Advances in Satellite Antenna Technology

Most people know what Origami is.  In case you don’t, the goal of Origami is to transform a flat square sheet of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques.  Modern origami practitioners generally discourage the use of cuts, glue, or markings on the paper.  So, you ask, how could Origami possibly be […]

Most people know what Origami is.  In case you don’t, the goal of Origami is to transform a flat square sheet of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques.  Modern origami practitioners generally discourage the use of cuts, glue, or markings on the paper.  So, you ask, how could Origami possibly be related to anything of interest to rocket scientists?  As you will see, there most certainly is a connection between Origami and Antenna technology.

CubeSat is a miniaturized satellite, or nanosatellite, intended for space research.  Due to their small size, large numbers of CubeSats generally perform their unique tasks by working together in large constellations.  To date, there are about 1500 CubeSat satellites in orbit.

Although technology advances have allowed satellites to be effectively miniaturized, the antenna associated with each CubeSat can not be miniaturized; the laws of physics simply do not permit the antenna to be any smaller than it is.  And, since the antenna must remain large, it would not fit in the small area inside the miniature satellite.   Since the antenna is necessary to allow the satellite to communicate with other satellites, and with earth stations, there needed to be a way to get the large antenna into the small satellite. 

As explained here, Dr. Kim and his colleagues at Pusan National University and the University of Alabama, USA, developed a new deployable antenna for CubeSats.  Inspired by the mathematics which are the root of Origami, the team designed an antenna which could be folded and stored inside the Cubesat.  Once in orbit, the antenna would be deployed, and unfolded to its full and functional size.  This new advance in Antenna design now allows nanosatellites to be part of our satellite fleet.

So, although many may have thought that antenna design could not be pushed any further, Dr. Kim proved them wrong.  What other previously unimagined advances in antenna technology are yet to be imagined?

To learn more about Antennas, consider taking the upcoming ATI course entitled Antenna and Array Fundamentals.  You can learn more about this offering, and register, here.

Lastly, as always, a full listing of ATI’s courses can be found here.

Multi-Target Tracking

How many of us actually think about automation and safety when we drive our cars? Rest assured, the Department of Transportation has a well thought-out plan which has been documented in a series of reports.  In 2017, DOT issued Automated Driving Systems, A Vision for Safety 2.0.  In 2018, the DOT expanded the scope of […]

How many of us actually think about automation and safety when we drive our cars? Rest assured, the Department of Transportation has a well thought-out plan which has been documented in a series of reports.  In 2017, DOT issued Automated Driving Systems, A Vision for Safety 2.0.  In 2018, the DOT expanded the scope of their guidance to all surface on-road transportation systems when they issued Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0.  Most recently, in 2020, DOT again expanded the scope of their guidance when they issued Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies: Automated Vehicles 4.0.  

The concepts described in this series of reports date back to second half of the twentieth century (1950 -2000) when engineers concentrated on the most rudimentary safety and convenience features such as seat belts, cruise control, and anti-lock brakes.  During the next 10 years ( 2000 – 2010 ), engineers worked on advanced safety features like blind spot detection, and warnings for lane departure and forward collisions.  These advances simply alerted the driver to a potential safety issue, but still did nothing to remedy the situation.  From 2010 to 2016, engineers came up with driver assistance features like automatic emergency braking and lane centering assist.  These features were the start of the path toward fully automated vehicles.  From 2016 to 2025, we will become acquainted with partially automated safety features like adaptive cruise control and self-park.  All of this should lead us to a fully automated vehicle capable of driving on highways using autopilot in the years following 2025.  It has been a relatively short span of time, and there have been many advances in automated vehicle technology.

As automobile drivers, we are not really sure how these automated systems work.  We simply know that they work, and we are glad that they are there to help us out.  Behind the scenes, however, engineers and scientist are thinking about the requirements and designs and continuously developing ways to advance the state of the art. 

While radars were once only associated with complex military systems, they are becoming more common today in cars that require them for many of the automated features that have been developed over the years.  Simple radar technology is behind many of the collision avoidance features in today’s cars, and it was instrumental in turning simple cruise control into adaptive cruise control.   In order for automated features in cars to advance, however, so to must the state of the art in radar.  One such advance in radar technology is its ability to not only detect a target, but to track it too.  And then, another advance is its ability to track multiple targets at the same time.  Advances in this technology will truly advance our ability to move closer to the goal a fully automated vehicle.

To learn more about advances in multi target tracking, consider enrolling in the upcoming offering of ATI’s Multi Target Tracking and Multi Sensor Data Fusion.  The objective of this course is to introduce engineers, scientists, managers, and military operations personnel to the fields of radar tracking, data fusion and to the key technologies which are available today for application to this field. The course is designed to be rigorous where appropriate, while remaining accessible to students without a specific scientific background in this field.

Also, take a look at the schedule of other upcoming ATI courses here.    

Target Motion Analysis, What’s That, You Ask?

Target Motion Analysis Sonar and Target Motion Analysis Fundamentals is a course being offered by ATI starting on December 19.  If you are a submarine sonarman, or if you are an engineer developing tools for use by submarine sonarmen, then this is the course for you!  You surely already understand the meaning and importance of […]

Target Motion Analysis

Sonar and Target Motion Analysis Fundamentals is a course being offered by ATI starting on December 19. 

If you are a submarine sonarman, or if you are an engineer developing tools for use by submarine sonarmen, then this is the course for you!  You surely already understand the meaning and importance of Target Motion Analysis, and this class will offer insights that you may not have been exposed to in your Navy or workplace training.

Surface Ships use Radar in much the same way that Submarines use Sonar.  One major difference between Surface Ships and Submarines is that stealth is critical to the submarine, and less important to the surface ship.  So, submarines typically do not want to emit any energy from their ship, as that would be detectable by the adversary.  As a result, while Surface Ship Radar actively emits energy, submarine sonar does not.  Submarine Sonars act passively; it only listens to naturally occurring noise, it does not transmit any energy.

When a Surface Ship Radar emits a pulse and listens for a return, the radarman is able to pinpoint the precise location of the contact.  Over time, he can examine the track of his contact, and use this information for tactical purposes.  The process is fairly simple compared to what happens on a submarine.

When a submarine sonarman hears a contact using his passive sonar, he knows nothing more than the direction it is coming from.  Over time, he can develop a time history of the direction to the contact, but that is not the same as a Target Track.  The time history of target direction is of little use for tactical planners; they need to know the track of the contact, which includes the contacts range and direction of travel.  In order to convert the time history of target direction into a usable contact track, the sonarman, or the sonarman’s computer programs, must execute “Target Motion Analysis”.

If you find this explanation interesting, or if it sounds like something that you may be able to apply to your work, please consider joining us for this class.  You can learn more about the class, and register for it here.

A complete listing of all of the courses that ATI can offer upon request can be found here.

Certified Systems Engineering Prep ( CSEP ) Exam Preparation

How many of you know about the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) or the various INCOSE Certifications including Associate Systems Engineering Professional ( ASEP ), Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP), or Expert Systems Engineering Professional ( ESEP )? The purpose of this Blog post is to enlighten those who are not aware of the […]

How many of you know about the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) or the various INCOSE Certifications including Associate Systems Engineering Professional ( ASEP ), Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP), or Expert Systems Engineering Professional ( ESEP )?

