Category Archives: Design Master

A Must-Have Book for Every Test Engineer

MediumTestEngineersBookCoverThe Test Engineer’s Measurement Handbook / How to Design Tests for 1st-Pass Success
by Van Brollini

Van Brollini’s new book is an essential addition to the test engineer’s library, as well as the library of any product manager.

The Handbook contains practical advice that is based on Mr. Brollini’s extensive experience with test development, including unique insights that I have not seen elsewhere, insights that will provide the test engineer with a quantum leap in productivity.

The test engineer will also appreciate the fact that Brollini’s methods — clearly presented as a series of rules, tips, and straightforward equations — are practical and cost-effective, illustrated by real-world examples throughout.

The Handbook’s teachings can be applied with basic math and spreadsheet tools, although Brollini does recommend Design Master™ for best efficiency, particularly for more advanced applications.

(I have known Van for many years, as he was one of the first engineers to adopt our Design Master software. From time to time he has offered suggestions for improvements, which were incorporated into the software.)

The Test Engineer’s Measurement Handbook is available through the DACI website.

-Ed Walker

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Want To Learn Proper Worst Case Analysis Basics? See Our Latest Article at How2Power.com

A new Design Master article,  “Use Worst-Case Analysis Tool To Efficiently Validate Your Designs,” is now available in the latest issue of How2Power.com.

4th Qtr 2011

(c) 2011 Design/Analysis Consultants, Inc.
Newsletter content may be copied in whole or part if attribution
to DACI and any referenced source is prominently displayed with the copied material

This Issue: NEWS BITE: Rising Sun Gets Snagged On Mountain And Breaks Apart! / DESIGN MASTER TIP: Minimizing Calculation Time / ANALYSIS: Why Do A Worst Case Analysis? / TECH TIP: Nice Overview of Considerations for External Components for Switching Regulators / MORE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: Wind Power Kills Endangered Species / ANALYSIS QUIZ: Adjustable 3-Terminal Regulator Output Tolerance

NEWS BITE: Rising Sun Gets Snagged On Mountain And Breaks Apart!
Motorists cautioned to avoid area due to high temperatures.

First planet with two suns reported found
15 Sep 2011, NASA and World Science

DESIGN MASTER™ TIP: Minimizing Calculation Time

Do an initial run and check sensitivities. Thereafter set the variables to their respective worst case values to reduce calc time until the design is finalized. Then set the variables back to their full range for a final calculation to obtain probabilities for risk assessment.

ANALYSIS: Why Do A Worst Case Analysis?

 
TECH TIP: Nice Overview of Considerations for External Components for Switching Regulators
See “Power System Performance Requires The Right Actives And Passives” by Tim Watkins, 8 Sep 2011 Electronic Design

MORE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: Wind Power Kills Endangered Species

In the Bay Area, when activists in the 1980s demanded a cleaner planet, the state responded with the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area. The state-approved wind farm, built with federal tax credits, kills 4,700 birds annually, including 1,300 raptors, among them 70 golden eagles…

“There’s a big, big hypocrisy here,” Sue Hammer of Tehachapi Wildlife Rehab in Kern County said. “If I shoot an eagle, it’s a $10,000 fine and/or a vacation of one to five years in a federal pen of my choice.”

From “Energy in America: Dead Birds Unintended Consequence of Wind Power Development” by William La Jeunesse, 16 Aug 2011, FoxNews.com

ANALYSIS QUIZ: Adjustable 3-Terminal Regulator Output Tolerance

An LM317T regulator with 36V input is set for 24V nominal output, using 1/8W 1% 100ppm thick film resistors (10K and 549 ohms). The regulator must deliver 1A and operate from 0 to 50 C for 10,000 hours.


Q: What will be the approximate worst case output tolerance? (Answer will be posted in the next newsletter.)

3rd Qtr 2011

(c) 2011 Design/Analysis Consultants, Inc.
Newsletter content may be copied in whole or part if attribution
to DACI and any referenced source is prominently displayed with the copied material

This Issue: NEWS BITE: Mutant Singing Cantaloup Wins Karaoke Contest! / MORE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: Hands-Free Faucets / DESIGN MASTER TIP: AC Rectifier Worst Case Analysis Made Easy / ART MEETS ENGINEERING: The Invisible Man / STATISTICAL DESIGN PITFALLS: Monte Carlo Is Not Worst Case Analysis

NEWS BITE: Mutant Singing Cantaloup Wins Karaoke Contest!

