Honeywell digital radios set to make bizav debut

 - May 29, 2008, 9:21 AM

Honeywell’s aerospace electronic systems group is beginning the year by unveiling new technology that holds the promise of doing to conventional navcom radios what the personal computer did to electric typewriters. At the HAI HeliExpo, scheduled for February 14 to 16 in Orlando, Fla., the company will debut the 21st Century iteration of the Primus II integrated radio concept it introduced in 1987, and follow up with display and demonstrations at the AEA convention in Palm Springs, Calif., April 25 to 27.

Rather than receivers and transmitters per se, the latest Primus II radio equipment is based on software-programmable RF processing platforms offering a wide menu of communication, navigation and surveillance (CNS) functions from the same basic hardware. The first two new remotely mounted units Honeywell is introducing are an integrated VOR/ILS/ datalink (VIDL) package with optional GPS, and a VHF datalink com radio with both voice and data exchange capabilities. Linking the revolutionary and the traditional, Honeywell has teamed with Gables Engineering of Coral Gables, Fla., to offer updated versions of the latter’s familiar radio control heads for installations where operators desire single-function upgrades through retrofit.

Both the VDR datalink-capable com radio and VIDL nav are in a typical remote radio form factor, 3.3 in. high, 2.1 in. wide and 14 in. long. The VIDL+G is 0.7 in. wider to accommodate a GPS landing system (GLS) module. Although not required for TSO approval, small fans built into the LRUs are processor-controlled to turn on at high ambient temperatures. The com platform has a 25-watt transmitter.

The Primus VDR serves as an R/F link (equivalent to the modem with a personal computer) operating with a communications management unit (CMU), which does the signal processing. It is designed to accommodate future ADS-B, WAAS and LAAS functions as they come online. The Primus VDR is interoperable with either the Honeywell Mk III CMU or other 4 MCU-size processors. The datalink radio is programmable to handle either or both data and voice, with channel spacing selectable in flight between 25- and 8.33 kHz, at data rates up to 31.5 kbps.

Ken Snodgrass, Honeywell marketing manager for radio products, said the VIDL+G nav platform has a 100-fold increase in processing power, to more than 350 million instructions per second, compared with current nav radio equipment. Hardware consisting of five double-sided circuit cards is common to all radio LRUs. All units have identical computer/power supply cards. A digital engine operating system (DEOS) installed on a Honeywell PowerPC with two digital signal processors works, said Snodgrass, “a bit like Windows for radios.”

The VHF receiver card common to both platforms covers the entire nav and com spectrum and a bit beyond, from 108 to 152 MHz. A single card handles both glideslope and marker-beacon functions. An input/output card common to all boxes provides compatibility with a wide range of digital and analog avionics interface options.

The GPS receiver card is en route DGPS-capable and software-upgradable to process WAAS and LAAS. A new VHF data broadcast modulation technique will bring correction data into the aircraft with high integrity levels and position accuracy, Honeywell said.

The new, highly miniaturized Primus radio technology, assembled with microscope-guided soldering, will be marketed starting in July in three versions, as functional upgrades, physically and electrically interchangeable with currently installed Primus II radio systems.