Tech Briefs

Technique for Finding the Center of an Image of a Rising or Setting Sun Based on Simulated Images

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A new JPL project requires that the center of the images of a rising or setting Sun be determined with certain accuracy — for example, within 1 km — when the Sun is observed from the International Space Station (ISS). This center-finding technique can be used in applications such as a Sun-Tracker. To meet such needs, a simulation tool was developed for the generation of Sun images observed either on the ground or from space. The new technique enables one to find the center of a Sun image based on simulated images. The technique does not rely on ellipse-fitting to the boundary of a Sun image or other calibration techniques, so the accuracy is not affected by the distortion of Sun images.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Electronics & Computers, Imaging, Briefs

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High/Low-Temperature Contactless RF Probes for Characterizing Microwave Integrated Circuits and Devices

These probing systems can be used in wireless sensors in applications such as oil wells, aircraft engines, and robotic landers. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Low-temperature, contactless radio-frequency (RF) probing systems are necessary for characterizing sensors operating at liquid nitrogen or helium temperatures, and based on superconducting materials. The design and operation of the contactless RF probing systems relies on strong electromagnetic coupling that takes place between two different microwave transmission lines oriented in close proximity, but not in contact with each other, to ensure high thermal isolation. The goal of this work is to develop a reliable, easily constructed, less expensive, contactless RF probe for characterizing microwave integrated circuits (MICs) and devices embedded in sensors fabricated on conformal or non-planar substrates, at elevated or cryogenic temperatures.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs

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Multi-Tone, High-Frequency Synthesizer for CubeSat-Borne Beacon Transmitter for Radio Wave Atmospheric Propagation Studies

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio This report presents the design, construction, and test results of a novel multitone, multi-band, high-frequency synthesizer for application in a space-borne (including a CubeSat) beacon transmitter for radio wave atmospheric propagation studies. The beacon transmitter synthesizer design can be tailored to operate in those frequency bands of interest for future space-to-Earth data links, e.g., Q-band (37 to 42 GHz) and E-band (71 to 76 GHz).

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs

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Dynamic Response Determination of an Electronic Printed Circuit Board

Understanding the mechanical reliability of a PCB in an electronic system is an important part of assessing the reliability of the entire system. John Deere Electronic Solutions, Fargo, North Dakota; and John Deere India Pvt Ltd., Maharashtra, India Most of today’s automotive electronic systems are composed of two major mechanical elements: an equipment chassis or enclosure, and a printed circuit board (PCB) assembly. The PCB is composed of laminated copper and FR-4 glass epoxy. These systems often operate in severe vibration environments for extended periods without failing. The vibrations transmitted throughout the PCB induce strains in the connectors, components, and most importantly, the solder joints attaching the components to it.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs

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Wii Nunchuk Controller for ATHLETE Operations

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The Arduino platform was used to develop an interface between two otherwise incompatible commercial devices in order to drive the ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) rover over long distances. The Portable Operations Terminal consists of three distinct parts: a robot-mounted ruggedized laptop computer containing all of the “ground” support software needed to operate ATHLETE, a handheld computer capable of performing simple problem diagnosis and troubleshooting, and a handheld joystick based on the Wii Nunchuk used to drive ATHLETE with one hand. The physical modifications included an Arduino electronic prototyping board with custom firmware, and various support cables, lanyards, and enclosures to make the device survive the desert environment of the field test.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs

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Full-Cell Evaluation/Screening Technique for New Battery Chemistries

A full-cell configuration with a limited electrolyte in the cell is used to reflect the actual cell build conditions. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio A quick and cost-effective evaluation/screening technique for new battery chemistries was developed that integrates the individual advanced cell component in a full-cell format to identify the critical issues, such as cell component interaction and compatibility before proceeding to commercial production. To make the assessment more practical, a unique way of introducing limited electrolyte was developed. This technique enabled fast and low-cost screening to address any potential issues.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs

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Growth Method for Chalcongenide Phase-Change Nanostructures

Nanometer-scale materials can provide smaller devices than those currently available. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Recently, one-dimensional (1-D) nanostructures, such as nanowires and nanotubes, have become the focal point of research in nanotechnology due to their fascinating properties. These properties are intrinsically associated with low dimensionality and small diameters, which may lead to unique applications in various nanoscale devices. It is generally accepted that 1-D nanostructures provide an excellent test ground for understanding the dependence of physical, electrical, thermal, optical, and mechanical properties on material dimensionality and physical size. In particular, 1-D semiconductor nanostructures, which exhibit different properties as compared with their bulk or thin film counterparts, have shown great potential in future nanoelectronics applications in data storage, computing, and sensing devices.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs

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