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Cheers to Pat Hall’s Impressive Career with Elite

Congratulations on Retirement and the Next Steps for Elite’s MIL/Aero Leader, Sr. EMC Engineer, Industry Expert, and Star Employee.   

Successful businesses, much like perennial championship sports teams, share many common characteristics. They both have ownership and leaders that set the foundation for success and then they go after and populate their teams with the very best star players and personnel, from top to bottom.  

On Friday, April 5th one of Elite’s most recognized star team members, Pat Hall, began his well-deserved retirement.  Pat’s forty-seven-year career at Elite will leave a legacy of his excellence, passion, and dependability for those who follow. His impact on Elite is seen throughout the lab and his exemplary professionalism will remain the benchmark for his proteges for many years to come.  

Pat Hall retires as Elite’s Team Leader for military and commercial aviation EMC testing, but this is only one of his many contributions and accomplishments while at Elite.   

He is a well-recognized industry expert for MIL-STD-461 military EMC testing and for commercial aviation RTCA-DO-160 testing.  He has tested an incredible range of important and challenging products at Elite’s laboratory as well as on-site at customer facilities. His knowledge, poise under pressure, and professionalism have served our clients and Elite very well. 

His technical contributions include bringing highly specialized RF mode stirring online at Elite. He’s a shielding effectiveness expert for techniques including mode stirring, triaxial fixture, and SEED methods. He is the first person we turn to for HIRF tests, RF power handling, and many other unique and challenging engineering tests.   Pat Hall is one of the main reasons we often hear from customers and other labs, “…this is a difficult test, and we can’t do it, better talk to Elite”. 

Look around at Elite’s lab and you can’t miss the many contributions in which Pat has been involved. He’s been a key person in the transformation of Elite’s Downers Grove lab, from a half-size building with its collection of early-era copper rooms to today’s state-of-the-art facility that is the pride of the Klouda family, and all of us who work in this space.  

Our laboratory’s AC and DC power services are in place through Pat’s efforts. He’s commissioned nearly all our highly sophisticated MIL-AERO equipment and other specialized instruments.  LISNs, RF filters, and feed-through panels used throughout our lab are Pat’s design and his manufactured craftsmanship. 

In addition to his technical skills, he is also a mentor to many and a valued manager who leads by example.  Pat was trained by Elite founder Jim Klouda, as well as early pioneers Norm Wehling and Don Schmit. Since then, he’s paid it forward in multiples leveraging all he knows to help dozens of other Elite employees learn, mature, and grow in their profession.  

He’s someone who puts pride in everything he does.  Throughout his career, he’s looked for ways to make Elite an even better place to work.  He’s encouraged employees to think about others, to care about the equipment and instruments they use, to clean up after their work, and to pay attention to details. 

Ask Pat and he will tell you about his proudest accomplishments.  They include being instrumental in encouraging employee benefits like disability coverage.  He designed and built dozens of wooden tripods and other lab support equipment that saved the company money.  He regularly accepted the toughest and most complicated projects, and setups, and worked to improve test reports for our most demanding customers to win the client’s trust.  

The common thread for each is they include initiatives that help co-workers, clients, and the company.  All are examples of a humble man whose pride is centered on helping others, and not about the spotlight being on himself.  

From his beginning at Elite on July 6, 1977, cleaning shelves and building power line filters, Pat has risen to the top of his profession in a challenging engineering field.   He is a unique individual who brings together a strong engineering mind, the skill sets of a machinist, electrician, and craftsman, and a personable warm attitude to lead others by example and character.   

In the future, Pat envisions Elite continuing to grow and perform at a high level.  In retirement, he, and his wife Jody plan to enjoy their beautiful lake house in Michigan. Pat’s attention will be on home improvement projects, a little traveling, and plenty of family time, albeit at a slower pace.  

From all of us at Elite, we congratulate Patrick E. Hall for a highly respected professional career, on all his accomplishments, and on being an Elite leader whose legacy and impact lives within the Elite company culture, making us successful today and well into the future.  

Elite Electronic Engineering Team

Product Safety and Certifications Day at Elite

Electrical safety testing and certification is becoming a growing need for manufacturers. Traditionally, safety tests have been performed only for devices powered from the AC mains.  However, changes in technology and markets have expanded the need to test and certify many more products. Three examples of growth drivers include the following: 

  • Radio Enabled Devices in the EU– products marketed in the European Union having radio transmitters or receivers require an electrical safety assessment to comply with the Radio Equipment Directive.  A safety assessment is required regardless of the power input voltage. 
  • Global Regulations- Many countries outside North America specify safety testing and more are requiring in-country testing and certification. 
  • Electric Vehicle Components– High voltage AC and DC on electric vehicles is an electrical safety hazard.  Automotive and vehicle engineers must now design for the electrical hazard. 

 

Product Safety and Certifications Day at Elite

To help Elite clients navigate the electrical safety process, Elite partner Product Safety Consulting is scheduled to be on-site at Elite’s Downers Grove lab for Product Safety and Certifications Day on the coming dates. 

 

What is “Product Safety and Certifications Day” ? 

A safety expert from Product Safety Consulting, Inc (PSC). will be at Elite to answer questions on any electrical safety or mechanical safety matter. This is a one-on-one free consultation with an electrical safety expert. 

Clients testing at Elite are encouraged to meet the PSC safety expert while at our lab. Manufacturers not testing at Elite are welcome to come to our lab on Safety Day. Bring your product or technical information and any questions and invite colleagues.  

What does it cost to attend? 

There is NO CHARGE for this safety consultation. 

Where is it located?

Elite Electronic Engineering, Inc., 1516 Centre Circle, Downers Grove, IL 60515

How do I attend Product Safety and Certifications Day at Elite?

Contact Steve Laya, Sales and Marketing Manager, by email or phone to reserve time with our expert.

Electric Power for Nearly Every Purpose

The lifeblood of all services performed at Elite is electrical power.  It runs our lab equipment and energizes the products we test.     

Given the growing thirst for electric power and the expanding range of DC and AC power conditions, an important first step when preparing to test at Elite is to determine the electric services and specialty power equipment needed for the job.  In this article we review the lineup of AC services available to support client testing at Elite’s facilities.

Elite’s Primary Wired AC Power

Power Panel

Each of the three buildings on Elite’s laboratory campus are configured with a range of permanently wired electric power drops.  These power connections are used to run clients’ products during testing and to power support equipment like chillers, hydraulic carts, load banks, EV chargers, and specialty power supplies. The most commonly available primary services permanently wired throughout our lab are the following: 


  • 480V/60Hz/3-ph (5-Wire WYE) at 60A/phase.  
  • 240V/60Hz/3ph (5-Wire Delta) at 30A/phase
  • 208V/60Hz/3ph (5-Wire WYE) at 60A/phase.  
  • 120V/60Hz/20A outlets are available at any test and inside our EMC chambers.   

Special Purpose AC Wired Power 

400Hz Gen

For applications that need higher voltage, current, or specialty AC power, several Elite’s test stations and chambers are configured for enhanced services.  Tests that demand these utilities are scheduled in the vicinity where these specialized power drops are located. 

  • 480VAC-200amps filtered power is available at Elite’s Room #16
  • 200amps 480V/60Hz/3-ph (5-Wire WYE) is available at 3 Elite drop locations. 
  • Temporary RF filters are configurable at any of our EMC chambers where specialty filtered service is required. 
  • 115VAC/400Hz/3-ph, 30amps is available in 7 EMC chamber locations and 6 other lab and environmental test locations.   

AC Programmable Power Supplies

When testing demands specialized or unique power conditions, we turn to AC programmable power supplies to meet the need.  Elite’s standalone supplies can be moved directly to any of the stations where testing is being performed and provide steady state or transient conditions as specified for the test.   

Programmable AC power supplies are required to perform power input testing to industry standards like DO-160 Section 16, MIL-HDBK-704, and IEC 61000-4-11.  Each of these specifications define various input AC power conditions to test the unit’s performance when the power anomaly is applied. The tests include changes in frequency, voltage, current, and phase.  They also require combinations of interrupts, surges, sags, and other transient conditions that may be present on an AC mains supply. 

Elite has an extensive range of specialized AC supplies, but our largest include the following:

AC Programmable Power Supply1 Phase3 Phase
Pacific Power 3600AFX (60kW)
(4) 15kW Chassis, 1Hz-3kHz
300V/500A300V/167A
California Instruments CSW5550 (20kW)
(4) 5kW Chassis, 40Hz-5kHz
156V/198A
312V/98A
156V/64A
312V/32A
ELGAR SW5250 (5kW)
(1) 5kW Chassis, 40Hz-5kHz
156V/39A
312V/20A
156V/14A
312V/7A
Preen AFV-P-600 (600W)310V/5AN/A
Preen AFV-P-1250 (1250W)310V/15AN/A
Ametek AST3003 (3kW)200V/15A
400V/2.5A
200V/5A
400V/2.5A

AC Transformers and Variacs

Elite has a series of AC transformers to configure power levels required for specialty applications. These include step-up, step-down, and isolation transformers. In addition, they convert AC power between WYE and Delta arrangements. 

  • 70kVA, Pri.(480V) Delta; Sec.(240V) Delta
  • 30kVA, Pri. (208V) Delta; Sec. (480V) WYE
  • 9kVA,  Pri. (240V); Sec. (208V) 

variacs

Elite also has variable AC transformers, called Variacs, that provide fully adjustable AC mains voltage.  AC Voltages can be dialed to a specified value as required for testing. 

Depending on our clients’ needs and to meet the test specifications defined for the product, Elite can provide an extensive range of AC Mains supply and specialized AC transient test equipment.  For more information on Elite’s services, contact an Elite application engineer today to review your project.  

Next month, we will describe the types and range of DC power supplies available to test your products. Stay tuned!

ISO 7637-4 Electrical Transients on High Voltage DC Leads

High voltage DC on Electric Vehicles (EVs) presents significant design challenges for engineers developing inverters, DC/DC supplies, and other electric powertrain components.  Enabling this EV technology are wide band gap semiconductors like Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN) which switch faster and can operate at much higher voltages and currents.  The inductance associated with these systems as well as the inductance from electric motors produce Ldi/dt kickback voltages and spikes that can damage or affect components connected to HVDC lines. These transients can also couple on the low voltage bus to create issues for downstream vehicle electronics, as well as interfere with nearby radio receivers.   

To validate the performance of vehicle electronics and ensure electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), new test standards have been developed for HVDC systems.  Many of these methods are prescribed in OEM specifications, but three industry consensus standards have been released for this purpose, they are:

  • ISO 21498-2  
  • LV 123
  • ISO 7637-4


This article outlines ISO 7637-4 which addresses emissions and immunity associated with electrical transients for HVDC components. The standard covers passenger and commercial vehicles powered at voltages between 60Vdc and 1500Vdc.  It applies to battery electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, and plugin hybrid electric vehicles.

