Cynthia Furse is helping redefine how electrical shorts are detected and fixed as a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Utah. More than 12 years ago, she developed a new method that allows technicians to more quickly and efficiently find shorts, broken wires, and other types of electrical faults.
Since then, she and her students have refined the science and helped launch a startup company called LiveWire Innovation. The company is installing the technology in airplanes, and their latest product is the FaultChaser, a handheld device that can be used on consumer products – like cars and trailers. It’s the first easy-to-use device for detecting shorts on live or dead wires.
“LiveWire has been doing a great job chasing faults around the world with the predecessor to this device, so it is cool to have one that anyone can use,” Furse said. “You don’t need to be an electrical engineer to use the FaultChaser, you just push the button and it tells you where the fault is.”
The core technology behind the device works by sending a secondary signal through a wire. When the signal reaches a short, it reflects back to the device, which calculates where the short is based on the time it takes to travel to and from the damaged area. The technique is called spread spectrum time domain reflectometry.
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