Electronics & Computers

Army to Get New IED Detector Technology

Detecting improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan requires constant, intensive monitoring using rugged equipment. When Sandia researchers first demonstrated a modified miniature synthetic aperture radar (MiniSAR) system to do just that, some experts didn't believe it. But those early doubts are long gone. Sandia's Copperhead — a highly modified MiniSAR system mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — has been uncovering IEDs in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2009. Now, according to senior manager Jim Hudgens, Sandia is transferring the technology to the U.S. Army to support combat military personnel.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Imaging, Sensors, Detectors, RF & Microwave Electronics, Antennas, Data Acquisition, Defense, News

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COVE: A CubeSat Payload Processor

This processor is a reconfigurable FPGA-based electronics payload for advanced data processing applications. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The COVE (CubeSat Onboard processing Validation Experiment) Payload Processor is JPL’s first on-orbit demonstration with the Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGA (field-programmable gate array). The electronics payload is designed to provide a platform for advanced data processing applications while conforming to CubeSat specifications. Measuring 9 × 9.5 × 2 cm, COVE carries the new radiation-hardened Virtex-5 FPGA (V5QV), magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM), and phase-change memory. All data access to/from the payload is facilitated through a shared memory interface via a direct serial peripheral interface (SPI). Multiple configuration options enable COVE to be reconfigured in flight with new FPGA firmware.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs, TSP

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Dynamic Range Enhancement of High-Speed Data Acquisition Systems

Reversible non-linear amplitude compression is used. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio The innovation is a technique to overcome hardware limitations of common high-speed data acquisition systems in order to be able to measure electronic signals with high dynamic range, wide bandwidth, and high frequency.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs, TSP

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HALT Technique to Predict the Reliability of Solder Joints in a Shorter Duration

This methodology can reduce product development cycle time for improvements to packaging design qualification. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT) process subjects test articles to accelerated combined environments of thermal, dynamic, voltage, and current to find weak links in a given product design. The technique assesses fatigue reliability of electronic packaging designs used for long-duration deep space missions by testing using a wide temperature range (–150 to +125 °C), and dynamic acceleration range of up to 50g. HALT testing uses repetitive, multiple-axis vibration combined with thermal cycling on test articles to rapidly precipitate workmanship defects, manufacturing defects, and thermal cycling-related weak links in the design. This greatly reduces the product development time by rapidly finding problems and qualifying the packaging design quickly. Test vehicles were built using advanced electronic package designs using the surface mount technology process.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs, TSP

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GaN Schottky Diode-Based Frequency Multiplier

New GaN fabrication process has been applied to the design fabrication and tests of frequency doublers and triplers. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California State-of-the-art GaAs Schottky diode technology, which is being used for local oscillators (LOs) in heterodyne receivers and transmitters for radar applications, has limitations in terms of power-handling capabilities. That makes it difficult to generate necessary LO power to drive multi-pixel heterodyne receivers beyond 500 GHz, and to extend the operation frequency of single-pixel receivers beyond 2 THz up to 4.7 THz (63 μm OI line).

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs

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Drive On – E-Bikes Shift into High Gear

If the five childhood friends and co-founders of electric bicycle developer FAZUA GmbH in Munich, Germany have their way, Europe’s fast-growing e-bike market soon will shift into an even higher gear.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, White Papers

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Astronauts to Test Free-Flying Robotic 'Smart SPHERES'

Three bowling ball-size free-flying Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) have been flying inside the International Space Station since 2006. These satellites provide a test bed for development and research, each having its own power, propulsion, computer, navigation equipment, and physical and electrical connections for hardware and sensors for various experiments.Aboard Orbital Sciences Corp.'s second contracted commercial resupply mission to the space station, which arrived to the orbital laboratory on July 16, NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, sent two Google prototype Project Tango smartphones that astronauts will attach to the SPHERES for technology demonstrations inside the space station. By connecting a smartphone to the SPHERES, the technology becomes "Smart SPHERES, " a more "intelligent" free-flying robot with built-in cameras to take pictures and video, sensors to help conduct inspections, powerful computing units to make calculations and Wi-Fi connections to transfer data in real time to the computers aboard the space station and at mission control in Houston.In a two-phase experiment, astronauts will manually use the smartphones to collect visual data using the integrated custom 3-D sensor to generate a full 3-D model of their environment. After the map and its coordinate system are developed, a second activity will involve the smartphones attached to the SPHERES, becoming the free-flying Smart SPHERES. As the free-flying robots move around the space station from waypoint to waypoint, utilizing the 3-D map, they will provide situational awareness to crewmembers inside the station and flight controllers in mission control. These experiments allow NASA to test vision-based navigation in a very small mobile product.SourceAlso: Learn about Automatic Lunar Rock Detection and Mapping.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Power Management, PCs/Portable Computers, Cameras, Video, Visualization Software, Imaging, Sensors, Test & Measurement, Communications, Aerospace, Aviation, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, RF & Microwave Electronics, News

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