It has been 16 years since the first generation of the SpaceWire-USB Brick was released and the Brick has since become a familiar product in space organisations across the world. Numerous improvements have been made to the product over the years including new features, improved performance and support for new software and operating systems. Many of these improvements have been delivered in the form of software or firmware updates available from our website to existing users.
Sometimes improvements have been made to the physical hardware, requiring a new generation of the product to be released. Five years following the release of the Brick Mk3, we have taken the opportunity to add some new features to the hardware, resulting in the new SpaceWire Brick Mk4. Although the enclosure looks similar to the Brick Mk3, internally the new device features enhanced FMECA protection while the rear panel now includes a grounding stud and a power status LED.
The Brick Mk4 is connected to a Windows or Linux PC over USB and provides high throughput and low latency access to two SpaceWire ports. External triggers allow external equipment to signal an event to the Brick Mk4 or the Brick Mk4 to signal external equipment. Both interface and router modes are supported and the Brick Mk4 can be used in all stages of SpaceWire equipment development: initial evaluation, instrument simulation, control system simulation, unit testing and integration support.
As with all of our recent interface and router products, the Brick Mk4 is supported by our STAR-System software suite, making it simple to move from one of our other products to the Brick Mk4. Importantly, the Brick Mk4 is backwards compatible with the Brick Mk3 and includes all features present in the Brick Mk3.
The 2020 edition of the Small Satellite Conference is being held virtually and our participation will include virtual demonstrations of some of our new and existing products every day of the conference. You can find more details on our Live Events page, but the demonstrations will be as follows:
These demonstrations will take place at 4pm British Summer Time/9am Mountain Daylight Time. Later in each day (6pm BST/11am MDT) we will be hosting an open question and answer session where you can drop in to speak to our engineers or listen to the discussion.
For many years, STAR-Dundee has offered SpaceWire Lab Cables which are compatible with the SpaceWire standard but are lighter and more flexible than flight-qualified cables. With the publication of Revision 1 of the SpaceWire standard in 2019, a new cable assembly type has been introduced and STAR-Dundee supports both original and new types of assembly.
The cable assembly present in previous revisions of the standard has been named Type AL in the new revision of the standard, with the “L” standing for legacy. The inner-shields of Type AL cable assemblies are connected to pin 3 of the connector at the transmit end of the cable only. The SpaceWire Lab Cables we have previously offered as our standard off the shelf cables have conformed to this arrangement.
The new cable assembly type is named the Type A cable assembly. These differ from Type AL cable assemblies in that the inner shields are connected to the connector shell at both ends. Pin 3 is not connected in the Type A cable assembly.
Type A cables are recommended for all new applications.
We have been providing Type A cables on request for some time, but we’ve now added the option to select either Type A or Type AL cable assemblies when requesting a quotation for SpaceWire Lab Cables and we will be holding stock of both types of cables. If you’re unsure of which type to order, please get in contact and we’ll be happy to answer any questions.
STAR-Dundee’s SpaceWire PXI platform has now been updated to include a number of enhancements to single point of failure FMECA (Failure Mode Effects and Criticality Analysis) protection. The SpaceWire PXI Mk2 range of products now supersedes the original SpaceWire PXI products, offering all the features present in the original products and full backwards compatibility.
At STAR-Dundee we continually work to improve our products. When these improvements are to software or to a device’s firmware, we make these updates available through our website’s Product Support section. You can gain access to these downloads by registering your product. When the update is to the hardware, we endeavour to ensure backwards compatibility with previous generations of the product. We indicate the version number of a product using the mark designation system, abbreviated to Mk. For example, the SpaceWire PXI Mk2 (Mark Two) is the second generation of our SpaceWire PXI product range.
