Wednesday, May 30, 2012

VMI is on Mars!

Just in are photos from the Mars "Opportunity" rover.  They are awesome!

VMI is proud to say we have provided standard high voltage multipliers and high voltage diodes for many NASA projects including MER (Mars Exploration Rover).  More info

The photo below uses 'false color' to enhance subtle color changes.  This helps scientists to identify materials of different compositions, but can look a little off to our eye.      

Contributing to space research and providing products for such demanding environments makes us better.  We inevitably increase our knowledge base and improve our manufacturing processes.  It's a win-win situation. 

How many commercial products can you think of that have roots in the Space Program? 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Many of us will have next Monday off from work in honor of Memorial Day, including the folks at Voltage Multipliers, Inc.  

Memorial Day has been around in one form another since the mid 1800. It is a Federal holiday observed in rememberance of American war dead.

Here are a few things you might not know about the holiday.

• Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May.[1]

• The first known observance of a Memorial Day-type observance was in Charleston, South Carolina on May 1, 1865 in commemoration of Union Solders who died in the Civil War.

• Ironton, Ohio, lays claim to the nation's oldest continuously running Memorial Day parade. Its first parade was held May 5, 1868, and the town has held it every year since. However, the Memorial Day parade in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, predates Ironton's by one year. [2]

• By the early 20th century, Memorial Day was an occasion for general expressions of memory, as people visited the graves of their deceased relatives in church cemeteries, whether they had served in the military or not.

• Over time, Memorial Day became a long weekend increasingly devoted to shopping, family gatherings, fireworks, trips to the beach, and viewing local parades.[3]

• Traditional Observances

         o On Memorial Day the flag is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.[4] The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.

         o A moment of remembrance takes place at 3 pm local time.

         o Volunteers often place American flags on each grave site at national cemeteries.

         o Memorial Day is generally associated with the start of the summer season, and as such, a popular and traditional inauguration is holding an outdoor barbecue.

         o The National Memorial Day Concert takes place on the west lawn of the United States Capitol. The concert is broadcast on PBS and NPR. Music is performed, and respect is paid to the men and women who gave their lives for their country.

Enjoy your holiday weekend, and be safe!

1. ^ 36 U.S.C. § 116
2. "Doylestown Hosts Oldest Memorial Day Parade in the Country". CBS News. 29 May 2011.
3. ^ Matthew Dennis, Red, White, and Blue Letter Days: An American Calendar (2002)
4. ^ "How and When to display the US Flag at Half Staff". Retrieved 2011-05-Remembrance days


Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Memorial Day,, retrieved 5/25/2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Watts a Lumen? (Pun Intended)

What to look for in a light bulb just got easier with the explanation of Watts and Lumens in this blog entry by John Chu is a Senior Communications Specialist at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

See you at the 2012 ASMS Conference

Missed us in Baltimore or Germany?  Catch up with Karen S. and Daniel D. at Booth 16 for the 60th American Society of Mass Spectrometry Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics Vancouver, BC, Canada May 20 - 24, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sun Spot Babies (Not What You Think)

I'm dating myself here.  Besides the kind that appear on the back of your hands as you age, when I think of sun spots, the old Bob Seeger "Sun Spot Babies" song comes to mind.  But the fact is, the sun has been around a lot longer than either Bob or me.    
Dr. Tony Phillips, Credit: Science@NASA

According to Dr. Tony Phillips, the sun is finally waking up after taking a nap since 2008. Solar storms are on the increase as we begin Cycle #24. In honor of the uptick in solar activity, here are a few sun filled facts.

1. About every 11 years, the sun reverses magnetic polarity. It’s north magnetic pole becomes the south magnetic pole, and vice versa. (1)

2. The sun rotates on its axis once every 25.38 Earth days or 609.12 hours. (1)

3. If you weighed 150 pounds on Earth, you’d weigh 4,200 pounds on the sun. The sun’s gravity is about 28 times that of Earth. (1)
4. Communications and electrical systems on earth can be severely disrupted by solar flares. (1)
5. There are sometimes "Mock Suns" (parhelia) which are called Sun dogs because they follow the Sun around. These Sun dogs are usually seen as bright spots on opposite sides of the winter Sun. (2)
6. If the earth were the size of a quarter, the sun would be as large as a nine-foot ball and would be located a football field distance from the earth. (3)
7. It takes thousands of years for the light to travel from the core, where it is created, to the surface of the Sun. Only eight minutes more from there to us. The light you see now was created when the first Homo Sapiens started appearing. (4)

8. With our super cool telescopes we can see stuff on the surface of the Sun that is 80 km (50 miles) long. Considering the diameter of the Sun, that´s the equivalent of seeing the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on Earth. (4)

9. The sun seems to be a male god in the cultures close to the Equator, and female in the northern ones. The sun is always opposite the moon.  (4)

