Staco Systems Release New Military Grade USB Charger to Market

Modern military and aerospace applications rely on the constant evolution and subsequent implementation of technology. Additionally, many legacy ground-based, seaborne, and aerial systems and vehicles still in use today require constant retrofit and upgrade work packages to ensure the top-level equipment remains fit for purpose in the field.

One request that Ex-Eltronics sales representatives often come across when speaking to engineering and programme personnel about our technology offerings, is the desire they have for an ‘off the shelf’ yet military-approved solution to a lack of onboard battery charging capacity needed to supply power to handheld radios and electronic devices such as tablets, smartphones, and many other compact USB-connectible devices.

Hence, Ex-Eltronics is now proud to offer an off-the-shelf USB charging solution to our customers, designed by our partner Staco Systems.

Below, we’ll look at how Staco used their expertise in custom sub-assemblies, combined with the growing demand for off-the-shelf USB charging solutions, to design a standalone charging unit that is now fully released to market and comes qualified to MIL-STD-704, MIL-DTL-7788, MIL-STD-810, and MIL-STD-461.

A look at USB:

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industrial standard first released in 1996 to simplify the task of connecting peripherals – such as external data devices and handheld electronics – to computers for charging and data transmission. After the 1998 COMDEX trade show in Las Vegas, low-cost, high-speed USB technology gained ground over a wide range of alternatives – so much so that today, simple USB ports can be found in everything from computers to portable devices and household and fixed charging stations.

Background: USB in Aerospace and Defence

Given the stricter requirements for both security and reliability in the defence and aerospace sectors, equipment designers faced unique challenges in implementing USB-connectable technology within mission-critical systems. The United States Armed Forces established one of the most high-profile bans on USB technology in 2008 following a malware attack originating from an unsecured USB flash drive.

Nevertheless, aircraft operators, military organisations, and other groups working with sensitive, mission-critical data and equipment were quick to realise the advantages USB offered. Although originally designed as a one-size-fits-all standard for home and office use, highly interoperable USB connectors capable of transfer speeds ranging from 5 to 80 Gbps (gigabytes per second) held too much potential to be ignored for long.

A great example of the successful adoption of USB technology in aerospace is the paperless flight deck or paperless cockpit. In the past, civilian and military pilots and flight crew typically consumed large amounts of paper for the record-keeping, navigation, maintenance, and dozens of other tasks required to keep an aircraft operational and aloft. Since the early 21st century, however, USB has increasingly made this practice obsolete.

Today, cockpits contain more portable electronic equipment than ever, including touchscreen computers and tablets. To ensure this equipment remains operational and connected, aircraft operators require USB charging ports. Furthermore, handheld GPS devices, satellite communications equipment, portable electronic systems, and other items have become progressively common in the world’s most sophisticated militaries in recent years. To cope with the changing demands, existing ground vehicle systems must also be fitted with USB charging ports to sustain operational capabilities in the field. Staco Systems USB Charging port is ideal for retrofitting older avionics suites and ground vehicle systems with a pre-approved product designed for use in the highest reliability applications.

Staco Systems Military Grade USB Charger.

Staco Systems’ military-grade USB charging units meet temperature, vibration, shock, altitude, and fungus sensitivity requirements as laid out in MIL-STD-810 and the electromagnetic compliance requirements stipulated in MIL-STD-461. They’re also designed for use with a 28V power source as defined in MIL-STD-704.

The USB ports are rated to the USB 2.0 Standard, and each unit comes with either Military M38999/24FA35 or D-sub M24308/3 connectivity. At just .6lbs (272g) and measuring 5.75” (14.6cm) L x 1.5” (3.8cm) H x 3.12” (7.9cm) W with an M38999/24FA35 military connector, or 2.53” (6.4cm) W with D-sub connector, these are among the most space-efficient off-the-shelf charging solutions on the market, ideal for tight crew compartments or flight decks.

Ports provide up to 5V of charging power as well as auto-configuration capability, allowing users to quickly rotate devices as needed without additional updates or software installation.