Freaky Robot Mouth Learns to Sing,”
Evan Ackerman, 13 July 2011, IEEE Spectrum

MORE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: Hands-Free Faucets Harbor More Germs Than Standard Faucets

Details here.

DESIGN MASTER TIP: AC Rectifier Circuit Worst Case Analysis Made Easy

In our previous Newsletter we provided a pretty good estimate for the ripple current for the bulk capacitor in an AC rectifier circuit. But what if you have a large volume product and you need a full worst case analysis to ensure high reliability, but one that is not overly pessimistic so that you can minimize cost? Design Master can help you achieve that optimum balance.

As readers are aware, we’ve started to release some DMeXpert “fill in the blank” WCA templates to make the design engineer’s life a bit easier. One of these is our AC Bridge Rectifier Analysis (ACBR1 $19) which allows the designer to determine all of the worst case component stresses within a minute or two. The analysis includes the effects of source impedance Rs (such as transformer secondary winding ohms), which if present can be used to reduce capacitor ripple current requirements, hence reduce capacitor cost.

As those who have studied AC rectifier circuits are aware, this seemingly simple circuit has resisted for decades all of the attempts to generate a single-formula solution, until recently, which we’ve included in ACBR1. Based on Keng Wu’s article, “Analyzing Full-Wave Rectifiers With Capacitor Filters” (1 Jan 2010, Power Electronics Technology), Wu’s formula allows a straightforward circuit solution, greatly reducing computational time. So with ACBR1 you can just fill in the blanks, click Calculate, and let Design Master do the rest.

ART MEETS ENGINEERING: The Invisible Man

Engineers who work for the military are sometimes required to design clothing, equipment, or even entire shelters to be “invisible” to various detection means. Chinese artist Liu Bolin has a gift for applying such camouflage in a non-technological way, as seen below. Hint: If you can’t spot Liu, look for his shoes first.

From “The Invisible Man: Dragon Series,” Vurdlak, 28 June 2011, http://www.moillusions.com

Some more fascinating photos here and here.

STATISTICAL DESIGN PITFALLS: Monte Carlo Is Not Worst Case Analysis

A lot of folks like to let a simulator crank out “worst case” results, using Monte Carlo statistical methods. But as we’ve explained previously (“Design Master vs Extreme Value, RSS, Monte Carlo, & Simulation,” and “Design Master vs Monte Carlo“), this can be not only time consuming, but risky. For example, Monte Carlo can easily miss small but significant errors (see example below). In addition, if the Monte Carlo runs are improperly implemented (such as including temperature or other dynamic variables) you will likely obtain wildly inaccurate results.

The Design Master Advantage

Instead of statistical sampling, Design Master uses a top-down approach to achieve safer and more cost-effective results, by (a) detecting the extreme limits of performance, and then (b) using a proprietary probability algorithm to estimate how often those results will exceed the specification limits.

EXAMPLE

Design Master results at 2 samples/variable versus
Monte Carlo at 10,000 samples/variable, for the gain of an 8-variable filter

As can be seen, the Monte Carlo analysis detected a minimum of 8.42 versus the actual minimum of 7.86, a 7% error, and a maximum of 16.0 versus the actual maximum of 18.8, a 15% error.

2nd Qtr 2011

(c) 2011 Design/Analysis Consultants, Inc.
Newsletter content may be copied in whole or part if attribution
to DACI and any referenced source is prominently displayed with the copied material

This Issue: NEWS BITE: Miraculous Emergency Landing on Railroad Track! / DESIGN MASTER TIP: AC Rectifier Bulk Capacitor Ripple Current / HUMANITARIANISM: Capitalism + Volunteer Engineering Helps Haitians / UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: Nanny Engineering / SHAMEFUL BEHAVIOR: Shanghai Euchips Industrial Co. Used Fake UL Label

NEWS BITE: Miraculous Emergency Landing on Railroad Track!

