digital tools and references

Tracking Components Capability: Parts & Vendors 3.0 helps keep track of materials, sources, and costs at the component level. Cross-referencing and search tools put component cost, inventory, and ordering information on the desktop. Links to CAD files allow users to look at complete specifications of assemblies, subassemblies, and individual components. Graphic icons have been included for easy reference, and the list trees are now expandable. Made-from links and minimum-stock-level flags notify when components need to be reordered. When a design is complete, the program brings all information together to buy or kit parts for the finished units.

Hardware: IBM-compatible PC operating in Windows 95 or Windows NT 4.0

Developer: Trilogy Design, Box 2270, Grass Valley, CA 95945; (916) 273-1985; fax (916) 477-9106

Cost: $99/$299, two single-user editions; $499/$1,400, six-user packs

Motion Control Capability: The MINT Interface Library is available to speed the interface of MINT-compatible motion controllers with 16- or 32-bit Windows-application software. A choice of operation modes enables system builders to use the host PC for system control or communicate with an autonomous motion-control subsystem.

MINT provides commands for x-y tables, flying shears, splines, and software cams. The PC and motion controller are treated as discrete intelligent subsystems, communicating via mailboxes or terminal I/O. Programmers can off-load complex motion-control tasks onto the controller's dedicated processor, allowing the PC to be used for man-machine interface and supervisory functions. MINT-compatible C language routines allow programs to be embedded in the motion controller. MINT-language functions can be called on the motion controller from rapid-application-development environments for Windows, such as Visual BASIC, Visual C++, Borland C++, and Delphi.

Hardware: Any DOS platform

Developer: Optimised Control Inc., 3923 Coconut Palm Dr., Suite 107, Tampa, FL 33619; (813) 626-0780; fax (813) 626-0361; e-mail

Cost: $550

Universal Post-
Engineers used PostWorks to create a solid model of this machine tool that dynamically simulates the machine's movement

Capability: PostWorks is a two- to 10-axis postprocessor and postprocessor generator designed to replace mainframe-based postprocessors. It converts output from CAM systems (including CATIA CL files) into numerical-control (NC) data files that can be used to run NC devices, such as mills, lathes, lasers, coordinate-measuring machines, mill turns, ultrasonic cutters, and routers. The postprocessor analyzes input-cutter locations and creates spline data (in the form of a nonuniform rational B-spline curve) for the machine controller. The creation of a spline reduces the amount of data sent to the machine and creates a smoother pass than linear interpolation (similar to circular interpolation).

PostWorks analyzes cutter-location data output by all CAM systems and uses its own curve-fitting algorithms to create spline interpolation. Cylindrical and polar interpolations are available for mill-turn machines.

Hardware:IBM-compatible PC operating in MS-DOS; Unix workstation by Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Silicon Graphics, or Sun; Digital Equipment Corp. VMS platform

Developer: Numerical Control Computer Sciences, 2600 Michelson Dr., 17th Floor, Irvine, CA 92612; (714) 553-1077; fax (714) 553-1911; e-mail

Cost: $5,000 to $11,000, depending on platform and number of axes

Automotive Designs Capability: MATRIXx and BetterState products for embedded-control application specification and implementation will support Siemens Semiconductor Group's TriCore 32-bit Core architecture, which is based on a multitasking engine that uses dense on-chip memory and nanosecond context switching to support control and digital-signal-processor tasks with a single processor core. The 32-bit architecture expands the design flexibility and potential performance of real-time embedded systems by enabling virtual-multiprocessor single-chip designs. MATRIXx and BetterState design tools provide a comprehensive design environment for large-scale distributed engineering projects typical of automotive power-train and vehicle stability-management applications. An array of fixed-point development tools facilitate the rapid development of production-ready designs.

