ideas for providing poorly services areas with Internet was g

Google’s Project Loon which used high altitude balloons.

But there are also Satellite Internet contenders. Theses were nicely covered by recent blogs at CIS 471 and I’ve picked out some essential bits of information.

Boeing

Boeing Satellite Internet Plan

Boeing Satellite Internet Plan

The image above shows Boeing‘s plans to cover the earth with 2956 satellites. You can read more at Boeing’s satellite Internet project.

SpaceX

The next company is SpaceX who are also involved in rocket and satellite design. They are looking at 4425 satellites in low earth orbit.

SpaceX Satellite Back Haul

SpaceX Satellite Back Haul

SpaceX believe that they can speed up Internet Back Haul by reducing the number of router hops required. The example above shows 5 space hops (including up and down) replacing 14 conventional hops. You can read more at SpaceX satellite Internet project status update.

OneWeb

And OneWeb are looking to provide Global Internet access, especially to the developing world.

OneWeb Transceiver Footprint

OneWeb Transceiver Footprint

They plan to use beam steerable techniques to allow frequency reuse and clean hand off as the satellites move overhead. And at seriously fast data rates. You can read more at OneWeb satellite Internet project status update.

What I found very encouraging is the degree to which BoeingSpaceX and OneWeb are collaborating and cooperating in order to make sure that they can coexist and all provide effective services. This included adjusting planned orbital heights and frequency usage.

So great to see another example of just how much Collaboration can enable opportunities, even when the collaborators look like competitors.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2017 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Doug Engelbart

There are lot’s of people who have done enormous service to the world through their inventiveness and willingness to share with other. A good example is Dennis Richie who I gave a tribute to in 2011 and who gave us the C Programming Language, one of the most used computing languages even today.

Doug Engelbart holding an early computer mouse

Doug Engelbart holding an early computer mouse

I recently came across Doug Engelbart who passed away 4 years ago and is responsible for inventing many of the ideas behind modern computing including:

  • Father of the mouse
  • Videoconferencing
  • Hyperlinks
  • WYSIWYG word processor
  • Multi-window user interface
  • Shared documents
  • Shared database
  • Documents with images & text embedded
  • Keyword search
  • Instant Messaging
  • Synchronous Collaboration
  • Asynchronous Collaboration
  • and much more

The Mother of all Demos

The Mother of all Demos was a 90 minute presentation he put together in 1968 to demonstrate, for the first time, some of the above inventions. Below is a video with selected highlights.

This was the beginning of Interactive Computing and a critical breakthrough on the way to the Graphical User Interface and eventually the WIMP (Windows, Icons, Mouse, Pointer) Operating System concepts.

You can read more about his contributions at:

The First Mouse

And now for a look at the First Mouse. This one predated the 3 button version used in the Mother of all Demos.

Again I am very grateful for those who have gone before us and shared and collaborated so freely that we might all benefit together.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2017 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Tech Schools Project

In Schools of the Future I wrote about the Victorian Government Tech School initiative which is intended to augment existing High Schools with a High Technology facility that is a shards asset for the all the schools in the area. The intent is to improve Australia’s digital readiness, STEM adoption and aid schools to prepare students for Jobs of the Future or the Industries of Tomorrow (or even today in many cases).

The Casey Tech School is expected to open in 2018 with construction under way now. I am one of the industry directors and keen to see the project achieve its fairly ambitious targets.

One of the lines I like from The Dish is “This is science’s chance to be daring”. For me, the Tech School Project is “Education’s chance to be daring”. And certainly offer a huge opportunity for Innovation in Education.

The Yarra Ranges Tech School has been up and running for a while and a big help to the rest of the projects as we are all able to learn from their experience. They recently interviewed me on careers perspectives and have provided a copy of the edited video for our own use. So here it is.


