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March 13, 2012 / janeawittorpewa

Thermal Electromotive Force (EMF)

Over the years, test and measurement companies have sought for a feature in relays that provide an accurate reading at low current. This is important because at very low current there is a tendency for inaccurate measurements to occur, thus causing false readings. This feature is referred to as thermal electromotive force (EMF) and is found in a few relays.

What is Electromotive Force (EMF) and how is it generated in electromechanical relays?

Thermal electromotive force (EMF) is generated when the dissimilar metals that make up terminals, contact springs and contacts touch. This electromotive force, measured in micro volts, could be very small or large and can create undesirable noise during electrical measurements.

Why is low EMF desirable for test and measurement?

Low ampere switching is used for test and instrumentation measurements so there is a great tendency for stray voltages to introduce errors into the signal path during measurement. The need for a low thermal EMF is desirable because it reduces thermocoupling (a junction between two different metals that produces a voltage related to a temperature difference) and provides a true voltage measurements at very low signal levels.

When the EMF is small, the generated noise is as well and allows users to obtain the most accurate values while taking their measurements.

How EMF is Measured:

EMF Testing Circuit

EMF Testing Circuit

Factors that affect Relay EMF:

  1. Relays structure
  2. Materials used for the terminal, contact and contact spring
  3. Temperature difference between the internal components (contact and contact spring) and the terminal
  4. Relay coil power consumption

How to Offset EMF?

  1. Reduction of coil power consumption
  2. Increasing the size of the relay thereby reducing the resistor of the spring and terminals
  3. Change in contact materials, Silver Paladium (AgPd) is an excellent material for contacts

Panasonic offers a variety of signal relays with low EMF for the test and measurement industry, such as the TX-S, TX and TX-D series.

For further information on our signal relays visit our website

March 6, 2012 / sydneybrookspewa

How to Make Servo Motor Sizing Easy

Shifting from manual calculation to software simulation for servo selection may seem like overkill for those that have the experience of doing so. However, for most, selecting the correct servo is often approximated according to the current motor that’s on the system or with the aid of the manufactures.

In this blog I will demonstrate the Panasonic motor selection tool software that makes it easy to select the correct servo with confidence. Download Panasonic’s servo sizing tool:

Example: Ball Screw Mechanism

  • Work piece weight WA = 10 [kg]
  • Ball screw length BL = 0.5 [m]
  • Ball screw diameter BD = 0.02 [m]
  • Ball screw lead (pitch) BP = 0.02 [m]
  • Ball screw efficiency B = 0.9
  • Travel distance 0.3 [m]
  • Coupling inertia Jc = 10 x 10-6 [kg /m2]

Running Pattern:

  • Acceleration time ta = 0.1 [s]
  • Constant-velocity time tb = 0.8 [s]
  • Deceleration time td = 0.1 [s]
  • Cycle time tc = 2 [s]
  • Travel distance 0.3 [m]

Results of example:

The software tool shows the A4 MSMD series 200W motor to be the smallest motor that will work for this application.

Try this simple application above

1. Enter the system mechanism

2. Enter the Running Pattern

3. Chose the Selection of Motor tab, select a motor series and operating voltage

4. Click on any motor model above to see detail results from the calculations

It’s that simple! If you’ve had the chance to try this small example, you will have realized that sizing does not have to be a complicated matter. Accurate sizing is simple and when using Panasonic’s software you can be confident that not only will the motor work for your application but it will be the most efficient and economical motor available. Never will the motor for your application be over or undersized again.

February 27, 2012 / Dan Ackermann

Panasonic Quick Clips: Grid-EYE Evaluation Kit

This is an introduction to Panasonic’s Grid-EYE Thermal Array Sensor evaluation kit. The video talks about the sensor and how data is transmitted through an I2C cable to an Arduino controller and an 8×8 LED board.

Please visit the Grid-EYE product page to learn more.

February 21, 2012 / dariotorrespewa

How to Measure the Contact Resistance of Relays

In my experience with electromechanical relays, I have found that contact resistance is a very important electrical characteristic.

