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MEMS Gyroscope

Analog Devices (Norwood, MA) has released the ADIS16136 iSensor® digital MEMS gyroscope, which provides 3.50/hr typical bias stability in a module consuming less than 1 watt and weighing 25 grams. The tactical grade (below 100/hr bias stability) iSensor MEMS gyroscope operates autonomously and does not require user configuration before producing rate sensing data.

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3D Video Tracking System

Specialised Imaging Ltd. (Tring, Hertfordshire, UK) has announced a new version of its Trajectory Tracker video tracking system that correlates high-speed video data with 3D visualization and measurement information. Designed to enable engineers to understand the flight behavior of high-speed objects, the SI Tracker 2 adds full, motorized 3-axis remote control and pseudo-real-time scan correction. The lightweight system tracks objects in flight using a computer-controlled, triggered rotating mirror positioned in front of a high-speed video camera.

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Using Standardized Test Methods to Develop Unmanned Ground Vehicles

Traditional test methodologies employ testing as part of the validation phase of a project. While testing plays an important role for validation and quality control, it can also serve as a developmental catalyst if the experiments are performed during earlier phases of a design. Development is accelerated by iterative testing, because it exposes false assumptions before changes to the design become cost-prohibitive.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Standardization, Test procedures, Autonomous vehicles
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Minimizing Thermal Resistance with Direct Attach Heat Spreaders

As commercial and military electronics applications continue to “push the envelope” with higher powers and smaller packaging requirements, it is becoming more critical to minimize the thermal resistance from the heat load to the heat sink. Ideal packaging materials must have high thermal conductivity and coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) values that are compatible with the integrated circuit device while remaining lightweight and affordable. Given these constraints, removing high heat loads and/or high heat flux from these electronics presents some interesting challenges for design engineers.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Integrated circuits, Thermal management, Conductivity, Valves
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Designing High-Speed, Rugged Data Recorders

High-speed recorders represent a major share of electronic instrumentation found in commercial, industrial, scientific research, government, and defense applications. Each system captures specific classes of analog and digital inputs from among an enormous range of sensors, networks, and interfaces.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Embedded Technology, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Electronic equipment, Durability, Event data recorders
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Improving Software Reliability in Satellite and Spacecraft Applications

In the space industry, much of the effort to refine system engineering processes has been done by hand using tools as divergent as Microsoft PowerPoint to IBM Rational Doors. While these tools are valuable, they do not provide a direct connection to source code and test results.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Embedded Technology, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Avionics, Computer software / hardware, Reliability, Satellites, Spacecraft
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Using Software Defined Instruments to Address the Mixed-Signal Test Challenges of Today’s Software Defined Radios

Software Defined Radio (SDR) represents an important move forward for mobile and personal communications, promising a major increase in flexibility, capability, and cost efficiency. It utilizes a combination of field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), digital signal processors (DSPs), and analog/RF designs to achieve the radio’s system performance. The SDR’s core functionality can be changed by modifying the software and firmware instead of the hardware. Because of this flexibility, the radio isn’t limited to just one transmission scheme or waveform. Rather, it can be reconfigured to support new waveforms or to operate as a different type of radio altogether. For a true SDR, the waveform stands on its own, and waveforms can even be ported to different hardware platforms.

Posted in: Articles, RF & Microwave Technology, RFM Catchall, RF & Microwave Electronics, Software-Defined Radio
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Target Location System Performs in Rain, Smoke, Haze, and Combat Scenarios

A combat identification system developed by Cubic Defense Applications, the defense systems business of Cubic Corporation, was successfully tested during a recent U.S. and Coalition forces assessment of technologies designed to reduce “friendly fire” casualties and increase situational awareness. Cubic's DCID-TALON, an acronym for Dismounted Combat ID with Target Location & Navigation, went through a number of tough tests to demonstrate its capabilities. The multifunction technology was tested in sun, rain, smoke, haze, through trees and windows and at a distance. It was tested on moving soldiers who were walking, riding in vehicles, and engaging in simulated dry-fire and live-fire combat scenarios.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Defense, Personnel, Identification, Visibility, Performance tests, Military vehicles and equipment
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Rocket Launcher Tubes Protect Troops

