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Innovative electronics test projects to be recognised

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AFTER months of searching, Electronics News has found the best examples of innovative Australian and New Zealand electronics engineering to highlight in the 2006 EDN Innovation Awards.

A stellar group of judges has also been assembled to select the best of the best. The judging panel for this year comprises Emeritus Professor Trevor Cole from the University of Sydney’s School of Electrical and Information Engineering; Matthew Henderson, managing director of Australian Technology Connections; Dr Alex Zelinsky, director of the CSIRO ICT Centre ; and Steven Keeping, Electronics News contributing editor.

All of this would not be possible without the support of the sponsors – National Instruments , Adilam , Altium , Arrow Electronics , Braemac , Soanar , Tyco Electronics – and the endorsement of industry organisations – the Australian Electrical & Electronic Manufacturers’ Association and Electronics Industry Association.

The finalists listed below are now in the running for the Best Application of Test or Data Acquisition Equipment award, sponsored by Tyco Electronics. The winner will be announced during a gala dinner on 5 July as part of the 2006 Technology Futures Conference at the Melbourne Crown Casino Complex . They will also be listed in the August issue of Electronics News.

Eapen K Eapen, Leigh Sturt, William Tall and Tien Nguyen; Australian Arrow; Automated Telematics Test System

The Automated Telematics Test System was developed to functionally test an automotive telematics module fitted to vehicles. The module is an embedded electronic unit that communicates with other on-board systems via a low speed single wire CAN bus. It connects the vehicle and occupants to GPS satellite and GSM telecommunications networks through an embedded receiver and modem. The automated test system consists of a PXI-based on-board data acquisition and instrumentation set. It uses several communication interfaces, including CAN. It accelerates software development by serving as an efficient means of running black box (functional) tests to detect faults. Overall, it cuts down software development cycle time and improves product quality by early detection of faults and non-conformances.

Tony Stevens; Ellex Medical; Laser test system

In 2005, the Ellex engineering team embarked upon a challenging diode-pumped dual-wavelength laser cavity design to be used in a future product. Key to the design was full software control of the laser including pulse shape, power and pulse duration, which was a first for the industry. In order to understand the requirements and performance at a system level, the engineering team deployed a rapid prototyping test system using National Instruments LabView equipment. While this was an unconventional application of the equipment, the novel approach delivered valuable results in a number of areas such as proving the technology and defining an architecture; performing long-term laser life-testing; and characterising the laser for closed-loop control with quantitative data. The end-result was an improved platform for product development, high-quality engineering and reduced development time.

Professor Benjamin Eggleton; Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS); Optical device characterisation at 40Gb/s using an electrical BERT

This project involved taking a 40Gb/s electrical bit error rate test (BERT) system manufactured by Agilent , building and adding an optical transmitter and receiver, and using the resulting facility to measure the performance of a series of microphotonic devices developed by CUDOS. As an example, the centre has used the optical BERT system to measure the improvement in bit error produced by optical regeneration of a purposely-degraded optical data stream. The facility that CUDOS has developed is unique in Australia and the results obtained have been well-received when presented at international conferences, and published in refereed optical communications and photonics journals. The facility is also being used by collaborators in defence and in private industry.

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