The resistance between the contact terminals determines the relay’s ability to carry current.  And the contact resistance is subject to change during the life of the relay.  Based on lab investigations and testing, abnormal contact resistance has often been found with the following conditions:

  • Overload condition on the contact causing welding
  • Contacts reach end of life
  • Foreign substance adheres to one of the contact surfaces
Most of Panasonic’s electromechanical relays have a specified contact resistance value of 100 mOhms (Max):
The standard method for measuring contact resistance is the 6Volt 1Amp method, sometimes referred to as four wire measurement.  It is a simple method that can be easily implemented with  two power supplies and a digital voltage meter (DVM).  The following schematic is used to measure contact resistance in our lab:
  1. Using a power supply that can output voltage and current, set its maximum voltage output to 6 Volts and the maximum current output to 1 Ampere.
  2. Connect the leads of the DVM to the common (COM) contact and the normally closed (N.C.) contact terminals.
  3. Set the DVM to measure Voltage
  4. Turn on the coil power supply to energize the coil and engage the contacts.
  5. The reading on the DVM is the Voltage Drop across the contacts.  However, since the load is 1A and Ohm’s Law says that V = IR, then V = R.  Therefore the voltage reading on the DVM is also the resistance between the contacts.
  6. Example: If the DVM reading is 15 mV, then the resistance measurement is 15 mOhms.

This simple method of measuring contact resistance can turn out to be very helpful when performing a simple diagnostic investigation.

February 17, 2012 / Dan Ackermann

Panasonic Quick Clips: GF1 Accelerometer, Tilt Sensor Features

This video explains the features and benefits of Panasonic’s GF1 Accelerometer. The GF1 is perfect for solar tracking applications and 4×4 anti-lock braking systems, as well as forklifts and scissor lifts.

Hello everyone, in this video, we’ll be discussing the basic features of Panasonic’s GF1 series tilt sensor.

The GF1 is a single axis accelerometer that is designed to measure the angle of tilt in a single axis along the XY plane.

It does this by using an internal capacitive bridge that either increases or decreases its charge in proportion to the angle at which it is being held.  The sensor then outputs an analog voltage signal that spans the entire one hundred and eighty degree range of motion with an accuracy of one half of a degree and a fast response frequency of 15 Hz.

The sensor exhibits a very low offset voltage shift relative to changes in ambient temperature. This allows it to be used in a wide temperature range of -22 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.

Also, the sensor’s housing is made of a high-grade, impact-resistant PBT Plastic and is sealed to meet an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance.

Because of these features, the GF1 is suitable for use in automotive and outdoor applications, such as solar panel tracking and four-wheel drive, anti-lock braking systems.

Mounting the sensor is effortless, using the built-in mounting holes, which are reinforced with stainless steel sleeves for protection against over-tightening.  There is even a bracket option as an alternative.

Learn more about this product by visiting the Panasonic website or leave a comment below and we can get back to you with more information.

February 15, 2012 / williamnievespewa

Connecting a Panasonic FPX PLC to a PC Using General Purpose Protocol

This application shows how to connect a Panasonic FPX PLC with a personal computer using Ethernet and TCP/IP internet protocol. The PLC will be sending a string (set of characters) to the PC. Here we find the PLC communication configuration and program, and basic set up of Windows HyperTerminal.

Configuration COM5

The PLC uses a communication cassette AFPX-COM5, this device is set up using a Panasonic program called Configurator WD.

The figure above shows PLC_1, the tag for a FPX-COM5 cassette, set as server. Its current configuration is:


PLC program – MASTER or Client side

The PLC program includes conversion from INTEGER data type to STRING data type. Also, you can see how to set up F159; this function is used to send the string from one of the PLC communication ports.  This program will send to HyperTerminal a specific value from the PLC memory.

