Experimenting with Linux

gnu April 23rd, 2015

          It has been over 30 years since Richard Stallman [I was told by a woman recently in Barcelona that I sound like him when I speak Spanish] started a free Unix-like operating system called GNU. There have been many flavors of the operating system, different licensing and also many free applications. A spin off was Linux by Linus Torvalds started about 20 years ago.  Generally, though, OpenSource is where people work together to develop software and offer it freely to anyone.  The main restriction in licensing is that users of the software must share what they change and develop.  Related is the Free Software Foundation (FSF).
          As an engineering design company we at Haynes-Bent, Inc. need to be versatile. On a project last year, I had an engineering student employee come on board. Normally we had used Microsoft work stations but the current project actually needed some of the Computer Aided Design (CAD) software that could export file formats such as .stl for 3D designs. This required Linux so we looked at a user friendly version. The company has been using Linux since inception for servers and 3D Electromagnetic (EM) simulator platforms. But employees were more comfortable with Microsoft for E-Mail, internet etc. Looking at Ubuntu, we thought it was a very simple setup and all necessary software was there and ready to use.  One of the software pieces necessary is a spreadsheet program. We chose LibreOffice having previously used the OpenOffice suites for years but was being phased out in favor of LibreOffice. The current project required some spreadsheet work and LibreOffice has the Calc program for that. Some solutions to linear equations was necessary and I had used the Solver application in Microsoft Office in the past but did not know if it was available in LibreOffice. As many times is the case, though, I was surprised by the availability of very similar applications and Calc had a solver that worked just fine.
          For years Linux application groups have been competing with the major software providers to bring useful applications to users.  There are some quirks to the software but generally they work well unless you desire some of the special features such as graphics or template libraries. One must be aware of security risks but that comes with all offered software. The difference with OpenSource versus other vendors is the world is available to scruitinize the code offered in repositories looking for vulnerabilities and loopholes. With bought software, the code is not usually released and thus one does not know what security issue (sometimes intentional) may be. In short, OpenSource software has and is becoming more of an alternative to what is available in the market.

Ronald Kollman – RF Hardware Designer and President of Haynes-Bent, Inc.

Haynes-Bent, Inc. – Radiofrequency (RF) hardware design, EMC/EMI analysis and 3D Electromagnetic simulation. We also provide Technology advise for investors and executives and software services from embedded to network servers.

sales@haynesbent.com (630)845-3316

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Copyright © 2015 – All rights reserved. May not modify. May only link to the published page – Haynes-Bent, Inc & Ronald David Kollman

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Panic Button

August 10th, 2014

     A recent RedEye article about a Panic Button for college students started my thoughts on invention ideas.  As a wireless device designer, I am all for using wireless technology.  As an entrepreneur, though, I assess my business ideas and a good direction for most products is to keep it simple (and cheap).  I would think the best direction for this kind of safety device would be an App for the phone (that you already must have for the product) that can wake up on a code word to do everything a separate pendant would do.  A separate device must be maintained (batteries) and accounted for (remember to wear it).  Most people already carry their smartphone around which, again, is necessary for the product proposed in the article anyway.  Some other concerns are that we need to assess privacy concerns today.  Some like to ensure that their privacy is maintained in non-emergency situations and shut-off location based services.  Some things to think about.

Ronald Kollman – RF Hardware Designer and President of Haynes-Bent, Inc.

Haynes-Bent, Inc. – Radiofrequency (RF) hardware design, EMC/EMI analysis and 3D Electromagnetic simulation. We also provide Technology advise for investors and executives and software services from embedded to network servers.

sales@haynesbent.com (630)845-3316

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Copyright © 2014 – All rights reserved. May not modify. May only link to the published page – Haynes-Bent, Inc & Ronald David Kollman

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Electromagnetic Propagation to Mars

hst_mars160April 5th, 2014

I do quite a bit of math for engineering projects.  Many things need iterations and so I do lots of scripting.  But sometimes I just want to do something for fun.  Awhile back I was watching a special about Mars and they were talking about the NASA‘s Spirit and Opportunity rovers that were supposed to operate for only about three months but have been operating for about 10 years now (Spirit has not responded for about four years now, though).  Some of the reasons they lasted so long is that it had been assumed that so much dust would accumulate on the horizontal solar cells making them inoperative over time.  What they had not anticipated is that, occasionally, there would be Dust Cleaning Events.  This could be just wind but a presenter from NASA at Fermilab once showed a Martian dust devil (remember the atmosphere there is about 95% Carbon Dioxide) which does a much better job.
The show that I was watching about Mars talked about the transit time for radio signals to Mars.  To cause something to happen with regards to the rovers, you have to send a signal and it takes a certain amount of time for the signal to get to Mars or conversely for a rover or an orbiter to communicate with Earth.  We send/receive signals to/from Mars usign the Deep Space Network (DSN).  Through these large satellite dishes, we can communicate with either the rovers or through orbiters which then relay the message to the rover(s).  For the Moon, we put in a NASA SBIR proposal for an easily deployable antenna array to communicate with orbiters.  So how long does it take.  I have heard the number of 15 minutes one-way thrown out at one time.  Here are my calculations:

