Measuring Radar Cross Section with Handheld VNAs

Radar cross section (RCS) is the measure of an object's ability to reflect radar signals in the direction of the radar receiver, i.e. it is the measure of the ratio of backscatter per steradian (unit solid angle) in the direction of the target radar to the power density intercepted by the target. RCS measurements help ensure the design of commercial and military aircraft and radar systems, as well as to maintain their performance once they are deployed.

Posted in: Application Briefs, RFM Catchall, Measurements, Antennas, Radar, Commercial aircraft, Military aircraft

Stackable Computer Architecture Moves to 3rd Generation

Change is a concept that is well known in the computer industry. Designers and manufacturers alike have embraced this trend in an ongoing race to increase computing power while reducing size, weight, and power and cost (SWaPaC). With the latest round of ultra-low power processors from Intel, VIA, AMD and DMP, stackable computer systems need to adapt as well, especially with respect to I/O, while striking a balance between new and legacy technology.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Product development

Small Form Factor Computing in OpenVPX

The new OpenVPX™ (VITA 65) standard helps military system designers build compatible embedded systems by defining “profiles” to which vendors can adhere when designing boards, and system integrators can use to locate available COTS solutions. The market is seeing a proliferation of 6U VPX boards, which have numerous interconnect pins and are able to support many more simultaneous external connections with a single profile. In comparison, 3U VPX boards have fewer interconnect pins available, resulting in a far wider fragmentation of profile support, since vendors can support fewer external connections with a single 3U card profile. That makes it all the more important for designers of small form factor VPX systems to understand how to effectively use OpenVPX profiles.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Communication protocols, Embedded software, Switches, Defense industry

Using FPGAs to Improve x86 Processor I/O Flexibility

By offering the ability to update application functionality, provide a reconfigurable solution and enable easy design customization, Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology has long been known as a cost-effective design resource. Similarly, x86 processor architectures share many of the same extended ecosystem, installed base, and multi-functionality benefits as FPGAs.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Embedded Technology, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Integrated circuits

Active Heat Sink Technology to Improve Thermal Performance of Military Systems

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has extended its contract with Thermacore to develop and commercialize active heat sinks that can be used with Micro-technologies for Air-Cooled Exchangers (MACE). The MACE program harnesses active micro-devices that greatly improve heat sink thermal performance and cool military electronic systems used for telecommunications, active sensing and imaging, radar, and other functions. Thermacore is partnering with the University of Minnesota, Lockheed Martin Company, and the Bergquist Torrington Company to develop the technology.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Electronic equipment, Imaging, Radar, Telecommunications systems, Thermal management, Military vehicles and equipment

Handheld Scanner Keeps USAF Planes Combat-Ready

Engineers at several United States Air Force (USAF) bases now use NVision's HandHeld laser scanner to reverse-engineer complex aircraft parts, which are then accurately machined and installed. Reverse engineering is often required for aircraft that were originally designed without computer aided design systems (CAD), and for which even blueprints can be very difficult to obtain.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Design processes, Lasers, Parts, Aircraft, Military aircraft

Maintaining Mobility

Fuel is one of the top three logistics drivers on the battlefield, along with water and ammunition. Fuel powers the vehicles that mobilize troops and keep communications and supply chains running, and is used in the generators that power forward operating bases. Transporting fuel to the front lines, however, has become extremely costly in both lives and dollars.

Posted in: Application Briefs, RFM Catchall, Logistics, Military vehicles and equipment