The characteristics of electrical transients on the HVDC bus are complex, but two waveforms have emerged as composite transient immunity models for the EV power bus environment.  These conducted pulses are developed in a way to be accurately reproducible using commercially available test equipment. 

The first, Pulse A, is a transient burst-set of high frequency (1-10MHz) sinusoidal packets that are applied at amplitudes of up to 100Vp-p.  Pulse A represents the ringing transients caused by fast-switching SiC and GaN power MOSFETs.   

Pulse A Waveform Example


Pulse B is similarly a sinusoidal based waveform but it covers lower frequency HVDC transients.  It is applied to evaluate the effects of sinusoidal waves generated by traction motors and others system motors driven at HVDC. The Pulse B transient is also representative of the disturbance from mains power harmonics that can couple to the vehicle during charging.  


Pulse A and Pulse B severity levels, test durations, and performance classifications are listed in Annex A of ISO 7637-4, but as is the case with all industry standards the end use application of the standard is tailored to the equipment and vehicle platform, and in accordance with OEMs specifications. 

Additionally, ISO 7637-4 describes a procedure for measuring HVDC conducted transient emissions. Emissions are measured across the HV+ and HV- (line to line) and between HV+ and GND, HV- and GND (line to ground).  The key equipment for emissions testing includes a High Voltage Artificial Network (HV-AN) rated for the voltage and current, and a differential probe connected to an oscilloscope.  Plots are captured to evaluate the ON-OFF and OFF-ON transients that HV equipment produce on the HVDC lines.  Annex B of ISO 7637-4 outlines a framework for quantifying these transients for amplitude, rise-time, durations, etc. The evaluation of the transient characteristics is documented in the report but the actual limits and requirements are generally left to the end user or vehicle OEM to define.   

Elite can perform conducted immunity testing per Pulse A and Pulse B and can measure the conducted transient emissions.  Specialized equipment used at Elite for this purpose includes shielded high voltage artificial networks (HV-AN), high voltage DC power supplies and loads, along with the pulse generation equipment.  

Recently, Elite’s large 1000V/1000A HV test system arrived at its Downers Grove headquarters and awaits commissioning in the high-voltage lab. This equipment is uniquely capable of performing Pulse A and Pulse B immunity transients along with other HVDC transients such as those in ISO 21498-2 and LV123. The related ISO and LV standards include voltage variations, interrupts, and other HVDC conditions that may impact EV performance.  More information on these standards and test services is planned in our next blog.  

For information about this testing and how Elite can support your HVDC validation, contact Adam Grant at (630) 495-9770 or through our website. 

President’s Blog: 70 Years of Change

Elite Electronic Engineering's president

Next year, Elite Electronic Engineering Inc. will be celebrating our 70th anniversary. Change and adaptation have been the driving forces that made Elite the laboratory that it is today. It is a time to look back to see what brought us to where we are today and to contemplate our future.

In 1954, a young electrical engineer by the name of James C. Klouda had a vision for the future of electronics and created Elite.  Jim had been introduced to the new field of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) when his company charged him with solving EMC issues on aerospace electronics. An opportunity arose from changes at his company that resulted in Jim starting his own business and forming what was to become one of the world’s leading independent testing laboratories.  

Change is an instrument for growth and progress. There has been a steady progression of changes in the electronic industry that has led us to where we are today. EMC and environmental stress testing started mainly with the advent of the Military Electronics. It became clear in short time that new electronic equipment used on and off the battlefield presented a wide variety of EMC problems that needed to be addressed if the US was to lead the world in technology advancement. The Television and Radio communication industries blossomed in the 1950’s and 60’s. It was not long until radio frequency interference (RFI) became a serious issue. In the 70’s and 80’s, computing devices hit the marketplace with an explosive force.  The EMC problems that they created were monumental as well. Electronics have replaced many of the mechanical systems and led to advances in automobiles, trucks, farm equipment, construction equipment, aircraft and spacecraft. More recently, the Internet of Things (IoT), Wi-Fi, and cellular devices have become an integral part of our everyday life. Testing of these devices has been an important part of their adoption and success in the market. Each change and new technology presented unique challenges in the areas of EMC and environmental stress testing. Elite has risen to these challenges and has adapted to ensure that these electronics perform as expected and conform to the new test standards and regulations.

Today, we are faced with major changes in the automotive industry. As the industry moves to electric vehicle (EV) technology, Elite is changing and adapting to meet these challenges. Our expert team listens to our customers about their evolving needs and is eager to implement solutions to their toughest testing and validation requirements. We continue to invest in new equipment and expand our facilities to meet the needs of testing of EV electronics

Elite has always prided itself on being a leader in our field and always looking to the future. While we embrace changes in technology, our core values remain constant – our focus on collaborative customer service, training expert personnel, and delivering high-quality results that are trusted around the world.

Happy Holidays from the entire Elite team – and we look forward to serving you in 2024.

CE Mark Can Be Used Indefinitely for UK Compliance

Ce mark or ukca mark

In January 2020, the Brexit withdrawal triggered new laws and regulations for the United Kingdom. Among them were changes to the conformity assessment process for manufactured goods.

The UK, while a member of the European Union, used the CE Mark as their compliance label covering a wide range of products. With Brexit, the UKCA Mark became the new compliance label for the UK countries of England, Scotland, and Wales. 

A transition period was set allowing either the CE or UKCA Mark, but only up to January 1, 2024. However, the UK Government recently announced an indefinite extension to this date, which means the CE Mark will continue to be recognized as an accepted regulatory compliance label. This revised policy applies to 18 UK Department for Business and Trade (DBT) regulations.

The extension provides businesses the choice to use either the UKCA or CE approach to sell products in Great Britain. Many Elite Regulatory EMC Testing clients are affected by this change since the UK EMC regulations for Radio Equipment, Low Voltage Electrical Equipment, and Machinery regulations are part of the 18 DBT requirements covered by this indefinite extension.

The official announcement can be viewed at the UK.GOV site. UK Government announces extension of CE mark recognition for businesses – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

For more information on the UKCA changes, contact Elite regulatory experts today.

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You can also discuss these changes in-person with Elite and our global regulatory compliance partner Global Validity at the Automotive Testing Expo on October 24, 25 & 26, 2023. The event is held at the Suburban Collection Showplace, Novi, Michigan.

Visit booths 15042 and 15038 and talk to our experts in person.

Harsh Environments Call for Cyclic Salt Mist and Corrosion Testing

salt-truck-spreading-salt

Corrosion is an electrochemical oxidizing process that affects the appearance and performance of metals and other materials. For electronic equipment, exposure to even mildly corrosive environments can create a range of problems that go beyond appearance. These include connector interface and contacts discontinuities, which then manifest as intermittent electrical faults or permanent failures. Salty atmospheres accelerate conductive bridging across circuit board traces and cause electrical shorts. Corrosion can also weaken structural elements and fasteners and degrade the adhesion of paints, films, and coatings.

To evaluate electrical device and other items for resilience to corrosive and oxidizing environments, standardized tests are available to perform the assessment. The most common tests include exposing products to a 100% saturated humid environment consisting of a steady state 5% NaCl salt fog. Typical standards for these environments include ASTM B117, MIL-STD-810 Method 509, and IEC 60068-2-11. These tests run continuously for a specified period of hours, or in the case of MIL-810 the exposure is applied in one or more cycles of in-chamber fogging then out for a drying period.

An even more aggressive test that accelerates corrosion is IEC 60068-2-52. This standard cycles through a sequence of conditions starting with a salt fog wetted period, followed by damp humidity then dry conditions, and then repeated for multiple cycles. The cyclic nature of fog exposure followed by humid and dry periods is effective at reproducing the effects of natural environments and can accelerate the corrosion mechanism. Because of its robust nature, IEC 60068-2-52 is adopted as the corrosion and salt fog validation standard for many passenger car and commercial vehicle OEMs.

Elite’s Cyclic Salt Mist Chamber 

IEC-60068-2-52-Corrosion-Chamber

Elite’s new Cyclic Corrosion Test Chamber is uniquely designed to run the IEC 60068-2-52 test and complete it efficiently and accurately. Since this test includes cycles that can last up to 60 days or more, an automated chamber such as Elite’s is critical for time and cost savings.

The chamber internal dimensions are 76″ long x 45″ deep to support testing of larger assemblies or testing of multiple samples. It is also configurable for a wide range of common corrosion tests like ASTM B117, ASTM G85, and SAE J2334. In addition, specialty corrosion tests are supported including for Copper-Accelerated Acetic Acid Salt Spray (CASS) and Acetic Acid Salt Spray (AASS).

For more information on this new service and our chamber capabilities, contact Elite today to discuss your salt fog and cyclic corrosion testing requirements.

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Elite Adds New Vibe Table to Meet Clients’ Requirements

Elite has taken delivery of a new vibration table to its lineup of mechanical vibe and shock test equipment. The arrival of the IMV Model A74 improves scheduling start-date options and provides an optimized configuration for Elite clients.

The A74 has a frequency range of 0-2600 Hz and a maximum displacement of 3” peak-to-peak. It can drive Vibration and Shock Testing with 16,500 force-pound capacity with a 36” x 36” slip plate. For combined temperature-vibration testing, it can also be configured with a thermal chamber to run at temperature extremes. It also operates in an energy-saving power mode to improve operational costs. This new system’s power, range, and versatility make it ideal for automotiveaerospace, and module-level testing.

This system will be mated to a Vibration Research control system to provide setup and monitoring of testing functions and data-reporting for test-report analysis.

The new vibration system was delivered to Elite in components in late July and is now operational and running tests.

Elite takes delivery of the new IMV A74 vibration testing system

Mechanical environments for manufacturers’ products can be severe, making it critical to test for susceptibility to vibration and shock. Contact Elite today and find out how we can put its state-of-the-art testing capability to work for your products.

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Important Events to Attend— Coming Up!

There are valuable training and learning opportunities coming this fall, and we want to make sure Elite’s clients know about them. These events are your best options for technical and industry training. Several are practical, application-focused EMC Testing and Environmental Stress Testing seminars and workshops. Others are trade-show events that include large exhibit areas allowing you to meet technical reps, connect with vendors, get the latest industry news, and learn about test equipment and services.

EMC Technical Seminars

September 21 – Minnesota EMC Event

The 2023 Minnesota EMC Event will be held Thursday, September 21 from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the Minneapolis Airport Marriott Hotel. Keynote speaker John Severson of ESDI will present “SIPI, EMC, and the Edge of the Cliff – Lessons from a Long Design Career.” Other speakers will cover topics including medical device EMC, power quality, C63 standards updates, mitigation strategies, and more. Register online at this link.

October 3 – IEEE Milwaukee EMC Seminar

Electronic circuit designers won’t want to miss the 2023 IEEE Milwaukee EMC Seminar offered October 3 at the Milwaukee Airport Crowne Plaza. “Printed Circuit Board Design for EMC Compliance,” a one-day program covering EMC design strategy, layout, interfaces, and wireless connectivity. Make sure to visit the Elite staff in the vendor exhibits area. Make your plans now at the event’s registration page.

