Pat Hindle, MWJ Editor
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Pat Hindle is responsible for editorial content, article review and special industry reporting for Microwave Journal magazine and its web site in addition to social media and special digital projects. Prior to joining the Journal, Mr. Hindle held various technical and marketing positions throughout New England, including Marketing Communications Manager at M/A-COM (Tyco Electronics), Product/QA Manager at Alpha Industries (Skyworks), Program Manager at Raytheon and Project Manager/Quality Engineer at MIT. Mr. Hindle graduated from Northeastern University - Graduate School of Business Administration and holds a BS degree from Cornell University in Materials Science Engineering.
IoT/M2M/V2V Channel

Innovating the IIoT - NIWeek2015

August 12, 2015

NIWeek2015 was another exciting event with some of the best keynote talks you will hear anywhere. I was able to live broadcast some video snippets from the keynotes using the app Periscope (see my Twitter feed for links to them - @pathindle). Some of the biggest hits were the Berlin heart, autonomous sod excavator and augment reality, real-time instrumented bicycle. 

Berlin Heart

The Berlin heart Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) is a blood pump that vibrates rhythmically to assist children who cannot pump enough blood with their own natural heart. It works along with the patient’s heart to pump blood and is primarily used for children awaiting a transplant to keep them alive until a donor heart is found. There have been some children that actually recovered using the device and avoided the transplant, but it is rare that this happens. The device is portable so that they can move around so are not confined to a bed. NI LabVIEW was used to simulate the device for modeling and design of the unit.  

AR Bike

On stage, another speaker fired up the autonomous sod excavator that is completely remotely controlled and another displayed real-time sensor data from a bicycle within their CAD environment and overlaid onto the live data onto the bike using augmented reality which drew immediate cheers from the audience. All of these projects were enabled by NI platforms.

For us wireless geeks, a second day keynote was given by Nokia, about rapid proto-typing for 5G technologies. They have successfully developed a 73 GHz (single carrier NCP with coding) system with beam steering realizing a 10 Gb/sec data rate and 200 m range.  It has 2 GHz of bandwidth with less than 1 ms latency using 2 x 2 MIMO. These are some firsts in the industry accomplished quickly with NI rapid proto-typing platforms.

The one thing that stood out to me with all of the IIoT and Big Data applications was that we can now predict failures and system problems before they occur. This was highlighted in a wind turbine application where different frequencies of oscillation can indicate problems with bearing or gears before they fail. Optimal+ is a software company working with semiconductor manufacturers to monitor all of their processing equipment and do just that.  They can collect and analyze data from test and measurement operations from around the world and detect slight changes in parameter values that indicate something is starting to drift and catch problems with equipment before they happen.  Very intriguing!

WTSNI had several major announcements including a new wireless test system (WTS) for production testing of wireless devices that lowers the cost of high-volume wireless manufacturing test. As stated in their release, the IoT will push more devices to include RF and sensor functionality that has traditionally been expensive to test. The WTS combines the latest advances in PXI hardware to offer a single platform for multi-standard, multi- DUT and multi-port testing. When used with flexible test sequencing software, such as the TestStand Wireless Test Module, manufacturers can significantly improve instrument utilization when testing multiple devices in parallel. Markus Krauss, HARMAN/Becker Automotive Systems GmbH said "We tested multiple wireless technologies ranging from Bluetooth to WiFi to GPS and cellular all with the same equipment using the NI Wireless Test System” and commented further “The WTS and NOFFZ’s RF test engineering expertise helped us significantly reduce test time and the time it took to get our test systems up and running.”

NI also announced LabVIEW 2015 featuring speed improvements, development shortcuts, and debugging tools to empower developers to efficiently interact with the systems they create.  They released new hardware and software additions to help engineers create smarter measurement and data management solutions with new 4- and 8-slot CompactDAQ controllers featuring quad-core processing, a new 14-slot USB 3.0 CompactDAQ Chassis, DIAdem 2015 and DataFinder Server Edition 2015. And finally, they announced new embedded systems hardware based on the open, flexible LabVIEW reconfigurable I/O (RIO) architecture. This hardware includes the high-performance CompactRIO Controller for integrators with rugged, industrial applications, Controller for FlexRIO for designers with high-performance embedded applications and Single-Board RIO Controller for designers who require more flexibility in their embedded applications. One keynote demo that exemplified processing power and speed was a seismic exploration project that processed 40 TB/s using 400 FPGAs in 7 racks and 40 chassis’s with 50 micro sec cycle time.  It was a tremendous demonstration of processing power.

