Eurocircuits supports IET activity at Peakcamp 2015

By Juergen Pintaske – ExMark

At Peakcamp 2015, over 7000 Scouts and Guides had a wonderful week meeting and enjoying over 85 different activities. The IET wanted to add a soldering activity and asked a group of people to help with the design of the project and at the event. We decided to turn it into a practical soldering activity which would be presented as a whole at the end of the week.

Due to the very limited budget available, we had to find donors to support us – and succeeded. In the end there were 25 sponsors, who contributed either components – or money to buy parts. We have to thank all of them for their support, and also extend this to supporters at the event, who helped to make it all possible.

We were very happy when Eurocircuits agreed to Sponsor our worthwhile cause by donating all the PCB’s used to create this project, this was the first cornerstone of the project.

The second breakthrough was Texas Instruments who agreed to donate 1,000 microcontrollers.

MicroProcessor Engineering (MPE) specially adapted their Forth Lite system for this project.

The last issue was the box to hold it all together, rather than designing a box for the system which would be too expensive, we brainstormed for a more inventive solution, we found out that a TicTac Box would just be the right size for the project with board assembly and batteries fitting perfectly into a TicTac box –so a box full with TicTacs were supplied with the components to all scouts and guides that would make the project.

The Beating Heart – represented by the flashing LED in the MicroBox – source ExMark

The “Beating Heart” MicroBox – source ExMark

Over 300 scouts and guides built about 450 MicroBox systems a very impressive project to look at.

For the last day the scouts and guides “Beating Heart” boxes were set up on a large display consisting of approximately 250 MicroBoxes.

source ExMark Sorting the MicroBoxes for the large display

The “beating hearts” display – source ExMark

See the final display in the video – https://tv.theiet.org/?videoid=7386

  

IET TV Video and Interview – source Stephen Powley and

    

Source Eurocircuits

A successful event for all parties involved – and thanks to the IET, the sponsors, and here especially to Eurocircuits, to the people who helped at the event and the 300+ Scouts and Guides who came and built MicroBoxes and took them home to show to their friends or use them afterwards for Learning Programming.

Links:

Eurocircuits as sponsor of the Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering

Eurocircuits as loyal long term sponsor of the Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering.

For the last several academic years, Eurocircuits have been supporting the students of the Delft University with various projects. The Aerospace Rocket Engineering team is one of them and they have an exciting project to conquer space with their rocket.

Link to home page: http://dare.tudelft.nl/

We support the DARE electronics team: http://dare.tudelft.nl/projects-and-teams/electronics/

Our latest contribution to the team can be found here: http://dare.tudelft.nl/2015/09/engine-control-electronics/

You really should visit their website and admire what these enthusiastic group of students can do.

Overview of the DARE campaign so far

Test of the rocket engine

W Technology – an eC-test-mate user reports.

Alex Wilkinson of W Technology, 1 Chamberlain Place, Kidlington, Oxford, UK, became very interested in the eC-test-mate after seeing it demonstrated on the Eurocircuits stand at a recent trade show. W Technology develops and designs circuits, PCBs and firmware for a wide variety of products and product areas. Following on from the design phase, the prototyping and production stages which W Technology can also take care of usually require some degree of testing. As a result they are always looking for smart ways to speed up and automate testing while reducing the amount of manual intervention. The eC-test-mate looked particularly ideal for a product W Technology builds for John Wainwright Systems – an access control specialist. The board in question has an RS485 interface which could easily be used as a test interface into the board, and lots of relay controlled outputs, all of which need to be tested. It also has numerous inputs and outputs for inter-system connections, entry card readers, door sensors etc. For this board to be delivered to the client and meet W Technology”s high standards, all of these interfaces need to be tested.

That”s where the eC-test-mate looks ideal. On the surface, it looks like it can provide multiple automated test functions and measurements and take out the majority of the manual testing currently required. The fact that it runs a scripted test process means it should be easily adaptable to any future changes made to the board design or functionality, which is inevitable.

So W Technology took delivery of an eC-test-mate system complete with the Eurocircuits eC-test-mate Demo Board.

