This sounds sketchy. I am skeptical of Advantest (a maker of automated test equipment for the semiconductor industry) having much sway over power semiconductor standards. And Advantest has always been a tough nut to crack. In 15 years in this industry, I've always had a hard time getting someone from that company on the phone. I don't really get it. They seem to have no interest in out reach to the US media.
I find the presumption of this report to be wholly inappropriate why are these companies obliged to explain themselves to the press? I believe it is appropriate and reasonable practice for business organisations to decide what should be disclosed and when, whatever the reasons commercial senstivity or otherwise the presumption that the press need to know all about this is over stated.
First, this story WAS already reported in the Japanese press. The information is in the public domain.
If you find the media's instinct to dig further objectionable, well, that's a whole different discussion.
But here's the thing. I read the Japanese story, and found it not so clear -- in terms of what the companies' goals are.
I kept thinking if the auto industry is finding some need for "standardization" in power semiconductors, what would that be. If you are in the power semiconductor business, wouldn't you like to know more?
For obvious reasons, I'm with Junko on this. I think we are fortunate to have the press (well, what's left of it) to find out the things that companies don't necessarily want us to know. I think that's the whole point. Waiting for companies to tell us what they want, when they want means we will be a lot less informed.
Sounds like someone is trying to corner the market to me....get ahead and stay ahead by setting and owning the standard. Clearly they think the demand will be there and others are asleep at the wheel, so to speak.
I suspect it's just the opposite. If you look at what has driven many standardization attempts in the past, the unspoken agenda is to commoditize the products, to make them as cheap as possible. Of course, many times this has failed because (especially in electronics) it doesn't stop innovation (thankfully!). Where it has worked, it has achieved the goal: passive surface-mount components have become so cheap (at the piece level) that the cost to place them dwarfs the component cost! It also leads to oligopolies, as a very few suppliers eventually emerge as the result of M&A and driving the less efficient out of business. There are also other pitfalls; my favorite is the tendency of the European-driven standards groups to issue sham "standards" that essentially combine every local/national standard into one monstrous document that continues the intent of most of these "contributions," which is protection of the "home market."
I do favor standards that preserve the ability to innovate. Ones based on performance do; ones that dictate implementation do not. Another pitfall I have seen often is to perpetuate bad practices like setting tolerances, etc. to what is possible, not what is needed! The major offenders in that category include Germany and Japan; the latter is the epicenter of this latest attempt.
Unfortunately, many standards include construction requirements. Look at almost any electrical safety standard (UL, CSA, CEE, etc. ) and you'll see lots of specifications like creepage distance. Once, I made an off-hand comment (intended as a joke) to the responsible engineer from UL for the old UL-1959 standard (for customer-premise telephone gear) that the requirements for the original modular wall jacks hadn't considered the case of a baby in a wet diaper crawling on a concrete floor (thus being grounded) sticking a finger into the jack opening at the exact moment ringing voltage was applied. Sure enough, the next revision included a new "ring trip" requirement, including a sketch of the baby in a wet diaper sticking a finger into the jack! That later became the requirement for the "trap door" in the jack that would cover the opening, along with a difficult-to-open spring latch that made it nearly impossible to insert a plug into the jack in a semi-blind location. I have no idea how many babies were saved by the resulting mandated redesigns, but I suspect it was pretty close to zero!
mhrackin: GREAT story! I live in a house where all the AC outlets have those infernal slide covers. I doubt they saved many toddlers, but they sure make me look for my reading glasses before I plug anything in. And they manage to complete confuse my guests who've never seen the contraptions before.
How much ring voltage is there, anyway? Enough to zap a well-grounded tyke?
Standard ring voltage is nominal 86VAC, 20 Hz, riding on a -48VDC battery feed. The "ring trip" is the threshold detector that signals when the ringing phone has been answered (it looks at the DC current and then disconnects the ringing voltage when te threshold is exceeded).
Re the other tale above: I have another "shocking" story, 100% true (and I really do remember every detail). As a baby, I somehow woke up from a nap, and climbed out of my crib (which my parents were unaware that I could do). I was crawling around on the floor of our apartment, and found this shiny thing that I picked up and carried around in my explorations. It was a brass house key. As I roamed, I came to a wall and spotted something on the wall that turned out to possess slots in it (an AC outlet, long before U-grounds were invented). For some reason, it seemed the shiny thing would be perfect for exploring the slots. I pushed it into one slot. The next thing I knew, I was on the far side of the room, and the slotted thing was all black! Thus, I have ever since claimed I was destined from that point to become an EE, as I literally had electricity flowing through my veins!
I left out one detail: the ring trip current threshold is usually around 10-15 maDC. Much lower, and it would be tripped by the normal ringing current peak value if multiple phones are on the same line.
Working in telecom for many years, I've been "bitten" by ringing voltage a few times; it's relatively mild, but not particularly entertaining. It reminds me of Mark Twain's comment after being tarred, feathered, and ridden out of town on a rail: "If it wasn't for the honor of the thing, I'd of just as soon walked."
I forgot to mention one point: at 20Hz, the body's response is much more painful than the same shock @ 50 or 60 Hz. The frequency response of the nervous system makes the muscles contract and relax at the 20 Hz rate, so you do get more "all shook up." 60 Hz is considerably attenuated.
Mhrackin: Oh, now I remember all those old bad movies where some American spy is tied up by bad guys in some Central American dictatorship and they attach an old telephone ring device to his, um, elbows and start crankin'. Yeah. That looked pretty painful if that's what we're talking about. I guess it's a good thing they put the little trap door on those phone plugs (sigh).
mhrackin: You were indeed a brilliant EE at an early age! It wasn't until I was in my 20s that I did something similar with a screwdriver while trying to remove the plate surrounding an outlet. Clearly, I was not intended for a life as an engineer.
Would anyone else like to fess up to a shocking experience?
Mhracken: I heard what you're saying, but I'm not sure we're at "opposite" views. After all, what is an oligopoly with only one participant? I absolutely agree with your view on standards that facilitate or hinder innovation.
When I was in high school, I took advantage of the 86 VAC telephone rung voltage to trigger a standard 1/4 watt night light as a silent phone bell that wouldn't awaken anyone late at night (I turned off the other bells). Having my fingers on the terminals of an open phone when it rang did give an unpleasant jolt.
One practical reason for standardizing car power components is to enable emergency services to rationally deal with the guts of a car in an emergency. Today the high voltage high current wires on hybrid cars are fat bright orange wires - not the place to apply cutting tools. Perhaps there are some more mundane conventions that would be nice to standardize so that emergency personnel (or garage mechanics) don't have unwanted surprises on vehicles with which they are not already familiar.
@Junko: How about contacting Toyota in Japan? They may be better to answer our curiosity.
If most renowned organizations are not involved, than it is not international standard. May be at latter stage they will modify and make it IEEE standard. Many US organization does follow this practice.
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