Many of the technical terms used throughout our website are explained in this glossary. Please select a letter of the alphabet – or choose “View All” – to browse terms and definitions.
A/D converter: Analog to digital converter- a circuit whose input is analog (e.g. voltage) and whose output is a digital representation of the input. Since a computer program cannot directly process analog information, these circuits are often used where a sensor is needed to monitor some condition (e.g. pressure, temperature) and a microcontroller makes decisions based on the sensor reading.
ALC: Automatic Level Control
Altium: A software company that markets the Protel line of printed circuit layout CAD software.
ATE: Automated Test Equipment
ATF: Automatic transmission fluid- a substance largely consisting of lanolin which is used in automotive transmissions.
AUT: Amplifier Under Test
Backlighting: Lighting that is specifically directed from the back side of a switch panel or control panel through engraved openings or lettering. Backlighting enables the text to be read in low light conditions. A new, low-profile form of LED backlighting is Sticklite, designed and produced by Inventure and viewable in the product gallery.
BGA: Ball Grid Array
Blinkem: A series of novelty light-up pins made exclusively by Inventure. Blinkems feature Christmas shapes with 24 LED's with a scroll through menu to select the desired blinking pattern. Blinkems may be purchased in the personal electronic section of this website.
Bluetooth (tm): Bluetooth is a wireless communication protocol. It is named after the Viking king Harald "Bluetooth" Gormson. Unlike most Vikings he preferred talking over fighting. The Bluetooth logo represents his initials in Nordic runes.
BPSK: Binary Phase Shift Keying
CAN: Controller Area Network- a communication protocol that allows microcontrollers and peripheral devices to communicate with each other particularly in vehicular applications.
COFDM: Coded Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing
Copyright: The exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, and sell the matter and form of a literary, musical or artistic work.
CTE: Coefficient of Thermal Expansion
D/A converter: Digital to analog converter- an electronic circuit that has a digital input signal (distinct states) which is converted to an analog (continuously varying) output signal. A typical application of a D/A converter is in digital signal processing of audio signals for example in a CD player. The information is stored on the disc in digital form but must be converted to analog before reaching the output to be reproduced as sound.
DUT: Device Under Test
ECL: Electronic Current Limiter
EDC: Electrical displacement control- a form of control for hydraulic fluid flow. In this method a swash plate in the hydraulic pump is controlled by a small electrical current (100 mA e.g.) which controls the hydraulic output of the pump. This method differs from other flow control techniques that vary the opening of a hydraulic valve with PWM drive current.
Electro-hydraulic: In modern hydraulic systems the flow of hydraulic fluid is controlled by means of electronic valves and pumps with the aid of electronic driver circuits. This differs from previous systems where the flow of fluid was controlled by mechanical valves.
Embedded: A term used to describe a computer program that resides in the circuit, usually in a microcontroller.
EMI: Acronym for Electro-Magnetic Interference
Encapsulation: A generic term describing the use of a liquid, poured over a circuit, that hardens into a solid. Encapsulation is used to protect circuits from environmental elements of moisture, dust, shock and static electricity. It also protects a proprietary circuit from inspection. Common forms of encapsulation are epoxies, urethanes and silicones.
ESD: Electrostatic discharge- the sudden discharge of an electric field. In electronic circuitry an ESD event of sufficient strength can damage components.
ESR: Acronym for Equivalent Series Resistance
EUT: Equipment Under Test
FCC: Federal Communications Commission- A United States government agency that oversees the regulation of wireless communications, transmissions, interference etc.
FIPS: Federal Information Processing Standard
GDT: Gas Discharge Tube
Giga: A prefix meaning one billion. Common usage includes gigahertz (billion cycles per second) and gigabyte (billion 8-bit words of information).
HVAC: Acronym for Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning
IF: Intermediate Frequency
Infrared: Infrared refers to light that is longer in wavelength than visible red light.
IR: see Infrared
ITU: International Telecommunication Union
LCD: Liquid Crystal Display- A type of electronic display screen based on the refractive and polarization characteristics of crystals.
LED: Light Emitting Diode- An electronic device that produces light by energizing electrons in a diode junction to emit photons.
Li-ion: Lithium Ion- A high energy density rechargeable battery technology based on Lithium ion chemistry.
Microcontroller: An integrated circuit (chip) that is comprised of an on-board instruction set, input and output ports, clock and memory. It is a small computer with a customized program loaded into it. A microcontroller allows the circuit designer to include decision-making program in the circuit design. A microcontroller adds flexibility, security, economy, efficiency and enhanced capability to your electronic designs. Also called a micro.
MID's: Mobile Internet Devices
MOSFET: Acronym for Metallic Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor
MOV: Metal Oxide Varistor
Multi-layer board: Most printed circuit boards (PCB's) are constructed with just two layers, front and back. However, it is possible to sandwich many layers together where a lot of circuit traces are needed. These boards are called multi-layer PCB's.