The purpose of this Blog post is to enlighten those who are not aware of the INCOSE organization, or the INCOSE certifications.  Both of these are things that most Systems Engineers should already know about, and if you don’t, you may find this informative.

INCOSE is comprised of nearly 20,000 Systems Engineering Professionals.  Their mission, as stated on their web page, is “to address complex societal and technical challenges by enabling, promoting, and advancing Systems Engineering and systems approaches.”  Also from their web page, the goals of INCOSE are to 1) be a focal point for dissemination of systems engineering knowledge, 2) promote international collaboration 3) Assure the establishment of professional standards in systems engineering, 4) improve the professional status of all systems engineers, and 5) encourage governmental and industrial support for Systems Engineering.  There is a wealth of other information on their web page, so anyone interested in INCOSE should visit the INCOSE Web site.

One of the services that INCOSE has provided is a mechanism for Systems Engineers to be certified at some level as a Systems Engineering Professional ( ASEP, CSEP or ESEP ), indicating that they have met all of the standards defined by INCOSE, indicating that the individual is a qualified Systems Engineer.   Earning an INCOSE certification is not easy, but it is something that over 3000 individuals have accomplished to date.

Mark Wilson, from Strategy Bridge and INCOSE recently published a study where he pontificates on whether or not the INCOSE CSEP certification is worthwhile.   Warning, spoilers coming, leave this page immediately if you don’t want to know how the story ends …….  He concludes that the INCOSE SE certifications ARE worthwhile, both for the individual who earns the certification, and for the organization that employs that individual.

Earning the ASEP certification requires that the individual pass a rigorous exam demonstrating knowledge of Systems Engineering concepts.  CSEP certification also requires that the individual have a demonstrated track record of having worked successfully in a Systems Engineering role.  ESEP certification simply raises the bar and requires more experience.    To prepare for the exam, candidates often take a short-course which reviews many of the concepts that are tested.

Applied Technology Institute offers a 3-day short course called CSEP Preparation which will prepare students for the INCOSE SE exam, applicable to any of the three certification levels.  This course walks through the CSEP requirements and the INCOSE Handbook to cover all topics that might be on the INCOSE exam. Interactive work, study plans, and three sets of sample examination questions help you to prepare effectively for the exam. Participants leave the course with solid knowledge, a hard copy of the INCOSE Handbook, study plans, and a sample examination.

ATI will be offering the next CSEP Prep ( live virtual ) class starting on November 15, 2022.  Students may register for this class using the link above. 

We hope to see you at the CSEP Prep course in November. 

If you are interested in other courses currently offered by ATI, you can view our schedule of upcoming classes here.

Tik-Tok and Software Defined Radio

I love Tik Tok.  In fact, my associates at ATI often tire of me telling them about the newest trends that are being copied over and over again on Tik Tok.  It is amusing to see how so many people can create a similar video and do it in their own unique way. One trend […]

I love Tik Tok.  In fact, my associates at ATI often tire of me telling them about the newest trends that are being copied over and over again on Tik Tok.  It is amusing to see how so many people can create a similar video and do it in their own unique way.

One trend that is very popular now is videos where a teenager is asked about the meaning of words or phrases that were popular back in the dark ages ( the 70’s and 80’s ).  It is amusing to see how today’s kids are so unaware of the words or phrases that are obvious to old fogies like me. 

I started thinking about a new trend that would be fun.  What if kids were to present older people with words that they are familiar with, to see if the older folks knew what the word or phrase meant?  Now that might be interesting.

Let’s imagine what words your kid might challenge you with.

How would you react if your kid presented you with the phrase “Software Defined Radio”? 

Your first reaction might be something like …. “Did you mean Radio, because I AM familiar with that term?  I used to have a radio in my Chevelle!”  But, your kid responds ….. “ NO! I said Software Defined Radio.  Its nothing like what you had in your Chevelle.  I learned about it in school today, and I want to learn more about programming SDR in an engineering program at college next year!”  You sheepishly admit that you never heard of Software Defined Radio.

Wikipedia tells us that Software-defined radio (SDR) is a communication system where components that have been traditionally implemented in analog hardware are instead implemented by means of software on a personal computer. Said differently, if you took apart the radio in your old car, you would find lots of hardware ( transistors, capacitors, resistors, etc. ).  If you took apart a radio in your new car, you would find only chips which contain software that is controlling your radio.

SDR is an up-and-coming area which all of us should be aware of.  And, if you are an engineer who has a working knowledge of C++ and Python in Linux, then maybe you would want to learn about how to build Software Defined Radios.

ATI is offering Software Defined Radio; Practical Applications in October 2022.  Take a look at the course description here, and if looks like a course you may be interested in, please register for the class at that same site.  Remember, a working knowledge of C++ and Python in Linux is necessary for this class.

And, as always, if you want to see the full set of courses offered at ATI, please visit us at www.aticourses.com.

Business Management for Scientists and Engineers

Historically, Applied Technology Institute has delivered scientists and engineers technical courses to help them keep current in their fields.  As stated in our mission statement, we have offered courses in satellite communications, space, defense, radar, sonar and acoustics, signal processing, and systems engineering.  Although we plan to continue doing exactly that, we are also going […]

Historically, Applied Technology Institute has delivered scientists and engineers technical courses to help them keep current in their fields.  As stated in our mission statement, we have offered courses in satellite communications, space, defense, radar, sonar and acoustics, signal processing, and systems engineering.  Although we plan to continue doing exactly that, we are also going to be offering some new courses that will be unlike what we have offered before. 

“Business Management for Scientists and Engineers” will be taught by Dr. Alan Tribble, author of the book with the same title.  This two-day course is intended to accelerate professional growth by helping individuals with a technical background develop an appreciation for, and understanding of, the types of business knowledge used by senior leadership. 

A recent inquiry to ATI suggested that a general business management class such as ours would be of limited usefulness because it would concentrate more on general business practices rather than business practices the workplace where the inquirer worked.  He was more interested in the ways that his own company conducted internal business management, and he argued that he could better spend his time taking an internal course concentrating on business practices at his own company. 

We discussed his concern, and he soon came to realize he was thinking about it all wrong.

General business management class like ATI’s and the internal business management classes are not meant to be mutually exclusive.  In fact, the best way for a Scientist or Engineer to learn about business management is to first learn about general business management topics that apply to all Engineering Firms, and then to learn about specific practices from your own company by taking an Internal course offered by your employer.  The general business management class offered by ATI and the business management class offered by your employer are complementary.  Ideally, a scientist should take both classes to be fully versed on business management practices he may encounter daily.

If you think you may be interested in taking the ATI course “Business Management for Scientists and Engineers”, ATI has a way that you meet the instructor and learn about the course content before you make your decision.  Consider attending the free one-hour virtual short-session where the instructor will talk about the topic, and discuss course content.  If you want to register for the free short-session, or the full course, you can find more information or register here. 

Both the short session and the full class are right around the corner, so please don’t delay.

And, as always, if you want to see the full set of courses offered at ATI, please visit us at www.aticourses.com.

Yep, We Really Train Rocket Scientists!

