Wiring System In-Situ Health Monitoring Diagnostics

Period of Performance: 03/23/2004 - 12/23/2004


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Minnesota Wire & Cable CO.
1835 Energy Park Drive
Saint Paul, MN 55108
Principal Investigator


Lockheed Martin delivered the first operational F-16 Fighting Falcon to the United States Air Force in January 1979. With more than 10 miles of wiring packed into an aircraft just 49 feet long, the aging F-16 suffers from intermittent power wire failures that pose a significant fire hazard. These failures often occur when a cable's degraded jacket enables a water droplet or metal shaving to temporarily form a conductive bridge between two wires. Frequently misdiagnosed by aircraft maintenance personnel, these wet and dry arcs lead to the unnecessary and costly insertion of line replacement units (LRUs) into the maintenance supply chain. To address this problem, Minnesota Defense partnered with Lockheed Martin and the University of Utah to develop and demonstrate a rugged, compact Smart Connector prototype for in-situ detection and isolation of wet and dry arcs on energized aircraft power wires. The Smart Connector uses a spread spectrum reflectometer (SSR) to inject a pseudo noise (PN) code into live wires and to record the resulting reflections, a peripheral interface controller (PIC) to analyze the reflectometry data and perform fault detection and isolation, a radio frequency (RF) wireless transmitter to report fault types and locations, and a lithium battery for power. The Smart Connector meets MIL-C-26482 interface and test requirements.