Multiplex: A system of transmitting multiple data instructions over a single circuit path by sequentially sending one instruction (data code) and then another and repeating.
NiMH: Nickel Metal Hydride- A rechargeable battery composition with energy density greater than Nickel Cadmium but not as high as Lithium Ion.
Non-compete agreement: An agreement signed by two parties, usually prior to entering discussion on a new product or venture, that restricts the parties from divulging information regarding the product or venture to anyone else. It is designed to protect the economic interests of one or both of the parties.
OLED: Organic Light Emitting Diode
OTA: Over The Air
Patent: A legal document securing to an inventor for a term of years the exclusive right to make, use or sell and invention. A utility patent makes claims based on the usefulness of a device. A design patent makes claims based on a unique form.
PCB: Printed circuit board- a thin substrate typically made of fiber glass with copper traces used to connect electronic components into a useful circuit arrangement. PCB's are fabricated using plating, etching, drilling, silk screening and routing phases. PCB's replaced the older point-to-point wiring technique of connecting components.
PFC: Acronym for Power Factor Correction
POL: Acronym for Point-Of-Load
Potting: A generic term describing the use of a liquid, poured over a circuit, that hardens into a solid. Potting is used to protect circuits from environmental elements of moisture, dust, shock and static electricity. It also protects a proprietary circuit from inspection. Common forms of potting are epoxies, urethanes and silicones.
Proportional control: Proportional control in electro-hydraulics refers to the ability to adjust the flow of hydraulic fluid in direct proportion to current applied to a hydraulic valve. The most common method is to apply a PWM signal to a valve designed for proportional control.
Proprietary: Having the exclusive right to manufacture and sell.
Protel: A brand name of an electronic printed circuit layout CAD software.
PTC: Positive Temperature Coefficient
PWM: Pulse width modulation- varying the ratio of a pulse's 'on' time to its repetitive period in a pulse train. This method is useful in a resistive or inductive circuits to control the average current flow. The drive circuit is either full on or full off at all times which conserves energy. The modulation is expressed as a percentage.
QPSK: Quadrature Phase Shift Keying
RFI: Acronym for Radio Frequency Interference
RFID: Radio Frequency Identification- A system of relaying information stored in a miniature circuit usually located on a 'tag' by sending a radio frequency message from a base, receiving an encoded reply from the 'tag' and then decoding the received data. The power required by the receiver is usually provided by the radio frequency transmission from the base and therefore no battery or remote power is necessary.
RoHS: Acronym for 'Reduction of Hazardous Substances' most commonly pronounced 'ro-haus'.
RTOS: Real Time Operating System
RX: Receiver or Receive
Schematic capture: The process of 'drawing' a circuit diagram with the aid of a special CAD program designed for printed circuit layout. This phase of the circuit board design ensures that the schematic is in a form that the CAD program can readily utilize.
SFDR: Spurious Free Dynamic Range
Slideout: Many recreational vehicles have one or more compartments (slideouts) designed to extend the living space of the vehicle while it is parked. They slide into place from the inside to the outside of the vehicle.
SMD: Surface mount device- a type of electronic component used in the manufacture of printed circuit boards that does not have wire leads attached.
SMT: Surface mount technology- the use of electronic parts in circuit board construction that do not have wire leads. In manufacturing circuit boards using SMT, surface mounted parts must be placed on the circuit board by a 'pick-and-place' machine. Parts are attached to the board with adhesive and circuit connections made by melting solder that has been placed on the board prior to part placement.
SNR: Signal to Noise Ration- also S/N
Thru-hole (through-hole): A term used to describe electronic parts which have a lead attached. In construction of a circuit board using leaded parts the lead must go through a hole in the circuit board before being soldered.
Tilt/telescope: In an automotive steering column that is adjustable there are typically two axes of position adjustment. They are the tilt and telescoping axes.
Trademark: A legally reserved device (as a word, name, logo) that points distinctly to the origin or ownership of merchandise. It is exclusively reserved for the owner of the trademark to use in the making and selling of the merchandise.
Transducer: A device that converts one type of physical stimulus into another. For example, a thermistor converts temperature changes into a change of electrical resistance. Another example is a microphone which converts acoustic energy into electrical energy.
TSPD: Thyristor Surge Protection Device
TWT: Traveling Wave Tube
TX: Transmitter or Transmit
Ultrasonic: An acoustic wave that is higher in frequency than can typically be heard is referred to as ultrasonic. Usually this begins above 20,000 cycles per second or 20 kilohertz (kHz).
VCSEL: Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser
VSWR: Voltage Standing Wave Ratio
WLAN: Wireless Local Area Network
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