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Ground-Effect Robot Could Be Key To Future High-Speed Trains” by Evan Ackerman, 10 May 2011 IEEE Spectrum

DESIGN MASTER TIP: AC Rectifier Bulk Capacitor Ripple Current1 


Pretty good estimates of capacitor ripple amps for full wave rectifiers driven by low source impedance can be obtained by using the equations below. Note that an exact solution requires iteration, which can be done automatically by the Design MasterTM worst case analysis software. If you don’t have Design Master, you can get some quick results by first estimating the ripple voltage and solving for tC. Then calculate Vripple to see if your estimate was close. After a couple of iterations you will zero in on good values for tC and Vripple, and then you can solve for total capacitor ripple amps.

A PRETTY GOOD ESTIMATE for BULK CAPACITOR RIPPLE AMPS

1. tC = charge time, sec = ACOS(1-rRIP)/(2*Pi*f)
where
ACOS = inverse cosine function (COS-1)
rRIP = ripple ratio, Vripple/Vdc.
Vripple = ripple volts peak-peak = Idc*tD/C
Vdc = average DC output volts
Idc = average DC output amps
tD = discharge time = 0.5/f – tC, seconds
C = bulk capacitance, F
f = line frequency, Hz
2. Dc = charge duty cycle = 2*f*tC
3. Dd = discharge duty cycle = 1 – Dc
4. ICchg = ripple amps rms due to charge from full wave rectifier
= Idc*SQR(1/Dc-1)
5. ICdis = ripple amps rms due to discharge to load
= Idc*SQR(1/Dd-1)
6. ICload = rms content of pulsed load amps (e.g. input of switchmode regulator) if applicable. If load amps is purely DC, set ICload to 0.
7. ICtot = total capacitor ripple amps rms = SQR(ICchg^2+ICdis^2+ICload^2)

The great thing about analysis, as compared to simulators such as SPICE, is that you can learn a lot by reviewing analysis equations. For example, if you set the ripple voltage ratio to a desired amount (e.g. 15%), and rearrange the Vripple equation to solve for C, you can readily obtain a graph of the required ripple amps rating versus output current, regardless of input or output voltage. Now you’ve generated a general-purpose design guideline to use for numerous applications.

See the example graph below for the capacitor ripple amps requirement versus DC load currents from 100ma to 5 amps, for a 15% ripple voltage and a 60Hz source. For example, for 2 amps of load current, the capacitor will require a ripple current rating of 4.4A

1. Excerpted and revised from DACI Application Note, ” Why Power Designers Need More than SPICE to Avoid Blow-Ups.”

HUMANITARIANISM: Capitalism + Volunteer Engineering Helps Haitians

Non-governmental organizations operating on free-market principles can offer the most effective assistance to those in need. For an example click here.

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: Nanny Engineering

Yes, the government does provide some essential functions. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the self-control to restrict itself to those functions. The result is that we are plagued by governmental busybodies who like to justify their salaries by telling the rest of us how to behave, in areas that are none of their concern.

For example, as pointed out in Engineering Thinking, there have been numerous regulations passed that restrict our right to choose the products we may want, such as incandescent light bulbs. In that case, the government has deemed such bulbs unacceptable due to low efficiency. But if incandescent light bulbs are inefficient, that fact becomes evident in our electric bill; why do we need the government to tell us how best to spend our money?

Furthermore, perhaps some of us would, regardless of efficiency, prefer to use the incandescent type. But no, the governmental busybodies have decreed that you don’t get to freely choose. Forget about all of the other parameters that might be of more importance to you: short-term cost, color rendering, lifetime, reliability, and environmental hazards. Also, some folks in chilly climates might even appreciate the extra heat that incandescent bulbs provide. But none of these considerations matter to the one-solution-fits-everybody government.

Now, as typically happens following such governmental decrees, we find that they are rife with unintended consequences; e.g. the compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) that the government wishes us to use instead of  incandescent bulbs have significant disadvantages:  (a) substantially lower lifetimes than expected, (b) may emit hazardous fumes (click here), (c) emit electromagnetic interference (EMI), (d) emit a color that can disrupt melatonin production and thereby cause sleep disorders, (e) sometimes create an irritating buzzing nose, (f) contain hazardous materials that pose significant environmental disposal hazards, and (g) will kill the domestic incandescent bulb industry, and replace it with products that are primarily foreign-made.

