Rodger Hosking, Pentek, Inc.
Radar, communications, and SIGINT [signals intelligence] systems have traditionally combined sensor processing, data conversion, and signal processing hardware within single enclosures or equipment racks. Analog signals for antennas, transducers and other sensors were connected through cables, often causing loss and interference along the way. However, enabled by new data converter and field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology and evolving open embedded computing standards, system designers can now deploy small-form-factor (SFF) subsystems at each sensor site for distributed signal acquisition and preprocessing. Digitized signals are then delivered through optical cables, providing higher signal quality over longer connection distances while reducing size, weight, cost, and maintenance.