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Submersible Level Sensors

PT-500 submersible liquid level/pressure transmitters from Automation Products Group (Logan, UT) are cCSAus certified for use in Class I, Div. 1, Groups C and D, and Class I, Zone 0, Group IIB hazardous locations. They feature a vented, watertight cable and deliver a 4-20mA solid-state signal while submerged to 450 feet. A removable stainless steel cage connects to the sensor with a snap ring.

The IP68-protected transmitters are temperature-compensated for use under extreme temperature variations. Surface-mount technology provides additional protection from shock and vibration.

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Thick Film Resistors

IRC (Corpus Christi, TX) offers the CMH Series of high-voltage thick film resistors with voltage ratings to 20,000V and resistance range from 330 to 1GΩ. The resistors are qualified to MIL-PRF-49462, and are designed for high-reliability applications in military communications, radar equipment, high-voltage power supplies, and medical electronics. The resistors offer maximum power ratings of 1/4W to 5W at 70°C, with working voltage ratings from 750 to 20,000V.

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Radiation-Tolerant FPGAs

Xilinx (San Jose, CA) has introduced radiation-tolerant Virtex®-4QV field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) for processing needs of video, audio, radar streams, and packet processing functions in space applications. The FPGAs feature reconfigurable logic fabric, built-in memory, embedded computing, and digital signal processing on a single chip. The devices provide system integration among FPGA-based offerings for space applications with up to 200,000 logic cells, 10-Mbit of RAM/FIFO, two built-in PowerPC® processor blocks with auxiliary processing unit controller, 512 DSP slices, and four built-in Ethernet MAC blocks.

Upset mitigation features address environmental circumstances such as charged particles that can alter the state of configuration elements within the FPGA, causing a single-event upset that produces adverse effects on the FPGA. These features include triple modular redundancy reference designs, and the Xilinx TMRTool to automate logic triplication in the FPGA fabric.

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Resin System

Epsilon 99100 benzoxazine RTM/VARTM resin system from Henkel Corp. (Bay Point, CA) is designed for composite structure in aerospace applications. The resin is stable at ambient temperatures for over a year as a one-part resin. The system features a broad processing window for large parts and intricate shapes, viscosity stability, low heat release during cure, low cure shrinkage for improved translation of strength in the final part, fire retardance for aircraft fuselage and interior applications, high hot/wet property retention, improved UV resistance, and thermal resistance. The 180°C cure resin is also resistant to solvents, has high compressive strength and modulus, and has hot/wet glass transition temperature of 165°C.

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Access Control

Matrix Systems (Dayton, OH) offers Frontier® 5.7.5 access control software with a fault-tolerant door controller option with triple-tier data distribution redundancy. When the control of access or alarm point monitoring is threatened by a disabled common controller or network segment failure, the Matrix System Gateway, an Ethernet-to-485 converter/ switch, automatically maintains connection between the system's third-tier intelligent door controllers and second-tier building controller. The fail-over capability re-routes all communication to an alternate controller and allows the system to maintain all higher-level access functions in the event of a key component failure.

The fault-tolerance option features include installation on separate network segments for full redundancy, the ability for building controllers to be shut down in a hot-swap mode for maintenance, and automatic propagation of data across the system from the server to the building controllers, to the door controllers.

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Pressure Transducer

Omegadyne (Sunbury, OH) offers the PX5000 Series pressure transducer for applications such as flight testing. Using sputtered thin-film sensor technology, the transducer has a 100,000-hour MTBF rate and is stable to 0.1% of FSO over an 18-month period. It provides electrostatic discharge protection to 15 KV, is humidity-qualified to MIL-STD-810, and has minimal effects from shock and vibration, with shock qualification to 100 g.

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Thermal Imaging Camera

L-3 Infrared Products (Dallas, TX) offers the Thermal-Eye® 2400xp Advanced thermal imaging camera that features BST infrared detector technology with 320 × 240 resolution and uninterrupted video and solar immunity. The camera is available in fixedmount or pan-and-tilt configurations, both with dual-sensor capabilities for visible and thermal imaging. It features pan speeds up to 80°/second, and supports video analytics, embedded Pelco D communications protocol, and digital directional readouts. It provides human detection of up to 5,900 feet and has an operating temperature range from -40 to 75°C.