Some years ago the government illustrated similar brilliance by outlawing magnetic ballasts, again simply on an efficiency basis. It should be no surprise that the electronic replacement ballasts were more expensive, had shorter lifetimes, were less reliable, contained hazardous materials, and emitted a lot of EMI (so much so that some hospitals refused to use them because of their tendency to interfere with medical instruments).

Recently some smart engineers from China, unencumbered by the U.S. regulatory dictatorship, have created a magnetic ballast whose efficiency is better than electronic ballasts, at lower cost, longer life, higher reliability, using non hazardous materials. [1] Congratulations!

Sad to say, this is the sort of advance that was typically accomplished by U.S. engineers, back before the government decided to play Nanny Engineer.

Note 1: “A ‘Class-A2’ Ultra-Low-Loss Magnetic Ballast for T5 Fluorescent Lamps — A New Trend for Sustainable Lighting Technology,” Hui, Lin, Ng, and Yan, Feb 2011 IEEE Transactions On Power Electronics.

SHAMEFUL BEHAVIOR: Shanghai Euchips Industrial Co. Used Fake UL Label

Details here.

1st Qtr 2011

(c) 2011 Design/Analysis Consultants, Inc.
Newsletter content may be copied in whole or part if attribution
to DACI and any referenced source is prominently displayed with the copied material

This Issue: NEWS BITE: Astronomer Discovers Giant Eye Staring At Earth! / DESIGN MASTER: New Pricing Structure / COMPONENTS: The Most Popular Op Amps? It’s A Secret! / CONCEPTUAL DESIGN: Look At The Big Picture / COOKING & MEASUREMENTS: Why Engineers Get It Right

NEWS BITE: Astronomer Discovers Giant Eye Staring At Earth!


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The Helix Nebula, “Hubble’s Best Photos” by Lauren Effron, Discovery News

DESIGN MASTER: New Introductory Pricing Structure

Effective for 2011, we’re changing our introductory price structure for DM to a flat fee of $85/copy, single user ($25 for upgrades), and providing modeling packages in DMX template format at an added charge. DMX is a DM feature that allows expertly-designed “fill in the blanks” templates to be used for thorough and efficient worst case analysis. Click here for details.

With the introductory pricing structure, DM will only be supported via email, and only with regard to DM operation, not circuit or part modeling.  For those who may need help with modeling, please see DM V8’s expanded help content, and refer to the available DMX templates. If more extensive assistance is required, please contact us with regard to a DM training seminar, or for the provision of custom circuit or part models.

Offer expires 30 April 2011.

COMPONENTS: The Most Popular Op Amps? It’s A Secret!

We were looking for some guidance in building up op amp models for our DMX templates, so we asked several major semiconductor vendors this question: “What are your most popular op amps?” Surprisingly, although the technical contacts said they would like to provide the data, they couldn’t; their sales departments considered the data proprietary, due to competition concerns.

Therefore it seems our alternative is to create our own “favorite” lists. If you have some preferred op amp (or other analog IC) part numbers that you would like to share with the DM design community, please send them in. We’ll post them in future issues of this newsletter. The data will also provide guidance for our development of part models.

CONCEPTUAL DESIGN: Look At The Big Picture

In the 12 December 2010 issue of Electronic Design, Louis E. Frenzel discusses some modern versions of the ubiquitous 555 timer IC (“And You Thought The 555 Timer Was Dead?“).

In that article, Mr. Frenzel also refers back to an earlier article of his , in which he asks, in essence: why in the world does the 555 timer still exist? (“The 555: Best IC Ever Or Obsolete Anachronism?“, 12 Dec 2007, Electronic Design).

Might we suggest an answer? The 555 provides a simple common function in an elegant low-cost manner. This does not mean it is always the best solution (Mr. Frenzel mentions some alternatives), but it certainly is an attractive option, particularly for circuits that don’t contain a uP.

I suspect that Mr. Frenzel was deliberately being provocative to stimulate conversation, particularly with his implication that all modern products contain a uP. If that were true, then yes, why add a part when the uP can provide the timing capability for free? But a huge number of products do not contain uPs, because they simply don’t need uPs.  In fact, avoiding a uP has additional advantages in addition to cost avoidance, including better reliability (by keeping things simple), and by eliminating radiated emissions noise. We have saved some of our customers a lot of money by showing how a dirt-cheap non-uP circuit can achieve the functions they need, while also avoiding the noise issues that would require EMC compliance certification.

