European Space Agency

Objectives

The HITEC Antenna Control Unit (ACU) project aims at developing a Step Track and a Monopulse capable ACU version, based on HITEC’s existing Program Track ACU.

The ACU provides the user interface in a Ground Station antenna by communicating with the antenna control system and calculating the correct aiming of the antenna, based on different types of information (e.g. TLE, signal strength).

The main benefits of the ACU developed by HITEC are the software based and modular design, able to run on COTS hardware platforms. This means a more future-proof solution for:

  • Easier installation,
  • Better fine-tuning,
  • More efficient use, also as a refurbishment system,
  • Easier maintenance, and
  • Better scalability.

as compared to ACUs based on specific hardware with build-in software.

The ACU provides the user interface in a Ground Station antenna by communicating with the antenna control system and calculating the correct aiming of the antenna, based on different types of information (e.g. TLE, signal strength).

The project is based on a phased approach:

  • Phase I: Program Track (i.e. pointing to given coordinates). This phase has already been completed outside the ARTES 3-4 project and is the starting point of the product development.
  • Phase II, Step Track (i.e. searching for the signal maximum around the supposed target position).
  • Phase III, Monopulse (i.e. performing a simultaneous comparison of received signal lobes to determine the angular location of a source of radiation).

Development Phases


click for larger image

Challenges

Key issues addressed in this project:

  • Development of a state of the art Scan, Step Track and Monopulse algorithm,
  • Development of advanced adaptive tracking algorithms,
  • Development of extensive error correction capabilities,
  • Implementation of a software-based approach making the system independent of specific hardware,
  • Design for flexibility, modularity and user-friendliness.

Benefits

HITEC will offer a software based design, able to run on COTS hardware platforms compared to specific hardware with build-in software. This makes the system independent of specific hardware and provides the customer with a more future-proof solution which can be easier installed, better fine tuned and more efficiently used as a refurbishment system. Moreover, the ACU will be designed as a modular package to allow for a better maintainability and scalability once in utilization.

In terms of functionality and features, the HITEC package includes enhanced functionalities in the ACU client and extra features such as the ACU simulator and the scenario sender compared to competitor products.

Moreover, this project allows HITEC to further leverage its strengths in the fields of antenna system design and development, software, control system and electro mechanical engineering by integrating an in-house developed ACU. This allows further fine-tuning of the performance of the antenna control system of antennas delivered by HITEC.

Features

The ACU software is running on an industrial PC and the system will use appropriate commercially available Digital Tracking Receivers (DTR). Due to the software based development of the ACU, the system will be independent of specific hardware and have an open interface to different DTR products.

The modular structure of the ACU system’s different functionalities increases maintainability and scalability of the solution. Items that are part of the developed solution:

  • The ACU core system.
  • An ACU client application providing enhanced functionalities for working with and configuring the ACU (locally or remotely).
  • An ACU logging software logging all relevant parameters from the ACU and the antenna into a database which can be accessed by the client for plotting.
  • A Simulation tool, replacing the antenna and that allows working with the ACU and the other components like on a real system.

Main features:

  • Program Track Mode, including TLE, tabular sun and star track,
  • Scan and step-track modes,
  • Monopulse tracking,
  • Adaptive tracking,
  • Error correction, atmospheric refraction handling and zenith pass handling.

ACU client screenshot


click for larger image

ACU network architecture


click for larger image

Plan

The development of the Step Track and Monopulse capable versions of the ACU is based on the heritage of a successfully completed first Program Track capable ACU version implemented in an antenna for the Galileo project.

The first step of the project includes a requirement analysis based on a detailed product benchmarking and interviews with the customer community.

The second step aims at developing the preliminary design for both, Step Track and Monopulse ACU versions.

Subsequently, HITEC takes a staged development approach to reduce time-to-market and to maximise synergies in the development of both ACU versions:

  1. Based on the preliminary design, the Step Track version is designed, implemented and validated. Market introduction is scheduled for August 2011.
  2. At finalisation of the Step track detailed design, the Monopulse version is designed, implemented and validated. Market introduction is scheduled for November 2011.

Current status

WP2000: Product requirement analysis is complete and the results have been integrated in the Business Plan and provided input to the Technical Specifications.

WP3100: Technical Specifications are complete and all the specifications are frozen.

WP3200: Preliminary Design of the Step Track as well as the Monopulse version is completed.

WP4100: Detailed Design of the Step Track algorithm as well as detailed design of the ACU client and simulator applications is completed and Test Plan and Procedures have been written.

WP4200: Implementation of the Step Track software algorithm is in progress.

WP5100: Detailed design of the Monopulse algorithm is completed and Test Plan and Procedures have been written.

All hardware for Step track and Monopulse validation have been ordered and the hardware configuration for testing has been confirmed.

Status date

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 15:40