It is so exciting that we are going back to the moon.  NASA is planning a bold set of missions.  Although one of the missions will visit the moon again, the ultimate goals are much more far-reaching.  The intent is to learn from the moon visit and apply knowledge to future manned missions which will […]

It is so exciting that we are going back to the moon.  NASA is planning a bold set of missions.  Although one of the missions will visit the moon again, the ultimate goals are much more far-reaching.  The intent is to learn from the moon visit and apply knowledge to future manned missions which will visit places far beyond the moon.

We are only one month until the Artemis I mission.  For this first mission, the uncrewed Orion Spacecraft will spend four to six weeks in Space, and go far beyond the moon. To do this, a very powerful rocket is needed to accelerate an Orion spacecraft fast enough to overcome the pull of Earth’s gravity.  This will be accomplished by NASA’s Space Launch System Rocket.  This is the most powerful rocket ever used by NASA, generating 8.8 million pounds of thrust.

As spacecraft and space missions become more complex, the rockets that propel them will also need to become more complex.  Rocket advances must keep up with Spacecraft advances, and the Space Launch System is one indication that Rocket scientists are up to the challenge.

If you want to learn more about Rocket Science, consider taking ATI’s upcoming course on the subject.  You can learn more about the course, and register for it, at Rockets & Launch Vehicles – Selection & Design

This four-day course provides an overview of rockets and missiles, including a fourth day covering advanced selection and design processes. The course provides a wide practical knowledge in rocket and missile issues and technologies. 

The course is right around the corner in August, so if you are interested, do not delay.

And, as always, if want to see the full list of courses offered by ATI, you can find that, and other interesting information at www.aticourses.com

The McLeod Postulate

All too often, we marvel at modern technology and forget to ponder the pioneers (and their discoveries) which made modern technology possible.  I used to teach Math at a local college, and I would often take time to teach a few interesting facts about the mathematical pioneers that discovered things we were discussing, things that […]

All too often, we marvel at modern technology and forget to ponder the pioneers (and their discoveries) which made modern technology possible. 

I used to teach Math at a local college, and I would often take time to teach a few interesting facts about the mathematical pioneers that discovered things we were discussing, things that were often named for the pioneer.  I remember teaching about Pareto Charts, and started by introducing the namesake pioneer, Vilfredo Pareto.  A Pareto Chart is a simple vertical bar chart, but the bars are ordered so that the tallest bars are leftmost, and the bars get smaller as you move to the right.  It is a very simple concept, and I joked with my students that when you lived in the early days of mathematical discovery, it was pretty easy to get something named after you, but it would be much harder today, because all the simple discoveries are already taken, by people like Pareto.  They were amused by this.  I introduced them to the “McLeod Postulate” which states that “The likelihood that one would have a Postulate, Theorem, or Device named after themselves is indirectly correlated with the year of their birth.”

When it comes to Wireless communications, there were many pioneers, and there were very few discoveries which could be categorized as simple of basic.  Most scholars of the Wireless history would agree that most notable early pioneers of Wireless communications were Michael Faraday (1791 – 1867), James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), and Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894).  Notably, these three pioneers are namesakes for three things: The Faraday is a unit of electrical charge, the Hertz is a unit of frequency, and The Maxwell equations are almost as important as you can get in modern physics.

Michael Faraday’s work paved the way to an understanding of Electromagnetic Field Theory.  His work culminated in the early 1830s when he made some key discoveries related to the relationship between electricity and magnetism.  In 1864, James Clerk Maxwell took the theories postulated by Faraday, and used mathematics to advance them, and developed the foundations of Electromagnetic Field Theory, which still stand today.  In 1887, Heinrich Hertz ran complex experiments which proved that Maxwell’s Field Theories were correct.  Other pioneers picked up where Hertz left off, and there has been a steady stream of amazing advances in Wireless communications ever since.

Enough history.  Time to start talking about the State of the Art in Wireless Communications. 

If you want to learn about Wireless Communications, consider taking ATI’s upcoming course Wireless Communications and Spread Spectrum Design.  This three-day course is designed for wireless communication engineers involved with spread spectrum systems, and managers who wish to enhance their understanding of the wireless techniques that are being used in all types of communication systems and products.

If you want to learn more about this class, or if you want to meet the instructor before you make your decision, we can help with that.  ATI will be sponsoring a free one-hour virtual short-session where the instructor will give an overview of the topic and discuss what will be presented in the full course.

To learn more about both the free session, and the full course, or to register for one or both, you can do it here

If you want to advance your skills in other areas, consider taking one of the many other courses offered by ATI.  You can find our full catalog at www.aticourses.com

As an added bonus to readers who are interested in Physics pioneers, I present the following picture of “The Cioffi Recording Fluxmeter”.  This revolutionary device employed integrators for tracing magnetization curves directly onto paper.  I call this to your attention because the namesake, Paul P. Cioffi was my maternal grandfather, and he received a patent for this device in 1950 while work for Bell Laboratories.  We are very proud of his many accomplishments in the field of magnetics.

The Four Shuns

I was watching an old episode of Star Trek today, and Captain Picard and his landing party Teleported to some dangerous place.  For non-trekkies, Teleporting is a way that people get from one place to another by having their bodies vaporize in one location, and get reconstituted in a different location.  They were accompanied by […]

I was watching an old episode of Star Trek today, and Captain Picard and his landing party Teleported to some dangerous place.  For non-trekkies, Teleporting is a way that people get from one place to another by having their bodies vaporize in one location, and get reconstituted in a different location.  They were accompanied by one crew member that I did not recognize, so as any Star Trek Fan knows, that crew member is the sacrificial goat who gets killed in this dangerous place.  As I watched the Teleportation of the landing party, it reminded me of a conversation I had many years ago with someone who, at the time, was a high school senior starting a Summer Internship with me. 

I asked Alex what he dreamed of doing in what would surely be a long and successful career as an engineer.  Alex told me that he was going to design and build the first real Teleportation device, and that would change the way modern man thinks about traveling.  I thought Alex was joking, and I laughed at him.  After he explained that he was not kidding, I had a serious conversation with him explaining why Teleportation was something that was only found in Science Fiction movies, and that it was contrary to all Laws of Physics, and that it could never actually happen. 

I regret that I handled the conversation that way that day.  Who was I to tell Alex what he could not do?  What may have happened if someone had told Alexander Graham Bell that man would never have telephones, or if someone had told Neil Armstrong that man would never walk on the moon? 

The rate at which technology has advanced in the last 50 years is mind-boggling, and technology will certainly advance at the same pace, or faster, in the next 50 years.  Fifty years ago, one could not have imagined the technology we would have today.  So, why should man today even attempt to imagine the technology that will be common-place 50 years from now.  And, although I do not personally expect to be around in 50 years, my Intern Alex should still be around. 

Ambition is the source of innovation, and innovation is the source of radical technology.

We cannot imagine what Alex and his peers will have in store for us in the future.

If you want to advance your skills in areas that will allow you to innovate into the future, consider taking one of the many courses offered by ATI.  You can find our full catalog of courses on our home page.

Most of our courses are being offered Live-Virtual at the moment, but as we leave COVID behind us, we will be offering more courses Live again.  With Live Courses, students will need to travel to get to the facility where the course is being offered, but with luck, you may be able to Teleport to the classroom someday soon.

As a closing and encouraging footnote, I reached out to Alex today, and reminded him of the conversation we had so many years ago.  I was happy to hear that Alex is still working hard and enthusiastic about his goal to someday invent a Teleporter.  When he does that, his name will be associated with other pioneers like Graham Bell and Armstrong.