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Bus Extension Systems

The FOMIS and FOL429 fiber-optic bus extension systems from AIM-USA (Omaha, NE) support test applications such as vehicle launch sites, anechoic chambers, and engine testing that require an extended distance between the unit under test and the remote test equipment. The FOMIS system consists of a FOMIS-F front-end module and FOMIS-L remote/lab module, which are interconnected via a fiber-optic link. The system is capable of extending MIL-STD-1553 bus stubs up to 500 meters.

EMC-resistant housing allows operation in electromagnetic fields up to 200V/m. Op - tions supporting extended temperature and standalone or battery-powered operation are available. The FOMIS-L is housed in a 19" rack-mountable chassis. The FOMIS-F frontend modules are capable of supporting a single dual-redundant MIL-STD-1553 bus interface. Up to six FOMIS-F modules can be combined into a single unit with a single power supply module. Each FOL429 module supports up to 16 transmit and 16 receive channels.

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Microchassis

Tripe E Corp. (Lowell, MA) has introduced a 2U microchassis for military, aerospace, and other harsh environment applications. The rack-mount unit features a flange that spans the entire depth of the unit, two fans, and all-aluminum guide decks. It protects boards from vibration damage, incorporates left-toright cooling and maximum airflow between slots for protection against heat build-up, and supports the weight of the unit in a 2U package size.

The fully powered microchassis features 3U, 300-watt, PICMG 2.11-compliant, dual-redundant power supplies. Cooling is achieved with two high-speed 12VDC 84CFM fans in push-pull configuration, and are attached to side rack angles for service. Sensors monitor PCB and PSU temperature and are connected to a fan controller to maintain operating temperatures. Units comply with UL, EN, and CE specs. Options include VME64X, cPCI, or PICMG2.16 backplanes. Units accommodate up to four 6U × 1.6 mm × 160 mm boards in front, and four 6U × 1.6 mm × 80 mm direct plug-in rear transition boards.

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Frequency/Phase Converters

The ED-FPC Series frequency and phase converters from Falcon Electric (Irwindale, CA) provide computer-grade power for sensitive equipment in military and aerospace applications. The rack-mount units range from 3 to 5kVA and weigh less than 80 pounds in a 4U form factor. They are used to deliver power for use in aircraft, groundbased, and mobile systems from generator sources typically incorporated into singleand dual-pallet shelters, as well as tactical, hospital, or lab shelters. The units meet shock and vibration requirements of RTCA/DO160, Zone A, and the Munson Road Test.

The converters have a three-phase input that accepts a 45 to 450 Hz input frequency range. With a single-phase 120Vac, 50, 60, or 400 Hz output, the units eliminate phase imbalance associated with powering large, single-phase equipment from a three-phase generator source. They provide a low-distortion sine wave output with ±3% voltage reduction.

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Connectors

Fischer Connectors (Alpharetta, GA) offers AluLite Series aluminum connectors for electronic systems integrated into air, land, and sea-based applications. The compact, rugged connectors are used for mobile equipment such as communication systems, personal radios, rugged computers, soldier harnesses, and surveillance systems. They are available in a range of non-reflective camouflage colors.

The connectors are 360° EMC shielded, sealed to IP68 or hermetic, and can withstand harsh conditions. They are designed for frequent connect/disconnect operations or blind mating, and feature plugs and receptacles that can endure more than 5,000 mating cycles within a temperature range of -50 to 150°C. They accept cable diameters from 1.4 to 10.7 mm, and are available in multipole from 2 to 27 pins with solder, PCB, or crimp contacts. Body style choices include standard or short plugs, push-pull locking mechanism or emergency release system, front projecting or flush receptacles, and front or rear mounting models.

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Adhesive/Sealant

NuSil Technology (Carpenteria, CA) offers FS3-3730 fluorosilicone adhesive/sealant, a one-part, fast-curing, room-temperature vulcanizing silicone that bonds to most surfaces. It is designed to seal and bond without the need for a primer. It resists degradation when exposed to jet fuel, solvents, gasoline, or crude oil, making it suitable for use in applications that involve a range of operating temperatures.