The PC software is freely available from www.eurocircuits.com/test. Version 1.2.1.1 was available at the time of writing. Installing the software is easy and only takes a matter of seconds. The demo board test scripts are available from the same location and come in a .zip format. The first thing you naturally do with a .zip file is to open it up and extract all the files, but in fact this is not necessary as the eC-test-mate software works with the zip file itself, saving you having to open it and create a folder for all the files it contains.

Open the eC-test-mate program and click the large blue “PCB manager button”. Then click the “Import” icon at the bottom left of the screen:

Make sure the required test head is plugged in to the PC (In this case, test head 1, green), click on the newly imported board and then the green tick at the bottom, “Activate”.

Once activated, you click on the “Test” heading at the top of the screen and you are ready to go. The demo board and scripts show a good selection of tests that can be performed:

  • Power supply to the board and testing for over-current conditions.
  • Reading analogue inputs, setting analogue output voltages.
  • Setting up on-board potentiometers to be within a certain range or allowing the operator to set them to a particular value and recording that value.
  • Setting outputs and requesting operator confirmation of the changed state.
  • Reading switch inputs and automatically moving on once activated.
  • Sending and receiving RS232 commands.

At the end of the test the screen briefly flashes red or green, as does the test head, to show the overall result. Failure in any one section of course results in an overall fail result. Helpfully, if it failed in one section and you go to test again, you have the option of retesting just that section which saves time by not going through the complete test process again.

Click on the “Edit & Debug” heading at the top of the screen and you have access to the test program scripts. These are a bit like a simplified version of C. Unusually you can”t actually type the text of the program script, instead you select the required command from the box to the right and fill in the appropriate parameters. A benefit if this is that you avoid introducing syntax errors that are otherwise quite easy to make, particularly with an unfamiliar language.

The test heads themselves look to be pretty robust – the test pins are shrouded in a spring loaded plastic cover to hide them when not connected to the target PCB. Only the steel location pins poke through initially allowing for location onto the PCB before pressing down and making all the connections.

They all have a USB connection so they can plug directly into the PC if the power requirements are low. For a board where you only need one test head this can leave you with less stuff on your desk. Otherwise you connect them through the base station which provides extra power – well above what USB can normally provide. The base station acting as a USB hub and power injector to the test heads. Also included in the base station are some little passive test boards – one for each head – which allow for quick verification that each head is functioning correctly. There are built in test routines to use these within the PC application.

While these can be removed from the base station, it”s quite convenient to use them in the base station as they hold the test head in place.

The intended way to use the test heads is for the land pattern to be designed onto the target PCB itself, therefore not requiring the traditional “bed of nails”. In some cases this may not be possible though due to space requirements, or perhaps where you need additional external circuitry to be able to test a system. In this case you could design the footprint for the test head into the board containing the external circuitry, and for example, use the I2C interface on test head 2 to drive an I/O expander chip to allow an almost limitless number of inputs and outputs to be multiplexed into the eC-test-mate system, and still all be tested and controlled from scripts within the PC software.

All in all it looks like a pretty versatile system. W Technology sees it being more than capable of testing the board originally identified as being a good contender for its application, and they look forward to incorporating its use into other product lines in the future.

W Technology, www.wtechnology.co.uk and contact via test@wtechnology.co.uk

Virtec – an eC-test-mate user reports

VIRTEC S.R.L., Hurlingham – Buenos Aires, Argentina, customer of eC-test-mate

VIRTEC S.R.L., located in Hurlingham, Argentina, is a committed user of the eC-test-mate. Its CTO, Mr Juan Andres Mondolo, chose the eC-test-mate (and its accompanying software eC-my-test) to cover all testing needs within the company. Already, Virtec has realized testing solutions for two products with the eC-test-mate, and more are coming up this year.

Virtec provides products for data collection in vehicles and transport applications as well as for environmental monitoring, e.g. for agricultural purposes. With over 300,000 systems sold, Virtec offers solutions for fleet monitoring and telemetry in several South American countries. In order to withstand harsh working conditions with high reliability, the products must be robust and the electronics must fulfill high requirements regarding durability and long term functionality.

Why choose eC-test-mate?

Virtec was one of the first companies to purchase an eC-test-mate, which was introduced at the Electronica 2014 trade fair in Munich. What were the main reasons for Virtec to choose the eC-test-mate?