So, what are the “The Four Shuns”, you ask.  AmbitION, nurtured by EducatION, allows innovatION, and maybe TeleportatION

Innovating With Radar

I am a person who always wants to know how things work.  I can not simply use some fancy feature on my device.  I must figure out how the feature works, and test it to see if I can figure out if the engineer was thorough in the design of the feature.  This trait in […]

I am a person who always wants to know how things work.  I can not simply use some fancy feature on my device.  I must figure out how the feature works, and test it to see if I can figure out if the engineer was thorough in the design of the feature.  This trait in me comes from many years of being the engineer designing the feature, and sometimes overlooking things that the end-user eventually points out to me. 

I recently found myself experimenting with the Cruise Control System on my new car.  I have had cars with Cruise Control before, but this car’s Cruise Control was far more complex than anything I had seen in my old car, and I had to know how it worked. 

The cruise control in my old car allowed me to set the desired speed of the car; that was all it did.  If I set the cruise the control for 60 mph, and steered into a brick wall, I would impact the wall at 60 mph, and die.  The new car contained something which it called “Adaptive Cruise Control”, and it was there to protect idiots who might find themselves steering toward a brick wall at 60 mph.

With Adaptive Cruise Control, there is a radar mounted inside the grill on the front of the car, and there is a Cruise Control Computer which takes inputs from many sources, primarily the radar, and sends commands to your accelerator actuator.  This radar points a beam ahead of the car.  The radar senses what is ahead of the car, and the speed of what is ahead of the car, and adjusts your vehicles speed as required to prevent you from hitting whatever is in front of you.  If necessary, as in the case of the brick wall, it will even stop you prior to impact, theoretically. 

Wow, I thought.  I need to test this.  I need to figure out what the engineer forgot to consider.  No, for those who may be thinking this, I did not try driving into a brick wall.

Amazingly, my Adaptive Cruise Control worked flawlessly, even though I sometimes could not figure how it knew what it knew.  For example, if there is a cement barrier following a curve in the road, how does it keep the radar pointed at the car I am following, and not the barrier which is directly in front of me in the curve?  Obviously, Cruise Control Computer must be getting inputs from my steering wheel, so it knows I am in a curve, and it steers the beam in the direction of the curve.  Brilliant.

The use of increasingly sophisticated Radar technology in our cars today is pushing the limits of what used to be unimaginable.  And, increasingly sophisticated Radars can be used in almost anything, not just cars, so the opportunity for innovation in Radar is limitless.

If you would like to learn more about radar so you can innovate new uses for radar, consider taking the upcoming ATI course Radar – Basic Principles.  This course is intended for scientists, engineers, and technical managers who require an introduction to the basic principles and techniques used in modern radar systems.  This is a new 3-day ATI course which replaces previous ATI Courses Radar 101 and Radar 201, which are no longer being offered.  You can learn more about Radar – Basic Principles, and register for it here.

And, as always, you can learn about the full set of courses offered by ATI at www.aticourses.com

What The Heck is Astropolitics?

Since ATI has offered a course called Astropolitics for many years, and since our Astropolitics instructor is a noted expert in his field, and since we have an upcoming offering of Astropolitics, it only seemed natural that I, the new Science Advisor for ATI, should figure out “What the Heck is Astropolitics?” Most of the […]

Since ATI has offered a course called Astropolitics for many years, and since our Astropolitics instructor is a noted expert in his field, and since we have an upcoming offering of Astropolitics, it only seemed natural that I, the new Science Advisor for ATI, should figure out “What the Heck is Astropolitics?”

Most of the definitions found on the internet seem to say that Astropolitics is the theory and study of the effects that Space has on politics.  Seemingly, any political decision by any country which involves Space issues or Space implications would fall under Astropolitics.

Astropolitics includes topics such as International Space Treaties, Space Law, International Conflict in Space Exploration, and International Space Economics.  The one topic addressed by Astropolitics which the author finds most compelling is the political impact of any contact which may someday occur with extraterrestrial intelligence.  That’s right, the body that conceived of and defined the field of Astropolitics actually considered the possibility that mankind may someday discover intelligent life someplace besides earth.  As an editorial note, the author of this blog finds this inclusion to be compelling, because of his firm belief that intelligent extraterrestrial life does exist elsewhere, although it may not be discovered in our lifetime, or forever, for that matter (and I certainly do not believe these lifeforms have ever visited earth, yet.)  Although there is no currently accepted doctrine for how countries will react to the discovery of extraterrestrial life, there are ongoing efforts by multiple countries to develop a set of structured rules, standards, guidelines, or actions that governmental entities plan to follow in the event of confirmed signals form extraterrestrial civilizations.  Perhaps there are even Astropolitics discussions occurring today in some extraterrestrial civilization.  Of note, extraterrestrials are always welcome to attend ATI courses if they have a way to travel to live classes, log into virtual classes, and pay with earth currency.

For many ATI courses, including our upcoming Astropolitics Course, potential students have the opportunity to attend a free one-hour virtual short-session.  This is an opportunity for students to learn more about what will be covered in the course, and meet the instructor.  Even if you have no intention of taking the full course, you may find the Free session informative, and you may even change your mind about attending the full course.  You can learn more about both the Astropolitics Free Session, and Astropolitics – ATI Courses at these links.  While there, you will also be able to register for the Free Session or the Class, or both.

And, as always, you can learn about the full set of courses offered by ATI at www.aticourses.com

This Sounds So Cool ( See what I did there? )

There are so many applications of Acoustics in every day life.  In fact, scientists are coming up with new applications every day.  Many people think of the most popular applications of Acoustics like Ranging and Imaging.  If you think the only applications of Acoustics are Sonar and Ultra Sound Imaging, you would be so wrong. […]

There are so many applications of Acoustics in every day life.  In fact, scientists are coming up with new applications every day.  Many people think of the most popular applications of Acoustics like Ranging and Imaging.  If you think the only applications of Acoustics are Sonar and Ultra Sound Imaging, you would be so wrong.

For example, China has discovered that they can use Acoustics to help them deal with the effects of Global Warming.  In order to increase their water supply during drought periods, China has discovered that by aiming low frequency sound waves at clouds, they can stimulate that cloud into dropping rainfall when it otherwise would not have done so.

As another example, China has also discovered a more efficient way to limit the number of plastic fibers that get come out of washing machines and get released into the drain.  This was required because conventional filters on washing machines do not catch the tiny fibers that can be so destructive to the marine ecosystem.  By using Acoustic filters that produce a type of forcefield in the water, all the fibers can be collected.

Going forward, finding new and important applications for Acoustics is ripe for technical innovation.

To learn more about applications of Acoustics, consider taking the upcoming ATI course  Acoustic Fundamentals, Measurements, and Applications.

This four-day course is intended for engineers and other technical personnel and managers who have a work-related need to understand basic acoustics concepts and how to measure and analyze sound. This is an introductory course and participants need not have any prior knowledge of sound or vibration. Each topic is illustrated by relevant applications, in-class demonstrations, and worked-out numerical examples. The instructor for this course reaches out to all registered students prior to the class to learn about their interests so he can tailor the course to meet their needs.  The upcoming offering of this course is Guaranteed-To-Run.

