Article Index – 2002

All feature articles from this year are available online. Click the links below.

To see indexes for other years, click below.

For articles from 2005 onward, please visit our main web site: www.sensorsmag.com.

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December 2002
  • Guest Editorial: Fast-Tracking Plug and Play

  • SPECIAL SECTION
    iSensors
    SENSOR-BASED DESIGN EMPOWERED BY THE INTERNET

    Sensor Technology and Design:
  • An Elastic-Plate Liquid-Level Switch
    This innovative switch, simple in design and operation, is intended for pump control in tanks or sumps-even those containing liquids with suspended solids.
  • OLED Displays-Window to the Infoimaging World
    Infoimaging, the convergence of images and information technology, is creating a revolution in electronic displays.

    Intelligent Systems:
  • IEEE P1451.4's Plug-and-Play Sensors
    It doesn't fit the earlier version of a smart sensor, but it does deliver benefits that build on, not replace, legacy products and systems.

    Putting Sensors to Work:
  • Noncontact Thread Detection with Eddy Current Sensors
    A vendor-driven program to automate thread inspection of water pump hubs resulted in an eddy-current-based system that saved the manufacturer time and money.

  • Networked Chemical Level Monitoring Benefits Distributors and Customers
    Providing up to eight chemical tanks with wireless level reporting capability eliminated the dual headaches of emergency deliveries and empty vessels at a concrete works.

  • Application Snapshots
    Smart temperature control for wine coolers, real-time fuel level in big rigs, and a stealth weighing system for conveyors.

    Special Report:
  • Sensors Expo Wrap-Up
    Find out what happened at Sensors Expo & Conference Fall 2002 in Boston. Which new products won the Sensors editors' "Best of Sensors Expo" honors. Which latecomers garnered Eureka! awards. How inventor Ray Kurzweil's highly anticipated keynote inspired the audience and made listeners laugh out loud. And more.

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  • November 2002
  • Editorial: Who Cares About the Technology?

    Sensor Technology and Design:
  • A Magnetic Linear Position Transducer for Fail-Safe Target Tracking
    Whether the application calls for detecting flap position on an aircraft or product level in a closed vessel, NCL position sensors can continue to produce an accurate signal even in the event of component failure.
  • Automated Real-Time Measurement of Atmospheric Pollutants
    A new instrument designed to automatically capture and analyze airborne particulates is providing real-time data on what's in the air over Atlanta-and around the world.

    Intelligent Systems:
  • EFAB: A New Approach to MEMS Fabrication
    Success in microsensor and microactuator applications depends on understanding the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of fabrication approaches. EFAB opens new application areas not well suited to silicon micromachining.
  • Synchronizing Measurement and Control Systems
    IEEE 1588 defines a protocol that enables the precise synchronization of clocks in the components of a networked, distributed measurement and control system.

    Putting Sensors to Work:
  • The Many Roles of Polyphenyl Ethers
    Whether it's faced with high temperatures, ionizing radiation, or other harsh conditions, this rugged compound is useful in a wide range of applications, from lubrication to guiding light.

  • Application Snapshots
    Smart temperature control for wine coolers, real-time fuel level in big rigs, and a stealth weighing system for conveyors.

    Departments
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  • October 2002
  • Editorial: Your Brand of Customer Service

    Sensor Technology and Design:
  • The Basics of Rotameters
    You may have thought about using a rotameter to satisfy your flow measuring requirements. But do you really know enough about these simple, cost-effective devices to make the best decision?
  • Magnetostrictive Level Sensors
    Used primarily by the pharmaceutical, food and beverage, specialty chemical, and liquid petroleum gas industriesd, magnetostrictive level sensors provide accurate and reliable process level measurement and inventory tank gauging control.

    Intelligent Systems:
  • Wireless Temperature Monitoring in Remote Systems
    Analog Devices has designed a system to meet the demanding requirements of food transporation applications.
  • Software that Builds Machine Vision Applications
    You've got all the hardware you need to build a vision system. Now how do you make it all work together? Here's one software package that may help.
  • Data Acquisition Software-Choices, Choices, Choices, Part 2: Application Programming Interfaces, ActiveX, Program Timing Control, and Other Hardware-Related Topics
    Software is the engine that's driving data acquisition systems. The trick is to squeeze as much juice as possible out of this resource.

    Putting Sensors to Work:
  • Using Capacitive Noncontact Sensors to Control Coater Gap Uniformity
    Die slot gaps used in layering chemical, adhesive, and photographic coatings must be of uniform width all along their length. A dual capacitive displacement sensor can provide that assurance.

