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Signal Conditioning, Conversion and Processing Keep Evolving

Jan. 25, 2010
Miniaturization and Communication Improve Signals: Latest Signal Conditioning Innovations Include Smaller Footprint and Increased Interoperability

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.
Phoenix Contact
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.
Rockwell Automation
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.
Moxa Americas
IAMS universal signal conditioners are DIN-rail mounted and provide complete isolation and conversion. The universal input can accept RTD, TC, Ohm, potentiometer, mA, Vdc and process input signals. They have a detachable LCD display/programming module and more than 100 possible input-to-output combinations and are available in three models. The setpoint model allows dual setpoint control capability through dual Form A relays. The analog model provides a retransmitted analog signal. A third model provides both an analog output and relay control capability.
Red Lion Controls
857-819 mV signal conditioner accepts bipolar mV inputs from -100 mV to +1,000 mV and converts to a current or voltage output. Current output available is in 4–20 mA, 0–20 mA, 0–10 mA and 2–10 mA variants; voltage output is available in 0–10 V, 2–10 V, 0–5 V and 1–5 V variants. The device ensures safety through three-way isolation (test voltage of 2.5 kV) and has transmission errors of less than 0.1% on adjusted span.
DR900 is a customizable universal signal conditioning module with more than 100 input and output analog conversion combinations and three-way signal isolation. The device is available as a linear or square root extraction model and both are precalibrated for all input and output ranges. Factory or custom field scaling is available by a mode switch change. This product is CE-compliant and DIN-rail-mountable.
Omega Engineering
The NI Sound and Vibration Measurement Suite 2009 is a collection of analysis and signal processing tools for noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), machine condition monitoring and audio test applications. The Sound and Vibration Measurement Suite 2009 features a continuous frequency sweep virtual instrument (VI) and includes an AES17-compliant audio filter VI for the LabView graphical development environment and the NI Sound and Vibration Assistant. The latest version of the Sound and Vibration Assistant features enhancements to the user interface to provide easy tachometer setup and support for using eddy current probes for displacement measurements.
National Instruments
800/258-7022  16-INPUT MODULE
958EN BusWorks Ethernet I/O module has 16 analog input channels and a quick-connect DB25 port to capture isolated and amplified sensor signals directly from a full panel of industry-standard 8B signal conditioners. This analog input module performs 16-bit analog-to-digital conversions to make the temperature, frequency, strain gage or other sensor data available to any control device via Ethernet. Commercial-grade versions are available. Industrial-grade models offer -40 to 70 °C extreme temperature operation, have integration/totalization capability and are designed for UL/cUL Class I, Div. 2, ABCD (Zone 2) sites.

Designed to provide isolation for non-isolated 2-wire transmitters, 8B42 module supplies power to a current transmitter and then isolates, filters and amplifies the resulting current input signal and provides an analog voltage output. To ensure accuracy, current-to-voltage conversion takes place internally in the module. They are designed for installation in Class I, Div. 2 hazardous environments.

Features include input ranges of 0-10 V, 0-20 mA and 4-20 mA, as well as galvanic isolation in either two-or three-way isolation. Microcompact signal conditioning units offer IP 20 rating and are DIN-rail mountable and approximately 40-55 g each.

EKI-2741 converts Gigabit Ethernet networks to Gigabit fiber networks by transparently converting Ethernet signals to optic signals. It acts as a solution for applications that require wide bandwidth, EMI immunity and long-distance transmission capability. The switch supports MD/MDIX auto detection, so users don’t need to use crossover wires. Surge protection is 3,000 Vdc.
Advantech, Industrial Automation Group

SAVE SPACE 800/447-2371
CONDITIONER line of signal conditioners includes analog converters and isolators, RTD and thermocouple converters, analog to frequency signal converters and threshold modules. The DIN-rail mountable modules, narrow as 6 mm, provide users a choice of either programmable multi-function units or single input/single output models.


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