KenBIT Metrological Systems for the Army and for the Scientists. National Centre for Research and Development Supporting the Initiative

Image Credit: KenBIT
Image Credit: KenBIT

Polish KenBIT company submitted its technologically advanced multi-functional time and frequency metrology system, to take part in the “Innovations for the Polish Armed Forces” competition. The system has been designed with support provided by the EU, within the framework of an initiative announced by the National Centre for Research and Development.

Innovations for the Polish Armed Forces” competition is organized by the Inspectorate for Implementation of Innovative Defence Technologies (I3TO), with honorary patronage provided by the Polish Minister of Defence, Antoni Macierewicz. The Honorary Committee, on the other hand, is led by the Secretary of State at the Polish Ministry of Defence, Bartosz Kownacki.

According to the competition rules, the event may involve “businesses, scientific and research institutions, educational entities, registered and having their seats in Poland, as well as natural persons having a Polish citizenship”. It is a rule that solutions submitted shall have a potential of being applied and used in the Polish Army.

KenBIT company has submitted a “Multi-Functional Measurement System for Precise Metrology of Time and Frequency” (WSPMCC) device, within the framework of the competition. The system has been developed by a task consortium involving the KenBIT company and the Military University of Technology, within the scope of an R&D project ordered by the National Centre for Research and Development.

It was assumed that laboratories responsible for distribution and production of standard time and frequency signals would be the main area of application for the system. Each of the components of the aforesaid WSMPCC suite may be operated independently. Thanks to this property, they may be utilized across a variety of scientific disciplines, including geodesy, nuclear physics, astronomy, telecommunications, satellite navigation, optoelectronics or IT industry. One should also note that the WSPMCC suite may also be used in the missile defence systems, for the purpose of synchronizing the time indications of radar systems and SAM sites.

Experts hailing from a variety of entities are interested in the aforesaid solution. WSPMCC system has already been showcased at 8 themed exhibitions, including the most prestigious time/frequency metrology events in Europe: Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting, as well as at the European Frequency and Time Forum, and at the 6th edition of the International Invention Exhibition, where the suite has received six medals, a special prize and a distinction award.

Furthermore, within the framework of the work on the WSPMCC system, eleven articles were written in reputable magazines and journals (including the Scientific Journals of the Philadelphia List), and fourteen papers were presented during a variety of conferences and seminars. Moreover, four Community Designs were submitted, which made it possible to protect the whole system, as well as the individual elements of the suite, within the framework of the industrial property law.

WSPMCC is not a purely theoretical form, as it is rather a system which is ready for implementation, experimentally verified, with research results and design described in numerous reports and manuals for the user and for the programmer. It is also a solution which is utilized in practical applications, as the prototype MTC 108 meter has already been implemented within the infrastructure of the Poznań Supercomputing and Networking Center, affiliated to the Bio-organic Chemistry Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Another example has also been acquired by the Space Research Centre in Warsaw.

The “Multi-Functional Measurement System for Precise Metrology of Time and Frequency” is an example of a product which is a result of research and development works undertaken by KenBIT in collaboration with the Military University of Technology, and funding received from the EU. WSPMCC is yet another KenBIT product, alongside the “System for Signalling The Laser Radiation”, which is a result of collaboration with a University, and which has been introduced onto the market,

What are the Possible Applications of the Time and Frequency Metrology System Submitted by KenBIT?

WSPMCC system may be used, above all, for the following purposes:

  • Simultaneous high resolution time interval measurement, between signals received from multiple sources;

  • Precise frequency measurement;

  • Defining the stability of the frequency generators, especially in case of the nuclear reference sources;

  • Creation of standard time intervals, in a wide scope;

  • Distribution of standard time and frequency signals, electrical and optical, across multiple receivers.

WSPMCC system consists of three basic, separate blocks, unified within the scope of their design and functions, and displaced in a 19 inch 3U rack housing. The blocks include:

  • MTC 108 eight-channel time counter and frequency meter;’

  • TIG 101 time intervals and frequency generator;

  • PDA 0816 Electrical/optical signals separator;

MTC 108 Eight-channel Time Counter and Frequency Meter

MTC 108 eight-channel time counter and frequency meter has been designed as an autonomous time-measurement device. In case of time measurement, the system makes it possible to simultaneously define the temporal relations between the signals connected to eight measurement inputs. The time relations may be determined between seven pairs of any signals selected, as well as between seven signals from different sources and a shared reference signal.