  • Application Snapshots
    An ignition interlock that helps curb drunk drivers; a pressure transmitter used in large-scale paint spraying; and high-resolution mini-array sensors.

    Departments
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  • September 2002
  • Guest Editorial: Funding Your Innovations

    Sensor Technology and Design:
  • An Optical Timing System
    A simple, sensor-based instrument you can build yourself derives speed data by measuring the time between two optical events.
  • Choosing and Using an Inductive Proximity Sensor
    Once you've decided that an inductive proximity sensor will best satisfy your requirements, your next step should be to learn the basic details of how to install and put them to work.
  • Reduce, Recalibrate, Reuse: A Displacement Transducer with Medical Applications
    A new strain-gauge-based displacement sensor is mounted on a semicircular shim; expansion or compression deforms the gauge geometry, changing its electrical resistance. Because there are no moving parts, out-of-range excursions cause no permanent damage, and recalibration is a very simple operation.
  • Balanced Constant-Current Excitation for Dynamic Strain Measurements
    Balanced constant-current excitation provides an accurate means of measuring dynamic strain with a single active strain gauge and only a 2-wire connection.
  • An Ultraminiature Rotary Encoder Based on Magnetic Microsystems Technology
    A noncontact angle sensor combines submicron semiconductor technology with integrated Hall elements to offer the advantages of reduced size and cost-and improved performance.
  • Thermal Considerations for Fiber-Optic Sensor Components, Part 5: Thermal Implications
    Part 1 of this five-part series was an introduction to fiber-optic sensing. Part 2 addressed LED and laser diode light sources, and photodiode detectors. Part 3 examined the physics of thermally induced changes in component behavior. Part 4 investigated the optical filters required by fiber-optic sensors. Part 5 takes up solutions to the classic problem of thermal management.

    Intelligent Systems:
  • The System on a Chip
    The tug of war between the demand for custom chip development and the constraints of many low-volume designs makes it your business to know what innovative system-on-a-chip designers are doing and the options this technology offers.
  • Data Acquisition Software-Choices, Choices, Choices, Part 1: Open vs. Closed Architectures, Proprietary Packages, and Programming Language Environments
    You have tremendous latitude when you select from the software packages that are now available on the market. The best choice depends on your computer platform, operating system, programming skills, and application type. While some of these items are a matter of personal preference, others are not.
  • Putting Sensors on Ethernet-A Good Fit or a Bad Idea?
    Ethernet is finding its way into machine control, even though it was never intended for embedded applications. The desire to use widely supported hardware and TCP/IP software means vendors are adding Ethernet ports to smart devices. Here's a look at the issues that users and OEMs must consider when using Ethernet at the lowest level.

    Putting Sensors to Work:
  • Position Monitoring with Hall Effect Sensors
    Nearly every manufacturing operation today requires some form of automated position monitoring. While the particulars of each application differ from one another, most can be satisfied by a single technology-Hall effect sensors.
  • Controlling Your HVAC System
    You can have the most advanced heating, cooling, and air conditioning equipment in town, but if your control system is not doing its work, occupants of the building or zone will either be panting or reaching for a sweater. Let's take a look at how to avoid those problems.

  • Application Snapshots
    A lightning dissipation system; a smart scale for weighing, packaging, and labeling poultry at line speeds; and tornado-chasing antennas and sensors.

    Departments
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  • August 2002
  • Editorial: Sensors in the Singularity

    Sensor Technology and Design:
  • Field Installation of Thermocouple and RTD Temperature Sensor Assemblies
    Proper installation of your sensor assembly can help you avoid many common problems and downtime. With care and attention, a good assembly should provide years of reliable operation and accurate readings.
  • A Fiber-Optic Temperature Sensor
    This fluorescence-decay temperature probe combines the advantages of optical fiber with a unique ratio measurement system that minimizes inaccuracies due to signal loss from the fiber and connector.
  • A Polymer-Based Dew Point Sensor Addresses Long-Term Drift
    A hybrid RH sensor consisting of a resistance temperature sensor bonded to a capacitive polymer humidity sensor features automatic re-zeroing without the use of an external reference instrument or calibration gas.
  • Thermal Considerations for Fiber-Optic Sensor Components, Part 4: Optical Filters for Fiber-Optic Sensors-Techniques and Components
    Part 1 of this five-part series was an introduction to fiber-optic sensing. Part 2 addressed LED and laser diode light sources, and photodiode detectors. Part 3 examined the physics of thermally induced changes in component behavior. Part 4 investigates the optical filters required by fiber-optic sensors.

