COTS Journal, April 2021

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April 2021, Volume 23 – Number 4 •

The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing


How Advances in Technology Have Changed the Rugged Device Market Basic Techniques for Accurate Resistance Measurement

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The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing COTS (kots), n. 1. Commercial off-the-shelf. Terminology popularized in 1994 within U.S. DoD by SECDEF Wm. Perry’s “Perry Memo” that changed military industry purchasing and design guidelines, making Mil-Specs acceptable only by waiver. COTS is generally defined for technology, goods and services as: a) using commercial business practices and specifications, b) not developed under government funding, c) offered for sale to the general market, d) still must meet the program ORD. 2. Commercial business practices include the accepted practice of customer-paid minor modification to standard COTS products to meet the customer’s unique requirements.


—Ant. When applied to the procurement of electronics for he U.S. Military, COTS is a procurement philosophy and does not imply commercial, office environment or any other durability grade. E.g., rad-hard components designed and offered for sale to the general market are COTS if they were developed by the company and not under government funding.


By Ben Madgwick, 3rd Marketing Manager at GRiD Defence Systems



How Advances in Technology Have Changed the Rugged Device Market 6

Publisher’s Note “The Connected Battlefield” The JADC2 or Joint All-Domain Command and Control


The Inside Track

Basic Techniques for Accurate Resistance Measurement

By Elizabethe Zala, Technical Writer at CAS DataLogger


Editor’s Choice for April

Cover Image E-2D Manufacturing Northrop Grumman has delivered 10 new production E-2Ds to the U.S. Navy, on cost and on schedule.

COTS Journal | April 2021


The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing





AD TRAFFIC Vaughn Orchard



Tom Williams

Glenn ImObersteg Robert Hoffman






COTS Journal | April 2021

SALES MANAGER Vaughn Orchard


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John Reardon, Publisher

“The Connected Battlefield”

The JADC2 or Joint All-Domain Command and Control The disruption of technology has caused concern throughout the services as the dollars spent can be challenged in ways not considered before. If you consider that most of our defense systems are a series of generational improvements, it is not hard to project the future and how they might be defeated. This premise has led to concerns in the defense industry as our adversary’s plot to undermine major multi-billion-dollar weapon systems with the metaphorical paper clip. An OSS perspective on the Connect Battlefield The idea of the JADC2 initiative is to create a communications fabric that mimics the Switch Fabric architectures of the modern high-speed computer. Known as the joint all-domain command and control, JADC2 connects distributed sensors, shooters, and data from all domains to all forces. The ability to coordinate and communicate multi-data sources to achieve a highly responsive and efficient engagement will automate the field of operations to retain the required lethality. In the same way that a switch fabric addresses redundancy by offering alternative data paths, OSS offers highperformance solutions at the edge that create a mosaic that opens up alternatives for the warfighter to maximize their deployed assets. In the past, assets were deployed with a mission parameter. If intelligence or other high-profile objectives challenged these mission 6

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parameters, it would jeopardize the outcome and potentially create confusion. The goal with JADC2 is to have real-time, reliable intelligence from sensors at the edge that give actionable data in complex theaters of operations across all services. This might mean diverting assets more effectively, it might mean defending them from unforeseen actions in real-time or it might recognize where security may have been breached. This combination of sensors communicating at the edge will draw upon OSS inference-based solutions. The Element of Surprise The term “asynchronous battlefields” is used to describe the impact of surprise brought about by a dynamic response. As we move forward with very advanced sensors that are working around the clock, combined with machine learning and artificial intelligence, the ability to thwart success with “a paper clip” will diminish. The idea of “Surprise” will enable speed and response unimpeded by human interaction. It will enable the efficient allocation of resources and do so within the latency concerns of our enemies’ communications. The Obstacles Although JADC2 is being led by the Air Force, it is openly acknowledged that the project is highly complex and requires a joint solution. Just as commercial solutions

The Army is already testing and moving forward with what they refer to as “Sensor-to-Shooter”.

have to deal with heterogeneous environments, JADC2 will employ open standards to connect ground, sea, air, and space sensors. The challenges arise with legacy systems and overall coordination between the branches. Each branch must address the already committed dollars and how they might be adjusted to support the interaction required. In consideration of the magnitude of this goal, you must consider the installed base, the committed programs, the coordination with our allies, and numerous other hurdles seen and unseen. One such challenge that creates huge complexities is the Space Force and the potential for disputes that arise from determining the domain of space. The Army is already testing and moving forward with what they refer to as “Sensor-to-Shooter”. This communication network has validated many of the underpinnings of JADC2 and should complement the overall initiative. Taking a more-narrow approach, the

Army’s network creates data sharing between air and missile defense assets. As a starting point, the Army’s “Sensor-to-Shooter” echoes the JADC2 idea but falls short of creating a compendium of assets that all work together. Brigadier General, Dave Kumashiro, Director of Force Integration, in a recent presentation describes the herculean efforts required to move this initiative forward. He described how being able to work with commercial vendors such as OSS will lead to “technology on-ramps”. This will support the goal of continual improvement and will be the cornerstone of success. That highly coordinated Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP) would be incorporated to affirm that technology advancements would match the pace of the commercial markets. Acknowledging that the Air Force cannot possibly coordinate the numerous sensors and platforms employed, the idea of using open standards from One Stop Systems and others will affirm that data can be coordinated at the tactical edge. COTS Journal | April 2021




TFF Pharmaceuticals Awarded Contract under DARPA’s Next-Generation Personalized Protective Biosystems Program for U.S. Warfighters Company’s Thin Film Freezing platform to be developed for use in rapidly neutralizing chemical and biological threats at vulnerable tissue barriers to increase soldier protection and decrease the operational burden

TFF Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing innovative drug products based on its patented Thin Film Freezing (TFF) technology platform, today announced that Leidos, a leading Fortune 500 information technology, engineering, and science solutions and services leader, has awarded the Company a subcontract to participate in the Personalized Protective Biosystems (PPB) Program to develop next-generation chemical and biological protection for U.S warfighters and stability operators. The PPB research program, overseen by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), will develop an integrated system that simultaneously reduces protective equipment needs while increasing protection for the individual against existing and future chemical and biological (CB) threats. This will be achieved 8

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through lightweight materials that protect the warfighter or stability operator from exposure to CB threats, while simultaneously providing a second layer of protection, at the tissue barrier, with bio-molecular, commensal organisms, or other technologies that protect the skin, eyes, and airway from CB threats. Successful PPB technologies could change how the military and public health communities perform in unpredictable threat environments.

Under the 60-month, three-phase subcontract with Leidos, TFF Pharmaceuticals will utilize its Thin Film Freezing platform to formulate a series of countermeasures designed to neutralize chemical and biological agents at the site of

vulnerable tissue barriers, including the skin, the eyes, and the respiratory system. Phase I of the program will include the development and validation of methods to quantify countermeasures and the formulation of countermeasures for delivery to the various tissue. Phase II will include the scale-up manufacturing of countermeasure formulations for preclinical studies, demonstration of the deliverability of countermeasure products, and meeting with the FDA to determine a path to GMP production of the countermeasure formulations, nonclinical safety testing, and a pathway to human clinical testing. Phase III will include plans for scale-up manufacturing for human safety trials. “We are very pleased that Leidos selected our Thin Film Freezing platform to help develop the next generation of chemical and biological protective technologies for our frontline warfighters and stability operators,” said Glenn Mattes, President, and CEO of TFF Pharmaceuticals. “The Personalized Protective Biosystems program will develop groundbreaking technology and we are proud to be able to play a role in this program that will have a strategic impact on this country for years to come.”



Aitech Joins The Open Group FACE™ Consortium To Help Foster Software Interoperability Across Military Computing Platforms

Aitech has joined The Open Group Future Airborne Capability Environment™ (FACE) Consortium. The FACE Technical Standard enables developers to create and deploy a wide catalog of applications for use across the entire spectrum of military aviation systems through a common operating environment. This critically provides reduced and streamlined time to market shared key learnings as well as increased innovation in the industry. “We are very pleased that Aitech has joined The Open Group FACE Consortium as our newest member,” said Judy Cerenzia, VP of Forum Operations at The Open Group. “We welcome their expertise and look forward to their contributions to help foster software interoperability across military computing platforms as we truly believe that software initiatives will move interoperability forward in

modern military and defense applications.” As a member of the FACE Consortium, Aitech brings decades of experience working with open standards and modular architecture and will contribute its reliable software design experience to help develop FACE conformant capabilities that will enhance rugged embedded systems and boards for defense and space applications. Pratish Shah, General Manager USA of Aitech, noted, “As the need for better collaboration between vendors continues to lead system development strategies in the military and defense markets, we recognize the importance of offering a well-rounded, complete solution, from board-level to integration. FACE helps bridge the hardware-software gap, and becoming a part of this initiative is a natural progression for Aitech.” With the support of the three main branches of the US military and almost 100 industry manufacturers, The Open Group FACE and SOSA™ (Sensor Open Systems Archi-

tecture) Consortia are extensively developing standards that enable Modular Open Systems Approaches (MOSA) as specified by the U.S. Department of Defense for new systems development and modification of existing systems. As a member of several open standards organizations, including VITA, the SOSA Consortium, and now the FACE Consortium, Aitech seeks to provide its customers with both hardware and software solutions for use in today and tomorrow’s military, defense and aerospace programs. Aitech continues to invest in next-generation single board computers (SBCs), GPGPU products, graphics XMCs, communication, and I/O cards, Ethernet switches, and power supplies as well as system level products and software solutions to provide its customers with a large selection of open-standard architectures for rugged applications. The company offers more than 37 years of extensive expertise in designing and manufacturing cutting-edge open standards and custom defense and space electronics solutions.