The SpaceWire PXI Mk2 is available in the following variants:
SpaceWire PXI Interface Mk2 4HP
SpaceWire PXI Interface Mk2 8HP
SpaceWire PXI Interface Mk2 with RMAP Target 4HP
SpaceWire PXI Interface Mk2 with RMAP Target 8HP
SpaceWire PXI Router Mk2
The SpaceWire PXI Mk2 products can be used in cPCI or PXI backplanes, provide link speeds of up to 400 Mbit/s and, as with our other interface and router products, are accessed using our STAR-System software suite. The 8HP variants of the PXI Interface Mk2 and PXI Interface Mk2 with RMAP Target have 4 general purpose bi-directional triggers on the front panel which can be used to sequence events such as the transmission of time-codes or data packets, or to indicate events to an external device such as an oscilloscope. A full FMECA guide for the SpaceWire PXI Mk2 boards is available on request.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic requiring significant changes to our daily lives, we are striving to maintain productivity while protecting our employees. We are following the guidance of our governments in the UK and Spain, both to ensure the safety of our employees at STAR-Dundee and STAR-Barcelona, and to help minimise the spread of the virus.
The health and safety of our employees is our primary concern and the majority of our team are now working from home. Our homeworking engineers have all of the equipment they need to provide support but, in some cases, this may take slightly longer than normal.
There is a small team working in our office in Dundee, primarily focussed on fulfilling orders. We are grateful to our manufacturers and suppliers who are continuing to deliver to us. Our order fulfilment team is endeavouring to keep customers informed of likely delivery dates and ensure orders are delivered on time.
Everyone at STAR-Dundee would like to extend our best wishes to you all during these challenging times. We hope you are all safe and well.
In order to validate and debug complete SpaceWire systems it is very useful to be able to record and view the traffic on multiple links. Thorough validation can also require very large quantities of SpaceWire traffic to be stored and analysed.
The SpaceWire Recorder Mk2 can record and display the SpaceWire traffic on up to four SpaceWire links. It records SpaceWire packets, time-codes and link errors to solid-state disk, along with time information, and then displays these in network and packet level views ready to be inspected. The quantity of data that can be recorded and viewed is limited only by the size of the solid-state disks used (960 GB).
Recording statistics provide a summary of recording contents and help highlight any concerns. Built-in search helps to validate and navigate recorded traffic. To help automate SpaceWire traffic validation, all or part of a recording can be exported to CSV formatted files and then easily interpreted by custom software.
More information about the SpaceWire Recorder Mk2 is available on the product page.
A new version of our SpaceWire EGSE and Device Simulator has been released! Like its predecessor, the SpaceWire EGSE Mk2 can be used to very quickly create SpaceWire instrument and equipment emulations. This is done using a scripting language designed specifically for SpaceWire applications.
The SpaceWire equipment behaviour required can be quickly and accurately defined in a script. The script is then compiled on a host PC and the resulting configuration file loaded into the SpaceWire EGSE Mk2 unit. The EGSE Mk2 then immediately begins to operate as defined in the script, functioning independent of software, resulting in real-time performance and precise emulation.
The SpaceWire EGSE Mk2 supersedes the original SpaceWire EGSE. It now supports SpaceWire link speeds up to 400 Mbit/s (previously 200 Mbit/s); the on-board memory in which packet data is stored has been increased in size to 512 MB (previously 128 MB); and a USB 3.0 interface (previously USB 2.0) is now used to connect the unit to a host PC. Compared to the original SpaceWire EGSE, these improvements mean traffic can be transmitted and received at higher link speeds; a larger quantity of pre-defined packet data can be stored in memory; and compiled scripts can be loaded into hardware faster.
Essential for validating and debugging a SpaceWire link, our latest model of the SpaceWire Link Analyser is now available!
The Link Analyser Mk3 can capture and display bi-directional traffic travelling over a link; it can display live link statistics; and it can output decoded SpaceWire link characters and events to an external logic analyser. The traffic visibility this provides greatly helps to validate a link is operating correctly and aids debugging when problems are detected. Without such traffic visibility, there is an increased risk that issues go undetected and problems may take significantly longer to resolve.
