Application Briefs

Using Vision Sensors to Eliminate Manufacturing Defects

Supplying parts to the world’s leading automotive companies leaves no room for error. That’s why Miniature Precision Components Inc. (MPC) uses three vision sensors to error-proof the automated assembly of oil-caps at its Prairie du Chien, WI facility. With 41 molding machines ranging in size from 25 to 550 tons, this 100,000 square-foot facility employs about 450 people. MPC’s four manufacturing plants generate approximately $167 million per year supplying the automotive and commercial industries with high-quality injection-molded parts and assemblies such as PCV valves, thermostat housings, and quick-connect ports for emission control systems.

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Measuring LED and Solid State Lighting Performance

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) and solid state lighting (SSL) products that incorporate LEDs pose many measurement challenges compared with other lighting elements, such as traditional tungsten and fluorescent. Advanced optical radiation measurement equipment and new techniques are often required to determine basic photo-metric and colorimetric parameters for LEDs and SSL products. Updated measurement instrumentation, calibration and performance characterization methods have allowed for improvement in the repeatability and reproducibility of measurements of average LED intensity, total luminous flux and colorimetric quantities. Lower uncertainty, detector-based standards provide a convenient transfer and monitoring from primary measurement standards.

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Connectors Provide Signal Reliability for Mars Science Laboratory

Compact PCI (cPCI) ConnectorsHypertronics CorporationHudson, MA978-568-0451www.hypertronics.com Hypertronics’ space-grade Compact PCI (cPCI) connectors were selected by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for use on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), which is scheduled to launch in 2009. Incorporating the Hypertac® “Basket of Wires” contact technology, the connectors will be instrumental in all phases of the mission including lift-off, navigation, entry, descent, landing, roaming, and geological survey. Behind these embedded systems are single-board computers connected together through common back planes that handle all control functions and analysis for the MSL rover. All systems and components must exceed the long and difficult journey to Mars, as well as the extreme surface operation of one Martian year, equal to two Earth years.

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Wireless Video Surveillance System Secures Aircraft

AgileMesh/Firetide surveillance systemAgileMeshDallas, TX972-231-2122www.agilemesh.comNASA Dryden Flight Research Center now protects several of its highly specialized research aircraft at its satellite facility with a wireless video surveillance system. The system is a product of AgileMesh, a provider of rapidly deployable video surveillance, and Firetide, a developer of wireless mesh and access networks. The AgileMesh/Firetide system secures a recently leased hangar that houses NASA’s SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) and DC- 8 Airborne Laboratory aircraft, both of which are unique to the nation.The rapidly deployable, solar-powered, and high-resolution wireless system transmits evidence-grade video from the perimeter of the hangar to the on-site security operations center. The video is monitored in real time, allowing personnel patrolling the perimeter to communicate with the operations center and respond to incidents within seconds. Using embedded Firetide mesh technology, the AgileMesh units wirelessly transmit video signals to a head-end node located in the security operations center. The video is stored for 30 days for incident review and investigation. The AgileMesh units were secured to the ground using 20- gallon water containers as anchors, since winds can reach 60 miles per hour in the high desert. The research center is currently deploying a fixed video surveillance system in and around the hangar, and once that system is in place, the AgileMesh units will be used for securing crash scene investigations and during special events such as nearby air shows. For Free Info

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Computational Fluid Dynamics Aids Aerospace Apps

Just a few years ago, the use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) in most aerospace companies was restricted to pure research or troubleshooting problems with existing designs. But in the past few years, newly available CFD tools are fully embedded in the mainstream mechanical design environment and hence much easier, faster and less expensive to use.

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System Provides Critical Communications Among Stennis Rocket Test Team Members

Subsystem Multiplexer (Sub-MUX) Quintron Systems Santa Maria, CA 805-928-4343 www.quintron.com NASA has awarded Quintron Systems an Indefinite-Delivery- Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contract, and the first task order is for a command and control communications system that will be used at the rocket engine test stands at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Alabama. This task order includes approximately 250 multi-channel communication key sets, of which 160 are certified for use within hazardous fuel areas.

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Coded Mask Instruments Key to HETE-2 Satellite’s Gamma-Ray Burst Discoveries

Coded optic mask foil Dynamics Research Corp. (DRC) Andover, MA 978-475-9090 www.drc.com The High Energy Transient Explorer (HETE-2) satellite was launched into Earth orbit on October 9, 2000, and has been tracking and studying high-energy gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) from deep space. First discovered in 1967, GRBs had been difficult phenomena to observe, as they occur at random locations in the sky, last only a few seconds, and leave virtually no trace for ground-based observers. HETE-2’s ability to rapidly disseminate very precise positions of where the GRB was detected has allowed ground telescopes to catch and observe the event, leading to discoveries such as one that links GRBs with supernovas. Most of the satellite assembly occurred at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but many subassemblies and critical components were manufactured by other institutions throughout the world.

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