Hardware Design of a High Dynamic Range Radio Frequency (RF) Harmonic Measurement System

Radio frequency (RF) circuit elements that are traditionally considered to be linear frequently exhibit nonlinear properties that affect the intended operation of many other RF systems. Devices such as RF connectors, antennas, attenuators, resistors, and dissimilar metal junctions generate nonlinear distortion that degrades primary RF system performance. The communications industry is greatly affected by these unintended and unexpected nonlinear distortions. The high transmit power and tight channel spacing of the communication channel makes communications very susceptible to nonlinear distortion.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Communications, Joining & Assembly, Mechanical Components, Antennas, RF & Microwave Electronics, Measuring Instruments, Test & Measurement

An Introduction to PCM Heat Sinks

With the exception of thermal storage heat sinks, the term heat sink is a misnomer. Standard heat sinks for electronics cooling are actually heat exchangers, taking the heat from the electronics, and transferring it to a fluid, either air or coolant. Phase Change Material (PCM) heat sinks are the only heat sinks that actually act as a (temporary) sink for heat. They are emerging in the thermal management realm to solve thermal problems in systems where active solutions cannot be used. When there is no place to dissipate the heat generated by electric components, a PCM heat sink is capable of absorbing the generated waste heat [1] .

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Electronic Components, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Thermal Management, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials

Eye Tracking Technology

Much debate surrounds the skills shortage burdening the manufacturing sector of aerospace and defense (A&D). Industry 4.0, the Baby Boomer retirement wave, and a lack of properly trained workers underpins this issue, and while it's widely acknowledged, there's no clearly defined way to address it.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Augmented/Virtual Reality, Cameras, 3 D Printing & Additive Manufacturing, Manufacturing & Prototyping, MEMs, Detectors, Sensors

Using RISC-V to Simplify Data Logging in Space

Worldwide demand for low Earth orbit satellites is increasing at an unprecedented pace, driven by diverse needs such as faster and more affordable Internet access, and faster revisit rates with finer resolution for imaging data. The satellite payload instruments performing communications or imaging functions are becoming increasingly sophisticated and capable and require the collection of increasing amounts of telemetry data to ensure the safe and reliable operation of the satellite.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Data Acquisition, Power Management, Thermal Management, Mechanical Components, Medical, Patient Monitoring, Semiconductors & ICs, Data Acquisition, Detectors, Instrumentation, Measuring Instruments, Monitoring, Test & Measurement

Streamlining EMC Solutions for Avionics Interfaces

Lightning strikes to jet airliners are common - about once every 1000 flight hours. The DO-160G standard, Environmental Conditions and Test Procedures for Airborne Equipment, is a standard for the environmental testing of avionics hardware. Many airplane manufacturers specify DO-160G Section 22, lightning induced transient susceptibility, as a requirement for critical systems like guidance, radars, communications, engine control, and heat and air controls. Aircraft fuselage, wing and tail flight controls, wing tips, fin tips, engine nacelles, and landing gear are the areas most likely to be hit by lightning strikes.

Posted in: Articles, Aeronautics, Aerospace, Aviation, Communications, Electronic Components, Semiconductors & ICs, Test & Measurement

Ruggedizing Commercial-Grade Computers into MIL-Hardened Systems

As performance capabilities for embedded computing products expand, the requirements for commercial-grade and MIL ruggedized systems blur into similar specifications. There are increasing demands to take feature-rich, successful industrial/commercial enclosure systems into MIL or other harsh environment applications. Similarly, engineers are designing up-front computing platforms that they can expand into harsher environments.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Defense, Computers, RF & Microwave Electronics

Metal Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing (AM) – the process of building up solid layers of material to form a finished solid part — is an emerging and exciting technical discipline. Also referred to as “3D printing,” many misconceptions exist about the capabilities and promises of the technology.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, 3 D Printing & Additive Manufacturing, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Materials, Metals, Plastics, Machinery, Mechanical Components

Cognitive Radio: The New Architecture of Space Communications

NASA spacecraft typically rely on human-controlled radio systems to communicate with Earth. As collection of space data increases, NASA looks to alternative radio technologies to meet demand and increase efficiency.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Aviation, Communications, Defense, Solar Power, Antennas, RF & Microwave Electronics, Software, Instrumentation, Measuring Instruments, Monitoring, Test & Measurement

Single Event Effects in High Altitude Aerospace Sensor Applications

There are many advantages to utilizing active electronics versus the passive systems often used in aircraft applications, such as pressure, temperature, and flow sensors. Some of these advantages are increased accuracy, reduced noise, transmission over longer signal paths, and the addition of signal conditioning. With these benefits comes the consideration that high altitude operation will expose the electronics to high-energy neutron solar particle radiation. Without proper design and component selection, this radiation may affect the reliability of measurements from aircraft sensors.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace

Testing Military Vehicle Steering Systems

Military vehicles play a vital role in protecting our society — and inevitably encounter many extreme conditions across their lifespan. From the varying weight, to the rough terrain, there is a lot that can go wrong. Military steering systems must therefore be engineered to take on such extremes. This begins at the design stage and ends with analysis through testing. It's here the parts are tested to their limits and validated against the original specification and real-life requirements.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Defense, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Automation, Instrumentation, Measuring Instruments, Monitoring, Test & Measurement, Transportation