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Using Ethernet for Process Automation

The use of Ethernet communications in industrial applications is growing because it enables the real-time exchange of information between processing equipment and companies' Ethernet-based management systems. Some of the factors encouraging the use of Ethernet technology include:

the speed advantages over lower baud rate protocols the number of tools available for troubleshooting and optimizing a network, the broad base of competitive vendor support and solution options and the large pool of trained personnel who are familiar with the technology.

In addition, the ability to bridge existing proprietary communications schemes makes it possible to phase in the use of Ethernet rather than having to replace everything at once.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Telecommunications systems, Automation, Industrial vehicles and equipment
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How PCI Express Is Changing Machine Vision

PCI Express is the peripheral bus now being adopted by next-generation PCs, servers, and industrial computers. It provides a scaleable, high-bandwidth, point-to-point pathway between peripheral cards and the computing core while retaining application software compatibility with previous generations. For machine-vision systems, the architecture and higher bandwidth of PCI Express yield major increases in achievable frame rate and image size as well as simplifying the implementation of multi-channel capability.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Artificial intelligence, Computer software / hardware, Automation
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Energy Storage for Hybrid Military Vehicles

The benefits of hybrid electric vehicles have been recognized by the U.S. Army and other military services. As a consequence, hybrid vehicles are being considered as future combat and tactical platforms. In order to achieve an All Electric Combat Vehicle (AECV), integration challenges have to be overcome for every system in the new vehicle.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace
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Update on NASA’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

In the August issue of Defense Tech Briefs, we highlighted NASA’s Altair/Predator B unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for Earth science missions. A lot has happened in the past two months, so we’re providing an update on the latest aircraft and applications in NASA’s growing UAV program.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace
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SpaceWire: The Standard for Aerospace Communications

Developed in 1999 under the auspices of the European Space Agency, SpaceWire answered a longstanding spaceflight problem: no standard, high-speed communications protocol existed for flight electronics. Therefore, all spaceflight electronic payloads (such as processing units and onboard computers) were customdesigned, which resulted in long development periods, high costs, and elevated risks. The SpaceWire standard was developed as a network of nodes and routers interconnected through bidirectional, high-speed serial links, limiting the customdesign problem by designing a standard with flexibility, modularity, and reusability.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace
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Error-Free Data Acquisition and Archival for High-Bandwidth Military Applications

Acquiring data from sensors, transporting the data, and then archiving it for future reference has changed dramatically over the last few years. The traditional approach of collecting data from an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) with a small microprocessor to monitor the slow-changing levels of a signal is for the most part no longer adequate. Today's new advanced military systems now employ complex sensors capable of generating streams of data with rates of 100 megabytes and greater. To transfer this high-speed data from the sensor to a processor without losing signal characteristics, designers now must digitize the data at the sensor. To meet this requirement, designers needed a protocol that would transport the digital data with minimum processing or latency. This problem was pursued by several companies, including Curtiss- Wright, and the result was the ANSI/VITA 17.1-2003 Serial Front Panel Data Port standard (S-FPDP).

Posted in: Briefs, Information Technology
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The Dataflow Interchange Format for Designing DSPs

The dataflow interchange format (DIF) is a conceptual framework for helping designers of digital signal-processing (DSP) systems to integrate diverse dataflow models, dataflow techniques, DSP-design software tools, DSP software libraries, and embedded processing platforms. Somewhat more specifically, the DIF is intended to afford a unique combination of capabilities for (1) developing dataflow models and techniques for exploring the complex design spaces for embedded DSP systems; (2) porting DSP designs across various software tools, libraries, and embedded processing platforms; and (3) synthesizing software implementations from high-level, dataflow-based program specifications.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Technology
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System for Imaging Turbulent Combustion Flows

The Components of the System enable diverse types of imaging, acquisition of image data, and processing of the data to extract information on multiple aspects of high-speed combustion flows.Asystem of scientific instrumentation and data-processing equipment has been assembled for research and education in turbulence, mixing, and chemical reactions (especially combustion) in high-speed laminar and turbulent flows. The system is designed to enable study of temporally varying, three- dimensional structures in flow regimes that have been inaccessible to prior instrumentation systems, with emphasis on flow regimes relevant to the operation of ramjet and scramjet engines.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences
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Variable-Data-Rate Speech Encoder

Avariable-data-rate (VDR) speech encoder has been designed to be interoperable with, and eventually to supplant, the many different voice encoders now used in military communication systems. Because these older systems were designed to utilize specific radio links with fixed and limited channel capacities, these systems utilize many different voice compression algorithms operating at various fixed rates. The incompatibility of these systems is an obstacle to interoperability. Emerging net-centric communication systems promise to provide connectivity to all military users, but compatible encoding will be necessary for interoperability, and encryption will be necessary for secure communications.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers
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Apparatus Generates CE-Phase-Stable Two-Cycle Optical Pulses

A n apparatus that includes two optical parametric chirped pulse amplification stages has been built as a means of generating few-cycle, common-envelope (CE)-phase-stable, high-energy optical pulses. [CE phase is the phase of an optical carrier-signal waveform relative to the pulse envelope waveform. CE phase is an important property of fewcycle pulses, and CE-phase stability is essential in typical applications involving few-cycle pulses.] The apparatus can generate two-cycle (14-fs-duration) pulses at a nominal middle wavelength of 2 μm, and two-cycle (5-fs-duration) pulses at a nominal middle wavelength of 800 nm at a repetition rate of 1 kHz, without need for pulse compression by an external apparatus. The apparatus is intended for use in high-harmonic generation (HHG) of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) and soft x-rays in the near term, extending to production of attosecond EUV and soft-x-ray pulses in the longer term. Moreover, this apparatus is expected to enable exploration of generation of fewand single-cycle laser pulses over the wavelength range from 700 to 2.6 μm.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics
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