COTS Journal | April 2021




Galvion delivers the first Silent Watch Battery Packs (SWBP) for use in Canada’s LRSS LAV 6.0 Program

Galvion is pleased to announce the first delivery of our Symbasys Swatpack™ modular battery systems to General Dynamic Land Systems-Canada for use in the Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) Reconnaissance Surveillance System (LRSS). The LRSS LAV 6.0 will replace the Coyote LAV vehicle providing the Canadian Army with state-of-the-art technology for advanced target detection, recognition, and identification.

range finders, and other onboard electronic equipment. The robust bespoke solution can power these demanding electronics over an extended period, in all conditions, with no thermal or aural signature, preserving the batteries for engine starting. “Our experience integrating Li-Ion batteries into military applications, and our long-standing partnership with Kokam, a world leader in lithium-ion cell manufactur-

ing, was key in successfully engineering the optimum balance of technology, performance, and safety required to meet all of the operational needs for this program,” said Peter Rafferty, Galvion’s V.P. of Platform Power. “Many years of development and a rigorous qualification program carried out over the past two years culminate in Galvion being able to deliver a unique set of capabilities for the LRSS LAV 6.0 program.”

Galvion’s Silent Watch battery solution consists of ten (10) Li-Ion Swatpack™ 160Ah/4KWh battery modules in a custom-designed ballistic enclosure which is mounted on the LAV 6.0. The 40Kwh system will provide the power to run the mounted surveillance system including cameras, thermal imagers, laser

Q-CTRL to demo Quantum Computer Performance Acceleration at Australian Army’s Quantum Technologies Challenge Q-CTRL, a startup that applies the principles of control engineering to power quantum technology, announced it will demonstrate its performance-boosting quantum computer infrastructure software in a real-world problem at the Australian Army’s inaugural Quantum Technologies Challenge at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Center on April 20. Quantum bits or “qubits” -- the logical elements in quantum computers -- are limited in number and prone to error in today’s systems, posing a roadblock to the broader application of this advanced technology. Q-CTRL will showcase how techniques in quantum control can help achieve the greatest possible computational performance from today’s small-scale and imperfect quantum computers. To illustrate the solution’s flexibility and advantages, the company will demonstrate improved outcomes when using quantum computing to solve the computationally challenging problem of efficiently resupplying multiple locations using unmanned ground vehicles. “Our solution delivers real performance boosts in a problem that has real impact for 10

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defense missions,” said Q-CTRL CEO Michael J. Biercuk. “Effective and efficient supply chains are essential to any successful military endeavor, and we are focused on accelerating the development and performance of quantum computers to make them relevant for defense in the next few years, rather than the next few decades. We are proud to be presenting our unique capabilities to the Australian Army at its first Quantum Technologies Challenge event.”

The Quantum Technologies Challenge was created to leverage Australia’s national strategic strength in the emerging quantum industry for defense. The event is designed to enable army officials to issue specific challenges that test hypotheses of quantum technology applications in land operations as well as providing a forum for networking and the exchange of ideas among the quantum technology community.



Cambridge Pixel to Supply US Navy with Radar Processing for AN/SYY-1 Shipboard Air Traffic Control Upgrade

Cambridge Pixel to supply HPx-250 radar interface cards and SPx radar and IFF (identification friend or foe) plot extraction software to the Naval Air Warfare Centre for deployment on all US Navy CVN, LHA, and LHD-class ships. Cambridge Pixel is supplying its HPx-250 PMC radar interface cards and SPx radar and IFF plot extraction software to the Naval Air Warfare Centre for the United States Navy’s AN/SYY-1 Shipboard Air Traffic Control Processing and Display System. The AN/SYY-1 is the US Navy’s upgrade to the AN/TPX-42 system used for shipboard air traffic control. The new system will be deployed on all CVN-class aircraft carriers as well as on helicopter landing ships (LHA and LHD-class vessels). Cambridge Pixel’s technology will be used to process radar returns, extract radar and IFF plots and display radar video from the primary and secondary radar video on all the ships. Engineers developing the AN/SYY-1 system at the Naval Air Warfare Center – Webster Outlying Field (NAWC WOLF) in Saint Inigoes, Maryland, USA, needed a radar acquisition card and supporting software that provided radar plot extraction, IFF plot extraction, radar distribution, and scan conversion. The AN/SYY-1 system uses a multi-sensor tracker to provide the Air Controller with a fused (composite) track comprised from all available sensors.

David Kenney, an electronics engineer, Naval Air Warfare Center’s Shipboard Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems, said: “We chose the Cambridge Pixel HPx-250 PMC card because it satisfied our three key requirements in a low powered, small form factor solution. The Cambridge Pixel team has also worked closely with NAWC WOLF personnel during development and responded to requests for unique modifications in an economical and timely manner.” David Johnson, CEO, Cambridge Pixel, said: “We are delighted to be offering our modular HPx and SPx radar processing components into this technology refresh program. We have incorporated considerable flexibility into the radar interfacing and data processing modules which have allowed us to accommodate the needs of the AN/SYY-1 upgrade.” Cambridge Pixel’s HPx-250 is a PMC-format daughterboard that fits onto a VME processor board. The card receives radar signals, including video, trigger, and azimuth, and passes the digitized and processed video to the SPx Server plot extraction software, which runs on the host computer. For combined primary and IFF requirements, two HPx-250 cards are deployed on a single VME processor, with one instance of SPx Server software handling IFF decoding and plot extraction, and the other handling primary video plot extraction and video processing. For the IFF video, mode tags embedded in the video are used to identify the interrogation mode to permit correct decoding of altitude and call sign data. For primary radar video, plots are identified

as areas of video passing target-like acceptance criteria. Plots, along with digitized video, are passed out of SPx Server into downstream track processing and display. Cambridge Pixel’s HPx-250 card is part of a family of radar acquisition and processing components that provide system integrators with a powerful toolkit to build server and client display systems. A wide variety of signal types and input voltages are supported on the card, allowing connection to a diverse range of commercial and military radar types including those from Furuno, Hensoldt, JRC, Koden, Raytheon, Sperry, Terma, as well as specialist military radars. The company’s SPx suite of software libraries and applications provides highly flexible, ready-torun software products or ‘modules-of-expertise’ for radar scan conversion, visualization, radar video distribution, target tracking, sensor fusion, plot extraction, and clutter processing. Cambridge Pixel’s radar technology is used in naval, air traffic control, vessel traffic, unmanned systems, Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS), commercial shipping, security, surveillance, and airborne radar applications. Its systems and software have been implemented in mission-critical applications with companies such as BAE Systems, Frontier Electronic Systems, Blighter Surveillance Systems, Exelis, Hanwha Systems, Kelvin Hughes, Lockheed Martin, Navtech Radar, Raytheon, Royal Thai Air Force, Saab Sensis, Sofresud and Tellumat.

COTS Journal | April 2021




Abaco Systems Partners with Rebel Alliance to Demonstrate Integrated Battle Management Solution

Abaco Systems announced today a partnership with Rebel Alliance, allowing the company to demonstrate their Rebel’s Safe Strike™ software product for Battle Management and Command & Control applications. The Safe Strike software is deployable on Abaco’s 3U VPX ecosystem, utilizing SBC, GPU/ GPGPU platforms, and Mission Ready Systems. In particular, the demonstration runs on Abaco’s MAGIC1A, a high-performance rugged display computer to demonstrate interoperability with the third-party specialized software. “Battle Management and C&C applications are a key focus for us at Abaco, and this partnership with Rebel allows us to show prospective customers a complete, integrated, hardware and software solution that is rugged and ready to deploy,” said Peter Thompson, Vice President, Product Management at Abaco Systems. “We are actively seeking partnerships with software vendors like Rebel that align with Abaco’s technology initiatives and provide new and technically diverse solutions to complex customer issues.” Safe Strike is a battlefield management application based on Rebel Alliance Core Engine (RACE). RACE is a complete multi-platform


COTS Journal | April 2021

(Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android) engine that helps build rock-solid Command and Control architectures. Its graphical component is capable of high-performance rendering of 3D Offline Raster/Vector Maps and Augmented Reality on the great majority of COTS hardware and software platforms, mobile and fixed. Its communication component is designed to allow the exchange of the operational picture and actionable tactical information in every possible network configuration, spanning from extremely low-speed submarine communications to high-speed MANET networks. The User Interface of each specific application is designed to be intuitive and very easy to use without the need for expensive training. “The architecture we have been building up from the original Safe Strike, an initially standalone JTAC application,” said Michele De Sio, Rebel Alliance CEO, “is now mature and can provide, in many different scenarios, either complete applications to the end-user or network engines to system integrators. We are very happy with the opportunity to integrate our software with Abaco powerful computers and look forward to supporting their customers as their operating requirements evolve in the future.”

