Features

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.

Posted in: Articles, Open VPX, Articles

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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.

Posted in: Articles, Open VPX, Articles

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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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Advancements in Full-Motion Video for Military UAS Surveillance Applications

As warfare moves into a new era, military strategists tool up with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones to provide the visual surveillance the new combat environment requires. In urban warfare, where counterinsurgency and counterterrorist missions typically occur, troops rely on the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) forces for persistent air surveillance, precision air strikes, and swift airlift support. ISR forces are able to sweep wide areas, detect activity, stare at key places for hours and days at a time, and complete a targeting cycle in minutes.

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Imaging Technology Enables 3D Monitoring for Surveillance and Missile Defense

A new imaging technology can quickly give users accurate three-dimensional depictions of objects being tracked, whether they are incoming missiles or the faces of suspects in a crowd. The technology, being developed by Visidyne of Burlington, MA, has numerous applications beyond missile defense. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) originally funded the company through a 2003 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contract.

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Calibrating Photovoltaic Cells

The basic function of a photovoltaic cell is to convert input — sunlight energy expressed in irradiance (W/m2) — into output — useable electrical power — with as little loss as possible. To quantify the ability of the system to accomplish this conversion, one can simply compare the output to the input by forming a ratio of the two. This ratio, expressed in percentages, is known as the power conversion efficiency (PCE) of the device and it is a key parameter of electrical performance. Since the PCE is used to compare the performance of photovoltaic devices, it is critical that accurate estimates be made for the PCE. The estimate is dependent on knowing, with a high degree of accuracy, the actual conditions, including irradiance and cell temperature, under which the parameter is measured.

Posted in: Articles, Features, ptb catchall, Photonics

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