Wednesday, March 28, 2018

TDC-GP30 Ultrasonic Flow Converter

The TDC-GP30 is the next generation of ultrasonic flow converters. Besides an improved analog time-of-flight front end, it also includes a 32-bit CPU and memory for on-chip data post-processing and the complete flow calculation. This highly sophisticated circuit has been designed for use as a stand-alone component single-chip replacement for mechanical flow meters - using a pulse output, and as a two-chip solution (GP30 + external microcontroller) for applications requiring other interfaces – such as wireless flowmeters, LCD based meters, or similar. With the powerful built-in CPU and specialized ROM-based firmware, the GP30 can be used for many types of ultrasonic heat and water meters. It includes all flow and temperature measurement calculations internally, plus allows for highly customized configurations using customer-defined firmware routines and the internal CPU.

Because of the high-resolution of the internal time-to-digital converter and front-end ability to measure signal amplitudes, the GP30 can detect very low flows - aka leaks - down to 0.5 liter/hour or better in quiet systems, and detect anomalies in the flow, such as air bubbles, empty spool pieces, or aging of the spool piece. These are unique qualities of the GP30 not found in other solutions.

The GP30 is designed for driving external ultrasonic transducers and can be configured for extremely low power, making battery operated flow meters a reality, for example, 6 μA at 8 Hz, including flow and temperature calculations.

Key features are shown in the block diagram below also include:
  • High performance + ultra-low power Harvard architecture 32-bit CPU with
    • 128 * 32-bit NVRAM (non-volatile RAM) for user firmware parameter & data
    • 4k * 8-bit NVRAM (non-volatile RAM) for user firmware program code
    • 4k * 8-bit ROM for system task code and special flow library code
  • Capable of MID-compliant flow & temperature calculation, GP30-supported
  • Flexible interfaces, SPI, UART, pulse (flow only)
  • Amplitude measurements of the received signal for a secure bubble, aging, and empty spool piece detection

The GP30 SOC is available as QFN32 or QFN40 package, with the QFN40 package able to manage an external circuit for gas meters or larger diameter pipes needing boosted signal levels.

The GP30 is designed for autonomous operation. In self -controlled flow meter mode it triggers all measurements and does data processing to deliver flow information, independent of external control. It can also be configured to wake up an external microcontroller for communication of results. Operation in this mode utilizes the internal 32-bit CPU and embedded firmware. The firmware code memory and the firmware data memory are zero static power NVRAMs. Since they don’t draw current when not in use, they are not switched down and remain permanently usable.

Innovative companies are using the GP30 to further the development of smart systems that can very accurately measure the amount of water delivered to specific zones, measure the viscosity of fluids, measure gas flow, and other unique applications where ultrasonic techniques can be leveraged to replace older mechanical mechanisms. As more IoT applications become not only technically feasible but also financially and environmentally necessary, the GP30 will be able to lead the way to cost-effective battery-operated solutions.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

PicoStrain Technology Solution

The PicoStrain product family is a family of parts based on proprietary time-to-digital conversion techniques, which eliminates the disadvantages of analog load cells, including "always on" power consumption, ADC power, and manually trimmed Wheatstone bridges. PicoStrain devices represent state-of-the-art, fully integrated solutions for applications which include digital and wireless load cells, pressure transducers, force/torque sensors, and solar powered kitchen and bathroom scales. Specific to scale applications, designs with PicoStrain devices can achieve OIML and NTEP Legal-for-Trade certification.

Picostrain devices are used in resistive strain gauge applications requiring very high resolution and ultra-low power (microamps) allowing for the possibility of powering the system using energy harvesting, solar power, coin cells, or AA batteries. With integrated 24-bit DSPs, flexible SPI/I2C/UART interfaces, they are easily customized and integrated into user systems.

PS081 System on Chip (SOC)
The PS081 is available as Die or QFN56 package, and includes an internal LCD controller for 4x14, 3x15, and 2x16 segment displays, making it a truly stand-alone solution for kitchen / bath scales or similar applications.

PS09 System on Chip (SOC)
The PS09 is available as Die or QFN40, perfectly suited for small/compact weighing solutions and digital load cells or consumer scales, with power down to 15uA including the strain gauges. Solar powered, legal-for-trade scales are possible using this solution.