You can learn more about this course, and register to attend at

Acoustics Fundamentals, Measurements, and Applications – ATI Courses

And, as always, you can learn about the full set of courses offered by ATI at www.aticourses.com

ATI Now Offers On-Demand Systems Engineering Training

Today’s complex systems present difficult challenges to develop. From military systems to aircraft to environmental and IT systems, development teams must face the challenges with an arsenal of proven methods. Systems Engineering allows us to take advantage of specialization to help reduce cost and schedule in developing successful systems. So, you know that this is […]

Today’s complex systems present difficult challenges to develop. From military systems to aircraft to environmental and IT systems, development teams must face the challenges with an arsenal of proven methods. Systems Engineering allows us to take advantage of specialization to help reduce cost and schedule in developing successful systems.

So, you know that this is an important skill that you need learn; no question about that. 

But, what can you do if your you or your employer simply can’t afford the time or money to take the full SE Fundamentals course offered by ATI?  Well, ATI now has a solution to that problem that may be of interest to you.

Systems Engineering – Fundamentals ON-DEMAND is a concise and portable pre-recorded series of 6 self-contained modules.  The on-demand class is taught by the same instructor who teaches more conventional SE classes for ATI.  Each module is approximately one hour long and covers the underlying attitudes as well as the process definitions that makeup systems engineering.  The model presented is a research-proven combination of the best existing standards.  

This 6-Module course can be played on any browser and is available 24/7/60:  around the clock for 60 days.   You will be able to ask questions of the instructors via email for 90 days from the date of activation.  Activation will occur during normal business hours ET.   The downloadable course slides are yours to keep.

  To learn more about this exciting new opportunity, or to register for this Course, please visit:

On Demand Courses – ATI Courses

And, as always, you can learn about the full set of courses offered by ATI, including other  Systems Engineering Classes which are not offered on-demand, at www.aticourses.com

Enabling Powerful Internet Of Things ( IOTs)

Most people do not need to use a satellite to connect to the internet; they connect through wi-fi that is readily available in most urban places.  If you are in a remote location, however, you may need to connect to the internet, and Satellite Communications may be your only option.  These kinds of remote connections […]

Most people do not need to use a satellite to connect to the internet; they connect through wi-fi that is readily available in most urban places.  If you are in a remote location, however, you may need to connect to the internet, and Satellite Communications may be your only option.  These kinds of remote connections are becoming increasingly important as continuous reliable internet connectivity becomes critical for many operations.

A collection of physical devices each of which contain sensors and software, each of which are connected to the internet, and can communicate with each other via the internet, to provide some service with wide area coverage, is referred to as in Internet of Things ( IOT.)  IOTs are becoming increasingly powerful and important.  Some examples of IOTs are connected appliances, smart home security systems, autonomous farm equipment, and wireless inventory trackers.  Each of these examples rely on the fact that each physical device in the IOT is continuously reliably connected to the internet.

Sometimes, devices which comprise an IOT are in a remote area, and cannot be connected to wi-fi networks often taken for granted.  For example, autonomous farm equipment is typically operating on large farms which are outside of the range of wi-fi.  Wireless inventory trackers are often on merchant ships traveling between ports in ocean areas that do not have wi-fi connectivity.  In these cases, it is critical that the devices be able to connect to the internet using satellite communications.

So, many practicing engineers need to be familiar with Satellite Communications.

ATI offers a course called Satellite Communications Design and Engineering.   This three-day course is designed as a practical course for practicing engineers, and is intended for communications engineers, spacecraft engineers, managers and technical professionals who want both the “big picture” and a fundamental understanding of satellite communications. The course is technically oriented and includes examples from real-world satellite communications systems. It will enable participants to understand the key drivers in satellite link design and to perform their own satellite link budget calculations. The course will especially appeal to those whose objective is to develop quantitative computational skills in addition to obtaining a qualitative familiarity with the basic concepts.  You can learn more about this course, and register here.

And, as always, you can learn about the full set of courses offered by ATI at www.aticourses.com

Don’t Miss Out On This

ATI will be offering Business Management for Scientists and Engineers for the first time on May 24. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to get some great insights from our two esteemed Instructors, Dr. Alan Tribble and Mr. Alan Breitbart. Business Management for Scientists and Engineers will help technical professionals understand how to leverage technical excellence to create […]

ATI will be offering Business Management for Scientists and Engineers for the first time on May 24. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to get some great insights from our two esteemed Instructors, Dr. Alan Tribble and Mr. Alan Breitbart.

Business Management for Scientists and Engineers will help technical professionals understand how to leverage technical excellence to create business success. The course is focused on conveying an understanding of basic business principles and illustrating how they intersect with the technical factors that govern an engineer’s career. This knowledge can make you a more effective engineer, by showing you how to tailor your message to address the key points business leaders look for when making decisions. It can also create opportunities to transition from the role of a technical contributor to that of a business leader. Most of the examples used are from the aerospace and defense industry, but the key lessons would apply equally well to other industries. 

The Instructors for this course are excited about this class.

Dr. Alan Tribble is an Associate Director of Program Management in the aerospace and defense industry. He started his technical career as a space environment effects specialist for a major spacecraft manufacturer and also supported airborne communications and navigation products before making the leap to the business side. He spent several years in international business development before moving into program management. He holds a B.S. in Physics from the University of Arkansas, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Iowa; is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) by the Project Management Institute; and is the winner of the 2008 James A. Van Allen Space Environments Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. 

Mr. Alan Breitbart is a business development manager in the aerospace and defense industry. He holds a B.S. in Finance from the University of Illinois, and an MBA in International Marketing from Loyola University.

A message from Dr. Tribble………

I’m pleased to report that the second edition of the book Business Management for Scientists and Engineers is finally in press. That means it’s now full speed ahead as we focus on updating and finalizing the presentation material for the course.  

I’m getting excited now that we’re only a month away, and I get even more excited when I get email like the one below that I received over the weekend:  “Having provided engineering services and consulting for a long time, I learned the value of knowing something about business. But I wish that I had started with your webinar or book 20 years ago!” – Mark Pittelkau, Aerospace Control Systems, LLC

Wow! What a great endorsement. I’m looking forward to a great webinar on May 24th and 25th. Hope you can join us.

Please visit Business Management for Scientists and Engineers – ATI Courses to learn more about the course, and to register to attend.

We hope to see you there.

System of (System of Systems)

An individual can be very powerful, but when you get many people working together to accomplish a task, the result can be much better than if each person solved the problem independently.  Clearly, the reason that the group is stronger than the sum of the parts is because each person can work on that portion […]

An individual can be very powerful, but when you get many people working together to accomplish a task, the result can be much better than if each person solved the problem independently.  Clearly, the reason that the group is stronger than the sum of the parts is because each person can work on that portion of the problem that they are most suited for, and there can be an efficient division of labor.  Obviously, this group needs to be well organized so it can work together efficiently, and there must be frequent communication between the people. 

This example of people working together on a complicated task is not unlike “Systems of Systems (SoS) Engineering.”

When designing a very simple system, one could imagine doing the job by themselves, with very little need to consult a larger group, or enlist the services of other engineers.  This may not be the case, however, for a very large and complex system.

Although a simple System may be made of individual components, a complex system will likely be made up of a group of individual systems.  Designing a complex system made up of many simpler systems is referred to as SoS Engineering.  In fact, each of the Systems in a SoS may itself be a SoS.  So, as the title of this blog implies, you could actually have an SoSoSoSoS.

For example, we might consider an Air Traffic Control System to be a SoS.  This SoS would be comprised of many smaller systems; airport, airplanes, cars, traffic control systems, etc.  If we look at one of these systems, cars for example, we notice that it is actually a SoS; brake system, motor, chassis, etc.  And, we could even drill down further as each of these systems might actually be a SoS.

To determine if a complex system qualifies as a SoS, it has to have five characteristics; 

-Each of the Systems that comprise the SoS has to have operational independence.  If you removed the system from the SoS, it would still operate as designed.

-Each of the Systems that comprise the SoS has to be managed independently.  Each System has to manage its own operation, but no system should affect the management of the SoS.

-The SoS must perform a task that could not be accomplished alone by any individual system.  When Systems are combined into a SoS, there is an expectation that “Emergent Behaviors” will result, and the SoS will accomplish tasks that could not have been performed by any one of the systems by itself.  Of note, sometimes Emergent Behaviors can be undesired, and when that occurs, the engineer must address that issue.

-Each of the individual systems are geographically distributed

-Each of the systems are being constantly reviewed to ensure upgrades are not required to allow the system to continue to contribute positively to the SoS.

ATI offers a class which will teach you about designing an effective SoS. 

To learn more about our System of Systems Class, you can read about it here.  If you would like to take this class, please let us know so we can schedule an open-enrollment offering.  Or, if you would like ATI to teach this class to a larger group at your facility, please contact us and inquire about our Custom Courses.

Optical Communications Systems

Optical Communications Systems may sound very complicated, and they certainly can be very complicated, but they don’t have to be.  Think back to when you were a kid and you developed a system with your buddy who lived across the street.  You would blink your flashlight in the window two times to indicate that you […]

Optical Communications Systems may sound very complicated, and they certainly can be very complicated, but they don’t have to be. 

Think back to when you were a kid and you developed a system with your buddy who lived across the street.  You would blink your flashlight in the window two times to indicate that you were still awake, and your buddy might blink his flashlight two times to indicate that he was too.  This was an Optical Communication System in its most basic form.

As a Boy Scout, you may have learned to communicate with other scouts using two semaphore flags.  You could certainly relay more information than you did using flashlights in the window, but it was still a very basic Optical Communication System with many limitations.

Optical Communications simply refers to relaying information a distance using light to carry the information.  It can be performed visually, as in the two previous examples, or by using electronic devices.  Clearly, using electronic devices is more complex, and a more powerful way to communicate.

Typically, an optical communication system will include three components.  The Transmitter encodes the message into an optical signal.  The Channel carries the signal to its destination.  And, finally, the receiver which reproduces the original message.

The are two types of channels that can be used in a modern complex optical communication system.  Fiber optic cables can relay messages from the transmitter to the receiver, or, the message can be relayed on a laser beam.  Clearly, using a laser beam to channel the message is more conducive to long distance transmission, or transmission that needs to occur in free space. 

Optical Comms Systems have advantages over RF and Microwave Comms Systems due to their directionality, and high frequency carrier. These properties can lead to greater covertness, freedom from jamming, and potentially much higher data rates.

If you want to learn more, ATI offers Optical Communications Systems.  The course provides a strong foundation for selecting, designing and building either a Free Space Optical Comms, or Fiber-Optic Comms System for various applications. Course includes both DoD and Commercial systems, in Space, Atmospheric, Underground, and Underwater Applications.  You can learn more about this course, and register for it here.

And, as always, you can learn about the full set of courses offered by ATI at www.aticourses.com

Public Speaking For STEM Professionals

I was a very quiet and shy kid, and I think that must have been evident to the adult Scout Leader that was presenting a lecture to a large group of early teenage Boy Scouts attending Leadership Training back in the 70’s.  The lesson on this one day was Public Speaking, and the leader’s goal […]

I was a very quiet and shy kid, and I think that must have been evident to the adult Scout Leader that was presenting a lecture to a large group of early teenage Boy Scouts attending Leadership Training back in the 70’s.  The lesson on this one day was Public Speaking, and the leader’s goal was to demonstrate the importance of being well-prepared when delivering a speech.  As an object lesson, the instructor had found a charismatic kid the day before, and directed that kid to prepare a speech on some subject of the kid’s choosing, and to be prepared to deliver that speech on this day.  He was to become the example of a well-prepared speech.  On class day, the leader singled me out of the group, called me to the front, and announced that I would give a speech on a topic that the leader chose for me, and I was to start speaking immediately.  Needless to say, the speech did not go well, and I became his example of a not-well-prepared speech.  It was a horrifying experience for me, and no Scout Leader would do something so thoughtless to a kid today, but as horrifying and embarrassing as it was for me that day, it was also a memorable and important event which I still remember vividly over 50 years later.

After attending college, I got a job which required that I present the results of my work to the customer on a routine basis.  My first presentation did not go very well, and although I did not get fired, both my boss and I decided that there was lots of room for improvement.  That night, while thinking about what went wrong, I realized that I had fallen into the trap that my Scout Leader had warned against.  I had given that presentation without being prepared for all possible eventualities.  I had not been prepared to proceed if my overhead projector did not work, and it didn’t.  I had not been prepared to cover some topics in the event that my associate missed his flight, which he did.  And, I had not been prepared to answer some tough questions which my customers may have asked, and they did.  Over the span of my career, I worked hard to always be better prepared when I spoke, and I eventually became very proficient at public speaking.  In fact, later in my career, I started teaching, an occupation that requires public speaking skills more than any other, in my opinion.

STEM professionals need to be proficient in Public Speaking just as much as any other professional worker.  Although many STEM students are academically gifted, many may also lack social skills that other students take for granted, for example, Public Speaking.  For that reason, Public Speaking Instruction is a very important component of a STEM student’s coursework in all levels of schooling, and even in the professional workplace which follows schooling.  One can never be too smart in their social skills, or over -prepared to deliver a good speech.   

Applied Technology Institute has offered technical short courses for scientists and engineers since 1984.  This year, ATI has decided to start offering non-technical short courses that can also be very important for scientist and engineers.  One of our first non-technical offerings is a class on Public Speaking.  The course will be taught by Mr. Frank DiBartolomeo, award winning public speaker, engaging seminar leader, and professional public speaking coach.  His short course will be titled “Technical Presentation Skills for STEM Professionals.”  Although the full course will be offered in April, there will be a free one-hour short session offered virtually in March.  This will be an opportunity to meet the instructor and see what is covered in the full course.  If you would like to learn more about the free session, or the course, or register for either or both, you can do that here.

As always, a full listing of ATI Courses can be found at www.aticourses.com

Counter UAS Operations

A drone is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).  There is usually a person who has some degree of control over the drone or AUV.   Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) refers to the system which includes both the drone and the person who controls it. I often see drones being used for recreational purpose and for smart […]

A drone is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).  There is usually a person who has some degree of control over the drone or AUV.   Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) refers to the system which includes both the drone and the person who controls it.

I often see drones being used for recreational purpose and for smart business purposes.  Although there are a lot of good and beneficial uses for drones today, they are now also being used for more nefarious purposes.  Drones have become an integral part of most battlefield scenarios and tacticians are finding new uses for drones every day.