As Mr Mondolo puts it: “We use the eC-my-test software for the development and execution of our product testing, and we ask our contract manufacturers to implement it as well, using our test scripts. This offers the possibility of a high level of production standardization and guaranteed quality at very low costs. Also, our trust in Eurocircuits as a supplier played a significant role” Virtec is an innovative company that releases six to eight new products every year. These include completely new products as well as variations of existing solutions.

“Flexible application is therefore a key requirement for any test equipment, and with the eC-test-mate we have found just that. We only have to incorporate a standard footprint in each PCB design, assign the 21 test points and write the test commands for every test pin. That is why we use the eC-test-mate in the development, as well as in the production phase of the PCB”.

Before eC-test-mate….

Mr Mondolo explains that the eC-test-mate means a breakthrough for Virtec’s test strategy:

“Using this functional automated test system enables the company to test its PCBs thoroughly and in a shorter time period than before. A complete test of one of our newest product with the eC-test-mate, including programming of the firmware, takes around six minutes and now our contractors are able to process proximally 1600 tested PCBs per month. Additionally, providing the contract manufacturer with a user friendly and ready-to-use test solution helps to ensure that every PCB is tested to our specific requirements.”

Standardization

As a result of this standardization of our testing process, it now becomes interesting to be able to store the test results. With eC-test-mate it is possible to store the results in a dedicated database via TCP connection. It also allows the programming of an ST microcontroller as part of the test process.

Virtec mainly uses the following eC-test-mate functions: Analog and digital in- and outputs, power supplies, UART, RS-485 and CAN. These functions are all included in either test head 1 or test head 2.

More possibilities in a very short learning period

According to Mr Mondolo, it took him only a few hours of ‘getting to know the program’ and working through a complete test development to master eC-my-test, and to be able to execute the first tests. The process was significantly easier than developing tests using standard programming languages such as C, C++ and Visual Basic.

“Overall the step from simple (manual) testing over connections and optical inspection to the implementation of the eC-test-mate was quite easy, and as we move forward we continue to see more advantages in working with the eC-test-mate system. We don’t need separate test fixtures or custom made beds of nails for our products, and we don’t have to purchase test software from yet another supplier. With one investment we now completely control the test development and test execution of all of our products and can therefore offer highly reliable and cost-effective solutions to our customers.”

Virtec SRL, www.virtec.com.ar

Eurocircuits NV, www.eurocircuits.com/test

TEST-OK BV, www.test-ok.nl

Eurocircuits supports innovation – Parcelhome smart letterbox

WORLD PREMIERE LAUNCHED IN BELGIUM:
SMART LETTERBOX THAT ENABLES HOME PACKAGE DELIVERIES WHEN YOU ARE OUT

Concerns about delivery and complex returns from home are key reasons for consumers to avoid online purchases. Now, parcelhome.com has developed an all-new way for Belgian parcel delivery services to solve both problems at once. With its smart letterbox, this start-up has developed a package delivery system at home that both couriers and consumers can open using a smartphone app.

Carriers DHL Parcel, GLS and DPD see an opportunity to improve their service to consumers. Both carriers and consumers lose when no one is home to receive a package. At present, 15% of packages cannot be delivered on the first attempt, and in some residential areas up to 50% of deliveries fail. This trial in the Mechelen area is the first project in which multiple carriers cooperate to improve home delivery rates. The smartbox is the result of 18 months of research and development and has is covered by multiple patents.

Luc van Bosstraeten, parcelhome.com’s GM for Benelux explains. “It is as simple to use as your letterbox, but it contains breakthrough technology. You can use the system to allow package carriers and even local shops – like your baker – to deliver their products at home. The only thing the baker needs is the Parcelhome app. The system is totally secure and works with dynamic codes comparable to the codes used in online banking. The built-in scale issues a receipt, and the system can receive multiple packages from different carriers. As soon as a package is placed in the ParcelHome unit, the addressee is notified.”

This means that customers know exactly when a package has arrived or been picked up and what each carrier has done. Thanks to the scale, it is easy to send and return packages and there is no need to go to the post office. The ParcelHome unit calculates the delivery fee and franks the package, a carrier then comes and picks it up.

