Product Application Design Solutions

May 1, 2000
Engineers at Beal Aerospace in Frisco, Texas, needed a rugged flight-control computer for their BA-2 commercial heavy-lift rocket
Board products

DY 4 to design rocket control computer

Engineers at Beal Aerospace in Frisco, Texas, needed a rugged flight-control computer for their BA-2 commercial heavy-lift rocket. They found their answer with an integrated system from DY 4 Systems in Kanata, Ontario.

"Beal was impressed with the system solution and long record of success that DY 4 brought to the project, " says Scott Farzier, program manager at Beal. "Their sound advice greatly contributed to our awarding them the contract."

The Beal Flight Control Computer is the primary controller for the BA-2 rocket. It will consist of a newly developed DY 4 chassis containing three DY 4 computer modules.

"Our engineering experience with previous space programs such as the M5 Rocket, the K-1, X-33, and the Space Station, has enabled us to assist our customer in developing the Flight Control Computer from its infancy," says Duncan Young, director of marketing at DY 4. "The design win reinforces DY 4's strong position in the emerging space-based industry."

The Flight Control computer will contain single-board computers and conduction-cooled IndustryPack mezzanine modules. Young declined to comment on board specifics due to contractual obligations.

Providing a complete computer solution, as opposed to just the boards, is a new trend in the industry, Young explains. Customers are looking for a smart supplier with several different levels of integration, he adds.

The economies of scale that result from the fast growth of commercial-off-the-shelf equipment make this a natural step for DY 4, Young explains. DY 4 engineers designed a similar solution for a light detection and ranging system - better known as lidar - on the U.S. Air Force B-2 Bomber, Young adds. The lidar sensor is similar to radar, except that it uses light instead of radio waves to zero in on targets.

DY 4's rugged, conduction-cooled IndustryPack I/O modules - the IP4-660 analog-digital and IP4-661 digital-analog - offer configuration and flexibility, and are aimed at harsh-environment applications requiring flexible I/O in a small footprint. The new modules mount on DY 4's SVME/DMV-209 Industry-Pack carrier card module - which can hold as many as four IndustryPack modules in one VME slot. They are available in air- and conduction-cooled versions.

The BA-2 mission is to lift and deploy heavy payload items such as telecommunications satellites into high Earth orbit at a lower cost than can current expendable rocket or Space Shuttle technology. The first delivery was to be last fall, and first launch of the BA-2 is scheduled for fall 2000. - J.M.

For more information on DY 4, contact Duncan Young by phone at 613-599-9199, by fax at 613-599-7777, by mail at DY 4 Systems, 333 Palladium Drive, M/S 252, Kanata, Ontario, Canada K2V 1A6, by e-mail at [email protected], or on the World Wide Web at


Sanders picks Folsom Research radar scan converter for EA-6B upgrade

Engineers at Sanders, a Lockheed Martin company in Nashua, N.H., needed a radar scan converter for the latest upgrade to the U.S. Navy Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare jet aircraft.

They found their solution in the RSC 1100V1 single-slot radar scan converter from Folsom Research Inc. of Rancho Cordova, Calif. The RSC-1100V1 is a commercial off-the-shelf 6U VME module that generates a high-resolution radar window by processing radar video, trigger, and azimuth signals.

The EA-6B is one of the last remaining dedicated electronic warfare aircraft in the U.S. inventory after the recent retirement of the EF-111 Raven. The aircraft detects, identifies, locates, and jams a wide variety of radio signals related to enemy communications, radar, and navigation. The aircraft is particularly well suited for helping to suppress enemy radar-guided surface-to-air missiles.

The compact qualities of the RSC 1100V1 were tops on the list of needs at Sanders. The RSC 1100V1 card fits into a radar subsystem that must fit behind the electronic countermeasures officer aboard the four-man EA-6B.

The subsystem, in addition to the RSC 1100V1, includes an Ethernet card, two single-board computers, and a series of mezzanine cards, explains Eric Dano, product engineer for the Tactical Display Subsystem Interface Unit (TDSIU) integrated product team at Sanders.

"First and foremost, the most attractive thing was it is a one-card solution," Dano says. "Many others were two cards, and some even had a video card on the other end," he says.

Folsom engineers substituted some commercial-grade components on the board for mil-spec parts to meet the environmental demands of EA-6B upgrade designers, Dano says. The RSC 1100V1 operates in temperatures from -35 to 40 degrees Celsius, and operate intermittently in temperatures as hot as 71 C.

The latest electronics upgrade of the EA-6B is the so-called ICAP-3 (increased capability-3) project. This initiative is replacing the display system in the aircraft with flat-panel liquid crystal displays. The RSC 1100V1 converts signals from the aircraft's radar processors to a raster video format that can mix into the graphics of the new displays. - J.K.