Tomorrows jobs will be created by the workers, not companies“. Ray Keefe 2016.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2017 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Voltera V-One

The Voltera V-One is a PCB Prototyping system from voltera.io. And we just got one having put in a pre-order in April 2017. So we made the default “Hello World”project to make sure it works. And it did. Now the first serious assignment is making a single sided PCB with 8 channels of 3rd order active low pass filtering on it. Although it can do double sided PCBs there are extra steps so I started with single sided and we will run a few jumper wires to stitch the GND and VCC nets together. Everything else I was able to route fully through on the top layer. You can watch it in action below.

And this is the design it is printing. Below is the schematic for 2 of the low pass active filter channels.

Active Low Pass Filter Schematic

Active Low Pass Filter Schematic

The layout that was then converted to gerber plots (only needed the GTL top layer) and printed. You can easily see where I allowed for the jumper wires. The ones on the left are GND and on the right are VCC.

Active Low Pass Filter PCB

Active Low Pass Filter PCB

This technology is the equivalent of 3D printing for circuit boards. But wait, there is more. You can use any substrate so this can print on glass or a flexible medium such as Kapton. And it is worth noting that it is a printer and so can handle more than just conductive ink. You can also use it as a general purpose printer. It will even dispense paste on standard HASL finish production PCBs so you can do stencil free reflow of standard PCBs.

They are also working on a milling attachment and we plan on getting that as soon as it is available.

Voltera V-One Review

Here is a review put together by Andrew Walla, one of the staff here at Successful Endeavours. I’ve added a few comments of my own so here it is.

Voltera V-One Pros

  • Voltera have done an exceptional job with the software user interface and look and feel of the product. In much the same way that the Arduino platform makes embedded microcontroller technology accessible to the masses, I feel the V-One does the same for PCB prototyping.
  • The printer has everything you need to get started to print your own ‘Hello World’ project. Batteries are included.
  • The printer allows you to fabricate single layer PCBs in less than a day, even on unusual substrates such as glass or flexible polymers.
  • Double sided PCBs are supported. There are extra steps such as drilling the through holes after curing the first side then aligning the second side then print and cure. A simple double sided PCB could also be done the same day. You manually fill Via holes with paste so they plate through.
  • The printer accepts standard PCB file formats (GERBER) and doesn’t appear to have any difficulty reading them correctly.
  • The printer allows for aligning different designs over pre-existing prints or for double sided PCBs.
  • It also has a paste dispenser so you can lay down paste and then hand load components.
  • The heated bed, used for curing the conductive ink, will go hot enough to reflow the paste once you have parts loaded. You can even modify the temperature profile to behave in a custom manner.
  • If you have standard PCBs with HASL finish then they have a specific paste you can use with them and it will reflow those as well. We are likely to make a lot of use of that feature. And the machine is faster at this than printing because the ink curing time is an hour but paste is ready to go the moment it is dispensed.
  • The conductive ink seems to live up to its promised conductivity.
  • And the biggest Pro of all: if you need a PCB today, then you can have your PCB today, as long as it is within the process capabilities of the Voltera V-One.

So lots of positives there.

Voltera V-One Cons

  • Don’t expect this printer to make production quality PCBs for you.
  • It doesn’t support solder masks. Plus that would take up a lot of ink. So you will want to think about whether you want to coat the PCB after assembly with a varnish.
  • And there is a lot more work to getting a double sided board together.
  • You also won’t end up with as neat a result as you can get from production PCBs hand loaded. However the paste dispenser is definitely going to get a lot of use on HASL finish PCBs so we see that as a major win.
  • Because the PCB sits on top of the rails when it is being cured, you can’t run tracks out to the edge of the PCB.
  • We made some cardboard spacers to allow us to position the blank PCB in the center of the bed. Otherwise it can be awkward to get the printing aligned with the PCB. So this is an area that needs improving.
  • And while they do intend to release a milling accessory, it isn’t ready yet. That is also on our “to get” list.

Overall, I have been quite impressed and look forward to seeing what this printer will have to offer in future.

This post was jointly produced by Ray Keefe and Andrew Walla.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2017 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Agilent Award for Innovation in Analytical Science

We are pleased to announce that our client, The Active Reactor Company, are finalists in the Agilent Award for Innovation in Analytical Science 2017 this coming Tuesday 12 September 2017.

