Electronic Component Date Code Practices

ESPNews just published the first article in a series on Date Code Practices. It mentions that one of the uses of date codes is to manage changes to an electronic component that does not affect “form, fit, or function.”

I have always felt as an engineer in a test laboratory that collaborating with the Manufacturer and voicing our opinions on device performance based on testing and based on specification review for possible improvement in the future is a major contribution to the electronic component field.  Any changes or revisions can be modified in die manufacturing with detailed traceability reflecting date code criteria.


FPGAs give robotics exciting possibilities

The information in the above blog highlights the importance of Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) in our technological future.


The information in the above blog highlights the importance of Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) in our technological future. I’ve blogged a few times this year on the influence FPGAs have had on the robotics world, but as you can see it is only the tip of the iceberg in the cutting edge of technology today.

The importance of FPGA products is shown in the vast range of applications including artificial intelligence, machine learning, wireless networking, drone advancement as well as my current favorite category — healthcare products. Healthcare is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. I’m particularly impressed how machines are now built to provide various diagnoses that could save patients the time and money of obtaining a second opinion.

Exciting New Robot from Boston Dynamics

Handle2Boston Dynamics has developed an exciting new robot named Handle. As an article on ElectronicsWeekly.com  describes it as “It uses electric power to operate both electric and hydraulic actuators, with a range of about 15 miles on one battery charge. Handle uses many of the same dynamics, balance and mobile manipulation principles found in the quadruped and biped robots we build, but with only about 10 actuated joints, it is significantly less complex. Continue reading “Exciting New Robot from Boston Dynamics”

Preventing counterfeiting through e-waste export control

With increased dialogue and networking of intelligence information between these organizations in the electronic component recycling and supply chains, I feel that the SEERA will decrease the supply of counterfeit electronic components,

I just read an article on the Secure E-waste Export and Recycling Act (SEERA) at http://www.vvdailypress.com/news/20170207/rep-cook-reintroduces-bill-to-make-it-tougher-to-counterfeit-us-electronics .  This bill, introduced in the House of Representatives by Republican Paul Cook of California and Democrat Gene Green of Texas, aims to stop the export of e-waste to countries where it is used as source material for counterfeit electronics. Continue reading “Preventing counterfeiting through e-waste export control”

Semiconductors Require Testing

I just read the press release from the Digital Journal announcing Transparency Market Research’s Analysis of the Radiation Hardened Electronics Market.  It comes as no surprise that high power semiconductors will be in critical demand in future aerospace space projects.

Semiconductors which are the “brains” inside electronic devices will be vital in controlling and converting power in electronic systems. These devices require extensive testing which includes screening and qualification to see if the components are susceptible to radiation damage in space application from high altitude flight around as well as nuclear reactors, particle accelerators, nuclear accidents and even nuclear warfare.

The screening and qualification of this product should include total dose ionizing, enhanced low-dose rate effect tests, neutron and proton displacement damage and single event effects. Furthermore, strict monitoring of the percent defective allowable ratio is paramount in the qualification of any future semiconductor product undergoing these radiation reliability tests.

Update: The Change the World Challenge

Here is a contest that calls for engineering creativity and vision:    http://element14changetheworld.com/    Note that the deadline for submissions has been extended to February 28, 2017.

I have always been a big advocate on engineering contests that are fair game with proper compensation to the excellent ideas that we see every day. Historic world changing engineering competitions such as artificial intelligence, the first private aircraft in space and Lindbergh’s historic Trans Atlantic flight are only a few of the monumental ideas that have illustrated talent, skills, ingenuity and imagination on the world stage of engineering creativity.

While the industry today seeks an outline of achievable ideas, I would seek advice to protect any product concept or design while entering these competitions as a matter of non-disclosure for any future anticipated developments.

Talking Cars Coming to a Highway Near You

US Department of Transportation rulemaking on V2V and V2I communications.

There is likely to be much more chatter on the road, but you won’t hear it. Cars will soon be talking to each other and to the road infrastructure.

Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) communication took a significant step forward this month as the US Department of Transportation issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on deploying the technology. The proposed rule would require automakers to include V2V technologies in all new light-duty cars and trucks. The rule proposes requires V2V devices to “speak the same language” through standardized messaging. Continue reading “Talking Cars Coming to a Highway Near You”

Field-Programmable Gate Arrays and Green Technology

I find this blog on FPGAs (Field-programmable Gate Arrays) (http://blog.earthtron.com/5-intriguing-uses-of-fpga-in-green-technology) most intriguing based on the evolutionary progress of FPGAs.  I am not surprised at some of the applications in green technology because, as illustrated in a 2012 National Instruments white paper, the following benefits continue to propel the growth of FPGAs in electronic component testing industry.

  1. Performance-Utilizing the similarities between FPGAs and other hardware, FPGAs have increased their performance to outperform digital signal processors (DSPs). This is done by allowing for simultaneous procedures and increasing the output per a given amount of time.  All of this can be done at a lower cost than in DSPs*.  This is done by altering the hardware to allow increased control of the inputs and outputs (I/O).  In turn, this creates the ability to more closely match the constraints of the systems and decrease the systems’ response times.
  2. Time to market-The improved FPGAs drastically improve prototyping capability and speed. For example, the hardware allows for concepts to be analyzed prior to fabrication.  This lets the iterative design process be reduced to mere hours.  Different types of I/O hardware can also be purchased commercially (COTS) with an imbedded FPGA chip for user-programming.  This, along with prebuilt functions (IP cores) and higher-level software and teaching tools make advanced control and signal processing more accessible to less experienced users.
  3. Cost-Using FPGA hardware is much cheaper than using custom ASIC (Application-specific Integrated Circuit) designs. The ASIC expenses are unjustifiable for companies that use them for testing systems currently in development.  Using programmable silicone reduces costs to almost nil.  The FPGA is also cheaper than ASIC when used in systems with changing requirements.
  4. Reliability-FPGAs do not use operating systems. This reduces the layers of abstraction and issues with multitasking that occur in processor-based systems as well as removing the imbedded control of the memory and bandwidth.  FPGAs ultimately reduce the necessity of driver layers – who control hardware resources, – which in turn decreases the risk when trying to run several time critical tasks at once.  FPGAs, instead, run multiple tasks simultaneously with dedicated hardware for each task.
  5. Long-term maintenance-FPGA chips are also superior with respect to ASIC when it comes to forward compatibility and maintenance. FPGAs are field-upgradable, which can be beneficial in use with systems, like digital communications, whose protocols can change.  This allows the chips’ functions to be enhanced without needing to change the layout or hardware of the board.

*FPGAs for DSP (BDTI Industry Report), 2nd ed. (Berkeley Design Technology Inc., 2006)

Changes to the DFAR Regulations

If you get a chance, I recommend that you read “When it Comes to Counterfeit Part Prevention, Semantics Matter” – a blog post by Kevin Sink. He discusses the need for the revisions to the DFAR regulations that are currently underway.

The DFAR regulations are positive tools detailing how to purchase manage and dispose of components. In addition, the introduction of the AS6171 standard will be an important aid to quality-control testing and providing standardize techniques and practices.

Counterfeit Electronic Part Prevention Rules Issued by DOD

Department of Defense published a new rule aimed at preventing counterfeit electronic parts from entering the military supply chain at any level.

 The final version of the rule can be found in the Federal Register as: Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement: Detection and Avoidance of Counterfeit Electronic Parts-Further Implementation (DFARS Case 2014-D005) https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/08/02/2016-17956/defense-federal-acquisition-regulation-supplement-detection-and-avoidance-of-counterfeit-electronic#h-4.  The final version was drafted after a period of public commnet. It includes some changes in terminology to match industry standard terms and well as changes in requirements.

 I strongly feel that AS6171 will be a paramount aid to the future of quality-control testing and providing standardize techniques and practices. In uncovering counterfeit electronic component product. I also feel participating in these mandatory requirements shows a good faith effort in the purchasing, managing and disposal of the electronic components in question.