For more information, contact Folsom Research by phone at 916-859-2500, by fax at 916-859-2515 by post at 1101 Trade Center Drive, Suite A, Rancho Cordova, Calif. 95670, by e-mail at [email protected], or on the World Wide Web at


Concurrent's Hawk systems to go on Egyptian radar

Engineers at Sensis Corp. in DeWitt, N.Y., bought five Power Hawk 640 integrated real-time computer systems and software from Concurrent Computer Corp. in Duluth, Ga., for the Egyptian military's AN/TPS-59 radar upgrade program.

Sensis officials say they went with Concurrent based on the Power Hawk's performance with the U.S. Marine Corps.

"Our first experience with Concurrent, the purchase of 11 systems for the U.S. Marine Corps AN/TPS-59 program, resulted in a successful deployment and a satisfied customer, so we have a high degree of confidence in Concurrent's ability to provide a comprehensive solution for this program," says Dave Bordonaro, the AN/TPS-59 contracts manager at Sensis. "Concurrent's excellent customer support, along with its technological superiority, were the deciding factors in our decision to go with Power Hawk."

Systems designers will use the Power Hawk systems to upgrade the capabilities of five AN/TPS-59 battlefield radars for the Egyptian Air Defense Program. The systems, which will comprise the post-detection processors, are part of an upgrade to reduce the size of the radar installation from two shelters to one, and improve mobility, maintenance, and supportability, Concurrent officials say. The Power Hawk systems will enable the AN/TPS-59 radars to identify an object and determine the appropriate response to the threat.

The integrated Power Hawk systems purchased by Sensis includes PowerMAX OS, Concurrent's UNIX-based, standards-compliant real-time operating system and the NightStar tool set, which is designed to facilitate rapid and cost-effective development, Concurrent officials say. The Power Hawk computer system is a PowerPC microprocessor cluster system used primarily for real-time data acquisition, simulation, and process control applications. It is scalable to accommodate as many as 15 CPU modules in one chassis.

Sensis received a sub-contract to upgrade the Egyptian radars from Lockheed Martin Corp. in Bethesda, Md., through the Marine Corps. The contract is valued at $1.3 million. - J.M.

For more information on the Power Hawk contact Concurrent Computer Corp. by phone at 877-978-7363, by fax at 678/258-4300, by mail at Concurrent Computer Corp., 4375 River Green Parkway, Duluth, Ga. 30096, or on the World Wide Web at


RGB video technology used in Phalanx weapons system

Officials at Raytheon Systems Co. in Lexington, Mass., are using video windowing technology from RGB Spectrum in Alameda, Calif., along with the company's RGB/View system for the Block 1B upgrade for the U.S. Navy Phalanx Close-In Weapons System, better known as the CIWS.

The RGB/View display subsystem will show forward looking infrared (FLIR) imagery on the Phalanx control station screen, presenting it in a window along with computer generated graphics.

The Phalanx is a modern-day high-volume Gatling gun for shipboard use. The radar-cued weapon is designed to destroy incoming high-speed airborne threats such as aircraft and cruise missiles. Only recently has the system been capable of defending against fast surface vessels.

The first Phalanx system did not offer a method of engaging surface combatants, particularly fast combatants, RGB Spectrum officials say. The Block 1B upgrade is adding a surface mode capability that increases the ability to track targets and provides a lethal defense against small surface craft and low slow craft, they claim.

The FLIR camera connects to the control consoles over a fiber optic channel. Fiber optics enable the signal to transmit over long distances without degradation since the fiber is less susceptible to noise and electrical interference than is copper wire.

RGB Spectrum experts developed a custom version of their RGB/View system to provide a direct optic interface, RGB Spectrum officials say. The RGB/View is available as a stand-alone device or as a VME board that enables users to view several video, FLIR, and computer inputs in windows on one display. Users can position each window , scale them to full screen, overlay them with computer graphics or overlap them with other windows. The user can also pan and zoom within each video image.

The RGB/View also saves space on the Phalanx system by decreasing the number of necessary monitors by combining multiple video feeds onto a single display in real time.

The Phalanx was originally deployed in 1979 to counter the threat from aircraft and anti-ship missiles, and is today installed on every U.S. Navy combatant ship, RGB Spectrum officials say. Phalanx automatically carries out search, detection, target threat evaluation, tracking, firing, and kill assessment. It uses advanced radar and computer technology to locate, identify, and direct a stream 20 millimeter armor-piercing projectiles to the target. - J.M.

For more information on RGB/View and the RGB video windowing technology contact RGB Spectrum by phone at 510-814-7000, by fax at 510-814-7026, by mail at RGB Spectrum, 950 Marina Village Parkway, Alameda, Calif. 94501, or on the World Wide Web at

Test & measurement equipment

Naval laboratory finds replacement test device with TestMart

Engineers at the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., needed a signal generator but did not have to time to wait for a new one to be delivered. They were able to find a used one for a relatively low price and in a relatively short time by using TestMart, an online service that enables buyers to locate and compare test equipment in San Bruno, Calif.

The signal generator was a Marconi 2022A for general test and evaluation, says Lance Pearce, a laboratory engineer at the Naval Air Warfare Center. Pearce and his colleagues sent off their instructions to TestMart and received an immediate response with a refurbished version of their generator at "40 percent the cost of the original" within about two weeks time, Pearce claims.

