System Design FAQ

What should I consider when designing an ASTi communications and aural cue system?

Top-level description of the comms system: Will ASTi equipment be the only communications component or is it required to interface to other existing equipment (aircraft equipment, other intercom system, etc.)?

Physical layout of the facility: Provide locations and distances between key communications system components. This includes location/installation of operators/students, instructors, maintenance stations, speakers, review/debrief stations, audio interfaces to GFE, customer provided, or existing communications equipment, likely location of ASTi communications equipment main computers (i.e. computer room), etc.

Operator Interfaces:Describe each operator position and audio interface. One analog audio input and output counts as one operator interface. Binaural (stereo) headsets count as two operator interfaces. Indicate the number and types of audio interfaces (headset, speaker, VCR, tape player, sound card output, etc.). Identify the electrical characteristics of the equipment at each position if possible. For positions with headsets include mic and earcup impedance, mic type, phantom power requirements. For GFE, CFE, existing audio equipment etc. which will interface to ASTi's system, provide audio levels, input and output impedances, balanced or unbalanced type. Also identify observer or other audio interfaces that are simply a duplication of another station (e.g. an IOS speaker which plays the same audio as in the instructor headset).

Radio Simulation, Platform: Provide a complete radio simulation requirements definition. Include the number, types and models of radios to be simulated if possible (including model number if available). Describe the extent of simulation: is frequency matching only required or full propagation effects and environment. Is crypto simulation required? If so, specify crypto equipment and tones if known? Is frequency-hopping simulation required? If so, how many radios support this requirement?

Radio Simulation, Instructor: Describe instructor radio simulation requirements. Will the instructor require fully simulated radios to communicate/role play with the student? How many simultaneous channels/frequencies does the instructor/IOS need to monitor? Are propagation effects required for instructor communications as well?

Radio Simulation, Environment: Describe any radio simulation requirements that are required to be placed into the radio environment such as radio frequency jammers, ATIS message transmitters, etc. Describe how these are to be controlled (instructor, CFG, SAF, etc), and the required operating characteristics (e.g. jamming bandwidth, center frequency, modulation modes, etc). Identify how many independent transmitters are required.

Terrain Occulting: Is Terrain occultation modeling required? The basic radio environment provides LOS (Line-Of-Site) with Fresnel Diffraction and OTH (Over-The-Horizon) modeling based on WGS84 earth model. Terrain occulting due to geography such as hills, mountains, etc. can be provided in one of two ways.

  1. Terrain Interface: ASTi system provides continuous reports of valid TX/RX paths based on standard ASTi radio and propagation modeling (WGS84 based LOS/OTH, modulation type, frequency match, crypto match, bandwidth, etc.). Customer host (visual system, terrain server, SAF platform, etc.) provides path loss information, which is incorporated by ASTi radio model.
  2. Terrain Server: ASTi can provide a Terrain Server system which incorporates customer terrain data (DTED or DEM) and provides path loss information based on Terrain to multiple ASTi systems over the network. A DTED level 0 earth model is included with the system.

Tactical Data Simulation: Are there requirements to simulate tactical data links (Link4, Link11, Link16, IDM, ATHS, etc.)? Please describe types and extent of simulation.

HF/ALE Modeling: Basic HF band modeling is provided with ASTi propagation environment. ASTi also offers a high fidelity HF propagation model server which provides high fidelity modeling for HF radio communications modeling. Propagation is modeled accurately with appropriate effects such as time of day, time of year, solar cycle, earth position, skywave, skip/bounce, and other factors. Is this additional modeling required?

Automatic Link Establishment capabilities are provided with many types of HF radios. ASTi provides additional modeling capabilities to provide ALE simulation and offload customer host from some of the more intensive requirements of this simulation. Is ALE modeling required?

SATCOM: Basic SATCOM modeling is provided with ASTi propagation environment. ASTi also offers a higher fidelity SATCOM modeling capability which includes variable voice delay, uplink/downlink modeling, channel capacity modeling and satellite position and movement control. Is this additional modeling required?