One of the most interesting sessions was given by Professor Popovic from Univ of CO about the design of a 10 W GaN PA operating at 10 GHz. It has about 60% PAE at 10 GHz and went through all of the steps for load pull, envelope tracking and modular supply development. They have been able to integrate the PA, power supply and cacode amplifier onto a single chip.

In the exhibition there was a wide array of NI application demos including massive MIMO, amplifier testing and optimization, semiconductor test systems, and AWR Microwave Office among many others. Here is a link to a few videos demos we shot in the exhibition – view here.  Some recognizable RF/microwave companies represented were Cobham Wireless (formerly Aeroflex), Maury, Focus/Mesuro, Teledyne, RADX, Giga-tronics and Taconic.  Here is what some of those companies were showing:

CobhamCobham Wireless sponsored the 5G summit and announced support multi-device fast RF alignment and RF performance verification measurements of small cells with its RF automated test equipment (ATE) system – based on PXI modular instruments and PXI Maestro test sequencing software. In addition, they recently announced that their TM500 network test system now includes support for 256 QAM modulation – one of the key features of LTE-Advanced (LTE-A, also known as 4G) which is being introduced in 3GPP Release 12. We did a video demo on site – view here.

Maury Microwave was showing their mixed-signal load pull system that operates from .3 to 40 GHz power by the Anteverta system (who they recently acquired). This system is designed to handle realistic wideband complex modulated signals with a high dynamic range and provide user defined reflection coefficients vs. frequency at the DUT reference planes. The system concept is based on IQ signal generation, synthesized with fully synchronized arbitrary waveform generators (AWG) and wideband A/D converters to measure the wideband reflection coefficient.

Focus Microwaves was represented by Mesuro showing their RAPID load-pull concept employs the latest in PXI test instrumentation. The technique employs a ‘quasi closed loop’ approach, this approach maintains the speed of a closed loop active load-pull system but removes the inherent stability issues that limit their application. The output signal from the device is fed to a circulator, and passed to the PXI chassis where the signal is down-converted, modified to set the desired impedance, unconverted and then injected back to test device to set an invariant impedance. As there is feedback any change in the device output, such as a change in drive level, this is automatically compensated for in the feedback signal.  The result is extremely fast impedance changes and calibration process.

RADX was showing off their The RADX® LibertyGT 1211B (LGT1211B) that is a modular, COTS, multifunction, programmable, benchtop Automated Test System (ATS) that supports a wide range of real-time RF and Microwave Stimulus, Test and Measurement (T&M) applications. Featuring a modular Software Defined Synthetic Instrument architecture, touchscreen interface and industry programmability, one LGT1211B can replace over a dozen “Boxed” T&M Instruments and test system components to significantly reduce test system SWaP and total cost of ownership while dramatically improving measurement throughput.

TeledyneTeledyne Microwave Solutions discussed their new YIG tuned band-reject filters covering the frequency range of 125 MHz to 18 GHz. Powered by a new patent-pending technology that overcomes several of the long-time design limitations inherent to YIG Band-Reject (notch filters), the new TMS product line delivers to customers several major performance advancements that are not currently available in the industry.

Giga-tronics is now offering an ultra-fast frequency switching coherent up and down converter, combined with a Vertex 6 based NI Vector Signal Transceiver. The basic FPGA tool-kit supplied gives examples on how to create frequency, amplitude and time modifications to the received signal as well as creating two target return signals. They have re-direct the company over the last year or so to address EW testing.

 Here is a link to our photo gallery from NIWeek (including our visits to the Spazmatics and Salt Lick). 

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