Building on the capabilities of previous models, both the Link Analyser hardware and software are significantly improved. Hardware improvements mean much larger quantities of traffic can be captured, on SpaceWire links operating at faster speeds, and can be uploaded to a host PC more quickly. The software has been completely rewritten, retaining familiar views and useful functionality from the Mk2, whilst removing limitations of the previous software and adding new features.
We’re aware that many users of our SpaceWire and SpaceFibre products mount these in 19″ racks and we’ve seen many different approaches to achieve this, with some products more suited to rack mounting than others. To make it easy to mount STAR-Dundee products in a 19″ rack, we’ve now introduced the Rack Mounting Kit Mk2, which can be used to mount many of our products in a 19″ rack. The kit includes all the blanking plates, bolts and nuts required to mount your products. There are also fastening straps provided to hold down any power supplies and for smaller products such as the SpaceWire Brick Mk3 and SpaceWire Isolator, device mounts are provided.
The full list of products supported by the Rack Mounting Kit Mk2 is provided below:
We are pleased to announce the availability of our all new SpaceWire Conformance Tester Mk2.
Building on the success of the original SpaceWire Conformance Tester, the Mk2 has a brand-new hardware design that connects to the computer over a USB 3.0 (or USB 2.0) connection. It is now rack mountable using our rack mounting kit. The Conformance Tester Mk2 supports testing of SpaceWire link speeds of up to 400 Mbit/s and comes with the newest version of the GUI software.
We are currently looking to expand our team and have several positions open to work on our new products and technology for spacecraft applications. If you have a background in electronic circuit board, FPGA or ASIC design, or software engineering then we would be delighted to hear from you. We do expect you to have a 1st class or 2:1 degree in a relevant subject and are looking for people who are capable of working from their own initiative but who are also capable of working alongside other team members.
The roles are based in our main office in the heart of Dundee, overlooking the Tay estuary and a few minutes’ walk from the city centre. Dundee is a thriving University town in the heart of Scotland (50 miles north of Edinburgh), close (20 miles) to the Highlands and an ideal base for those who enjoy outdoor activities. Dundee was listed by Lonely Planet in 2018 as one of the top ten best European destinations to visit and praised for its ‘head-turning’ urban redevelopment.
As well as being a world leading supplier of spacecraft electronic test equipment and technology, offering interesting and challenging work, STAR-Dundee is an employee owned company. Around 55% of the company’s shares are owned by an Employee Ownership Trust on behalf of the employees. Staff are represented on this Trust and on the Board of Directors. Employees also benefit, when there is a dividend payment to the other shareholders, with a tax-free bonus.
Further information, including details of how to apply can be found in the job description.
We are delighted to announce that our Chief Technology Officer, Steve Parkes, was recently presented with a Fletcher of Saltoun Award by the Saltire Society. These awards recognise outstanding contributions to Scottish society across different walks of life.
Congratulations to Steve from everyone at STAR-Dundee on this award, which is well deserved!
In addition to founding STAR-Dundee and leading the company as first Managing Director and then CEO until 2017, Steve is responsible for writing the SpaceWire, RMAP and SpaceFibre standards with input from the international space community. These standards are now used in hundreds of spacecraft which are monitoring the Earth, exploring our Solar System, and studying the universe.
In his current position as CTO, Steve is continuing to lead our research and development activities, while contributing to the development of new standards. One of several projects that he is responsible for STAR-Dundee’s contribution to is Hi-SIDE. In this world-leading project, we are collaborating with partners from across Europe, including Airbus, DLR, Kongsberg and Tesat, to significantly increase the performance of spacecraft data chains. Steve’s knowledge in this field was recognised with his appointment as chair of the Hi-SIDE System Design Board by the project’s partners.
STAR-Dundee would also like to extend our congratulations to the other recipients of a Fletcher of Saltoun Award in 2019: Aileen Christianson, Di Gilpin and Jan Clarkson, each of whom have made significant contributions to Scottish society in their respective fields.