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.
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.
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.
More information is available on the SpaceWire EGSE Mk2 product page.
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.
More information is available on the SpaceWire Link Analyser Mk3 product page.
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.
More information is available on the SpaceWire Conformance Tester Mk2 product page.
STAR-Dundee and Alpha Data have recently demonstrated compatibility between our FMC SpaceWire/SpaceFibre board and the Alpha Data ADA-SDEV-KIT. The Alpha Data ADA-SDEV-KIT is the principal prototyping platform for designs targeting the Xilinx Space Grade Ultrascale™ part, the XQRKU060. This new FPGA allows deployment of Space Based Reconfigurable solutions more than five times the performance of previous generations, and has significantly higher performance transceivers that can support the highest SpaceFibre data rate of 6.25 Gbit/s per lane. The STAR-Dundee FMC SpaceWire/SpaceFibre board provides the perfect development platform for customers wishing to test and develop SpaceWire and SpaceFibre solutions with our SpaceWire and SpaceFibre VHDL IP cores.
“STAR-Dundee’s SpaceWire and SpaceFibre IP and FMC card will enable Alpha Data ADA-SDEV-KIT customers to develop and implement robust, fault tolerant, space capable communications systems.”
Andrew McCormick, Technical Director, Alpha Data
Established in 1993, Alpha Data is a world leader in Xilinx FPGA based plug-in acceleration boards for Data Center, high-performance computing, and rugged embedded computing applications. Alpha Data’s high-reliability hardware platforms are ideal for development as well as full-scale production deployment – shaping the future in video processing, machine learning, and network acceleration. Further product details and ordering options for Alpha Data’s ADA-SDEV-KIT are available on Alpha Data’s website: www.alpha-data.com.
More information about the FMC SpaceWire/SpaceFibre board and the SpaceWire and SpaceFibre IP cores is available on the Products section of our website.
Closely following on from the publication of the SpaceFibre standard, our latest SpaceFibre and SpaceWire enabled test and development unit is now available!
The STAR Fire Mk3 can transmit and receive both SpaceWire and SpaceFibre traffic; it can interconnect SpaceWire equipment to a SpaceFibre network; and it can operate as a SpaceFibre link analyser, capable of unobtrusively capturing and displaying SpaceFibre traffic. Leveraging these capabilities, it is possible to emulate, stimulate, debug and validate SpaceFibre enabled equipment.
Previous versions of the STAR Fire were created whilst we developed the SpaceFibre standard, helping to prove the technology and providing early adopters with access to test equipment. Building on the previous STAR Fire models and our expertise in SpaceFibre, both the STAR Fire Mk3 hardware and software have been significantly improved, resulting in a comprehensive test and development platform.
More information is available on the STAR Fire Mk3 product page.
STAR-Dundee’s attendance at conferences and trade shows in 2019 began with the IEEE Aerospace Conference in Big Sky Montana, which started on March 2nd. Our CTO presented a paper titled “SpaceFibre Interfaces and Architectures” on the 3rd, while at our booth we demonstrated our latest SpaceWire and SpaceFibre developments, including a new version of our SpaceFibre Router with 12 ports, and the SpaceFibre Camera, featuring a radiation-tolerant (RTG4) FPGA. Images were shown being transferred from the SpaceFibre Camera, over a SpaceFibre network, through the SpaceFibre Router, and received on a PC using the STAR Fire Mk3. The USB 3.0 interface on this unit allows the images to be received at data rates in excess of 1 Gbit/s. At the same time, a slower data feed was routed from SpaceWire to SpaceFibre and then back to SpaceWire. It is straightforward to add SpaceWire traffic into a SpaceFibre network using our SpaceFibre Router, as it offers both SpaceFibre and SpaceWire ports.
Other events where you can meet our team this year and see these great demos include:
On 20th October 2018, at 01:45 UT, the BepiColombo mission to Mercury launched from Kourou, French Guiana. BepiColombo consists of two main spacecraft, both of which make extensive use of SpaceWire for onboard data handling, plus a propulsion module using an ion thruster for the seven year voyage to Mercury orbit.
This joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will be the third mission to explore Mercury, following on from NASA’s Mariner 10 (1973) and Messenger (2004). The European module, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), and the Japanese module, the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), will spend at least one year studying Mercury, one of the most mysterious and little understood planets in our Solar System.
It’s hoped that the observations of the planet’s surface and internal structure, and of its unusually strong magnetic field, will help improve theories of the origin and evolution of our Solar System, and also of the likely nature of planetary systems around other stars.
All of us at STAR-Dundee would like to congratulate the BepiColombo team on the successful development and launch of the mission, and we are grateful for the small part we were able to play in this.
From the 6th to the 9th of August, STAR-Dundee will be exhibiting at the 32nd Annual Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah, USA. If you’re attending the event, come and visit us at Booth 31 in the main hall (Taggart Student Center).
We’ll be demonstrating some of our forthcoming products, including the Link Analyser Mk3, STAR Fire Mk3 and SpaceWire Gigabit Ethernet (GbE Brick). Also on our stand will be our SpaceFibre Camera, which will be transferring video across SpaceFibre at Gbit/s rates to the STAR Fire Mk3, where it will be displayed on the connected PC using our STAR-System software suite.
STAR-Dundee attended the Space Computing & Connected Enterprise Resiliency Conference for the first time, in Bedford, Massachusetts from June 4th – June 8th 2018.
STAR-Dundee took part in Session 5 (1:00PM – 3:30PM, DoubleTree): ‘Interconnects for Space – including SpaceVPX, SpaceWire, SpaceFibre, sRIO, TTE, standards/markets, and emerging standards.’
Dave Gibson, a Software Engineer at STAR-Dundee, gave a presentation covering the main features and benefits of SpaceFibre. Find out more about SpaceFibre here: https://www.star-dundee.com/knowledge-base/what-is-spacefibre.