The MAGIC1A is a rugged line replaceable unit (LRU) suitable for high-performance heavy parallel processing and math-intensive computing in the harshest of environments. The combination of CPU and GPGPU processors in a low SWaP-C3 package ensures it can be used across a wide range of commercial and military applications, including displays, situational awareness, data/RADAR processing, video processing, image/signal/data classification, and artificial intelligence (AI). Utilizing an Intel Xeon E3 v6 CPU and an NVIDIA Quadro P2000 GPU this solution provides an ideal platform for both runtime performance and ease of programming. The quad-core CPU and 768-core GPU, connected by Gen 3 PCI Express, are capable of up to 2.3 TFLOPS floating point performance - with CUDA™ and OpenCL™ support. With extensive I/O capabilities to enable use in a variety of deployed situations, the MAGIC1A also contains Ethernet, USB, ANSI TIA/EIA serial communications, DisplayPort, and DVI video output, MIL-STD-1553 and ARINC 429 avionics protocol interfaces, and general-purpose I/O.



Abaco Systems and CoreAVI Announce Partnership Extension for FlightCertifiable Graphics Processing

Abaco Systems, Inc. and CoreAVI announced an extension of their partnership through the signing of a licensing agreement that allows Abaco to implement the AMD Embedded Radeon™ E9171 GPU, associated COTS-D hardware IP, and Vulkan graphics and compute capabilities from CoreAVI into a new rugged embedded graphics processor to be produced and delivered by Abaco. The new offering provides a low-risk solution for systems integrators requiring

safety-critical certification for graphics processing in high-integrity visual applications such as cockpit display, navigation, synthetic vision, sensor fusion, as well as critical-process vision and graphics systems in medical, energy, industrial automation, and more. This partnership gives customers access to the first-to-market safety-critical AMD E9171 GPU as a COTS product designed to meet RTCA DO-254/DO-178C (EUROCAE ED-80/ED-12C) up to Design Assurance Level (DAL) A for flight-certifiable applications in military and civilian aviation. It also supports other processes/mission-critical applications that may not require safety certification but still necessitate high-performance real-time graphics and compute processing. “We’re excited to bring the E9171 GPU to

our customers,” said Pete Thompson, VP of Product Management at Abaco. “This roadmap upgrade to the E8860 improves performance and reduces power, all while allowing customers to leverage code from legacy OpenGL applications. Our customers count on us to bring the newest technology to market quickly. Our partnership with CoreAVI does exactly that.” John Muller, Chief Growth Officer at Abaco, said, “More and more, we see avionics suppliers making the switch to off-the-shelf solutions for flight-certifiable applications. As graphics systems are tasked with the ever-increasing scope of functionality, bringing higher-performance hardware, software, and

supporting certification artifacts is critical. Partnering with CoreAVI helps our customers expand their offering and get to market quicker.” “We’re delighted to partner with Abaco. Their long history of high-quality rugged embedded electronics products made them the ideal choice to bring the E9171 to market for flight certifiable applications,” said Dan Joncas, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at CoreAVI. “Abaco’s hardware solution, together with our E9171 COTS-D design, DO-254 lifecycle data, and our Vulkan-based platform provides integrators with state-ofthe-art performance with modern graphics and GPU compute functionality required for today’s safety-critical intelligent mission system”.

COTS Journal | April 2021




British Armed Forces lead the way in transferring SlingShot Special Forces satellite communications system to regular units

to secure voice and data transmissions using the already battle-proven SlingShot system. Enabling BOWMAN with the robust Slingshot system also means that troops do not need to carry both BOW-

Major General Jonathan Cole, Director of Information and CIO of the British Army said: “SlingShot is a fantastic addition to our communications inventory, delivering vital capability to deployed troops. Of particular note is the fact that the training burden is minimal as the system is effectively a ‘bolt-on’ to our current BOWMAN radios. Sling Shot is a game-changer in allowing our troops to operate at reach without the additional requirement to deploy more troops to provide rebroadcast capability when operating at Battle Group level and below. I am delighted to be working with Spectra on the fielding of such an important capability”.

Spectra Group is an internationally renowned specialist provider of secure voice, data and satellite communications systems, specifically optimized for use in remote and challenging environments, with offices in the UK and USA. Recently, the British Armed Forces have announced that they have equipped regular Army units with Spectra Group’s SlingShot system, as they deploy on Operations and Exercises, to enable tactical satellite communications across the area of operations. Spectra Group’s SlingShot system is unique in that it can be integrated with currently in-service UHF and VHF tactical communications systems to extend the range of tactical radios from 30km to 1000(+) km on the move in all conditions. By integrating SlingShot and the L-TAC satellite service with the UK’s lineof-sight VHF BOWMAN radios, the deployed troops have immediately gained communications capability that would otherwise have only been available to more specialist units. In addition to Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) voice, SlingShot includes a data capability supporting critical applications such as situational awareness tools; GPS tracking; reporting, and other data messaging without the requirement for ground-based line-of-sight re-broadcasting infrastructure. Voice and data remain encrypted ‘end to end’ utilizing BOWMAN’s crypto

Comtech Telecommunications Corp. Awarded Follow-on Order for More Than $1.0 Million for Military X-band SSPAs Comtech Telecommunications Corp. announced that during its third quarter of fiscal 2021, its subsidiary, Comtech Xicom Technology, Inc., a world leader in high-power amplifiers, received a contract valued at more than $1.0 million for X-band SSPA/BUCs for transportable military satellite communications (“Satcom”) ground systems. X-band is set aside for government satellite service, primarily military applications that require low interference, low rain-fade, and small terminal size, even if data rates are 14

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nidirectional antennas utilized with SlingShot provide manpack, land, sea, and air platforms, with real-time Comms on the Move (COTM) rather than Comms on the Pause, as experienced with traditional TACSAT.

MAN radios ( for line-of-sight) and UHF TACSAT radios ( for strategic rear link). Both can now be carried out using the same radio. Finally, the omlimited. One of the major challenges of the X-band is that, unlike other Satcom bands, the receive band is adjacent to the transmit band, making it critical that any RF leakage be extremely low to avoid interfering with the received signal. Xicom’s X-band solid-state power amplifiers (SSPAs) and BUCs are optimized for this challenging low leakage requirement as well as being high in power density, highly efficient, and compact. They are ideal for fixed, transportable, manpack, and mobile military applications. “Comtech is the industry leader in X-band SSPAs and BUCs. We have invested heavily to build out a comprehensive X-band product line to support military fixed and transportable terminals with the most chal-

Simon Davies, CEO of Spectra Group said: “We’ve already seen SlingShot become a battle-proven and battle-winning capability used by Special Forces across the globe but we’re delighted to see our SlingShot system now being used on operations by more regular forces for the first time”. He added: “The beauty of SlingShot is that it can be “plugged into” any in-service tactical radio system. The UK has led the way with this kind of approach to the integration of SlingShot but we’re now seeing other global forces, including the USA, adopt a similar strategy to meet every Beyond Line Of Sight communications scenario”.

lenging performance and environmental requirements,” said Fred Kornberg, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Comtech Telecommunications Corp. “Our end-customer remains pleased with the outstanding technical performance and reliability of these Comtech BUCs, and we are proud of our track record on this critical military program.” Comtech Xicom Technology, Inc., a world leader in high-power amplifiers, manufactures a wide variety of tube-based and solid-state power amplifiers for military and commercial satellite uplink applications. The product range encompasses power levels from 8 W to 3 kW, with frequency coverage in sub-bands within the 2 GHz to 52 GHz spectrum.



PICMG Announces Official Ratification of COM-HPC Specification The open specification for high performance compute modules is approved by the PICMG Consortium

PICMG announces that COM-HPC has been approved and ratified, and is now available for public download and distribution. “Twenty-six industry-leading companies worked together diligently and cohesively over a span of five years”, said Christian Eder, the COMHPC Working Group Chair. “I owe a big thank you to the team for the dedication and excellence they all brought to the effort. It is clear proof of the importance of the COM-HPC specification. Now we are well prepared to address current and future technology requirements.” COM-HPC defines five-module sizes to deliver edge server performance for small, rugged data centers. The specification addresses emerging requirements in the embedded and edge computing market. The base specification will be accompanied later this year by a Platform Management Interface Specification, COM-HPC EEEP, and a Carrier Board Design Guide. “The PICMG organization is proud of the ex-

traordinary collaboration between industry leaders that has led to the completion of the COM-HPC base specification, said Jess Isquith, President of PICMG. “The new open standard will enable multiple AI and Industry 4.0 applications, amongst others, to be realized by bringing server-level computing to the edge. Adopting the specification provides a necessary standard to reduce time to market and stabilize costs for hundreds of solutions providers.” It is important to note that the specification covers two classes of modules. The COM-HPC Client Module Type targets use in high-end embedded client products that need one or more displays, a full set of low, medium, and extremely high bandwidth I/O, powerful CPUs, and modest size. Typical uses are in medical equipment, high-end instrumentation, industrial equipment, casino gaming equipment, ruggedized field PCs, transportation and defense systems, and much more. The COM-HPC Server Type targets use in high-end headless (no display) embedded servers that require intensive CPU capability, large memory capacity, and lots of high bandwidth I/O including multiple 10Gbps or 25Gbps Ethernet, and up to 65 PCIe lanes, at up to PCIe Gen 5 speeds. Typical uses are in embedded server equipment ruggedized for use in field environments and applications such