Mr. Frenzel quotes from a 1997 article, “…the 555 is dated mainly because it is no longer compatible with the mostly low-voltage (less than 5 V) circuits in use today. Furthermore, it consumes excessive power compared to today’s circuits.”  But this ignores the fact that the 555 has been continuously reincarnated over the years with better performance, operating at lower voltages and current, and available in various modern packages.

From a broader perspective, we think it’s important to stand back and look at the big picture during the concept design phase. We shouldn’t just indulge our prejudices, and grab the parts and designs we’re familiar with. Rather, we should ask: what’s the optimum design? Among other considerations, this means we need to challenge our assumption that newer means better. Maybe, maybe not. There are lots of situations where older-technology designs are much better for certain applications — all things considered — than their modern counterparts. A few examples:

  • 4000 series CMOS: these senior ICs are great solutions for low cost, low speed, noisy industrial applications.
  • Mechanical relays: ancient, but like the 555, continuously modernized, and still the best solutions for numerous higher power industrial designs.
  • Older IC technologies in general: lower cost, less EMC issues, and less susceptibility to electromigration, which is becoming a significant concern with modern minimal-geometry ICs.

COOKING & MEASUREMENTS: Why Engineers Get It Right

“Cooking is awesome because it’s applied science. Biology, chemistry, physics, they all come into play when you’re cooking. I don’t know that I necessarily do anything specialized. I know that some of my more particular habits come out when I’m cooking. I very rarely cook meat, for instance, without a thermometer. I know there are these old-school cooks who would turn their noses up at me because they can tell by giving their roast a touch or by poking it in the right spot and seeing what color the juices are, they can tell when it’s ready to come out of the oven. Well, I can tell when it’s ready to come out of the oven when it’s the right temperature and that is okay with me. You know, my bread—before I invested in a thermometer, sometimes it was too dry and sometimes it was gummy in the middle, but now it’s right every time. I use a kitchen scale for almost everything. If you think about a cup of flour: If I measure the cup of flour it may weigh 4 ounces; if you measure your cup of flour, it may weigh 5 ounces, because the flour is compressible. So you achieve a degree of precision when you measure things that way. Nothing drives me crazier than when you look at a recipe and they call for 1 large onion. I’m guessing that one large onion in Texas is massively different that one large onion in southeast Missouri. You know I can get an onion from the store here that weighs almost a pound. I have no idea if that’s what they meant. So my life got substantially more precise when I was able to start making notes, you know—this much onion worked, this much onion didn’t.”
April Woods, as quoted in “Geeks Cooking: April Woods, the Hungry Engineer,” an interview by Susan Hassler in IEEE Spectrum

 

4th Qtr 2010

(C) 2010 Design/Analysis Consultants, Inc.
Newsletter content may be copied in whole or part if attribution
to DACI and any referenced source is prominently displayed with the copied material

This Issue: NEWS BITE: Reporters Scramble To Adapt To Cameramen Layoffs During Economic Downturn! / DM V8 And DMX Released / REVIEW: The Social Network: Entertaining But Not True / NEWS BULLETS: Unintended Consequences (Reusable Grocery Bags) / RECREATION: Having Fun With Fantasy Football

NEWS BITE: Reporters Scramble To Adapt To Cameramen Layoffs During Economic Downturn!


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Teleactor Annamarie Ho. Photo: Bart Nagel
Q&A: Ken Goldberg Discusses Telerobots, Androids, and Heidegger,” by Erico Guizzo, IEEE Spectrum, 1 Oct 2010

DESIGN MASTER: DM V8 with DMeXpert™ (DMX) Released

DMX provides expertly-designed “fill in the blanks” templates for thorough and efficient worst case analysis. Click here for details. If you purchased Design Master on or after October 4 2009, you can obtain an update at no charge; please contact us for download instructions (new install required for V8).

