Mini automation controller for transmitter testing

Provides automation and monitoring of transmission sequences and events

Communications Electronics

Mr. David Emerson at the Naval Surface Warfare Center-Crane Division has invented a mini automation controller for testing handheld radios, key fobs, and other RF equipment. The patented device is available via license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

The mini automation controller can be constructed with parts that cost less than $100. (NSWC photo)

Automated testing is severely behind the curve within certain disciplines of electronic warfare testing.

Current methods of controlling experimental or prototype transmitters in a research or test lab setting consist of an operator manually activating a control button, which provides a transmitter the required input to begin a transmission sequence. The operator then observes a standard multi-meter output and records, by hand, the date and time the received event occurred.

This method of testing is both wasteful and inaccurate. Due to the high level of testing done, the Navy has identified a need for a way to automate and monitor a test transmission sequence and receiver event.

Any system developed for this purpose further needs to be flexible enough and capable of monitoring a variety of transmission sequences and receiver events including particular types of timing or signal events.

The mini automation controller and its software provide a bridge to control devices that were never intended to be computer-controlled.

The Navy solution is a mini automation controller converting incoming signals to outgoing signals of differing protocols. The device automates and monitors multiple transmission and receiver events. A GUI allows an operator to input the desired transmission length, transmission interval and to set a network address.

This MAC incorporates a dual trigger, precision monostable multivibrator circuit element which serves as a comparator and re-triggerable signal length extender for both the copper cable and fiber optic inputs. The monostable multivibrator may be configured to hold an output signal on high wherein the high output signal may be a voltage signal that is higher than a low signal. The multivibrator element may be further configured to hold the output signal high for a predetermined duration and to sample, at a predetermined rate, one or more output signals.

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