October 24 – Oktoberfest with IEEE EMC Society and SAE Chicago Chapters

As it has for many years, Elite Electronic Engineering will be hosting an Oktoberfest technical meeting in cooperation with the IEEE EMC Society and SAE Chicago Chapters on October 24. “Lightning Protection of Aircraft: Simulation and Test” will be presented by EMC Society Distinguished Lecturer Karen Burnham. Oktoberfest-themed food and drinks will be provided. Register today for this FREE event!

Register For Oktoberfest

Trade Show To Attend

September 12-14 – Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo and The Battery Show North America

Companies in the rapidly growing electric vehicle (EV) industry will participate in the Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo and the concurrent Battery Show North America in Novi, Michigan September 12-14. Visit the Elite staff at Booth 1449 to learn more about Elite’s recent additions and capabilities for testing EVs and Batteries.

October 24-26 – Automotive Testing Expo

The 2023 Automotive Testing Expo is happening October 24-26 in Novi, Michigan. Billed as the “world’s leading international expo for every aspect of automotive testing, development and validation technologies,” the Expo is a technology showcase for autonomous vehicle and Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) testing. Elite’s trusted partner Global Validity will also be exhibiting and showcasing their powerful tools for acheiving global regulatory compliance and certification on wireless products.

Make plans to attend and stop by the Elite booth #15042.

Contact Elite for more information. We’ll see you at the shows!

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Elite Informs the Industry at the IEEE EMC-SIPI Symposium

In last month’s Elite Insider, we told you about the long history Elite shares with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Society. The EMC Society is the industry’s center of knowledge and experience in EMC design and electromagnetic interference (EMI) testing and mitigation.

The annual IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility – Signal Integrity and Power Integrity (EMC-SIPI) Symposium will be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan July 31-August 4. A lot will be happening: research papers, tutorials, and workshops will be presented. Also during the week are standards meetings and an expansive industry trade show.

As it has for many years, Elite will have a major presence. Elite President Ray Klouda will be involved with trade meetings, EMC Lab Manager Craig Fanning will chair the CISPR/D committee dealing with vehicular EMC and lead multiple technical programs on Automotive EMC Testing.

Ray Klouda and Craig Fanning

Elite’s Tom Braxton will be there leading Technical Committee TC1 on EMC Management and attending the Standards Development and Education Committee along with multiple workshop presentations.

Tom Braxton

And best of all, Elite’s sales and service team will be there working directly with customers to answer questions and review testing options, including Elite’s upcoming high-power electric vehicle testing capabilities.

Elite’s Sales and Service Team

If you’re planning to attend, stop at Elite’s booth in the exhibit hall and say hello. If you catch the meetings and workshops led by the folks from Elite, say hello to them as well. If you’re not yet registered, go to www.emc2023.org, check out the program and go to the registration page. If you’re dealing with EMC, you’ll be glad you went.

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Radiofrequency Immunity Issues in Electric Vehicles — Testing Can Find That

The International Energy Agency reports that over 10 million electric vehicles (EVs) were sold in 2022, representing 14% of all new-car sales. The numbers keep climbing. In 2021 it was 9%, and in 2020 it was less than 5%. In the US alone, EV sales increased 55% in 2022.

The rapid adoption of EVs is a product of the steadily improving technology that makes EVs practical and desirable. In regular use, EVs seem to check all the boxes: zero atmospheric emissions, fewer moving parts to fail, quiet operation – a boon to personal transportation.

Like any vehicle, EVs operate in a world subject to extremes. Temperature and moisture are obviously given to extremes, but the electromagnetic (EM) environment is rich with fields and transients that can be extreme in unpredictable ways. EVs rely on complex electronics to react to the driver, interpreting signals in real time from the accelerator, brake pedal, and steering column to control the heavy currents required to operate the drive motors and mechanical systems.

Electronic vehicle control has come a long way since the early 1970s, when first-generation automotive electronics were found vulnerable to radiofrequency (RF) signals. The original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) worked with their suppliers to improve system immunity to electromagnetic interference (EMI). 

Both the technology and the understanding of EMI have greatly improved since then, but the concern is the same. Elite’s Automotive EMC Testing Specialist Stan Dolecki has been involved in testing vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE) for many years and understands potential interference risks.

Elite Automotive Specialist Stan Dolecki

“Radiated and conducted immunity testing has always been done on automotive components and whole vehicles, and the concern is greater with EVs,” Stan explained. “The interfering signal can come from anywhere, including within the vehicle.” EMI can come from a steady RF field, like a broadcast signal, or it can be a transient spike like an electrostatic discharge (ESD). “One of the major sources of ESD, for example, are serpentine belts. They build up a charge and create transients that affect microprocessor circuits. Transients disrupt logic signals and cause random failures,” Stan said.

A host of automotive EMI immunity standards address the applicable RF levels and the test procedures used in verification. ISO 7637-4 is one such standard, dealing with conducted and coupled electrical disturbances, testing for low-frequency ripple in an EV’s DC supply brought on by external disturbances. Electronic components are tested under standards LV124 (for 12VDC systems) and LV148 (for 48VDC systems). Volkswagen (VW 80000) and Ford (FMC 1280) maintain their own corporate standards to test the resiliency of electronic components, as do other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

All of this demonstrates the commitment to safe and reliable operation made by the automotive industry. “EMI immunity is a huge part of the test sequence for EVs,” Stan explained. “We can’t take the risk of an engine failure or a vehicle-control failure when an unseen RF signal or transient is there. The tests we do are thorough and well-documented. The manufacturers of the vehicles and their components rely on this throughout the development process.”

A car on the dynamometer in Elite’s whole-vehicle EMC test chamber

Elite’s lab runs tests at the bench level for components like voltage converters, regulators, and charging systems, and has a whole-vehicle test chamber equipped with a dynamometer in the floor to test a vehicle running under road conditions. “Complete testing is important, from the component level on up,” Stan said.

Contact Elite for more information on RF immunity testing. Put Elite’s deep experience and well-earned industry confidence to work for you as you verify your automotive electronic components.

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More High-Power EV Testing – Only at Elite

Electric vehicles have new high voltage components and new test requirements. Elite is excited to announce that new, broader test capabilities are coming soon to Elite’s one-location campus in Downers Grove, Illinois. This new equipment will make Elite the only testing lab in North America to offer complete high-power testing to new electric vehicle (EV) components.

The rapidly evolving automotive technology calls for the latest and most complete testing capabilities. Elite is investing in the tools that offer those capabilities to its customers.

Responding to the automotive industry’s movement toward high-voltage electric vehicle (EV) modules, Elite is equipping its lab with AMETEK-CTS PowerWave 250 power sources capable of testing components connected to an EV’s high voltage (HV) bus. The PowerWave is designed to test high voltage components up to 1500 VDC, such as electric drives, batteries, and auxiliary components.

Elite’s lab will be able to provide up to 1500 VDC and 500 kVA/kW for EV high voltage component testing, along with 100% source/sink and power recovery.

Increased Vibration Testing Capacity

But that’s not all. Elite is also taking delivery on a vibration test system that further expands Elite’s industry-leading Vibration and Shock Testing lab. The IMV A74 test system has a frequency range of 0-2600 Hz at a maximum displacement of 3” peak-to-peak. With a maximum force-pound capacity of 16,500 and a 36” x 36” slip plate, the new table’s power and range makes it ideal for new automotive component testing.

Contact Elite to find out how these new tools can be put to work for your EV and its high voltage components.

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Checking the Pulse: Medical Device EMC Testing

Anyone visiting a clinic or hospital has seen the electronic equipment on hand. There are medical-record terminals, patient monitors, electrocardiogram (EKG) machines – and that’s what you see without going into an operating room or intensive care unit. Add to that the diagnostic tools that are too numerous to count.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for protecting public health by assuring the safety of medical devices, along with that of food, drugs, and cosmetics. Medical devices are usually electronic and need above all else to be safe because of their direct contact with patients’ bodies.

Like any electronic device, each piece of gear emits and is vulnerable to electromagnetic interference (EMI). EMI can be a nuisance with consumer products but can have life-or-death consequences if it causes medical equipment to malfunction. Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing confirms that the device meets published standards to minimize those malfunctions.

Medical devices fall into one of three FDA classifications defined in Title 21, Parts 862-892 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The three classifications are identified within sixteen medical specialty “panels,” such as Cardiovascular devices or Dental devices. Existing devices are listed within each panel, with its FDA classification identified.

A new medical device in Class I may not require FDA approval, though the manufacturer or importer needs to register with FDA. Class II devices normally require an FDA 510(k) submission requesting clearance to market, based on the device’s equivalence to an existing legally marketed device. A Class III device is used in more critical applications that sustain or support life.

In June 2022, the FDA published a guidance document, “Electromagnetic Compatibility of Medical Devices; Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff.” Premarket submissions to the FDA need to demonstrate EMC for all electrically powered medical devices and those with electronic functions.

The EMC information needed in a premarket submission includes a complete description of the device and its functions, the intended environments where it’s to be used, and descriptions of any wireless functions in the device. The FDA also requires a summary description of the risks associated with malfunctions or disruptions in the device.

The FDA submission needs to include a Declaration of Conformity that shows compliance with EMC consensus standards. Among those is IEC 60601-1-2, which covers basic safety and electromagnetic disturbances. Elite is fully equipped to perform testing per IEC 60601-1-2, which includes radiated and conducted immunity testing at levels depending on the equipment’s medical application.

For obvious reasons, the bar is high for medical equipment approval. The complexity and administrative challenge require a careful review of the applicable FDA requirements and a testing strategy specific to the device. Elite’s experience in these applications helps you navigate that process as your product moves into the exacting medical-device market. Contact Elite to find out what tests apply to your device and what steps are needed to begin the process toward FDA approval.

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Partners From the Beginning: The IEEE and Elite

Elite’s origin story goes back to 1954, when Jim Klouda, a young engineer working for an Air Force contractor, fixed an aerial camera that disrupted an aircraft’s autopilot system. He had found a radiofrequency interference (RFI) problem, something poorly understood at the time except as a radio nuisance during thunderstorms.

Around that same time, other engineers working on military equipment began chasing RFI problems. Like many common-interest groups, they began meeting and comparing notes on what was then called radio interference reduction (RIR). The military sponsored a formal conference at Chicago’s Armour Institute. Similar technical groups met in Los Angeles and in New York, and in 1957, the Professional Group on RFI (PGRFI) was made part of the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE).

ire to ieee logosYears passed and technology passed right alongside. Jim Klouda started Elite Electronic Engineering after solving the Air Force’s RFI problem. The IRE merged with the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) in 1963 to form the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). In 1978, the PGRFI was renamed the Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Society. RFI took on the more technically accurate name Electromagnetic Interference (EMI). And since 1957 the PGRFI/EMC Society has published research papers and held annual symposia.