The desire to get home safely dwells in the back of the mind of every soldier. The battlefield provides enough mortal dangers without soldiers having to wonder whether or not the weapons they carry could injure or kill them at any moment. A single flaw in the design or fabrication of man-held weaponry could prove fatal for a soldier, leaving weapon suppliers and manufacturers no margin for error in the weapon development process.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Defense, Failure modes and effects analysis, Product development, Risk management, Military vehicles and equipment
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Holographic Radar Pinpoints Rapid Shell Fire

Cambridge Consultants has successfully carried out trials tracking 5 inch shells travelling at over 1,000 miles per hour for the US Department of Defense (DoD). The groundbreaking radar developed specifically for this task was able to measure the trajectory and burst points of shells fired from a naval gun at a rate of one every three seconds — the first time radar has been used this way. The technology will eventually be used by the US DoD for training against attack by fast moving land and sea vehicles.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Defense, Radar, Marine vehicles and equipment, Military vehicles and equipment
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Jamming-Resistant Adaptive Radio System

Developing smart antennas for jam-resistant cognitive or software-defined radio systems entails a number of challenging issues. Researchers at the University of Texas are investigating methods to locate jamming signals and then take evasive action to maintain a communication link. Their work involves the use of large arrays of miniaturized, tunable antennas and adaptive filters to protect the system. The goal is to design a resilient communication system resistant to jamming signals in a wide spectrum of frequencies.

Posted in: Application Briefs, RF & Microwave Technology, RFM Catchall, RF & Microwave Electronics, Antennas, Communication protocols, Radio equipment, Reliability
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High-Temperature Silicon Carbide Power Module for Military Hybrid Electric Vehicles

The ever-increasing electrical power, power density, and cooling requirements of present and future military platforms are pushing silicon-based power electronics systems to their operational limits. To address future needs, wide bandgap semiconductor materials such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) were developed for electronic applications. Using these semiconductor materials, a new generation of wide bandgap power devices is being developed.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Power electronics, Materials properties, Semiconductors, Hybrid electric vehicles, Military vehicles and equipment
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Prognostic Health Management for Avionics System Power Supplies

Electronic systems such as electronic controls, onboard computers, communications, navigation, and radar perform many critical functions onboard military and commercial aircraft. All of these systems depend on electrical power supplies for direct current (DC) power at a constant (regulated) voltage to drive solid-state electronics. With these power supplies playing an important role in the operation of aircraft systems and subsystems, flight and ground crews need health state awareness and prediction tools that diagnose faults accurately, predict failures, and project life remaining of these components.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Avionics, Electronic equipment, Electric power, Prognostics, Commercial aircraft, Military aircraft
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Energy-Scalable Protocols for Battery Operated Micro Sensor Networks

Networks of microsensors can greatly improve environment monitoring for many civil and military applications. Multiple sensors provide fault tolerance and can provide valuable inferences about the physical world to the end user. In order to prolong the lifetimes of wireless sensors, all aspects of a sensor system should be energy efficient. To maximize battery lifetimes of distributed wireless sensors, network protocols and data fusion algorithms should be designed with low-power techniques. Network protocols minimize energy by using localized communication and control and by exploiting computation/communication tradeoffs. A sensor network system that uses a localized clustering protocol and beamforming data fusion was developed to enable energy-efficient collaboration.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Mathematical models, Architecture, Sensors and actuators, Surveillance, Energy consumption
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Fabrication of Carbon Nanotube Channels on Three- Dimensional Building Blocks

