Military and civilian aerospace products feature highly sophisticated electronic systems that are completely reliant on the robust transmission of electrical power and signals. To make the engineering challenge tougher, many of these systems service components that need to move relative to each other.
There are both common and high-tech instances of this challenge, such as:
- Transmitting signal and power between stator and rotor electro-optic sensors for a weapon system
- Pan-tilt and mechanisms for video cameras or other sensors are another.
- Spacecraft, antenna pointing mechanisms, elevation and azimuth gimbals and other sensitive equipment must reliably transmit power and data in the harsh environments of space.
Cristek, a Hermetic Solutions Group company, has has participated in the development of many major complex systems in these types of environments.
The Rotation Challenge
A gimbal must rotate in multiple axes and yet system- and subsystem-engineers must design the unit to ensure reliable transmission of electrical power and signals across these moving interfaces. And to make things even more challenging, military and aerospace applications must operate reliably even when subject to high temperatures, harsh vibration, noxious fumes and the vacuum of space.
There are several technical solutions for reliable power and signal transmission across a rotation interface. For example, if the interface is the continuously rotating azimuth axis of an electro-optic gimbal, then only a slip ring will do; but if defined maximum angle rotation is needed, other options present themselves.
Examples of limited angle rotation applications are
- Elevation, pitch or yaw axes of a missile’s infrared (IR) sensor
- Security cameras that must perform a 360˚ plus rotation before moving back to a central point.
For these applications, cable wraps and twist capsules come into their own.
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