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RF/IF Digitizer

ZTEC Instruments (Albuquerque, NM) and Astronics DME Corp. (East Aurora, NY) have developed the ZR8441 RF/IF digitizer. The digitizer comes standard with a full-featured, on-instrument spectrum analyzer. Technical specifications include real-time quadrature digital down conversion (DDC) with fractional resampling and decimation; vector signal analysis capability of 156.26 MHz instantaneous bandwidth; low noise floor and high dynamic range; all-digital frequency hopping; and real-time FPGA processing. To ease the transition from a bench-top spectrum analyzer to its modular instrument counterpart, the ZT8441 integrates with a familiar interface. Its modular architecture also provides interoperability with third-party RF modules, like RF down converters; the product offers bus master control of those RF instruments.

Posted in: Products, RFM Catchall
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Dipole Antennas

Antenna Factor (Merlin, OR) has announced 2.4 GHz models of its HW and HWR Series antennas. While the HW has a fixed base, the HWR option features an articulating base that allows the antenna to tilt 90° and rotate 360°. Both of the 1⁄2-wave, center-fed dipole antennas feature an internal counterpoise that eliminates external ground plane dependence to improve performance. The HW and HWR Series antennas attach via a standard SMA or Part 15-compliant RP-SMA connector. Custom colors and connectors are also available for volume OEM customers.

Posted in: Products, RFM Catchall
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Tracking Application

MobileRecon from Navagis (Jackson, MS) is a mobile device application that brings video, audio, and other data onto a Google Earth Enterprise (GEE) globe from the field. User-generated maps and live asset tracking can be displayed on the server and the device simultaneously with Google Maps. All data collected in the field is automatically time-stamped; geo-located through cellular, Wi-Fi, GPS, or a combination; and can be annotated. The application operates in disaster areas and rural areas without network connectivity, and automatically syncs data to the GEE globe as network access becomes available. The user interface can be used for a variety of tasks, including command and control, situational awareness, and reconnaissance. Users are able to edit, analyze, and review collected data post-mission.

Posted in: Products
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Using the Intel® Architecture in High-Performance Military Embedded DSP Applications

Historically, processors from the PowerPC® family, now known as Power Architecture® processors, have been the dominant choice for implementing Digital Signal Processing (DSP) in high-performance embedded military applications that take advantage of open-system commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products. These applications include radar, signal intelligence, sonar, and image processing. Today, however, beginning with the dual-core Intel Core™ i7 processors, the low-power, high-performance advantages of the Intel architecture processor technology can be used for the first time to design DSP engines for the rugged deployed COTS signal processing space.

In the early 1990s, systems were implemented largely with specialized processors such as the Intel® i860 processor, the Texas Instruments 320C40, and the Analog Devices SHARC®. These processors were popular because of their floating-point performance.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Embedded software, Military aircraft, Military vehicles and equipment
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Protecting COTS Military Electronics From Shock and Vibration

Military systems represent extreme environments for COTS electronic equipment. Many systems involve multiple enclosures, often from different suppliers. Equipment layout, the selection of racks, whether isolation is used, and how the electronics are “housed” can vary widely. There are no standards regarding maximum allowable shock and vibration levels. Design factors are often based on estimates of equipment fragility and expected loads, both of which can be uncertain.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Electronic equipment, Defense industry, Vibration, Mountings, Durability, Military vehicles and equipment
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Moving From System Specification to Software Development

Systems engineering is not about developing electronics, mechanical, or software designs. Systems engineering is really about four things:

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Product development, Systems engineering
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Testing DC Power Systems

DC is not always DC. When systems are developed to operate on DC power, the DC electrical environment will have noise and may experience other disturbances. This article will explore considerations for generating low frequency disturbances (glitches, sags, surges, spikes) that occur in the 100 microsecond and longer region with bandwidths of 10 kHz or less. In contrast, noise, which is outside of the scope of this article, can be low frequency (like 50/60 Hz hum) but becomes a challenge to generate in range from kHz, to MHz or up to the GHz range.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Electric power, Test equipment and instrumentation, Test procedures
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High-Density Rad-Hard Reconfigurable FPGA

Xilinx, Inc. (San Jose, CA) has launched the industry’s first high-density, rad-hard reconfigurable FPGA. The new devices are built on the second-generation ASMBL™ column-based architecture of the Virtex-5 family with support in Xilinx’s ISE® Design Suite. Virtex-5QV devices integrate many of the same hard-IP system level blocks, such as flexible 36-Kbit/18-Kbit block RAM/FIFOs, second generation 25x18 DSP slices, power-optimized high-speed serial transceiver blocks for enhanced serial connectivity, and PCI Express™ compliant integrated Endpoint blocks. The Virtex-5QV device offers 130,000 logic cells, 320 DSP Slices supporting fixed and floating point operations, and 836 user I/Os programmable to more than 30 different standards for applications and ease of interfacing to a wide variety of system components. The Virtex-5QV family also provides the industry’s first integrated high-speed connectivity solution for space with 18 channels of 3Gbps Multi-gigabit Serial Transceivers for chip-to-chip, board-to-board and box-to-box communication.

Posted in: Products, Products, Electronics & Computers
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Video Frame Grabber

The PIXCI® SI2 frame grabber from EPIX (Buffalo Grove, IL) supports two high-resolution SILICON VIDEO® cameras with resolutions from 0.3 to 10 megapixels on the x1 PCI Express bus. With 64 MB of onboard memory and XCAP-Lite software, it allows image capture at rates up to 280 MB/sec and capture of short bursts of high-resolution images from two cameras. Both free-run and async capture modes are provided. TTL trigger and strobe connectors allow async capture and strobe control. Two cameras can be synchronized for simultaneous or stereo image capture. It is available with a standard height or low-profile bracket.

Posted in: Products, Products, Electronics & Computers
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Multi-Touch Controller Chip

STMicroelectronics (Geneva, Switzerland) has introduced the STM32TS60, a single-chip multi-touch “resistive” touchscreen controller that detects up to 10 simultaneous touches with fingers, nails, or stylus, enabling designers to replace complex sequences with user controls. The controller combines STM32 microcontroller architecture with PMatrix™ multitouch technology from Stantum. The STM32TS60’s high EMI immunity makes it suitable for use in multi-function wireless products such as cellphones, notebook PCs, netbooks, and mobile Internet devices. Moreover, its low power consumption helps to maximize operating times and recharge intervals, and is a direct benefit of the STM32’s energy-saving design features and ARM® Cortex™-M3 processor. In addition, very-low-power idle mode with ‘wake-up on touch only’ helps further extend mobile battery life. It is housed in a 7mm x 7mm, 144-pin UFBGA package.

Posted in: Products, Products, Electronics & Computers
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