up at sub-zero temperatures, circuitry will only apply power to
the on-board heaters and only allow the PXI card cage to be powered up once the internal temperature exceeds 0°C.
•Shock and Vibration. When operating test equipment in
rugged environments, COTS hardware will often be subjected to great shock and vibration. To account for this, MILSPEC-COTS systems should feature extra shock absorbers. Extensive analysis and experience with field test sets has shown
that multiple shock absorbers attached to the PXI chassis will
protect the custom electronics and PXI card cage from shock,
vibration, and lateral movement.
•Humidity. Since COTS product are typically not hermetically
sealed, humidity can affect operation of the electronics. For
this reason, all circuit cards should be conformably coated and
all harnesses potted.
Leveraging the core platform for new test specifications
MILSPEC-COTS products are successful as a core platform for
rugged test needs and can be used to meet new test requirements. Sometimes the hardware adjustments discussed above
are required to better meet the needs of a specific application.
However, making adjustments to achieve MILSPEC requirements
with COTS hardware is often more effective and less costly than
new, customized test sets due to reduced design and development costs normally associated with these efforts.
For example, when
the 309th Software
(SMXG) at Hill Air
Force Base was tasked
with developing a new
solution to test the upgraded digital avionics
and precision weapons capabilities of the
II, the premier attack
aircraft used by the
United States Air Force
for close air support,
they turned to Marvin Test Solutions to supply a field-tested and
proven MILSPEC-COTS test platform that could easily and quickly be customized for the PATS-70, the A-10/C’s next-generation
flightline test system.
By leveraging a MILSPEC-COTS platform instead of a new custom test solution, the 309th SMXG was able to develop the new
PATS-70 flightline test system under budget and within its tight
development timeline. Because the MILSPEC-COTS platform was
well suited for rapid fielding, few adjustments were required to
meet the A-10/C Thunderbolt II’s test requirements.
The Smart UAVs solution
Autonomous applications and onboard computing
could change the way humanity interacts with UAVs.
By Andrew Simpson, Content Developer, Gumstix,Inc
Few things have captivated the technology world’s imagina- tion over the last two years like unmanned aerial vehicles. From airborne home videos, to lifting tanks out of the sea in a
swarm, both the fun and practical applications of UAVs seem virtually limitless. Though these applications seem simple, many of
them require intensive computational power in order to be smarter. It’s a difficult challenge given the limited power resources and
weight restrictions on most UAVs. Small form factor computers,
with customizable features and low power consumption, offer
smarter onboard computers without big resource draws, making
intelligent applications possible.
UAVs are popular not just with hobbyists, but increasingly are
finding a wide array of commercial, educational, and civic uses.
With consumers, UAVs for everything from aerial photography to
fun and games are gaining popularity. Parrot, the French head-
set manufacturer, recently released its platform for high-quality,
aerial home videos, the A.R.Drone 2.0, offering home users a
fun new way to bring photography to life. UAVs like these aren’t
limited to the home user either: camera-equipped drones cap-
tured action-packed television shots of athletes in many sports,
notably skiing events, during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi,
while in the classroom, UAVs offer many educational opportuni-
ties, not just for mechatronics and electrical engineering, but in
solving high-level problems through the development of artificial
intelligence and sophisticated algorithms. Researchers at Czech
Technical University have developed AgentFly, a multi-agent
system that simulates air traffic control. The system is written in
Java and is deployed on each UAV using an onboard computer
running Linux. At EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, researchers
have developed a fast-deployable flying WiFi network using UAVs
with onboard computers; this flying network could be deployed
in the event of a crisis to ensure continued network connectivity
over a large area.
Many of these applications have significant computational
requirements, even if the UAV itself is controlled manually by a
human operator (using a joystick radio transmitter, for instance).
For safety reasons, virtually all applications require fail-safes that
need a certain degree of autonomy in controlling the UAV; as an
Figure 2. Marvin Test Solutions collaborated with the United States Air Force to
create the modern, portable flightline test
set for the A-10/C Thunderbolt II.