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The Future of Space Propulsion

Significant challenges and advances in space propulsion have occurred over the past ten years. The end of the Cold War had significant impacts, both positive and negative. Operational systems now have to operate well beyond their design life. Parts and technology obsolescence are having a significant impact, as are an aging workforce and limited opportunities to develop new systems. The advent of asymmetric warfare is fully upon us. The military has to pro - ject power anywhere on the globe. In addition, there is concern that U.S. space assets are vulnerable in this new world. Furthermore, changes in acquisition policy driven by incredible cost and schedule overruns on nearly every space acquisition program will have significant impacts on the future of propulsion.
Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Cost analysis, Technical reference, Rocket engines, Satellites, Spacecraft
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On-Board Vehicle Power for Mobile Forces

Current threats on our military forces have created a tremendous requirement for mobility as it relates to mission specifications. The objectives of onboard vehicle power (OBVP) are to develop, demonstrate, and transition electronic technologies that enable lighter, physically smaller, more efficient, and more reliable electronics, which are easier to operate and maintain. This in turn will enable current and emerging electronic systems to increase performance, have improved physical characteristics, be more reliable, and require significantly fewer lifecycle resources. Further development of these programs will also maximize the advantages of increased DC supply voltage inherent in military vehicles such as the High-Mobility Multi - purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) for delivery of a power solution for multiple military platforms in excess of today’s available 10KW.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Electronic equipment, On-board energy sources, Performance upgrades, Military vehicles and equipment
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Time-Coding of Asynchronous Data Transmissions

A method for providing a time code for multiple streams of simultaneously received data has been developed in order to allow reconstruction of the data after asynchronous transfer. It is often desirable to transmit data collected from a plurality of sensors. When the data is received, it is desirable that the original signal be reconstructed to have the same timing as the originally received data.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Data exchange, Data management, Identification
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Thermal Technology System Acquires Heat Data to Count People

The Flowslide, developed by Royal Boon Edam Group Holding BV, is a combination of a revolving door and curved sliding panels, installed at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris. The Flowslide offers a complete physical separation between two crossing passenger flows on a single floor, allowing arriving and departing passengers to use a single door. The entry and exit points open and close alternatively within the curved wall of the revolving door, while keeping the passengers separate. As the two sets of passengers never come into contact with each other — despite using the same doorway — the Flowslide has enabled today's higher levels of security to be met, without the need to redevelop the terminal.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences
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Digital-Image Data Acquisition System for Turbulent Mixing and Combustion

An equipment and instrumentation system for high-speed digital image data acquisition and processing includes components for Planar Laser Induced Fluorescence (PLIF), flame-speed, and ignition and extinction measurements of laminar flames at variable pressure; tracking flow structures in a high-speed mixing layer using high-speed color schlieren; laser-beam manipulation and volume scanning for three-dimensional turbulence measurements; and an expanded infrastructure capability for processing experimental and numerical-simulation data.

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Tool for Processing and Displaying Genomics Data in Spreadsheets

ChromaBlast is a computer program that facilitates and accelerates processing and display of data by use of Microsoft Excel or other spreadsheet software that affords similar capabilities. The development of ChromaBlast was prompted by a need for improved means of analyzing and reviewing massive data sets produced in genomics and microarray-based gene-expression experiments. ChromaBlast is also generally applicable to other data sets that are amenable to spreadsheet representation.

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Magnetic Memory Devices for Embedded Computing

A program of research has been dedicated to the development of magnetic memory devices than can be incorporated into complementary metal oxide/semiconductor (CMOS) integrated circuits, wherein these devices can be made to function as radiation- hard logic elements and as components of small random-access memories. The goal of this development was not to provide for large-scale, bulk memories, but, instead, to provide for latches and flip-flops that can serve as state and data registers for sequential logic and as configuration registers for configurable logic. A major benefit afforded by these devices is the ability to retain the logical state of a subsystem that contains the devices when turning off the power to that subsystem to save energy until operation of the subsystem is required. The subsystem can then be powered up and begin operating within a time of the order of milliseconds.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers
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Hybrid Micro-Electro-Mechanically Tunable Optical Filter