2023 ieee international symposiumThis year the IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility – Signal Integrity and Power Integrity (EMC-SIPI) Symposium will be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan July 31-August 4. The annual symposium is home to research paper presentations, workshops and tutorials on EMC practices, an industry trade show, and standards committee meetings.

Elite will be a major presence there as part of the trade show and in standards committee leadership:

ray klouda elite electronic engineeringElite President Ray Klouda is the IEEE EMC Society Chicago Chapter Treasurer and is involved in the symposium’s meeting of chapter officers.

craig fanning elite electronic engineeringEMC Lab Manager Craig Fanning chairs the CISPR/D committee dealing with vehicular EMC and will lead its related meetings at the symposium, along with multiple technical programs on automotive EMC. Craig is also the Chicago Chapter Publicity Chair.

tom braxton elite electronic engineeringElite’s Tom Braxton chairs Technical Committee TC1 on EMC Management and is a member of the Standards Development and Education Committee and will make presentations at multiple workshops. He also chairs C63 Subcommittee 5 on immunity testing and is the Chicago Chapter Vice-Chair.

Elite’s sales team will be working directly with customers attending the symposium, answering questions and planning customers’ compliance tests.

The Armour Institute, host of that first RFI/EMC conference, grew to become the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), where Jim Klouda earned his degree. The Chicago Chapter of the IEEE EMC Society has been heavily supported by Elite since its inception in the 1970s.

Elite’s generations-long support of the IEEE and the EMC Society parallels IEEE’s mission to “foster technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity.” Elite’s work in product testing, standards development, and education are common threads shared with the IEEE and the collaborative work with other standards organizations.

The engineers involved with the military’s EMC work in the 1950s set the pattern. Their work gave rise to the EMC Society and the standards development that continues now, as work is being done by volunteer engineers who review and draft both new and evolving standards. The process moves with urgency, but also at a pace that allows for careful deliberation.

In the coming years, higher-speed and higher-frequency wireless electronics will dominate the focus on EMC across the industry. If you’re not already a member of the IEEE, consider joining hundreds of thousands of technical professionals who move technology forward. Standards and practices developed by the IEEE EMC Society will continue to pace the technology. And the IEEE, supported by Elite and other technology leaders, will be there as it evolves.

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They Came, They Saw, They Approved – A2LA Audits Elite

When you bring your product to a test lab, you want assurance that the engineers are qualified, the equipment is calibrated, and the test procedures agree with the standards. In the event your product is ever challenged for noncompliance with a requirement, you want to have data from an independent third party showing that it was compliant.

A third-party test lab is an independent facility not involved in the design or manufacture of the product being tested. Elite Electronic Engineering has been one of those for nearly 70 years. Elite’s laboratory is accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) and the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP), showing that the labs are competent to carry out specific tasks.

A2LA assessors visited Elite for several days in June to review the applicable requirements necessary to maintain Elite’s scope of accreditation. Assessors visit accredited labs every two years. They audit the laboratory’s management system, confirm that equipment is calibrated, ensure test processes are followed, and review the competency of the staff.

Part of the assessment involves talking with the test engineers, who are asked to demonstrate how a test is performed and how the engineer knows that it is correct. These are like the pop quizzes you might have been given in school, where you’re asked without advance notice to explain or demonstrate how a task is done.

As an accredited laboratory, Elite is required to follow the ISO17025 & ISO17065 quality management systems for all testing performed at the facility. These tests may or may not be directly on Elite’s scope of accreditation, as Elite performs testing to a vast array of services and specifications. Elite’s focus is on ensuring that industry-recognized reference standards are on its scope of accreditation. For tests found on Elite’s scope, those tests are fair game for the assessor to ask that they be demonstrated by Elite’s test engineers.

Among the requirements to maintain accreditation is the maintenance of test procedures. The test engineer does not necessarily need to know all the steps from memory but must be able to readily call up the procedure and follow the steps correctly.

The assessor also reviews the lab’s recordkeeping, checking equipment calibration documents, test reports, staff training records, and more. A lab like Elite with an expansive array of services takes most of a week to go through the range of documents and staff interviews.

Upon completion of the assessment, the lab receives a summary report from the assessor. Any deficiencies, large or small, are noted, and the lab has a limited window of time to resolve them and provide evidence of their resolution.

As expected, Elite passed A2LA’s assessment and can continue to show that it carries A2LA’s accreditation. At the end of the assessment Elite’s quality manager Robert Bugielski had this to say: “I’m proud of how the team conducted themselves during the assessment. Our test engineers and team leaders are the backbone of the laboratory. Their expertise and execution of our quality system continues to provide exceptional service to our customers.”

Contact Elite if you have questions about the accreditation process and Elite’s ongoing status. Elite’s promise has been that your product’s tests are done by our experts, on your schedule, with trusted results. A2LA and NVLAP accreditations confirm that you can count on it.

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Elite: Taking Care of Business as an FCC TCB

In the 1990s, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found itself overwhelmed by applications for telecommunication equipment authorizations. The volume of applications was outrunning the FCC’s ability to keep up. In 1998, FCC issued Report and Order 98-68 setting up a mechanism to allow private entities to issue authorizations.

The Telecommunications Certification Body (TCB) program came out of this. The FCC spelled out the criteria for independent labs to become TCBs in 1999, and the program was launched in June of 2000.

Elite is among those labs authorized to serve as a TCB. To hold TCB status, third-party labs like Elite need to be accredited to ISO/IEC 17065, the standard for certifying bodies, and ISO/IEC 17025, which gives requirements for technical competence. TCBs choose their scope of accreditation, noting the product categories they’re authorized to certify. To remain a TCB, labs have to maintain their accreditations through periodic audits and assessments.

Elite is an active member of the TCB Council, the not-for-profit organization that serves as a liaison between the TCB member labs and the FCC. The FCC is itself a member, working with the accredited labs to maintain the level of technical quality and consistency. The TCB Council holds regular conference calls with the FCC to address questions and keep track of evolving technology.

TCB Council wireless-industry associate members also work with member test labs to keep them relevant as technology progresses. The industry cooperates with labs and the FCC in developing and improving test methods.

The FCC issues occasional public notices titled Knowledge Databases (KDBs) to clarify rules and answer frequent questions. Working groups and committees within the TCB Council work with the FCC to develop KDBs on specific topics.

Rick King is Elite’s certification department supervisor and represents Elite on the TCB Council. “Elite takes part in two particular committees that help shape the future of the industry,” Rick explained. The Module Discussion Committee, having to do with test procedures for radiofrequency (RF) modules, and the Rules and Policies Committee, which deals with rules changes.

Elite TCB Council representative Rick King

Elite’s long history in testing and certification of RF devices has earned it wide respect in the industry. As technology grows and changes, the FCC actively solicits input on the relevance and appropriateness of its Rules and Regulations. Serving on behalf of Elite, Rick relates the experience gained in performing tests and implementing new technologies.

For information on how the FCC Rules and Regulations affect your product and what changes may be coming, contact Elite and talk to one of our experts. Devices subject to the FCC Rules continue to grow faster and more sophisticated. Elite’s active work with the TCB Council keeps Rick’s testing team on top of what the FCC needs for the fastest and most complete approval.

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Star Wars Day – May the 4th Be With You

Holidays dot the calendar all through the year. Some large, some small, some serious, and some just for fun. The month of May is no exception, with heartfelt commemorations like Teacher Appreciation Day (May 9 th ). But in the first week of the month, if someone said, “May the Fourth be With You,” they were observing Star Wars Day.

Star Wars Day is not a real holiday, of course, but turns May 4 th into a pun that fans of the Star Wars universe would recognize. While tongue-in-cheek, it’s a chance to think about technology and the ways technology springs from imagination.

Science fiction, going back to Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel “Frankenstein,” has often gone beyond pure entertainment and has predicted new technologies. The Star Wars films are a case in point. While lightsabers and hyperspace travel are still theoretical, artificial intelligence (AI) tools could make it practical to build useful droids. The discovery of exoplanets through the Hubble and Webb telescopes suggests that as in the Star Wars stories, a galaxy of inhabitable planets could exist. The challenge is time required to travel – if hyperdrive vehicles are ever perfected, we might be able to visit.

Like any technology, there will need to be standards to operate machines like AI-operated droids safely and reliably. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is an agency likely to draft standards in that category, and when they do, experienced laboratories like Elite will be prepared to perform the tests.

Science fiction has opened doors to ideas leading to devices we take for granted now. Comic-strip detective Dick Tracy started wearing a Two-Way Wrist Radio in 1946. Motorola Engineer Martin Cooper remembered seeing Tracy’s wrist radio in the comics. Inspired, Cooper went on to develop the first practical hand-held cellular telephone, which has evolved into the now-ubiquitous smartphone. The smartwatch, another wireless communication device, may as well been taken directly off the page of a Dick Tracy cartoon.

None of us knows what technology will be next to enter our lives, but when it does, safety and reliability will apply just they do now for any device. Testing will be necessary, and you can be sure that Elite will be ready.

Contact Elite’s experts to discuss testing your newest technology, and May the 4th be with you!

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Elite on the Road in May

The experts from Elite have been hitting the industry hotspots this month across the Midwest.

Elite President Ray Klouda and Sales Manager Steve Laya presented at the 23rd Annual IEEE International Conference on Electro Information Technology (EIT) held May 18-20 at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. EIT is focused on basic/applied research in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Information Technology, and their related applications.

Elite’s Ray Klouda speaking at EIT 2023

Elite’s Steve Laya and Ray Klouda working the booth at EIT 2023

Members of Elite’s Sales and Marketing Team met local industry pros at the IEEE EMC Society Chicago Chapter MiniSymposium held May 23 in Schaumburg, Illinois.

The EMC Society is the IEEE’s source of scientific and engineering information on electromagnetic environmental effects. The Chicago Chapter has hosted its MiniSymposium for over 20 years, and Elite has participated since the beginning.

Elite’s Team at the 2023 IEEE EMC Chicago MiniSymposium

Chicago EMC MiniSymposium guests winning door prizes in the exhibit area

Attendees at the Southeastern Michigan EMC Fest

The team packed up and moved on to Livonia, Michigan to present at the Southeastern Michigan IEEE EMC Society EMC Fest on May 25. Both the Chicago and Southeastern Michigan Chapters were treated to talks by EMC authors Dr. Eric Begotin and Dr. Todd Hubing. Elite has been among the presenters at the EMC Fest since its inception.

Watch for more in the coming months and contact Elite for event information. If you’re in those areas, stop and say hello to the Elite team!

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Airport Lighting Certified by Elite

Anyone visiting an airport, especially at night, can’t help but notice the lights lining the runways, taxiways, and perimeters of the site. The lights are critical to maintain safety as aircraft move in, out, and around the airfield.

