Rolling Out USB Isolators…

January 19, 2010
Tomorrow, it’s official. Our latest product is on the shelves at our distributor, we’ve gotten enthusastic response from initial customers over the last couple of weeks, and we’re finally ready to roll it out. What is it? A USB Isolator.
Why an isolator? Because we’ve been doing a lot more work with embedded controllers in line-powered applications. Once you’ve got a PC based development system or test instrument connected over USB to a system powered off the AC mains, you’re likely to have a sizable difference in grounds as well. (And we’ve got the melted o-scope probes to prove it.)  We started by isolating the system end (instead of the PC end), but then you need a different isolation scheme for every interface (I2C, SPI, etc.) Then we said “Why not isolate the USB side instead?”
As luck would have it, there are a couple of IC vendors working the whole isolated USB problem. For us, the ADuM4160 did the trick for the USB data. We added a transformer-based flyback circuit to the board to provide isolated power and we had a neat little board working in the lab.
USB Isolator

KXUSB-150 USB Isolator

So what have we been doing the past couple of months?  Strangely, the electrical design wasn’t the longest part of the process. Getting the slick customized plastics that we were proud of — that was a trick.  Oh yeah, and setting up a test fixture and procedure to verify that each and every isolator really does stand off at least 1.5kV.

But here we are with another new product. We think this one turned out pretty well. We’ve learned a few things that hopefully will help us on the next one, too.

Ok – back to the lab.

Why a blog?

January 14, 2010

So we’re starting a blog – why? Because we think we have something to say that our customers will find interesting.

On the one hand, we’ve got a really nice website at (at least we think so). We try to keep it super clean, easy to navigate, and full of information about our products and how to use them. On the other hand, we’re always tinkering in the lab and working on interesting stuff for possible future products. So how do we get a conversation started with our customers about our “projects in development” without gunking up the website? We think this blog is the answer.

Thus begins our latest experiment. We’ll try to post fairly often about some of the “behind the scenes” work that goes in to what you finally see as finished products on the website. We’ll also try to share some tips and techniques that we’ve discovered over many years of embedded systems development. Please feel free to  share your comments, suggestions, and complaints with us. We really do want to know what you think…