Command and control systems use COTS electronics displays to cut costs

By John McHale

Defense suppliers are turning toward commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) displays for military applications to use the cost and performance capabilities of commercial displays.

Military designers are realizing they can reap major performance benefits at half the cost if they start using COTS displays, especially in command and control applications, says Jim Shaw, vice president of engineering at the Crystal Group in Hiawatha, Iowa. This is only possible because of the advances in display technology over the last five years.

There is also a demand within command vehicles for displays that can be read in sunlight at low power.

"Our customers are looking for low cost, mil-spec rugged COTS touchscreen displays with reasonable resolution, VGA or higher, that are reliable and readily available for limited and full scale deployment," says Ross Smith, president and chief executive officer of Quantum3D in San Jose, Calif. " They also want a roadmap for technology insertion down stream (higher resolution, etc.)."

"We are starting to see more man-wearable apps that require hand-held and helmet mounted displays," Smith continues. In many cases, these are for unmanned aerial vehicle/unmanned ground vehicle operator control units, video surveillance, or situation awareness applications.
  
"As a companion product to our Thermite man-wearable tactical visual computers, we've developed a family of hand-held displays called Farsight Tactical Hand-held Displays (THDs)," Smith says. "We have a tiny, 3.7-inch display for covert surveillance applications (police and military) and operator control applications, as well as a 6.5" display with comprehensive user I/O for unmanned vehicle control applications. 

"Both are in pilot stages now, but we have volume customers gearing up for production," Smith adds. "The displays are usable in daylight and we have NVG compatible versions on the way."
 
Shaw says the key for companies like his is that they can ruggedize these commercial displays in short time to market. Crystal is going from initial design to prototype in 6 weeks, he says.

Crystal's main rugged display is their RD2217 rugged rackmount dual desktop display, which is designed for shipboard, airborne, and land-based applications. The RD2217 offers dual 17-inch SXGA rugged monitors featuring influence resistant, laminated stack with scratch resistant, low reflectance front cover glass.

The low specular reflectance and high brightness displays yield high ambient contrast, Shaw says. The dual displays, packaged with a micro keyboard with trackball mouse and drop down wrist rest, are configured to lie flat in a 2U space. When extended, both displays sit at the same focal length from the user. The RD2217 is rackmountable with locking slides and is available with HD-15 and DVI interfaces.

The RD2217 is designed and tested to meet MIL-STD 810F, 167-1, 461E, and 901D , Shaw says. Meeting those standards is a natural extension, as Crystal does that for their rugged computer systems, he adds.

Engineers at Barco in Duluth, Ga., are also using their state-of-the-art display technology for military applications, especially in avionics. L-3 Communications Integrated Systems in Waco, Texas, selected Barco to supply CDMS-3000 control display units for the C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft program. Barco's control display units were the preferred choice because of their modular open architecture, as well as the company's earlier experience with the C-27J platform, Barco officials say.

To this date, two aircraft are in the order book, with projections for up to 76 additional aircraft over the next 6 years, representing a potential business volume of 156 CDMS for Barco.

The Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) program was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Defense to revitalize its aircraft fleet. The airframe will be operated by the Army and the Air Force. The Army will use the JCA to replace its ageing C-12 Hurons, C-23 Sherpas, and C-26 Metroliners. In the Air Force cargo fleet, the new airframes will complement the existing C-130 Hercules.

The 78 aircraft to be ordered will have Barco's latest-generation CDMS-3000 Control Display Unit, featuring a 3 by 4 inch active-matrix liquid crystal display (AMLCD) panel with VGA resolution. Equipped with LCD technology, the CDMS-3000 combines high brightness and contrast with compact dimensions, low weight, and excellent energy efficiency. The display is also backward compatible with the units operated on the current C-27J and C-130J fleet.

Researchers at Purdue University are already looking ahead for flexible display technology. They created the first "active matrix" display using a new class of transparent transistors and circuits, a step toward realizing applications such as e-paper, flexible color monitors, and "heads-up" displays in car windshields.

The transistors are made of "nanowires," tiny cylindrical structures that are assembled on glass or thin films of flexible plastic. The researchers used nanowires as small as 20 nanometers -- a thousand times thinner than a human hair -- to create a display containing organic light emitting diodes, or OLEDS. The OLEDS are devices that rival the brightness of conventional pixels in flat-panel television sets, computer monitors and displays in consumer electronics.

The technology also could help create antennas that aim microwave and radio signals more precisely than current antennas. Such antennas might improve cell phone reception and make it more difficult to eavesdrop on military transmissions on the battlefield.

