Electronics & Computers

Testing Astronaut-Controlled Surface Robots from the International Space Station

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are currently developing robots that can be remotely operated on planetary surfaces by astronauts in orbiting spacecraft. The primary objective of this work is to test and demonstrate crew-controlled communications, operations, and telerobotic technologies that are needed for future deep space human exploration missions.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, White Papers, Briefs

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Step on It! Walking for Power

What would be an alternative energy resource that could work well in the middle of a crowded city? The answer was a technology that harvests mechanical energy of walking feet and converts it to electrical energy via a special floor tile. But it was a big step from theory to practical design.

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The Road to Lightweight Vehicles

With a steady rise in fuel prices and increasing restrictions on emissions, automakers face difficult challenges as they are forced to find ways of making their cars lighter and more fuel-efficient. One way to achieve this goal is to incorporate strong, lightweight, and durable composite materials to replace heavier, more energy-hungry materials.

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High/Low-Temperature Contactless RF Probes for Characterizing Microwave Integrated Circuits and Devices

These probing systems can be used in wireless sensors in applications such as oil wells, aircraft engines, and robotic landers. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Low-temperature, contactless radio-frequency (RF) probing systems are necessary for characterizing sensors operating at liquid nitrogen or helium temperatures, and based on superconducting materials. The design and operation of the contactless RF probing systems relies on strong electromagnetic coupling that takes place between two different microwave transmission lines oriented in close proximity, but not in contact with each other, to ensure high thermal isolation. The goal of this work is to develop a reliable, easily constructed, less expensive, contactless RF probe for characterizing microwave integrated circuits (MICs) and devices embedded in sensors fabricated on conformal or non-planar substrates, at elevated or cryogenic temperatures.

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Multi-Tone, High-Frequency Synthesizer for CubeSat-Borne Beacon Transmitter for Radio Wave Atmospheric Propagation Studies

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio This report presents the design, construction, and test results of a novel multitone, multi-band, high-frequency synthesizer for application in a space-borne (including a CubeSat) beacon transmitter for radio wave atmospheric propagation studies. The beacon transmitter synthesizer design can be tailored to operate in those frequency bands of interest for future space-to-Earth data links, e.g., Q-band (37 to 42 GHz) and E-band (71 to 76 GHz).

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Dynamic Response Determination of an Electronic Printed Circuit Board

Understanding the mechanical reliability of a PCB in an electronic system is an important part of assessing the reliability of the entire system. John Deere Electronic Solutions, Fargo, North Dakota; and John Deere India Pvt Ltd., Maharashtra, India Most of today’s automotive electronic systems are composed of two major mechanical elements: an equipment chassis or enclosure, and a printed circuit board (PCB) assembly. The PCB is composed of laminated copper and FR-4 glass epoxy. These systems often operate in severe vibration environments for extended periods without failing. The vibrations transmitted throughout the PCB induce strains in the connectors, components, and most importantly, the solder joints attaching the components to it.

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Wii Nunchuk Controller for ATHLETE Operations

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The Arduino platform was used to develop an interface between two otherwise incompatible commercial devices in order to drive the ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) rover over long distances. The Portable Operations Terminal consists of three distinct parts: a robot-mounted ruggedized laptop computer containing all of the “ground” support software needed to operate ATHLETE, a handheld computer capable of performing simple problem diagnosis and troubleshooting, and a handheld joystick based on the Wii Nunchuk used to drive ATHLETE with one hand. The physical modifications included an Arduino electronic prototyping board with custom firmware, and various support cables, lanyards, and enclosures to make the device survive the desert environment of the field test.

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