Articles

Protecting COTS Military Electronics From Shock and Vibration

Military systems represent extreme environments for COTS electronic equipment. Many systems involve multiple enclosures, often from different suppliers. Equipment layout, the selection of racks, whether isolation is used, and how the electronics are “housed” can vary widely. There are no standards regarding maximum allowable shock and vibration levels. Design factors are often based on estimates of equipment fragility and expected loads, both of which can be uncertain.

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Let the Show Begin

VPX is like a three act play. Act one was the launching of a new high density platform for critical embedded computing applications. Leveraging the wildly popular VMEbus in 3U and 6U Eurocard formats, VPX added the capability of using high speed serial switch fabric technologies such as Ethernet, PCI Express, serial RapidIO, and others, that can be configured in various backplane topologies. VPX also greatly increased the number of backplane pins to handle more data traffic and user I/O making it more effective for today’s applications.

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OpenVPX — From Concept to Specification

The OpenVPX Industry Working Group, a 28-company team founded by Mercury Computer Systems, collaborated with a common goal and accelerated the completion of a system architecture specification for open system COTS suppliers and integrators to specify, design, and build multi-vendor interoperable solutions.

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Transitioning to OpenVPX for Next-Generation C4ISR Systems

VPX systems offer tremendous performance for the Mil/Aero market, including naval, airborne, and ground-based computing systems. The architecture provides an unprecedented combination of bandwidth, user IO, and rugged design, in both a 3U and 6U Eurocard format. The new OpenVPX initiative has opened up new definitions for VPX system interoperability, including defined module profiles, slot profiles, backplane & chassis configurations, secondary expansion fabrics and control planes, and higher speed fabric options.

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Putting OpenVPX To Work

Before the advent of OpenVPX, designers of embedded systems took advantage of the extreme connectivity offered by VPX (VITA 46), but were faced with a virtually unlimited number of possible implementations. Specific choices for the control and data channel assignments for each slot, the backplane connectivity, and serial fabrics were often made somewhat arbitrarily to suit the particular needs of the current system. Although following the general framework of VITA 46, each system tended to be so unique that the boards and backplanes designed for one system were seldom usable in other systems, even from the same vendor.

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Is It Time to Try Direct Digital Manufacturing?

Over the past 20 years, additive manufacturing technology has migrated from use in rapid prototyping to a full-fledged manufacturing solution, which is referred to as “direct digital manufacturing” (or rapid manufacturing). Increasingly, companies are applying it to manufacturing applications, and with each success, they prove that it is a viable alternative. While the general concept of additive manufacturing is the same as when it was introduced 20 years ago, the change is in its intended use — production, not just prototyping. So while the concept has been around for a while, in the minds of many, direct digital manufacturing (DDM) is a new and difficult concept to understand.

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NASA Awards 2009 Software of the Year

The NASA World Wind Java computer program developed at Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, CA, has won NASA’s 2009 Software of the Year award. Software engineers at Ames created the NASA World Wind Java Software Development Kit and Web Mapping Services Server. Patrick Hogan leads the NASA World Wind team, which includes Pat Moran, Tom Gaskins, Paul Collins, Lado Garakanidze, Randolph Kim, Patrick Murris, Jay Parsons, Chris Maxwell, and Rick Brownrigg.

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