Development and testing of flight hardware frequently demands sophisticated testing instruments and software. Thorski Design specializes in developing custom hardware and software for test and data acquisition to meet the stringent requirements of a test when off-the-shelf products will not suffice.
Our experience in software development lets us build applications that are powerful and accurate, yet intuitive and easy to use. A sample of the types of custom instrumentation we have designed and developed include:
- Strain gauge monitoring
- Force transducers and LVDTs
- Analog position measurement
- Dynamic force/moment and vibration measurement
- High rate and real-time data acquisition
We specialize in developing custom software and user interfaces uniquly designed for each test setup, in traditional languages as well as higher-level tools such as LabView and VisSim. Data post-processing is frequently a part of these tools as well, and often takes the form of scripts for software such as Mathcad and Matlab.
Problem: Development testing of a solar array hinge and harness assembly requires verifying its functionality under extreme environmental conditions. Factors resisting deployment including friction and wiring harness must be quantified under all expected conditions. A static torque measurement does not fully capture the dymanics of the hinge while it is in operation, and is difficult to perform within the confines of a thermal chamber.
Solution: Thorski Design developed an analytical and test approach, as well as the supporting hardware, software and scripts, that allowed the dynamic hinge and harness characteristics to easily be measured under all required environmental conditions. We developed multiple software tools to support this test, for both high-rate buffered data capture during the actual deployment, and real-time monitoring for ease of instrumentation and test setup.
The test setup allowed high resolution, repeatable data to be gathered for all desired deployment characteristics.
Problem: The preloads in the solar array retention system on the Glory spacecraft are mission-critical parameters. They must be high enough to prevent movement of the solar arrays during launch, yet remain within the capability of the release actuators to deploy the arrays on orbit. Conventional measurement systems did not provide consistent results.
Solution: Thorski Design implemented a custom data acquisition system and software front-end developed exclusively for this task. Monitoring a total of 32 strain gauges on the two solar array panels, the software provides an at-a-glance indication of the status of the array preload. Real-time bar graphs provide visual cues for technicians while adjusting preloads, and go/no-go indicators show green when preloads are within limits. Limits and scales are easily adjusted by the user to allow accurate visualization during each step of the procedure. An additional pair of bar graphs allows reading the actual microstrain in each gauge.
The system allowed engineers and technicians to quickly and accurately install and monitor the solar arrays.
Problem: Develop test configurations and supporting software for various tests on a Kistler force/moment table, supporting a variety of hardware and missions. Each test is unique, ranging from high frequency dynamic to quasi-static measurements, and requires its own set of software and analysis tools.
Solution: Thorski Design designed hardware and developed software for a wide variety of tests on this equipment, including:
- Reaction wheel unbalance, jitter, and quasi-static torque measurement
- Measurement of solar array hinge dynamics and lock-up torque
- Characterization of damped and undamped antenna hinge deployments
Our products and support have allowed our customer to maximize the use of an expensive test tool, enabling its use across multiple programs and for a wide variety of components.