Staco USB chargers can be supplied with either M24308/3-type or D38999/24-type connectors are available in both unlighted or lighted configurations, with your choice of white or Class 1-NVIS (Green A) lighting. Staco can also offer custom units designed to meet a user’s required space envelope or bespoke operation requirements.

Built to the latest military standards and incorporating a variety of the most valuable features, Staco Systems’ USB charging units are the key to ensuring the ongoing reliability and interoperability of all your equipment.

Staco Systems part number 55410-4563-001 USB Charging Panel (D38999 connector, class1, unilluminated) was designed for the F-15 Air National Guard, and now has the following assigned NSN number: 5935-01-696-6820.

If you want to get a quote or learn more about Staco Systems’ USB charging solutions, or if you have custom requirements not met by their standard charging unit, please contact Ex-Eltronics for more information:

Tel: +44 (0)1420-590390

Email: sales@exeluk.com

Or for quick information, visit the Ex-Eltronics website to download a brochure today.

Ex-Eltronics Tackles Your Security Concerns in Global Procurement

The military equipment market is the bedrock of national and multinational security, supplying vitally important goods suited to a wide range of missions and tasks to militaries around the world. But just as national governments require ready access to military equipment to ensure their own security, the procurement process itself requires watertight security protocols to safeguard stakeholders and prevent weaponry from falling into the wrong hands.

Security is a concern not just for governments but for the contractors and manufacturers who supply the world’s defence organisations as well. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the most common security concerns in the aerospace and defence sector and what Ex-Eltronics is doing to minimise risk.

An Overview of Security Risks in the Aerospace and Defence Sector

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is gaining ground as the most sensitive and talked-about aspect of security. Modern workplaces and companies increasingly rely on computerised or digital equipment for protection and to enhance operational efficiency. A cybersecurity risk is anything that could allow unauthorised individuals to access computer systems, data, or assets remotely, using malware, phishing attacks, or other means of electronic attack. 

Here are the most effective ways to counter these risks:

  • Implement a company-wide cybersecurity system; 
  • Educate staff members on digital security practices and principles; and 
  • Ensure partnered companies and contractors have similar systems in place.

Insider Attacks

As the name implies, an insider attack is any violation of security protocols carried out by any current or former employee or associate of an organisation. This could include an individual using a key to access areas that they’re not authorised to enter, downloading or sharing sensitive data (intentionally or unintentionally), or outright theft of information or equipment. Other forms of insider threats include espionage, theft, and acts of violence or property destruction. 

Countermeasures for insider attacks vary from providing employees with area-restricted keys to thorough vetting for former staff members and new hires, as well as ensuring the companies you work with have similar policies in place for their employees.

Technological Vulnerabilities

A technological risk arises when there exist potentially exploitable vulnerabilities in hardware or software. The most common example is when a program isn’t regularly updated, leaving it exposed to cyberattacks. Other examples include service outages or using unsecured cloud-based services, or equipment or software subject to invasive data laws.

Steps to Take to Ensure Supplier Performance

It’s wise to take steps to ensure a prospective supplier has employed a variety of security measures to protect their own assets and personnel and, by extension, yours. Basic steps to follow include:

  • Auditing: Perform a review of a supplier’s security arrangements. 
  • Stress testing: This involves simulating low-probability, high-impact disruptions to a supplier’s operations and estimating how long it will take them to meet demand and fully recover from a security failure.
  • Incident and crisis management: Any prospective supplier should be able to demonstrate an up-to-date, flexible incident and crisis management process to ensure they’re able to withstand and recover from unexpected security risks. 
  • Horizon scanning: This involves keeping abreast of new and evolving security threats as well as the solutions being developed or refined to meet them. 

Cyber Essentials Plus Certification: the Ex-Eltronics Solution

As part of our commitment to ensuring security and peace of mind for all our partners and valued clients, Ex-Eltronics is a participant in Cyber Essentials. A government-backed, industry-supported cybersecurity scheme, Cyber Essentials offers two levels of certification. The basic self-assessment option provides companies with a checklist of potential cybersecurity risks and instructions on how to assess their vulnerability to them. Cyber Essentials Plus goes one step further by including a hands-on technical audit covering on-site internal and off-site external vulnerability scans and tests of the relevant systems.