    Intelligent Systems:
  • Driving in the Dark
    The extra 15 s of response time provided by an automotive IR vision system can reduce the number of accidents involving pedestrians and other nocturnal surprises on the road.
  • Demystifying ADCs
    These powerful A/D converters offer significant advantages over alternative devices, but some designers don't use s because they're unfamiliar with the technology. Here are a few reasons you should take a look.

    Putting Sensors to Work:
  • MEMS Sensors in Virtual Reality Systems
    Gaming enthusiasts are champing at the bit to enter the realm of virtual reality, but the technology may not be ready for prime time. Here's a look at what works and what doesn't.

  • Application Snapshots
    A high-energy solar spectroscopic imager; modeling, simulation, and synthetic environment animation software; and a tire and vehicle conditions monitoring system.

    Departments
      Business Sense
      Research & Developments
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  • July 2002
  • Guest Editorial: Biological Mechanoreceptors Point the Way

    Sensor Technology and Design:
  • All Together Now: Ultrasonic and Optical Imaging
    Superposing an ultrasonic image onto an optical image of the same sample yields data on structural integrity that an inspector can readily interpret.
  • Fundamentals of Pressure Sensing
    Brush up on the physics of pressure and the operating principles of pressure sensors.
  • Taking the Pain out of Laser Triangulation
    CCD sensors just may overcome the problems that have plagued laser-triangulation-based noncontact position measurement.
  • Thermal Considerations for Fiber-Optic Sensor Components, Part 3: Thermal Effects in Optical and Photonic Components
    Part 1 of this five-part series was an introduction to fiber-optic sensing. Part 2 addressed LED and laser diode light sources, and photodiode detectors. Part 3 takes up the physics of thermally induced changes in component behavior.
  • Bubble-Based Resonance-Doppler Sensor for Liquid Characterization [PDF document]
    Changes in the way bubbles behave in a liquid when additives or particulates are introduced could launch a new sensing technology.

    Intelligent Systems:
  • Is Wireless Ethernet Safe to Use?
    Recent security breaches have raised questions about the wisdom of using 802.11-based wireless LANs on the factory floor. But it's too soon to give up on this protocol.
  • Distributing Control with Ethernet and TCP/IP
    It can't be simple, can it? Industrial networking's cast of characters is mind boggling. And it's hard to figure out how they all fit together. Well, consider some of the new industrial Ethernet protocols to see how they facilitate distributed control with intelligent devices.

    Putting Sensors to Work:
  • SoundPrint: An Infrastructure Early Warning System
    Combining an array of acoustic sensors, a PC, and a new DA processor board, this monitoring system alerts building owners at the first sign of structural failure.

  • Application Snapshots
    Detecting a child in a car seat, DA software for fish farming research, and a rugged data carrier disguised as a bolt.

    Departments
      Business Sense
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  • June 2002
  • Editorial: Wayne, Perry, and the Car in Your Future

    Sensor Technology and Design:
  • Simplifying the Electronic Balance Load Cell
    A new way to manufacture the load cell that forms the core of an electromagnetic force restoration balance reduces production costs, shortens time to market, and achieves a high level of product reliability.
  • Rapid Elemental Analysis
    Advances in pulsed lasers and spectrometer array detectors have led to the development of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy instruments that provide rapid elemental analysis with no sample preparation, offering in situ and online analysis. The technology can quickly analyze multiple elements, even in complex matrices, from trace quantities to the major constituents.
  • Thermal Considerations for Fiber-Optic Sensor Components, Part 2: Photonic and Optical Components Used in Fiber-Optic Sensors
    Part 1 of this five-part series introduced fiber-optic sensing. Part 2 takes up LED and laser diode light sources, and photodiode detectors.

    Intelligent Systems:
  • Intelligent Wireless Condition-Based Maintenance
    More than $1 trillion is spent each year to replace perfectly good equipment because no reliable and cost-effective method is available to predict the equipment's remaining life. Now through careful design and a balance of technologies, a wireless condition-monitoring system provides a dependable and economically viable solution.
  • Imitating Life: An Introduction to Computer Simulation and Modeling, Part 2: Simulation Models for Systems that Change Over Time

    Putting Sensors to Work:
  • Columbus: A Novel Sensor System for Domestic Washing Machines
    To find out what really goes on inside a domestic washing machine, researchers built a "washdisc" and filled it with a variety of sensors. The collected data will be invaluable for improving the way future washers are designed-and used.
  • Solid-State Pressure Sensors Enhance Domestic Appliances
    Solid-state pressure sensors are replacing electromechanical devices in washing machines, HVAC systems, vacuum cleaners, and other domestic goods.