Constants

d_earth_perihelion = 91.4 million km
d_earth_aphelion = 94.5 million km
d_mars_perihelion = 206,655,215 km
d_mars_aphelion = 249,232,432 km

Semi-major axis
Mars Average = 228 million km
Earth Average = 92.96 million km

Minimum  Distance

The closest that Earth and Mars will ever be is when Earth is at aphelion (farthest from the sun) and Mars is at perihelion (closest to the sun).  Also, they would have to be on the same radial from the sun at that time.  The chance of this happening is very unlikely.

Maximum Distance

Assuming the Earth and Mars are in opposition (across the Sun from each other).  Then both need to be at aphelion.

Two sources used:  One was a webpage specifically talking about the topic and the other came from my calculations based on “various sources” such as planetary tables.  One should always look at multiple sources in research.

Answers

The answers are based simply on the speed of light in a vacuum and takes each value and divides by that to determine the propagation time for the Electromagnetic (EM) Wave (debate wave verus particle another time) that is the signal sent to the rovers.  It is a simple calculation not taking into account any delay if the signal is relayed by an orbiter nor any compensation since space is not entirely a vacuum or the propagation through the Earth and/or Martian atmosphere (since that all should be negligible).

Answers for Source 1
One way time for closest   3.033333 minutes
One way time for farthest  22.277778 minutes
One way time for average   12.500000 minutes

Answers for Various Sources
One way time for closest   6.233333 minutes
One way time for farthest  19.094444 minutes
One way time for average   7.502222 minutes

Constants – Various Sources
Closest – Source 1         54.600000 million km
Closest – Various          112.200000 million km
Farthest – Source 1        401.000000 million km
Farthest – Various         343.700000 million km
Average – Source 1         225.000000 million km
Farthest – Various         135.040000 million km

So, fifteen minute one way was probably right at that time.   Comments/corrections welcome.

Ronald Kollman – RF Hardware Designer and President of Haynes-Bent, Inc.

Haynes-Bent, Inc. – Radiofrequency (RF) hardware design, EMC/EMI analysis and 3D Electromagnetic simulation. We also provide Technology advise for investors and executives and software services from embedded to network servers.

sales@haynesbent.com (630)845-3316

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Copyright © 2014 – All rights reserved. May not modify. May only link to the published page – Haynes-Bent, Inc & Ronald David Kollman

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Helping Businesses

helping-hand   February 16th, 2014

Having been in business for almost a decade now, I have worked with many companies in solving their issues from software to electromagnetic compatibility (EMC).  Basically, my company helps with techical problems related to electronics hardware and software.  In working with the end client, I usually find out more that I bargained for about the company.  One of the reasons I personally enjoy consulting versus direct employment is to stay above company politics.  We are usually called in because a company is failing.  We can help technically but usually do not help nor offer advice on some of the root reasons that they are failing.  If I did tell them, they would probably not change what is necessary anyway.  There was only one company in which I told them honestly how they could improve their business.  There were two reasons for this.  The first is because they gave us return business.  The second is because I was in direct contact with the owner who could actually effect change.  This was a smaller business.  In larger businesses, the culture and political kingdoms setup are sometimes too ingrained to change.  The nice thing is that the one company that took my suggestions is still in business and thriving.  The other businesses are either stagnant, offshored a large chunk of their US workforce or went out of business.  We give good technical support to our customers according to what they define as deliverables.  Sometimes that is just not enough but it is our contract.

Ronald Kollman – RF Hardware Designer and President of Haynes-Bent, Inc.

