Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. developed a Resonant Scanning Mechanism (RSM) capable of combining a 250- Hz resonant scan about one axis with a two-hertz triangular scan about the orthogonal axis. The RSM enables a rapid, high-density scan over a significant field of regard (FOR) while minimizing size, weight, and power requirements. The azimuth scan axis is bearing mounted allowing for 30° of mechanical travel, while the resonant elevation axis is flexure and spring mounted with five degrees of mechanical travel. Pointing-knowledge error during quiescent static pointing at room temperature across the full range is better than 100 μrad RMS per axis. The compact design of the RSM, roughly the size of a soda can, makes it an ideal mechanism for use on low-altitude aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. Unique aspects of the opto-mechanical design include i) resonant springs which allow for a high-frequency scan axis with low power consumption; and ii) an independent lower-frequency scan axis allowing for a wide FOR. The pointing control system operates each axis independently and employs i) a position loop for the azimuth axis; and ii) a unique combination of parallel frequency and amplitude control loops for the elevation axis. All control and pointing algorithms are hosted on a 200-MHz microcontroller with 516 KB of RAM on a compact 3”×4” digital controller, also of Ball design.
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. (BATC) has developed a Risley Beam Pointer (RBP) mechanism capable of agile slewing, accurate pointing and high bandwidth. The RBP is comprised of two wedged prisms that offer a wide Field of Regard (FOR) and may be manufactured and operated with diffraction limited optical quality. The tightly packaged mechanism is capable of steering a 4 inch beam over a 60° half angle cone with better than 60 μrad precision. Absolute accuracy of the beam steering is better than 1 mrad. The conformal nature of the RBP makes it an ideal mechanism for use on low altitude aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. Unique aspects of the opto-mechanical design include i) thermal compliance to maintain bearing preload and optical figure over a wide temperature range; and ii) packaging of a remote infrared sensor that periodically reports the temperature of both prisms for accurate determination of the index of refraction. The pointing control system operates each prism independently and employs an inner rate loop nested within an outer position loop. Mathematics for the transformation between line-of-sight coordinates and prism rotation are hosted on a 200 MHz microcontroller with just 516 KB of RAM.