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Case Study

Hardware and Software Upgrades Allow Defense Contractor to Continue Flying High

EASi helps a defense contractor modernize and document its hardware and software technology to position them to achieve even more success in winning government contracts. 

The client and challenge
Our client a defense contractor responsible for flight training systems for the U.S. Navy, won multiple contracts to refresh all flight control and maintenance trainers at a military base. The technology that currently exists is old, including highly complex systems of hardware, software and field-programmable gate array (FPGA). There was a lack of formal specifications and system level documentation, and previous modifications were made without proper design considerations for maintenance.

The EASi solution
EASi reviewed the existing hardware design and was able to properly identify components of the system that needed to be replaced and/or redesigned. EASi then redesigned the RADAR Video Board to function with a PCIE Interface on a Windows 7 PC. EASi was able to use a newer Xilinx FPGA part to replace an older obsolete part and generate FPGA blocks that would recreate the original analog video signal for the 256x256 raster display.

EASi also reviewed existing software to identify components of the system that needed to be rewritten or re-compiled to function on newer computers with the latest operating systems. EASi redesigned the application software in C++ to run in a Windows 7 environment. EASi reused all the custom graphic commands that drew the RADAR simulation screens within the graphics driver, and ported the code to a Windows 7 PCIE driver.

The results
EASi researched and recommended a COTS Xilinx FPGA motherboard that was PCIE based, reducing the development time significantly and allowing for easier future maintenance. Instead of creating a customer PCIE video card, we created a small custom Mezzanine Analog Video Board that would mount onto the COTS FPGA board. We also developed software drivers and ported the graphics functionality to a LINUX environment, which provides the client with options to go to a LINUX based system in the future. EASi supported integration testing with another defense contractor that made subsystems for the trainer at the U.S. military secure locations, and was also able to get clearances for its engineers to support work at secure locations.