Haynes-Bent, Inc. – Radiofrequency (RF) hardware design, EMC/EMI analysis and 3D Electromagnetic simulation. We also provide Technology advise for investors and executives and software services from embedded to network servers.

sales@haynesbent.com (630)845-3316

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Copyright © 2014 – All rights reserved. May not modify. May only link to the published page – Haynes-Bent, Inc & Ronald David Kollman

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Leaded Coil Test System

December 4th, 2013

Leaded Coil Test System

Over the years we have helped customers with some of their issues concerning coil impedance from antennas to custom inductors.  We have a system available to test coils in a factory environment and collect data.  It will provide coil inductance for frequency points you specify.  Some customization may be needed for a custom coil setup but generally is a cheaper and easier to use system then using a RLC meter or Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) since the later are not typically geared towards factory envirnoments.  Our system is typically geared towards lower frequency devices (<1GHz) but may be able to be customized for higher frequencies.  Contact us if you have interest/need at sales@haynesbent.com.

Ronald Kollman – President – Haynes-Bent, Inc. – (630)845-3316

Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB) specializing in Radiofrequency Hardware Design, Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) , 3D Electromagnetic (EM) Simulation and software systems.

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Nikola Tesla

July 10th, 2013

I guess today is Tesla’s birthday from some of the posts on the internet.  Having been a fan before all of the pop hype, I felt that I should write something.

Dealing with large electrical motors and their designs, I started to become interested in the design of the slip (induction) motor designs in the 1980s.  It seemed so elegant even around a century after invention.  That, of course, led me to read a little bit about the inventor when I discovered Mr. Tesla.

To digress a little bit, an induction motor was quite novel at the time.  Motors at that time required brushes to bring electricity to the rotor (part that turns) and create a magnetic field.  The stator (coils in the housing) would create a magnetic field and kind of always relatively the same at least with respect to the rotor.  Tesla decided to change that and make the magnetic field rotate in the stator using three (3) phase alternating current (AC).  Not only that, he was able to get rid of the brushes and use the rotating field to induce current into the rotor to create a magnetic field which interacted with the rotating field to cause the rotor to spin.  It is a very elegant idea and quite an interesting control system as the loaded motor slows down but then the relative speed causes more torque to bring it back.  This system also gets rid of the brushes which saves quite a bit on maintenance.  About the only drawback is that it is not a constant speed under varying loads.  With solid state electronics today, we can compensate for that, though.  They could back then if they had control over the generator speed.

I will just recant some things that I learned about him over the years:

1)  Edison was a sort of hero to Tesla.  Tesla finally got to go visit him around 1884 and Edison gave him some work on the spot.  Later Edison promised him $50k to increase the efficiency of Edison’s generators.  Tesla worked hard and finished the work in a few months since he wanted the money for a research lab.  Edison said that the $50k was a joke.  Tesla quit and that was the end of his views of Edison as a hero (I think it ended earlier as he got to know the man).  Tesla was pro-AC and Edison was pro-DC (direct current).  This later led to the “War Of The Currents”

2)  War Of The Currents:  Edison had an established DC power infrastructure in place in NYC.  Tesla’s ideas jeopardized his business and so Edison instigated public sentiment against AC by having a “road show” go around and electrocute animals to show the dangers of AC.  I saw a video from the time showing an Elephant being shocked to death.  AC was superior to DC in that it could be stepped up/down in voltage for efficient long distance transmission so was a threat to Edison’s business especially when Tesla was hired to consult on the Niagara Falls Power Project (hydroelectric) which could send power all the way to NYC.  Edison also recommended AC to be used for the first execution using electricity which failed miserably and made Edison look bad.  Side Note:  I was able to see inside the old generator building on a visit to Niagara.  It was closed but there was an open door so I got to look around for a bit undisturbed and got a real feel for the history and time.

3)  Wireless Power Transmission (WPT):  Tesla was fascinated by resonance and was alleged to cause a building to sway one time by a mechanical device that tapped on a support for days at the resonant frequency of the building slowly building up a resonance.  His “Tesla Coil” design is an auto transformer tuned to resonance.  With this, one can build up large electric fields and that is where the “lightning” discharges come from.  His coil design enabled his wireless power transmission theory based on his calculations for the resonant frequency of the earth (later discovered by the US Navy in the 1950s and known as the Tesla-Schumann cavity resonance).  He found investors and setup a lab near Colorado Springs because he enjoyed the natural lightning activity there.  It is alleged that he was able to wirelessly illuminate about 200 light bulbs about 26 miles away.  His investors seemed to have “pulled the plug” on his project when they realized that they could not charge for power.  It was a good idea but there is too much power lost even if we decided to provide electricity in a socialistic way.  In addition, there may be other effects such as increased risk of cancer (power lines are alleged to cause Leukemia for those exposed for a long time) and on the environment.  Side Note:  Around 1993 I found a museum in Colorado Springs with many artifacts from Tesla.  Later in 2004 I went back and it had all been taken.  I think they said it was all transferred to a museum in Croatia for him.

