How to Avoid PCB Re-spins when IC’s Change or are Obsoleted

Working with printed circuit boards (PCBs) for sophisticated military, aerospace, or medical systems can be a frustrating – and expensive – exercise, particularly when the customer requests “a simple upgrade” or modification after the boards have been made or after deployment. Thanks to Murphy’s Law, these “simple upgrades” are never as simple as they should be. Aries has developed a unique solution that can save you from having to re-spin your PCB due to IC obsolescence or package change.

Posted in: On-Demand Webinars, Electronics, Semiconductors & ICs

EADIN Lite Communication Network

DEC is part of the Transformational Tools and Technologies (TTT) project under the Advanced Aeronautics research program.

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio

The distributed engine controls (DEC) task seeks to investigate the capabilities of a distributed network for aircraft engine controls. Traditional aircraft engine control systems use analog systems to communicate with sensors and actuators. The ability to upgrade an engine after manufacture, by swapping out sensors or actuators, is limited due to the analog signal component. Digital signals do not have this limitation, and additionally they do not require dedicated cabling, which may decrease engine weight. To understand the interactions between a new digital network and the engine controller, a representative model of the networks is required.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers, Engine control systems

Iris DSN-Compatible, CubeSat-Compatible Transponder

RF portions are combined with FPGA processing inherited from prior systems, which opens up a series of new possibilities.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

No CubeSat-compatible, Deep Space Network (DSN)-compatible communications and navigation transponder exists at the time of this reporting. In order for CubeSats and other small spacecraft to go into deep space, a DSN-compatible capability is needed.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronic Components, Satellite communications

Cockpit Avionics Upgrade Display Atlas, Generic Display Software, and Electronic Procedure System

This computer training system uses nine screens to mimic avionics controls.

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

Modern avionics permit user interfaces on spacecraft to be performed on computer screens instead of with physical controls. This saves a great deal of weight; however, it presents challenges with representing all the various controls and gauges as well as flight procedures and data on the limited screen real estate available in a practical cockpit.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronic Components, Avionics, Displays, Spacecraft

Multi-Frequency, THz Quantum Cascade Laser Source

THz sources are used in receivers for terrestrial commercial applications such as imaging, and space science applications such as sensing and spectroscopy.

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio

Interest in the use of THz detectors outside the laboratory for space, atmospheric, and terrestrial applications has grown immensely in the past half-century. Of particular interest in recent years is the development of the quantum cascade laser (QCL) as a THz frequency source.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronic Components, Imaging and visualization

Avionics/Electronics Box Rail Mount System

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

There is limited space available to install numerous avionics boxes with the caveat that each box is a line replacement unit (LRU). Access to enable the removal of the boxes is limited, and it is critical that no tools and/or loose parts exist to ensure that no damage is done to aft-located components. Boxes are mounted on pallets and secured by captive screws with a tool. Most installation/removal requires two technicians.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers, Avionics, Hardware, Mountings

Semiconductor Nanomembrane-Based Flight Sensors and Arrays

These sensor arrays can be used to measure skin friction and pressure.

John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida

There are two broad classes of methods for measuring skin friction (or wall shear): indirect and direct. The direct methods generally employ a movable element of the actual surface surrounded by a very small gap and connected to some type of flexure. One then measures the displacement of the movable element or the strain in the flexure to obtain the skin friction force acting on the movable element directly. Some methods of detecting skin friction relied on optical interferometric measurements of the thickness of an oil film applied to a test surface. The motion of the oil due to airflow creates thickness variations that can be associated to the frictional forces acting on the surface. Mapping of the surface over a small area is possible, but practical use of this technique is limited due to contamination of the tunnel by the free-flowing oil.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronic Components, Sensors and actuators, Nanomaterials, Semiconductors

Dual I²C and SPI Slave Core for FPGA and ASIC Implementations

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

The I2C/SPI Verilog core consists of a combined register transfer logic (RTL) Verilog code for a general-purpose I2C and serial-to-parallel interface (SPI) slave for implementations targeting field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and application specific integrated circuits (ASICs). The core was developed as part of the radiation hardened digital-to-analog converters’ 10-bit (RH-DAC10) and 12-bit (RH-DAC12) ASICs. The core contains both an I2C and SPI slave cores that share all inputs/outputs, and is selectable by setting a single input. The I2C portion uses an asynchronous design and does not require a continuous clock to operate, thus reducing the dynamic power consumption. The core serves as a baseline that can be tailored to any application requiring I2C and SPI slave interfaces. The core has been implemented and verified in both a commercial FPGA and a custom, radiation-hardened ASIC in a commercial CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) 0.25-μm process, where the I2C and SPI were tested at 1 MHz and 50 MHz, respectively.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Computer software and hardware, Semiconductors

Automated Break-Out Box for Use with Low-Cost Spacecraft Integration and Test

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Electrical checkout and testing is a critical part of the overall space integration and test flow. Verifying proper harness and connector signal interfaces is key to ensuring component health and overall system functionality. Break-out boxes (BOBs) are used to give test personnel access to electrical signals for probing, voltage injection, isolation checks, safe-to-mate checks, and voltage/current measurements, and comparing to expected results. Currently, this involves manually attaching multimeters and oscilloscopes to banana jacks on the BOB, taking measurements, and comparing to expected results.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronic Components, Electrical systems, Spacecraft

Radiation-Hardened 10BASE-T Ethernet Physical Interface (PHY)

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

The EXPRESS Logistics Carrier (ELC) system was built by NASA Goddard for installation on the International Space Station (ISS). Four ELC systems are on ISS. Each ELC site includes two data nodes. The ELC requirements call for a radiation-hardened 10BASE-T Ethernet interface at each data node. The requirement for ELC was to support a full receive version of the interface, and only to provide a link pulse to the attached payloads on the transmit side of the interface. Further development required a full duplex version of a radiation-hardened 10BASE-T Ethernet interface to support the SpaceCube program.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronic Components, Avionics, Logistics

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