Picostrain devices provide the best solutions for low-cost digital load cells that include temperature compensation without manual trimming of resistors and can operate in harsh environments; applications for which analog load cells are not well suited. This includes the use of half bridge sensors with no Rspan compensation resistor and very high resolution of up to 250,000 or more divisions (based on 2mV/V load cell) at up to 5kHz measurement rates.

Sensor companies such as Transducers Direct, a world leader in innovative pressure solutions, provides leading-edge technology pressure transducers for industrial and home automation applications based on the PicoStrain technology, offering both wired and wireless solutions. Transcell Technology, Inc. a company dedicated to the development of weighing and precision measurement products, has developed leading-edge wireless digital load cells using the PicoStrain technology solution.

The Transcell Technology PicoStrain based load cells will be highlighted at the International Society of Weighing and Measurement Conference and Expo this coming February.

Monday, December 18, 2017

What Do You Need to Have a Successful & Robust LIDAR System?

The GPX2 Time-to-Digital Converter is the Economical Answer

LIDAR is being used in a variety of applications today; from autonomous vehicles like drones, cars, and trucks to even collision avoidance systems. The LIDAR system needs to be robust and operate in hostile environmental conditions like temperature extremes and also deal with the variety of weather conditions likely to be encountered while traveling and still provide accurate information for the vehicle to operate. The laser, optics, and photodiode detectors are all important components to a good LIDAR system, but the accuracy and resolution of the measurements heavily depend on the component measuring the time of flight from when the laser fires to when the return occurs.

Why is the GPX2 the best solution for LIDAR systems? This device can provide resolution to 10 ps, which equates to 1.5mm resolution and a maximum measurement range that is greater than any LIDAR system today. So there is little to no risk of exceeding the maximum measurement range. The GPX2 is fast too, reaching a maximum data throughput of 70 MSPS per input channel. The GPX2 is designed to easily integrate into a system that is controlled by a microcontroller or FPGA offering LVDS inputs and outputs for highest performance. This very economical part helps to keep the overall cost of the system down and its ease of use means that development cycles are shorter.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Solutions for High Energy Physics

The neutron detectors combined with Delay Line Detectors offer an alternative to the 3He gas tube neutron detectors. The Surface Concept Imaging Neutron Detector with Time Resolution is that new alternative.
Since the 3He gas that is used is expensive and difficult to get, the tube neutron detectors are becoming increasingly difficult to acquire and more expensive. Nova Scientific and Surface Concept teamed up to develop a new generation of solid state neutron detection solution. The neutron detectors offer a large field of view of up to 150mm with very high spatial resolution to ~35us and high time resolution from 0.1us to 1us for low energy neutrons. This system offers uninterrupted time-resolved imaging at count rates of several million thermal, cold, or ultra-cold neutrons per second. Applications include neutron radiography and tomography tasks.

The solution is enabled by the Nova Scientific special neutron sensitive Micro Channel Plate (MCP) and the principle that allows this unique solution is shown here.
An impacting neutron produces charged particles by reacting with a 10B nucleus. This process releases electrons in the MCP, which in turn create secondary electrons that continue to multiply and create the output pulse.

The neutron detector is very flexible. It can be mounted in a vacuum chamber or an evacuated neutron beamline. Direct single neutron pulse counting is possible using the integrated Surface Concept Delay Line electronic readout which allows ~50um spatial and 100ns timing resolution simultaneously.

Please contact or call 727-532-6144 for additional information and pricing.

Friday, August 25, 2017

PicoCap04 Die Capability

PCap04 is a capacitance-to-digital converter (CDC) with integrated digital signal processor (DSP) for on-chip data post processing. Its front end is based on field proved ams PICOCAP measurement principle that offers high speed, high resolution (in the femtofarads) and Very Low Power consumption making it ideal for wireless and battery-operated devices used in IoT (Internet of Things).

For customers that are unable to use the QFN24 packaged Pcap04 or require die for their own packaging, ams now offers die in wafer form. Customers requiring less than a wafer for smaller projects or first article builds, PMT (Precision Measurement Technologies) in Clearwater, Florida has wafer packs in 100 and 250 quantities available for quick turnaround. Whether you need just a few hundred or a few thousand, PMT, an ams Technology Center, ships worldwide and can help with your project.