4)  Radio:  Tesla actually filed a patent for a radio in 1887 and was granted a few months before Marconi in late 1900.  But, even though Marconi’s patent claims were rejected because of Tesla’s, the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company was created in Britain backed by Edison and Andrew Carnegie and American Marconi was later created.  For no reason, in 1904 the US Patent Office reversed their decision and gave Marconi the patent for invention of the radio.  Marconi won the Nobel Prize in 1911 and Tesla sued but did not have the money to pursue.  When Marconi later sued the government and in 1943 the US Supreme Court upheld Tesla’s initial claims a few months after he died.  Interesting Article

5)  Other inventions:  Remote controlled boats and plasma weapons just to name a couple.

Ronald Kollman – RF Hardware Designer and President of Haynes-Bent, Inc.

Haynes-Bent, Inc. – Radiofrequency (RF) hardware design, EMC/EMI analysis and 3D Electromagnetic simulation. We also provide Technology advise for investors and executives.

sales@haynesbent.com (630)845-3316

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Copyright © 2013 – All rights reserved. May not modify. May only link to the published page – Haynes-Bent, Inc & Ronald David Kollman

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Personal Electronc Devices (PEDs) on Aircraft

May 23rd, 2013

     We all usually have had to shutdown our electronics devices when flying. This is usually limited to takeoff and landing when instrumentation is key. Not to touch on the technical nature too much but radiofrequency (RF) signals are used in many aspects of flight and pilots use instrumentation that use these signals to operate the aircraft in a safe manner. The operator (airline) is in charge of allowing/denying Personal Electronics Device (PED) use [14 CFR 91.21] except cellphones which are prohibited [47 CFR 22.925]. Most airlines restrict PED use during takeoff and landing. Currently the FAA is looking at relaxing that regulation [FAA-2012-0752]. Prompting this could be any number of things: passenger complaints about not being able to use their devices or PED manufacturers that want their equipment used more etc.
     Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) is the study and regulation of both what is called susceptibility/immunity (how sensitive something is to electromagnetic interference) and interference (what a device produces electromagnetically). There are all kinds of standards like FCC (USA) CE (Europe), RTCA (Aircraft), MIL-STD-461 and many more. These standard set levels of electromagnetic interference that a device like a PED are allowed to put out and how much interference aircraft equipment can take before disrupting it’s operation. These standards are discussed and revisited constantly based on many criteria such as FAA incidents, new technologies, new aircraft type (i.e. the new Boeing 787 prompted a new standard because of the carbon composite fuselage) etc. And PEDs are not the only items which standards are addressed. For example, as a passenger, your plane may be hit by lighting. So there are tests and standards to see if equipment is susceptible to a lightning strike to a certain level. None of the testing ensures 100% safety but the standards attempt to address issues that can affect safety and changing technologies.
     The increased desire for passengers to use PEDs is one of those changing technologies. It is a difficult problem. There are some documented instances where PEDs cause issues on planes which jeopardizes the safety of the plane. But, you just do not know what harm they can cause and it is better to err on the side of safety. We can set equipment testing to a higher standard but some of the equipment uses frequencies and therefore there is really not much you can do about the susceptibility. One possibility is to require qualification of PEDs for airline use. That would be unpopular because it would increase the cost of the devices. Just taking the stance that PEDs should be allowed because of demand is not a valid approach, though. It should be investigated using scientific methodology. The FAA does a somewhat fair job trying to mediate demand with scientific principles. They take public comments, industry insights and more. The investigations will always continue as the types of wireless devices and pervasive use increase. Anything can happen, a device can break and operate abnormally, devices can interact with each other and much more that can jeopardize safety. Insurance should look at increasing the rates to airlines that allow PEDs to be used during takeoff and landing. You can even pass the cost off to the individual passenger that can not live for the ten minutes or so without their device.

Some other references

     A new look at gadgets on airplanes
     FAA-2012-0752 – Closed for Public Comment now

Ronald Kollman – RF Hardware Designer and President of Haynes-Bent, Inc.

Haynes-Bent, Inc. – Radiofrequency (RF) hardware design, EMC/EMI analysis and 3D Electromagnetic simulation. We also provide Technology advise for investors and executives.

sales@haynesbent.com (630)845-3316

Twitter, LinkedIn

Copyright © 2013 – All rights reserved. May not modify. May only link to the published page – Haynes-Bent, Inc & Ronald David Kollman

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