There is a need to provide a portable and cost-effective galvanic isolation between ground support equipment and flight hardware such that any unforeseen voltage differential between ground and power supplies is eliminated. An interface board was designed for use between the ground support equipment and the flight hardware that electrically isolates all input and output signals and faithfully reproduces them on each side of the interface. It utilizes highly integrated multi-channel isolating devices to minimize size and reduce assembly time.

This single-board solution provides appropriate connector hardware and breakout of required flight signals to individual connectors as needed for various ground support equipment. The board utilizes multi-channel integrated circuits that contain transformer coupling, thereby allowing input and output signals to be isolated from one another while still providing high-fidelity reproduction of the signal up to 90 MHz. The board also takes in a single-voltage power supply input from the ground support equipment and in turn provides a transformer-derived isolated voltage supply to power the portion of the circuitry that is electrically connected to the flight hardware.

Prior designs used expensive opto-isolated couplers that were required for each signal to isolate and were time-consuming to assemble. In addition, these earlier designs were bulky and required a 2U rack-mount enclosure. The new design is smaller than a piece of 8.5×11-in. (≈22×28-mm) paper and can be easily hand-carried where needed.

The flight hardware in question is based on a lineage of existing software-defined radios (SDRs) that utilize a common interface connector with many similar input-output signals present. There are currently four to five variations of this SDR, and more upcoming versions are planned based on the more recent design.

This work was done by Clifford K. Yamamoto of Caltech, and Richard L. Goodpasture of Mantech SRS Technologies for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. NPO-47618

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the May, 2011 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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