Airport lighting devices are safety-critical, just as are the components on the aircraft that are guided by those lights. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) established the Airport Lighting Equipment Certification Program (ALECP) in 1995, establishing a qualification process for third-party laboratories to certify all types of lighting devices and support equipment.

Airports seeking Federal grant assistance must show that lighting equipment has been certified under the ALECP. FAA certification is required in the US but is also recognized in other countries as evidence of independent evaluation and compliance with high standards of quality and performance.

Elite is accepted by the FAA as an ALECP Third-Party Certification Body for all types of airport lighting equipment (L-types). Elite’s testing capabilities, certification expertise and exceptional customer service have made us the first choice for airport lighting manufacturers.

Airport lighting devices need to show compliance with criteria specified in the FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 150/5345 series, covering areas including optical and electrical requirements, structural integrity, and maintainability. In addition, production quality is assessed annually by the third-party certification body.

Certification is a continuous process that assesses manufacturers and qualifies products through testing. The goal for Elite’s manufacturing customers is ongoing compliance with the ALECP requirements. Elite’s certification program is ISO 17065 accredited and audited regularly by the American Association of Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) and the FAA.

Download our Certification Program Overview for more details on the complete process, from application to listing on the FAA Certified Equipment and Manufacturers List (FAA AC 150/5345-53D Addendum).

Brad DeGrave and Kevin Halpin lead Elite’s FAA certification program. Both are active participants in the aviation industry’s work with the FAA as lighting technology and standards evolve. They recently attended the Illuminating Engineering Society Airport Lighting Committee (IESALC) Government Contacts Subcommittee Meeting to hear the latest research, and present an update on Elite’s FAA certification program. Here are the key highlights from the FAA and industry:

  • Engineering Brief (EB) 105 was recently released to specify design and lighting requirements for “vertiports” used by vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft with electric propulsion.
  • New draft of AC 150/5345-46F was released for industry comment, including new heliport and vertiport lighting types.
  • Updated FAA research on solar-powered lights and runway closure markers.
  • Requirements for new LED lamps to replace incandescent lamps in runway approach lighting systems (MALSRs).
  • New Federal funding availability from recent legislation like the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Buy American Acts.

Elite’s FAA Testing Experts Brad DeGrave and Kevin Halpin

Brad and Kevin are among the experts Elite’s customers rely on for information on FAA requirements and test techniques. Contact Elite to find out much more about how Elite can guide your airport-lighting device through the FAA certification process.

For more information on airport lighting equipment and certification, plan a visit to the IESALC Fall Technology Meeting in Scottsdale, AZ.

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A Hot Topic — Motor Vehicle Flammability Testing

Vehicle fires are frightening events. They result in about 300 deaths annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. With over 282 million vehicles registered in the US, fire safety standards and requirements are fundamental to the automotive industry. 

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 302, “Flammability of Interior Materials,” dates from 1971. Drawing from practices developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the goal is to minimize the horizontal burn rate to allow more time for a vehicle’s occupants to evacuate.

Material testing is key to this effort. Resistance to combustion and flammability is an imperative to assure the safety of components in automotive and aerospace products. Panels, wiring, subcircuits, plastics, and fabrics are just a few of the materials that make up these components.

In addition to FMVSS 302, Elite is accredited to perform flammability and burn rate tests in accordance with RTCA DO-160, and MIL-STD-202, giving us deep experience with this type of testing.

FMVSS 302 Vehicle-Interior Flammability Testing

FMVSS 302 is concerned with burn resistance of the components used in passenger vehicle occupant compartments. Components are defined to include these:

  • Seat cushions, seat backs, and head restraints
  • Seat belts
  • Headliners
  • Armrests
  • Convertible tops
  • Trim panels
  • Floor coverings
  • Visors, curtains, and shades
  • Wheel housing and engine compartment covers
  • Any other interior material

The requirements apply to any material that is within 13 mm of the interior compartment air space, which is defined as the interior space normally containing “refreshable” air. Also, any material that adheres to another material in the compartment is tested together as a composite.

Having identified the materials to be tested, a rectangular “coupon” of the material measuring 102 mm x 356 mm is provided. If the material is thicker than 13 mm, it is cut to 13 mm measured from the surface that would be closest to the vehicle’s occupant.

The sample is mounted in a U-shaped frame and placed horizontally in the center of the flame-testing chamber. A 10 mm-diameter Bunsen burner is set in the chamber, with natural gas adjusted so that the flame is 38 mm in height. The burner’s air inlet is closed when the flame height is set to ensure that only gas is feeding the flame.

The burner is positioned so that its tip is 19 mm below the center of the test sample’s open end. The sample is exposed to the flame for 15 seconds. The progress of the sample’s burn is timed, beginning when the burn reaches 38 mm from the sample’s open end, until it reaches a point 38 mm from the clamped, or far end, of the sample. If the burn stops before reaching that point, the time is recorded.

The sample’s burn rate “B” is then calculated: B = 60 x (D/T),

Where:

B = burn rate in mm/minute

D – length (mm) of the travel of the flame

T = time (seconds) for the burn to travel D mm

A sample passes the test if it has stopped burning before 60 seconds from the start of timing and has not burned more than 51 mm from the point where the burning was started.

Testing Your Component

Any fire near people is dangerous, and fires inside vehicles are especially so. These tests help provide a measure of safety to those inside a vehicle if an interior component ignites. Contact the flammability experts at Elite to find out how to prepare your material for testing.

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Engineering Exhibitions in the Midwest this Month

May is the season for Spring flowers in the Midwest, and it’s also the season for local technical conferences. Always well-attended, these events serve local engineers and local industries with expert-led sessions and industry exhibitions. 

The IEEE EMC Chicago MiniSymposium and the Southeastern Michigan EMC Fest have arranged to have Dr. Eric Bogatin and Dr. Todd Hubing appear at both events. Whether you’re in the Chicago area or the Detroit area, you’ll be able to attend their excellent presentations.

Elite has always played an important role in the success of these events and this year is no exception. If you’re located near Chicago or Detroit this month, take advantage of these convenient and economical chances to learn what’s new, expand your network, and when you find them, say hello to your friends from Elite.

The 23rd Annual IEEE International Conference on Electro Information Technology

May 18-20

Lewis University

Romeoville, Illinois

http://www.emcchicago.org/sectfiles/events.htm

The EIT Conference is focused on basic/applied research results in the fields of electrical and computer engineering as they relate to Electrical and Computer Engineering, Information Technology, and related applications. The Conference provides a forum for researchers and industrial engineers to exchange ideas and discuss developments in these growing fields. There will also be exhibits where the latest electro/information technology tools and products will be showcased, along with opportunities for professional activities development, workshops and tutorials.

IEEE EMC Society Chicago Chapter MiniSymposium

May 23, 2023 

Chandler’s

401 N. Roselle Road, Schaumburg, Illinois

http://www.emcchicago.org/sectfiles/events.htm

If you are working in EMC, our MiniSymposium is for you!

You will come away with new ideas about troubleshooting techniques, specification updates and a better understanding on how to measure critical parameters.

While there, browse tabletop booths of manufacturers, EMI/EMC test labs, and learn more about industry suppliers. Meet with fellow EMC Engineers and learn more about how our local IEEE EMC Chapter can assist you in your daily challenges.

Featured speakers:

Dr. Eric Bogatin is a Signal Integrity Evangelist with Teledyne LeCroy and the Dean of the Teledyne LeCroy Signal Integrity Academy, at Be The Signal. Additionally, he is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Colorado – Boulder in the ECEE dept, and technical editor of the Signal Integrity Journal.

Dr. Todd Hubing is a Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Clemson University and President of LearnEMC. Dr. Hubing holds a BSEE degree from MIT, an MSEE degree from Purdue University and a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University. He was an engineer at IBM for 7 years and a faculty member at the University of Missouri-Rolla (UMR) for 17 years before joining Clemson University in 2006. He was also a founding faculty member of the UMR Electromagnetic Compatibility Laboratory.

Contact: Frank Krozel, 2023 IEEE EMC MiniSymposium Chair — 630-924-1600  

frank@electronicinstrument.com

Southeastern Michigan IEEE EMC Society EMC Fest 

May 25, 2023

Embassy Suites by Hilton Detroit Livonia Novi

Livonia, Michigan

After completing their presentations at the Chicago MiniSymposium, EMC experts Eric Bogatin and Todd Hubing will speak at the Southeastern Michigan event. If you are in the area, don’t miss it!

Dr. Eric Bogatin is a Signal Integrity Evangelist with Teledyne LeCroy and the Dean of the Teledyne LeCroy Signal Integrity Academy, at Be The Signal. Additionally, he is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Colorado – Boulder in the ECEE dept, and technical editor of the Signal Integrity Journal.

Dr. Todd Hubing is a Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Clemson University and President of LearnEMC. Dr. Hubing holds a BSEE degree from MIT, an MSEE degree from Purdue University and a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University. He was an engineer at IBM for 7 years and a faculty member at the University of Missouri-Rolla for 17 years before joining Clemson University in 2006. At the University of Missouri-Rolla (now the Missouri University of Science and Technology), he was a founding faculty member of the UMR Electromagnetic Compatibility Laboratory.

Gain, Efficiency, Directivity — Antenna Testing Covers It All

Large lawns next to buildings and sports fields need water to stay green and healthy. Sprinklers distribute water to the lawn, focusing on areas to receive water through the sprinkler’s design and by adjustment of its settings.

Antennas can be thought of like that. The difference is that instead of water, radiofrequency (RF) energy is distributed.  In either case, the idea is the same. Transmitting antennas are used to launch RF signals into the air. Their design is optimized to focus on areas intended to receive the signal. Similarly, receiving antennas are optimized to detect signals for processing by the receiver.

Typical antenna pattern measurement result

A well-designed transmitting antenna radiates nearly all the energy from the transmitter into free space as electromagnetic (EM) waves. To assure an antenna is performing as designed, testing is done to check efficiency, gain, directivity, and its associated patterns.

Antenna testing is especially important in cellular wireless devices. Small dimensions and low power levels make it critical to maximize antenna performance. Antennas are passive devices, not generating energy of their own. They are only useful when connected to an RF device that generates the energy for transmission or has the means to decode signals for reception. By virtue of their design, antenna characteristics can be measured.

Cutaway showing typical antenna locations in mobile device

Passive Antenna Testing

Testing under laboratory conditions requires isolating the antenna from its device for repeatability.

For passive testing in Elite’s lab, the device under test (DUT) antenna port is connected to a vector network analyzer (VNA) at a desired frequency and amplitude. The turntable-mounted DUT is rotated 360 degrees (the azimuth). A receiving antenna, typically a horn or patch-type with dual polarization, is placed on a boom moving from zero to 165 degrees (the elevation). Measurements are taken at several elevation and azimuth angles to provide 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional plots of the radiation pattern. Software algorithms use the data to calculate efficiency, gain, directivity, and equivalent isotropic radiated power (EIRP).

