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Tucson, AZ, United States

Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 79.99K | Year: 2014

The critical navigational precision of the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine fleet is based on the aging Electrostatically Supported Gyroscope Navigator (ESGN). The increasing frequency of repairs and increasing Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) for ESGN systems have potential to affect mission readiness. Ridgetop Group proposes an Expert Troubleshooting Action System (ETAS) to reduce mean time to repair (MTTR) and increase mean time between failures (MTBF). The novel machine learning system combines accelerated diagnostics with prognostics to detect signatures of incipient failure. This optimized approach enables simultaneous preventive and corrective maintenance within prescribed time-constraints. The diagnostic element builds on Ridgetop"s experience in prioritized analytical troubleshooting, anchored in historical repair actions and outcomes from existing best practices for the ESGN. Difficult-to-diagnose faults (e.g., intermittent connections and marginal stability) will receive particular focus. The prognostic element will integrate diagnostic data with"what-if"analyses and physics-of-failure models to identify likely next failures and corresponding time horizons. The prognostic element leverages Ridgetop"s core strengths in prognostic health management (PHM) and condition-based maintenance (CBM) for complex electronic and electromechanical equipment. Ridgetop will formulate metrics in Phase I to drive maturation of the approach in Phase II.

Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.26K | Year: 2012

ABSTRACT: Ridgetop will develop an innovative Robustness Assessment for Design (RAD) tool for aircraft electrical power systems (EPS) to meet system safety, reliability, maintainability, and energy optimization requirements in each design stage by calculating system-level robustness. The design employs flow graph models for components at different hierarchies. The measurement of robustness takes into account the topology of the interconnected components, the degradation of the components from aging, and the environmental effects from field reliability data. In addition, factors associated with the following data are taken into account: X Real field data X Empirical data X Thermal and power data X System weight and failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA). The data are measured in multi-level hierarchical systems starting from the component level, and moving to the PWB level, the module level, up to the system level. The models can be connected in series, in parallel, and in combinations of both to conduct extensive Swhat-if analyses that optimize the design for overall system robustness improvement. The result of this SBIR program is a more accurate and modern alternative that maximizes system effectiveness, provides a reduction of energy consumption, and increases system robustness through more accurate estimates than those using conventional mean time between failures (MTBF)-type reliability calculations. BENEFIT: The anticipated benefits that Ridgetops technology offers are electrical power systems lifecycle improvement and continue level of performance in environment variations while optimizing energy. The main markets that will benefit from Ridgetops technology are the commercial aircraft, commercial aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), and potentially the automotive markets. In the military industry, the markets that will be benefited from this technology are the aerospace and defense and the unmanned aerial vehicles markets. This tool supports the demands for more reliable, robust, and energy optimized designs of electrical power systems. The competitive advantage of this technology over other electronic design automation (EDA) tools available in the market is its ability to provide more accurate estimates of systems-levels robustness over conventional mean time between failures (MTBF)-types of reliability calculations, which are largely based on parts population methods. Higher reliability, increased robustness for a variety of platforms, and energy efficiencies are the principal benefits that this tool offers.

Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2012

ABSTRACT: In Phase II, Ridgetop Group will develop a high-performance radiation-hardened ADC suitable for use in satellite communication (SATCOM) systems where radiation exposure would otherwise degrade performance. This proposal responds to Air Force topic AF103-092, with the objective of designing a radiation-hardened, high speed (2 GSPS) analog-to-digital data converter (ADC) with high bit precision for use in low bit error rate (BER) 16-quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) demodulator applications. The significance of this innovation is that high speed and high performance communication systems, incorporating QAM demodulator subsystems, require digitization with extremely high linearity and dynamic range to achieve system performance targets. With the added requirement of radiation hardness, the ADC is a critical chokepoint that must meet demanding standards. Accordingly, Ridgetop"s ADC will be highly linear with an INL and DNL of no more than 0.5 LSB, a flat gain of<0.1 dB, a channel-to-channel isolation of>80 dB, an operating temperature range of at least -40 to 80 degrees C, a very high effective number of bits (ENOB) of 11, and a TID tolerance better than 300 krad(Si). The proposed ADC can be used as an integral part of Air Force"s SATCOM low BER, 16 QAM demodulator applications. Ridgetop"s ADC is much more suitable for this purpose than currently commercially available ADCs due to its high radiation hardness and significant performance improvement compared to the radiation-hardened ADCs that are commercially available. BENEFIT: Precision data converters are critical to the performance of high-speed digital signal processing (DSP) systems. The sampling rate and resolution of the converters define the performance aspects of the entire system. Because of its aggressive 2 GSPS sampling rate, high ENOB (11 bits), and low power dissipation (720 mW), this ADC overcomes a significant barrier to higher performance communications systems. Ridgetop"s innovative time-interleaved silicon germanium (SiGe)-based ADC will improve the resolution, linearity, power consumption and radiation hardness of current state-of-the art ADCs used in advanced communication systems. As a modular, self-contained building block from a popular trusted foundry, this ADC will become an important library element in future system designs. High-performance ADCs are widely used in satellite communication systems, space-based radar applications, medical imaging devices, software-defined radio applications, linear power amplifiers, high-speed data acquisition applications, high-speed test and instrumentation equipment, and high-speed digital signal processing (DSP) systems.

Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.91K | Year: 2011

In response to Department of Energy SBIR topic 61a, Ridgetop Group will develop an adjustable sampling rate, high performance analog-to-digital converter (ADC) that is tolerant to very high levels of radiation. The significance of this innovation is that the ADC is designed to combine high resolution, high sampling speed, and low power with very high levels of radiation hardness. All of these features are needed in the ADCs of the planned SLHC, the upgrade of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) particle accelerator at CERN in Switzerland. Ridgetop will design the ADC in the IBM 8HP SiGe process which has 130 nm minimum feature size for CMOS devices and is intrinsically tolerant to extreme radiation levels. Radiation Hardening By Design (RHBD) techniques will be employed in design as well. Large part of the design and needed radiation effect simulations will be finished during phase I and the fabrication, product qualification and radiation hardness testing are scheduled for phase II Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: High performance ADCs that are hardened to extreme levels of radiation are key components of the SLH experiment that is the largest scientific experiment ever constructed. Suitable components for the purpose are not currently available. Few hundreds of thousands of qualified ADCs will be needed for the experiment. Another possible scientific application for this ADC is NASAs flagship mission to the Jovian moon Europa, the radiation levels of which require this type of device. The ADC can be also used in defense applications, such as missile control, and federal and commercial space applications. Medical imaging devices are another market for the ADC

Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT: Ridgetop Group, Inc. will develop an innovative solution to isolate troublesome no-fault-found (NFF) occurrences in the maintenance depot. We will develop advanced technology to integrate into improved Test Program Sets (TPSs) used to test complex circuit card assemblies (CCAs) of line-replaceable units (LRUs) in electronic warfare (EW) systems. The work will result in a 60% reduction in NFF rates, and a 55% reduction in mean time to repair (MTTR). The technology centers on detecting and locating difficult-to-troubleshoot electronic problems caused by analog degradation of digital data from aged CCAs identified as"bad-actor"CCAs. Each TPS used to test such CCAs is expanded to apply expert troubleshooting techniques that include exploiting test-and-measurement capabilities of VDATS (Versatile Depot Automatic Test Station) equipment at the Maintenance Depot located at Robins AFB. The"Expert Troubleshooting and Repair System"(ETRS) technology added to a TPS consists of the following: (1) expert troubleshooting support (ETS) for a prioritized list of selected bad-actor subcircuits in a bad-actor CCA; (2) each ETS consists of a sequence of tests to identify analog degradation of electronic signals and to pinpoint the source of any such degradation: chip, component (resistor, capacitor, inductor, and so on), or cable harness or cable connector; a test sequence includes test-dependent action(s), including recommended repair actions; and (3) a TPS is a sequence of multiple tests applicable to a specific CCA and written in National Instruments/CVI programming language. BENEFIT: There will be a set of improved TPSs developed for bad-actor circuit card assemblies that will identify, locate, and provide repair actions for difficult-to-diagnose problems caused by analog degradation of digital signals within those bad-actor CCAs. The integration and application of the improved TPSs will reduce the cost of service and maintenance, improve reliability of serviced CCAs when they are returned to the supply chain, and increase flight reliability and availability as summarized by the following: (1) a 60% reduction in no-fault-found (NFF) service codes; (2) a 75% reduction in time to isolate faults; (3) a 55% reduction in the mean time to repair (MTTR); and (4) a 50% reduction in unnecessary repair actions. The work products will be deployed to approximately 75 VDATS test stands in the Air Force to improve current test methodologies. Other related module test applications exist in the commercial sector where inadequate testing causes higher maintenance expenses.

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