How do today's soldiers train for the stress of wars fought in foreign lands? One method employs hyper-realistic training in what looks like a movie set. Imagine this scene: A young soldier fires a warning shot to halt a speeding car heading toward his military checkpoint. The car speeds up instead, so he fires more shots to flatten the tires, but the car keeps coming. He fires again, the windshield shatters, and blood splatters from the driver as the car grinds to a halt. The soldier sighs with relief, not only for a job well done, but because the enemy isn't real. The sedan's frame is made of foam, the enemy is a foam dummy, and the village is make-believe.














They're all props set up by Strategic Operations Inc. (STOPS), a San Diego-based company specializing in creating realistic training environments for military, law enforcement, and homeland security personnel. As of 2002, the company has trained more than 450,000 Marines, soldiers, sailors, and Coast Guard personnel to prepare them for the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other hostile places.

“Our company uses movie-industry special effects along with actual military tactics, and provides everything you can think of to recreate wartime environments with hyper-realistic scenarios. This includes props ranging from villages, buildings, and vehicles to live actors and realistic dummies with all the fake blood, guts, and weaponry,” explains Kit Lavell, vice president of STOPS.

Adding to the realistic setting is STOPS' Ballistic Unmanned Ground Vehicle (BUGV) used to prepare soldiers for live-fire vehicle checkpoint scenarios and sniper training. The car's ballistic steel frame withstands 0.50-caliber bullets. Foam mannequins are used to simulate drivers and passengers, while real people operate the vehicle using a remote control device. A DMC-4080 8-axis Ethernet motion controller from Galil Motion Control, Rocklin, Calif, manages important driving functions. The controller also incorporates two Galil D3040 four-axis, 500-W drives, each capable of operating at voltages between 20 and 80 V. Three of the axes control the steering, shifting, and throttle actions, while a fourth is used for additional steering requirements. Another axis is used for controlling a machine gun mounted inside the vehicle, which fires blanks at the trainees. The remaining three axes are reserved for testing and other features.

STOPS uses some of the controller I/O to operate relays that energize such functions as the ignition or turn signals. One reason why STOPS selected the Galil controller is its ability to function inside a vehicle subjected to extremely harsh conditions, such as wide-ranging temperatures, uneven terrain, ammunition and explosives, and chemicals. Other controller features important to operating the BUGV include the “homing routine and limits” feature, which allows for safe power-up of the vehicle and recentering of the wheels for each training session.

For more information, visit galilmc.com or strategic-operations.com.

Other components and systems used in harsh environments require sophisticated designs to withstand the rigors of explosions, violent weather, extreme temperatures, radiation, vacuum environments, and more. Following are additional new products built to take the heat.

Explosion-proof hollow shaft encoders

Model HS52 explosion-proof encoders are designed for use in hazardous environments. These ultra-rugged industrial encoders meet the standards and certifications (UL and ATEX) required for use in potentially explosive settings. The HS52 can operate directly in Division 1 and Zone 1 environments where ignitable concentrations of flammable gases, vapors, or liquids are likely to exist. Fitted with a flexible shaft bore design, the HS52 housing can be rigidly mounted, preventing stress to encoder bearings.

BEI Sensors
(800) 350-2727
beisensors.com

Custom actuator handles harsh settings

Cement mixers aboard construction equipment work in all kinds of weather. Recently, one team of engineers that designs this machinery looked to devise a more rugged linear actuator for their mixer's new power-managing throttle control. The OEM engineers worked with Haydon Kerk engineers to develop a sealed actuator that withstands dirt, debris, and moisture: The actuator has a rear enclosure that houses and seals the lead screw and bearing assembly, a bellows between the adapter and sleeve, a cable gland between the rear cover and cable, and an electrostatic coating on the lamination stack.

Haydon Kerk Motion Solutions
(203) 756-7441
haydonkerk.com

Brushless motor protects wind turbines

Designed to meet the demands of wind turbine pitch systems, the Wind Turbine Pitch Motor features long life and low maintenance. The synchronous ac brushless motor design minimizes mechanical wear and offers protection in the event of grid loss, as the compact motor features high power density to reach the torques and speeds necessary for safe feathering. If information on motor position is lost from the motor's resolver, the pitch servo drive can control the motor to guarantee safe operation of the wind turbine.

Moog Inc.
(716) 687-4813
moog.com

Flexible cable withstands extreme stress

High Flex Unshielded Silicone Cables (4 to 30 AWG) are designed for applications requiring reliability in severe environments, including exposure to extreme temperatures (-65° to 260° C), vibration, flames, water, UV light, ozone, radiation, and most chemicals. Clear silicone encapsulation resists tears, needs no external protection, and will not deform or wear during more than 10 million cycles. Halogen-free cables are a suitable alternative to PTFE, polyurethane, and PVC-jacketed flat cables and are rated for Class 1 clean room use.

Cicoil Corp.
(661) 295-1295
cicoil.com

Specialty servomotors suit demanding environments

Three families of servomotors designed for extreme conditions are now available: Extreme temperature motors are used in the most demanding environments, from space to the ocean floor, and handle temperatures from -70° to 210° C. Radiation-hardened motors are custom designed to unique specifications and suited for applications in military and aerospace due to their highly accurate positioning, dynamic acceleration, and high constant stability. Ultra high vacuum motors require special materials and extreme cleanliness due to their environmental restrictions; a range of vacuum levels is available.

Wittenstein Inc.
(888) 534-1222
wittenstein-us.com

Realistic military training requires advanced motion control