Platform Plays “Pick a Processor”

A platform for developing compact and powerful x86-based embedded systems comes by way of Swedish company Hectronic. The H4089 is a mini-ITX (170mm by 170mm) carrier board that comes with support packages for embedded XP, Windows CE, and Linux.

The board, which features one standard and one mini-PCI slot, is designed for use with the Hectronic’s H6036 PC104 module or its H6171 ETX CPU module based on Intel’s Pentium M and Celeron M processors. The H4089’s mini-ITX form factor enables the board to be used with off-the-shelf power supplies and SFF enclosures for prototyping.

The platform offers designers a choice of both processors and operating systems in a compact, high-end embedded format. The choice of ETX or PC104 means that systems can be optimised for lowest-cost or smallest form factor, and a choice of peripherals makes it easier to built and evaluate prototypes before the custom carrier is finalised.

Other features of the H4089 carrier board include two serial ports, a 10/100Mbit Ethernet port, four USB 2.0 ports, two PS/2 connectors, and connections for LVDS, DVI, and CRT. There’s also a compact Flash socket, IDE connector, ATX power connector, AC97 audio control connector, and a fan connector. LED decoding is available on Port 80.

LCD has a sensor in every pixel

Sharp Corporation’s new LCD comes equipped with a novel touchscreen concept—there’s an integrated optical sensor in each pixel of the LCD panel. Scanner functions are included as well.

Touch-input functionality for conventional touchscreen displays involves laminating or bonding a tactile film on top of the LCD panel. This is eliminated with the new system LCD. The display offers increased backlight transmission and a screen thickness of only 1mm.

Each pixel reacts independently to changing ambient light conditions, so tactile recognition based on simultaneously touching of multiple points on the screen is now possible. For example, users can tap the screen with two fingers to enlarge or reduce a displayed map. Integrating optical sensors in each pixel also lets the LCD serve as a scanner. Thus, fingerprint authentication will be possible in future applications.

Calibrator wipes out panel flicker

Looking for a way to simplify the removal of flicker from TFT (thin-film transistor) liquid-crystal display panels during manufacture? Geneva, Switzerland-based STMicroelectronics thinks it might have a solution with its programmable Vcom calibrator chip, which comes with an I2C serial interface. The STVM100 enables the adjustment to be automated through ST’s proprietary Auto Flicker Detection solution.

TFT-LCD panels have an inherent flicker that’s eliminated in production by accurate adjustment of Vcom (“common voltage,” around the midpoint of the AVDD). Instead of using a traditional potentiometer, the STVM100 Vcom Calibrator can be designed-in to the television set, allowing this manufacturing adjustment to be made through the I2C interface, either through an operator control or as part of an automated process.

Once the desired Vcom setting is found, its value can be stored in the internal EEPROM of the STVM100. This ensures that the television can recall the calibration value automatically whenever the television is turned on. The EEPROM can be programmed repeatedly, giving liquid- crystal display manufacturers the flexibility to calibrate the display panel as many times as is required by the production process.

Driver adds on-chip oscillator

A three-channel constant-current LED driver IC, developed by Allegro MicroSystems Europe, integrates an oscillator for simple programmable brightness control. The A6281 is suited to driving clusters of red/green/blue (RGB) LEDs in applications where the cluster forms one pixel in a large display or a lighting fixture. It controls LED brightness through 10-bit pulsewidth modulation (PWM) on each channel. That’s complemented by 7bit analogue current control on each channel in order to adjust colour balance.

The A6281 drives up to 150mA per channel and operates from a supply voltage of up to 17V, which allows series strings of four or more LEDs to be used on each output. An on-chip voltage regulator supplies the internal logic and reduces the number of external components and connections.

Accelerate network analysis up to 110GHz

The R&S ZVA-Z110 mm-wave converters add a 75 to 110GHz (W band) frequency range to the high-end network analysers from Rohde & Schwarz. This covers a number of important frequency bands, such as those for vehicle distance radar (77GHz) or aerospace and defence applications (94GHz).

Additional hardware isn’t necessary, saving time and cost.
Moreover, the converters support multiport measurements in the W band. The four-port models of the network analysers don’t require an additional external generator.

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