Product applications

Nov. 1, 2004

Lockheed Martin tests helicopters with VMETRO recorder

Engineers at Lockheed Martin in Bethes­da, Md., created the Hawkeye Target Sight System (TSS) for the Marine Corps AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter update program. They needed a method to test the system, and found an answer in the Modular Data Recorder (MDR) from VMETRO in Houston.

Lockheed Martin tests helicopters with VMETRO recorder.
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The TSS is an optoelectronic infrared sensor system designed to provide target detection, recognition, and identification at extremely long ranges during day or night operations and in challenging environments.

Lockheed designers picked the MDR to be part of TSS tests because of its rugged construction, ability to sustain high-bandwidth data recording, and the ease with which it could be integrated into the system.

“TSS required a data recorder that could easily be ­integrated with other systems, withstand a harsh environment, and deliver real-time, deterministic performance,” says Richard Benton, TSS technical director for Lockheed Martin.

VMETRO provides board- and system-level products for high-performance ­embedded real-time systems, with products based on open standards like VMEbus, PCI, RACEway, and Fibre Channel.

Founded in 1986 in Oslo, Norway, and in the U.S. since 1987, VMETRO is the world’s largest manufacturer of bus analyzers for standard buses such as VMEbus and PCI. VMETRO also offers a line of high-performance real-time data recorders, PMC I/O controllers, and modules for data acquisition and real-time data networking. For more information, see

Air Force tests engines with MTI

Air Force engineers needed test and measurement equipment to tune aircraft engines. They found a solution at MTI Instruments Inc. in Albany, N.Y., creator of the PBS-4100 portable aircraft engine balancing system.

The MTI Instruments PBS-4100 automatically collects and records aircraft ­engine vibration data, identifies vibration or balance trouble, and calculates a solution to the problem, resulting in ­reduced engine vibration, longer engine life, and lower fuel costs.

Engineers in 10 U.S. Air Force aircraft are now using the system to maintain surveillance aircraft, attack fighters, strategic bombers, stealth aircraft, and transport aircraft. In addition, Air Force personnel use the company’s PBS-4100R test-cell system at each of their air ­logistics test centers.

In October, Air Force planners awarded MTI a contract for $1.337 million to buy new systems, and a contract for $812,000 to retrofit existing systems.

“We have received more than $4.6 million in orders from the U.S. Air Force in the last three months,” says Steven Fischer, CEO and chairman of Mechanical Technology (MTI).

MTI Instruments is a subsidiary of Mechanical Technology Inc. The company specializes in non-contact precision test and measurement instruments and systems. For more information, see

General Dynamics picks Agilent to test Mars rovers

Engineers at General Dynamics C4 Systems in Scottsdale, Ariz., built the communication system for NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers. They recently needed test equipment to tune the small deep-space transponders (SDSTs) that provide the rovers’ direct Earth-communications link.

They found a solution with Agilent Technologies in Palo Alto, Calif. Company leaders used Agilent’s Visual Engineering Environment (VEE) Pro as an interface that allowed their technicians to control most of the test equipment, as well as the ­SDSTs, with the click of a few buttons.

Agilent VEE Pro controlled the test-equipment rack and provided data logging, automated testing, and the command and telemetry interface for testing of the SDSTs, which provide vital communication links to and from Earth. There are also two SDSTs on board the Mars Odyssey orbiter, which relay data to and from the rovers.

General Dynamics also uses VEE Pro to test another transponder product line for near-Earth satellites that use the tracking and data-relay satellite system (TDRSS) and ground network S-Band signals.

The Mars Exploration Rovers, called Spirit and Opportunity, began the quest to help scientists understand the history of water on Mars after landing on the planet in January 2004. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif, manages them for the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA).

“Accurate testing is critical in applications such as the NASA Mars Exploration Rovers, where only maximum performance ensures program success,” says Mark Pierpoint, vice president of Agilent’s Measurement and Analysis Software Group. “VEE Pro helps engineers in a broad range of industries develop accurate test systems quickly using a simple, open environment.”

For more information, see

Navy warships use Behlman power supply

Engineers at Integrated Consulting Services (ICS) in Louisville, Ky., build fire control systems for the U.S. Navy’s Aegis warships. Recently, they suddenly lost their power supply vendor, and needed a new supplier.

They found an answer with Behlman Electronics Inc. in Hauppauge, N.Y. Using a modified commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) design, Behlman designers built a replacement power supply that matched the form, fit, and function of the original items.

The solution includes three multi-output, 600-Watt, N+1, hot-swappable DC power supplies, loaded in a 19-inch rack.

ICS leaders also tapped Behlman to supply the Navy with a 3,000-volt uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to ­replace a unit in the MK119 fire control cabinet. Navy designers may also use the system to replace 40 other systems onboard AEGIS ships.

Our experience in military applications and the ‘can do’ attitude of the entire Behlman team made this achievement possible,” says Ron Storm, Behlman’s vice president of sales and marketing. “We know the importance of getting it right the first time, especially under the circumstances ICS was facing. We’re proud they turned to us to meet their critical supply challenge, and that together we were able to provide highly reliable systems to support our military.”

Behlman Electronics is a subsidiary of Orbit International Corp. For more information, see

Boeing picks Honeywell to boost power on E-10A

Engineers at Boeing in St. Louis are designing the E-10A airplane for the U.S. Air Force. They needed a supplemental power source to run the radar and communications system on the aircraft, and found a solution with the T55 Engine from Honeywell, in Phoenix, Ariz.

