Electronic Color Coding

Cut the red wire!” This is a familiar line to any fan of high-stakes action movies like Lethal Weapon. In the movies, characters hoping to diffuse a bomb before it’s too late are faced with a dilemma- what color wire do they cut? While the answer to that question may depend on the film- the difference in color coded wires has real life consequences. How does a color coded system improve electrical safety? Are all color coding systems still used today? Most importantly- what do all of these different colors mean?

Continue reading “Electronic Color Coding”

Checking in With LabVIEW in 2022

Closeup of two people using a laptop and pointing to the screen

Back in June, we published a blog post navigating the initial project outlines for LabVIEW in 2022. Recently, NI released their Q3 Roadmap for the platform, outlining their plan for upcoming releases. September also marks the 9th month since LabVIEW switched over to an all subscription model in January of 2022. In this post, we will see what has changed for the LabVIEW roadmap since our June post, and we will dive into the different options for LabVIEW subscriptions.

Continue reading “Checking in With LabVIEW in 2022”

Are AI Images Real Art?

4 AI generated images showing water at night with glowing green and blue

In August 2022, Jason M. Allen won first place at the Colorado State Fair Fine Arts Competition. The category for his submission was “digital arts/digitally manipulated photography”. Normally this award wouldn’t make national news headlines, but the prize-winning image was controversial in its creation. Allen used the AI image generator Midjourney as the base to create his piece, leading to a divisive debate: are AI images truly art, owned by the artist? Are these AI generators another artistic tool, or are they just the product of randomized computer code?

Continue reading “Are AI Images Real Art?”

The Flexible Functionality of Op-Amps

Picture of 8 black op-amps on a wooden surface

Before the modern digital technology we use in computers today, electronic computations were conducted by utilizing both voltages and currents as representations of numerical values. This process needed circuitry capable of carrying out a wide range of analog signal processing tasks, which led to the use of operational amplifiers (often referred to as op-amps). The engineering concept of negative feedback, which forms the basis of practically all automatic control procedures, holds the key to the utility of these tiny circuits.

Continue reading “The Flexible Functionality of Op-Amps”

LEGO®, LabVIEW, and Robots- Oh My!

Lego Robot and assorted pieces on a play mat

As one of the largest companies in the world, the bright colors of plastic Lego bricks are a familiar sight to any toy aisle. These interlocking bricks provide an engaging outlet for creativity and innovation, going far beyond playtime and becoming a valuable asset to classrooms around the globe. Through the robotics kits of Lego Mindstorms®, engineering and programming concepts are taught in a way that actively engages children while also imparting important life skills.

Continue reading “LEGO®, LabVIEW, and Robots- Oh My!”

The Potential of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

As the new school year starts, there are classrooms full of engineering students who do not remember the time before the use of both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth was commonplace. These technologies did not become widely available to the public until the early 2000s, but given their prevalence within everyday life in 2022, it is clear that these short-range communication networks are catalysts for innovation. With so much technological advancement in such a short amount of time, it’s worth asking the question- how did we get here, and what does the future look like?

Continue reading “The Potential of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth”

The Tech of Electronic Communication

Picture of dark cityscape with arched lights connecting different places

Today’s world is connected now more than ever before in history. Gone are the days of wired telegraphs and telephones, limited to one place. Cellular technology and wireless signals have forever changed how humans interact- both with each other and the world around them. Images, sounds, and written messages can be sent almost instantly across long distances, and information can be searched with the touch of a button. With convenient communication as the new normal, it is easy to take these advancements of electronic communication systems for granted. The truth is, it takes many different technologies working in tandem to make such communication possible.

Continue reading “The Tech of Electronic Communication”

Monitoring Our Ecosystem… from Space

Picture of tall treetops with a clear blue sky backdrop, taken from below

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has declared 2021-2030 as the “UN’s Decade on Ecosystem Restoration”. Clearly, the urgency to restore harmed ecosystems and fight against climate change is prevalent now more than ever. Stopping, preventing, and reversing ecosystem deterioration requires effort on a global scale, so NASA took observational tech to one of the highest viewpoints possible- the International Space Station.

Continue reading “Monitoring Our Ecosystem… from Space”

Identifying Harmonic Distortion

Ever since the first generators, harmonics have been a part of power systems. However, we now live in an era of power that is defined by non-linear loads. Equipment for powering computers, electronic ballasts, and VFDs are among the electronic power supplies that are used now more than ever. Unchecked harmonic distortion in these electrical equipment systems can result in damage and hazards such as overheating. Not only does this affect power quality, but it can become costly to fix. The question then becomes: do you know how to correctly measure the waveforms of your equipment while taking harmonic distortion into account?

Continue reading “Identifying Harmonic Distortion”

Measuring Sounds and Vibrations with NI Hardware

Closeup of two fingers measuring a yellow frequency line on a LCD screen

The NI C Series of Sound and Vibration Input Modules can be used with both accelerometers and microphones to collect vibration and acoustic signals. These signals can then be used for audio testing, monitoring machine conditions, and to determine NVH (noise / vibration / harshness). An incredible asset to any project, these modules aid in quickly and easily measuring sounds and vibrations. However, the amount of options and possible combinations can be confusing! Thankfully, there are a few key factors to keep in mind to help narrow down the choices and find the right microphone or accelerometer to fit your needs.

Continue reading “Measuring Sounds and Vibrations with NI Hardware”