as autonomous vehicles, cell tower base stations, geophysical field equipment, medical equipment, defense systems, and much more. Both client and server modules have a dedicated platform management interface which is the first for a COM standard to include remote administration. This new specification does not replace COM Express, which will continue to play a crucial role in the COM marketplace for many years. TECHNICAL HIGHLIGHTS: • Two 400-pin BGA mount high-performance connectors • Platform Management Interface • Not limited to x86 processors • Provides for the use of x86& RISC processors, FPGAs and GPGPUs • COM-HPC Client Modules • Up to 48 + 1 PCI Express Gen4/5 lanes • Up to 4x USB4 • Up to 4x video interfaces • Up to 2x 25 Gb Ethernet interfaces Module sizes: • Size A: 95 x 120 mm • Size B: 120 x 120 mm • Size C: 160 x 120 mm COM-HPC Server Modules Up to 64 + 1 PCI Express Gen4/5 lanes Up to 2x USB4 Up to 4 graphic interfaces / headless Up to 8x 25 Gb Ethernet interfaces Module sizes: Size D: 160 x 160 mm Size E: 200 x 160 mm Members of the PICMG COM-HPC committee include University of Bielefeld, Acromag, ADLINK, Advantech, Amphenol, AMI, Avnet Integrated (MSC Technologies), Comtel, Duagon (MEN Mikro Elektronik), congatec, Elma Electronic, ept, Eurotech, Fastwel, GE Automation, HEITEC, ICC Intelligent Platforms, Intel, Kontron, N.A.T., nVent, Samtec, SECO, Supermicro, TE Connectivity, Trenz Electronic, and VersaLogic. ADLINK, congatec, and Kontron are the committee sponsors. Christian Eder, marketing director of congatec, is the chairman of the COM-HPC committee. He was previously a draft editor of the current COM Express standard. Stefan Milnor from Kontron and Dylan Lang from Samtec support Christian Eder in their respective functions as editor and secretary of the PICMG COM-HPC committee.

COTS Journal | April 2021



How Advances in Technology Have Changed the Rugged Device Market By Ben Madgwick, Marketing Manager at GRiD Defence Systems Rugged devices such as Laptops and Tablets have existed in one way or another for the last 40 years and like all other portable technology, over the years they have seen significant advancements. In 1983 GRiD had the opportunity to send one of our original clamshell designed Laptops, the GRiD Compass, into space alongside NASA in the Space Shuttle Columbia. Nicknamed SPOC (no relation to the similarly named Star Trek character, unfortunately) it was modified and ruggedised to be used as a Shuttle Portable On-board Computer (SPOC) for Astronauts to use while in zero-gravity. Utilising a bubble memory instead of the more standard rotating disk, a rugged magnesium casing and a custom, bright orange electro-luminescent display, visible in the brightest sunlight, the GRiD Compass was not only the very first Laptop but also the very first rugged portable device. As cutting edge as it was during its 10-year lifespan aboard various space shuttles, the GRiD Compass wouldn’t be passible for many

Figure 1: GRiD Compass on board Atlantis Orbiter Vehicle 16

COTS Journal | April 2021

of the tasks expected of rugged devices in the modern era. Thankfully, over the last 40 years they have progressed significantly with the help of some pretty incredible technology. With Rugged Laptops and Tablets now utilised across multiple industries and deployed in a wide array of harsh environments, the requirements have become extremely varied and rugged devices have adapted to the needs of this wider audience. So, what exactly have we seen happen to the rugged market since its inception and what can we expect to see as the needs of end users change further over the next 5-10 years? First, it is important to highlight some of the more prominent changes over the last few years as these advancements will help us to predict what to expect in the future. Touchscreen Technology As we have seen in the commercial world, the introduction of touchscreens was a huge move forward, sparking innovation and opening up new realms of possibility in design and functionality for portable devices. Quite frankly, without the introduction of touchscreen technology, the traditional ‘Tablet’ as is imagined right now would not exist. The key difference is that where as in the commercial world capacitive touchscreens provide adequate functionality for people to scroll through social media or interact with apps whilst they go about their daily tasks, the same cannot be said for the needs of the rugged market. With the rugged market needing extra capabilities, being able to use a device in the rain or with gloved hands for instance, the introduction of resistive touchscreen technology was an important step. Allowing the use of rugged touchscreen devices, no matter the environment. Power Capabilities With more diverse requirements coming from end users as rugged devices become in-

creasingly popular, a natural progression in power capability was inevitable. With these more power-hungry requirements has come a trend of making the internals of devices smaller so that engineers can deliver more power without having to increase the size of the Laptop or Tablets themselves. Some companies have gone one step further and now utilise technology such as Hot-Swap Batteries in their units. Providing end users the ability to keep themselves portable and on the move for longer without having to make the ‘last minute mad dash’ for a charging cable that is far too common in devices we use around the house. Thanks to smaller, more capable internal components (PCBs, Hard Drives, Processors etc.) it is now possible to create small, lightweight and highly portable devices that have the full power capabilities you would typically expect to see in much larger variants. Materials Although most things have changed throughout the years, one design choice, which started in 1982 with the GRiD Compass, has been carried into the modern era of rugged tech. That is the idea of using stronger materials such as titanium, magnesium and aluminium to provide stronger, more rugged and capable casings than the plastic, commercial alternatives provide. With rugged devices used in more hazardous environments, the unit itself needs to be able to withstand potential drops or knocks without the risk of damage. It is generally assumed that over the course of its life a typical device will be dropped a total of 5-6 times, alongside a host of other knocks as it gets carried around all over the world. To ensure that their devices can withstand this, manufacturers have begun to put units through a test aptly named the ‘Drop, Shock and Topple’ Test. A part of wider En-

With the biggest users of rugged devices being the military and personnel within the defence industry, security has always been a top priority.

submersion in water and still remain useable. Although it might be a generally accepted notion that rugged devices are built to be water resistant it wasn’t until recent years that the IP67/IP68 rating became a more widely adopted standard across the rugged market. Nowadays most Rugged Laptops and Tablets are compliant with MIL-STD-810 and Def Stan 00-35, with compliance to these specifications enabling the devices to be used by military personnel and providing the end user with a guarantee that they are using an extremely capable device that will perform well in most, if not all, environments they take it in to. On top of the standards mentioned above, special considerations have been taken by some suppliers to provide devices that are

qualified for use in TEMPEST and ATEX environments. TEMPEST allows the devices to be used in more sensitive deployments and ATEX in areas where there is a risk of a spark causing an explosion. Security With the biggest users of rugged devices being the military and personnel within the defence industry, security has always been a top priority. As such, a lot of research has gone in to developing new security technology for portable devices. One of the standout improvements is having a removable hard drive so that when the device is not in use, the hard drive and all associated data can be removed and stored somewhere safe. Another is the use of Encrypted 2.5” Hard Drives that create extra levels of security in devices through data encryption, ensuring only the

Figure 2: GRiDCASE 2530 during Drop Test

vironmental testing that qualifies devices to various Military Standards, the Drop, Shock and Topple Test checks how capable a device is and how well it handles multiple drops across each face of the unit. Environmental Considerations When we talk about “Environment”, we are referring to how well a unit operates in extreme conditions including different weather conditions, temperatures, pressures and types of terrain. One notable development is the ability for some devices to withstand

Figure 3: Example of an iButton Reader COTS Journal | April 2021


intended user can access information. iButton readers, typically separate dongles that allow for device encryption, can now be built in to the unit so that a separate dongle does not have to be carried around with the device, reducing risk of losing the dongle or reduced security from the presence of a USB port. Simplicity When companies build a product, it is designed with the end user experience in mind and that is no different when it comes the rugged device market. The biggest notable changes here can be put down to one of the following things: - Military Connectors; the use of circular military D38999 connectors instead of standard USB or Ethernet ports allow the devices to fit seamlessly within larger systems without being concerned about weak, unsealed connectors. With no extra considerations having to be made on ‘how’ a device will interact with other parts, these Rugged Laptops and Tablets provide a quick improvement. - Custom Interfaces; with such a broad range of requirements it is no longer a simple case of providing one system setup and hoping that it works, or worse, forcing the user to adapt their requirement to make it work. Having interfaces specific to project requirements ensures that the device is going to work the way it needs to for the end user every single time it is used. - Embedded Processors and Systems; depending on the project, devices may just be required to perform one task (or set of tasks) over and over again. The addition of embedded processors and systems into Rugged Laptops and Tablets makes this possible and allows engineers or end users to set a device up and have it run, performing the intended task for years at a time without having to do anything else to it. Throughout the last four decades, there have been a lot of quite frankly, incredible advancements made in technology used in rugged devices and these advancements have created a lot of opportunity to utilise devices in ways that we could never have previously thought of. Even if we were to go back 10 years, a lot of what we can now do would be seen as an impossible task, so we are incredibly excited about the advances we can expect to see in the next decade. With new technology being developed all the time it is hard to cover everything, how18

COTS Journal | April 2021

Figure 4: NVG Display

ever there are a few noteworthy expectations that, like the examples listed above from the last few decades, will drive the rugged device market in the future. Change in Project Requirements As with every product or service, developments in the rugged device market are driven by the needs and requirements of the customers and end users. As the needs of the end users change, the design choices made by manufacturers are altered to ensure that they are able to meet these new requirements. There are two main trends driving wider change right now within the rugged market. Firstly, the shift to devices being used for specific applications. With technology improving, the rugged market can become more specialised and devices developed for singular projects or applications. With this increase in specialisation, end users are going to receive a much better experience while operating devices. They will slot in and out of larger systems with ease and there will be less downtime as they learn the new systems. Although not a specific technological advancement, it represents a larger change in the design of Rugged Laptops and Tablets and will have an overarching effect on how they are built. Secondly, alongside the shift to specific applications, devices are needed for projects that have a much longer life span. We are often finding that companies are looking for devices they can use for 10-20 years without having to worry about a forced tech-refresh due to obsolescence which can also have a huge impact on software. This long-life need is bringing in small but necessary improvements so that devices are built to last as long as possible, moving further away from any sort of planned obsolescence model present in commercial spaces.

Multi-Touch Resistive Touchscreens As manufacturers have capitalised on the benefits from using resistive touchscreens over the capacitive variants, the next step is utilising multi-touch resistive technology over standard resistive touchscreens. This new type of resistive technology enables new functionality to be built into rugged devices. Gesture controls such as swiping and ‘pinch and zoom’ will become a lot simpler and more intuitive, the touchscreen will pick up interactions at multiple sections across the screen allowing for greater use of mapping tools and other specialised software. With the addition of this multi-touch technology the end user experience will be greatly improved while crucially remaining complaint with military standards for EMC, something not possible with capacitive multi-touch touchscreens. Advanced Displays To no surprise, the display used in any Laptop or Tablet has a huge effect on the overall usefulness of the device. Although rugged units take a larger number of factors into consideration than commercial alternatives, the display still plays an extremely important part in the decision – it’s the main interface after all! That’s why the introduction of Highbright and NVG-ready Displays are such a promising concept. The technology behind these two types of display will allow users to deploy Rugged Laptops and Tablets into a wider array of environments without having to consider whether the display will be readable from either an abundance of sunlight (High-bright) or a complete lack of light altogether (NVGready). Currently when operating within ultra-bright environments, areas susceptible to screen glare (such as on-board fast boats) or environments in which NVGs are required, there is a limited choice for devices available.

The adoption of these high-tech displays will open up new options to customers. 3D and Augmented Reality As a greater onus is placed on the safety of soldiers there is a lot of potential around AR and 3D software used for training and simulations. This software will allow soldiers and other end users to run through scenarios in real-time when out in the field, ensuring that the best decision is made with the data available to them rather than using potentially outdated or incorrect information. It will allow for greater detail in mission planning and provide a whole host of other benefits to deployed personnel. As this software becomes more advanced it will be available for use in smaller more portable devices such as Rugged Laptops and Tablets where as it is currently limited to larger systems. Although the items listed above are just a few examples from a potentially exhaustive list, the next 5-10 years will prove to be incredibly exciting as these technologies are developed and the Rugged Laptop and Tablet market is sure to benefit from each and every advancement.

With the team here at GRiD ready to take full advantage of these technologies and continue to provide the best possible rugged devices; it is a very exciting time to be involved

in this industry. If you are interested in seeing what Rugged Laptops, Tablets and Processors we can provide then check out our website.

COTS Journal | April 2021



Basic Techniques for Accurate Resistance Measurement By Elizabethe Zala, Technical Writer at CAS DataLogger

Reduce Measurement Errors In Your Application


COTS Journal | April 2021

At CAS DataLoggers we often receive calls from users working in resistance measurement applications, for example using string pots to measure displacement, measuring thermistors or RTDs for temperature, measuring the resistance on test samples, and many more applications. Some of our callers are surprised to learn that there’sa variety of different techniques to use to obtain accurate resistance measurements and that the choice of technique depends on the expected value. We also talk with callers who report getting weird readings, for example, “With the logger I’m using, I’m seeing numbers

that don’t make sense.” This is usually resolved by realizing that resistance measurements span many different ranges which require the use of different measurement techniques. In this article, we’ll cover a few simple ways to reduce error and improve accuracy at the low, mid, and high resistance ranges. Use the Right Measurement Technique For Your Range Resistance measurements are represented using the ohm unit (Ω). 1 ohm represents the re-

sistance between 2 points of a conductor when a constant potential difference of 1 volt, applied to these points, produces a current of 1 ampere in the conductor, given that the conductor does not produce any electromotive force (voltage) on its own. Resistance is one of the few values in electronics that, in common applications, can vary over such a large range (over 12 orders of magnitude), and many users don’t take this into account when collecting data. For most applications, values less than 100 ohms can be considered as a low range resistance measurement, while 100 ohms up to a million ohms (megohm) is an intermediate range. High resistance ranges go up from the megohm range, and we have had a few calls from users measuring way up in the gigaohm range (1 billion ohms). When callers ask us, “I need to measure resistance—what logger do you recommend?” our Application pecialists help them narrow it down by asking, “What’s the value of the expected resistance you’re trying to measure? Before starting your application, it is important to consider that each of these ranges require the use of different measurement techniques. In fact, there’s no single technique for measuring every value of resistance, and you can easily get inaccurate results by using the wrong technique for your range. For example, without matching your technique to your range, your data may only be within 5% of the actual value.

the conductor (given in volts), and R is the resistance of the conductor (here R is a constant given in ohms). It’s easy to work with Ohm’s Law to find any of these values. For example, it’s also true that Resistance equals Voltage divided by Current (R=V/I), and that Voltage = Current multiplied by Resistance (V=I*R). In this way you can derive any missing variable if you know the other two. Low Resistance Measurement First, let’s consider the cables which are connecting the device to be measured to the instrument: If you’re measuring resistance near to the source, you’ll get different readings than when you’re taking measurements from a sensor placed 200 ft away. As an example, say we have a 10 ohm copper RTD which we want to measure; we must connect to it somehow, so we connect a pair of wires to the RTD. But this wire isn’t a perfect conductor either—it has some resistance in it too, as with any piece of wire. If this resistance is 1 ohm per 100 ft. (typical for 20-gauge wire), and we have 200 ft. of cabling going to the device and coming back (400 ft. total) we may expect to see a resistance reading of 10 ohms, but what we’ll see is a reading of 14 ohms. When measuring small resistances, a common technique is to force a known current and then measure the voltage across the Device Under Test (DUT–see Figure 1 below).

of leads. However, this creates an error in your measurements because the voltage measured at the end of the leads isn’t the same as the voltage across the resistor, as it also includes the voltage drop across the wires between the meter and DUT caused by the current flowing through these wires. Therefore, in this case you can reduce the error by taking a 4-wire measurement where you use one set of wires to carry the sourced current and a second set of wires to measure the voltage that you see across the resistor. This method provides a much more accurate result by eliminating the additional voltage drop caused by the current flowing through the leads from the measurement of the voltage across the DUT. In this case it is assumed that the voltmeter draws negligible current which is usually the case with most data loggers. For low resistance measurements, it is possible to use an alternate to the 4-wire measurement by eliminating one of the conductors and performing a 3-wire measurement. In this technique you measure two voltages: the voltage across the resistor as well as the voltage across the conductor that carries the test current. After taking these measurements, you can determine the error due to the voltage drop in one of the leads. When you’ve determined the error, simply double it and subtract it from your measurements to get a more accurate reading. Many data loggers can perform 3-wire measurements including dataTaker data loggers and the Grant Squirrel series mentioned previ-

Test Cable Resistance

In some applications this isn’t a serious problem, but in other cases like measuring temperature using a thermistor, your measurements need to be much more accurate. For example, when measuring at the milliohm level or when measuring giga-ohm values, the quality of the connections and cabling can make a big difference in how accurate your readings will be. Of the three, mid-range measurement is the most straightforward, while very low and high-range measurements introduce problems which you’ll see in the form of measurement errors and lowered accuracy.


Device Under Test (DUT)

Current Source

Data Logger

Figure 1 - Forcing a Known Current

Ohm’s Law The foundation of resistance measurement, Ohm’s Law states that the ratio of potential This is in accordance with Ohm’s Law since difference (V) across the ends of a conductor you’re using the current and voltage to deterof resistance (R) to the current (I) flowing in mine the resistance. Let’s assume you have source ( for example of 2 that conductor will be constant, provided that a precision current Test Resistor the temperature also remains constant. For milliamps or 200 microamps), and you’ve got a highly accurate voltmeter. most applications you can use a basic Ohm’s Voltmeter Law equation of I = V/R where I is the current You run 2 wires one to each side of the resisthrough the conductor (given in amperes), V is the potential difference measured across tor, then force the current through both sets Voltage Source

ously. With a 3-wire measurement you save a piece of wire, but this setup assumes that the voltage drop in the two leads is identical—this if this is not always the case and the voltage Device Under errors when drop is uneven, you will encounter Test (DUT) using the 3 wire technique. High Resistance Measurement While most common resistance measureCOTS Journal | April 2021


(Vsource—Vtest) * Rtest ___________________ istanR unknown= Vtest

ment fall between 0 and 100,000 ohms, spe-Test Cable force 5 volts through the meter connected in value of the unknown resistance: cialized devices such as conductivity sensorsResistance For this technique to work well, the value series with the DUT and measure the current. or material test samples fall can have very As an example, if the resistance value is a mil- of the test resistance should be similar to the rea- Under high resistances,Voltmeter so you may have to use an- lion ohms (1 megohm), the current here is Device value of the unknown resistance (within 1 to Test (DUT) other technique at high resistances. For these sonably small at 5μA. An alternate technique 2 orders of magnitude). Here again, your voltmeasurements you can use a reliable tech- to measure large resistances is to use a voltage meter must have good accuracy, otherwise nique which is the inverse of the one given source in series with a known test resistance to it’ll introduce an error into your measureabove for measuring at low resistances–here excite the unknown resistance and then to mea- ments. Also, the voltmeter used to measure we force a voltage and measure the current to sure the voltage across the test resistance (see Vtest should not load the circuit, which is to Current Source calculate the resistance (again in accordance Figure 2 below). Knowing the value of the test say that its input impedance should be 100 to with Ohm’s Law). There are a few ways you can voltage source, the known resistance and the 1000 times greater than Rtest. voltage across this resistance–plus Ohm’s Law choose to do this. Data Logger and a little algebra–allows you to calculate the One problem when measuring high resistance ranges is that even with insulated cables, no The first method requires a high-precision insulation is perfect—there’s always leakage instrument designed to measure very low cur(Vsource—Vtest) * Rtest R unknown= _________________ rents. If you have a voltage source and a current current. For example, there may actually be 10 Vtest meter with negligible resistance, you can simply megaohms (10 million ohms) of resistance between the center of the wire and whatever it’s touching, including the other cable, so the leakage from the cables can adversely affect your measurement by adding stray current paths. Test Resistor Device Under Test (DUT)


Voltage Source

Data Logger

Figure 2 - Sourcing Voltage Through A Known Resistor 22

COTS Journal | April 2021

To alleviate this, you can use a technique called guarding by using shielded cable along with a separate voltage source going to the shields and around the cables. You’ll use the separate voltage source to apply the same voltage to the shield. This way even though there’s resistance between the central conductor and the shield, because they’re maintained at the same voltage, there’s no leakage current drawn from the measurement circuit because you used the separate voltage source to “guard” it. This method works well but requires a meter designed to provide a guard voltage or a second voltage source.

Also, be aware that high resistance measurements may require the addition of settling delays to get accurate and repeatable results. This is because the currents involved can be small and any capacitance associated with the cables or the DUT can introduce RC time constant dynamic behavior. Essentially, the voltage across the DUT cannot change instantaneously but rather will change based on the product of the resistance of the device and the capacitance of the cable and device. For a 100 megohm device with 1 nanofarad of associated capacitance the time constant will be 108 x 10-9 = 10-1 or .1 seconds. For the measurement to settle to 99.5% of its final value, 5 time constants or .5 seconds are required! Again, guarding can help by eliminating the effects of capacitance in the cable but settling associated with device capacitance must still be taken into account. Settling errors will typically show up and resistance readings that are less than expected or that vary during repeated measurements. To troubleshoot these problems we typically introduce delays between the application of the source voltage and the measurement and then increase the delays until the readings don’t change as more delay is added.

Intermediate Resistance Measurement Intermediate resistance measurement typically fall between a few hundred ohms, where the resistance of the connections and cables is no longer a concern, and 100,000 ohms. Within these ranges, the technique you’ll use largely depends on what measuring device you’re using— there’s no one method that it necessarily better than the other. Fortunately, in this range errors are less common, and measurement is more direct. Lower cost loggers may use a voltage source with a series resistor because the hardware is simpler while more expensive devices may use a current source and voltmeter. Summary At less than 10,000 ohms, you can use the techniques given above for the low resistance ranges—when you get to 100 ohms and lower, you’ll certainly need it to obtain accurate readings. Likewise, above 100,000 ohms it’s best to use the force voltage technique described above for high ohm ranges. Essentially when taking resistance measurements, you’ll need to recognize when you’re getting into high and low ranges and apply the appropriate techniques, and this will eliminate substantial errors and give you much higher accuracy in your measured values.

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COTS Journal | April 2021


April 2021


Pentek’s Latest L-Band RF Tuner XMC Module Enhances SATCOM and Communications Applications

Pentek, Inc. announced the newest member of its highly popular Jade® family of high-performance XMC FPGA modules. The Jade Model 71891 XMC module is an L-Band RF tuner with two 400 MHz A/ Ds based on the high-density Xilinx Kintex UltraScale FPGA. The Model 71891 is designed for connection directly to SATCOM or communications system L-band signals. “Our customers benefit from this upgrade to the Jade Architecture with increased performance along with 20% lower power and 35% lower cost,” said Bob Sgandurra, director of Product Management for Pentek. “The Navigator Design Suite also provides them with a more robust toolset and extensive library of IP resources,” he added. RF Tuner Stage A front panel SSMC connector accepts L-Band signals between 925 MHz and 2175 MHz, typically from an L-Band antenna or an LNB (low noise block). With its programmable LNA, the Maxim MAX2121 tuner directly converts these L-Band signals to IF or baseband using a broadband I/Q analog downconverter followed by 123 MHz low pass anti-aliasing filters. The two analog tuner outputs are digitized by two Texas Instruments ADS5474 400 MHz 14-bit A/D converters to capture the full 123 MHz bandwidth.


COTS Journal | April 2021

For best performance, the analog outputs of the MAX2121 can be used in the IF mode instead of the analog baseband I+Q mode. In this case, each A/D converter digitizes an IF signal and then delivers it to a DDC to produce perfectly balanced complex I+Q digital baseband samples for enhanced demodulation performance. An additional benefit of using the IF analog output mode is that two independent A/D and DDC channels are now available for digitizing and downconverting two signals with different center frequencies and bandwidths. Factory Installed IP Advances Development The Model 71891 features two Acquisition IP modules to easily capture and move data. Each module can receive data from either of the two A/Ds or a test signal generator. Each Acquisition IP module contains a powerful DDC IP core with decimation values from 2 to 64k, covering a wide range of signal bandwidths. Because of flexible input routing within the Acquisition IP modules, many different configurations can be achieved including one A/D driving both DDCs or each of the two A/Ds driving its own DDC. The Jade Architecture The Pentek Jade Architecture is based on the Xilinx Kintex UltraScale FPGA, which raises digital signal processing (DSP) performance by over 50% over the previous family, with equally impressive reductions in cost, power dissipation, and weight. As the central feature of the Jade Architecture, the FPGA has access to all data and control paths, enabling factory-installed functions including data multiplexing, channel selection, data unpacking, gating, triggering, and memory

control. Navigator Design Suite for Streamlined IP Development Pentek’s Navigator® Design Suite includes Navigator FDK (FPGA Design Kit) for custom IP and Navigator BSP (Board Support Package) for creating host software applications. The Navigator FDK includes the board’s entire FPGA design as a block diagram that can be graphically edited in Xilinx’s Vivado tool suite, with full source code and documentation. Developers can integrate their IP along with the factory-installed functions or use the Navigator kit to replace the IP with their own. The Navigator FDK Library is fully AXI-4 compliant, providing a well-defined interface for developing IP or integrating IP from other sources. Pentek’s Navigator® BSP provides a full suite of high-level C-callable libraries that support all features of the Model 71891 and demonstrate all of its functional modes with examples. The software package is provided with complete source code allowing the user to modify and integrate this functionality into the end application. Navigator BSP also includes an extremely useful Signal Viewer utility that allows developers to view digitized signals from the output samples of any DDC in the time and frequency domain. Pentek, Inc.,

April 2021

COT’S PICKS OnLogic Now Offering Cincoze GM-1000 Embedded GPU Computer For Machine Vision Applications

The Cincoze GM-1000 features an embedded MXM GPU, high-speed I/O, and Intel® Xeon® CPUs to meet the demands of advanced embedded vision. OnLogic has announced the immediate availability of the new Cincoze GM-1000, a rugged embedded computer, configurable with MXM form factor GPUs from NVIDIA® and AMD. The system is designed for equipment manufacturers, system integrators, computer vision solution providers, and end customers who need powerful, reliable computing and graphics processing for machine vision, security, autonomous vehicles, medical imaging or edge AI applications. According to BCC Research, the global market for machine vision is expected to reach $31.1 billion by 2024, with a CAGR of 9.7%*. Machine vision is widely used in industrial and manufacturing applications ranging from object positioning, inspection, measurement, identification, and sorting. The GM1000 utilizes a combination of CPU and GPU computing for Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT) and machine learning tasks. “Utilizing traditional fan-cooled graphics cards for machine vision and image processing in harsh environments has previously required a compromise,” says OnLogic Rugged Line Product Manager Maxx Garrison. “The required graphics processing capabilities meant users were forced to settle for solutions with fewer environmental protections. Now, with the GM-1000 and its passively cooled MXM GPUs, our customers can take advantage of GPU-accelerated computing in a truly rugged system.” Three key features of GM-1000 with direct benefit to machine vision applications and innovators are:

Superior Performance with High Reliability The GM-1000 incorporates an Intel 9th/8th generation workstation-grade CPU and an MXM 3.1 Type A/B GPU module to accelerate compute-intensive applications like machine learning, Al, and highend image processing. High-speed I/O and Versatile Expansion High-speed vision cameras and sensors require high-speed connections for near-instantaneous data transfer for image processing and analysis. The GM1000 provides high-speed I/O interfaces including four USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps) ports and two GbE LAN connections. Through Cincoze’s exclusive CMI and CFM technologies, additional expansion options include two 10GbE LAN, four GbE LAN, and PoE. Small Footprint and Ruggedization The GM-1000 machine vision computer measures only 260 x 200 x 85 mm, for easy integration under workspaces, within devices, or on robotic arms. To help it stand up to challenging installation environments, the system features a wide operating temperature range of -40 to 55°C (-40 to 70°C without the GPU), anti-shock and vibration resistance of 50G/5G, wide-range voltage input of 9 to 48 VDC, over-voltage protection, over-current protection, and ESD protection. The unique thermal design and discrete cooling systems for the CPU and GPU maximize heat dissipation efficiency. An external fan kit provides additional active airflow to aid in heat dissipation in low airflow environments or under heavy computing loads. The Cincoze GM-1000 can be configured with a wide range of storage, memory options, and OS options, including Windows and Linux. The system is available to configure and purchase now from OnLogic by visiting or by calling 802-861-2300 to speak to an OnLogic Solution Specialist. OnLogic

COTS Journal | April 2021


April 2021

COT’S PICKS 3M Teams with Pegatron to Advance Virtual Reality Headset Design and Efficiency

ality market,” said Susan Kent, Ph.D., 3M Virtual Reality Technical Leader. “Folded optics is a very efficient method to deliver high resolution, high contrast content in a beautiful and sleek design.”