Single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) are the most attractive material in the fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology due to their chemical, physical, and electrical properties. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are being applied in various kinds of nano devices such as transistors, electrodes, sensors, and filters because of the semiconducting, metallic, optical, and structural properties. To date, CNTs are mainly synthesized, grown, and dispersed on a two-dimensional substrate. However, it is not easy to fabricate and manipulate CNTs on a particularly structured substrate for various applications. In the case of CNTs on planar substrates, it is hard to get high conductivity and sensitivity because of physical disconnection and low surface areas due to randomly oriented two-dimensional structure.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Fabrication, Nanomaterials, Nanotechnology
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Wide-Field Imaging System and Rapid Direction of Optical Zoom

A breadboard system has been developed for demonstrating nonmechanical zoom using flexible thin films. The project consists of three major task areas: material characterization, diagnostic system development, and imaging system development. The material characterization phase involves two components: development of modeling tools, and measurement of material properties for use in the tools. The diagnostic system development phase will apply the tools and knowledge developed in the first phase to build algorithms for modeling and testing one-dimensional films with multiple actuators. These models will then be compared to experimental results and modified as needed. The imaging system development phase will conclude the effort by building a sensor system with variable zoom based on optical-quality PVDF films.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Imaging, Sensors and actuators, Diagnostics, Product development, Systems engineering, Materials properties
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Reactive Structure and Smart Armor for Future Ground Vehicles

AReactive Structure Technology (RST) is a new class of smart structure that can react to external excitations (such as blast or ballistic impacts) in a carefully designed way using the energy pre-stored internally or from the external excitations to counteract the hazardous loading or perform other desired tasks. A reactive structure deflects an incoming projectile in order to protect a vehicle body. When a projectile hits the face plate (armor), the embedded sensors feed the impact signal to a control unit, and actuators are triggered to move the faceplate. The movement of the faceplate deflects the projectile and significantly reduces the possibility of penetration in the back plate.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Sensors and actuators, Active safety systems, Protective structures, Military vehicles and equipment
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Distributed, Collaborative Human- Robotic Networks for Search, Identify, and Track

A human-robotic system is under development that can map an unknown environment, as well as discover, track, and neutralize several static and dynamic objects of interest. In addition, the robots can coordinate their individual tasks with one another without overly burdening a human operator. The testbed utilizes the Segway RMP platform, with lidar, vision, inertial, and GPS sensors. The software draws from autonomous systems research, specifically in the areas of pose estimation, target detection and tracking, motion and behavioral planning, and human robot interaction.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Surveillance, Human machine interface (HMI), Product development, Robotics
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Vapor Chambers

Advanced Cooling Technologies (ACT) (Lancaster, PA) has developed a vapor chamber that allows for higher density electronic component installation. ACT vapor chambers are planar heat pipes used to spread concentrated heat, with thermal conductivities exceeding that of copper interface materials. By designing vapor chambers out of a copper-plated ceramic casing, the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) can be matched to that of the high-heat-flux silicon semiconductor materials for direct bonding. The ACT vapor chamber has an evaporator wick structure that handles heat fluxes up to 500 W/cm2. The overall resistance of the vapor chamber is less than 0.12 °C-cm2/W. The devices also work in conjunction with natural convection, forced convection, or liquid cooling.

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Single Board Computer

Advanced Digital Logic (ADL) (San Diego, CA) has announced its ADLQM67PC Sandy Bridge single board computer. The ADLQM67PC features the Intel Core™ i7 processor. The i7 processor integrates Intel’s HD Graphics 3000 engine with AVX (Advanced Vector Extensions), as well as memory controller functions. The QM67 Platform Controller Hub (PCH) provides PCI-Express I/O bandwidth at 5 Gbps.

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High-Temp Cable Assembly

Meggitt Sensing Systems (San Juan Capistrano, CA) has introduced the Endevco® model 3075M6-XXX hardline cable assembly, offering performance up to +482 °C (+900 °F). Offered with a hermetically sealed design for resistance to corrosion, humidity, and other harsh environmental conditions, the 3075M6-XXX is constructed with a fiberglass jacket over a 304L stainless steel outer sheath, preventing inadvertent signal grounding.

