Award-winning VMEbus equipment

European awards

CAEN, Italy, has received the French Trophy of Civil Defense 2007 award for its contribution to the EURopean Illicit TRAfficking Coutermeasures Kit (EURITRACK) project (see the October 2005 VMEbus Systems, VME in Europe column). CAEN, in partnership with EURITRACK, provided all electronics such as front-end and power supply instrumentation responsible for the successful development of the automated scanners. The system noninvasively accesses and secures the integrity and safety of shipping containers by detecting materials that may be harmful or threatening. Today, radiation detection applications are becoming strategic for the Homeland Security (HS) business. Due to the nature of HS applications in past years, the particle identification process has become a fundamental part of an HS apparatus or solution.

VMEbus technology from Italy

The readout system of the Beam Scintillation Counter (BSC) at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Geneva, Switzerland consists of CAEN VME-based constant fraction discriminators, V1290A Time-Digital Converters (TDCs), and a fast ADC. This hardware will provide the primary functionality of the BSC. CAEN will supply the A Large Ion Collider Experiment (ALICE) experiment at CERN (see the December 2007 VME and Critical Systems, VME in Europe column) with 710 TDC boards and their 77 special crates with VME64x bus and power supply.

The entire system is used in the Time Of Flight (TOF) detector and will work under a moderate magnetic field and radiation. The VME board developed by CAEN is equipped with 240 TDC channels (25 ps conversion time at the LSB). Each board hosts 30 TDC chips developed by CERN engineers. The modules accept both Emitter-Coupled Logic (ECL) and Low-Voltage Differential Signal (LVDS) inputs at up to 21-bit resolution. Due to the radioactive environment, careful component selection is required to implement protection from single event latch-ups and from Single Event Upsets (SEUs). The boards will be inserted into a special crate developed by CAEN, the Alice-box. The same crate hosts the power supply modules for both the TDCs and the TOF detector front-end modules. CAEN has also designed the crate's water-cooling system. The whole power supply system guarantees smooth operation in a magnetic field up to 5 kGauss.

CAEN is providing a wide range of 19-inch racks and cabinets for the European scientific market as an appointed and authorized distributor for APW, a leading company in designing and manufacturing such products.

European events

The SPS/IPC/Drives Exhibition and Conference is the world's largest meeting of electrical automation experts, held last November. About 45,900 visitors came to see what 1,321 exhibitors had to show on approximately 880,000 square feet of exhibition area in 10 large halls. A number of manufacturers and distributors from the VME/VXS/PPX community were also exhibiting. This highly successful event has been growing, mostly at double-digit rates, even through recent recession years.

The 26th Motek international fair for assembly and handling was held last September at a new venue, being the first fair to use the new fairgrounds (Neue Messe) in Stuttgart, Germany. Currently, this is Europe's newest exhibition and conference center. Figure 1, courtesy of Technology Consulting, Germany, shows Hall One of the Motek international fair. Even though Motek could only use half the exhibition halls (the others were still under construction), 1,103 exhibitors from 20 countries demonstrated their products to about 38,000 visitors (26 percent more than in 2006). All 650,000 square feet (45 percent more than 2006) of exhibition area in five halls were booked. Robots, mechatronics, and automation equipment were some of the show's highlights at the world's largest event of its kind.

Figure 1
(Click graphic to zoom by 1.5x)

Additionally, Hannover, Germany, is the venue for the world's largest exhibition for metalworking equipment. Despite a shorter duration of only six days last September, more visitors (166,000) came to the event to see what 2,118 exhibitors from 42 countries had to show on 1.8 million square feet of exhibition area. It is estimated that this event created about €4 billion (nearly U.S. $6 billion) in new business. Trumpf Laser (see the April 2007 VME and Critical Systems, VME in Europe column) reported on a highly successful EMO event.

Deutsche Messe, which organizes all the large fairs in Hannover, Germany, also organizes the Industrial Automation Show (IAS) in Shanghai, China. In 2007, about 94,700 visitors from 65 countries came to see what approximately 1,000 exhibitors had to show on about 700,000 square feet of exhibition area. VMEbus users, such as Trumpf or Rittal, Germany, were among the exhibitors at the Shanghai New International Expo Center.

For more information, e-mail Hermann at