Hardware: Unix workstation running Windows 95 or Windows NT

Developer: Integrated Systems Inc., 201 Moffett Park Dr., Sunnyvale, CA 94089; (408) 542-1500; fax (408) 542-1950

Cost: $2,495, BetterState editor and one-language code generator. Contact Integrated Systems for MATRIXx modules, configurations, and prices

Contour and Vector Plotting Capability: DF_Contour generates graphs and contours from numerical and experimental data. It produces color graphic representations of data types including vector and scalar fields, shapes, curves, and markers. (A one-word descriptor is required at the beginning of each data set so that the program can identify the type of data.) DF_Contour generates a screen animation of a succession of color maps. A user-generated ASCII file format is recognized for input of data.

Hardware: IBM-compatible PC operating in Windows 95 or Windows NT

Developer: Dynaflow Inc., 7210 Pindell School Rd., Fulton, MD 20759; (301) 604-3688; fax (301) 604-3689; e-mail

Cost: $65, single-user version

Thermal Properties Capability: Capability: QT Pro2 is a comprehensive thermal-system modeling program that combines an array of practical engineering models with an extensive thermal-property database. A fully functional evaluation version of QT Pro2 is available free of charge on the World Wide Web for immediate download. With this Web-based version of QT Pro2, the user can elect to purchase only software modules that are of interest.

QT Pro2 comes with a database of thermodynamic and thermophysical material properties for water and steam, air, refrigerants, hydrocarbons, alloys, ceramics, common fuels, liquid metals, plastics, solvents, glasses, inorganics, and insulations. The database has flexible lookup features that enable users to tabulate, graph, and export material properties in the preferred units.

The software also analyzes thermal models using automated worksheets tailored for each modeling situation. Worksheets are included for the analysis of combustion, compression, expansion, heat addition, throttling, steady and unsteady conduction, convection, radiation, boiling, and condensation processes. Each worksheet queries the user for required and optional data, has a descriptive schematic defining model input and output parameters, and provides seamless links to property selection lists. Analysis output is tabulated in a spreadsheet format that can be plotted, linked to other worksheets, or exported into other Windows programs.

QT Pro2 includes a unit-conversion utility with 40 physical quantities and 370 different units. The user specifies the known quantity in the known unit, and the program provides that value in all other unit groupings.

Hardware:IBM-compatible PC operating in Windows 3.1 or later, Windows 95, or Windows NT

Developer: Thermoflow Inc., 60 Walnut St., Wellesley, MA 02181; fax (781) 237-5621; e-mail; World Wide Web

Cost: $40 to $162, depending on the selected modules; full pricing details are available on the company's Web site

Online Periodic Table Capability: Periodic Table for Windows 95 is a comprehensive, computerized version of the 108-element periodic table. A click on any element displays information in both standard and SI units, including atomic weight and number, thermal conductivity, density, electronegativity, and melting and boiling temperatures. The data can be printed or cut and pasted into other documents. The program offers a wealth of information stored in an easy-to-use format that can eliminate the time-consuming search for data in reference texts.

Hardware: IBM-compatible 486 PC or higher with 4 MB of RAM and 3.5-inch floppy-disk drive, operating in Windows 95 or Windows NT

Developer: Dale Young, Box 577, Horn Lake, MS 38637-0577; e-mail

Cost: $49.95, single-user copy

Embedding Java Capability: A scaled subset of PERC, picoPERC has been designed as the smallest Java-compatible environment on the market for deeply embedded applications. It saves memory by eliminating unnecessary functions from the load image and using explicit memory management. Real-time tasking is provided by low-level tasks that are simpler than Java's standard thread implementation. The picoPERC environment requires a combined total of less than 64 kilobytes of ROM and RAM, compared with the 512-kilobyte footprint that Sun Microsystems has projected for its smallest Java configuration.

Hardware: IBM-compatible PC

Developer: NewMonics Inc., 2501 N. Loop Dr., Suite 614A, Ames, IA 50010; (515) 296-0897; fax (515) 296-9910

Cost: $10,000, annual license fee for picoPERC system-integration kit that includes unlimited distribution of run-time environment.

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1998 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers