The Gyroscope Automated Testbed is a computer-controlled apparatus designed primarily for automated testing of vibratory gyroscopes. It can also be used to test other devices: By changing testing-system/tested-device interface circuitry that is part of the apparatus, one can set up the apparatus to test nonvibratory gyroscopes. The apparatus can also be used as a general-purpose noise-analysis system for characterizing a variety of devices in addition to gyroscopes.

Figure 1. This Simplified System Diagram depicts the major functional blocks of the Gyroscope Automated Testbed.

Heretofore, it has been necessary to resort to a manual process to test gyroscopes. The process is very time-consuming and requires expensive test equipment. The present apparatus automates most of the process for a fraction of the cost.

Figure 2. This Flow Chart represents the automated test procedure implemented by the custom software in the Gyroscope Automated Testbed.

The apparatus (see Figure 1) is based on a Pentium II computer with a 16-bit data-acquisition card and a GPIB (general-purpose interface bus) interface card. Custom software for control of testing and analysis of data has been developed in Visual Basic. The system is fully automated and only requires an operator to initially set the desired testing conditions. The software can perform a rotational-response test, noise characterization test, and a power-cycle stability test. Data analysis is performed on the acquired data to characterize the rotational response and power-cycle stability (see Figure 2 on facing page). A Green chart and a plot of the power spectral density (PSD) are generated to characterize the noise properties of the device being tested. Device drift and Green charts can be corrected (linearized) by any other sampled data set (i.e., the drift data can be corrected for increasing temperature over the duration of a test). A report, which consolidates the results into a convenient document, is generated automatically upon completion of all tests. The software includes provisions for selecting the tests to be performed, setting test parameters, saving acquired data to a file, generating real-time output displays, testing under manual control, and deriving noise characteristics from previously acquired data.

This work was done by Christopher Evans and Roman Gutierrez of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory . For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.nasatech.com/tsp  under the Test & Measurement category.

This software is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Don Hart of the California Institute of Technology at (818) 393-3425. Refer to NPO-20612.


This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Automated Apparatus for Testing Gyroscopes

(reference NPO-20612) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the July, 2000 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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