A prototype hybrid micro-electro- mechanically tunable optical filter (MEM-TF) based partly on an electrostatic-actuation principle has been built and tested as an essential component needed for the further development of a prototype micro-electro- mechanically tunable vertical- cavity surface emitting laser (MT-VCSEL). In turn, MT-VCSELs are needed as essential controllable-wavelength sources in diverse advanced optoelectronic devices and systems including, for example, wavelength-division multiplexers in fiber-optic communication systems; lightweight, compact, portable spectroscopic instruments for detecting chemical and biological warfare agents; holographic memory devices; fiber-optic sensors; optoelectronic signal-processing systems; and remote-sensing systems. The development of the prototype MEM-TF also has additional significance in that it demonstrates the merit of the hybrid approach (in comparison with the monolithic-integration approach) to design and fabrication of some advanced optoelectronic devices.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics
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Silicon Nanowires for Anodes of Rechargeable Li Power Cells

Silicon nanowires have been investigated as alternatives to the graphite heretofore widely used as an anode material in rechargeable lithium-ion power cells. The theoretical specific charge capacity of graphite, corresponding to the maximum Li content (at a composition of LiC6) is 372 mA•hr/g. In contrast, the theoretical specific charge capacity of Si corresponding to the maximum Li content (at a composition of Li4.4Si) is much greater — 4.2 A•hr/g. In previous studies in which thin films of silicon on substrates were investigated for use as high-capacity anodes, it was found that charge capacities faded rapidly in charge/discharge cycling because large changes in volume (as much as 310 percent) associated with insertion and extraction of lithium ions caused cracking and crumbling of the films, as well as delamination of the films from the substrates. The basic idea of the present nanowire approach is to disperse the active anode material into regions having small volumes in order to reduce the sizes of the changes in volume in order to reduce the adverse effects of those changes.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Composites Containing Nanostructured Shape-Memory Alloys

A continuing program of research is devoted to understanding composite materials that include nanostructured shape-memory alloy (SMA) constituents and to developing methods of fabricating components from such materials. This research is intended to improve the utilization of SMAs in microscopic structures and miniaturized devices.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Films Containing Nanostructures and/or Reactive Scavengers

Several advances have been made in research in the art of tailoring polymeric films to be, variously, (1) much more effective as barriers to diffusion of liquids and gases than they would otherwise be or (2) porous, with pore sizes suitable for filtration of selected gases or liquids. The part of the research addressing the barrier problem has provided a scientific basis for reducing the permeabilities of paints and packaging films to small fractions of the permeabilities of corresponding paints and packaging materials now in common use. In this part of the research, consideration was given to two strategies, described below, that can be used separately or together.

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Perspective on Research in Laser Propulsion

A document summarizes the history of research on laser propulsion, starting with the first publication of the laser-propulsion concept in the year 1969, proceeding through studies of laser propulsion within the broader context of advanced propulsion systems in general, and culminating in proof-of-concept experiments and associated studies under the auspices of the Air Force Research Laboratory during the years 1996 through 2007. The document briefly discusses the basic physical principles and engineering concepts of laser propulsion as demonstrated in the proof-of-concept experiments, in which a model rocket denoted a laser lightcraft was lofted to altitudes exceeding 200 ft. (about 61 m). In these experiments, a CO2-laser beam of pulse energy of 400 J at a repetition rate of 25 Hz was used to vaporize a solid propellant (Delrin® polyoxymethylene) to generate thrust. There is a brief discussion of energy-conversion efficiency in laser propulsion. This is followed by an analysis of the concept of supplementing laser ablation energy, and thereby effectively increasing the energy-conversion efficiency, by incorporating a chemically energetic ingredient (ammonium nitrate) into the Delrin propellant. The document includes an extensive bibliography of research on laser propulsion.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences
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Some Advances in Understanding of Environmental Fatigue

A research program has yielded advances in understanding of numerous aspects of environmental crack propagation in aerospace aluminum alloys. From one perspective, the objective of this program was to quantitatively establish governing crack-tip-mechanics conditions and damage mechanisms pertinent to environmental crack propagation, using a combination of (1) high-spatial-resolution experimentation and (2) computational simulation based on continuum-mechanics mathematical models employing multiple length scales. From a slightly different perspective, the central goals of this research were to (1) develop means of accurate prediction of crack-tip stresses and plastic strains for incorporation into micromechanical descriptions of crack growth, (2) validate crack-tip-mechanics models by means of high-spatial-resolution experiments, and (3) resolve physical characteristics of damage attributable to accumulation of hydrogen at fatigue-crack tips.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences
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Cracking of Aluminum Panels Repaired With Composite Patches