Agilent

Agilent

This is for the arcHUB Smart Cities device that measures multiple data types that are useful for the management of Smart Cities. The initial data set is:

  • wind speed (external anemometer attached)
  • sunlight level
  • night light level (street light monitoring etc)
  • temperature
  • PM2.5 particulate levels
  • PM10 particulate levels
  • Gases – CO, H2S, SO2, NO2, H2S
  • Humidity
  • People counting (PIR based anonymous counting)
  • Soil moisture levels (external probe)

It is also the HUB and coordinator of a Sensor Area Network that can include modules that can measure any of the above as well as:

  • vibration
  • shock
  • movement
  • water level
  • GPS location
  • USB charger current (for usage analysis)
  • counting any device or system that has a pulse output
  • analog voltage measurements (AC and DC)

arcHUB trial at Fitzroy Gardens

arcHUB trial at Fitzroy Gardens

The arcHUB is solar powered and includes a cellular modem to allow reporting back to a web service. It is designed to mount to a pole using straps but can easily be mounted to a wall or any other typical structure. A typical scenario is measurements every 15 minutes (except people or pulse counting which are continuous) and uploading to the web service every hour.

With the release of CAT-M1 services across Australia by Telstra, we are expecting migrate to this communications standard because it will reduce power consumption by at least a factor of 4 which will further improve battery life.

We are looking forward to the awards outcome on Tuesday night and wish The Active Reactor Company all the best.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2017 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Smart Cities

This follows on from our look at Smart Cities and the technology mix being considered for how you implement them. For this post we will look at the development of a Smart City Telemetry sensor suite and the ICT communications that go with it. This is also a classic IoT case study.

I also want to point out that a Smart World will only happen if we have Smart Regions, Smart Countries, Smart States or Territories, Smart Cities and Smart Neighbourhoods.

arcHUB

My thanks go to The Active Reactor Company for giving me permission to share their story about the development of the arcHUB Telemetry sensor suite which is aimed at the Smart Cities programs as well as being more widely deployable.

arcHub Telemetry Module

arcHub Telemetry Module Logo

A few days ago I had the opportunity to speak with Daniel Mulino who is the State Member for Eastern Victoria. The picture below comes from his visit to our office in Narre Warren. The original post he made along with my explanation is here. I’m giving a more detailed explanation below including some history.

Ray Keefe - arcHUB - Daniel Mulino

Ray Keefe – arcHUB – Daniel Mulino

For those wondering about the device I am holding, it is an arcHUB Smart Cities Telemetry module aimed at Smart Cities projects and environmental monitoring where you don’t have access to, or want the cost of, connecting up mains power. This is designed for The Active Reactor Company and is already involved in 1 Smart Cities deployment and multiple trials of low cost sensor modules by councils and government agencies in 3 states. I can’t yet provide specific details on those as they are covered by non-disclosure agreements.

To understand how we got here, it helps to know the history.

The Active Reactor Company make a product called The Active Reactor. It improves both the efficiency and the life of arc lamps such as low pressure sodium street lights, high pressure Sodium  and metal halide lamps.

The Active Reactor

The Active Reactor

With the advent of LED street lighting their current product is not needed for new installations and so they wanted to secure the future of the business. So a great example of addressing an issue that will arise in the future so you are ready for it rather than just reacting to it once it happens.

Initially the new product was aimed at monitoring LED street lights. One of the big issues with LED lighting is that the LEDs either fail over time or they fade and lose brightness. Or a mixture of both. The fading is a result thermal diffusion in the semiconductor substrate. When they fall by more than 30% then you have to address that as they no longer comply with legal standards for lighting levels. The other catch is that the claimed life of 10+ years isn’t yet proven and so it is expected that there will be many lights that fail early or fade early or both.

Of course, once you have a communicating device that can monitor one thing and report it, it can also monitor other things and report them as well. Plus there were issues with being allowed to monitor the light. And where would the power come? Their inquiries with authorities responsible for the poles would not give permission to tap the power in the pole or light.

