Application Briefs

New Small Form Factor Storage Standard Targets Embedded Systems

To achieve small size, low power consumption and fast time to market requirements, embedded systems designers often look to chipsets found in cell phone handsets or mobile internet devices (MIDs) to cost-effectively meet their design requirements. These components, whether they are off-the-shelf chipsets from Intel, AMD or Freescale, or FPGA’s from Xilinx, Altera, or Actel, that later migrate to custom ASICS, often define the available storage interfaces. These chipsets are widely understood and supported and more often than not, make use of USB, SD, MMC or some other type of serial programmable interface that is not usually defined with traditional storage such as PATA or SATA.

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Communications System Supports the Ames Airspace Operations Lab

Voice-over-IP communications system Quintron Santa Maria, CA 805-928-4343 www.quintron.com Quintron was selected by NASA’s Ames Research Center (ARC) to supply a new Voice-over-IP (VoIP) communications system to support the ARC Airspace Operations Laboratory (AOL) — a research facility to investigate improved operational techniques for Air Traffic Control (ATC) operations. The AOL provides representative ATC personnel operating stations along with “pseudo-pilot” positions to complete the simulation environment. Both the ATC and pseudo-pilot positions will utilize the Quintron VoIP for communications, with overall system configuration managed by the simulation control personnel. The system is based on Quintron’s standard DICES VoIP product, which uses client-server architecture ideally suited for the flexible requirements of the AOL operation. Several new features will be incorporated to meet more specific AOL needs, including multiple ATC operating screens for airplane and ground communications, two-channel audio paths to accurately simulate normal ATC operating procedures for headset versus speaker audio, and multiple user headset connections to provide for trainer operations at ATC user positions. The VoIP system also features workgroup voice path assignment, which provides for very low latency on network connections between the ATC operator positions. The project is taking place in phases, with the initial delivery of system components completed six weeks after the award. Additional features will be incorporated as development work progresses. A substantial initial effort will be to incorporate a number of FAA-ATC features in support of a major customer simulation program. Final system feature updates, including interoperable VoIP links to other ARC simulation systems, is scheduled to be completed next month. For Free Info Click Here.

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Alumina Ceramic “Dog Bone” Helps Chandra Detect High-Energy Events

Fine-grained alumina ceramic charge detector Insaco Quakertown, PA 215-536-3500 www.insaco.com The Chandra X-Ray Observatory was launched into high elliptical orbit in 1998. The 39-foot-long, 10,000-pound observatory is designed to study high-energy events such as supernovae, black holes, quasars, and stellar coronae. At its core are several extremely precise instruments, including the high-resolution camera spectroscope (HRC-S). The spectroscopic detector consists of three major assemblies: a UV/ION shield, a pair of micro-channel plates, and a cross-grid charge detector (CGCD) made from a 99.98%-pure alumina ceramic made by Astro Met. The CGCD is referred to as the “dog bone” because of its shape. Usually such detectors consist of two separate layers of finely spaced gold wires wrapped in orthogonal directions around an insulating substrate such as alumina. The long and thin ceramic “dog bone” measures about 400 × 33 mm and has slight facets machined on its top face. Wire could not be wound along the length because it would vary in height above the surface due to the facets. Engineers deposited an array of 7-ml-wide gold traces just 0.7 mls apart on the substrate. Since the original alumina material they’d specified had too coarse a grain, this caused shorts or breaks in the traces. The solution came from Insaco’s machining capabilities, which offered 1- to 3-micron grain size as opposed to the original 17 microns. The Astro Met AMALOX 87 fine-grained alumina ceramic was specified for its stability over wide temperature extremes, as well as resistance to chemicals, oxidation, and wear. The ceramic part had multiple precision features machined to a tolerance of 0.001", and several mounting holes and undercut features. For Free Info Click Here.

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BEI Duncan’s Steer-by-Wire Technology Improves Fuel Efficiency for AGCO Challenger® Tractor

Off-highway tractors slog through mud, muck, and other rough terrain on a daily basis. Achieving high reliability and performance in spite of these harsh conditions requires technology at its best. To improve fuel efficiency and reliability while decreasing manufacturing costs, the AGCO Challenger® track tractor went through a major redesign from the ground up.

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Delta Motion Controller Helps ADI Improve Automotive Chassis Testing

There’s a science to testing metal structures for rigidity and performance under stress. The development of new testing methodologies is continuing at a fast pace, aided by innovations in supporting technologies. For example, motion controllers have evolved to support special capabilities for exerting real-world forces on structures that can deliver, in a matter of hours or days, the loads and movement that assemblies would otherwise encounter in a whole lifetime of use. And motion control electronics connected to hydraulic or electromechanical actuators can submit assemblies to stresses and measure responses in a “clean” environment that would be difficult or expensive to accomplish in the field.

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Heidenhain Encoders Help TRW Machine Ford SUV Parts

TRW has been making parts for the automotive industry for many years, but when Ford Automotive considered giving them the contract to manufacture the rear toe-links for their Navigator and Expedition SUVs, their traditional lathes were considered inadequate for the task. The solution was to upgrade the lathes with Heidenhain linear encoders.

