Machine Design

Backtalk 8/26/2010

The Amazon Five
Malu Bezerra-Ermeti of Redondo Beach, Calif., her two children (6-year-old Mehlo and 4-year-old Shayia), and two of their friends (9-year-old Sydney and 7-year-old Jayan Bambardekar) recently traveled to the heart of the Amazon River and Rain Forest to provide clothing and teach basic English to indigenous tribes. The group, who call themselves the Amazon Five, distributed 500 lb of clothing they collected to kids living in remote villages in the Brazilian state of Amazonia. The team was led by legendary Amazon guide Keeko on treks where the saw elusive pink dolphins, studied indigenous tree frogs, and viewed the destruction brought on by “slash-and-burn” deforestation techniques.

Pelican Products, Torrance, Calif., learned of the mission and jumped on the bandwagon by providing protector cases to protect the video and photographic gear the group will use to document their journey, as well as house lighting equipment the team will need when they visit remote areas where electrical power is nonexistent or scarce. Pelican designs and manufactures advanced lighting systems and virtually indestructible cases.

“Pelican is very proud to have supported Amazon Five’s important efforts. Their courage and concern for others is an inspiration to us all,” said Pelican Products spokesperson, Sharon Ward.

Green faucet
Looking for a way to conserve water and cut maintenance expenses? Then you might want to check out the first 30-year touchless commercial faucet.

The Insight hybrid-energy system from Kohler Co., Kohler, Wis., said to be guaranteed for 30 years, features a long-life power system from Tadiran, Lake Success, N. Y. The system is equipped with a hybrid layer capacitor that collects small electrical charges that are discharged each time the faucet is activated, allowing the faucet to operate continuously with no battery replacement.

Insight turns on and off based on signals from a light sensor. The sensor analyzes and logs feedback from its environment and recalibrates the factory default settings to accommodate its new home. The sensor automatically adjusts the bathroom space’s lighting to eliminate false actuations.

The power system is completely mercury-free and contains no other chemicals or additives that are harmful to humans or the environment.

Design contest
Digi-Key Corp., Thief River Falls, Minn., and STMicroelectronics, Geneva, Switzerland, are cosponsoring a design contest for engineering students based on ST’s iNEMO multisensor inertial measurement unit (IMU).

The goal is to show engineering students how easy sensors are to work with and help them learn how to enhance their projects, improving both usefulness and usability. Designs can address applications such as man/machine interfaces, robotics, navigation, gaming and sports, and remote monitoring (of industrial equipment or medical patients).

iNEMO is an evaluation and development tool that offers three-axis sensing of linear, angular, and magnetic motion, as well as temperature and barometer/altimeter readings along with a 32-bit microcontroller and dedicated software.

Projects must contain an iNEMO IMU. Designs will be judged on the number of degrees of freedom used, hardware and firmware/software quality, the design’s novelty, its use of daughterboards, and the project’s ease of use and appeal of its user interface.

Entrants must register by October 30, 2010 and will need to purchase an iNEMO development kit — consisting of an iNEMO eval board, a professional software-development toolset, and appropriate cables and software for $369. Completed submissions will be accepted until April 30, 2011. Full contest rules and instructions are available at

© 2010 Penton Media, Inc.

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