  • Application Snapshots
    A spectroradiometer, a guided-wave-radar level transmitter, and a suite featuring pH/ORP, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen sensors.

    Departments
      Business Sense
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  • May 2002
  • Editorial: Behold the Power of Community

    Sensor Technology and Design:
  • A Micromachined Water Vapor Sensor for Home Appliances
    Consumers want household appliances with improved energy efficiency, safety, and performance, but they don't want to compromise convenience and satisfaction. RH sensing helps manufacturers meet this challenge.
  • Variable Capacitance Accelerometers: Design and Applications
    Micromachined silicon variable-capacitance accelerometers are designed for easy manufacture and demanding applications.
  • A New Dimension in Encoder Technology
    A new generation of encoders combines a single custom-designed opto-ASIC with a modular mechanical concept. The result is a nearly infinite variety of incremental and absolute encoders available off the shelf.
  • Characterizing Input Saturation in Low-g Accelerometers
    When a low-level (<10 g) accelerometer experiences a large, high-frequency, input acceleration beyond its dynamic operating range, the control circuit's prefilter amplification can saturate and cause signal distortions. Here's a simple empirical method of determining the saturation level over a range of frequencies.
  • A New Ammonia Detector Based on Thin Film Polymer Technology
    This gas sensor detects changes in capacitance caused by absorbed ammonia that alters the sensor's relative permittivity.
  • Thermal Considerations for Fiber-Optic Sensor Components, Part 1: Introduction to Fiber-Optic Sensing
    This five-part series will examine the basics of fiber-optic sensing, the photonic and optical components used in fiber-optic sensors, thermal effects on these components, optical filters, and thermal management issues.

    Intelligent Systems:
  • Imitating Life: An Introduction to Computer Simulation and Modeling, Part 1: The Basic Tools and Concepts of Simulation
  • A Universal Translator?
    The OPC Data eXchange specification offers a peer-to-peer gateway that provides interoperability and allows data exchange among devices connected to Ethernet networks using different fieldbus protocols. Could this make life on the factory floor easier?

    Putting Sensors to Work:
  • Protect Laser Diodes from Overheating During Characterization Tests
    Laser diode temperature must be tightly controlled during characterization tests. How you do that depends on the laser's physical configuration.
  • Adaptive Sensor Biasing: A New Technique
    If thermal error is interfering with your sensor system's signals, try this dynamic biasing technique.

  • Application Snapshots
    A laser prox sensors, a blue LED, and an accelerometer

    Departments
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  • April 2002
  • Editorial: A Big, Transformative Impact

    Sensor Technology and Design:
  • MICA: The Commercialization of Microsensor Motes
    Miniaturization, integration, and customization make it possible to combine sensing, processing, and communications to produce a smart, network-enabled wireless sensor. Here's how it works.
  • Line Scanners: Thermal Imaging for Industrial Applications
    For many industrial applications, a combination of IR line-scanning technology and application-specific software provides thermal imaging capabilities not possible with more expensive IR imagers or IR cameras.
  • A Certified-Emissivity Blackbody for Calibrating Infrared Thermometers
    As a practical matter, most commercial infrared thermometers are calibrated with "homemade" blackbodies of unknown and uncertified emissivities. This design for a water-immersible certified-emissivity blackbody is intended to provide a simple and inexpensive, but accurate reference for emissivity, referenced to recognized standards and proven mathematical constructions.
  • Digital Correction of Capacitive Signals
    With a new capacitance-to-voltage converter and a few external components, it is possible to assemble complex systems for various ranges of accuracy and a multitude of applications.

    Putting Sensors to Work:
  • Navy Pilots Catch Their Breath with a New Oxygen Regulator
    Fighter pilots routinely push both the aircraft's performance envelope and their own physical limits. The CRU-103 oxygen regulator, with its low-spring-rate electrodeposited nickel bellows, helps give them an extra edge.

    Intelligent Systems:
  • Brains and Brawn-The Power of Smart Batteries
    Legions of wireless products and industrial appliances have built-in rechargeable batteries. Embedded intelligence can minimize user intervention, reduce charge time, and dramatically increase battery life by optimizing power management. Are you designing a battery-powered product? It's easier than ever to make it battery friendly and hassle free.
  • How to Add Web Access to Your Smart Device
    You can turn your product into an Internet appliance with an embedded modem.

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  • March 2002
  • Guest Editorial: Fast, Cost-Efficient ISO Implementation

    Putting Sensors to Work:
  • Laser Triangulation Sensors in the Tire Industry
    Rugged and capable of accurately measuring harsh materials from a distance, laser triangulation sensors are helping tire and rubber manufacturers improve QC and reduce waste.

