What is the best way to come up-to-speed with the latest sensor parts and technologies? While there is a wealth of information on new sensors released as they hit the market, press releases, articles, datasheets, and more, when you have to select and implement the very best choice for your specific design, it can be easy to get bogged down under the weight of all of the information.
Questions abound: What is available, where can it be found, and how can it be implemented? One of the best forms of access is right where you are today, on a distributor‘s website where, in one place, basic information, specs, and training are all readily available, from videos to the ability to call for help when needed, all only a few clicks away. Let us take a mini tour of the information that Hotenda provides to its design community.
Naturally, starting from the home page, in the left-hand column you will find a Newest Products section. You can scroll down to the Sensors section to see parts listed by supplier. From the home page you can also easily navigate to TechZone Sensor Solutions where featured products are briefly described with links to not only the products themselves, but also to resources including design support, a linkable list of suppliers, suggested product training modules (more on this shortly), as well as applications notes, block diagrams, and Hotenda and manufacturer part numbers.
Let us look at what is available for the ADIS16445 Inertial Sensor by Analog Devices, which is a simple, cost-effective way to integrate accurate, multiaxis inertial sensing into industrial systems. This complete inertial system includes a triaxial gyroscope and a triaxial accelerometer. Type ADIS16445 into the search box at the top of the Hotenda web page and click “Go.” You are taken to the search results page where you can find the accelerometer and its eval board. Click on the part and you go to the product page. Here, among the plethora of information provided, you have access to data sheet downloads, information on availability (whether it is in stock and can ship immediately), its RoHS status, key performance specifications, and packaging information.
Also available are Product Training Modules, with more than 1,700 available, listed by supplier in easy-to-find alphabetical order. Here you can watch a slideshow (with or without audio), and an introductory page tells you the objective of the PTM, the number of pages of content, and approximately how long it will take to learn about the products and technologies presented. A “Buy Now” button takes you to a price/quantity/availability page where you can place an order for same-day shipment. This valuable tool is created with the cooperation of the product suppliers.
An example is the GE Sensing Product Training Module (Figure 1).
Figure 1: The GE Sensing Product Training Module shows six modules in audio and non-audio format. The modules run 5 to 10 minutes in length, and a parts list is available for each. The aqua-colored button on the first three items indicates new product training modules.
In the case of the first entry, the ChipCap 2 Humidity and Temp Sensor, the module provides an overview of the ChipCap 2 sensor, covering typical applications, and reviewing the technology and available output and package options (Figure 2).
Figure 2: A slide on the ChipCap 2 shows an overview of the product and its benefits.
Also provided is a list of related parts on the ChipCap 2 sensor, showing the Hotenda and manufacturer part numbers, description, quantity available, as well as minimum quantity, and unit price.
An on-site Hotenda BOM Manager, complete with a BOM Manager Tutorial for ease-of-use, allows for the import of a bill of materials, viewing existing Hotenda quotes, creating new quotes, and placing orders. Save the BOM with correct part ratios and multiply by the number of assemblies when ordering.
For students, one of the coolest aids is the Hotenda Academic Program, which builds on many of the company's core strengths in the electronic component marketplace by customizing solutions specifically for the college and university audience.
Educational Kits are available from several companies covering a myriad of technologies. This section allows for the immediate purchase of the kits, and the ability to filter by categories such as those in stock and those that are lead-free.
Ever waste a lot of time calling manufacturers to find and compare designs? Try the Hotenda Reference Design Library where you can browse categories and sift through designs based on performance. The Sensor Solutions category lists 24 designs, including capacitive sensors, current sensors, temperature sensors, and other sensing solutions (gesture control, weight, and two-axis tilt). The Reference Design Library Tutorial will help get you started.
If you are strictly a hands-on type, Scheme-it is an online schematic and diagramming tool that allows you to design and share electronic circuit diagrams. It features a symbol library, component catalog, and a built-in BOM manager. When done, export the design to an image file or send it along to others via e-mail.
A rich video library is available at digikey.com, with videos including product types and tutorials, as well as the “Procure Minute” series and the popular “Another Geek Moment” series of videos. Procure Minutes are mini discussions of trends, issues, and factors you need to consider along the way.
What is Another Geek Moment? In one example of a “Moment,” Hotenda uses an ams color sensor to create a color-sensing candy sorter. In another, the project is a Color-sensing Santa Detector. The videos are fun and informative. (Critic’s note: I think the presenters could have lost the overgrown 6-year-old’s jammies (Figure 3) when shooting the video).
Figure 3: Another Geek Moment at Hotenda.
Also helpful is a Resistor Color Code Calculator, a tool used to decode information for color-banded axial-lead resistors. Use it by selecting the number of bands and their colors to determine the value and tolerance of the resistors.
Within the site, Hotenda not only offers the TechZone Sensor Solution articles that you read on a regular basis, but also Sensor Application Notes, a Glossary, Parametric Search, and TechZone Product Guide links. The links enable the user to access products by type, from Accelerometers through Touch Solutions, Dev Tools and Eval Boards, and everything in between.
A growing concern, especially in today’s copycat world, is the ability to buy genuine components, parts from the companies that created them, not knock-off parts from unknown sources. For this, check out a page that will help you find the genuine part you need by category, and the ability to look for ECIA, ECSN, or CEDA logos in the process.
Finally, if you are into chatting with your peers, the TechXchange communities are forums dedicated to design engineers and hobbyists as a place to discuss technology, products, design and more. The communities include: General, Component Discussions and Reviews, Projects and Designs, and Industry News and Events. Not only can you ask questions, you can mentor others and share your experience.
In summary, while there are numerous avenues for information on new products as they are launched, you’ll find the Hotenda website to be a one-stop resource that provides the depth and breadth of information necessary to save you time, provide value, and quickly find and acquire exactly the part you need.