The ParcelHome unit is large enough for 95% of packages. At the moment the trial is limited to the homes of 100 online shoppers in the Mechelen area who will be testing the units from May until July.
“It is high time for something like this,” says trial participant Gilles Van der Planken from Duffel. “My wife and I both work away from home. We order items online several times a month, from coffee capsules to nose spray to children’s toys. Having to drive somewhere to pick up a parcel is annoying. I hope that from now on ‘home delivery’ will mean that items are actually delivered to our home.”
It is not surprising that parcelhome.com kicks off in Belgium, because e-commerce has huge momentum in the country, and according to research by management consultancy AT Kearny Belgium is among the top ten growth markets. A number Belgian companies have contributed to the development of the smartbox including Quad Industries, Eurocircuits and Clear Channel Belgium. Eurocircuits also takes part in the trial.

But what really makes this project unique is the fact that several different carriers are co-operating for greater customer satisfaction. They clearly see that parcelhome.com is key to the future of e-commerce.

picture-1, picture-2, picture-3 Photo credit: parcelhome.com

Eurocircuits as loyal long term sponsor of GROUP T’s formula student team

Eurocircuits as loyal long term sponsor of GROUP T’s formula student team.

For the last several academic years, Eurocircuits have been supporting the Formula student team of GROUP T in Leuven with PCBs for their car.

In the following video are some impressions of their work and team.

Design UMICORE LUNA from Formula Electric Belgium on Vimeo.

https://vimeo.com/120733447

You really should visit their website and admire what these enthusiastic group of students can do: http://www.formulaelectric.be/home

Eurocircuits involved in a project that is out of this world: WUSAT

Eurocircuits involved in a project that is out of this world: WUSAT.

Eurocircuits had the immense pleasure to provide the PCB’s for such a prestigious project as the recently launched WUSAT-2, and are very pleased to be sponsoring Warwick”s next planned satellite, WUSAT-3‎.

For the last year, eight engineering students from Warwick University, led by their project director Dr Bill Crofts, embarked on a project to design, build and launch their own Satellite into space.

The satellite will measure light frequencies from the outer atmosphere and transmit them back to the team before dropping back to earth. They have designed their machine to estimate the density of elements such as sodium and O2 via their light emission because that is one way satellites can detect other potentially life-supporting planets in a galaxy.

The project is being backed by the European Space Agency, and the German and Swedish Space Agencies are both on board as well.

After months of hard work and dedication the team were ready for launch last Tuesday the 17th March 2015 ‎from the Swedish Space Centre north of the Arctic Circle.

In the words of the project director: “The launch was almost on time, perfect weather conditions, we got some great pics and video of it, the nosecone deployed exactly on time, the satellite ejected, the communications system powered up, and we started to receive data signals through our ground station where most of us were situated on Radar Hill 2km away.

The team were ecstatic and very emotional! Every aspect that each of them had worked on was successful. Later, we heard two sonic bangs which we think was the satellite breaking the sound barrier on re-entry.

Even the ESA guys were excited! Apparently, this is the first time they have successfully achieved transmitted data from an ESA/Rexus ejected unit on re-entry, so an amazing achievement. We have a lot of data now to be analyzed, and we are hoping to estimate the speed of the satellite via the Doppler shift of the radio signals. Nevertheless, to achieve transmission at all in these conditions was quite exceptional! As expected the satellite could not be recovered, but the ejection unit was recovered by helicopter along with the rocket’s service module 40km away.

Project Director Dr. Bill Crofts was keen to point out the vital role played by all of the sponsoring companies in helping the WUSAT team overcome the huge engineering challenges they faced with the WUSAT-2 mission. “They are a key part of the team, and also help to enhance the experience and knowledge that the students acquire through working with them”. We are now aiming for WUSAT-3 to be a fully orbiting satellite potentially launched from the International Space Station. How cool is that!”

Eurocircuits wishes the team great and continued success.

One small step for Man and one giant voyage for Eurocircuits.

You can follow them on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/WarwickUniversitySatellite and twitter https://twitter.com/WUSAT_Team

Eurocircuits as sponsor of RCVA Robot Concept Ville d’Avray

Eurocircuits as sponsor of RCVA Robot Concept Ville d’Avray.

Eurocircuits have been supporting the Robot competition team of the town of Avray. The team has been very successful the past years.

