Designing Solid State Drives Into ATCA-based Platforms

Due to the growth of video on demand (VoD), IPTV media content, and embedded database applications, AdvancedTCA (ATCA)-based storage capacity requirements continue to increase exponentially. In addition, storage requirements have become more complex and varied for ATCA designs that have expanded beyond the central office to include network data center and general data center applications that need to handle a wide variety of server platforms. The advancements and general availability of new storage solutions, particularly solid state drives (SSDs), enables ATCA platform developers to meet the design metrics of a broader range of markets where distributed data storage and management become increasingly required. The continual evolution of SSD storage technology, with its improved capacity, performance, and cost reductions, provides additional opportunities for integrating storage directly into the ATCA platform, allowing new designs to gain the benefit of high performance and availability provided by ATCA-based systems.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Data management

Achieving Embedded Software Safety with Agility

Safety-critical development standards, such as DO-1781, have been very successful in guiding the production of reliable software. These standards assist developers in applying good software practices during development, ensuring, as much as possible, the absence of errors. Compliance with these stringent standards involves a high cost because of their labor-intensiveness and high levels of know-how.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers

Optimizing the Interoperability of Military Satellite Communications

Satellite communications offer mobility and communications for military operations in remote locations where terrestrial-based connectivity is not available, or is too expensive. Unfortunately, satellite connectivity brings many challenges that can impair network performance in delivering mission-critical information and applications. High-latency transport and application protocol inefficiencies, adverse weather, and interference are just a few of the causes that slow the delivery of applications and limit the amount of traffic that can run over a satellite link. Compounding these problems is interoperability among disparate military networks that can jeopardize mission-critical communications.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Optimization, Communication protocols, Satellite communications, Defense industry, Satellites

Choosing Your RF Design Environment Flow

You can’t build a house without blueprints. So why do so many RF design flows try to build a board without a schematic? Most often, this crude process comes about due to lack of availability of RF design tools. But the wireless industry is the new cool kid on the block. As a result, electronic design automation (EDA) software vendors are scrambling to disencumber the rigid printed circuit board (PCB) world of tailored processes and streamlined user flows. RF engineers demand freedom from constraints, so EDA vendors are peeling back the layers of traditional PCB design and opening up some truly excellent solutions. But with these solutions, RF engineers are challenged to rethink their request for primitive simplicity and consider a higher-level process.

Posted in: Articles, RFM Catchall, Aerospace, Design processes, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Wireless communication systems, Product development, Systems engineering

Through-the-Wall Small Weapon Detection Based on Polarimetric Radar Techniques

Detecting concealed small weapons carried by people has received significant interest from law enforcement agencies as well as the military, most frequently for application in controlling checkpoints (in airports, border crossings, public spaces, etc.). Imaging systems for concealed weapons based on radar or other sensor technologies have been recently developed and tested. Most of the existing electromagnetic (EM) sensors suitable for this application operate at very high frequencies, usually in the millimeter or terahertz frequency bands and produce high-resolution images. Although these EM waves can penetrate through clothing (textile materials), they have very poor penetration properties through many common construction materials (such as brick or concrete). Most through-the-wall radars must operate at much lower frequencies, usually below 4 GHz, in order to “see” targets behind walls. However, at those low frequencies, the image resolution is degraded, so small weapons carried by humans may be difficult to detect directly in the image domain.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Imaging, Radar, Security systems, Sensors and actuators

Fiber-Optic Seismic Sensor for Unattended Ground Sensing

Seismic military sensors are required to be robust, reliable, compact, and easy to install and operate to be effective in the battlefield environment. Three types of sensor technologies were addressed that provide improved design and novel signal processing techniques: (a) a wavelength scanning, pulsed-laser-based demodulation system; (b) digital lock-in amplifier and field-programmable gate array (techniques) for weak signal detection and processing; and (c) improved seismic sensitivity based on carbon fiber optic composite cantilever and fiber-Bragg-grating (FBG).

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Fiber optics, Sensors and actuators, Defense industry

Solution Deposition Methods for Carbon Nanotube Field-Effect Transistors

Extensive research has been done on carbon nanotube field-effect transistors (CNTFETs), which may revolutionize electronics. Single-walled carbon nano-tubes (SWNTs) act as the channel between the source and the drain of the transistor device. CNTFETs can have very high on/off current ratios, but the presence of metallic CNTs, in addition to semiconducting CNTs, reduces the on/off ratio significantly. Therefore, the CNT thin film has a major influence on the transistor behavior and must be carefully developed.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Transistors, Nanomaterials

Micro-Propulsion Devices Made of Low-Temperature Co-Fired Ceramics

In the satellite industry, the trend is towards decreasing the size of satellites and clustering of small satellites. Technological advancements in microelectronics have made it more economical to launch a cluster of satellites with a single vehicle rather than the traditional one satellite per vehicle. A small satellite cannot carry a large quantity of fuel or batteries for power so it will require an alternative propulsion system for station-keeping and orbital corrections. The current micro-propulsion alternatives include miniaturized versions of Hall Effect thrusters, plasma thrusters, and chemical devices. These devices are commonly fabricated as microelectromechanical system (MEMS) devices using silicon.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Downsizing, Microelectricmechanical device, Product development, Ceramics, Silicon alloys, Satellites

Designing a Sensorless Torque Estimator for Direct Torque Control of an Induction Motor

Induction motors often are the preferred choice among industrial motors due to the modern power electronics that improve their speed control. Vitally important for the speed control of a motor is the accurate estimation of the magnetic flux and the electromagnetic torque. Knowing the electromagnetic torque of a motor, one is able to control it and thus monitor the speed faster and more stably.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Measurements, Power electronics, Industrial vehicles and equipment

A Bistable Microelectronic Circuit for Sensing an Extremely Low Electric Field

Bistable systems are prevalently found in many sensor systems. It is well established that a well-designed coupling scheme, together with an appropriate choice of initial conditions, can induce oscillations (i.e. periodic switching between stable fixed points) in over-damped bistable dynamical systems when a control parameter exceeds a threshold value. This behavior was demonstrated in a specific prototype system comprised of three unidirectionally coupled ferromagnetic cores, the basis of a coupled core fluxgate magnetometer. Another prototypical (quartic potential based) system of coupled over-damped Duffing elements has been applied to describe the dynamics of the polarization inside a ferroelectric material, the basis of an electric-field sensor currently under development.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Microelectricmechanical device, Sensors and actuators, Electric power, Product development