Mind the Gap: NASA Technology Offers Expanded Sensing Capabilities for Dozens of Applications

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a novel position sensor with gap-sensing capabilities that, when combined with three other new technologies, provides a wide range of new sensor tools. Each of the technologies included in this suite provides a unique benefit. Applications for these technologies span a broad range of industries and a variety of functions. Examples include inkjet and raster printers, medical equipment, home and office scanners, robotics, automotive equipment, and much more.

Fuentek is helping NASA’s technology transfer program with the commercialization of this technology suite as well as other intellectual property.

Single Coil Absolute Position Sensor (SCAPS) with Inductive Gap Sensor (GapSyn)

This technology combines NASA’s GapSyn innovation with existing NASA SCAPS technology, creating a novel position sensor with gap-sensing capabilities. This innovative combination significantly improves the SCAPS technology and produces a sensor with the ability to self-calibrate and operate in a wireless or true non-contact configuration. In addition to its specific advantages and uses, the SCAPS with GapSyn technology can be combined with the following three new NASA technologies to create additional applications and benefits.

Short Range Antenna/Close Proximity Transmitter and Receiver

This technology is an inexpensive and effective method of exchanging information over a short distance between two devices when each is equipped with a coil, which could be used in a wide range of applications. Once the devices are determined to be sufficiently close to one another using the GapSyn method, the excitation coil can be energized with a frequency-modulated signal that can then transmit information to the sensor coil.

Inexpensive, Rate Insensitive, Linear, Load Compensating System for Hybrid Stepper Motors

This innovation is a rate-insensitive linear feedback sensor system that operates at any speed (including zero rate) and can be used for controlling two-phase and multi-phase stepper motors. The sensor system can supply positional information on an incremental basis, or the data can be interpolated to further increase the accuracy. Offering several benefits and possible applications it exploits the basic SCAPS technology to measure angular displacement in a hybrid stepper motor, allowing closed loop control.

Integrated Signal Conditioning Electronics and Printed Wiring Board (PWB) Rotary Position Sensor

This compact device—which extends the basic SCAPS technology from linear displacement measurement to angular displacement measurement—comprises a speed or position sensor as well as all of the electronic circuitry necessary for its operation and required signal processing, all enclosed in a single housing with a shaft for coupling to an external rotary machine. This technology, which offers several benefits, was designed for precisely controlling and monitoring rotation speed and rotary position and can be used in a variety of shaft-driven machines.

For more information about licensing this technology suite, contact Fuentek, LLC at nasa.msfc@fuentek.com or (919) 249-0327.

 

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