Harris uses RGB converter for Air Force program

MELBOURNE, Fla. - Engineers at Harris Corp. in Melbourne Fla., needed a low-cost scan converter that they could easily integrate into the U.S. Air Force Range Standardization and Automation (RSA) program. The Videolink HD scan converter form RGB Spectrum in Alameda, Calif., fit their needs.

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By John McHale

MELBOURNE, Fla. - Engineers at Harris Corp. in Melbourne Fla., needed a low-cost scan converter that they could easily integrate into the U.S. Air Force Range Standardization and Automation (RSA) program. The Videolink HD scan converter form RGB Spectrum in Alameda, Calif., fit their needs.

"Before selecting the Videolink HD, we investigated competing solutions and found none that could match it in terms of price, performance, and ease of integration into the Air Force program," says Packey Velleca, lead systems engineer for Harris.

The RSA standardizes telemetry data processing between different U.S. Air Force installations, and reduces costs by using off-the-shelf hardware and software. The program is currently in the integration and testing phase.

The RSA project enables Air Force operators to control spacecraft in real time on the launch pad and for several minutes after lift-off. To do this efficiently, Air Force officials needed a way to record operator workstation displays to verify their decisions later.

The recording had to last for 30 minutes and capture the full screen in real-time, maintaining enough quality to guarantee legibility upon replaying the information. The RSA includes operators at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, Fla., and at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, Calif.

The displays are of 1,280 by 1,024 pixel resolution and indicate vehicle position and operating status from on-board systems, shown in strip-chart-style graphs, histograms, numerical readouts, or text messages.

The system first converts the high-resolution image to high-definition television for recording, and then converts back to a non-interlaced RGB format for playback on a computer monitor.

"Dropping the workstation video down to NTSC [National Television System Committee] rates resulted in a loss of about 75 percent of the video information, and the results were unacceptable," Velleca says.

Another potential solution was to write a custom application to record events and enable display reconstruction later on. However, the development costs were too high and the additional workload on the workstation was too great for the single-processor, and single-SCSI-bus workstation, Harris officials say.

Each RSA installation has between nine and fifteen workstations with a Videolink HD scan converter for every three workstations. A high-bandwidth video switch shares access to the Videolink HD system. This enables operators to record or play back one workstation display at a time. A central computer system controls all equipment.

"With the Videolink HD from RGB Spectrum, the workstation video is converted to HDTV [High-Definition Television] rates with very little loss of information," Velleca says. "Small fonts, fine lines, and colors are faithfully preserved."

For more information on the Videolink HD contact RGB Spectrum by phone at 510-814-7000, by fax at 510-814-7026, by mail at 950 Marina Village Parkway, Alameda, Calif. 94501, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.rgb.com.

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The Videolink HD scan converter form RGB Spectrum converted workstation video to High-Definition Television rates for the U.S. Air Force Range Standardization and Automation program, designed by engineers at Harris Corp. in Melbourne Fla.

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