As recipients of a Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation, Ex-Eltronics has the following security requirements in place:

  • Active firewalls
  • Secure configuration
  • User access controls
  • Malware protection
  • Patch management

This ensures that our security is up to the latest national and industrial standards. It is often required for work on sensitive government contracts or projects, such as those involving the development, maintenance, deployment, and transportation of defence equipment.

You can learn more about the security measures in place at Ex-Eltronics, along with our industrial and quality assurance accreditations, by visiting our Quality Certifications page. If you’re interested in finding out what we can do to protect your assets and operations or have special security requirements, get in touch today to set up a consultation or contact us at sales@exeluk.com / +44 (0) 1420 590390.

What We Learned at EMC & Compliance International 2023: Insights into Our Clients’ Needs

As part of Ex-Eltronics’ ongoing commitment to staying on the leading edge of electronic design, we headed to EMC and Compliance International, held at Newbury Racecourse, in May 2023. 

EMC and Compliance International is the UK’s leading independent trade show focused on all aspects of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and compliance. Exhibitors at this prestigious expo represent the electronics, electrical, industrial, aerospace, medical, and defence sectors and beyond.

This year’s show gave the Exel team access to expertise on new EMC directives, components, test techniques and equipment, and the latest EMC modelling. Also featured were two days of training and technical workshops delivered by world-renowned EMC experts. 

The show has transformed since the days it was held at Ascot, and with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have noticed a change in how it engages with engineers and suppliers. Let’s take a look at what we learned from this year’s show and how it could shape the electronics landscape to come.

What’s New at EMC & Compliance International 2023?

The 2023 EMC and Compliance International was held over three floors of the main grandstand, with the main exhibition on the ground floor, and talks and seminars taking place over the 2nd and 3rd floors. Thanks to this quieter, calmer atmosphere, engineers and representatives from a wide selection of companies and agencies could engage with their counterparts at their convenience.

For instance, discussions were held with graduate engineers just starting on their journey into commercial design. This was an opportunity to encourage the next generation of engineers to understand the importance of implementing EMC principles in their forthcoming portfolios. In turn, they were able to get to know some of the field’s leading suppliers and solutions, all under one roof.

Further dialogue stemmed from the technical workshops, such as “EMC Design for the Power & Electronics Applications,” held during the two-day event. Enquiries and input came from a range of experts, from EMC consultants to highly experienced engineers, working on everything from military to electric vehicle projects.

The Importance of EMC & Compliance International

Recent years have seen a significant shift in the emphasis on electromagnetic compliance and design principles. Engineers seek to ensure the equipment they build and use remains serviceable even in the most demanding or unexpected of scenarios. 

The very nature of EMC design requires the inclusion of systems, subsystems, and components, which may add cost, weight, or both. In many cases, this is an important design consideration due to factors such as increasingly strict and detailed EMC standards and regulations. It also features in the protection of products against poorly-shielded designs in surrounding environments.

For that reason, it’s easier – and vitally important – to include EMC principles at the beginning of the design process before the design has matured or at the very end when pre-compliance is being checked. Ideally, designers should accommodate EMC considerations as early as possible rather than waiting to retrofit established designs with the necessary protective components. The worst-case scenario is having to implement an EMC solution after the device has failed an EMC test.

The 2023 EMC and Compliance International was a chance to bring the EMC and Compliance communities together to share knowledge, network, and do business face-to-face. In a post-Covid climate and with hybrid working environments the norm, it meant that engineers who are ‘stuck’ at home also get a chance to visit and speak with suppliers on neutral ground. The importance of establishing those communication lines will be key to securing future business opportunities.

How Did Ex-Eltronics Contribute?

Representatives from Ex-Eltronics were in attendance at Newbury to promote two of our technical partners, KEC Limited and EMI Solutions. Representing decades of combined experience, EMI Solutions Inc’s FlexFilter products and KEC’s range of EMC backshells and associated accessories are among the most trusted products of their kind currently on the market. Built to accommodate a wide range of military specifications, these two companies are equipped to address our customers’ wide-ranging EMC needs. Read more on this in our latest article, “The War on EMI: Filtering v Shielding.”

