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Electronic Systems and Instrumentation

The development of specialized electronic and electromagnetic systems and instrumentation has long been an important area of Institute research, particularly in radio direction finding (DF), DF signal intercept and analysis, and beacon tracking. Institute staff and facilities afford excellent capabilities for research, development, and specialized radio frequency (RF) testing to meet the needs of the military, government agencies, and industry.


The Institute developed an AS-145 antenna to provide sensor data to its HFS-series shipboard direction finding systems. The U.S. Navy evaluated an HFS system aboard the USS Ansio, and the results indicate that is has the highest accuracy of any known shipboard high-frequency direction finding system in the world.

The Institute designs, installs, and tests shipboard and submarine communications intelligence systems for the U.S., British, and Canadian navies. In addition to the continuing support of the U.S. Navy's Outboard and Combat DF programs, the Institute designed and installed transportable intercept and DF systems for special-purpose shipboard applications. Engineers have developed innovative technology for shipboard antennas that must operate in high electromagnetic fields on ships and survive the severe at-sea environment. Unique bearing-calculation algorithms and signal processing methods are being developed to meet Navy needs. Also, compact broadband DF antennas have been designed and integrated with high-frequency radar band receiving antennas for installation on small patrol vessels in the U.S. Navy Privateer program.


To prevent fratricide in battlefield situations, SwRI developed the SABER™ — system for the Joint Command and Control Warfare Center. Using geostationary satellites and line-of-site communications links, the SABER unit is automatically tracked, and its real-time position is displayed on a Navy TAC-3 terminal.

In 1995 the Institute established an important position in the national "situational awareness" (SA) program by demonstrating equipment to inform military decision-makers in real time of the precise location of troops and weapons systems on the battlefield anywhere in the world. Using Global Positioning System technology, Institute "smart" beacons installed on air, ship, and land vehicles communicate precise positions in real time to communications satellites, thereby providing worldwide SA coverage. The beacons are being evaluated in an advanced concept technology demonstration to address national-priority requirements for downed pilot search and rescue operations and for the reduction of fratricide.


The Institute has designed and developed a number of subsystems for AN/FLR-9 circularly disposed antenna arrays (CDAA), including beam forming networks, antenna elements, and electronic goniometers. In addition, SwRI has developed direction finding algorithms and conducted signal processing for CDAA applications.

A recognized leader in the development of computer-controlled RF signal intercept and spectrum surveillance systems, the Institute recently completed a highly sophisticated multistation Data Collection Facility for the U.S. government. In related work, an internal research program is addressing adaptive processing and automatic signal recognition algorithms for conventional narrowband and sophisticated wideband signals of interest. These advanced signal processing techniques can be used for sorting and discrimination in a complex signal environment, such as digital cellular communications.

Engineers completed a three-year program to provide a land-based radiolocation net for the U.S. government. Six DF outstations were delivered along with sophisticated mission database servers to provide access to wide-area location results at 12 operations centers. As part of a continuing commitment to land-based DF, a new test facility was opened at the Institute for testing technology intercept, signal recognition, DF, and collection systems in a simulated operational environment. As a leading member of the signal surveillance community, the Institute hosted the Symposium on Radiolocation and Direction Finding, attended by government and industry representatives from around the world.

SwRI has long been active in the area of magnetic resonance techniques, including nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), nuclear quadrupole resonance, and electron paramagnetic resonance. Commercial process control applications include development of NMR instruments to measure moisture and oil content in food and other consumer products. In recent work, magnetic resonance was applied to detect gas hydrates and paraffins in oil-water-gas mixtures and to assess oil composition.

The Institute recently completed an evaluation of high-resolution interwell seismic and reverse vertical seismic profiling measurement techniques used to image the subsurface geological structures at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in Aiken, South Carolina. Results will be used to help select a technology appropriate for imaging the geological and geotechnical features beneath SRS facilities, which are being considered as a storage site for low-level radioactive waste.

Institute engineers are determining the feasibility of applying guided seismic wave transmission and detection between wells to evaluate natural gas reservoirs for GRI. The study includes methods of measurement, data processing, and development of logging techniques capable of confirming the continuity and resolving the architecture of heterogeneous gas reservoirs.

A five-year effort has been initiated for the U.S. Air Force Avionics Directorate at Wright Patterson AFB to develop phenomenological models for the Advanced Electromagnetic Model for Aerial Targeting (AEM*AT) program. The Institute is to develop first-principle based models for predicting the signatures of targets, backgrounds, and environmental effects throughout the electromagnetic spectrum. Scientists, engineers, and mission planners will use AEM*AT software tools to predict systems and mission performance during aerial engagements.


The Institute's satellite-based geolocation beacons, which use the Global Position System, are monitored with antennas tracking low-Earth-orbit satellites. Shown here is a satellite antenna installation recently completed by SwRI at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, to support a military training exercise ¾ the All- Services Combat Identification Evaluation Test. The exercise focused on advanced technologies supporting the digital battlefield.

Institute-developed ultraviolet (UV) imaging radiometer systems were deployed throughout 1995 to support the Joint Tactical Missile Signatures Joint Task Force, NATO's Research Group 18, the F-22 Advanced Fighter Special Program Office (SPO), and the Advanced Missile Air Warning System SPO. An Institute team collected UV radiometric imagery on infrared-seeking shoulder-fired ground-to-air and air-to-air missiles at the White Sands Missile Range and the Arnold Engineering Development Center to test and calibrate these systems.

Institute engineers designed and tested a 36-volt electric vehicle motor controller for commercial applications such as golf carts, forklifts, and utility vehicles. High-density electronics packaging, which combines surface-mount techniques and highly integrated power modules, was used to produce a simple, compact, and reliable design. Solid models of the final package were generated using computer-aided design tools and stereolithography. The controller was designed to work with a variety of throttle sensor inputs, including current, voltage, and resistive mode devices.

Copyright© 1995 by Southwest Research Institute. All rights reserved under U.S. Copyright Law and International Conventions. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing from the publisher. All inquiries should be addressed to Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas 78228-0510.


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