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The Importance of Keyboard ESD Protection
Since the dawn of computers, the keyboard has been the primary communication mechanism between human and machines. Over the years, many technologies and interfaces have changed, but the keyboard has barely changed in both form and function. Recently, I bought an exclusive wireless keyboard. Initially, it communicated with the computer via Bluetooth without any issues. However, after a month or so, it suddenly stopped. When I opened the internal circuit, I was surprised that the keys had no electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection. Any electronic device's keypad, side keys or push buttons are vulnerable to ESD due to constant human interaction with them. Adding ESD protection devices in a keyboard/keypad/side keys can avoid disastrous situations such as the failure of my keyboard. Let us discuss ESD in general and how we can protect our electronic devices from it.
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Whether you are watching an action replay of a baseball game on a giant screen at a stadium, a movie on your large-screen TV or streaming a video on your laptop computer, a high-quality audiovisual (AV) experience is always expected. Ultra-High-Definition Serial Digital Interface (UHD-SDI) and High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) are two standards for digital AV transmission. UHD-SDI standardizes the transmission of uncompressed and unencrypted digital AV signals over coaxial or fiber optic cables. HDMI is a digital interface for transmitting high-definition, high-speed digital multi-track audio and uncompressed video signals from HDMI-compliant sources to AV displays. Even though they both can transport ultra-high-definition AV signals from a source to a display, HDMI is preferred to connect consumer gadgets such as computers, gaming consoles, Blu-ray/DVD players, televisions, projectors, etc. UHD-SDI is preferred for high-end applications such as professional indoor/outdoor video production and television broadcasts because it supports long-range transmission and a rugged connection with the help of a physical lock mechanism at each end of the cable. UHD-SDI coaxial cable can transfer signals up to 300 feet, whereas HDMI cables struggle with excessive signal degradation even within 50 feet. These two interfaces can be used together via an HDMI-SDI or SDI-HDMI converter. For example, as shown in figure 1, an HDMI display would be used for confidence monitoring of an SDI stream to avoid the need to use specially calibrated SDI-specific displays.
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Not too long ago, my only fitness tracker was a pedometer in my pocket to measure my daily step count. Things have since changed very quickly. I now have a smartwatch on my wrist to track my daily activities, including steps completed, distance covered, calories burned, heart rate, and breathing pattern. I also receive alerts for messages, take calls, listen to my favorite podcast, and check the weather via my smartwatch. These are all in addition to seeing the accurate time of the day. Due to all these innovative features, wearing a smartwatch and using it as a fitness tracker is the trend for the health-conscious population worldwide. While these wearables help people remain fit, extra care needs to be taken by the manufacturers to protect these wearables from electrical overstress (EOS) and electrostatic discharge (ESD) generated from the body of the person wearing these devices.
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HotSwitch® is a new product line of devices from Semtech with an integrated load switch or eFuse that protects electronics systems against typical electrical transients and steady-state fault conditions. Primarily, the HotSwitch device turns on or off the current flow to a power rail as-needed. It detects electrical surges and secures the downstream subsystem by disconnecting the load from the power source. At the same time, the devices in Semtech’s HotSwitch portfolio provide an enhanced shield against inrush current, overvoltage, under voltage, reverse current, short circuit, and over-temperature faults. Figure 1 shows how a system is protected by a HotSwitch device.
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The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have published regulations that require all cars, SUVs, trucks, and vans to have rear-view visibility systems that started May 1, 2018. In fact, until recently, the rear-view camera was the only camera used in many car models and was considered an excellent safety feature. Modern vehicles have evolved significantly in the past few years, adopting innovative safety features that include blind-spot detection, surround-view monitoring, forward and rear collision warning, lane keep assistance, and autonomous parking assistance. These features utilize cameras and sensors to inform the driver about the car and its surroundings via the dashboard display. Now, there are at least six cameras present in high-end vehicles. There may be video display systems in cars like DVD players and TVs for passengers.
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Happy Earth Day!
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Since its initiation in the early 20th century, the automotive industry has evolved significantly, adopting many innovations, changes and adaptations. Modern cars feature sophisticated capabilities such as the backup camera, a full-featured infotainment system, smartphone docks, GPS navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, and several other advanced features. Not only that, some of the recent car models are capable of autonomous driving, forward and rear collision detection, and autonomous parking. It is easily imaginable that the numbers of electronic components used in a vehicle are proliferating. At the same time, the requirement for miniaturization of the electronic components is becoming critical to make space for new components.
The semiconductor industry is producing leadless packages of integrated circuits (ICs) to make room for the enormous number of electronic components and meet modern-day vehicles' safety and reliability requirements. A big challenge is the lack of visibility of the solder joints on the printed circuit boards (PCBs) during the post package assembly process. The connections are beneath the package and are not visible from the top and the side. So you cannot say for sure if the IC is adequately bonded to the PCB or not. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have been using X-ray machines to detect unreliable solder joints. It is expensive and time-consuming to do so.
Moreover, this has not proven effective with multilayer boards or boards with complex layouts and routing procedures. Each vehicle PCB has to go through a strict automatic visual inspection (AVI) post assembly to comply with safety and reliability standards. The goal is to ensure that every electrical joint is adequately soldered and connections are reliable.
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One single connecting port's name that is ingrained in our life is Universal Serial Bus or USB in short. It doesn't matter if I am a tech-savvy person or a Luddite, I have to use USB in every aspect of my life. Forget about me; my mom, who doesn't even know it is called USB, uses this port several times a day to charge her mobile devices. USB became very popular due to its ease of use and fast data transfer rate. Within a little over two decades, almost all consumer electronics gadgets come with one or more USB interfaces, from laptops and cameras to smartphones and wearables. However, things have changed a lot since the introduction. USB specification has evolved over 25 years from USB 1.0 in 1996 to the most recent version, USB4®. Figure 1 below shows the evolution of USB standards with the corresponding data transmission rates.
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Wi-Fi technology has become ubiquitous in our highly connected society. Since standardization in 1997, the Wi-Fi protocol has evolved, resulting in faster data rates and high throughput.
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