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Student Spotlight: Droid Names, Faraway Galaxies or Automation Components?

Student Spotlight: Droid Names, Faraway Galaxies or Automation Components?

VFDs, rS485, PLCs — these terms may seem like names of droids or faraway galaxies and planets in a “Star Wars” movie. However, they really refer to earthly based components that Vermont Technical College engineering student Dan Rapoza learned about when he set out to help a dairy farmer save time and money by automating ... Read More
 
Pump with Efficiency

Pump with Efficiency

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) of 1975 marked the beginning of energy conservation standards for industrial, commercial and consumer products and equipment. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) created 60 plus categories of applications and equipment, affecting 30 percent industrial energy use.
 
Tips for Specifying Variable Frequency Drives

Tips for Specifying Variable Frequency Drives

For well over 30 years, variable frequency drives (VFD) have been controlling the speed of three-phase alternating-current (AC) induction motors. In addition to saving energy, there are many things to consider for maximum efficiency, control, operation and motor life when using VFDs.
 
Beam Testing at Portland State – Issue 37, 2017

Beam Testing at Portland State – Issue 37, 2017

For their undergraduate senior capstone project, a team of Mechanical Engineering students at Portland State University (PSU) recently designed an electronic system upgrade for the control system of a 100-year-old beam testing machine. Using a range of AutomationDirect parts, the purpose of the project was to make the operator experience comparable to modern machines.
 
Selecting Motors for Industrial Applications

Selecting Motors for Industrial Applications

Efficient use of motors is always important, but there are many other things to consider when specifying an electric motor. Mechanical and environmental considerations are on the list, as is the application and operation. All of these factors are important, but the application is where the selection process should start.
 
The Halloween Box

The Halloween Box

In every haunted house, you’ll find automated props: chairs that rock on their own, slamming doors, rattling chains, drawers opening and closing as if by some supernatural force. These “tricks” enhance the “treat” of getting the life scared out of you. The process behind making a Halloween prop can be quite simple. Here is just ... Read More
 
Riada Solves Difficult Packaging Problem

Riada Solves Difficult Packaging Problem

When selecting the right shampoo, what factors do you consider? Scent, ingredients, cost? How about packaging? That’s right, packaging. For the follicly-challenged, like myself, packaging may be a real decision maker. After all, luster, sheen and volumizing abilities are kinda lost on me. For most, packaging is an afterthought, if it is a thought at ... Read More
 
Electrical Noise and EMI in the Workplace

Electrical Noise and EMI in the Workplace

Drive or motor failures, lights flickering, analog signal variations and poor encoder count repeatability are all symptoms of electrical noise issues. Automated machinery is often the victim of electrical noise, and frequently also the source. Whether it’s electromagnetic interference (EMI) or radio frequency interference (RFI), there are many options available to reduce its effects. Both ... Read More
 
Converting a Mill/Drill and Installing a VFD — Issue 33, 2015

Converting a Mill/Drill and Installing a VFD — Issue 33, 2015

Several years ago I purchased a Wadkin lathe made in England in late 1964. It is equipped with a very special motor that is 220V, three-phase and 50Hz. Because of the special design of the motor, it has a long extended shaft that carries the four sheave pulley, and because I do not have three-phase ... Read More
 
To VFD or Not to VFD

To VFD or Not to VFD

You’ve probably seen and read way too many articles telling you to use VFDs on your AC motors to save energy, reduce maintenance and lengthen motor life. This is not one of those articles. Instead, we’re going to show you just how to calculate whether or not a VFD makes sense for your particular application. ... Read More