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A44EET_EURO_2_37x10_87_A44E.qxd 9/29/14 12:2 DC-DC CONVERTERS 2V to 10,000 VDC Outputs 1-300 Watt Modules Regulated/Proportional/Programmable Isolated/Single/Dual Outputs High Reliability Greater than 1,000,000 hrs. Mil Hbk 217F • Military Upgrades Expanded operating temperature -55º to +85º C, no derating required • Environmental Screening Selected Screening, Mil Std 883 • ULTRA Miniature From 0.5" x 0.5" x 0.2" • Surface Mount/Thru-Hole • Custom Models • US Manufactured • AS 9100 Approved High Reliability AC/DC Power Supplies, Transformers and Inductors See PICO’s full line catalog at www.picoelectronics.com PICO Electronics,Inc. 143 Sparks Ave. Pelham, N.Y. 10803 E Mail: info@picoelectronics.com Pico Representatives Germany ELBV/Electronische Bauelemente Vertrieb E-mail: info@elbv.de Phone: 0049 89 4602852 Fax: 0049 89 46205442 England Ginsbury Electronics Ltd. E-mail: rbennett@ginsbury.co.uk Phone: 0044 1634 298900 Fax: 0044 1634 290904 The Issus, the strainwave and the cameraman By Graham Mackrell Humans believe that we invented everything. As a result, one of the most humbling elements of great science and nature broadcasting is finding out that we didn’t. Precision gears enable the camera systems used by broadcast engineers to help create the programmes we enjoy every day. Surprisingly, the technology on which they are based has a relative in nature in the shape of an insect called the Issus. It’s smaller than a five pence coin, green all over and sports a utilitarian look. It lives in your back garden and inconspicuously hops from plant to plant. In that very motion it carries within itself a secret as old as time. You see, the hind legs of an Issus consist of two 180 degree helix-shaped strips, each with twelve fully interlocking spur type gear teeth. Looking almost machine tooled, the fully formed gear system enables the humble Issus to perfectly synchronise the movement of its legs, to perform a hopping manoeuvre, at speeds of 30 microseconds - where one microsecond is equal to a millionth of a second. Launching itself forward at an acceleration equivalent to 0-60mph in just 5.5 seconds, this supercar-shaming speed exerts over 500 units of G-force on the little critter. The gear system is essential to make such powerful jumps so quickly and accurately. “This precise synchronisation would be impossible to achieve through a nervous system, as even neural impulses would take far too long for the extraordinarily tight coordination required,” explained Professor Malcolm Burrows, of Cambridge University, an expert on the subject. “Even a slight discrepancy in the synchronisation of its legs would cause the Issus to spin hopelessly out of control.” The discovery discredits the widely held belief that, up until now, humans invented the gear. It is evident that gears play a vital role in both the natural and human world. While for the Issus using its super abilities for plant hopping may be enough, gears play a much more pivotal role for humans. From the gearbox in your car, and the clock on your wall, to the oil and gas used to make the plastics in your everyday electronics, gears are ubiquitous. One of the least apparent, but most widely used applications of advanced gears is in the film and broadcast industry. Traditionally, this has been a manually intensive process, with camera operators having to use fine movement to create controlled camera movements, which can then be replicated for multiple takes. The rise of artistic filmmaking, the increased use of computer generated imagery (CGI) and the popularity of high definition (HD) and 3D movies as well as many other special effects used in modern cinema would simply not be possible using traditional filming techniques. This is where motion control takes over. Having developed over the last forty years, motion control in the broadcast industry has been used to create some of our most beloved films. From the epic deep space battle scenes in Star Wars and the sweeping shots of Hogwart’s castle in Harry Potter to the larger than life characters in The Lord of the Rings, motion control has been the invisible enabler of cinema for decades. Typically consisting of a camera rig mounted on a motorised robotic arm, motion control allows pre-programmed moves to be entered into the camera control software. The resultant benefit of such a setup is two-fold. Firstly, highly accurate movements can be made, which would otherwise be impossible even with a cameraman’s steady hands. Secondly, these moves can be repeated again and again with ‘pixel-perfect’ precision. Post production then allows multiple clips to be composited together to create a final scene, which is greater, in cinematic value, than the sum of its parts. With this new found accuracy and Graham Mackrell is Managing Director of Harmonic Drive - www.harmonicdrive.co.uk. He can be reached at graham.mackrell@harmonicdrive.co.uk 42 Electronic Engineering Times Europe November 2014 www.electronics-eetimes.com


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