The following movie gives an overview of their achievements.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLok6yuBxgc

You really should visit their website and admire what this enthusiastic group of engineers can do: http://www.rcva.fr/

Eurocircuits supports the formula student team of the University of Munich

Eurocircuits supports the formula student team of the University of Munich.

Already since 2006 we are dealing with the enthusiastic team of students of the University of Munich. We sponsor the PCBs for their formula student project. We now leave it up to them to tell in their own words how the project went and what their experiences were.

Team member, Christopher Römmelmayer, wrote this to us:

Hallo Herr Dörr,

ich melde mich wieder bei Ihnen, da wir noch eine letzte Platine bestellt haben und ich zudem einen kurzen Rückblick zum Auto geben wollte.

Auf nachfolgende zwei Bildern ist unsere Control Unit zu sehen, in der viele Platinen von Ihnen untergebracht sind, welche alle wichtige Aufgaben im Auto übernehmen.

Darunter fällt beispielsweise die Spannungs- und Stromüberwachung in unserem Niedervolt-System oder die Berechnung des Drehmoments für unsere vier Antriebsmaschinen.

Weitere Bilder zeigen unser Elektroauto und das Team. Wir sind stolz darauf, dass wir dieses Jahr mit unserem ersten Allradfahrzeug tolle Ergebnisse erzielen konnten.

Unter http://tufast-etechnology.de/ finden Sie gleich auf der Titelseite einige Berichte zu Wettbewerben und Bilder.

Vielen Dank für Ihre großartige Unterstützung!

Viele Grüße

Christopher Römmelmayer

There is really little more we can add to that and we are proud that we can support these guys. More on their team can be found on http://www.tufast.de/

Eurocircuits supports the formula student team of Bizkaia University

Eurocircuits supports the formula student team of Bizkaia University.

2014 is the first year we deal with the enthusiastic team of student of Bizkaia University. We sponsor the PCBs for their formula student project. We now leave it up to them to tell in their own words how the project went and what their experiences were.

Team member, Victor Angulo, wrote this to us:

Dear Claudio,

I”m glad you supported us. I will comment a bit on this season and the first competition of the year that was in Silverstone (United Kingdom) from 10th to 13th of July.

Thanks to the hard work of the team we managed to finish the car two months before the competition, so we were able to test the car and to find the best set up for the different tests in the competition.

Once we were in Silverstone, we passed technical inspections first time right. Here the judges check that the car complies with all the rules of the competition (there are many and some of them very hard, especially in the electrical part). If one car does not comply with some rule, the judges prohibit it from racing. We didn”t have any problem here so before the dynamic events, we did the static ones.

To sum up, the static events consists of 3 parts:

  • Cost event (demonstrate that the budget, materials and manufacturing methods are correct to make a car in series)
  • Design event (judges justify the design of the different parts of vehicle, teach test for viability etc.)
  • Business Case presentation (present a business case for making the car, employees, salaries, profit etc.)

We did very well on these three parts and after that we went to de dynamic events.

We did a very good performance in the dynamic events, mainly thanks to the time we had already tested in Bilbao and the reliability of the drive system. However, in last event (the Endurance) we had to retire on lap 5 out of 22 because the union between a piece of carbon fiber and aluminum failed in the suspension.

It was a shame, but still, thanks to the results of the static and dynamic we reach position 32 out of 100 teams in the competition. Being the top of the Spanish teams that competed.

When we returned from Silverstone, we analyzed and fixed the problem in the suspension and we are already testing the car again in the track to get it ready for our next competition, Formula Student Spain (28th- 31st August). Our goal there is still to be the best team in the country and compete face to face to European teams, where the formula student has been seated many years.

I take this opportunity to send some photos of the official presentation of the car. I  also send you some photo that are more difficult to see, where we can see the battery packs and some of the PCB we have taken this year from  Eurocircuits. Thanks to them, we have a very reliable battery packs and our improvement in this from last year has been enormous, thank you very much for trusting us.

We are very happy with you products, and for this reason, next year we hope to work with Eurocircuits again. Also we would be happy to expand, more if possible, the collaboration you have with us.  We appreciate your help a lot. That such an important company like yours wants to collaborate with us is something that we want to care.

Best regards

Victor Angulo 

fsbizkaia.com

There is really little more we can add to that and we are proud that we can support these guys.