Active Antenna Testing

An active antenna test involves the overall system, meaning the antenna plus the RF front-end circuitry. Total radiated power (TRP) and total isotropic sensitivity (TIS) are measured as figures of merit to qualitatively evaluate the antenna system. These are measured in a fully anechoic antenna chamber for data-collection consistency. These numerical measurements can also be done in a reverberation chamber, though they are not useful for antenna pattern tests.

TRP is the power radiated by the antenna averaged over a 3-dimensional sphere. TIS applies to receiving antennas and is the average sensitivity over a 3-dimensional sphere. Cellular carriers pay close attention to these measurements, as they have specific TRP and TIS requirements for reliable performance in portable telecom devices.

Elite’s John Peters preparing an antenna test

Elite’s status as a CTIA Authorized Testing Lab (CATL) gives us insight into this industry’s requirements. Our wireless specialists actively participate in CTIA working groups advancing testing methods and support international standards aligning with the latest technology.

Contact the experts at Elite If you have questions about your wireless device’s antenna performance and how to measure its performance.

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The IEEE Celebrates Education Week in April

The month of April is known for a number of things. Among them are the blooming of Spring, the beginning of baseball season, and Earth Day. April is also the month of IEEE Education Week, April 2-8, a weeklong celebration of educational opportunities provided by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional association. Its hundreds of organizational units, societies and councils around the world comprise all facets of electrical engineering.

IEEE offers pre-university STEM, university, and continuing professional education resources for engineers and technical professionals around the world. Local and regional activities, webinars, online courses, scholarships, events, and more are offered to IEEE members and the global community. IEEE is a fount of educational resources.

Activities have run the gamut across technical disciplines. A few examples:

  • The IEEE Magnetics Society held an online workshop titled, “Importance of Standards and Impacts/Benefits to Academia and Industry,” emphasizing the career-long importance of education.
  • The IEEE Education Society and the IEEE Young Professionals (YP) held a blog-writing competition on the topic, “Best Lesson Learned in Your Life,” focusing on reflections of students and YPs as they’ve moved through their careers.
  • The IEEE Student Branch at the Lebanese University – Faculty of Sciences II hosted a webinar, “How to Write a Technical Report,” covering best practices and tips on conveying technical information clearly and effectively.

Albert Einstein said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” It worked for him, and the IEEE encourages everyone, and especially engineers, to recognize that education is never completed.

Whether it’s formal, informal, or non-formal, education goes on. What’s new with you?

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CE Mark, E-Mark, e-Mark – What’s the Difference?

Containers have been labeled for thousands of years. The marking of barrels, crates, and sacks were necessary in ancient times. It’s important now because we have more things to label for more reasons. The difference now is what the labels mean and how they’re applied.

Looking at the rear or the bottom of any electronic product, you’re likely to find a label containing a series of symbols. Those marks are the manufacturer’s assurance that the product has been tested to meet the applicable safety and compatibility standards. In automotive devices there are the E, e, and CE-markings that by law must appear on products in the markets where they are required.

The European Commission (EC) has established a broad array of requirements for public health and safety. The scope of those requirements is so broad that compliance with their terms is recognized by many countries outside Europe. The CE Mark (French for Conformite Europeenne) appears on products sold in the European Union (EU) to show that they meet applicable standards for health and safety. The CE Mark is necessary to market in the EU and is often sufficient for those countries outside the EU that accept those standards.

Vehicles and the Electronic Subassemblies (ESAs) used in vehicles are regulated as a separate class of products with their own unique standards. They often carry the “E” and “e” marks to show they meet their specific set of standards, as described below.

 

 

 

CE Mark

CE Mark used to show compliance in the EU

The CE Mark is the most familiar, appearing as it does on everything from infant toys to explosive-atmosphere equipment. For electronic and wireless devices sold in the EU, the Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Directive (2014/30/EU) states that electronic equipment does not generate, and is not affected by, excessive electromagnetic disturbances. The Machinery Directive (2006/42/EC) is in place to protect the health and safety of those using mechanical equipment.

For EMC, specific standards in the form of European Norms (ENs) define the limits of radiated and conducted radiofrequency (RF) emissions and minimum levels of RF immunity for different categories of products. Electronic products in categories eligible to display the CE Mark must be tested to show compliance with the applicable ENs.

Elite regularly performs radiated and conducted EMC testing for CE Mark compliance and serves as a Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) authorized to assess the compliance of tested products.

E-Mark

Upper-case E-Mark example showing UNECE Regulation 10.5 EMC

European motor vehicle regulations are covered in Directive 2007/46/EC, spelling out requirements and the type-approval process. Some vehicle categories are exempt and are addressed by the CE Mark requirements or other directives. The framework directive also lists the vehicle systems and performance attributes that are regulated and the associated regulations that apply (for example, tail pipe emissions, safety restraints, EMC, and others).

The upper-case E-mark is displayed on vehicles and ESAs to show compliance with United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) requirements. To streamline the regulatory process, the EU automotive EMC requirements that had been separate from the UNECE are now allowed to follow the UNECE requirements. The applicable EMC requirements are currently shown in UNECE Regulation 10 and compliance is indicated by the upper-case E-Mark.

e-Mark

Lower-case e-Mark example with test-country number

Agricultural and forestry equipment falls under EC Regulation 167/2013, which provides definitions and high-level technical requirements. The specific application requirements are identified in the Regulation. Tractors are categorized based on their construction and capability, which determine the level of assessment required under the standard. Manufacturers can check with Elite to identify what level in the standard applies to their tractor. A test plan can then be developed appropriate to their product.

Regulation 167/2013 specifies that EMC is evaluated according to EU Regulation 2015/208, which is specific to agricultural and forestry vehicles. Compliance with those requirements is shown by the lower-case e-Mark.

Finding the Correct Marking for Your Vehicle and ESA

How do you sort out these requirements, and which ones apply to you? It’s not always obvious which standards and label marks apply. The determination is based on the vehicle or ESA’s application, which can be variable depending on the type of vehicle or device. Contact the automotive test experts at Elite to find out which tests your product needs. With that information in hand, you can start planning your tests and anticipating the successful launch of your product.

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EMC for Functional Safety: Agriculture/Forestry, Construction, and Tractors Cover a Lot of Ground

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing of construction, tractors, and agricultural (Ag)/forestry equipment is an important phase in the design and manufacture of these large and complex systems. In this article, we review the functional safety aspects of their EMC evaluation including the applicable regulations and compliance standards.

Directives and Regulations

In the European Union (EU), the EMC Directive 2014/30/EU sets the essential requirements for electromagnetic emissions along with a quality-related performance level for machine-function EMC immunity and for immunity of electronic subassemblies. In addition, the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC establishes safety requirements to prevent injury to operators, people nearby, as well as to prevent property damage. EMC is one of many aspects of machine safety that is evaluated during the Machinery Directive conformity assessment process.

With Brexit changes for England, Scotland, and Wales, a parallel set of EMC regulations are also in place for the United Kingdom (UK). Presently the technical EMC regulatory requirements for the EU and UK are identical.

While EMC is a government specified requirement in Europe and for many countries outside of North America, in the USA and Canada EMC immunity testing is not a government defined requirement. Regardless, EMC immunity and emissions are an important concern for equipment manufacturers for domestic markets and abroad. To ensure their products operate safely and reliably, OEMs develop corporate EMC design and test standards that typically meet or exceed the European regulatory requirements in all equipment applications for the markets they serve.

Compliance Standards

To demonstrate compliance with the European Directives and regulations, manufacturers can test to harmonized Euro-Norm (EN) standards that are published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). The current version(s) of these harmonized standards can be accessed at the European Union EUROPA.eu and the UK.gov websites. 

https://single-market-economy.ec.europa.eu/single-market/european-standards/harmonis ed-standards_en

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/designated-standards

The compliance standards for European EMC testing on machinery are noted in the following table.

Some of these standards are applicable to the EMC Directive for emissions and quality-related immunity. Others cover EMC immunity testing for functional safety evaluations in the Machinery Directive, and some are specific to EMC testing for Ag and Forestry Tractor approvals. A highlight summary of each follows below.

  • EN ISO 14982:2009 Ag & Forestry Machinery

This is the current harmonized standard for Ag and forestry machinery and is also referenced for the compliance evaluation of tractors. It is published in the OJEU for both the EMC Directive and the Machinery Directive. Since it is a harmonized standard for the Machinery Directive, testing to this 2009 version in-full offers the presumption of conformity for safety related machine functions.

  • ISO DIS 14982-1:2021 Ag & Forestry Machinery

This is a new draft standard for the EMC Directive, but it is not yet published in the OJEU. Compared to the 2009 version, this standard is a more robust requirement that widens the test frequency ranges, updates test methods, and adds new pulse modulations. The advantage is that testing per the 2021 version meets and exceeds 14982:2009 and provides continuity in compliance when it will eventually replace the 2009 edition. This is an EMC Directive only standard that sets the emissions requirements. It also includes immunity testing for machine operations and ESAs that do not have a safety related function.

  • ISO DIS 14982-2:2021 Ag & Forestry Machinery

This is a new draft Machinery Directive standard which covers EMC immunity testing only. It specifies additional requirements under the aspect of functional safety for machinery and ESAs. Since it is not yet published in the Machinery Directive OJEU its application is voluntary. The benefit of testing to this standard is that it meets and exceeds the 14982:2009 immunity requirements and provides continuity in compliance when it will eventually replace the 2009 edition.

It introduces the concept of applying machinery risk assessments as outlined in ISO 12100, ISO 14121, ISO 25119. The risk assessment process is used to quantify machine hazards and assign a safety metric for the Performance Levels for Agricultural Equipment (AgPL). The risk assessment determines the applicability of this EMC standard, and it defines testing modes and allowable responses observed during testing.

The AgPL performance level rating depends on a number of factors, these include:

  • The severity of injuries associated to various machine operations or to a particular machine safety control system,
  • The probability of occurrence of the hazardous event, and
  • The possible aversion of the hazard through controllable mitigating steps.

For example, ISO DIS 14982-2:2021 is only relevant for functions of machine control system failures that are greater than or equal to AgPLr “b” (or the equivalent) when risk-assessed to ISO 25119 (or the equivalent) when other electronic functional safety standards are used,

No official date has been announced for the OJEU publish date of the new 2021 draft standards, but by testing to the 2021 draft, manufacturers can assess their products in a manner reflecting the state of technology and will be assured continuity with compliance requirements to come.

  • (EU) 2015/208 Ag & Forestry Tractors

The on-road regulatory EMC requirement for Ag and Forestry “tractors” is (EU) 2015/208 (supplementing Regulation EU No 167/2013). Ag and Forestry tractors within scope of this regulation are required to be assessed through type approval and certified through a European Notified Body. The EMC requirements in EU 2015/208 have been amended to allow testing to UNECE Regulation 10(Rev 4), or EN ISO 14982:1998, or EU 2015/208. The selection of the applicable test standard, test modes, and allowable tractor performance is reviewed and agreed to by the manufacturer and the Notified Body. In addition, the manufacturer must consider tractor operations that are both within scope of regulation EU No 167/2013 and any machinery functional safety concerns within scope of the Machinery Directive.

