Launch Stories provides warfighters, sponsors, partners, and taxpayers with an inside look at the technologies and research developed by small businesses working with the Air Force.
Sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), this new forum highlights the advanced tools and innovations that drive US competitiveness and make service members safer, better informed, and more efficient than ever. These are their stories.
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Congress established the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program in 1982 to strengthen the role of smaller businesses in federally-funded research and development. This program stimulates technological innovation, uses small businesses to meet Federal R&D needs, and increases private sector competition, productivity, and economic growth.
The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, a sister program to SBIR, was established by Congress in 1992 to encourage small business partnerships with Universities, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, and qualified non-profit research institutions.
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Imagine it is your job to recover data from a data recorder contained in a penetrator after a cannon test. The penetrator is loaded into a cannon and fired into a cement wall—at which point it either sinks several feet below the Earth’s surface into a dirt berm or flies into the woods. You race against time to recover the data inside, but can’t locate the penetrator—until Remote Interface for Munition Recorder Instrument Packages (RIMRIP).
Currently, after a shock test, test personnel must physically gain access to the data recorder and connect to a PC to download the stored data. In addition to being difficult to locate the recorder after a blast, today’s recorders present several flaws. Data can be lost due to connection failures, loss of battery connection inside the device, and other mechanical errors. Obtaining data becomes easier with a Remote Interrogator for Munition Recorder Instrument Packages (RIMRIP). RIMRIP was developed under a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and allows test personnel to wirelessly download data after a blast without physically locating the recorder.
The RIMRIP device contains a transceiver/antenna, processor and independent power source to wirelessly send data back to a remote PC.
System engineer Rob Klug at work.
Electrical engineer Thomas Plummer on location during a test.
The high-g data interrogator allows test personnel to remotely gain access to data stored in a data recorder after a shock test. Currently, once a cannon test using a penetrator is completed, test personnel must physically gain access to the data recorder and then connect to a PC to download data. This is time consuming. If test personnel are successfully in locating the recorder, data can still be lost due to mechanical binding, connection failures or loss of battery connection inside the device. This technology allows test personnel to wirelessly download collected data from several feet away.
McQ performed an extensive literature search, modeling, and empirical testing of various communication methods including radio frequency (RF), acoustic, and light-based approaches for the remote interrogator. Down-selected approaches were further analyzed and an RF approach was selected and tested. McQ also performed significant electronic component research to determine which components were low-power, low-cost, and could survive a shock. Finally, functional shock testing was performed to qualify all components.
"RIMRIP is low cost, seamlessly fits into a canister with existing data recorders, and allows users to wirelessly download data. Why not use RIMRIP for all cannon tests? " — Ron Knobler
McQ’s approach consists of a small electronics module called a RIMRIP device (containing a transceiver/antenna, processor, an independent power source, and other supporting components), which is wired to a data recorder and placed inside a penetrator fuse well. Two antennae protrude from the back of the penetrator, which provide redundancy and maximize the ability for the user of an interrogator device to successfully download data wirelessly when the penetrator is buried in several feet of soil and up to dozens of feet away horizontally. McQ’s modular design allows for a variety of data recorders to interface with the embedded device.
This technology diminishes the likelihood that a penetrator test will result in the loss of data since the penetrator can be quickly located if lost. The data can be downloaded wirelessly and quickly, before a battery or connection failure occurs.
McQ broadened its technical expertise in high-g electronic system design, wireless communication design/modeling, and specific expertise in low-power micro-controllers and support electronics, which will be useful for other embedded system-related projects.
RIMRIP allows data from more warhead cannon tests to be successfully recovered, enabling a deeper understanding of the survivability and ballistic performance of electronics, and better preparing the U.S. for the use of warheads with high-g electronics in combat.
The project has provided meaningful embedded systems work for various McQ employees, which increases job satisfaction. Also, through the use of local companies as subcontractors and various parts vendors, the project has helped stimulate the economy.
For more than 30 years, McQ has earned a reputation as the technology leader in the development of low-power embedded systems. McQ is responsible for the complete life cycle of a project—from initial concept to customer delivery, has delivered the U.S. government more than 8,000 fielded systems.
Remote Interrogator for Munition Recorder Instrument Packages (RIMRIP)
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