Cyclops visualisation tool
The visualisation of abstract simulation events and outputs is crucial for adding sense and relevance to a client on the results of indepth and detailed simulations. Analysed data reports or graphs provide a consolidated view of the simulation, however, visualising in detail the events that occurred during the simulation, in 3D rendered realities, brings both awe and tangible user-friendly evidence to the fidelity of the simulation. In addition, the rendering of spectrally correct 3D spatial data has formed the basis for high fidelity computer missile engagement simulations, used to perform missile countermeasure effectiveness simulations for the South African Air Force (SAAF).
The Cyclops2 development team has combined the visualisation capabilities of optronic sensor systems and systems modelling, groups that have been developing ever increasingly complex simulations for more than seven years, in the creation of the Cyclops2 software visualisation tool. Both competency areas have committed to the use of the new tool, using it as the key client-facing interface for presenting all results from contracted simulation requests, totalling approximately R7m of contracted work per annum.
The team has freely deployed the tool for use and is currently providing support in the efficient deployment and tailoring to the radar and electronic warfare (EW) areas of CSIR Defence, Peace, Safety and Security and to two groups within Denel Dynamics that are applying it for visualisation in their product line systems development work, as well continued support to optronics and systems modelling. Discussions are currently underway to include aeronautic systems of CSIR Defence, Peace, Safety and Security as a new client who wishes to use the tool as a front end to their complex aircraft flight simulations.
The development of the tool is based on the use of the OpenGL and OpenSceneGraph graphics rendering software libraries, both open source modules, with significant international communities of practice. There has been plough back to these communities from spin-of projects, which the team has embarked on, such as the inclusion of 16bit floating point calculations for rendering in the infrared (IR), and beta testing of certain aspects of the rendering engines used in the Cyclops visualisation tool, and IR missile engagement simulations.
Within the participating CSIR Defence, Peace, Safety and Security areas and Denel, Cyclops2 has been successfully applied in:
Visualisation support for ground based air defence system (GBADS) acquisition decision support. More specifically visualisation for system performance analysis of simulated system configurations and for facilitating tactical doctrine development together with the client. The visual interface enables the client to experience the simulation, and make decisions that can then be visualised on a re-run of the simulation creating a closed loop immersive doctrine development environment.
Visualisation of IR countermeasure effectiveness during one-on-one engagements in support of doctrine development and efficient use of IR countermeasures. The South African Air Force EW Centre makes extensive use of the visualisation tool to examine the simulation data when correcting its standard operating procedures and to programme the EW self protection suite with pre-flight data, responsible for enhanced self protection.
Visualisation of electronic (RF) countermeasure and engagement end-game simulations for countermeasure development. This is utilised by the South African Navy and the South African Airforce EW Centre.
Conceptual visualisation support in local (RSA) missile seeker development work. DENEL Dynamics, as part of its international agreement on missile development, have started using the viewer to visualise the performance of the missile systems in virtual flight, and then go back to brief its hardware development team.
One of the key factors of the software engineering is that it is developed and compiled for both Windows and Linux operating systems. Creating a cross platform tool has enabled the first common distribution of a simulation component within organisations that are running simulations at different system hierarchies. Utilising innovative interfaces, again based on open standards, has facilitated the smooth and rapid tailoring for different system hierarchies of simulation to be visualised. Performing this with the same tool is a significant achievement.
The visualisation tool is the culmination and next generation of software rendering research that has been performed within the optronic sensor systems group since early 2001. Early developments saw the creation of IR rendering engines based on OpenGL under Linux used to stimulate both software and real IR missile seekers in simulation (and HWIL simulation) for countermeasure effectiveness evaluations for the SAAF.
The software code-base has also contributed to human capital development (HCD) when vacation students were tasked to make contributions to the development and learn about the workings of a large integrated software project. This HCD component has generated significant interest in the Computer Engineering department at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, after the vacation work period, with students requesting for future participation on the project.
Optronics 600 mm lens
Typical special operations surveillance deployments entail
covert operations, and usually have the operator travelling
on foot for 30-50 km from a drop zone to the area where
a soldier is operationally deployed for a period of a few
Given these conditions, the operator's equipment needs
to be robust and, most of all, light weight while still
fit for purpose, as it needs to be carried together with
all other equipment such as food, ammunition and water.
The current surveillance equipmentis a commercial off-the-shelf,
designed for low light photographic applications, and weighed
6,6 kg used on a new generation high sensitivity charge-coupled
In discussions with the South African National Defence
Force, it was decided to develop a custom optical solution
that provides equivalent or better optical performance,
but with the benefits of light weight and small packaging
if possible to better match the operational requirements.