  • EN ISO 13766-1: 2018 Earthmoving and Building Construction Machinery

This is the published EN harmonized standard listed in the OJEU for the EMC Directive. It is an EMC Directive only standard that sets the emissions requirements plus it includes immunity testing for machine operations and ESAs that do not have a safety related function. This standard replaced EN 13309:2010, which means equipment that has previously been tested per EN 13309 is no longer afforded the presumption of conformity and should be re-assessed to EN ISO 13766-1:2018.

  • EN ISO 13766-2:2018 Earthmoving and Building Construction Machinery

This is the published EN harmonized EMC standard listed in the OJEU for the Machinery Directive and covers immunity only testing. It specifies additional requirements related to the functional safety of machinery and its electrical systems along with separate ESAs.

Like the Ag/forestry functional safety draft standard, it introduces the concept of applying machinery risk assessments and evaluating safety related parts of control systems. For construction machinery applications, the safety processes outlined in ISO 13849 apply with the goal of determining the performance level (PL) metric. EN ISO 13766-2:2018 is relevant for machine control system failures which when risk assessed are greater than or equal to PL “b” (or the equivalent).

EMC for Functional Safety — Five Take-Aways

Given the complexity of heavy machinery and its conformity assessment, along with the range of directives, regulations, and standards, we conclude with the following take-aways.

  • The applicable EMC testing requirements for functional safety should be based on the hazards risk assessment performed by the machinery manufacturer. In addition, the risk assessment will define the modes of operation and performance acceptance criteria.
  • Machine operations and safety-related control systems that are rated at a safety Performance Level (typically PL b) or higher need to comply with the EMC standards listed in the OJEU for the Machinery Directive.
  • There are three Ag and forestry EMC standards and versions to consider as applicable conformity assessment technical requirements. The standard EN ISO 14982:2009 is the current regulatory requirement for EMC and Machinery Directive. The new draft standards are voluntary, but they cover the requirements in the 2009 edition, provide a more robust EMC evaluation, and provide continuity in compliance when the 2009 edition is withdrawn. Testing to the newer draft standards may not involve a significant increase in compliance testing cost.
  • Ag and Forestry Tractors are type approved and E-Marked for compliance in Europe. In addition, certain tractor mechanical functions and control systems may also be assessed under the CE Marking Machinery Directive.
  • For electronic sub-assembles that are incorporated in all three classes of equipment mentioned (Ag/forestry, Earthmoving/Construction, and Tractors) a single suite of EMC tests can be defined in a test plan to cover all applications.

Next Steps – Start Planning Your Test

Industry trends have raised the importance to heavy-machinery manufacturers of EMC testing for functional safety. Increasingly, there are more electronic controls operating machine functions, wireless technology has become more prevalent, and operators are becoming more reliant on automated or autonomous operation. To address these challenges, regulatory requirements and testing standards have adapted to technology with more robust emissions and immunity testing.

To determine which standards apply to your product, contact Elite and speak with an EMC expert to learn more. Elite will guide you through the regulations, standards, and testing processes you need to get to market.

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March is Pi Day Month (and Einstein’s Birthday)

Here’s a fun fact: 3.14, the two-decimal-place value of pi (π), also represents the date March 14, which is Albert Einstein’s birthday. It seems appropriate that the person credited with the greatest insight in math since Isaac Newton would have his birthday represented by an irrational number.

In honor of both pi and Professor Einstein, March 14 is recognized as Pi Day. It began in 1988 when physicist Larry Shaw of San Francisco’s Exploratorium held a circular parade and led a feast of fruit pies. One could say a circular parade is irrational, but then so is pi.

Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Its elusive value has fascinated academics and engineers for millennia, having been approximated by Archimedes in ancient Greece. It needed a name, and was first called “pi” in 1706 by mathematician William Jones, because he noted that pi is the first letter in the Greek word for perimeter, “perimitros.”

The quest to find its value with more precision has led to computing power competition — a Google Cloud calculation in 2022 carried its value out to 100 trillion digits. That’s probably close enough if you need to figure the size of a vent hole in a wall.

Space exploration would not be possible without pi. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recognizes Pi Day and offers teachers a series of “Pi in the Sky” math challenge questions for grades 4-12. The Jet Propulsion Lab holds the NASA Pi Day Challenges for students from kindergarten through the 12th grade, providing classroom material showing how pi is used in determining orbits, surface mapping, asteroid tracking, and much more.

Here at Elite, 100-trillion digit precision is more than we need, but that doesn’t mean it’s less significant. Here’s another fun fact if significant digits are important to you. When your clocks came to 1:59 on March 14, you were three decimal places more precise, since pi to six digits is 3.14159.

Pi is a mathematical feature that has made scientific insights possible through all of recorded history. A circle’s relationship to itself is wonderfully irrational, and so is the language that describes it. That’s why we appreciated circles as we enjoyed some pie on March 14.

(Images: honorsociety.com, flickr.com)

A Chemical Exposure Test Checklist: Don’t Try This at Home

Go to the gas station and fill your tank, then go inside for coffee. On the sales counter, buy a bottle of washer fluid, then back outside add it to your car’s fluid tank. Within those few minutes you exposed yourself to benzene in the gasoline, formaldehyde from the counter’s pressboard, and methanol from the washer fluid.

The amounts were extremely small, and the time was brief, but it was still chemical exposure. In contrast, a device or product is continuously exposed to chemicals, some more than others, and the effects vary depending on the product’s construction and its operating environment.

Elite Electronic Engineering has been performing chemical exposure tests on products for many years. Standards exist for chemical exposure: 

  • Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) DO-160
  • MIL-STD-810, which apply to both aircraft and ground vehicles
  • SAE 1455 and ISO 16750-5, which focus on road vehicles

Elite’s Nick De Pasion and John Gondek have long experience with chemical exposure testing. It’s not unusual for a customer to inquire about a chemical exposure test and not be certain of what they need to help Elite’s staff craft a test plan. While the standards give test methods and define the contaminants to be used in a test, the interpretation of the actual test is highly dependent on the test sample (or samples) and the customer’s understanding of its intended environment.

Customers need to know that storage and disposal of contaminant fluids is a logistical concern in planning the test. Depending on how much is needed for the series of exposure tests, their storage and shelf life need to be factored into the plan. Some contaminants necessary for the test require licensing to obtain it and to store it, and costs can grow quickly.

Nick and John have come up with a list of things to know if your product will need a chemical exposure test. Keep these in mind if you’re planning to have your product tested to one the appliable standards.

Chemical-exposure engineers Nick De Pasion and John Gondek

Chemical Exposure Test Checklist

  • Do not assume what type of test will be needed. Discuss test details like the choice of contaminant, the method of application, and the temperature level with the Elite experts. The choices will be made depending on the product’s material and its intended use.
  • Know what standard applies to your product. This is well understood in most cases, but the device and its application may cause multiple standards to apply.
  • Know what material needs to be tested. Most products are assembled from a combination of metal, plastic, vinyl, ceramic, or other materials, all of which have different responses to different contaminants.
  • Determine how many samples of the product will be tested. If there are multiple samples, will they receive the same test or will different exposure tests be applied to different samples?
  • Know how the end customer will use the product. If it’s exposed to water, is it sprayed like rain, or soaked as in submersion? If it’s likely to have significant exposure to fumes, what kind of fumes and for how long? These questions are fundamental to devising a meaningful test plan.
  • Know what results you’re looking for. Should the product be complete impervious to contaminants, or is cosmetic damage tolerable if it functions correctly? How much cosmetic damage is acceptable? 
  • Be aware of safety issues with the type of contaminant to be applied in the test. A discussion with an expert at Elite will help resolve that question.
  • Determine how is the contaminant to be applied. How many times will it be applied, and is there a cleaning procedure needed between applications? The standard will show how to do it, but the choice of whether to spray, brush, or wipe the contaminant on the product surface will depend on the product’s construction and its likely environment.
  • Determine if the whole product sample to be exposed to the contaminant, or only sections.
  • Determine if the contaminant fluids are to be applied at the same time or as part of separate tests.
  • Determine if the test fluids for the test are readily available. Some are costly and difficult to obtain. Elite’s experts will work with you toward the best answer to that question.

As always, contact the experts at Elite with these questions and others that are specific to your product. Chemical exposure testing is well understood and is defined by the standards, but each test is as unique as your product. Elite has seen them, and knows what you’ll need to know.

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Celebrate with Elite! National Engineers Week February 19 – 25

Everybody knows that George Washington was the first president of the United States. But did you know he is also one of its first engineers? In his youth, Washington was a surveyor. Later in the military in the 1750s he made maps and surveys. That was a skill he used well as a farmer and businessman. He also invented the “drill plow,” which used a rotating barrel to lay seeds.

President Washington was a great advocate of engineering. In 1951, the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) founded National Engineering Week (EWeek) in honor of Washington’s birthday.

This year EWeek is observed February 19-25. The NSPE describes the objective of EWeek as being dedicated to “ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers.”

From the beginning, Elite has encouraged its engineers’ professional development through continued training and certification. Elite President Ray Klouda is himself a Registered Professional Engineer (PE), and many of the EMC lab staff hold International Association of Radio and Telecommunications and Electromagnetics (iNARTE) certification. Clearly, the contributions of engineers over the years have built the quality and confidence associated with Elite.

The observation of EWeek is brought together by a coalition of technical and education societies, such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), in concert with corporations and government agencies. Public awareness of engineers’ contributions is the goal, especially among parents, teachers, and students. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is highlighted to students at all levels as part of EWeek activities. Each year, EWeek reaches thousands of schools, businesses, and community groups across the U.S.

If you know a student deciding what career path to follow, encourage them to click the link to check out the NSPE’s Discover Engineers Week feature. Background is available on student activities, information on the future of engineering, and more. President Washington would approve.

Corrosion Happens: Salt Fog Testing Shows You Where

What do cars, trucks, boats, airplanes, lampposts, and socket wrenches all have in common? At first glance, it wouldn’t seem to be much. But all are exposed to corrosive effects of weather, water, pollutants, and more. The basic corrosion-resistance evaluation of material and its coating is salt fog testing.

Corrosion costs many millions of dollars annually and left unchecked can cause structural failure. Salt fog testing allows new designs and coatings to be scrutinized in a controlled environment and is useful to determine the corrosion resistance of different metals and finishes.

Elite performs salt fog tests as part of its suite of climatic tests. A product and its exposed surfaces need to go through a gauntlet to meet the necessary qualities to get to market— of these, salt fog is the primary test. Other tests, including dust, chemical fluids, gravel, water, pressure variations, and explosive environments are available for products needing to meet specific requirements.

