Product Update
By Shalin Shah — Jameco Product Manager

1. Mean Well's ELN-60 Series Power Supplies
2. Parallax's (Voice-Controlled) Say It Module
3. Arndt Electronics' 5-Speed Fan Control Kit
4. ShapeLock's Thermoplastic

1. Mean Well's ELN-60 Series Power Supplies (2105308)

If the computer's CPU is the brain, then the power supply has to be the heart of the system. After all it's the power supply that's pumping life throughout the system like a heart pumps blood throughout the body. Fittingly, when the power supply becomes ‘clogged,’ all other components begin to fail. Surprisingly, the power supply is one of the components most likely to fail in computer systems and yet its importance is frequently overlooked.

So, how much power does the average computer system require? This is an important question and the answer is simply that the bigger (the output power) and the heavier the power supply is the better. I will explain the larger output power criteria later on, but as far as the actual weight of the power supply is concerned, it is a little known fact that the heavier power supplies are better constructed with a stronger base.

It might be interesting to note that the most important electrical component on a power supply is the capacitor. I personally recommend buying a power supply equipped with a Nippon Chemi-Con capacitor.

The power supply market is rapidly changing in terms of application needs, particularly in the last couple of years. According to Jameco's power supply sales expert, David Lofstrom, the industry trend is leaning towards the growing LED power supply market.

Therefore, in this blog we are reviewing an LED power supply from Mean Well USA, Inc., a company that sells power supplies under its own brand. The ELN-60 series comes in six different voltages: 9V, 12V, 15V, 24V, 27V, and 48V, with the most common being the 12V. The specs of the models differ in the potential output on the rails of the higher voltage units. The total output power of the 12V rail is 60W, which is more than enough for the average LED-user to exceed.

Specifications for the ELN-60-12V:
DC Voltage (V) 12
LED Operation Voltage (V) 6 ~ 12
Rated Current (A) 5
Current Range (A) 0 ~ 5
Rated Power (W) 60
Noise (Vp-p) 150

2. Parallax's (Voice-Controlled) Say It Module (2109149)
Remember the old 1980s TV series, Knight Rider? Back then a voice-controlled car was pure science fiction and while true artificial intelligence is still a ways off, we're getting closer and closer all the time.

There are many areas where voice recognition can be extremely useful, such as voice-controlled entry systems, automated house applications, and voice-activated vehicles. The main difference between speech recognition and voice recognition is that voice recognition products, such as the Say It Module, generally only have to deal with a limited vocabulary.

When you speak into this module, it will match your words to a set of predefined commands. Once the module has determined if there is a match, it will then act on a defined command, such as the movement of a robot. Although the module comes built-in with 23 predefined (or speaker independent) commands, users can create up to 32 user-definable (or speaker dependent) commands. You can begin by testing the words that are already programmed in the module, which are grouped under Trigger and three Wordsets as shown below:

Built-In Speaker Independent Commands:
Trigger (0) Wordset (1) Wordset (2) Wordset (3)
0 – robot 0 – action 0 – left 0 – zero
  1 – move 1 – right 1 – one
2 – turn 2 – up 2 – two
3 – run 3 – down 3 – three
4 – look 4 – forward 4 – four
5 – attack 5 – backward 5 – five
6 – stop   6 – six
7 – hello 7 – seven
  8 – eight
9 – nine
10 – ten

As far as using the graphical user interface (GUI) to test the predefined commands, when the red LED indicator light on the module and the software window prompt you to speak, you must speak clearly and directly into the microphone on the module. If the module understands, you will see the command highlighted in green on your computer screen. You can continue testing in this manner with all of the words. If the module does not recognize the word or there is nothing said, an error message window will pop-up. This will come in handy when you want to test any new commands.

The 10-pin header makes the module breadboard friendly, and is designed to fit in one row on the Board of Education and Boe-Bot Robots.

3. Arndt Electronics' 5-Speed Fan Control Kit (2100144)

What makes a cooling design cool? Cooling designs come from all over the world and this new product is a 5-speed fan control kit and is provided by a partnership with the Delta Group. Delta is the world's largest provider of switching power supplies and DC brushless fans, based in Taiwan.

The current product line will blow you away.  This Arndt Electronics unit features a 120mm x 120mm fan. The 5-speed variable fan control kit with LCD display and power supply is the top-of-the-line Arndt cooler, and is a refinement of their earlier 120mm fan systems.

So if you are an over-clocker with a flaming hot design, we think you'll be a "fan" of this new addition. We look forward to hearing reader responses to help in answering this question.

4. ShapeLock's Thermoplastic (2112508 or 2112495)

The possibilities are truly endless for this cool new product. Who needs clay when you can use Shapelock for your 3D modeling needs. Any inventor worth his or her salt has likely had challenges with molding around objects or creating custom parts, brackets or making moveable joints. California-based ShapeLock has come-up with a unique solution; an "ultra-high molecular weight low-temperature thermoplastic." Plain English: ShapeLock is a super strong plastic similar to nylon or polypropylene in toughness. According to company CEO Jim Loftus, "ShapeLock is silly putty on steroids."

Simply heat-up the small granular balls in either hot water or the microwave or even with a hot air gun at 150°F and easily hand-form the combined mass into your desired shape. A standard kitchen thermometer can be used to check the temperature, but be careful not to overheat.
How will you know when the material is done? As soon as it turns clear.

Although ShapeLock is extremely popular with makers and inventors, its uniqueness lies in the fact it is also useful in robotics to make skins and mount servos, sensors, and actuators.