"This is a step toward demonstrating the practical potential of nanowire transistors in displays and for other applications," says David Janes, a researcher at Purdue University's Birck Nanotechnology Center and a professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The nanowires were used to create a proof-of-concept active-matrix display similar to those in television sets and computer monitors. An active-matrix display is able to precisely direct the flow of electricity to produce video because each picture element, or pixel, possesses its own control circuitry.

Findings will be detailed in a research paper featured on the cover of the April issue of the journal Nano Letters. The paper was written by researchers at Purdue, Northwestern University and the University of Southern California.


Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:


  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

XPedite7501 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled XMC Module

The XPedite7501 is a high-performance, low-power, XMC module based on the 5th generation Intel® C...

XPedite7530 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U CompactPCI Module

The XPedite7530 is a high-performance 3U CompactPCI single board computer that is ideal for rugge...

XCalibur4500 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 6U CompactPCI Module

The XCalibur4500 is a high-performance 6U CompactPCI single board computer that is ideal for rugg...

XPedite7570 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI Module

The XPedite7570 is a high-performance, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the 5th genera...

XCalibur4501 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction-Cooled 6U CompactPCI Module

The XCalibur4501 is a high-performance 6U CompactPCI single board computer that is ideal for rugg...

XPedite7572 | 5th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI Module with SecureCOTS™

The XPedite7572 is a secure and high-performance, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the...

XCalibur4540 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 6U VPX Module

The XCalibur4540 is a high-performance, 6U OpenVPX™, multiprocessing, single board computer that ...

Medusa VPX3424

The AcQ Inducom “Medusa”VPX3424 is a 3U OpenVPX™ Single Board Computer (SBC) featuring the T4240 ...

XChange3100 | 6U VPX 10 Gigabit Ethernet Switch with Optional Layer 2 Switching and Layer 3 Routing Management Support

The XChange3100 is a conduction- or air-cooled, 6U OpenVPX™ 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch module. Th...

XCalibur4401 | Intel® Core™ i7 Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 6U CompactPCI Single Board Computer

The XCalibur4401 is a high-performance, 6U CompactPCI, multiprocessing, single board computer tha...

Related Companies

AcQ Inducom

Develops and produces non-certified and certified high-tech modular hardware- and software solutions for on-board and...

Advanced Conversion Technology Inc

ACT designs and manufactures, since 1981, an extensive range of AC-DC and DC-DC power supplies (switching, linear, ra...

United Electronic Industries Inc

UEI is a leader in the PC/Ethernet data acquisition and control, Data Logger/Recorder and Programmable Automation Con...

Martin, Froeschner & Associates

The ultimate in velocity measurement, the Mark IV-3000 all-Fiber Doppler Velocity Interferometer (VISAR) never needs ...

Reynard Corp

Manufactures custom precision optical components and thin-film coatings 0.2–50 µm (UV to far-IR) to demanding specifi...

Active Silicon Inc

Designs and manufactures frame grabbers and embedded vision systems in PCI express, PCI/104-express, PMC, cPCI and C...

Electro-Mech Components Inc

Designs and manufactures push button illuminated switches, indicator lights, and multi-switch interlocking assemblies...

Streamline Circuits Corp

Streamline Circuits is a leading provider of high quality printed circuit boards. Streamline Circuits is committed to...

Electronic Development Labs Inc (EDL)

Since 1943, EDL has strived to provide quality products, outstanding customer service, and superior technical support...

North Atlantic Industries Inc

The top 10 defense companies worldwide rely  on NAI Solutions NAI is a leading independent provider of specializ...
Wire News provided by   

Press Releases

Model INCX-4001

The INCX-4001 consists of a high quality audio transceiver specifically designed to implement a complete fiber optic intercom.

Model PS-1210

The PS-1210 is a 1A, 12VDC stand-alone or rack mountable non-switcher (no RF noise) power supply.

Model OS-3121

Optical switches are utilized to disconnect, bypass and reroute fiber optic communications. All of these optical switches are purely optical path, there is no optical to e...

Webcasts

New Design Tools That Help You Develop Radar That Sees the Un-seeable and Detects the Undetectable

Xilinx EW/ISR System Architect, Luke Miller, has new tricks and he’s going to tell you all about them in a new Xilinx Webinar—for free. His Webinar will cover new ways to implement Radar functions including ...
Sponsored by:

The Latest from Paris Air Show 2015

All Access Sponsors


Mil & Aero Magazine

May 2015
Volume 26, Issue 5
file

Download Our Apps



iPhone

iPad

Android

Follow Us On...



Newsletters

Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information
SUBSCRIBE

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities
SUBSCRIBE

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers
SUBSCRIBE

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.
SUBSCRIBE

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications
SUBSCRIBE

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles
SUBSCRIBE