10. The sun vibrates, but because sound does not travel through a vacuum (space), no one hears it.  (4)
11. The sun has sun quakes that propagate through its entire surface in seconds. (4)

12. In the outer atmosphere of the sun, stuff moves along magnetic lines. It is like if you could only move towards or away from your refrigerator.  (4)

13. The upper part of the solar atmosphere is much hotter than the surface.  No one knows why.  Normally the upper part of an atmosphere is colder.  Think of the earth - the further away from the planet you get, the colder it gets.  (4)

     So how does this relate to high voltage diodes? Well, you’ve heard of EMP, right? Electro-magnetic pulses. The sun can generate them. When that happens you need a radiation hardened device, or one that can absorb a lot of energy – like VMI’s E-Zorb diodes. Standard silicon diodes are susceptible to over voltage conditions whereas the E-Zorb diodes can better handle higher reverse power pulses.  



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

We're Nominated! Kind of.

We are thrilled!  VMI has been honored as a supplier to our customer who is a finalist in the Radiological and electromechanical devices category of the 2012 Medical Design Excellence Awards (MDEA) competition.  Up for nomination is a system that uses one of our high voltage power supplies.

The 2012 MDEA winning products will happen Wednesday, 23, 2012 at the Philadelphia Marriott. 

• The 2012 MDEA-finalists, and their suppliers, will be honored for their innovative contributions to the medical device industry.

• Dr. Thomas Fogarty will receive the prestigious 2012 MDEA Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions over a long career. Dr. Fogarty founded 33 medical device companies and holds 135 surgical instruments patents. He has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and has won countless other awards including the Lemelson-MIT Prize for Invention and Innovation.

Soooooo, keep your fingers crossed, and root, root, root for VMI.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Products - Soon!

Keep an eye out for new, high voltage diodes coming your way.  We're expanding the SXF family to include higher voltages and current.

They're great little packages - high voltage in a minature footprint, and easily pick-and-placeable.

They're really kinda cute!

More later...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Better "Made in Space" than "Lost in Space"

How would you like to have a product “Made in space”? Personally, I’d LOVE to have something like that stamped on a product somewhere. The whole idea is fascinating.

And that’s exactly the response the European Space Agency (ESA) hopes to get with their branding campaign.

Still in the planning stages, the ESA is working towards increasing public awareness of the value of the International Space Station (ISS), space research, and space manufacturing. Many products and technologies actually go back to space research. These include memory foam (think Tempur-pedicTM type beds), in-ear thermometers, and even the laser used in DVDs. The average time from research to commercial development is three to five years.
Image Credit:  NASA

Up and coming new technologies include alloys for jet engines.  Signficantly lighter and stronger than alloys currently used, the new alloys could result in significant weight reductions, which in turn would reduce consumption, lower costs, and use less non-renewal resources.

Another breakthrough hovering on the horizon is a version of ionized gas used to kill harmful bacteria. This could be critical in efforts to fight superbugs.  As more and more antibiotics lose effectiveness, doctors will need more tools in their medical kits.

All in all, considering the benefits the world has received from space exploration, it's a good investment in the future. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Visit VMI at Booth 12-643 PCIM International exhibition and Conference for Power Electronics, Automation, Motion Drives & Control + Power Quality May 8-10 Nuremberg Germany.  Check us out!

PCIM 2011 Photo

Diode vs. Rectifier

According to Wikipedia, a rectifier is defined as, ”An electrical device that converts alternating current (AC), which periodically reverses direction, to direct current (DC), which flows in only one direction. The process is known as rectification. Physically, rectifiers take a number of forms, including vacuum tube diodes, mercury-arc valves, solid-state diodes, silicon-controlled rectifiers and other silicon-based semiconductor switches". 1

Sometimes the term, “rectifier” is used to refer to a discrete diode, and technically, it is correct.
1N6535 Discrete Axial-leaded Diode

At VMI, our terminology varies a bit from Wikipedia’s. It is still correct, but not as common outside the manufacturing environment. The differences in usages probably stems from being a manufacturer of both discrete diodes and diode assemblies, and may have evolved as a kind of verbal short-hand. Now the terms are firmly entrenched throughout the sales, marketing, engineering, production, and QA departments.

SMF6525 Over-molded Diode

Okay, so what’s different? Here at VMI, a diode refers to a discrete device. It can be over-molded with epoxy, as in our K-body diodes (K100S), or SMF6525, or a glass-body type device such as the 1N6535. There are generally two terminations – an anode and a cathode. 

The term “rectifier” is short for ‘rectifier assembly’, and is usually constructed using multiple diodes. Rectifier assemblies include high voltage ‘stacks’ (a.k.a. a high voltage stick like the SPJ series), single phase or three phase bridges, doublers, center-taps, and so on. A rectifier assembly generally has multiple diodes, or more than two terminations. 

Not to worry though. If you call up and ask for a high voltage rectifier, we’ll know what you mean.