In the early days of drone technology, everyone was thinking about new and novel ways to do good things with drones.  Unfortunately, we are now in a time when we must also think about ways to counter some drones that may be trying to do bad things to us, both in the battlefield and in the homeland.

Robin Radar Systems recently reported on technologies which could be considered for defending against drones, referred to as Counter UAS Operations.  They discussed a wide range of methods to counter today’s systems with methods that can be implemented today.

Counter UAS Operations involve both monitoring for the presence of drones, and countermeasures to debilitate the drone once detected.

Monitoring for Drones can be done using a variety of methods.

-Radio Frequency Analyzers can continuously analyze the RF spectrum and look for signals which are characteristic of drones.

-Acoustic Sensors can continuously analyze the audible spectrum and look for noises which are characteristic of drones.

-Optical Sensors ( Cameras ) can continuously look at the area and search for objects that look like drones either, automatically, or with the help of an operator.

-Radar can also be used to emit energy into the airspace and look for active returns that are characteristic of signals expected from a drone, again either automatically or with the help of an operator.  

Once a drone has been detected, the Counter UAS System needs to debilitate that drone.  This can be done by destroying the drone, or simply neutralizing the drone so that it can not accomplish its mission.  This can be done in a number of ways.

-A Radio Frequency Jammer can be employed and used to transmit RF energy toward the drone interrupting communications with the controller, if there is one.  Of course, this will be ineffective if the drone is operating autonomously.

-A GPS spoofer can be used to send a new GPS signal to the drone, resulting in the drone getting lost and being unable to conduct its mission.

-High Power Microwave Devices can be used to generate large Electromagnetic Pulses ( EMP ) which will render most electronic devices, including drones, inoperable.

-Nets and Guns can be used to shoot the drone out of the sky or catch the drone and render it inoperable.

-A high energy laser can be used to destroy the drone.

-Birds of Prey can be trained to hunt and destroy drones.

Robin Radar Systems points out the most effective Counter UAS strategy does not involve a single monitoring method or a single countermeasure method, but a combination of both.  By doing so, you take advantage of the benefits of some methods and hedge your bets against the weaknesses of others.

To learn more about Counter UAS operations, consider taking the upcoming ATI course titled Counter UAS Technology and Techniques.  This three-day course delivers a thorough overview promoting an understanding and building a successful Counter Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) architecture. You can learn more about the course, and register for it here.

And as always, a full listing of all the courses in the ATI catalogue can be found at www.aticourses.com

ATI Is Offering Free Stuff

You have heard that technical training is very important, but it often takes a back seat to doing the “real work.”  Wait, what?  Isn’t keeping abreast in your field part of your “real work”?  Doesn’t keeping current in your field better allow you to continue performing at your peak, and allow your company to continue […]

You have heard that technical training is very important, but it often takes a back seat to doing the “real work.”  Wait, what?  Isn’t keeping abreast in your field part of your “real work”?  Doesn’t keeping current in your field better allow you to continue performing at your peak, and allow your company to continue to thrive?  Technical Training is important, especially during the current fiscal climate.

Technical Training Companies, like Applied Technology Institute, are here to help.   If you are a scientist or engineer, we probably have courses that you will find useful and interesting.  You can view our offerings at www.aticourses.com

You have heard that technical training is too expensive.  Wait, what?  The return on your investment in technical training can be immense, so the cost should not be a factor.  Maybe ATI can help here.

You have heard that technical training often is not what is promised, or that the instructor turned out to be a real dud.  Wait, what?  Maybe ATI can help here too.

ATI recently introduced “Free Short Sessions.”  These sessions are live virtual previews of an upcomimg ATI course, presented by the actual instructor.  As the name implies, they are totally free, and as the name also implies, they are short, one hour in duration.  We hold these Free Short Sessions during the mid-day ( Eastern Time ), so that many of our students can attend them with a sandwich in their hand during their lunch break.  These sessions allow students to see what will be covered in the full course, and it allows them to meet the Instructor.  After the short session, the student will know what to expect.

ATI has been conducting two or three Free Short Sessions per month since last Fall, and everyone seems to be very happy with them.  Even if you have no intention of taking the course, consider attending the Free Session so you can become a little smarter on the topic.  Who knows, ATI and the instructor may even convince you to sign up for the course.

You can find a complete schedule of upcoming ATI courses, including our Free Short Sessions, at www.aticourses.com .  You can also register for courses and short sessions from that page.

We hope to see you at an upcoming Free Short Session.  Feel free to bring a sandwich, and a friend.  Dress code is casual. 

Rockets and Launch Vehicles

As I looked at the title of the upcoming ATI course called Rockets and Launch Vehicles, the first question I asked myself was “What is the difference between a rocket and a launch vehicle?  With the help of google, I learned that all launch vehicles are rockets, but not all rockets are launch vehicles.  A […]

As I looked at the title of the upcoming ATI course called Rockets and Launch Vehicles, the first question I asked myself was “What is the difference between a rocket and a launch vehicle?  With the help of google, I learned that all launch vehicles are rockets, but not all rockets are launch vehicles.  A rocket that is powerful enough to send people, satellites, or spacecrafts into space is called a Launch Vehicle.  So, those things you would build and shoot into the sky as a kid are rockets, but they are not launch vehicles.

Rockets, including launch vehicles, take off by burning fuel, which produces a gas byproduct.  That escaping gas produces the force that creates the thrust to power the rocket upward.

Most launch vehicles need multiple stages to produce enough thrust get a spacecraft into space.  These stages usually sit on top of each other, but there also some designs which have the stages parallel to each other; it all depends on the goals of the mission.  The first stage, the stage closest to the ground, is usually the largest.  Its purpose is to lift the spacecraft above the earth’s atmosphere to a height of about 150,000 feet.  The purpose of the second stage, the stage closest to the spacecraft, is to get the spacecraft to achieve orbital velocity.  Usually, when a stage has used up all of its fuel, it serves no additional purpose, so it is jettisoned.

The Space Launch System is a launch vehicle getting a lot of attention and a lot of funding today,  The SLS is the Launch Vehicle which will be used for the NASA Artemis missions which will first return to the moon, and then explore beyond.  The mission of the first Artemis flight, Artemis I, will be to test the SLS launch vehicle using an uncrewed Orion Spacecraft.  This launch will be occurring in March 2022.

If you would like to learn more about rockets and launch vehicles, consider taking the upcoming ATI course Rockets and Launch Vehicles.  You can read more about this course, and register for it here.

And, as always, you learn about other upcoming ATI courses at the ATI homepage www.aticourses.com

Playing Nice in the EMI Sandbox

If you wear a pacemaker, you are probably already aware of the precautions you must take when you are in the vicinity of certain other devises.  For those that may be unaware, there are many devices should never come into contact with the skin above the pacemaker, cordless telephones or electric razors for example.  There […]

If you wear a pacemaker, you are probably already aware of the precautions you must take when you are in the vicinity of certain other devises.  For those that may be unaware, there are many devices should never come into contact with the skin above the pacemaker, cordless telephones or electric razors for example.  There are other devices which should never be within six inches of the pacemaker, Bluetooth emitters for example.  And there are other devices that should never be used in the same room as a pacemaker patient, stun guns for example.  Have you ever wondered why these restrictions exist?

When an electronic device operates, changing electrical currents and voltages cause electromagnetic interference ( EMI ).  This EMI is transmitted into the space around the device, and can cause other proximate devices to malfunction, or to stop functioning all together.  When an engineer designs a device, he must be acutely aware of how much EMI the device will transmit into the surrounding space, and he must also be aware of how much EMI can be present in his own space for his device to operate properly.  The ability to both of these things, is called Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC).  In order to go to market and sell a device in the US, the FCC must test your device to confirm its emitted EMI is below the regulated threshold, and it also tests to make sure your device continues to operate in the presence of EMI at that threshold.  Said in another way, they ensure your device is Electromagnetically Compliant.  In other countries, the thresholds may be different, and the Testing Agency will be different, but compliance testing will be encountered in every country.

Since formal Compliance Testing by the FCC is a lengthy and expensive proposition, most engineers will try to monitor and test their Electromagnetic Compliance themselves before they contact the FCC for formal testing.  This informal testing by the engineer is critical to ensure that the device design ultimately stays on time and on budget.

In general, if a device is not Electromagnetically Compliant, the FCC will not allow it to go to market.  In some cases, however, the device is not compliant and can not be designed differently.  If the device is considered medically essential, it will be allowed to go to market, with very clear operating restrictions.  This is the case with Pacemakers.

If you want to learn more about the Formal FCC Compliance Testing, or if you want to learn more about how to informally test your device prior to formal testing, or if you want to learn how to design your circuits so that you will pass informal and formal testing, consider taking the upcoming ATI course EMC PCB Design and Integration.  You can learn more about the course, and register for it here.

And, as always, you can look at our other classes, and our upcoming schedule of offerings at www.aticourses.com

Designing Satellite Systems with a Link Budget

Just imagine the communication that occurs between a satellite orbiting the earth and the receiving station on earth.  Clearly, in order for that communication to be successful, the signal needs to be received at the earth station with enough SNR (signal to noise ratio) for the signal to be intelligently received and acted upon at […]

Just imagine the communication that occurs between a satellite orbiting the earth and the receiving station on earth. 

Clearly, in order for that communication to be successful, the signal needs to be received at the earth station with enough SNR (signal to noise ratio) for the signal to be intelligently received and acted upon at the earth station.  

In order for the Satellite designers and the Earth Station designers to do their jobs, they must work together to ensure that transmitting satellite transmits with enough power for the receiving station/dish to understand the signal.  This would be simple if we could assume that the receiving dish receives all of the power that the satellite transmits, but that would not be a good assumption.  There are various things encountered by the signal during its trip between the satellite and the receiving station which each reduce the power of the signal by a small amount.    The transmitter must know how much its transmission will be reduced by all of those things, and account for those losses by boosting transmitting power by that amount so that a reduced received power will still be sufficient for the receiving station to get sufficient SNR in the signal.

A Satellite Link Budget is an accounting of all of the gains and looses that signal will experience in space between a transmitter and a receiver.

So, what are the things that may increase or decrease the power of a signal during its journey between a transmitter and a receiver?

Rain is one example of something that reduces the power contained in the signal.  A designer must assume that it will always be raining during the transmission, or they will end up with a system which is only effective on non-rainy days.  This would not be a good design.

The easiest way to account for gains and losses is with a proven computer tool like SatMaster from Arrowe.  Rain models from the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) provide a viable methodology for assessing rain attenuation in microwave and millimeter wave bands.

And, what are some of the other things that will reduce transmitted power?  These are all great questions, beyond the scope of this blog.

If you design transmitters, or if you design receivers, or if you simply want to learn more about Satellite Link Budgets, consider taking the upcoming ATI course Satellite Link Budget Training on the Personal Computer – GEO and non-GEO, L through Q/V bands. You can learn more about this course and register to attend the course here.

Composites In Aerospace

Todd Johnson did a good job of explaining the use of composites in his article “Composites in Aerospace.” (ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/composites-in-aerospace-820418.)  Rather than reinvent the wheel, lets just review some of what he reported in his article. When it comes to designing aircraft, maximizing the “lift to weight ratio” is very important.  So, […]

Todd Johnson did a good job of explaining the use of composites in his article “Composites in Aerospace.” (ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/composites-in-aerospace-820418.)  Rather than reinvent the wheel, lets just review some of what he reported in his article.

When it comes to designing aircraft, maximizing the “lift to weight ratio” is very important.  So, engineers continuously strive to increase lift, or decrease weight, or both.  This article discusses how one might decrease the weight of an aircraft.

The earliest aircraft contained a metal structure and many metal parts.  This should not be surprising because metal was the strongest material known to engineers at that time.  Composites, however, are a material which can often be used instead of metal.  One of the many advantages of composites is that they are much lighter than metal. Since the late 1980s, the use of composites in aerospace has doubled every five years, so it is definitely a thriving technology.   As if weight reduction would not be reason enough, there are even more advantages to using composites in aerospace engineering.

In addition to dramatically reducing the weight of the aircraft, use of composite materials in aerospace engineering has the following additional advantages:

  • Easier to assemble complex components
  • Higher strength at a reduced weight
  • Mechanical properties can be tailored to specific requirements
  • More thermally stable so expansion and contraction not an issue
  • High Impact resistance and damage tolerance
  • Elimination of electrical corrosion problems

Whether it’s commercial airline industries trying to reduce operating costs, or the military trying to increase payload, range, and survivability of their weapons, composites are the key to accomplishing the goal.

If you want to learn more about the subject, consider enrolling in the ATI course Composite Materials for Aerospace. This three-day course is designed for mechanical or materials engineers and managers that are going to use composite materials, i.e., graphite/epoxy, etc., in aerospace and military applications. To learn more about this course, and to register to attend, you can go here.

As always, a full listing of ATI courses and a schedule of upcoming courses can be found at https://aticourses.com

Spread The News

In radio communications, spread spectrum techniques are methods by which a signal generated with a particular bandwidth is spread in the frequency domain, resulting in a signal with a wider bandwidth.  So, why would a radio communications engineer want to do this?  There are actually many advantages to employing spread spectrum in your design.  I […]

In radio communications, spread spectrum techniques are methods by which a signal generated with a particular bandwidth is spread in the frequency domain, resulting in a signal with a wider bandwidth.  So, why would a radio communications engineer want to do this?  There are actually many advantages to employing spread spectrum in your design.  I will not even attempt to explain spread spectrum techniques in this blog, but if you want to learn more about these techniques, ATI can help.  So, what are the advantages, you ask?

Crosstalk interference is greatly attenuated due to the processing gain of the spread spectrum system.

Voice quality is improved due to less static noise.

Lower susceptibility to multipath fading.

Increased security since a PN sequence is used to either modulate the signal in the time domain, or select the carrier frequency.

More users can Coexist in the same frequency band

Longer operating distances since higher transmit power is allowed.

Signal is harder to detect by those who are not supposed to be detecting it.

Signal is harder to jam.

If these advantages sound like something you would like to achieve, consider learning more about Spread Spectrum techniques in radio communications by taking the ATI short course titled Wireless Communications and Spread Spectrum Design.  You can learn more about this course, and register for it here on the ATI Web Page. 

And as always, a complete list of ATI courses, and a schedule of upcoming offerings can be found here on the ATI home page.