Ex-Eltronics believes that by having a presence at the show, we were able to connect with new engineers and designers of potential EMC solutions and advise any buyers or project engineers on where they could go to source such solutions once these have been implemented.

Want to keep up to date with the latest news and industry insights from Ex-Eltronics? Then visit our News Section today and check out our partner pages for EMI Solutions and KEC Limited to see what we had to show at EMC and Compliance International 2023. You can also get in touch to discuss your electronics needs or to set up a consultation today via our website or contact us at sales@exeluk.com / +44 (0) 1420 590390.

The War on EMI: Filtering v Shielding

Whether you work in defence, aerospace, or industrial environments, electromagnetic interference is a bane to your operations. But what’s the best way to deal with it?
 
In simple terms, electromagnetic interference (EMI) refers to the effects of electromagnetic fields, such as radio frequencies, on sensitive electronic devices and systems. It’s surprisingly widespread and can be severely detrimental to your systems. Fortunately, there are two possible solutions to this issue: filtering and shielding. 

EMI filtering and shielding are two different techniques used to address EMI in electronic devices or systems. With electronic systems, there are concerns regarding radiated and conducted susceptibility AS WELL AS radiated and conducted emissions, which are EMI noise coming from your own system.
 
But what’s the difference? Read on for more details on the pros and cons of EMI filtering and shielding and what you can do to protect your equipment from radiating or being susceptible to these effects of EMI.

A Brief History of EMI, EMC, and the Need for Protection

By the 1930s, radios were rapidly becoming household essentials across the world, and users began to notice the strange effects the frequencies had on other electronics and electrical devices. The phenomenon, called “electromagnetic interference,” made it clear that a method for protecting devices from errant radio signals was needed. An approach to these issues came in 1933, when the International Special Committee on Radio Interference (CISPR), a sub-committee of the Paris-based International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), issued the earliest recommendations for minimising EMI. Emissions limitations came about as systems were connected to ensure that noise created in one system would not interfere with the performance of another.
 
The need for more comprehensive EMI filtering and shielding methods and equipment in defence applications was recognised as early as 1967. That year, the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal, then deployed in the Gulf of Tonkin in support of U.S. forces in Vietnam, suffered a catastrophic fire when an electronic anomaly triggered a Zuni rocket. This led to 134 deaths and nearly 200 injuries. It was later determined that an incorrectly fitted shielded cable connector and multiple electromagnetic fields on the flight deck caused the rocket to fire, igniting a fuel tank on a nearby aircraft.
 
Later, when mobile phones and other portable electronics became more prevalent in the 1990s, multiple airlines realised that signals from these and other devices could interfere with the avionics suites, hindering an aircraft’s ability to fly or navigate safely. Military leaders found that electromagnetic interference, whether natural or manmade, could disrupt global positioning system technology (GNSS) badly enough that unmanned aerial vehicles could not be reliably flown. GNSS disruption and EMI due to military activity represents a notable civil aviation safety-of-flight concern that continues today.

After radio, many other forms of electromagnetic interference were recognised, including microwaves, infrared, as well as gamma and X-rays, each of which may be countered with an array of methods and devices. CISPR’s recommendations form the basis of modern international EMI prevention standards, as well as define how electronic devices can co-exist without interference affecting performance. This is referred to as electromagnetic compatibility.

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) defines the ability of electrical and electronic equipment to operate acceptably when exposed to external electromagnetic sources and limiting internally generated unwanted electromagnetic energy. EMC covers three areas. Limiting EMI emissions generated by the equipment, its susceptibility to external sources of EMI, and its level of immunity when functioning in its defined environment.

Different Types of EMI

Electromagnetic interference can be classified into four general types based on either the source or bandwidth of the original signal. Narrowband EMI is that produced by mobile phones or radio or television transmissions whereas broadband EMI has a wider radio spectrum with unintentional radiation emitted from sources such as electric power transmission lines. Depending on the source, EMI can be classed as intentional, unintentional, intersystem, or intra-system:

  • Unintentional, or “non-functional”, EMI is generated by devices not intended to do so, such as welding equipment, DC motors, computers, and power lines.
  • Intentional EMI (IEMI) is that emitted by a device specifically designed to do so, typically as part of an electronic warfare system, like electronic countermeasures and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons.
  • Intra-system EMI refers to interference generated between two components of a system or device, whereas intersystem EMI occurs between two or more separate systems.

