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Wind Tunnel Test Engineer communicates with test crews on Clear-Com V-Series Panel.


NASA Ames/Air Force 40 x 80 Wind Tunnel with Large Rotor Test Apparatus used for full-scale helicopter design and test

MOFFETT FIELD, CA. ─ Clear-Com®, a global leader in critical voice communication systems, is pleased to announce that its intercom systems were implemented at the National Full-Scale Aerodynamic Complex (NFAC), located at NASA’s Ames Research Center, for communicating and coordinating wind tunnel test operations across the facility. The Eclipse-Median digital matrix intercom system, V-Series user control panels and CellCom Integra wireless beltpacks are bridging the communications gap among the test engineers.

Originally established by NASA, and currently leased and operated by the Air Force in Moffett Field, California, the NFAC is home to the world’s largest and only 80 by 120 feet wind tunnel that can handle full-scale rotorcraft helicopter testing. Because there are many activities and high noise levels during the wind tunnel testing, the large staff requires efficient and clear communications throughout the complex setup of testing areas. In addition, there are three spaces of the NFAC involved in test operations: the two wind tunnel test sections, the control room, and the “blue room? which houses circuitry. It is extremely important for the engineers to maintain consistent, high-quality communications across all areas.

The team of test engineers, contracted by Jacobs Engineering, turned to Clear-Com’s Eclipse-Median, V-Series and CellCom for their flexibility and reliability, as well as for the robust wireless capabilities that are critical to enable the test operations. Eclipse-Median serves as the central communications hub in the blue room. Connecting the CellCom wireless beltpacks to the Eclipse-Median system is the EQue card, a cellular control card that provides a seamless integration between systems. CEL-TA active transceiver antennas are strategically placed throughout the test areas and in the control room to offer sufficient coverage area. Test engineers can then communicate omni-directionally to other roaming CellCom users and/or users of the V-Series panels.

Not only can the test engineers use their 20 wireless beltpacks to communicate from any control room or test area, but they are also able to communicate on a one to one or group basis. With CellCom’s 1.92-1.93 band, it has extended the number of possible users on the system which is limited by their prior UHF wireless systems. This is especially beneficial for all the test engineers that need to communicate even when there are up to 30 people in a test control room at once.

“We were really blown away after the Clear-Com sales team educated us on all of the Eclipse-Median’s functionalities,? says Chris Hartley, wind tunnel test engineer, Jacobs Engineering, for NFAC at the NASA Ames Research Center. “When we’re conducting tests, there’s a lot going on; we have rotor operators flying the helicopter, the wind tunnel operator controlling the speed of the tunnel and then our test director, who has to coordinate with all of them. It’s very important for him to be able to talk to anyone at anytime and be able to move around within the control room. Having the wireless capabilities that this intercom system provides is just what we needed.?

In addition to the improved workflow, the Jacobs Engineering team at NFAC also experiences crystal clear audio from the Clear-Com systems. Even when the control room gets extremely noisy from wind tunnel testing, the team can turn up the audio level of the system and control the master volume and the speaker. All V-Series panels feature Clear-Com’s “Listen Again? technology, which employs digital audio memory to allow the user to replay 30 seconds of received incoming calls, aiding communication in noisy and demanding environments.

“Clear-Com has a long history of supplying intercom equipment to the military and has enjoyed, in particular, a strong relationship with NASA over the years,? says Jay Wallace, Regional Sales Manager, Northwest Region, Clear-Com. “We are honored that the Air Force and NASA Ames Research Center chose our Eclipse-Median, V-Series panels and CellCom to create one, complete solution that meets the needs of its wind tunnel testing crew. The system combines the perfect balance of sound quality and flexibility that the engineers there find critically important to coordinating communications during testing.?

Note: CellCom® and FreeSpeak® are different brands representing the same digital wireless intercom system (with minor technical differences). Due to trademark limitations, CellCom and CellCom Integra (formerly CellCom50) are only available in the U.S. and Canada; and FreeSpeak and FreeSpeak Integra (formerly FreeSpeak50) are available in all countries other than the U.S. and Canada.

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May 2011
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