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Epoxy

Formulated with a blend of polymeric and inorganic materials, a two-component epoxy from Master Bond (Hackensack, NJ) can be used in bonding, sealing, casting, and coating applications. Serviceable over the temperature range of -60 °F to 250 °F, EP30LTE-LO cures at room temperature, with 85% of its maximum strength developed within 48 hours. Faster cures are possible at elevated temperatures. The 100% reactive epoxy features a low coefficient of thermal expansion of 12×10-6 in/in/°C and a low shrinkage rate of less than 0.0002 in/in. The product creates bonds with a tensile strength of over 5,000 psi. The electrically insulative system resists thermal cycling and chemicals including water, fuels, and many acids, bases, salts, and organic solvents. The epoxy has a working life of up to 60 minutes for a 200-gram mass.

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OpenVPX™ Signal-Processing Modules

New 3U and 6U OpenVPX™ modules from Mercury Computer Systems (Chelmsford, MA) support Electronic Warfare/Signals In telligence (EW/SIGINT) applications. The modules de tect electronic transmissions from opposing forces in missions ranging from radar targeting suppression to counter-IED. The modules can be configured with radio frequency (RF) tuners, or into advanced Application Ready Subsystems™ (ARS™) as part of larger EW/SIGINT systems.

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Ethernet Switch Card

Ballard Technology (Everett, WA) has introduced the MPR-ES-1, a 10-port managed/unmanaged Ethernet switch PMC for embedded use. The rugged COTS switch is suitable for both conduction and convection (air) cooled systems.

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Polymer Membrane

To comply with spilled materials regulations, Durabak-M26, a single-component, slip-resistant chemical- and petroleum-resistant product from ADI Technologies (McLean, VA), seals porous concrete, thereby enabling the proper cleanup in the event of a spill that may potentially leak to the soil and cause damage to the environment. The polyurethane system bonds to the wall area to provide a seamless, leak-free, and repairable membrane.

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Avionics Cables and Connectors

TE Connectivity (TE) (Berwyn, PA) has developed new cable and connector offerings to support Ethernet data rates. The products handle IEEE 1394, USB, and a range of speeds from 1 GbE through 10 GbE. The TE connectors, which support UAVs, helicopters, missiles, and soldier systems, will include high-speed, small-form-factor circular and rectangular connectors in sizes as small as nanominiature. Termination methods involve mechanical crimp, solder, and high-retention- force removable clamps.

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Bellows Assembly

Servometer® – PMG, LLC (Cedar Grove, NJ) has introduced an athermalization, or “atherm,” temperature-sensitive bellows assembly. The lightweight assemblies have thin-walled, electrodeposited nickel soldered to custom end pieces. The end pieces are filled with a working fluid and then sealed.

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DC/DC Converters

The QMJ Series of DC/DC converters from Contech (Concord, CA), a division of Calex, offers up to 20 Watts of fully regulated output power. The series offers a 4:1 input range with nominal input voltages of 24 VDC and 48 VDC. Single outputs offered are 3.3, 5, 12, and 15 VDC. Dual outputs are ±12 and ±15 VDC.

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MIL-STD-1553 PMC Card

The BU-65596F/M, a MIL-STD-1553 PMC card from Data Device Corporation (Bohemia, NY), uses DDC’s Enhanced Mini-ACE® ASIC core. The BU- 65596F/M incorporates Total-ACE® integrated terminals and includes over 62 million hours of in-service history. The high-MTBF, DO-254-certifiable card has up to 4 MIL-STD-1553 channels and 16 avionics discrete I/O, and is VITA 47 Class V3 rated for rugged environments.

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Digital Oscilloscope

Rigol Technologies (Oakwood Village, OH) has introduced the DS6000 series digital oscilloscope, featuring up to 1 GHz bandwidth, 1.5 GHz bandwidth differential, and single-ended active probes. The digital oscilloscopes use advanced waveform search, visualization, and replay to detect signal and device characteristics.

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