So this set us the follow set of constraints to work within:

  • must be battery operated
  • easy to install
  • low cost to make and also run
  • communicate using the cheapest data transport
  • monitor the LED light at night and keep track of the brightness trend
  • send an alert when it is persistently out of specification
  • field life to match the street light (10+ years)

As The Active Reactor Company talked to target users (initially the same people who buy their current product) and got an idea of what they wanted, a very different picture emerged. The people who cared about LED street lighting, also cared about micro climates, and soil moisture levels, and air quality, and foot traffic, and …

So that lead to a change of direction and a look at what else was required. The result is a device aimed at the Smart Cities market that also suits a wide range of other end customers and has the following features you won’t find combined together in conventional devices:

  • battery operated (either solar charged or primary cells)
  • minimum 2 year battery life for standard AA cell alkaline batteries
  • 10+ day running time if solar charging is lost
  • up to 20 days on board non-volatile storage
  • compact form factor
  • multiple sensor types per node (up to 20)
  • sensor area network to minimise data costs
  • over the air firmware upgrades
  • over the air configuration updates
  • variable sample rates and upload timing
  • still has to be low cost to make and also run
  • easy to install

So here is the range of sensors already trialed:

  • wind speed (external anemometer attached)
  • sunlight level
  • night light level (street light monitoring etc)
  • temperature
  • PM2.5 particulate levels
  • PM10 particulate levels
  • Gasses – CO, H2S, SO2, NO2, H2S
  • Humidity
  • People counting (PIR based anonymous counting)
  • Soil moisture levels (external probe)

It is also the HUB and coordinator of a Sensor Area Network that can include modules that can measure any of the above as well as:

  • vibration
  • shock
  • movement
  • water level
  • GPS location
  • USB charger current (for usage analysis)
  • counting any device or system that has a pulse output
  • analog voltage measurements (AC and DC)
arcHUB trial at Fitzroy Gardens

arcHUB trial at Fitzroy Gardens

The arcHUB is solar powered and includes a cellular modem to allow reporting back to a web service. It is designed to mount to a pole using straps but can easily be mounted to a wall or any other typical structure. A typical scenario is measurements every 15 minutes (except people or pulse counting which are continuous) and uploading to the web service every hour.

With the release of CAT-M1 services across Australia by Telstra, we are expecting migrate to this communications standard because it will reduce power consumption by at least a factor of 4 which will further improve battery life.

Quectel BG96 CAT-M1 Module

Quectel BG96 CAT-M1 Module

The arcHUB Peripheral Modules connect via 915MHz ISM Band communications and use standard AA batteries. They can run for between 2 and 5 years depending on what sensors are attached and how often they are read and reported. If you used primary lithium cells then you can expect life beyond 10 years.

The arcHUB Peripheral Modules are also capable of stand alone operation with the addition of an internally fitted cellular modem so you can have a portable people counter module that can be easily moved to a new location and doesn’t require an electrician to install it.

And pretty exciting to also announce that this is not only a designed in Australia product range, but it is also a made in Australia product range.

Again, my thanks to The Active Reactor Company for permission to share this story and if you want to know more, leave a comment and I will put you in touch with them.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2017 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Holograms

Holograms are the product of Holography. This sounds rather self referencing. You can think of this as recording light the way you record sound. So you can have monophonic sound or full surround sound. A 3D Hologram allows you to see the original object from different directions as you move around it even though it is no longer present.

We have all seen futuristic movies where a 3D rendering of someone appears as if it was the person really there. And this is one of the goals of 3D Holograms. So it is exciting to see some breakthroughs in this area being pioneered in Australia at RMIT University.

This is also a good example of collaboration, something we don’t see enough of in Australia.

You can read the full story at World’s Thinnest Hologram Promises 3D Images on Our Mobile Phones.

3D Hologram

3D Hologram

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2017 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Putting Light to Work

Light is a really interesting thing. It has so many different aspects. And it took us a long time to work out exactly how it functioned. And in many ways that is still an ongoing process. So this post is a brief survey of some recent advances in our understanding of light, how to use it, and how to generate it.