Above you can see how the program converts a variable from integer data type to string data type. As a string the value is linked with other strings constants. This resulting string is saved in a INT ARRAY that works as a buffer. This buffer will be address by a serial communication instruction and later it will be broadcasted over Ethernet. You may notice how the special ASCII characters ASCII are implemented {ASCII: $20 –> SPACE}.  It is easy to follow how with the INT ARAY -TxBuffer- populated, the program use it as a transmission table.

The sample program running:

This program will send to HyperTerminal a specific value from the PLC memory. The main idea is to take the value from the PLC memory and convert this value into a string.

As a string the vaile is linked with a message (ResoValue). This new string is placed in a INT ARRAY.

Please review this conversion, remember that the program looks specific PLC address the from there takes the valie and this value is MOVE using a BLOCK MOVE into the INT ARRAY.

In this program we CONCAT two variables in a string (Value and Value2)

PC Server/Client:

The figure above shows how the user will receive that string in its PC, using window HyperTerminal.

Please leave a comment if you have a question, or a suggestion for the next PLC article.

February 7, 2012 / janeawittorpewa

What is REACH?

REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and restriction of CHemicals. A global increase of rare illnesses has caused the world to be more cautious of products used in the home and work place. With this awareness, agencies have been set up to monitor and control the substances that are used in manufacturing, as well as impose fines on companies that violate the laws.

In the electronic component industry there are two key agencies, RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous substances) and REACH, which was created to cover substances that were not covered by the six substances of the RoHS Directive. More specifically, REACH deals with the restriction of chemicals that are released into the environment that may cause harm to the human body and animals in the future. REACH regulations were put in place on June 1st, 2007, have expanded to cover 46 substances and the list continues to grow.

Manufacturers’ Obligations:

Companies that manufacture or import one (1) tonne or more of a chemical substance annually will be required to register it in a central database at the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

The Registration procedure involves submitting a technical dossier containing information on the substance and guidance on how to handle it safely.

Evaluation allows regulatory authorities to determine if further testing is needed and to assess whether information provided by industry complies with the requirements (dossier evaluation).

Substances of very high concern are subject to an Authorization procedure. Companies who apply for authorization need to show that the risks posed by those substances are adequately controlled. The aim is to give industry the incentive to progressively substitute these substances with safer materials.

Substances of Very High Concern include the following:

  • Carcinogens, mutagens or toxic to the reproductive system, categories 1 and 2
  • Substances which are persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic
  • Very persistent and very bio-accumulative
  • Or of equivalent concern

Restrictions are the safety net of the system. Any substance on its own, in a preparation or in an article may be subject to Community-wide restrictions if its use poses unacceptable risks to health or the environment.

Substances in articles which are on the “candidate list of substances of very high concernwill need to be reported to the European Chemicals Agency starting June 1, 2011.

Exempted Substances

Some chemicals that have been exempted and excluded from registration include:

  • Water
  • Oxygen
  • Noble gases and cellulose pulp
  • Substances naturally occurring such as minerals, ores and ore concentrate as long as they are not chemically modified.
  • Substances in food and medicinal products as they are covered by other specific legislation
  • Waste
  • Substances used for defense purposes

Intermediates: Chemical substances used to manufacture other chemical substances are called intermediates. If manufactured and used inside a closed system they are generally exempt from REACH (non-isolated intermediates).

Products such as construction material, electronic components, toys or vehicles are covered by REACH if they contain substances intentionally released. These substances need to be registered.

Benefits of the new REACH Regulation

The primary benefit of REACH is that it systematically identifies the hazards and risks of chemicals. This allows companies to identify and communicate appropriate risk management measures through the supply chain.

Better knowledge of chemicals and more efficient communication on risk management measures will contribute to the prevention of health problems caused by exposure to chemicals. This is expected to lead to a lower occurrence of occupational diseases and preventable deaths, thus lowering costs to national health systems. The benefits will come gradually as more and more substances are assessed under REACH.

More details can be found at the European Commission’s website.

If you have any questions on Panasonic’s electronic components, or generally about REACH, please use the comments section.