REVIEW: The Social Network: Entertaining But Not True
“Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s young and intrepid creator, is portrayed as a geek who starts his path to dot com glory after getting dumped by a girl … If it were true it would be a lot more compelling.  Back in 2005 and 2006, shortly after the film is set, I interviewed Zuckerberg on several occasions, and he wasn’t much like the guy on-screen.  In addition to actually having a girlfriend, a fact left conveniently out of the film, he had a lot of thoughtful things to say about the world he was creating online. ”
The Social Network’s Science Fiction,” by David Kushner, IEEE Spectrum, 7 Oct 2010

The Bozo Award is presented to screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and the movie’s producers for their lack of integrity, as demonstrated by their willingness to damage reputations through false representations of actual events.

NEWS BULLETS: Unintended Consequences Strike Again

“The CALL7 Investigators tested several reusable bags used by 7NEWS colleagues and another from a woman going into a Denver grocery store. Marchetta took the lab results to Dr. Michelle Barron, the infectious disease expert at the University of Colorado Hospital. ‘Wow. Wow. That is pretty impressive,’ said Barron. Barron examines lab results for a living. ‘Oh my goodness! This is definitely the highest count,’ Barron commented while looking at the bacteria count numbers.”
-“Reusable Grocery Bags Breed Bacteria” By Theresa Marchetta, 28 Sep 2010 Denver News

RECREATION: Having Fun with Statistics and Fantasy Football
Design Master™ is used by engineers to help create highly reliable products, but it has been suggested to us that it can be used for some fun, too, such as fantasy football or other games that use statistics. It might even provide a bit of an edge, because its probability models provide more information than simple statistical averages.

For example, you can define a group of players in the Variables Library, enter the raw stats for each player, and let Design Master generate their “player strength” probability models (Tools/Make A Model From Raw Data).

In the worksheet, you create a simple Team formula that defines the strength of the team, using a weighted sum of all the players —

TeamA = 0.2*Player1 + 0.10*Player2 + 0.15*Player3 + …

— where the weights add to 1.0 (100%).

Then press Calculate to generate the team’s probability model.

Repeat this for a competing TeamB and its players, and then compare the team models:

 

 

TeamA strength = 5 to 10                                                TeamB strength = 4 to 16

There are many ways to make a  comparison, but a simple way would be just to subtract the teams. For example, to determine the probability of TeamA losing to TeamB,

TeamAWin = TeamA – TeamB

where the minimum limit is set to zero (i.e. the case where TeamA is less strong than TeamB).

Probability models help guard against counter-intuitive bets. In this example, it may appear that TeamB (max strength of 16) is superior to TeamA (max strength of 10). But if you look at average strengths, TeamA comes out on top (8 to 7). How should these factors be evaluated?

Press calculate, and the resultant probability distribution indicates that the “weakling” Team A only has about a 12% chance of losing to TeamB:


Furthermore, knowing the actual probability of 12% provides an added edge for intelligent odds-making … all in fun, of course.

Q&A: Ken Goldberg Discusses Telerobots, Androids, and Heidegger

Announcing The Design Master Expert Assistant

DMXAnnouncing the Design Master Expert Assistant with the release of Design MasterTM V8

The DMeXpert™ (DMX) Edition guides the user with pop-up instructions, component selection lists, standard part values, important formulas, and a variety of other tips that are activated when entering a Formula cell. It’s like having a design/analysis expert at your side.

DMX is ideal for the design engineer or project manager who needs quick and efficient “fill in the blanks” design validation in minutes rather than weeks. Based on DACI’s thorough and practical worst case analysis plus (WCA+) methodology, DMX uses expertly designed templates to facilitate analysis of a variety of standard circuits.

In addiDM8tion to its standalone function, DMX is an integral part of the just-released Version 8 of Design Master’s Professional Edition. DMX facilitates efficient organization and selection of circuit and part files, and also provides easy access to an organized array of tutorials and DMeXpert tips.

Circuit templates, part files, and help files can be accessed and edited by using the Professional Edition. This allows an organization’s design experts to use the Professional Edition to create DMX templates tailored to the needs of the company.

For more information, please click here.

