Motion Control

Redundant Sensors Improve Precision and Reliability

Some machine processes, such as presses, can require extreme accuracy in applying and holding force on an object. A popular way to measure force is via load cells. But what do you do when the accuracy required by a particular application is higher than that guaranteed by the load cell manufacturer?

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Compact Active Vibration Control System

A highly directional actuator can be shaped so that it couples to the response of a flexible structure in the same manner as point sensors. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia This innovation consists of an analog controller, diamond-shaped patch actuator, and point sensors (such as accelerometers). The actuator is designed to couple to the flexural response of the structure in the same manner as a group of point sensors. This results in a co-located transducer pair. The signals from all sensors are combined, filtered, and amplified within the analog controller. The resulting signal is then applied to the actuator, which generates a control force out-of-phase with the measured response. Because the transducers are co-located, the vibration control system is inherently robust to variations in properties of the underlying structure that is being controlled. This type of control system actively suppresses the vibration of a flexible structure using surface-mounted transducers without any external mechanical connections.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Deep Throttling Turbopump

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Advancement in space exploration necessitates deep throttling of liquid cryogenic rocket engines. Both lunar and Martian robotic and human exploration require engines that can be deep throttled,can start and restart, have a long life, and require minimal maintenance. An engine that is capable of deep throttling at low thrust levels and is versatile enough to accommodate multiple applications would advance the state of the art and enable NASA to meet space exploration objectives. An advanced partial emission turbo pump design is an enabling technology for developing such low thrust level engines. This will complement the current state-of-the-art full emission pump technology.

Posted in: Briefs

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Analyzing Rollover Stability of Capsules With Airbags Using LS-Dyna

This method interpolates data to predict the stability boundaries for a capsule on airbags. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia As NASA moves towards developing technologies needed to implement its new Exploration program, studies conducted for Apollo in the 1960s to understand the rollover stability of capsules landing are being revisited. Although rigid body kinematics analyses of the rollover behavior of capsules on impact provided critical insight to the Apollo problem, extensive ground test programs were also used. For the new Orion spacecraft, airbag designs have improved sufficiently for NASA to consider their use to mitigate landing loads to ensure crew safety and to enable reusability of the capsule.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Test Fixture for Isolation of Vibration Shaker from G-Loading

Combined testing is possible in a controlled, calibrated, and repetitive manner. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida The first step in implementing the capability to test sensitive launch vehicle instruments in a combined environment has been completed. The test environment consists of specific vibration spectra induced under sustained Gs, using NASTAR’s ATFS-400 centrifuge. Fixtures allow mounting of the device under test (DUT) to a vibrational shaker in a centrifuge for generating moderate G-loading (1.4 to 9G) such that the vibrational shaker’s capabilities are only slightly affected by the G-loads applied during testing. Two configurations were designed, with the vibrational load parallel to the G-loads, and with the vibration loads transverse (at right angles) to the G-loads. The results are extremely encouraging, and demonstrate the potential of the NASTAR centrifuge to perform this kind of combined testing in a controlled, calibrated, and repetitive manner.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Rotary Series Elastic Actuator

The actuator provides motion and sensing for the degrees of freedom in the upper arm of a dexterous humanoid robot. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas In order to perform human-like movement, an actuator is placed at each degree of freedom (DOF) in a humanoid robot. Additionally, these actuators must be packaged in an arrangement that approximates human structure and appearance. In this innovation, a rotary actuator assembly incorporates a brushless DC motor, a gear reduction, a variety of sensors, and a custom planar torsion spring to provide motive force, passive compliance, and torque sensing within an anthropomorphic package. The actuator, in various size scales, was designed for the humanoid robot described in “Dexterous Humanoid Robot,” (MSC-24739), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 38, No. 6 (June 2014), p. 52.

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Moving Magnet Voice Coil Actuators Offer Controllable Movement for High-Duty-Cycle Applications

There are two types of voice coil actuators: moving coil and moving magnet. The materials of construction are similar, since they both use rare earth magnets, steel, copper wire, and basic insulation materials. There is a tendency to want to say one type is better suited for certain applications; however, there are many different sizes and shapes of voice coil actuators, making it difficult to make blanket statements about which type of actuator works better, and where.

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