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Landing gear strain measurement

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Adept Scientific Plc
: 29 April, 2009  (Application Story)
A large NASA funded research facility needed a way to test the strength and stability of a landing "gear’ designed for use in a future Mars landing vehicle. A prototype of the landing gear was developed and was to be subject to "drop’ tests designed to simulate the stress profile of an actual landing.
The engineers challenge was to find a system that could sample 90 strain gage inputs (simultaneously) as well as acquire data from accelerometers, rate gyros and quadrature encoders and was: 1) light enough to not compromise the simulated crafts weight or balance, 2) rugged enough to survive 30 g landing forces and 3) could be wired to a host computer with wires light and flexible enough wires not to impact the drop dynamics. The DNA-PPC8 PowerDNA cube with its 6 I/O slots fit the bill perfectly. Using the 25-channel DNA-AI-225 all 96 analogue input channels could be handled with four I/O boards, leaving one slot for the DNA-CT-601 counter board for quadrature encoder inputs and on free slot. This means the entire DAQ system fits in a single 4 x 4 x 5.8 cube weighing under four pounds. The PowerDNA Cubes 50 g shock and 5 g vibration specifications also were up to the task. Finally, the Cubes wide 9-36 VDC power requirement meant the system could draw power from batteries already on the simulator, leaving only a simple Ethernet cable required to connect the DAQ system to the host PC. The application was developed in LabVIEW RT, and run on standard desktop computer.
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