What is EMI Filtering?

EMI filtering is an important consideration in the design and manufacture of electronic devices to ensure their reliable operation and compliance with regulatory requirements for electromagnetic compatibility (EMC).

EMI filtering refers to the process of reducing or eliminating the interference caused by electromagnetic signals in electronic devices or systems. It is a technique used to filter out unwanted electromagnetic signals (noise) that can disrupt the operation of electronic devices or cause electromagnetic interference.

EMI filters are usually placed at the input or output of the device and can be panel-mounted or PCB-mounted. They consist of a combination of passive components such as capacitors, inductors, and resistors, which are designed to attenuate or suppress electromagnetic interference in a given frequency range. They are often used in electronic devices such as power supplies, audio equipment, computer systems, and other electronics that require a high level of reliability and EMC.

EMI filters are typically low-pass filters, which allow lower frequency signals to pass whilst blocking high-frequency signals or ‘noise’. Capacitors block these certain frequencies and allow others through. The capacitors discharge to the ground plane, allowing them to reduce the signal in the higher frequencies. Inductors work differently; they absorb energy from the higher frequencies and turn it into heat, resulting in the dampening of the high-frequency noise. Custom filters can be made by ‘tuning’ the combination of the capacitors and inductors to the specific frequencies required.

EMI filters can be classified into two types: differential mode filters and common mode filters. Differential mode filters attenuate the interference that occurs between two signal lines, while common mode filters attenuate the interference that occurs between a signal line and the ground.

What is EMI Shielding?

EMI shielding is the process of reducing the electromagnetic radiation emitted by electronic devices or systems and also preventing external electromagnetic signals from interfering with the operation of these devices. EMI shielding is necessary because electromagnetic radiation can interfere with the operation of other electronic devices, causing malfunctions or errors. EMI shielding involves the use of conductive materials such as copper or aluminium to block or attenuate electromagnetic signals from entering or leaving the device. 

EMI shielding can be achieved by placing a conductive shield around the device (called a Faraday Cage) or by coating the device with a conductive material. The conductive shield or coating creates a barrier that prevents electromagnetic signals from entering or leaving the device, thereby reducing the risk of electromagnetic interference. EMI shielding can be applied to electronic components, circuit boards, cables, and even entire electronic devices or systems.

How Filtering Compares to Shielding

Your choice between filtering and shielding depends on various factors, such as the sensitivity of your device as well as the amount of EMI it will generate. Conductivity, size, and cost will also play a part in choosing the best EMI solution. 

Shielding takes a holistic approach to EMI management while filters target specific areas of EMI. As much as shielding reflects incoming energy, some absorption still takes place. Converting into heat energy, this then requires some type of thermal management. Also, the quality of the material used in shielding not only influences the output but the weight of the system as well i.e., thicker shields are more effective but are heavier. And while shielding reflects and cages EMI, filters are capable of eliminating EMI by addressing the most vulnerable points in a system that produce the most interference. As a result, filters may be custom fitted to your specific needs.

Count on Ex-El for All Your EMI Filtering Needs

At Ex-El, we have long understood the importance of protecting sensitive industrial and mission-critical military electronics against all forms of electromagnetic interference. That’s why we specialise in the creation of off-the-shelf and custom EMI filtering solutions utilising our partner EMI Solutions. 

The EMI filter modules, filtered connectors, and FlexFilter Inserts that we supply to our customers are subjected to the most rigorous testing standards and comply with the highest military and industrial specifications to keep your systems reliable in the most demanding of environments and applications. 

We also offer a range of EMC backshells, glands, and panel fittings, which offer 360˚ EMC screening through distribution partnerships. The EMC backshells we supply are UK designed and manufactured, with integral and additional strain relief options as well as environmental sealing options to IP68.

For more information on the products Ex-Eltronics has to offer to see to your EMI needs, visit our partner pages at KEC Limited and Amphenol LTD.
To discuss your needs or to find out more about what we can do for you, reach out to us today.