During inspection of pressure vessels and other large structures, an industry-accepted fixture is used to hold the search unit a predetermined distance from the area of interest under inspection. This fixture is then moved manually around the area of interest so that data can be collected and stored for later analysis. The fixture usually is chosen based on price and versatility; automated propulsion is not an option. This results in lower-quality data, as well as a greater chance that an anomaly could be missed due to the erratic motion inherent with manual manipulation.

This innovation is an attachment to a popular, industry-accepted, manually propelled ultrasonic inspection scanning fixture that facilitates steady, hands-free propulsion for use during inspection of large structures.

A 2.4-GHz wireless remote control is used to omit extra cords. It attaches to a scanner platform to provide an extremely slow, steady scan speed and increased operator safety since it reduces or eliminates operator presence while data is being acquired. Components are the 2.4-GHz transmitter and receiver, electronic speed controller, electric motor, transmission and auxiliary gearbox, magnetic wheels, custom-machined frame and axle supports, custom axles, battery pack, and one ultrasonic probe holder.

The receiver obtains a command signal, sending it through the speed controller to the motor using the transmission and auxiliary gearbox to achieve the required scan speed. The required scan speed is transmitted to the magnetic wheels to provide propulsion.

This work was done by Benjamin Barrentine of ESSSA for Marshall Space Flight Center. NASA is seeking partners to further develop this technology through joint cooperative research and development. For more information about this technology and to explore opportunities, please contact Ronald C. Darty at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. MFS-33173-1

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This article first appeared in the September, 2017 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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