3M and Pegatron have teamed up to develop a new Virtual Reality reference design headset with a folded optics lens. This new curved lens includes 3M’s proprietary reflective polarizer for high resolution, high transmission, and a wide field of view enabling a thinner, lighter-weight design.

“The new lens technology allows more freedom in the design of the headset,” said Paula Chen, Pegatron VX6 Project Leader. “Our new reference design, the VX6, is streamlined and slim while sitting close to the eye.”

Pegatron and 3M have teamed up to develop a new Virtual Reality reference design headset with a folded optics lens. A new curved lens includes 3M’s proprietary reflective polarizer for high resolution, high transmission, and a wide field of view enabling a thinner, lighter-weight design. The result is a VR experience with great resolution and an immersive experience. The 3M lens assembly incorporates a curved glass lens with the new 3M™ High Acuity Reflective Polarizer (HARP) lens. “We are excited to bring this advanced technology to the virtual re-

Abaco Announces Single Board Computer and Avionics I/O Boards for Flight-Certifiable Applications Abaco Systems, Inc. announced the release of two boards, the SBC314C single-board computer, and the RAR15XC avionics data bus communications XMC mezzanine board, for embedded flight-certifiable applications. Previously only available as part of the FORCE2C rugged line replaceable unit (LRU), the two are now each available as separate boards. The SBC314C 3U VPX single board computer, based on the NXP® QorIQ® T2081 Multicore Communications Power Architecture™ processor, is engineered under DO-254 DAL-A and features an XMC mezzanine site. It is pin-compatible with the SBC314, providing a pathway to flight certification for existing customers. The SBC314C supports a diverse I/O set that includes Gigabit Ethernet, serial communication ports, USB 2.0, SATA, and GPIO. The SBC314C is fully supported by Power-on Built-In Test (PBIT) and Bootloader, both engineered under DO-178C DAL-A and supports ARINC 653 compliant operating systems including VxWorks® 653, Deos™, INTEGRITY®-178 tuMP™, and LynxOS-178® for integrators needing to build complex integrated modular avionics systems. 26

COTS Journal | April 2021

cameras handle mixed reality experience and head tracking. While the headset has a narrow profile, it adjusts for wearers with prescription glasses. The field of view is 95 degrees and, because of the curved lenses, feels fully immersive.. 3M

VX6 reference design is powered by Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ XR2 Platform. Wi-Fi 6 performance enables VX6 to achieve truly wireless VR with fast download speed. Four The RAR15XC XMC board delivers highdensity MIL-STD-1553 and ARINC 429 data bus communications as well as avionics discrete I/O. The RAR15XC is pin-compatible with the RAR15X and provides the operational capability for full integration into aircraft systems. It is engineered to meet the demands of the most safety-critical applications and provides high-level functionality to reduce the complexity of the application programming. “We’re excited to bring the SBC314C and RAR15XC to our customers as individual boards,”

said Pete Thompson, VP of Product Management at Abaco. “While the FORCE2C continues to see great success in flight-certifiable applications, we have customers who have asked to make them available individually for integration into their systems. We believe this is a natural progression as work to expand our flight-certifiable portfolio of boards, board sets, and systems.” Abaco Systems, Inc.

April 2021

COT’S PICKS 4th Generation PC/104 SBC Extends Product Lifecycles ATHENA IV includes integrated data acquisition and COM architecture

Diamond Systems has introduced ATHENA IV, a wide-temperature, COM‐based SBC with integrated data acquisition and PC/104 I/O expansion. This combination of features makes the compact 4.2” x 4.5” board appealing to a wide range of embedded computing applications. Summary of product highlights • 4th generation, backward compatible for product life extension • COM‐based design for long life & performance scalability, with multiple processor options • Integrated data acquisition with autocalibration and Universal Driver software support • PC/104 socket for versatile rugged I/O expansion • Designed for rugged applications, previous

Crystal Group Accelerating Autonomous Vehicle Development for Harsh Edge Environments Crystal Group, Inc. announced its increased focus on developing autonomous vehicle (AV) compute systems for industrial and military applications. Equipped to handle the harsh and unpredictable operating challenges inherent to edge environments, Crystal Group’s rugged AV servers deliver the critical combination of robust computing power with hardened physical assets. This ensures demanding AV applications, like military ground vehicles, submarines and aircraft, heavy construction equipment, and over-the-road trucking, can execute seamless performance regardless of ever-changing conditions. “Accurate, real-time situational awareness of an 80,000-pound autonomous semi moving down a highway at 70 miles an hour or a weaponized military autonomous aircraft can’t be compromised by even the slightest disruption, whether it’s rough terrain, supply voltage variation, shifting climate conditions, or severe weather,” said Jim Shaw, executive vice president of Engineering at Crystal Group. “Our rugged solutions integrate leading-edge inference engines and compute capabilities with the power, stability, and security. The result is intelligent oper28

COTS Journal | April 2021

generations have been used in military vehicles, railway, agriculture, and industrial control applications As its name implies, Athena IV is the 4th generation in the Athena series of SBCs from Diamond, an extremely popular platform that has been serving long-life applications in military, transportation, agriculture, and industrial industries since 2004. Athena IV maintains backward compatibility in terms of form factor, features, and I/O connectors with previous generations of the product, while incorporating the newest technologies to enable long-term applications to stay current with the state of the art as well as to attain increased CPU performance.

dramatically reduced re‐engineering effort, compared to migrating to an entirely different SBC. Also, embedded systems using competitor PC/104 SBCs approaching the end of life can migrate to the Athena platform to extend their product lifetimes practically indefinitely, due to its use of COM architecture. A COM‐based SBC consists of 3 layers: the COM, or computer‐on‐module, containing the processor and associated circuitry; a carrier board, containing additional I/O, power supply, and I/O connectors; and a thermal solution, consisting of either a heat sink or heat spreader (which also serves as a mounting plate).

Customers using previous generations of Athena can easily upgrade to Athena IV with

Diamond Systems

ations optimized for safety and efficiency.”

throttling for seamless operation.

Crystal Group’s ability to bring reliable AV functionality to the edge stems from its ability to incorporate robust NVIDIA GPUs needed to process and prioritize the vast amount of data for comprehensive situational awareness with critical advanced thermal management designs. Managing the heat generated by power-hungry AV compute requirements is critical to prevent systems from

Greater public awareness and government support for autonomous passenger and public transportation vehicles are proliferating the broad adoption of and investment in AV technology across the industrial and defense markets. Crystal Group Inc

April 2021

COT’S PICKS GigaIO Introduces the Industry’s First PCIe 4.0 Fully Managed Accelerator Pooling Appliance for the Composable Data Center

Pool GPUs and FPGAs, and compose them at native PCIe latency for the ultimate in data center agility, performance, and cost savings GigaIO Networks announced their new Hydra product line, the industry’s first fully managed PCI Express (PCIe) Gen 4.0 Pooling Appliance, a high-performance expansion chassis for the disaggregating and pooling of PCIe accelerator devices. Using the off-the-shelf Ready-To-Run composition software of their choice, data center managers can transform previously static resource silos into elastic, shareable resource pools, and liberate expensive stranded resources such as accelerators from the legacy servers imprisoning them. The resulting software-defined infrastructure delivers cloud-like flexibility and agility, while drastically slashing TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and delivering blazing performance to their users. GigaIO’s open standards approach to disaggregation and composability with Redfish APIs and offthe-shelf software delivers freedom from vendor lockin and removes a significant barrier to widespread adoption of composable infrastructure.

