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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 10:01 AM CDT

Digital Imaging for Ballistic Proofing Ranges

Modern high-speed video cameras broaden the scope of ballistic testing
Figure 1
© Specialised Imaging Ltd.
Figure 1. An example of a state-of-the-art ballistic range camera today is the SIR2 ballistic range camera.
Figure 2
© Qinetiq, Shoeburyness, UK
Figure 2. SIR2 Double image of projectile travelling at 1000m/s.
Figures 3 & 4
Top - Figure 3. 8 Frame SIM image sequence at 400,000 fps (1200 x 960 resolution). Bottom - Figure 4. Same event as Fig 2 using a Phantom V7 High Speed video Camera at 60,000fps (256x256 resolution).
Figure 5
Figure 5. Driven by the limited amount of data that can be extracted using this method, Specialised Imaging in 2006 introduced a Trajectory Tracker system that allows a high-speed video camera to record over a large part of the flight path or any portion of the flight path that is of interest.
Figure 6
© ISL, France. SIT using Photron APX RS Camera

Figure 6. Sabot separation sequence. Projectile travelling at 800m/s. Click to view larger image.

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By Wai Chan, Keith Taylor and Wayne Smethurst, Specialised Imaging Ltd.

Traditionally, ordnance proofing has been split into two main areas: Instrumentation and photography. Instrumentation was more focused on the collection of analytical data from various instruments, for example, Doppler radar, yaw screens (for pitch and yaw), and velocity traps (i.e. skyscreens or acoustic triggers). Whereas, photography was more concerned with getting high-quality, perfectly illuminated and composed images for qualitative analysis. The photographs were obtained using an assortment of high-speed film cameras, often requiring one expert to setup the camera and a skilled photographer to compose the image, organize the lighting and take the picture.

The introduction of the high-speed ballistic digital range camera in 1988 (Hadland Photonics BR553 Ballistics Range Camera) marked the beginning of the demise of the high-speed film camera. These early cameras provided almost instant viewing of near photographic quality results that allowed ballisticians to make changes to development rounds without having to wait sometimes several hours for films to be developed. The digital images also provided a means of making measurements directly from the images without the need for the time-consuming manual digitization techniques previously employed.

The ensuing two decades have seen the introduction of many major products that have helped revolutionize the way proofing ranges operate. Today the two main areas of ordnance proofing are instrumentation and post-production.

Digital imaging, with the ability to post-process images has allowed instrumentation personnel to now also take on the tasks previously handled by dedicated photographers. New post-production operations, including collation and analysis, enable presentation of the digital data in an appropriate and appealing format for the ordnance manufacturers and test sponsors.

Since the introduction of the early ballistic range cameras, the quality and versatility of these instruments has gradually improved with advances in CCD sensor technology and improvements in image intensifiers (both of which are key elements in the capture of extremely short exposure still images). An example of a state-of-the-art ballistic range camera today is the SIR2 ballistic range camera (Figure 1). This new camera is capable of shuttering speeds as short as 20ns enabling blur-free image capture and analysis of objects travelling at up to 4,000 m/s. Offering 11 million pixel resolution images, the quality of results from the SIR2 are fast approaching film quality.

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