An experimental study of the mechanical behavior of cracked aluminum specimens repaired with composite-material patches has yielded findings that may eventually contribute to the development of more- effective composite patches and of techniques for predicting and detecting failures in composite-patched aluminum aircraft panels. Some prior studies have addressed various aspects of composite-patch repair of aluminum specimens, but until now, little attention has been given to such important aspects of mechanical behavior and properties as the relationships among stress, strain, and growth of cracks through-out the lifetimes of specimens. In this study, effects of initiation and growth of cracks on the residual strengths of the patched specimens were characterized. This study established a correlation among damage modes, residual strengths, and evolution of strain inside and outside the patched areas.

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Software Virtual Networks Integrate Training and Operation of Wireless Net-Centric Warfare Systems

Military planners are aggressively developing network-centric warfare platforms that use wireless communications as a force multiplier. The aim of these programs is to provide warfighters with the best equipment and technology to achieve tactical dominance as soon as practical.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Technology
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Interview with Ray Alderman, Executive Director of VITA

Founded in 1984 to promote VMEbus technology, VITA is a non-profit organization of more than 125 vendor companies who share a common interest in real-time, modular embedded computing systems. In August 2008, VITA's Executive Director, Ray Alderman, agreed to speak with Embedded Technology's editor, Bruce Bennett, about the state of VME technology in 2008, how far it has come in its 30-year history, and where it is likely to go in the future.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Embedded Technology, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Embedded software, People and personalities
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System-On-Module Standard

MEN Micro Inc. (Ambler, PA) has announced the ESMexpress® System-On-Module Standard, a new computing standard in development to be the ANSIVITA 59 (RSE Rugged System- On-Module Express) standard. In conjunction with the new standard, they have also an - nounced the XM1 featuring the first-generation Intel® Atom® processor (Z530 at 1.6 GHz or Z510 at 1.1 GHz) based on 45-nm technology coupled with 1 GB of soldered DDR2 SDRAM for significantly lower power dissipation, reduction in design costs, and space-saving design flexibility. ESMexpress combines this model with advanced cooling technologies, and the latest serial buses and rugged components to ensure safe, reliable operation in harsh environments found in areas as diverse as the railway, avionics, industrial automation, medical engineering and mobile industries.

ESMexpress provides for extreme resistance against shock and vibration. Eight screws secure the module to the carrier board. In addition, a mechanically robust connector specified for MIL and railway applications supports differential signals with up to 8 GHz, features a stacking height of 5 mm with a minimum tolerance of +/-0.3 mm, is equipped with fixed contacts for power supply, and is specified for an operating temperature range of -55°C to +125°C. The Intel-based XM1 offers a screened temperature range of -40°C to +85°C. The electrical signals are distributed on two 120-pin connectors and are only defined for modern serial buses. For PCI Express there are four single lane ports (4 ×1) and one port that can be configured as 1 ×16, 1 ×8, 2 ×4 or 2 ×1. Other ports include three 1-Gigabit Ethernet (also as 10- Gigabit), eight USB, three SATA, SDVO, LVDS, HD Audio, several utility signals, and a single 12V power supply.

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FPGA Mezzanine Card Module

VMETRO (Houston, TX) has released a FPGA Mezzanine Card (FMC/VITA 57) module. The ADC510, available in air-cooled and conduction- cooled rugged versions, integrates two 12-bit 500MHz A/D chips for use in DSP applications such as signal intelligence (SIGINT), electronic counter measures (ECM), and radar. This design, based on the emerging VITA 57.1 standard, makes it easier for developers to integrate FPGAs into their embedded system designs.

The ADC510 supports two Texas Instruments ADS5463 ADC devices, with each device supporting a sampling rate up to 500 MSPS and providing 12-bits of digital output. The ADC device interfaces are routed to the FMC connector to enable an FPGA on a baseboard to directly control and receive data. There is a choice of sample clock sources for the ADC510 including an onboard source that supports sampling rates of 300, 320, 400, and 500 MSPS as well as the ability to utilize an external sample clock. Input and output triggers are provided to enable multiple ADC510 modules to be synchronized to increase the number of input channels.

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