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DC Magazine Discovered New Products

New product announcements are made nearly every day.  I subscribe to many trade journals and each is filled with hundreds of flashy advertisements.  But, only a few of those product ads catch my eye.  Since Iím a circuit designer, I especially like those components that trigger many new application ideas in my mind.  Sometimes it is the smallest products that are the most useful. 

Tiny surface mounted components that perform a nice little function have countless applications.  I also like anything that keeps battery power consumption low.  These days you can do many interesting things with a well-designed circuit powered from just a few tiny button battery cells.

I often discovered new products in surplus electronic catalogs.  The surplus companies often buy up stock that came from companies that went out of business.  Bad marketing or bad management may have killed a perfectly good product idea.  Their loss can be your gain if you can spot the bargain.                                 David A. Johnson, P.E.

Discovered New Products:

2010     2009     2008     2007     2006     2005     2004

New Products added 2005:

Tiny AC to DC Power Supplies from Bias
These devices are bit pricey and sometimes they are not always available but I have used these things in two different products I have designed.  They are great when you have a circuit board that requires a fully isolated DC supply and power line connections.  Their square inch printed circuit board surface area requirement is much smaller than conventional switching regulator or a transformer approaches.  The output power ratings of these devices range from 0.25 watts to 4 watts.   Their universal input voltage range of 85vac to 265vac is a real bonus.  My only wish is that the price could be a bit lower.  They are available from Digikey.  You can download more technical data from their website at: Bias Power Technology

Capacitance Based Proximity Switches from Quantum
I design many such switches in my career.  Some of the first of my designs go back almost 20 years.  Quantum Research has a nice line of ICs that can be turned into many useful products.  I have designed and sold many switches using their devices.  But, be warned.  Their website and product data sheets suck.   They also have terrible application notes.  But, if you are willing to study and experiment with their products, you will be able to come up with some nice capacitance switch circuits.  The really nice feature of their parts is their ability to self calibrate every few seconds to minutes.  Once set, the switch can be activated with just a hand wave over a metal plate. Their power demands are also low, allowing them to operate from batteries.  You can buy them through Digikey and you can get more information by visiting their website at: Quantum Research Group

Instant Clock Generator from Linear Technology
Linearís LTC1799 is a very simple device to use.  Itís tiny SOT-23 package takes up very little board space.  It only requires a single external resistor to set up the frequency, which is accurate to about 1.5%.  Using its internal divider, you can divide the oscillator frequency by a factor of 1, 10 or 100.  Its maximum frequency is 30MHz but its minimum is only 1KHz.  My only complaint with the part is its current draw of 1.3 milliamps is a bit high for many battery powered applications.  Maybe they will be coming out with a low power version.  I can imagine a device with a maximum 30KHz frequency, which could generate a much lower 1Hz clock and perhaps draw less than 10 microamps.  The device is available from Digikey.  For more information visit Linear Technology.

Tiny But Powerful FETs
I was hoping that someone would eventually package some MOSFETs with high current ratings in a small package.  Fairchild, Zetex and others have finally done it. You can now get a device, which can switch over 2 Amps in a tiny SOT-23 package.  The FDN337 from Fairchild, available from Digikey has a maximum drain voltage of 30 volts, a maximum current of 2.2 Amps and has a turn-on threshold of only 1 volt. 

Light To Frequency Converter from Texas Instruments
There are many ways you can monitor the intensity of light and produce an output.  The typical circuits turn the light into either a current or voltage.  But, Texas Instruments has integrated a linear light to frequency converter into one small device.   This is perfect for some applications where an intensity times time product is needed.  By counting the number of pulses per unit time, you have the light energy figure you need.  The Texas Instruments TSL245  is very sensitive and can handle light down to less than 0.01 microwatts per square centimeter or a very bright 1 milliwatt per square centimeter, which produces an output frequency of 500KHz, while drawing about 2 milliamps.  Its supply voltage can range from 2.7 to 6 volts.  The only problem with this part is that it is restricted to the infrared spectrum from 800nm to about 1050nm. According to TI the TSL235 with a clear plastic package and sensitive to visible light, is now obsolete.  Go figure!

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