GIMBAL Video: Simulating the ATFLIR Tracking and Gimbal Rotation

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Let me know what you think of this 3D version of the Gimbal video.
Interesting. Is the movement of the glare image linked to the pod though? Seems like the pod rotation is more continuous.

I've just started playing the with Blender again, trying to get some virtual versions of my backyard experiments
 

Vizee

New Member
Interesting. Is the movement of the glare image linked to the pod though? Seems like the pod rotation is more continuous.
So for this first version I have manually keyframed the pod to look two degrees below the horizon and to the heading angle given in the FLIR video.

I found it pretty interesting how given just those two inputs the rotation of the pod lense starts to line up with the video. From here we can add in more variables that could account for the difference between the FLIR video and the 3D model. Some things I can think of that would change the way gimbal moves are the alignment of the pod to the aircraft, turbulence in the pitch and yaw axis, and the true angle of attack of the aircraft.

What I think this demonstrates at the very least is how much the rotation rate of the outer lense changes as you approach 0 degrees.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
What I think this demonstrates at the very least is how much the rotation rate of the outer lense changes as you approach 0 degrees.
The system tries to minimize turns of the outer gimbals, as they are heavy, vibration-inducing, and inaccurate. So most of the time it relies on the inner gimbaled mirrors to point the line of sight. It can't avoid some turns close to 0°, but the algorithm it uses to decide when to do this is unknown.
 

Vizee

New Member
The system tries to minimize turns of the outer gimbals, as they are heavy, vibration-inducing, and inaccurate. So most of the time it relies on the inner gimbaled mirrors to point the line of sight. It can't avoid some turns close to 0°, but the algorithm it uses to decide when to do this is unknown.
This behavior actually became pretty clear when playing around in 3D. Here's the output of my tests. I think it shows where the pod is moving the outer gimbals and where it's using internal mirrors. Right now I have the pod automatically tracking an object set to follow the heading shown in the video. The "Simulated Lens Rotation" is the actual change in rotation of the gimbal lens in the normal direction facing the object, so that's how the glare would rotate in this model.

Simulated Lens Rotation vs Observed Object Rotation.png
 

Vizee

New Member
Here's a render from the simulated gimbal camera's point of view.

The animated elements in this video include:
- The relative position of the object from the aircraft using the heading value in video.
- The roll attitude of the aircraft aprox. From original video.
- The heading of the aircraft, manually keyframed to (attempt to) match the original video.

The rest is rendered as is. The glare object is an actual light emissive object and the background is a static skybox.

With this setup we may be able to determine the turn rate of the aircraft and with that the actual movement using the onscreen airspeed. This particular render should not be used for analyzing the turn rate as I have yet to determine the correct field of view for the camera. It's currently set to 6 degrees and the jet is turning at a rate of about 2 degrees per second which I got as the standard turn rate from a F-18 NATOPS manual for the indicated bank angle at the indicated true airspeed.

Overall the simulation is proving to be a pretty good resource for working with and cross checking the variables at play in the gimbal video.

I welcome all observations and inputs as I keep working on this. I personally feel all signs point to a glare but this seems be a good way to provide concrete data/visualizations that support the hypothesis.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpgmXTL9VL0
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
This is great! Do you plan to do do a side-by side with an overhead view?

Maybe combine four views, the ATFLIR POV, the focus on the ATFLIR pod rotating, a follow-cam behind the jet, and an overhead view. With some kind of FOV volume indicated.

Also, maybe a simulated HD VIS mode - showing the ATFLIR's POV, but with an actual jet model at the target position. Then that overlaid with the IR simulated view.
 
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