The results of an intensive design process was the development
of the optronics 600 mm lens, with the following performance:
- Weight 2,6 kg
- Optical performance superior to off-the-shelf 600 mm
lenses (the lens used previously) when matched to the
sensor of choice for low-light observation
- The lens made extensive use of prior experience in the
design and construction of space optical instruments,
with seven new innovations:
The lens assembly was then taken out for field testing with
a side by side comparison with the existing surveillence kit.
The lens proved to have superior performance under stringent
low light conditions. The light weight of the lens drew significant
attention from the operators.The operational results have
indicated that the new lens can extend the operational range
(over the previous system) under overcast star-light conditions
to 120 m from the previous 92-100 m.
- Use of the cotton-clamp technique, to create a stable
a thermalised lens
- Use of invar rod in a mennal stalk configuration to
support the athermalised design
- Use of carbon composite material for the housing of
the lens to create a strong, sturdy but light weight housing
for the lens
- Use of space relevant light weight opto-mechanical design
to create the primary mirror. This component has 70% of
its material removed in a special design configuration,
that still enables it to maintain its shape and form
- Use of zero-dur, a glass-ceramic material that exhibits
very low thermal expansion characteristics with strong
structural stability, to create the primary mirror
- Use of the innovative in situ interferometric
optical assembly bench to assemble the lens components
for precise alignment
- Special configuration that reduces retro-reflection
when operationally deployed, giving away position/location
600 mm spec:
Off-the-shelf lens spec:
Weight: 2,6 kg incl front
window (2,1kg excl front window)
Weight: 6,3 kg measured
(data sheet claims 4,8 kg)
Dimensions: Diameter 206
mm (without lens cap) by 360 mm long (without E2V)
Dimensions: 168 mm diameter
by 432 mm long (data sheet)
Clear aperture: 180 mm
Aperture scale: f/4 to
Closest focus distance:
Closest focus distance:
5,6 m (data sheet)
While the impact of this technology demonstrator cannot
be measured with respect to publications output, the impact
can definitely be measured with respect to utility to the
client, innovative design and R&D capacity utilisation,
increase in knowledge generation and the potential for a
product spin out.
In the R&D domain in applied research, these are all
acceptable and indeed valuable impacts, as the team has
created valuable reputation credits with a demanding client
and has produced a usable fit-for-purpose solution in a
short space of time that has significant commercial value.
The client's operational effectiveness has been increased
with respect to the metrics of deployability of the solution,
transportability and matching optical lens to the sensor
type to be used.
Successfully exercising the design and prototyping capability
relevant to space applications is also a major impact, given
the strategic importance that space sensing and applications
is gaining within the Department of Science and Technology.
A complete data pack has been generated during the course
of the project, which is ready for technology transfer to
a willing partner. This has the additional impact of further
stimulating the industry.
CSIR designs long-range, day and night camera
The CSIR has designed a state-of-the-art, long-range day
and night camera, dubbed Cyclone. The camera is fully digital,
remote controlled and boasts precision zoom. Its observation
range is up to 24 km. The development of the camera stems
from a tactical requirement of the South African National
Defence Force (SANDF) for long-range surveillance for targeting
and observation. A significant feature of this camera is
the single barrel used for both day and night observation.
The upgraded version of this powerful camera, with an effective
focal length of 560-1 360 mm, incorporates a replacement
of the third generation image intensifier device with an
electron-multiplying charged-coupled device for the night
channel and the utilisation of gigabit ethernet digital
CCD's for the visual observation channel. The benefits of
using this technology in the Cyclone camera include improved
performance under twilight and night conditions as well
as under artificial illumination conditions. The camera
is a packaged solution and can be deployed in the field
in its current form, with significant ease of use.
Demonstration of advanced countermeasure system
The CSIR is addressing the threat posed by shoulder-launched
surface-to-air infrared (IR) missiles through research into
advanced countermeasure systems.
Shoulder-launched surface-to-air IR missiles are deployed
in large quantities around the world - including in Africa,
where South Africa is involved in peace-keeping missions
- and delayed by various types of criminal organisations.
It has been globally recognised that active IR-directed
countermeasures, utilising laser radiation, is an effective
means of countering these threats and protecting aircraft.
With funding from the South African Department of Defence
and an international partnership, CSIR defence and laser
experts have developed a system that successfully demonstrated
some of the key ‘soft kill’ (low power jamming)
directed countermeasure technologies during several field
trials in February 2006 and 2007, protecting a South African
Air Force transport helicopter from IR missile threats.
The demonstration proved that the technology exists within
the respective institutes to develop a directed countermeasure
system and install it in an aircraft, though there is still
room for technology improvements to optimise system performance
and reduce physical size and weight.