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Sample Projects

This page lists a few projects that ECROS Technology has undertaken.  These projects by no means represent our full capability, but they do show the range of engineering tasks we are equipped to handle.

Radio Frequency Multiplexer

The customer wanted a 16-way RF multiplexer to add to an existing product line.  He specified a 4-way, gallium-arsenide absorptive switch IC with integrated silicon control logic, but provided no other details.  ECROS Technology wrote the functional description, which the customer reviewed, and produced three fully-functional pre-production units in three weeks.  A significant challenge was the 3 GHz bandwidth of the switches. (more ...)

Vending Machine Motor Control

An industrial inventory management system used motor mechanisms from an existing vending machine product line.  The mechanism was designed to make one complete revolution and then stop (in the original application, discharging one item from a wire spiral).  With over a hundred such motor mechanisms in a single machine, wiring density was an issue, so sensing of the shaft position was via a microswitch wired in series with the motor.  To return the motor to the home position, the control electronics needed to detect the short current interruption as the microswitch flew between its two positions. (more ...)

Five Switching Regulators in Three Square Inches

Linear Technology make some very highly integrated power management chips for cameras, PDAs, MP3 players, etc.  An example is the LTC3586, which includes five switching power regulators - one to charge the battery and the other four to provide a variety of supply voltages to the application circuit.  The customer wanted an implementation of Linear Technology's Typical Application circuit from the data sheet, minus the microcontroller and plus soft-start and other safety features.  The challenge became the layout of the PCB, on two layers, with a full silk-screen and suitable for low-cost prototype manufacturing, in an area no larger than the battery. (more ...)

Wireless Control of an RFID Reader

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is finding more and more applications as its cost comes down and its benefits become apparent.  One such use of RFID is the monitoring of high-value items in storage or on retail display.  As well as tracking stock levels, this can provide an alert of unauthorized access to the items, or, in retail terms, theft.  The RFID system can be located under or inside the shelf on which the items are placed or elsewhere in the storage system.  A problem with using this technology as a retro-fit to an existing setup is cabling for power and the data link.  The solution today is high energy-density batteries and low-power wireless technology. (more ...)

Industrial Display and Keypad

Taking on too many projects, like over-booking airline flights, may maximize revenue, but it hurts customers.  ECROS Technology does not take on projects that cannot be completed on time or would jeopardize the completion of other projects.  As a result, from time to time, there are spells with no customer work in progress.  This doesn't always mean a trip to the beach!  We are always working on ideas and in-house projects to extend our capability and familiarize ourselves with interesting products and technologies.  Occasionally, such a project matches up with a customer requirement and results in very rapid deployment, as was the case with this display and keypad sub-system for an industrial application. (more ...)

Web Control of a Tool Dispenser

Industrial dispensing systems reduce the cost of providing tools and other supplies to workers in a manufacturing setting.  They are less expensive over time than staffed store rooms and more secure than unstaffed ones.  As well as increasing ease of access and reducing waste, they allow the use of dispensed items to be tracked against individuals, projects and departments.  The Internet and a Web browser can provide a very convenient means to configure and monitor such systems, defining access control policy and collecting usage reports and present stock levels.  In this project, ECROS Technology selected an embedded Ethernet module and created complex firmware to link the dispensing system to the customer's Web database.  As well as designing all hardware and building prototypes for evaluation, ECROS Technology managed the initial production run of several hundred pieces. (more ...)

Optical Reflectivity Measurement

It's all very well to be competent at hardware design, laying out printed circuit boards and writing firmware.  What distinguishes an Embedded Systems Engineer is the ability to embrace other fields of knowledge and assess their impact on a product to ensure first-time success.  This system for the measurement of optical reflectivity gave ECROS Technology the chance to demonstrate its breadth of engineering and scientific know-how by calling for a working knowledge of photometry and optics. (more ...)

Electrophoretic Display Controller

The relatively new Electrophoretic display technology has advantages over other types of display in many applications and enables entirely new products, such as the e-book, to meet customer expectations.  This display has high contrast and needs no backlight, therefore being legible in a wide range of lighting conditions.  Furthermore, it consumes no power when it is not being updated.  Industry is presently discovering new applications for this technology.  ECROS Technology helped evaluate several electrophoretic displays from SiPix to see whether they would meet a customer's needs. (more ...)

Strain Sensor Signal Conditioner

Unexpected failure of manufacturing machinery can be a major problem, disrupting operations and causing unscheduled expense.  A customer wanted to investigate the use of strain monitoring to get an early warning of trouble on machines critical to the production process.  As this was an investigation, the cost needed to be kept down.  In fact, other than the application, the only information provided for this project was that the strain sensors should be readily available and cost no more than ten or twenty dollars! (more ...)