Wireless Electronic Lock

Challenge

Create a remote controlled, wireless, keyless lock for use with wood furniture, desks and cabinet applications.  The battery powered transmitter must have a 10 digit keypad and be small and unobtrusive.  The battery powered receiver/locking mechanism must be small enough to fit into any drawer or small cabinet.

Solution

Microchip PIC SOC (transmitter) and receiver chip (receiver), PCB level antennas, off-the-shelf batteries, Microchip communication protocol, PIC assembly code and Microchip MPLab were used to create this low power, robust and secure solution.

Summary

Tecnova was asked to develop an FCC approved, small form factor, battery powered, wireless locking device for home-office wood desks and cabinetry.

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Topics: Firmware Development, Product Development

Wireless Student Response System to Enhance Classroom Learning

Challenge

Design a system with which students in a classroom setting can interact in real-time with projected prompts or verbal questions from an instructor.

Solution

Freescale integrated 802.15.4 (ZigBee) radio and microcontroller system on chip (SoC) components, PCB-trace antenna, Freescale MAC, ANSI C and Code Warrior.

Summary

Children growing up in the digital age of computers, MP3 players, and game devices learn differently than students of the past. To keep students engaged in learning, schools are investing in forms of technology that are familiar to children and intuitive to use.

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Topics: Electronic Contract Manufacturing, Electronic Engineering, Firmware Development

Water Chemistry: Chemical Feed Controller

Challenge

Bring laboratory-grade water analysis and chemical feed control to large-scale commercial and industrial water cooling tower systems.

Solution

A custom designed, solid-state, highly accurate multi-channel fluorometer combined with a microprocessor-driven chemical feed controller.

Summary

Accurate chemical monitoring and feed control of chemicals in cooling tower water systems is required to reduce mineral scale, corrosion, and microbe growth. Relatively high volumes of expensive chemicals are required to protect these systems.

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Topics: Electronic Contract Manufacturing, Electronic Engineering, Firmware Development, Industrial Controls

Product Design: Designing for Reliability and Manufacturability

Challenge

Refine a proof-of-concept design to optimize product reliability, compliance to regulatory standards, and manufacturability.

Solution

Develop a system of circuit boards and interconnections for cost effective integration and manufacturing while adhering to industry and regulatory standards.

Summary

Assessing the viability of a product idea can be difficult. The process often begins with a rough design sketched on paper. As the research and development phases of the project move forward, one or more proof-of-concept prototypes are often required.

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Topics: Electronic Contract Manufacturing, Electronic Engineering, Product Development

Process Monitoring: Electrical Power Analysis

Challenge

Design a monitoring system for industrial dough-making processes to ensure consistency among recipes and batches.

Solution

Use the National Instruments USB-9215 measurement device, USB-232 serial port converter, and LabVIEW to create a portable system to monitor and analyze industrial mixer power curves.

Summary

Consumers demand consistent food products. Variation in color, texture, and flavor, for example, is generally not tolerated. Brand loyalty is highly coveted.

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Topics: End of Line Test

Problem Solving: Employing Innovation

Challenge

Create a battery-powered device to power and interface with a sensor array assembly for high frequency sampling.

Solution

The hardware consisted of a Microchip microcontroller, USB interface, LVDS interface solution from Texas Instruments, and custom designed power supply circuits.

Summary

Sensor arrays are commonly used to measure applied forces with high sampling frequency. Designing a sensor array to measure, store, and display the results for dozens of sessions over the span of weeks presents challenges.

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Topics: Electronic Engineering