Please contact or call 727-532-6144 for additional information and pricing.

Monday, July 10, 2017

ams Wins Innovation Gold Award at Sensors Expo

2017 Sensor Expo judges honor ams for new Accessory Communications Interface, which lets sensor rich smart active noise-canceling headsets run battery free.

ams has won the prestigious Gold Level Innovation Award at the 2017 Best of Sensors Expo Awards (Sensors Expo & Conference, San Jose, California, 27-29 June 2017).

ams won the award for its novel Accessory Communications Interface (ACI), a technology, which enables Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) headsets to operate with no battery in the earphone when connected via a single wire to a host device like a smartphone. The new ACI developed by ams uses the microphone wire – one of four wires in a standard audio cable – to carry power and bi-directional data at a rate of up to 16 Mbit/sec, as well as digital audio signals. Therefore, the ACI can be used through the widely used and mechanically robust 3.5mm analog jack as well as through the analog mode of USB-C.

The innovative development by ams means, that manufacturers can build the smallest, most cost effective and lowest power smart ANC headphones currently available. Beside implementing ams best-in-class ANC, customers can differentiate by implementing a number of sensors such as capacitive touch, proximity, temperature, heart rate, and gesture.

According to the organizers, the Best of Sensors Expo awards ‘recognize advances in sensor and sensor-related technologies, either in the form of novel technologies or as significant improvements in existing technologies’. The judges studied the distinctiveness, potential impact and application of numerous entries, whittling them down to a list of just seven finalists before selecting the ACI technology from ams for the Gold award.

“Due to the ultra low latency and hence the high speed, the smartphones computation power can be used for the required smart data processing. At its heart, this is why this ACI solution enables the slimmest BOM count and hence the probably most cost effective solution available today”, said Christian Feierl, Head of Marketing Audio Sensors at ams.

“We are excited to enable smart, sensor rich in-box ANC earphones and are looking forward to seeing our solutions in the market soon”, he said.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

CCS801/811: Solution of Choice for Air Quality Monitoring

by CK Hamilton
Product Technical Manager

The ams CCS801 and CCS811 gas sensors are fast becoming the solution of choice for the air quality monitoring industry based upon their ultra-low power, high sensitivity to VOC’s, and consistent high reliability. Produced using patent-pending proprietary technologies developed by ams, the CCS801/811 are perfect for air quality monitoring and safety/control type applications. Their ultra-low power consumption and quick response to target gases make them the perfect choice for iOT/Smart Home solutions.

The ams CCS801/811 allows for your choice of an analog or digital gas sensor solution. They monitor air quality for a wide range of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and are packaged in a very small form factor for maximum design efficiency. The CCS811 digital gas sensor makes designing quick and easy with an integrated MCU and ADC with an industry standard I²C interface. The market for CCS801/811 is growing rapidly due to new regulatory requirements and the need to monitor air quality in office buildings, schools, hospitals, and many other public places. Applications where air quality is a concern include:
  • Bathroom fans
  • Industrial ceiling fans
  • Warehouse fans
  • Indoor air spot ventilation systems
  • Indoor air dilution ventilation systems
  • HVAC ventilation systems
  • HVAC controllers
  • Appliances
  • Building Automation
  • Thermostats
  • Residential and commercial kitchen range hoods
  • And many, many more!
PMT has done proof of concept work for the air quality monitoring market utilizing mobile apps, wireless communication, and web portal capability for datalogging, setting alarms, and driving text and email alerts. The web portal allows for data trend analysis with 30 days of logged data, extremely helpful when trying to diagnose issues regarding environmental changes.

The CCS801/811 are highly optimized parts that are feature rich yet incredibly cost effective for high volume applications. The features of the parts include:

  • 2x3mm DFN Package
  • Optimized low-power modes
  • Reduced Cross-Sensitivity
  • Fast heating time
  • Integrated MCU
  • On-board processing
  • Standard digital interface
  • Optimized low-power modes
  • IAQ threshold alarms
  • Programmable baseline
  • 2.7 x 4.0mm LGA package
  • Low component count
  • Proven technology platform
Contact PMT to learn more about the CCS801/811, as well as any of the other ams sensor solutions.