Optical Tracking Systems

VT-100 Tracking Mount

The VT-100 is a Vision Engineering Solutions flagship product, built on 20+ years of lab and field experience. This tracking system fulfills pointing, tracking, imaging, and sensing needs across a broad range of applications. The mount can support up to 400 pounds of payload distributed over its 6 modular mounting faces and can run at a maximum velocity of 90 degrees per second.

A slip ring with power and gigabit Ethernet gives the VT-100 the capability for unlimited azimuth rotation while eliminating cable wrap issues. Its low mass and dimensions make it easily transportable by land, sea, or air.

Given VT-100’s 26-bit pointing resolution, tracking accuracy can be on the order of one micro-radian. With aircraft-grade aluminum construction, stainless steel members and fasteners, and a powder coating or epoxy paint finish, the VT-100 was designed for use in harsh environments.

The VT-100 tracker sets the standard for tracking fast-moving dynamic objects on the ground, in the air, or in space.

Pointing And Tracking Control Software

Precision Mount Control System

Our Precision Mount Control System™ (PMCS) is a universal gimbal control system for altitude/azimuth (elevation/azimuth) optical tracking mounts. PMCS has been used to track objects ranging from mortars and hypervelocity projectiles to LEO and GEO satellites.

Feature-rich and versatile, the Precision Mount Control System provides state-of-the-art pointing and tracking capabilities, including:

  • A highly configurable control interface with GUI, control panel, joystick, or gamepad
  • Mission-adaptable external inputs such as radar, telemetry, or external computer control
  • Multiple drive modes - geodetic, star (sidereal), planet, trajectory, satellite, video, and remote via ethernet
  • And built-in star calibration for internal mount and sensor calibration

PMCS controls optical tracking mounts and integrates seamlessly with a KTM refurbished by Vision Engineering. The Precision Mount Control System can also be used, with some NRE (non-recurring engineering), to integrate and control KTMs not refurbished by Vision engineers.

The Vision Engineering Solutions Hardware Control Panel (HWCP)  controls the PMCS software. The HWCP provides a convenient and flexible human interface into the Precision Mount Control System (PMCS) to create a more efficient mission workflow. The HWCP contains analog in/analog out and digital I/O functions that can interface with the outside world. These functions are largely undefined but can be configured as needed, for example, to control a Dome Control Drive System. The HWCP consists of four programmable knobs, two programmable foot switches, a joystick, and/or a gamepad.

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PMCS Hardware Control Panel
Above: PMCS Hardware Control Panel
Extending an Optical Tracking System's Service Life

Refurbishments & Upgrades

Optical tracking mounts are designed to track fast-moving objects precisely while providing Time, Space and Position Information (TSPI). Sophisticated technological assets, Optical tracking mounts are built to last for years and endure harsh weather conditions. Eventually, however, these assets need an overhaul, and obsolescent technology must be upgraded.

The team at Vision Engineering Solutions includes experts in precision optical pointing and tracking. For over 20 years, the core engineering team at VES has designed, integrated, refurbished, and operated electro-optical systems.

The Kineto Tracking Mount (KTM) is a workhorse of DoD Ranges and has proven durable over several decades. The VES KTM Refurbishment and Performance Upgrade Package extends the KTM’s operational life. We replace necessary components on an as-needed basis with new, updated technology. This targeted upgrade extends the KTM’s operational life, enhances its performance, and saves clients hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Partial List of Clients Whose Existing Systems Have Been Upgraded by VES

U.S. Army, Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) • Army Program Executive Office Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) • U.S. Navy • University of Central Florida

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Optical Ground Station device by Vision Engineering Solutions in front of a brown tarp
Lasercom Communication Applications

Free Space Optical Communications

Commercial and government satellite systems are generating an ever-increasing volume of data. Access to this data is limited to roughly 1Gbps by the downlinks of an RF spectrum nearing saturation and technological limits.

Filtering and processing required to meet bandwidth restrictions leave unknown amounts of valuable information “on the cutting room floor” of the space terminal while using precious size, weight, and power. In addition to increased bandwidth, many end users of satellite-generated data are looking for ways to increase the security of the data coming from space. Proven capabilities in optical communications already promise an order-of-magnitude increase in bandwidth over RF networks. And the reduced probabilities of detection, interception, and jamming inherent to optical communication make it much more secure than RF, while encryption technologies, such as quantum key distribution, will further increase its security.

Satellite operators recognize the benefits of optical communication. Nevertheless, they have been slow to adopt this new technology because RF systems have a long history, are better understood, and there is a lack of optical ground stations (OGSs) with which to communicate.

Optical ground station network providers anticipate an Ethernet-based rate of 10Gbps from space at a per GB price of 50% less than current RF network providers. The ability to downlink from a single LEO small satellite 2-5 TB of data per day, ten times more than current RF systems, without significant investment in ground systems or ITU slots, will foster a revolutionary change in the communication industry.

Vision Engineering Solutions has been awarded an initial Phase II SBIR by AFRL, and a Sequential Phase II SBIR by NAVWAR to build Optical Ground Stations. Our Optical Ground Station includes attributes of both systems. 

Laser Safety and Deconfliction System

Clear2Fire®

Clear2Fire (C2F) is a highly adaptable laser safety system for use with: LIDAR/LADAR systems, laser communication systems, laser imaging systems, or high energy laser systems. For these and other laser systems that have dynamic pointing, C2F provides a fail-safe way to protect people and assets from inadvertent illumination. C2F is a real-time system that constantly monitors the laser systems, gimbal and surrounding environment for safety conflicts, and if any are found, laser emission can be inhibited.
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Research, Development, Test, & Evaluation Services

RDT&E

Optical data collection for testing and evaluation is at the core of our beginnings. We understand tracking, testing, and the collection of data required, whether it’s Middle Wavelength Infrared (MWIR) imagery of aircraft or laser-ranging data from RAM targets.

The Vision Engineer Solutions team has deployed sophisticated optical data collection systems to numerous test ranges, both CONUS and OCONUS, to collect data for R&D, engineering analysis, and documentation. The data you receive is metrically and radiometrically calibrated through fully calibrated sensors and tracking systems.

In addition to radiometric and metric data, we collect test environment data, including weather data, atmospheric transmission, and turbulence (Cn2), and thermal background.

Vision Engineering Solutions offers a full range of data analysis services to convert collected data into clear, actionable information.

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