I recently attended the Southeastern Michigan EMC Fest, so this posting is dedicated to the show.
I have a lot of admiration for Scott Lytle (Chapter Chair) and the Southeastern Michigan chapter he runs, so I decided to attend this year’s EMC Fest. The key attraction was Doug Smith, who gave attendees the benefit of his wisdom on diagnosing automotive EMC issues.
|The presentation room, filled to the brim.|
Here is a show report based on my scribbled notes.
The EMC Fest took place May 8th at the conference center of Canton Summit on the Park, in Canton, MI.
The place was packed with attendees and vendors. Vendor tables lined the walls of the large break room and overspill tables lined both sides of the long hallway leading to the presentation room, which in itself was filled to the brim with attendees.
|Scott keeping the well oiled wheels oiled.|
Doug delivers his talks in a pleasing conversational style, and the sections I observed were fascinating in that he had real-life test set-ups on camera, which allowed the audience to see on the presentation screen what Doug was doing, and the corresponding change in the test instrument displays.
One story Doug gave was on the success of his website, why it outranks IBM, ITT and all the other giants in web searches, and how this gave him the power to take life options closed to many engineers. And he turned this story into advice to the young engineers in the audience – start a website, because by starting his website many moons ago, he became so well known that it gave him the option to strike out on his own, and so free himself of the grip of employers.
|There were a lot of vendor displays.|
The Vendor Displays
I specifically asked each vendor what was new – that is ‘what is here today that was not for sale at this show last year?’. I took them at their word as to whether the new products were in fact new. There were a lot of vendors to go around in a short time, and I scribbled notes as I went, but I cannot guarantee I got it all down. I apologize in advance for omissions / errors.
|Doug sets up the next demo.|
Vectawave (who I know of old) is expanding its sales channels and now has a network of sales Reps in the USA. Vectawave designs and manufactures Class A amplifiers for RF Immunity testing. New, is the 2,500Watt model VBA 250-2500, suited to automotive testing over 10kHz – 250MHz. By chance, Doug Smith, the presenter, has one of Vectawave’s amplifiers. It is a 10MHz – 2.5GHz 3W convection cooled amplifier. Doug uses it for close-in susceptibility testing.
CST is a software house offering 3D electromagnetic computation software. The news here is that CST2014 is now out. The sales guy claims CST2014 is now faster, more accurate, and more user friendly. Turns out he had already done some work on crosstalk between cable arrangements on a set-up that looks a lot like the automotive FEF (Elephant in the Test Room #3). He will check with head office if it is OK to work with me on analyzing the fields created by the FEF, but I warned him that the topic is somewhat controversial, so maybe not.
Three pieces of news here: The new version of TILE EMC software is out, ETS has a new line of absorber material called FlexSorb, and ETS now offers turnkey solutions.
News here is that Elite is celebrating 60 years of EMC testing. Other news from the Elite booth is that there is a big impact coming for test labs as regards testing WLAN-Bluetooth devices. The new version 1.8.1 of EN300328 requires testing at 1 Megasamples per second, which means the lab will need a new receiver with a price tag of around $200k. Ouch. Also, labs must now measure the ability of equipment to only transmit on a free channel (wifi has eleven channels) as equipment cannot transmit more than 10mW total.
News is FEKO is to be acquired by Altair which will lead to the addition of FEKO to the Hyperworks suite of engineering software. Also FEKO Suite 7.0 is scheduled for release at the end of this quarter. FEKO had the demo version of FEKO Suite 6.3 on a CD at their booth, so I will check this out and maybe get back to you regarding modeling the automotive emissions FEF.
|Busy break room.|
News is that Fair-Rite has new flexible ferrite sheets that block at low frequencies and absorb at higher frequencies – the booth staff claim this is not officially launched, but is ready to be launched now.
After the success of utilizing spare amplifier power-overhead in commercial testing, AR is now focusing on multi-tone testing for automotive RF immunity testing. This is smart thinking and as long as the new composite power is still far away from the amplifier saturation power, and as long as the system chooses the test frequencies wisely (no doubt it does), this appears to be an excellent way to increase test-house productivity.
News is EM Scan has an all-new high resolution scanner. EM Scan claims that ‘very near field’ data is first class at predicting far field antenna performance. Apparently the antenna labs out there said results within 1.5dB were not all that impressive, but EM Scan did a round-robin and the inter-lab comparison was way worse than 1.5dB.
News is that TDK now sells complete turnkey RF immunity systems. These comprise the TDK EMS software, a signal generator, an amplifier, antenna, and all the interconnecting cables. TDK says buying the complete system from them takes the worry away. Also new is a color high definition video camera that can withstand the high electric fields in a test chamber. I got a demonstration of the camera reading the small print on a poster on the opposite side of the room. It was impressive.
Rohde & Schwarz
I was shown the new ESR receiver. It holds and displays the data from previous sweeps so the history can be scrutinized for spectrum changes and for sporadic signals.
The just released AXOS 8 expandable immunity test system was being promoted. This produces several immunity waveforms covering many standards in one test system. The big brother to AXOS 5, the AXOS 8 can produce 7kV and 3.5kA surge combination waves.