3rd Qtr 2010

(C) 2010 Design/Analysis Consultants, Inc.
Newsletter content may be copied in whole or part if attribution
to DACI and any referenced source is prominently displayed with the copied material

This Issue: NEWS BITE: Man Shocked To Discover Twin Brother Is A Robot! / DM V8 Wish List / NEWS BULLETS: Unintended Consequences Strike Again / DACI’s BLOG: An Engineer Writes A Novel / KEEPING OUT OF TROUBLE: What Every Engineer Should Know About Statistics / OUR VIEW: Using Statistics For High-Quality Designs

NEWS BITE: Man Shocked To Discover Twin Brother Is A Robot!

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“The Amazing Androids of Hiroshi Ishiguro” from “Special Report: Robots for Real,” IEEE Spectrum

DM V8 Wish List

Design MasterTM V8 (Major Upgrade) is planned for release soon, so now’s your chance to send us any suggestions for features you would like to see added. Also, if you have the current version of DM and would like to receive a beta version of V8, please let us know.

For more details on the current version, please click here: Design Master V7

NEWS BULLETS: Unintended Consequences Strike Again

“Rear-end collisions more than doubled and accidents increased overall in the first 70 days of red-light cameras in West Palm Beach compared to the same period of 2009, traffic records reviewed by The Palm Beach Post show.”

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-“Rear-end collisions jump at red-light camera intersections in West Palm Beach” By Charles Elmore, 15 July 2010 Palm Beach Post

DACI’s BLOG: An Engineer Writes A Novel

Think you can figure out what’s happening? Unconventional, but logically consistent. Read about Nexus here.

Update: NEXUS receives “highly recommended” rating from Cindy Taylor, Allbooks Review. Read the full review here.

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KEEPING OUT OF TROUBLE: What Every Engineer Should Know About Statistics

“Supposedly, the proper use of statistics makes relying on scientific results a safe bet. But in practice, widespread misuse of statistical methods makes science more like a crapshoot…”

“It’s science’s dirtiest secret: The ‘scientific method’ of testing hypotheses by statistical analysis stands on a flimsy foundation. Statistical tests are supposed to guide scientists in judging whether an experimental result reflects some real effect or is merely a random fluke, but the standard methods mix mutually inconsistent philosophies and offer no meaningful basis for making such decisions. Even when performed correctly, statistical tests are widely misunderstood and frequently misinterpreted. As a result, countless conclusions in the scientific literature are erroneous, and tests of medical dangers or treatments are often contradictory and confusing.”

-from “Odds Are, It’s Wrong / Science fails to face the shortcomings of statistics” By Tom Siegfried, 27 March 2010 Science News

OUR VIEW: Using Statistics For Achieving High-Quality Designs

We have long recommended that statistical inference (limited sampling) not be used to try to predict performance (a practice that leads to the myriad problems discussed in the article referenced above), and have recommended instead that known performance limits and sensitivities be used to estimate the probability of success.

Stated another way, statistics (properly employed) can provide a good description of observed performance; it cannot be used to predict non-observed performance.

Example: If one examines all of the socks of various colors in a large drawer, one can use that data (analogous to a part vendor’s data sheet) to estimate the probability of blindly pulling out a sock of a certain color. For instance, if there are a few purple socks (unacceptable performance), we know the odds of getting that color.

However, if one only examines a few of the socks (limited experimental data, or a data sheet that only provides “typical” values), one cannot reliably predict much of anything. Such limited data is therefore unsuitable for high-quality designs.

In our consulting practice we have observed more than once the natural but very risky tendency of a design team to “see” hoped-for performance from limited experimental results, sometimes leading to premature jubilation.  As the team’s official party-pooper, we have always advised keeping the champagne corked until sufficient data have been accumulated to be sure that the performance is properly understood. In every case this advice has served our customers well.

“The Amazing Androids of Hiroshi Ishiguro” from “Special Report: Robots for Real,” IEEE Spectrum

Design Master Lite Edition Now Available

Announcing Design MasterTM Lite

Because of continued requests for a lower-priced version of Design Master that would be suitable for smaller projects and academic use, we’ve just  released Design MasterTM Lite, which costs $85 for a one-year subscription.

The Lite Edition contains all of the features of our powerful Professional Edition, with the following limitations: 10 formulas, 6 variables, & no access to the following advanced tools:  Electronics Part Analysis Wizard, Variable and Formula Models, and Make Model from Raw Data.

For more information, please check here.