Extracting Energy from Light

Recent advances in Quantum Dots have taken us one step closer to improving our extracting of energy from light and Solar Cells continue to improve.

Quantum Dot Solar Energy Conversion from Windows

New record for Solar Cell efficiency

Interactive chart of Solar Cell technologies and inefficiencies

The chart below is from the link above and shows that the fastest improving Solar Cell technologies (the 2 steepest red lines) are Perovskite Solar Cells and Quantum Dot Solar Cells. Click to get a larger version. Or go to the interactive link where you can get more detail for each dot.

Solar Cell Efficiencies - By Time And Technology

Solar Cell Efficiencies – By Time And Technology

And for a good summary of PV (PhotoVoltaic) technologies the link below provides a useful guide.

What makes a good PV Technology

So apart from turning the light in electricity, what else can we do with light?

Light for Communication

Light is also useful as a communications tool. And recent advances in Quatum Dot management of light means it could hold the key to higher levels of computing power in the future, as well as more secure communications.

Quantum Dots set speed record for switching

Phototonic Hypercrystals improve light control

Photonic Hypercrystals

Photonic Hypercrystals

Saucer Shaped Quantum Dots improve LASER brightness

2 steps closer to a Quantum Internet

The last link is particularly interesting because it involved entangling photons at a distance. And the first experiments have already been successful.

Quatum Entangled Photon Communications

Quantum Entangled Photon Communications

But is there more?

Other uses of light

As it happens, yes there is.

Nanoscale structure purifies water using light

Artificial Photosynthesis extracts CO2

So this remains a very busy space.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2017 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Connect Expo

the Connect Expo is on each year around late March in Melbourne at the Exhibition and Convention Centre. I had gone to previous events but this was our first time as an exhibitor.

Connect Expo - Successful Endeavours

Connect Expo – Successful Endeavours

This was by far the best Connect Expo I have been to. The mix of software vendors, web platform vendors, component suppliers and specialist IT vendors was excellent and there was also a specific section for eHealth. We set up our own IoT Platform demonstration with a QR code you could scan with a phone and take you to a webpage showing real time (less than 5 second delay) updates to the status of a device on the stand. A simple demo of the Internet of Things in action.

We will definitely be going again next year.

A really good trend I noticed was several Software Testing companies represented in the mix. Testing to confirm software is working correctly is a very important part of delivering a high quality product and it was good to see this coming through at the industry level.

We also shared the stand with Minnovation who do data science and analytics so it was also good to see how rapidly that area is expanding.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2017 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Making Music is Creative

Making music is a creative process. At every level. There is not only composing and playing, but there is the instruments themselves and also how we record and play back music. Technology and creativity abound at every level.

I’m a musician. That is how I ended up in Electronics Engineering. I even wrote a blog piece about how Music Electronics was where my passion for creating new electronics devices all began.

Miller Puckette

I learned something new this week about music creation. I use Ableton Live as my sequencer and it incorporates a product from Cycling 74 called MaxMax was created by Miller Puckette quite a while ago. So I see another soul keen to push the boundaries of what is possible and was fascinated to read his history. Everything from Teaching Music at UCSD to creating music software like Max in 1988, its successor starting around 1996 which is Pure Data, or Pd as it is usually abbreviated, and which was set up to be an open source project so others could contribute and it wasn’t locked down by commercial constraints like Max is.

Miller Puckette - musician and music technology creator

Miller Puckette

I was also pleased to hear that Miller Puckette continues to perform music. This is something I also enjoy.

The only way to understand what is possible with tools like Pd is to see it in action. Enjoy.

Did you notice that the player on the left is moving his hands on a cloth covered platform. This is being tracked by a camera and the hand movements are used to trigger notes and other controllers and effects. You can reach him at Jaime E Oliver and the cellist accompanying him is Michael Nicholas.

PdCon

And if you found that interesting, then check out the concert video from PdCon16~ . That’s right, Pd has its own conference.

The first video has Miller Puckette as a contributor.

And the last one also has Miller Puckette as part of a duo. This is all very avant-garde yet the degree of expression possible is amazing.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2017 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

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