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Shortwave Infrared - The Latest Weapon in the War on Terror

Keeping one step ahead of our adversaries is top priority for security forces with terrorist threats growing daily around the world. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance are the core situational awareness tools for the global war on terrorism (GWOT). Just as night vision equipment has denied terrorists the cover of darkness for more than a couple of decades, emerging shortwave infrared imaging technology is now removing weather and environmental limitations from the ISR equation. Shortwave infrared exploits the third and final atmospheric window in the infrared spectrum. SWIR, long the domain of the high altitude U-2 spy plane with its cryogenically-cooled focal plane array (FPA) technology, has powerful capabilities not widely known outside the intelligence community until recently. SWIR makes long slant range imaging possible under practically any conditions. A revolution in imaging has recently been developed via breakthrough, indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) FPA technology, resulting in lighter weight, more compact cameras. These new uncooled InGaAs imagers offer the advantages of the short-wave infrared spectrum to see beyond the visible, and because of their ultra-compact design, they can be implemented on the smallest UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and man-portable platforms. Powerful Capability in a Small Package Figure 1 shows the SU640KTSX InGaAs SWIR imager from Sensors Unlimited, Inc. (Princeton, NJ) in its OEM configuration. This compact imaging sensor weighs less than 90g and is capable of full motion video at a 640 x 512 pixel resolution from daylight to starlight while operating uncooled at room temperature. The SWIR camera features extremely high-quantum-efficiency InGaAs technology with excellent spectral response from 0.9 to 1.7 microns and extending down to 0.7 microns in the NIR/SWIR version, a broad spectral range encompassing all the key battlefield laser wavelengths. Requiring as little as 2.5 watts of electrical power, the SU640KTSX is attracting a lot of interest for small UAV and man-portable applications. Until recently, only visible, and to some extent long-wave, infrared (LWIR, 8 to 12 microns) imaging payloads had been flown on the smaller UAVs. The visible imagers could not be used at night, while uncooled LWIR microbolometers had limited sensitivity or resolution at long-range and were especially disadvantaged during dawn and dusk thermal crossovers. SWIR brings a lot to the table, not only bridging the capability gaps of the other technologies, but also offering the most comprehensive all weather, all environmental, and around-the-clock operability in a single uncooled sensor package. All Weather, All Environment Capability The ability to see clearly over long distances seems to be diminishing, globally, whether due to the rising pollution levels of growing urban development or more natural causes. Haze, once only an urban challenge, now even compromises the view in remote locations like Death Valley, California. In probably one of the best examples of imaging in the SWIR wavelength, Figure 2 shows how scene detail, lost to the visible eye for ranges a little greater than 5 km, is rendered in crisp detail for ranges well beyond 20 km. Up to a point, as Figure 3 illustrates, there are also clear benefits of SWIR imagery over visible imagery when it comes to dust. The smaller, lighter wind-borne dust particles that hang in the air the longest are transparent to the SWIR, yet continue to obscure normal visibility. In perhaps the most dramatic example of the SWIR advantage, Figure 4 shows how the typical San Francisco Bay morning maritime fog and mist is no impediment. Finally, almost as striking is the ability of the SWIR to see through the smoke of a forest fire as shown in Figure 5. Similar examples can be found with photochemical smog and other atmospheric obscurants prevalent in many urban environments. The longer wavelength SWIR provides a distinct advantage over visible light while retaining its most intuitive reflected light quality. Even though thermal imagers operate at even longer wavelengths than SWIR, other factors compromise their low atmospheric scattering advantage. In the end, thermal imagers may be good for detection of potential threats, but it takes SWIR to make a positive identification at the longest ranges in all weathers and all environments. Impact on Military ConOps From barren deserts to tropical, humid maritime environments, SWIR extends the range at which threats can be positively identified, greatly increasing a warfighter’s options. SWIR provides crisper, clearer situational awareness than possible with visible imagery, and enables positive identification out to far greater ranges and under broader sets of weather and environmental conditions, day or night. Intelligence can be gathered by going more deeply into denied territory with SWIR imagers. Sensor-to-shooter timelines are compressed and targeting is now possible with greater confidence to the full range of more weapons systems. Battle damage assessment can be conducted swiftly in the SWIR with its superior ability to see through the smoke, allowing the warfighter to rapidly assess weapon effectiveness post strike. Compact, uncooled InGaAs imagers are opening up the pos- sibilities for deploying powerful new capabilities on next gener- ation military platforms. Network-centric operations in-theater channel digital data from distributed sensors. Thanks to the revolutionary all weather, all environmental SWIR capability and its small footprint, these compact sensors can be deployed on demand, practically anywhere and anytime the warfighter needs. The revolution may only be just beginning, but it is already hard at work denying terrorists their safe haven. This article was written by David G. Dawes, Manager of Business Development for DoD Applications, Sensors Unlimited (Princeton, NJ). For more information, contact Mr. Dawes at sui_info@goodrich.com, or visit http://info.hotims.com/22914-201.

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