Boeing picks Honeywell to boost power on E-10A.
Click here to enlarge image


The E-10A includes powerful radar and communications systems that provide near-real-time images over a wide area of the battlefield. It is part of the Air Force’s MC2A (Multi-sensor Command and Control Constellation) network-centric warfare concept.

Prime contractor Northrop Grumman is building the system on a Boeing 767-400 platform. But that aircraft needs extra electricity to run the Multi Platform-Radar Technology Insertion Program radar (MP-RTIP) and the Battle Management Command and Control (BMC2) systems.

So Boeing designers will use a Supplemental Electrical Power System (SEPS) from Honeywell. The system uses a T55-GA-715A turboshaft engine and a Honeywell-designed gearbox that mounts six Hamilton-Sundstrand 180 kilovolt generators and controls. Together, they generate about one megawatt of power up to altitudes of 41,000 feet.

Honeywell’s aerospace business makes in-service solutions for aircraft manufacturers, airlines, business and general aviation, military, space, and airport operations. For more information, see

Rockwell Collins builds UAV architecture with LynuxWorks RTOS

Engineers at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, are designing the common architecture platform for manned and unmanned vehicles. They needed a real-time operating system, and found a solution in LynxOS-178 from LynuxWorks Inc. in San Jose, Calif.

Rockwell engineers will use the RTOS as part of the recently awarded contract from the U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD) for the Manned/Unmanned Common Architecture Program Phase III (MCAP III).

MCAP III will develop and demonstrate an avionics architecture for Army unmanned aircraft that is common to mission processing systems currently under development for Army Helicopters and Future Combat System (FCS) Ground Vehicles.

Rockwell Collins is developing the common computing and open systems network architecture with application to the Army AH-64 Apache Helicopter, Combat Armed Rotorcraft (UCAR), Shadow 200, A-160 Hummingbird, and Fire Scout.

Rockwell Collins builds UAV architecture with LynuxWorks RTOS.
Click here to enlarge image


They chose LynuxWorks’ LynxOS-178 as the operating system for this open ­systems architecture. LynxOS-178 is a commercially available, DO-178B level-A certifiable RTOS that meets standards for safety-critical avionics systems.

As a POSIX-conformant operating system, LynxOS-178 ensures application portability, software reuse, and interoperability between embedded military systems. In addition, LynxOS-178 allows multiple software applications of differing criticality levels within partitions to execute, completely isolated, on the same hardware resource.

“The MCAP III program is yet another example of the tremendous shift under way in the military to an open systems architecture approach in avionics and communication projects,” says Dr. Inder Singh, CEO and chairman of LynuxWorks. “We look forward to ­additional opportunities in helping the Army achieve its vision of a network-centric battlefield with maximum interoperability and commonality among its systems.”

Navy lights escape hatches with PolyBrite LEDs

Engineers at the U.S. Navy were designing submarine escape kits, and needed a reliable light so sailors could find the kits in the dark.

They found a solution in the SCV (stole charging valve) Light Collar, from PolyBrite International, Inc. in Naperville, Ill.

Navy designers will include the light-emitting-diode (LED)-powered SCV Light Collars and illuminated batons in the Crash Bags for all Navy submarine crewmembers. The SCV Light Collar will illuminate the area where sailors plug in their hoses to inflate their escape suits and provide breathable air. The lights will also illuminate escape hatches. This device has a universal fit to accommodate all U.S. and NATO submarines using the Submarine Escape and Immersion Equipment (SEIE) Mark 10.

“These lighted collars are a critical piece of survival equipment for use in the extreme case of a disabled submarine,” says Michael Holmes, submarine escape and rescue project manager for the Naval Sea Systems Command. “Until now, we didn’t have a reliable product that would remain lighted and also withstand the rigors of depth, water pressure, and repeated cycles of intense underwater pressurization and depressurization to help sailors escape from a disabled submarine.”

PolyBrite is the inventor and manufacturer of LED-based products to be sold under its licensing agreement with Westinghouse Lighting Corp. For more information, see or

SPAWAR picks Spectrum for satellite signal processing

Engineers at SPAWAR in San Diego, Calif., were developing a method to improve satellite communications, and they needed a powerful signal-processing ­platform. They found a solution in the flexComm HCDR-1000 from Spectrum Signal Processing in Columbia, Md.

The HCDR-1000 is a flexible heterogeneous processing platform that ­incorporates Xilinx field programmable gate arrays, IBM and Motorola ­Power­PC processors and Texas Instruments digital signal processors. The HCDR-1000 also ­integrates a front-end radio frequency ­receiver from Eclipse Electronic Systems, Inc.

Designers at the U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) will use the system to create an Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Characterization System, used to analyze the entire band of UHF satellite communications channels, and create statistical models of the interference patterns.

Satellite voice and data communications are commonly plagued with interference of indeterminate source and nature. So they will use these models to pinpoint the source and characteristics of the interference, and mitigate the effects.

“Spectrum provided a complete front-end processing platform for our application, from radio-frequency to base-band processing. This platform employs innovative technology including FPGA (field- programmable gate-array) cores instead of traditional down-converters, which ­results in a significant increase in channel density per slot,” says Gerry Baumgartner, Program Manager at SPAWAR. “Spectrum was also able to meet an aggressive timeframe which will allow us to meet our program schedule and cost objectives.”

For more information, see

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