PXA255-Based MILSPEC Device Provides Interface in Extreme Environments

About the MIDS Flight Recorder…

Based on a custom XScale-based platform built by SECO USA, the Recorder uses Microsoft’s Windows CE Operating System, and is directly powered via the aircraft’s 28V DC power source. Upon launch, the unit connects to an Ethernet port and begins transferring and recording MIDS data continuously. Over 20 hours of data can be recorded to a removable Compact Flash card. The permanently mounted device is expected to be used during two test flights per day for 1-3 hours per flight. Post-flight, the Compact Flash card is removed from the unit and delivered to the test manager for analysis.

“The ability of SECO USA to integrate a complete MIDS Flight Recorder platform including packaging, electronics, and ViaSat application software, and one that meets the stringent environmental and functional needs laid out by ViaSat, is a testament to its strong engineering team,” noted Dr. Jay Kaufman, Director of ViaSat MIDS Products.

ViaSat develops next generation satellite and wireless communication products for the commercial and military markets. ViaSat products include satellite networks and antenna systems; tactical datalink terminals (MIDS); tactical and secure IP networking; and communication simulation and training systems – all providing fast, secure and efficient communications to any location. The newest of ViaSat products, created with SECO USA, is the MIDS Flight Recorder.

Part of the popular Link-16 Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) interface, the Recorder was developed as a commercial off-the-shelf product that is best suited for use in military fighter aircraft. Built to stringent MILSPEC standards, the unit is supported by US and allied governments for secure data transmission over air, land, or sea and is typically installed in F/A-18 and F-16 tactical aircraft.

military computer

Traditionally, MIDS recording devices have fallen short in the reliable recording of accurate data. Unlike previous attempts to create data recorders, the new MIDS Flight Recorder interfaces with the MIDS terminal via an AUI “thickband” Ethernet connection and records the necessary engineering data to a removable Compact Flash memory card, thus eliminating the shortfalls of prior models. Weighing only about 3 lbs, the unit operates under the most extreme conditions. The recorder’s robust construction is evident as it performs in an unpressurized avionics bay where it is mounted to a bulkhead and subject to extremes of temperature, vibration, and shock. The unit is designed to withstand high altitudes, explosive atmosphere, random vibration, gunfire vibration at 12” from the muzzle, and crash safety shock requirements. Developed from start-to-finish by SECO USA and based on a customized version of SECO USA’s low-power PXA255 Fingertip3 board-level platform, the unit represents the latest in portable high-reliability electronics solutions.