Each month, we track which product, originally covered in the e-newsletter, garnered the most reader interest. As you look at this collection of winners from 2005 you may note a couple of themes. First, you really like navigational sensor packages, such as those from Crossbow Technology and Micro-Strain. Second, you're very interested in wireless and as a result you'll see a disproportionate number of wireless or wireless-related products. Third, you people really like weather stations. As long as I've been in charge of this department, if I cover a weather station in the email newsletter I can be almost certain that it'll be one of the most popular entries.
To satisfy our own curiosity, we asked you to share with us the characteristics you found most compelling about these various products; you'll find selected comments after each product description.
>> Finally, keep watching our twice-monthly e-newsletter Sensors Product Picks (formerly Sensors Express) to keep track of the latest sensors and related products. You can search the archives or sign up for the newsletter at www.sensorsmag.com/express.
Scientific Technologies Inc., Automation Products Group, Logan, UT, offers the Data Dolphin 128 (DD-128) that features a 24-bit A/D section that provides 8 differential bipolar inputs with resolution down to 90 nV, allowing you to connect most sensors directly to the logger. Four additional inputs let you select pulse, status, or analog capability. The DD-128 has a waterproof case, 1 MB of nonvolatile flash memory, and an operating temperature range of –40°C to 75°C. (888-349-7098, [email protected], www.stiapg.com)
Temperature, Humidity Monitoring
Sensicast Systems, Inc., Needham, MA, offers its Environmental Monitoring Solution (EMS) that links temperature and humidity sensors with its flexible wireless mesh sensor networking platform. The sensors conduct real-time environmental monitoring and are available with remote sensing probes. The EMS100 is an environmental management node, a component of the company's H900 wireless SensorNet system, and it reports real-time temperature and humidity to a central management application. (781-453-2555, [email protected], www.sensicast.com)
Laser Distance Sensor
The Universal Laser Sensor (ULS) from Laser Technology, Inc., Centennial, CO, is a pulse-laser measuring device capable of cm accuracy and mm resolution and of ranging to distances of several hundred meters. Look Down Mode is for presence detection of fast-moving objects. Averaging Mode averages a specified number of individual distance measurements. Binning Mode lets the sensor acquire a single specifc target based on a burst of individual measurements. (303-649-1000, www.lasertech.com)
IEEE 802.15.4 and ZigBee SoC
Chipcon AS, Oslo, Norway, offers the CC2430, a single chip that combines the company's CC2420 IEEE 802.15.4-compliant and ZigBee-ready RF transceiver with an 8051 microcontroller, 128 KB of flash memory, and 8 KB of RAM, among other features. Targeted for applications such as building automation, industrial monitoring and control, and wireless sensor networks, the SoC also includes A/D conversion, several timers, an AES-128 coprocessor, USARTs, and 21 programmable I/O pins. (47-22-95-85-44, [email protected], www.chipcon.com)
USB Sensor Link
The Model 90386 USB Sensor Link from Sensor Developments Inc., Lake Orion, MI, is a USB-compatible interface for strain-gauge–based sensors. The device powers and converts a strain-gauge–based sensor input into a USB 2.0 compatible signal. In addition to monitoring and storing data for force and torque sensors, the device can also measure and record pressure, displacement, simultaneous angle, or speed measurements for horsepower monitoring. (248-391-3000, [email protected], www.sendev.com)
The AccuSense F900 from Degree Controls, Inc., Milford, NH, measures the velocity and temperature of airflow in biological safety cabinets, fume hoods, electronic enclosures, cleanrooms, and other critical containment areas. Normal airflow sensing range is from 0.15–2 m/s up to 0.15–10 m/s, depending on calibration. Output is a linear 0–4 V or digital TTL signal. (603-672-8900, www.degreec.com)
Vaisala Instruments, Helsinki, Finland, and Woburn, MA, offers the WXT510 weather transmitter that measures wind speed and direction, liquid precipitation, barometric pressure, temperature, and RH. Wind speed range is 0–60 m/s and is measured by an ultrasonic wind sensor. Barometric pressure range is 600–1100 hPa, air temperature range is –52°C to 60°C, and RH range is 0%–100% RH. (358-(0)9-894-91, [email protected], www.vaisala.com. In the U.S., contact 781-933-4500)
Mesh Networking Stack, Software
Crossbow Technology, Inc., San Jose, CA, offers the XMesh low-power protocol stack and MOTE-VIEW client software for wireless sensor network applications, such as security, asset tracking, and monitoring. The XMesh protocol stack runs on each node or mote in a wireless sensor network, allowing the motes to dynamically form a reliable ad hoc mesh network. MOTE-VIEW user interface and client software provides a way to log wireless sensor data to a database, and analyze and plot sensor readings. (408-965-3300, [email protected], www.xbow.com)
Crossbow Technology, Inc., San Jose, CA, offers its AHRS500 MEMS attitude and heading reference system (AHRS) with the CRM500 remote magnetometer for challenging aircraft installations. The remote magnetometer is FAA certified for TSO C6d with the AHRS500 and is intended for those aircraft applications where it is beneficial to have the magnetometer separated from the main unit. The 3-axis strap-down magnetic-field measurement system is designed as a local magnetic-field reference for the AHRS. (408-965-3300, [email protected], www.xbow.com)
Hall Effect Angle Sensor
A general-purpose magnetic angle encoder in a DFN10 4 X 4 X 1 mm package, the iC-MA from iC-Haus GmbH, Bodenheim, Germany, combines a number of Hall sensors for analog sine/cosine generation as well as an integrated signal processor with ADC and output interfaces. Using 3 configuration pins you can choose from 26 operational modes for evaluating the angular position of the rotary magnet mounted over the chip. (+49 06135-9292-300, [email protected], www.ichaus.com)
Miniature Sensor Package from Crossbow
The µNAV from Crossbow Technology, Inc., San Jose, CA, is a miniature-sized air/ground vehicle sensor package targeted at miniature ground and airborne vehicles. The 9-axis sensor suite includes accelerometers, angular-rate sensors, and magnetometers as well as static pressure (altitude) and dynamic pressure (air speed) sensors and a GPS receiver. The radio-controlled servo-driving hardware allows direct connection of remote control servos to the device for software control. (408-965-3300, [email protected], www.xbow.com)
Wireless Orientation Sensor/IMU
The Inertia-Link wireless inertial sensor suite from MicroStrain, Inc., Williston, VT, is 44 X 58 X 21 mm, weighs 45 g without battery, and includes 3 orthogonal rate gyroscopes, 3 orthogonal accelerometers, a microprocessor, data logger, and RF transceiver. Communications options include wireless IEEE 802.15.4, USB, RS-232/485, and CAN bus. (802-862-6629, [email protected], www.microstrain.com)