GigaIO’s advanced Redfish® API interface provides an industry-first capability with management software that enables appliance provisioning as well as discovery, inventory, port configuration, diagnostics, monitoring, fault detection, utilization auditing, and performance monitoring. Administrators can provision devices, redeploy them and configure PCIe ports in seconds without service interruptions. Hydra also enables centralized analytics such as device utilization and performance and provides a fault summary by continuously monitoring errors to quickly resolve problems and improve reliability. “Our customers require solutions that provide

greater flexibility, performance, and cost savings and once again GigaIO delivers,” says Niraj Mathur, VP Product Management at GigaIO. “Our leadership in delivering dynamically composable solutions for AI and HPC workloads in real-time, using industry-standard PCI Express technology, enable us to deliver solutions based on open industry standards.” GigaIO Networks Inc

Disaggregated Composable Infrastructure (DCI), made possible by-products such as Hydra, removes the bottlenecks to making changes to legacy IT infrastructure which prevents businesses from entering new market opportunities. It also increases financial efficacy by balancing CapEx and OpEx spending and facilitates the deployment of AI and advanced analytics to optimize customer value. With its composability and utilization optimization capabilities, this accelerator appliance advances GigaIO’s vision for composable technology as the future of the software-defined data center architecture. The GigaIO Accelerator Pooling Appliance is the industry’s highest-performing PCIe accelerator expansion chassis fully supporting the PCIe 4.0 specification with up to 1Tb/sec bandwidth into and out of the box. It delivers advanced provisioning and monitoring of computing accelerators and next-gen NVMe assets, supporting up to 8 double-width PCIe 4.0 x16 accelerator cards and 4 PCIe 4.0 x16 low-profile cards. This flexible expansion platform enables users to add any PCIe 4.0 compliant application accelerators, GPUs (including the new NVIDIA A100), FPGAs, DPUs, IPUs, thin-NVMe-servers, and specialty AI chips. COTS Journal | April 2021


April 2021

COT’S PICKS ViaLite Launches Ground-Breaking 6 GHz Bandwidth RF over Fiber Outdoor IP Rated Module

The Black OEM from ViaLite is the latest in the Mil-Aero range of stand-alone RF over fiber modules. Operating in frequencies from 10 MHz to 6 GHz, it provides the widest RF bandwidth for a product in this format and covers VHF, UHF, L, S, and C-bands. With an industryleading spurious-free dynamic range (SFDR) of 109 dB/Hz at 1500 MHz and 104 dB/Hz at 5 GHz, it is the widest SFDR RF over fiber product in outdoor-rated module format. In addition to this, the Black OEM features a USB-C field controllable option, which enables the user to adjust the gain settings accessed by a port that is secreted behind a waterproof plug. The product is in a metal casing, has a wide operating temperature, and is IP55 rated, meaning it is protected against most


COTS Journal | April 2021

outdoor usage scenarios. It is the first module from ViaLite that can be installed outside without the need for an enclosure. It is available as a single transmitter or receiver and there is a high output power version that offers up to +10 dBm with low output harmonics. The Black OEM is available as part of the Mil-Aero 6 GHz Link Pair but can also be used for other applications such as Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), cellular and network timing, critical communications,

and disaster recovery. An IP-rated power supply can be provided and the power, RF, and optical connections are via secure screwed-in connectors. ViaLite Communications

April 2021

COT’S PICKS New Intel Technology Revolutionizes Analog and Digital Systems

Intel announced a new technology that enables customers to significantly reduce the size, weight, power, and cost of systems used in radar, electronic defense, high-end commercial test equipment, and 5G/6G communications markets. Delivering the highest analog converter sample rates in the industry, this transformative technology integrates FPGAs and high-performance analog-to-digital converters (ADC) and digital-to-analog converters (DAC), a revolutionary step toward providing a single component to improve performance, reduce power consumption and shrink the physical size of circuitry. With this announcement, Intel extends technology scaling from digital semiconductors into the realm of digital plus analog applications. In 5G and 6G applications, the bandwidth attained with such high sample rates will directly correlate to high communication bandwidth to enable transporting the massive amount of data the world is now moving wirelessly. “This breakthrough technology offers more than 5x higher bandwidth than alternative

offerings and supports ADC sample rates up to 64 giga samples per second, which open new design possibilities for communications and high-end test and measurement applications, as well as enables radar designers to architect their systems in a completely new way – reducing the number of analog components required and creating more responsive systems,” said Frank Ferrante, senior director of Military Aerospace and Defense at Intel. This new FPGA technology, developed in part from research funded by the DARPA CHIPS program, will employ components made in the United States, which is attractive to military and government customers where domestic manufacturing is a priority. Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company, was integral in co-defining critical requirements and use cases to enable Intel’s development of the new technology. The partnership between the leading chipmaker and the

Transtector Launches NEW DC Rack Mount Power Distribution Units

new DC rack mount power distribution units in stock and available for same-day shipping.

Save Space with Configurable Functionality, Designed for a Wide Range of Applications

Transtector’s new rack mount DC power distribution units offer essential flexibility without sacrificing significant rack space. They are ideal for telecom base stations, land mobile radio, industrial and utility applications, providing reliability and value with versatile functionality in a configurable design.

Transtector Systems, an Infinite Electronics brand and an industry-leading provider of end-toend power and signal integrity solutions, released


These commercial-grade rack mount power distribution units compatible with DCP-

aerospace giant will result in mission-ready technology. “This technology allows us to integrate our latest generation electronic warfare systems into smaller airborne platforms and airlaunched effects that were previously unattainable due to size constraints of the air vehicle. As a result, we’ve created the Ultra Small Affordable Electronic Warfare (USAEW) sensor that provides the 21st-century warfighter advanced capabilities while substantially reducing the systems’ size, weight, power, and cost by an order of magnitude,” said Deon Viergutz, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Spectrum Convergence organization. Intel

SU1B circuit breakers, ranging from 1 to 30 A, and are available in both single feed and dual-feed configurations. “Solutions providing valuable space in equipment racks are of utmost importance to engineers,” said Dan Rebeck, Product Line Manager. “These DC rack mount PDU’s deliver vital power to equipment and the long-term reliability ensures critical equipment will stay online.” Features: • Compatible with DCPDU1B circuit breakers, ranging from 1 to 30 A • Circuit breakers are field-configurable, no tools required • 24 / 48 Vdc inputs and outputs • Voltage polarity neutral • 150A single or dual feed bus bar inputs • Alarm indicator LEDs • Form C contacts for remote status • 19” & 23” universal mounting brackets Transtector Systems Inc.

COTS Journal | April 2021


April 2021

COT’S PICKS New Highly-Integrated VPX Chassis Manager Optimized for Security and VITA 65/SOSA™ Profiles

A new VITA 46.11-aligned WILD™ VPX Chassis Manager (WABGM0) has been introduced by Annapolis Micro Systems. It enables critical chassis control, maintenance, and security functions that were developed in alignment with the SOSA™ Technical Standard, and offers commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) availability. “This is a highly-integrated module supporting many functions,” said Jay Grandin, Annapolis Micro Systems VP Product Development. “It provides access to plug-in card (PIC) JTAG and Maintenance ports, CLK1 usage via on-board Zynq FPGA, network functions, and some optional advanced security functions.” For security, the Chassis Manager implements security signal interfaces and a Xilinx UltraScale+ Zynq ZU5EG MPSoC and latest Microsemi PolarFire FPGA, which can be end-user modified with purchase of the optional Board Support Package (BSP). Other Chassis Manager

features include MIL-STD-1553 support and an additional storage flash. The Chassis Manager plugs directly into a backplane or into a 3U or 6U OpenVPX carrier that plugs into a backplane as a payload card. It fully supports VITA 66/67 by avoiding optical/RF backplane openings. The Chassis Manager supports the SOSA management interface for all the cards in the chassis, allowing for controlled power-on/off of VPX cards and controlling main 12V power to the chassis. All this is accomplished locally, or remotely via ethernet. The management interface also allows out-of-band monitoring of board health and statistics like board temperature and power. Another important function this Chassis Manager supports is chassis maintenance. It allows for up to four slots to be accessed in parallel (more with multiplexing) so that a user can access maintenance ports over ethernet without having to open the chassis. It also allows access to JTAG for up to four slots at a time, which allows board maintenance and recovery without having to

remove boards from the chassis. Additionally, the Chassis Manager supports many general-purpose I/O, which can be used for chassis functions or can be converted on the backplane to RS-422 for external communication. It also supports the VPX CLK1 LVDS pin, which can be used for an additional GPIO and goes to the Zynq FPGA. Annapolis Micro Systems

COTS Journal | April 2021





Company Page # Website Annapolis Micro Systems ........................................ 30 ........................................ Alphi Technology Corporation .................................. 4 ............................................ Broadcom .............................................................. . 27 ............................................. Diamond Systems .................................................... 25 GET Engineering .................................................... . IFC ............................................... Great River Technology ........................................... 23 ..................................... Kingston Technology ............................................. . 34 .............................................. MPL ...................................................................... 30 ..................................................... Neonode ................................................................. 5/IBC .............................................. OSS ........................................................................ 32 .................................. Pentek .................................................................. BC ................................................. PICO Electronics, Inc ............................................. 13 .................................... Pixus Technologies ................................................. 29 .............................. Sealevel ................................................................. 33 .............................................. SECO ...................................................................... 19 ................................................ Sealevel ................................................................. 33 .............................................. U-Reach ................................................................. 12 ........................................ Versalogic .............................................................. IBC ............................................. COTS Journal (ISSN#1526-4653) is published monthly at; 3180 Sitio Sendero, Carlsbad, CA. 92009. Periodicals Class postage paid at San Clemente and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to COTS Journal, 3180 Sitio Sendero, Carlsbad, CA. 92009.


COTS Journal | April 2021