Intercom Capability: Describe the general intercom requirements of the simulated platform (i.e. types of intercom channels/busses). Some platforms have a single common intercom bus while others may have additional point-to-point or other intercom capability. Describe instructor and training specific intercom requirements such as override busses, private busses such as instructor to instructor or instructor to student, other common party line or point to point bus requirements.

It may be useful to describe intercom requirements in terms of a matrix which lists possible intercom busses or channels and operators. Use the matrix to specify what intercom channel or bus each operator position has access to. Further describe whether the position can transmit, receive, both or neither for each bus. Also include special requirements.

Additional Communications System Modeling Requirements: Describe additional audio simulation requirements related to platform communications system such as caution warning tones/voice messages, threat system warning and audio, weapons audio, navigation system audio (e.g. TACAN, VOR/ILS, Marker, ADF/NDB).

Record/Playback: Are there audio record requirements? Describe what audio is to be recorded. What device will be used to record the audio (VCR, DIS PDU Logger, HLA based packet Logger, ASTi's record platform)? How many audio streams must be simultaneously recorded? What is the maximum record time required? Are there any special back-up or transfer requirements?

Are there playback requirements? Describe what audio is to be played back? How many simultaneous playback streams must be supported? Where is the playback audio routed? Is simultaneous record and playback a requirement?

Environmental Cues: Do you require environmental cue simulation (engines, rotors, gear, touchdown, weapons, etc.)? If so, is there a sound cue requirements list available? Will the cues be played through headsets or speakers? How many independent speaker channels are required? Does the system require level D certification?

Host Computer Interface: Most configurations require the customer's host software to provide switch position and other state data to drive the communications system models. Data is transmitted in standard UDP protocol Ethernet packets to ASTi communications equipment over an Ethernet LAN. For some configurations, an operator interface such as an ASTi HHT device may be used which can eliminate the need for a host interface. Indicate whether a Host Interface is anticipated.

Communications models on ASTi's equipment may receive state data from several different customer host platforms using different UDP port numbers. If this configuration is desired, indicate the number of host computers (or port numbers) required.

DIS Interface: Specify if simulation/networking of radios or intercoms via DIS is required for the application.

HLA Interface: Specify if simulation/networking of radios or intercoms via HLA is required. Specify any additional HLA requirements you may have. Operator Control Interfaces: ASTi can offer simple off-the-shelf operator interfaces for communications control such as ASTi's Hand-Held-Terminal, simulated SINCGARS radio panel, or a Touchscreen Display terminal. ASTi can also provide additional custom simulated radio and operator control panel as well as interfacing to GFE communications and radio control panels. Please indicated whether any of these approaches and solutions is of interest.

Ancillary Equipment: ASTi can furnish peripheral equipment such as headsets, monitor speakers, microphones, PTT Boxes, foot switches, and cable assemblies. List any components you are interested in.

Engineering Services: ASTi can provide non-recurring engineering services such as custom model generation (ASTi constructs the model based on your requirements and data), installation and integration, test support, training, SDRL/CDRL generation support, general technical and engineering support and training courses. List any non-recurring support, engineering, program or administration type services you may require. Indicate whether you are interested in a general support contract. Indicate whether you are interested in training.

Schedule and Delivery: Indicate any delivery or schedule milestone requirements associated with the sound and communications equipment.

General Contract Background:

  • Is this a firm requirements, an exploratory budgeting exercise, or a bit-for-a-bid?
  • If it is budgeted, is there a budgetary range into which the solution must fit? i.e. Is it a design-to-cost?
  • Are all of the requirements firm? Which are the most important from a training perspective?
  • If budget is a problem is there a possibility of meeting minimum requirements now and adding capability as a PPI?
  • Is there an existing simulation platform(s) which can/should be upgraded or interfaced to?
  • When is ready-for-training anticipated?
  • Where will it be delivered?
  • Who is the end user?
  • Is this system to be delivered directly to the end-user?
  • Is this part of an ongoing program, will other similar systems be required?

Miscellaneous: Identify any other information that you feel is potentially important. Identify any requirements that you feel may not have been covered by the questions above.