    Intelligent Systems:
  • Rapid Prototyping for Control
    A new design framework de-emphasizes the separation of design and production code and pulls together the design, simulation, and verification phases of the development cycle in a single hardware/software platform. Why should you care? Faster time to market.
  • Resistive-Element Sensor Temperature Compensation
    For optimum versatility, accuracy, and speed, try a conditioning system that uses temperature-driven look-up tables in its calibration schemes.

    Sensor Technology and Design:
  • Capacitive Density Sensors Help Detect Avalanche Conditions
    A mountain snowpack can turn into an avalanche when the crystals in a layer of fallen snow become too rounded by the weight of subsequent storms for the pack to maintain its angle of repose. A new capacitive snow-sounding probe measures the density of the various snow strata and provides other relevant data that allow forecasters to accurately assess the likelihood of hazardous conditions.
  • Magnetic Couplers in Industrial Systems
    A new generation of couplers conquers noise with high speed and multiple channels.
  • A Review of Frequencies Available for Wireless Sensing Applications
    With so much activity centered on using wireless communications for data-centric applications, be they handheld computers or numerical machine control, it's time for a quick review of the radio frequencies available for wireless sensor use in the U.S.

    Departments
      Business Sense
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  • February 2002
  • Editorial: Wireless and MEMS

    Putting Sensors to Work:
  • MEMS Sensors Are Driving the Automotive Industry
    The proliferation of inertial MEMS sensors in cars is making systems engineers rethink the stand-alone sensor architecture in favor of a sensing cluster. Once inertial information is available, added features will be limited only by the imagination of the designers.

    Intelligent Systems:
  • How Secure Is Secure?
    The advent of wireless networks has raised significant questions about security. The vulnerability to inside threats continues, and new concerns have become troublesome as well.
  • e-Manufacturing: The Shrinking World of Business
    The Internet is integrating disparate elements of the enterprise, giving employees, customers, and suppliers a unified view of the entire business, from factory and resource management to customer service.

    Sensor Technology and Design:
  • Controlling Vibration with Magnetorheological Fluid Damping
    A good example of unwanted vibratory motion is a washing machine in its spin cycle trying to walk out of the room. MR damping can correct this and other problem vibrations.
  • Micropropulsion for the Aerospace Industry
    Is a self-contained propulsion system-on-a-chip in NASA's future? These micromachined micronozzles bring the technology one step closer.
  • Demystifying Analog Filter Design
    Armed with a little help-and a little math-you can hack your way fearlessly through the wild world of analog filter design and gain the confidence that comes with doing it yourself.
  • Welding Techniques for Joining Sensor Bodies
    Whether you're building or selecting a sensor, which type of welding should be part of the manufacturing process? Not surprisingly, the choice depends on the sensor's material characteristics and the type of work it will be doing.

    Departments
      Business Sense
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      Web Picks
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  • January 2002
  • Guest Editorial: Career Strategy for a Soft Economy

    Putting Sensors to Work:
  • Planning and Designing Gas Detection Systems
    With a grasp of gas sensor basics, and a methodical plan for installing the detectors, you can build a system smart enough to save your life.

    Intelligent Systems:
  • Handheld Devices, Wireless Communications, and Smart Sensors-What It All Means for Field Service
    Look into the future of field service and remote sensing and what do you see-monitoring and diagnosing systems remotely, warning users of the impending failure of machinery and instruments, and arming field technicians with smart handheld devices that make their job easier.
  • An Argument for Open Source Software
    Open source software is an idea whose time has come. Once a tool used primarily by the same technical community that brought us the Internet and Web, this approach is now a contender in the commercial arena, and it's breaking all the rules.

    Sensor Technology and Design:
  • The 1-Wire Thermocouple
    A standard thermocouple can be combined with a lithium ion monitor chip to create a smart sensor that communicates with a PC or microcontroller over a single twisted-pair cable.
  • A Low Differential Pressure Transmitter for HVAC Applications
    DIN-rail mounting, a small footprint, and a novel method of calibration make the Ashcroft DXLdp well suited to high-end HVAC applications.
  • A Mass Flow Controller that Semicon Can't Touch
    Are you buying corrosion protection when your gases are noncorrosive? Then you should investigate this direct-sensing MFC as a less expensive alternative to semicon's costly design.
  • Integrating an RTD and an A/D Converter for Accurate Temperature Measurement
    Combining the two technologies compensates for the drawbacks associated with RTDs-and gives you high performance at low cost.

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