What is new is that TESEQ is now owned by AMETEK. AMETEK already owned EM Test and by buying TESEQ, it now has MILMEGA and IFI. Will be interesting to see how the new AMETEK EMC group changes the dynamics of the EMC Industry over the next several years. Other news from the booth was that the NSG 5500 (capacitive discharge interference generator) is now beefed up to meet Ford tests.
Check out the TESEQ entry above for the bigger picture. One item of news here is that Dan Odum (was ETS-Lindgren) now heads up USA sales for EM Test.
New for a year now but of interest to me is the TDEMI X digital receiver, a multi-functional instrument used to measure emission levels. This instrument is specific to EMC, something I always like. The new instrument acts as a receiver, a spectrum analyzer and oscilloscope all in one.
Why of interest to me? Well, another feature is that it can demodulate AM, which could prove very useful for an upcoming change to 61000-4-3, where the purity of the 80% AM test signal is checked against limits. The proposed check is to be made in the frequency domain which on the face of it makes a lot of sense, as it is hard to see slight distortion in the time domain (on an oscilloscope), but it is easy to see the change of sideband levels on a spectrum analyzer. However I think they might be leaning too much on the assumption of linearity (no side products) of the spectrum analyzer. I have seen data where a true 80% modulation from an Agilent PSG signal generator came out as 88% modulation when the sidebands were measured on a spectrum analyzer. When the analyzer was run at zero span and the peak and trough of the demodulated wave was measured it came out at 80.13%. Could be the makings of an elephant in the test room.
Getting back to the new Gauss multi- instrument, in the little I managed to gather at the booth, it could be a world beater. But a real test (for my purposes) of the new instrument would be to measure an 80% AM waveform from an Agilent PSG signal generator using all the instrument functionalities, Oscilloscope, Receiver, Spectrum Analyzer , Spectrum Analyzer set for zero span, and AM demodulation, and see how close the results are to each other when measuring the 80% modulation.
And speaking of Agilent, I see from their website they are running ‘RF back to basics’ seminars on July 22 in Richardson, TX and July 24 in Austin, TX.
ADD2 / Spes Development
Biggest, latest and greatest thing at ADD2 / Spes Development is Yellow Board Testing via their Dynamic Test Board (DTB-VS). The test board simulator connects to a laid out wiring harness with all its peripherals connected. The simulator mimics various scenarios / sequences allowing early testing in the design cycle. The simulator uses a CAN bus for communication which to me is very clever since engineers in the auto industry are already very familiar with this inter-microprocessor communication system.
On display at an EMC show for the first time are two new power amplifiers used in creating high magnetic fields, or injecting noise onto aviation 400Hz AC power systems. Designed for MRI but suited to EMC, Models 7548 and 7796 cover DC – 100kHz at 100A / 200A respectively.
Free memory sticks containing specification sheets and even operation manuals were available at the booth. I am of an age where I much prefer to flick through a brochure to get an overall impression and home in on what I want to know in seconds. You can’t do that with a PDF reader, but in this instance I was grateful as it was better than lugging all their literature on the plane.
Not particularly new, but Pearson’s latest and greatest is the Power Line Ripple Detector model PRD-120. This is noteworthy in that it allows measurement of the ripple injected onto the AC mains during MIL-STD testing at a far lower cost compared to purchasing a dynamic signal analyzer. The ripple detector box allows you to simply use a regular spectrum analyzer as found at all EMC test-houses.
The news at DLS Electronic Systems is that they just expanded their MIL-STD-810 and DO-160 environmental testing capability to include sand and dust testing plus vibration and shock testing. Although not at the show in this instance, Jack Black is with this company. Jack is the chapter chair from Chicago ‘across the lake’. Jack is always in friendly competition with Scott on who gets the most attendees at their EMC chapter presentation events.
These guys have a wonderful marketing idea where they visit your company and deliver on-site, hands-on training in CAN bus decoding and triggering using Agilent oscilloscopes. CAN is so good that it is now used in non-automotive systems to allow communication between system microprocessors, and to use the built-in-test and black-box recording features. I know first-hand that it really helps when you have a CAN history history of the system vital signs (device voltages and currents etc) and how they changed leading up to a fault alarm.
This is a local company whose new product is a fiber optic CAN link called FO-CAN. This allows test and monitoring of CAN controlled systems during RF immunity testing. The units are battery powered and can withstand 200v/m (600v/m at higher frequencies).
The Greatest Show on Earth – Aug 2-8, 2014
|The Greatest Show on Earth!|
Don’t blink, the next thing you know it will be time for the EMC2014 international symposium. As you likely know, it is going to be held during the first week of August in Raleigh, North Carolina.
As regards visiting the exhibition floor while you are there, I will see if I can tease what will be new at the show and try to create a list of ‘must sees’ for attendees.
Well, that is the end of my show report.
This event was, as ever, a highly successful one, and the IEEE EMC Society could do worse than to arrange for new chapter chairs to attend one of Scott’s events as part of the induction process.
|The chief protagonists.|