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Lanham, MD, United States

Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.97K | Year: 2010

Research Support Instruments, Inc. (RSI) proposes the Gyroscopic Inertial Micro-Balance Azimuth Locator (GIMBAL) program to use an innovative encapsulated spinning wheel micro-gyroscope as a Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GN&C) actuator for small spacecraft use. While macro-size gyroscopes, including fiber ring gyros, have achieved navigation-grade performance, Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS) gyros have been limited to rate-grade performance, particularly in long-term bias drift. This is often attributable to quadrature error, which is a result of cross-coupling between drive and sense axes (Yazdi 1998). GIMBAL is particularly suited to addressing this, since it does not rely on the vibratory structure common in MEMS gyros. Instead, it uses a true spinning wheel for the proof mass, which will not have any mechanical linkages between axes. This will result in a bias drift much smaller than encountered in current MEMS-sized gyros. The Phase I GIMBAL program will involve design, fabrication, and test of the key encapsulated micro-gyro technology as well as system design of the GN&C component. In Phase II, the complete gyro sensor will be designed and built, and detailed tests and demonstrations will resolve design issues for the final design. The result will be a GN&C component that will address a critical need in future NASA science missions.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.93K | Year: 2010

Research Support Instruments, Inc. (RSI) proposes the Gyroscopic Inertial Micro-Balance Attitude Locator (GIMBAL), a MEMS gyro concept presented at the SENSIAC Joint Precision Azimuth Sensing Symposium, to address the problem of rate gyroscope drift, a particular issue for antenna pedestals. While macro-size gyroscopes, including fiber ring gyros, have achieved navigation-grade performance, Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS) gyros have been limited to rate-grade performance, particularly in long-term bias drift. GIMBAL is particularly suited to addressing this, since it does not rely on the vibratory structure common in MEMS gyros. Instead, it uses a true spinning wheel for the proof mass, which will not have any mechanical linkages between axes, causing a bias drift much smaller than encountered in current MEMS-sized gyros. The Phase I program will involve design, fabrication, and test of the key encapsulated micro-gyro technology; system design of the complete rate gyro sensor including identification of risks and study of concept feasibility/other technologies; and characterization of key technology performance. In Phase II, a complete gyro sensor will be designed and built, and detailed tests and demonstrations will resolve design issues for the final design. The result will be a rate gyro that will address a critical need in antenna pedestal platforms. BENEFIT: This project will prove the concept of embedding a gyro rotor in a micro-cavity as a new spinning-wheel-based rate gyro unit for an antenna pedestal platform. Accelerometers have long held the lead in commercialized MEMS sensors, and MEMS inertial sensors in general have similar market potential. Other than guidance for antenna pedestals, general navigation will be the first larger-scale market, where the high performance will be required and a higher initial unit cost will be acceptable. Once unit costs reduce due to large production quantities, the automotive markets will become a viable target; these involve the purchase of millions of IMU’s each year In addition to antenna pedestal applications, the GIMBAL gyros will be applicable to DOD applications ranging from personnel tracking to munitions guidance. The target U.S. government markets will be the US Air Force, Army, and Navy (for use in antenna tracking and navigation), as well as DOD components (SOCOM, for example) that need more specialized tracking capabilities.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.98K | Year: 2007

Research Support Instruments, Inc. (RSI) proposes to develop the Retroreflector Array for Test Environments (RATE), an innovative technology that will non-intrusively measure pressure on aerodynamic surfaces in NASA ground test facilities with high sensitivity and bandwidth. The signal from RATE units will change locally due to pressure changes. Pressure sensitive paints, in comparison, have serious drawbacks: they must applied to a rigid surface, are specific to the flow species, and do not retroreflect. Because RATE will be independent of the flow species, and applied as a very thin, flexible, adhesive material, it will be able to measure the aerodynamic pressure while minimizing changes in the flow field. The Phase I RATE program will involve design, fabrication, and test of various candidate designs in order to select the most promising approach for Phase II. RSI will use its experience in microfabricated structures and pressure sensors to employ a highly innovative technology in order to non-intrusively measure aerodynamic pressure in NASA ground test facilities. The result will be a product that will address a critical NASA instrumentation need.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.91K | Year: 2006

Research Support Instruments, Inc. (RSI), constructed the first-ever microscale ribbon speaker/microphone, a promising new driver and microphone for active noise reduction (ANR) earplugs, during its Phase I program. RSI proposes to continue the Micro-Actuator Speaker System (MASS) program to develop the technology for use as an active component to a noise reduction system. Micromachined pressure transducers using piezoresistive or capacitive sensing techniques are well developed; this project will instead develop a magnetic speaker/microphone. Magnet-based microphones in macroscale technologies have advantages in sensitivity, bandwidth, ruggednes, and water resistance; similar advantages can be expected on the microscale. Ribbon designs in particular should show strong moisture and flight deck EMI resistance due to the low impedances involved. The Phase II program will involve fabrication of a prototype co-located microphone/microspeaker array, including a circuit board and ruggedized housing; characterization of the new design and demonstration in ANR; refinement of the design, and fabrication of ten final prototype units for delivery to the Air Force. The Phase I program demonstrated that the MASS co-located micro-ribbon speaker/microphone is a valid technology that can address a critical need in ANR, and the Phase II program will be critical to bring the technology to application.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 599.94K | Year: 2009

Research Support Instruments, Inc. (RSI) proposes to develop the Friction-Sensing Reflector Array Patches (FRAP), a technology that will measure the shear stress distribution on aerodynamic surfaces in ground test facilities with high resolution, sensitivity, and bandwidth. Unlike the oil-film interference method, FRAP patches will not be thinned as a function of time during a test. No knowledge of the streamlines of the flow will be needed in order to calculate the local stress distribution; this will avoid the tracers needed with the oil-film interference approach. Flexible patches of FRAP arrays, inexpensive due to simple, mass-production-compatible microfabrication techniques, will be interrogated using a light source and camera. FRAP will be independent of the flow species and applied as a very thin, flexible, adhesive material. The Phase II goals will be to improve the design and fabrication of the sensors, fully calibrate taking into account competing effects such as normal forces and temperature, demonstrate feasibility in a wide range of test environments from subsonic to heated and cold supersonic, and provide prototype units to NASA. The result will be a product that will address a critical NASA instrumentation need.

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