Zero-Emissions Electric Aircraft: Theory vs Reality

Many different electrically propelled aircraft have been or are soon to be flying. Recently a zero-emissions electric aircraft, Solar Impulse, flew around the world with zero fuel. However, an electric aircraft with the payload and range of a B-777 and having zero-emissions is a few more decades in the future.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Aviation, Alternative Fuels, Energy, Low emission vehicles (LEV) and Zero emission vehicles (ZEV), Electric power, Aircraft

Seeing the Light

In order to meet the requirements of current-generation military ruggedized displays and monitors, various technology innovations have been developed that allow for an enhanced user experience. Accommodating all of these needs has become a challenge for design engineers, especially when it comes to aircraft displays and monitors.

Posted in: Articles, Aviation, Defense, Aircraft displays, Displays, Military vehicles and equipment

Multiple Node Networking Using PCIe Interconnects

PCI Express (PCIe) interconnects, and how they can be used to support multiple node low latency data transfers over copper or optical cables, is gaining momentum in embedded computing solutions. Many current “out-of-the-box” solutions are being used to interconnect standard Intel-based servers in traditional commercial computer environments to shared I/O devices on Windows or Linux operating systems. Now emerging is the use of PCIe to provide box-to-box external data paths between rugged embedded systems as well as for the internal data path in backplane architectures, such as VPX. Why is this trend developing, and what implementation challenges, as well as possible solutions, is the industry seeing through the use of PCIe?

Posted in: Articles, Aviation, Defense, Architecture, Data exchange

Combining Software and Hardware for Highly Specialized Multichannel Spectrum Monitoring

Systems specifically designed for spectrum monitoring applications typically acquire RF signals from a reference antenna or downlink, analyze the shape (or mask) of the acquired signals, and compare the mask of the acquired signals to some user-supplied reference mask or power level. These are the foundational requirements for nearly any spectrum monitoring system. However, since the spectrum monitoring equipment industry is not a high-volume one, many of these systems are built using standard spectrum analyzers originally designed for an entirely different purpose, such as R&D or production testing. The size of the spectrum monitoring marketplace has not supported highly specialized spectrum monitoring functions at a budget-friendly price point. Often, the software or firmware that runs the spectrum analyzer hardware was not designed with off-air spectrum monitoring as a driving use case for the instrument, which results in a clumsy user interface with poor productivity and significant gaps in functionality.

Posted in: Articles, Defense, RF & Microwave Electronics, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Human machine interface (HMI), Test equipment and instrumentation

Advanced Thermal Management Solutions

Now more than ever, devices with increasing power and smaller footprints are demanding a good stable cost effective thermal management solution. Fortunately many options are available today. However, for device packaging designers not familiar with these technologies, determining which thermal management technology is appropriate for their application can be a challenging task. To help sort out the many options, here is an overview of three very different thermal technologies: passive heat pipes, pumped two-phase cooling systems and temporary thermal storage/ phase change materials (PCM) heat sinks. In each case we’ll provide an overview of each of these technologies, explain how they function and provide some examples of when they should be considered.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Defense, Thermal Management, Thermal management, Packaging

Thermoelectric Cooling

There are many places one can go to get an outline on the pros and cons of different methods for enclosure cooling. Although we will briefly touch on them here, this is really an in-depth article on how to choose a Peltier (thermoelectric) air conditioner, once you have committed to the technology.

Posted in: Articles, Defense, Thermal Management, Air conditioning, Thermal management

Thermal Ground Planes Optimizing Heat Transfer in Aerospace and Defense Applications

Wide band gap (WBG) semiconductors are semiconductor materials that allow higher voltages, higher frequencies and operation at higher temperatures over conventional electronic materials, thereby allowing higher performance electronics to be constructed. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) understood the advantages of using WBG in aerospace and defense applications but also understood that thermal management was going to be a significant technical challenge to achieving the full potential of WBG technology. Accordingly, to overcome these and other challenges, DARPA sponsored the development of a new form of heat pipe, known as a Thermal Ground Plane (TGP), to effectively cool WBG devices.

Posted in: Articles, Defense, Thermal Management, Electronic equipment, Thermal management, Defense industry, Cooling, Semiconductors