New innovations in signal conditioning, conversion and processing come in small, glacier-like steps, with slow and powerful movements.
"The latest signal conditioning innovations involve miniaturization, or channel density, and communication such as USB or Ethernet," explains Donald Lupo, director of sales & marketing—process, Acromag (www.acromag.com). "Today, you can find signal conditioners that are only 6 mm wide or 22 mm high. USB and Ethernet communication have further increased ease of use and interoperability with PCs. Ethernet communication enables development of multi-channel units with densities approaching 1 mm per channel to lowers I/O cost per channel and eliminate the need to pull wire by using any network media. Ethernet devices increase performance since you don't have an analog output that can drift. It's all digital."
While developing multi-channel signal conditioners, Moore Industries' research and development team focused on two in-demand attributes of signal conditioners: high density and switch-selectable products, explains Jay DeCastro, project engineer, Moore Industries (www.miinet.com). "High density is important because panel space equals money, and there is a growing need for very narrow instruments," he says. In addition to high-density signal conditioners, modularity is in demand, says DeCastro. Switch-selectable inputs allow users to select analog input types—4–20 mA, 0–5 V, 1–5 V or 0–10 V—to reduce stocking requirements, he says.
"One of the biggest, most significant developments in signal conditioning technology is the enormous reduction in the size of signal conditioners," says John Lehman, engineering manager at Dataforth (www.dataforth.com). "Miniature size is essential for today's embedded and portable applications, such as mobile test stands, COTS military and defense applications, miniaturized security and surveillance systems and embedded process controls for semiconductor manufacturing equipment. High-performance, isolated, I/O modules currently on the market are as small as 1.11-by-1.65-by-0.4 in. (28.1 x 41.9 x 10.2 mm)."
Universal signal conditioners in plastic slim-line housings convert, isolate and transmit scale signals from process sensor and controller I/O. DIN-rail mountable models 884114 and 84116 support scalable input signals including mA, Vdc, thermocouple with internal cold-junction compensation, two to four-wire RTDs, linear resistance and potentiometer signals. Both models feature mA and Vdc outputs, and the 84116 adds two individually programmable relays for alarming and control. The module supports seven programming languages and can be password-protected. The display module also can display input signal values, engineering units, output signal and relay status.
Mini analog shunt transducer converts and isolates mV signals from shunt resistors and features three-way 1.5 kV isolation and low power consumption. The transducer can accept -50 mV to 3 V drops. The signal output is also configurable to analog signals. device has a 6.2-mm housing and T-bus power bus capabilities. The hot-swappable signal conditioning slices clip onto the powering T-Bus connector without removing bus bars or bridging.
Bulletin 931 analog signal conditioners isolate multiple signals on the same power source and convert signals from field devices to standard 4–20 mA. Many of the analog signal conditioners have hazardous location approvals, including ATEX and UL Class I, Div. 2, certification. Transmission of data over the HART protocol is available on certain models.
R2 FieldConnex segment protectors are UL-listed for Div. 2 applications and FM/cFM-approved for Div. 2/Zone 2 applications. These smart fieldbus wiring blocks provide short-circuit protection and energy limitation. When the fault is repaired, R2 segment protectors automatically resume operation of the spur. A T-connector allows the segment protector to be disconnected while leaving trunk communications uninterrupted and inherently prevent over-termination. They provide IP20 protection with DIN rail mounting in four-, six-, eight, 10- and 12-spur configurations. They feature removable terminals with retaining screws, and LEDs for power, communication and short circuit indication.
MGate EIP3000 products have one or two DF1 to EtherNet/IP ports for connecting DF1 devices and EtherNet/IP devices to A-B PLCs for remote maintenance capability. It features ProCom technology, which generates four extra virtual serial channels for Ethernet data passthrough, and supports two IPs—one for each serial port—allowing EtherNet/IP devices to communicate with two DF1 devices simultaneously. The gateway features multiple EtherNet/IP connections with up to 16 simultaneous requests for rapid communication and cascading Ethernet ports.