All of the above is done in high resolution, with a high degree of precision and within a wide scope of measurement operations. According to the designers, time measurements are executed across time longer than 1 hour, with resolution higher than 4.5 ps, and with frequency of measurements of 91 million per second, within eight independent measurement channels.

The designers have also fitted the device with its own high quality quartz oscillator. They also made it possible to utilize an external source of time-measuring (clock) signal, the frequency of which is defined as 10 MHz, including the atomic standard which exhibits a higher level of stability.

The whole system has been designed to be user-friendly. The device has been fitted with its own auto-calibration system, making it possible to carry out precise measurement right after it is turned on, along with an ergonomic LCD display, within which the measurement results are displayed in an ongoing manner, along with the current information pertaining to the input configuration and parameters of the measuring session.

The settings are entered by the user with the use of a universal silicone num-pad, twenty-four position knob and additional function buttons. The system has also been fitted with a USB 2.0 Hi-Speed interface, which allows the user to control the device directly from the PC.

The frequency measurements are also carried out in a very wide range, from 100 MHz up to 3.5 GHz, and at high resolution (12 significant digits). In order to do that, an integrated frequency divider has been applied, the signal of which is shaped with the use of a powerful computer, similarly as in case of the remaining input tracks.

MTC 108 functionality is expanded with the modes of short-term stability measurement related to the time signals (Allan’s deviation), and of estimation of the quality of the said signals (through measurement of the time interval error and time deviation).

TIG 101 Time Intervals and Frequency Generator

TIG 101 Time Intervals and Frequency Generator has also been designed as an autonomous measurement instrument in 19 inch Rack 2U housing. The generator, thanks to application of an innovative method of generating precise time intervals, is characterized by small time deviation (below 5 ps), and wide scope of generated intervals (ranging from 100 ns to 10 s). The generated intervals constitute the sections between the selected active slopes of the pair of input impulses.

The said generator, besides creating precise time intervals, is also capable of creating a square wave, within a frequency range from 0.1 Hz to 50 MHz. The instrument also features an embedded thermostatic quartz generator, providing the device with reference time signals. It is also possible to make use of an external source of clock signal (10 MHz, of higher stability), such as e.g. a frequency standard.

TIG 101 is equipped with a local GUI. All changes of settings introduced by the user are the visualized on the LCD screen (displaying the current information concerning the configuration of the outputs and parameters of the generated impulses). The settings are entered with the use of a universal silicone num-pad, twenty-four position knob and additional function buttons. The embedded interfaces also make it possible to control the device remotely through USB or Ethernet.

For the purpose of making the operation of the device more comfortable, a dedicated remote GUI has been prepared in a form of a website shared through the http server embedded within the microcontroller. The website, in a way analogous to the local interface, allows the user to select the mode of operation and declare the output signal parameters that are to be created by the generator. The graphic user interface took on a form of a Java website, interpreted by a web browser. 

PDA 0816 Electric/Optical Signals Divider;

PDA 0816 divider/separator is the last of the devices which form the WSPMCC system. Similarly to the TIG 101 Time Intervals and Frequency Generator and MTC 108 Eight-channel Time Counter and Frequency Meter, it comes in a form which has been embedded in a Rack 19 inch 2U housing. PDA 0816 allows the user to distribute signals (created within the system and/or coming from other sources) in an electric or optical form, across up to 16 receivers, without deterioration of the signal quality.

For that purpose, the device has been fitted with seven inputs for the electric signals, one optical input and fourteen electrical outputs, as well as two optical ones. Each of the electric inputs may have a threshold of discrimination of the input signal set.

The distributing device has been fitted with a user-friendly interface consisting of a keyboard and LCD display unit (resolution of 800×640, 16 bits colour depth). The embedded interfaces also make it possible to control the device remotely through USB or Ethernet. In this case, the website shared via the Hypertext Transfer Protocol server embedded within the micro-controller, may be of assistance.

The above article has been prepared on the basis of the materials provided by the KenBIT Sp. J. company.