TestMart provides buyers with an extensive database containing thousands of product specifications; new, certified refurbished, and manufacturer's special products for sale; a parametric search engine to help customers pinpoint their needs; comparison features to identify customers' key requirements; options to buy, rent, or lease depending on needs and budget; and a sell online feature to determine the value of customers' underutilized equipment and the ability to sell it.

TestMart officials also recently added a feature called Find Like, a proprietary search function that finds products equal or close to a specified product. Buyers who need to replace an obsolete product, or find alternatives to a new one, simply enter the make and model number and can retrieve logical candidates from TestMart's product specification database.

"Find Like represents the essence of our community - empowering our users to locate, compare and select the optimum product for their needs from virtually every source, quickly, simply and without bias," says Peter Ostrow, TestMart chief executive officer. "The user specifies the product and the search engine locates potential alternatives based on its parameters."

"Our original search and compare function finds exact matches of key product parameters such as bandwidth, number of channels, and sensitivity," explains Nitin Shroff, director of product management at TestMart. "Find Like algorithms apply tolerance bands to key parameters that automatically broaden the search to include products with slightly less or more performance.

"For example, a Find Like search for a specific 2-channel, 100MHz oscilloscope locates likely candidates with up to four channels and 200 MHz bandwidth, as well as the direct equivalents," Shroff continues. "Users who are replacing older technology will discover newer products with added features and performance that still meet the basic functions of the old model. The best match from the search results can be entered for another iteration to improve the focus and selections can be displayed, side by side, for detailed comparisons of all parameters." - J.M.

For more information on TestMart contact Peter Ostrow by phone at 650-624-0525, by fax at 650-624-0535, by mail at 851 Traeger Avenue, San Bruno, Calif. 94066, by e-mail at [email protected], or on the World Wide Web at


Atlas V to use G&H connectors

Engineers at G&H Technology in Camarillo, Calif., are designing two new in-flight disconnect units for the next-generation Atlas V launch vehicle, currently under development at Lockheed Martin Corp. in Bethesda, Md.

The first unit, the Atlas V Common Core Booster umbilical connector assembly, has an external vehicle-mounted ground support equipment plug assembly and an airborne receptacle assembly. The later is mounted flush with the missile skin and secured within the missile structure, G&H officials say.

The second unit is a modified version of the G&H Model 893 connector functioning as the Inertial Upper Stage umbilical connector.

"Our commercial and military launch capability goes back to the days of the Poseidon, Polaris, Minuteman, Atlas-Centaur, and Titan programs," says Thomas C. Cleary, G&H chief executive officer. - J.M.

For more information on G&H connectors contact Brian Davies by phone at 805-484-0543, by fax at 805-987-5062, by mail at G&H Technology, 750 W. Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, Calif. 93010, by e-mail at [email protected], or on the World Wide Web at


NASA's FUSE project uses Satellite Tool Kit

Engineers at Interface & Control Systems (ICS) in Melbourne, Fla., needed a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software solution for NASA's Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) mission. The Satellite Tool Kit (STK) from Analytical Graphics in Malvern, Pa., met their needs.

"By using [COTS] products, we have been able to decrease life-cycle development costs and provide a consistent interface across all phases of the project," says Patrice Cappelaere, president of ICS, whose engineers use STK in an integrated control center architecture. ICS leaders chose STK for the company's proven and reliable orbit-propagation capabilities, Analytical Graphics officials claim.

ICS is under contract to Johns Hopkins University as a team member for the FUSE program. ICS specialists are not only integrating their flight version of SCL within the instrument data controller - as the key component of the FUSE mission's day-to-day management of instrument and spacecraft activities - but they are also developing the entire Satellite Control Center.

ICS engineers are also providing systems-engineering support for FUSE and are participating in the development and maintenance of requirements and designs for the FUSE satellite command and control software and the ground station control software, as well as the telemetry, tracking, and commanding data system software.

"[FUSE] is the wave of the future," says Dennis McCarthy, FUSE program director. "There are many professors at many universities who now understand that NASA wants these missions done outside its gates."

Analytical Graphics software supports end-to-end satellite systems from mission planning through operations. Basic applications include calculating and visualizing a satellite's position and attitude, determining acquisition times, and analyzing the satellite's field of view. The company's core product - STK - is available free of charge to all aerospace professionals.

Users can extend the core functions of STK with a wide range of add-on modules that address specialized analysis needs, from communications systems and network relationships, to visualization, proximity, and coverage issues. - J.M.

For more information, on the Satellite Tool Kit contact Analytical Graphics by phone at 800-220-4STK, by fax at 610-578-1001, by mail at Analytical Graphics, 325 Technology Dr., Malvern, Pa. 19355, by e-mail at [email protected], or on the World Wide Web at

The U.S. Navy Phalanx Close-In Weapons System is using the RGB/View system and video windowing technology from RGB Spectrum.

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