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DISCOVERED NEW PRODUCTS

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 2006

Low Power Voltage Comparators from National Semiconductor
The LMC7215 from National Semiconductor is a wonder device.  I have found many applications for this thing.  Its 2 to 8 volt supply range is perfect for many battery powered circuits.  It draws only 1 microamp of current, yet can source or sink 25 milliamps of current.  This makes the device great for driving LEDs or big FETs.

Super Capacitors from Cooper
These are new devices looking for new applications. They are like a hammer, looking for a nail.  They canít compete with batteries for energy stored per unit volume or even energy per unit weight, but they will last much longer than batteries and some have some real ďpunchĒ when it comes to delivering high peak power.  When coupled to a small solar cell panel, these devices can be charged during the day and deliver their energy at night.  I have also experimented with them for driving some low voltage latching relays from small batteries.  In that circuit, the big capacitor is used as a charge pump to deliver more than enough peak voltage to the relayís coil from a single 3v lithium cell.  There must over twenty different companies now offering large capacitance devices in a small package.  The capacitors from Cooper are typical.  Their AA size device claims a peak current delivery of 35 Amps with a voltage of 2.7 volts.

Tiny Single Gate Logic Devices from Toshiba
Have you ever had a design that required a single nand gate, nor gate, inverter, analog switch or flip/flop?  Now you donít have to take up valuable board space with a 14 pin logic package.  You can just use one of these devices.  With the size shrunk down, these 5 or 6 pin devices can allow you to do some neat things, while being squeezed into a small space.   Fairchild, Toshiba and Texas Instruments all have single gate devices.  The Toshiba  TC4S584 single Schmitt trigger inverter is typical. It has a wide power supply range of 3v to 15v.  By starving the device for voltage at 2.5 volts, you can make yourself a nice low frequency oscillator, which draws only a couple microamps of current.  At the other extreme, The Toshiba TC7SHU04 single unbuffered inverter can be turned into a voltage Amplifier with a gain of about X10 and a bandwidth that exceeds 50MHz.

Latching Relays from Aromat
OK, I know, these are not the flashiest new products but Iím amazed how many designs waste power by holding a set of relay contacts closed. Some new latching relays are small and can handle over 10 Amps of current.  This is enough to power a good size pump motor or a bunch of lights.  Using some small super capacitors, Iím working out ways to latch and unlatch these relays using the power from a small lithium battery cell.  The relays from Aromat are typical.  Their DK1A-L2-3V can be latched or unlatched in about 20 milliseconds.  It has a contact rating of 10 Amps at 250vac and a coil resistance of 45 ohms.

Ultra Low Current Voltage Detectors from Microchip
These nifty parts will monitor the voltage from a battery and change state when the voltage drops below a certain point.  They do this feat while drawing only a microamp or so of current.  I have designed many circuits using these things.  You can even turn them into a very low power oscillator with a few extra parts.  These parts are available from Digikey.  They are offered in both an open drain and a push pull output version.  The series 54 draws only 1 microamp of current while monitoring voltages ranging from 1.4 volts to 7.7 volts.  The maximum voltage is 12 volts.


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