NASA seeks partners interested in the commercial application of the In Situ Wire Damage Detection and Rerouting System (ISWDDRS). NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is soliciting licensees for this innovative technology. The ISWDDRS consists of a miniaturized inline connector containing self-monitoring electronics that use time domain reflectometry (TDR) to detect wire faults and determine fault type and fault location on powered electrical wiring. When a damaged or defective wire is identified, the system is capable of autonomously transferring electrical power and data connectivity to an alternate wire path. When used in conjunction with NASA’s wire constructions that use a conductive detection layer, the system is capable of detecting and limiting damage not only to the core conductor, but also to the insulation layer before the core conductor becomes compromised.

An exterior view of the ISWDDRS prototype module casing (left), and an interior view of ISWDDRS prototype module wiring (right).

The tester was designed to monitor electrical faults in either online or offline modes of operation. In the online mode, wires are monitored without disturbing their normal operation. A cable can be monitored several times per second in the offline mode, and once per second in the online mode. The online cable fault locator not only detects the occurrence of a fault, but also determines the type of fault (short/open/intermittent) and the location of the fault. Pattern recognition algorithms autonomously identify the type and location of a fault without operator intervention. This enables the detection of intermittent faults that can be repaired before they become serious problems. Since intermittent faults occur mainly during operation, a builtin memory device stores all relevant fault data. This data can be displayed in real time or retrieved later so maintenance and repairs can be completed without spending countless hours attempting to pinpoint the source of the problem.

Hardware and algorithms have also been developed to safely, efficiently, and autonomously transfer electrical power and data connectivity from an identified damaged/defective wire in a cable to an alternate wire path. This portion of the system consists of master and slave units that provide the diagnostic and rerouting capabilities. A test pulse generated by the master unit is sent down an active wire being monitored by the slave unit. When the slave unit detects the test pulse, it routes the pulse back to the master unit through a communication wire. When the master unit determines that a test pulse is not being returned, it designates that wire as faulty and reroutes the circuit to a spare wire.

The system is intuitive with an easy-to-understand graphical user interface that displays the reflected waveforms and provides information on the type of fault and its distance from the test signal injection point. It is capable of monitoring up to 64 individual wires on a cable simultaneously in online or offline mode. The technology can be used in wiring for aerospace, marine, automotive, industrial, and smart grid applications.

NASA is actively seeking licensees to commercialize this technology. Please contact Lew Parrish at Lewis.M.Parrish@ nasa.gov to initiate licensing discussions. Follow this link for more information: http://technology.nasa.gov/patent/TB2016/KSC-TOPS-6 .


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the July, 2016 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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