Kyle Thompson and Chuck Thompson checking a salt fog test at Elite’s lab.

Salt fog is a type of accelerated corrosion test that is performed to assess the comparative corrosion resistance of certain materials when exposed to salt fog or salt spray at increased temperature levels. Automotive and aerospace applications make extensive use of salt fog testing to confirm the integrity of materials and coatings. Elite’s long experience in salt fog testing gives its experts the tools to help you navigate what can be a difficult process. Standards for salt fog testing include:

American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) B117

Of these, ASTM B117 and MIL-STD-810 are the most common. They call for temperature maintained at 35⁰C in the test chamber as a mixture of 5% sodium chloride in ASTM D1193 Type IV water is introduced at specific air pressures. Exposure is done in 24-hour blocks, with the number of repetitions determined by the type of material and its intended environment.

Effects of long-term salt exposure on exposed surfaces.

Planning a Salt Fog Test

The test plan developed by the customer and the Elite engineer will specify the duration of the testing and the pass/fail criteria used to determine the test’s result.

Elite has two salt fog test chambers:

  • Small Cabinet 42”w x 30”d x 36” h, available for SO2 tests in ASTM G85 tests
  • Large Cabinet, available for non-SO2 tests, 93″w x 48”d x 48” h

The test plan will specify the sample or samples to be tested, the specific standard to be applied, the duration of the test, and the pass/fail criteria to be used at the completion of the test.

Among the parameters that can be observed in the test sample during the salt fog test:

  • The permeability of seals
  • The amount of corrosion creepage when a coated surface is scratched, per ASTM D1654
  • The level of coating adhesion, per ASTM D3359
  • The degree of surface blistering, per ASTM D714
  • The degree of material rusting, per ASTM D610

How Does Salt Fog Testing Correlate to the Real World?

Correlation between a real-world environment and salt fog testing in a lab is difficult. Materials and coatings can vary widely. Actual outdoor environments are even more variable at any time of day or in any environment.

The materials industry has chosen the salt fog test as a useful baseline that gives an indication of a corrosion vulnerability. The salt fog test is widely used because of its repeatability.

Corrosion is going to happen in a product’s life. Contact the experts at Elite to find out how to apply the salt fog test to your product.

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EMC for Agriculture, Forestry, and Construction Machinery

Agricultural tools have evolved from their humble beginnings into machines that plant, nourish, and harvest while monitoring parameters like seed spacing, depth, and moisture content. Construction equipment has evolved in a similar way. The electronics that control those functions need to meet electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) requirements for safe and reliable operation.

At Elite we perform regulatory EMC testing on large vehicles and electronic subassemblies used in construction, agriculture, and forestry. These impressive systems — bulldozers, combine harvesters, tractors, and the like — are making news by integrating wireless technology, advanced sensor tech, high speed networks, and software to create automated and nearly autonomous systems. The complexity of these machines and their inherent need for operational safety makes EMC testing a crucial aspect of their development.

Agricultural (Ag) and forestry machinery includes tractors and all manner of mobile and hand-held equipment, extending to those used in landscaping and gardening.

Construction machinery includes earth-moving equipment: excavators, bulldozers, loaders, as well as cranes and lifting systems, pavers, and related large machines.

EMC testing for these large systems is driven by two forces. One is the manufacturer, whose motivation is to build confidence in its brand name by ensuring the safety and reliability of its products. The other force is from government regulatory bodies whose responsibility is to set safety standards and to protect the public electromagnetic spectrum.

In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Part 15.103 rules for unintentional RF emissions exempt vehicles and electronic sub-assemblies (ESAs) from testing, including Ag, forestry, and construction machinery. Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada also exempts vehicles and most ESAs from digital-device emissions testing. The Canadian vehicle EMC regulation ICES-002 is one that specifies broadband emission tests for vehicles powered by internal combustion engines or electric drivetrains. Any wireless transmitters used on vehicles are required to be separately tested and certified.

Neither the US-FCC nor Canada-ISED impose EMC immunity regulatory requirements for vehicles. US-OSHA and Canadian government agencies set a range of workplace safety rules for equipment, but none that address EMC.

In the European Union, the EMC essential requirements for machinery are codified in the EMC Directive 2014/30/EU.  For functional safety related EMC performance the requirements come from the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. Similar requirements are listed in the Statutory Instruments (SI) for the UKCA marking. Manufacturers are afforded a presumption of conformity with the Directives and Regulations when they apply harmonized standards in full. These standards are published in the European Union (EU) Official Journal and the UK counterpart list.

Ag Machinery

Ag and forestry “machinery” is equipment intended for off-road applications. They are generally not used on roadways where unique road-safety hazards need to be specifically assessed. Once machinery is evaluated for the applicable Directives and compliant with published harmonized standards, the manufacturer issues a Declaration of Conformity (DoC), and the product is CE Marked and/or UKCA Marked.

The harmonized standard for Ag and forestry machinery is EN ISO 14982:2009 which covers EMC emissions and immunity for vehicles and for electronic subassemblies (ESAs). The UK register of standards also lists this same standard.

Construction Machinery

For construction equipment EMC, the EU harmonized standard is EN ISO 13766-1:2018. It covers emissions and immunity for vehicles and ESAs and is also the same standard for the UK.  The Machine Directive EMC requirements addressing functional safety on construction equipment are listed in EN ISO 13766-2:2018. 

It’s important to note that the construction machinery standard, EN 13309:2010, became obsolete on June 30, 2021. Any products currently placed on the European market that list EN 13309 on their DoC are no longer presumed compliant and should be evaluated against the requirements of EN ISO 13766-1:2018.

Ag Tractors

Ag and forestry tractors and machinery have similar EMC requirements, but they have different conformity-assessment processes. The European compliance process for Ag and forestry “tractors” is type-certification by a third party notified body.  When the certification is complete the tractor is “E-Marked”.   In contrast,  the Ag and forestry “machinery” conformity assessment is by internal production control, also referred to as manufacturer self-declaration.  When completed the machine is “CE Marked” and/or “UKCA Marked”.

Ag and forestry tractor regulations are defined in the European framework Regulation (EU) 167/2013 and subsequent revisions.  For EMC, the framework Regulation (Article 17.2.g) points to Regulation (EU) 2015/208 ANNEX XV for the technical requirements.   As an option, a Notified Body may also type certify the tractor following the technical requirements in UNECE Regulation 10.6.  The EMC requirements in REG 10.6 are similar to those listed in EN ISO 14982 and EN ISO 13766. However, it is common to see more stringent testing (than in REG 10.6) applied as agreed upon by the vehicle manufacturer and the notified body. 

For manufacturers of electronic sub-assemblies (ESAs) whose product can be used on a wide range of finished machines such as Ag, forestry, construction machinery, or even road vehicles, Elite can perform a single suite of tests that covers all equipment types and off road and on road vehicle specifications.

In next month’s Elite Insider, we’ll discuss additional requirements for Ag, forestry, and construction machinery that address the functional-safety aspects of compliance. We’ll also explain the coming standards for ISO/DIS 14982:2021.

Stay tuned to Elite’s blog for more, and contact Elite with questions on your product’s compliance needs.

Deadline is January 31 to Apply for the James C. Klouda Memorial Scholarship

Know a student in an electrical engineering (EE) program? Does that student have an interest in electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) or a related subject? Could that student use some support?

If the answer to those questions is “Yes,” you need to know that the IEEE James C. Klouda Memorial Scholarship application deadline is coming up on January 31.

The JCK Scholarship is available to electrical engineering students at accredited universities and colleges. Awards are issued on an annual basis to a qualified undergraduate or graduate EE student seeking a degree with an emphasis in EMC or related discipline. Elite founder Jim Klouda believed students pursuing a career in electrical engineering were deserving of support, and in his memory, Elite established the scholarship to honor Jim’s long EMC career and his active role in its growth.

The JCK Scholarship has been awarded since 2014 to deserving students at colleges across the US. Complete eligibility requirements can be found on the JCK Scholarship page of Elite’s website.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) EMC Society (EMC-S) is the administrator of the IEEE JCK Memorial Scholarship Selection Committee. Scholarship presentations are made each year at the IEEE EMC Symposium Awards Banquet. Jim Klouda’s and Elite’s long relationship with the IEEE EMC Society is reflected in the award’s featured place at the international symposium.

The January 31 deadline is fast approaching! Electrical engineering is a fascinating career path, and EMC is critical as wireless technology spreads into all corners of our lives. If you know a EE student who could be eligible, check out the James C. Klouda Memorial Scholarship and submit an application by January 31 to help that student build the next technology generation.

Chemical Exposure: Testing How a Product Holds Up

Did you ever wonder how it is that the labels and lettering on aircraft are still readable after thousands of hours in all weather, temperatures, and altitudes? Or how even though they are grimy, your car and its engine compartment don’t just peel away?

Exposure to the real world’s fluids, gases, and extremes is unavoidable, but it can be understood and measured. Equipment expected to perform in harsh environments rely on chemical exposure testing to show how it will hold up in those conditions.

Nick DePasion leads Elite’s chemical exposure testing program. “The aviation and automotive industry are most often in need of these tests,” he said. “There are standards that have to be met, depending on the industry and the product’s environment, but in addition manufacturers have their own requirements.”

Nick’s years at Elite has given him an appreciation of the nuances of chemical exposure. “Labels on equipment surfaces are a big part of those tests,” he explained. “The customer normally brings in a piece of equipment with the label or lettering applied. The sample is exposed typically to a full day of testing, with sixteen hours of exposure followed by eight hours off, with temperatures defined for each phase.” Times and temperatures can vary depending on the material, the standard, and the manufacturer’s needs.

Elite chemical test expert Nick DePasion

The standards for chemical testing are based on the application. MIL-STD-810 and RTCA-DO160 apply to aviation equipment, while SAE 1455 and ISO 16750-5 apply to automotive components. Each test is different, and not just because the equipment under test (EUT) is different. “The chemicals used in the exposure tests are widely varied and sometimes difficult to get,” Nick said. “Water, of course, is readily available, but specific compounds, like hydraulic fluid, antifreeze, and oils are tightly defined and need to be special-ordered.”

Some tests are less exotic but no less important. Bodily fluids and food products are a common source of exposure in aircraft and vehicle surfaces. When those tests are scheduled, Nick orders quantities of standards-compliant liquids and powders that simulate the range of contaminants likely to be found in those vehicles.

EUTs are evaluated for functionality, changes in appearance, and tensile strength as applicable to the EUT. Tests are performed in an environment-controlled test chamber as the EUT is exposed to the chemicals specified in the test plan drafted before testing is scheduled. Contaminants can be brushed, sprayed, wiped, or immersed, depending on the EUT’s application and the requirements of the test standard.

If your product needs to be tested for its chemical-exposure and fluids contamination vulnerability, contact Elite to determine the correct standard to be applied and the material requirements. “Every test is different,” Nick said. “And we need to work with every customer to understand how the test is to be done.”