Militec Ltd designs and manufactures target equipment for rifle and
pistol ranges for both national and international customers such as
the police, Special Forces, military, recreation and sports users. Militec's
turnover is about 350 KECU, and the company employs 4 people, including
one electronics engineer and one electronics technician.
The existing system's electronic circuitry utilised discrete components,
resulting in three circuit boards inter-linked in order to fit within
the size constraints of the enclosure, thus making the unit expensive
to manufacture and to modify to individual customers requirements.
The aim of the experiment was to improve the existing Turning Target
and Pop-up target products by introducing FPGA technology to replace
the bulk of the existing electronics and enhance its capabilities. Both
of the products utilise the same circuitry, except for a few small logic
modifications. The objectives of this experiment were to improve the
existing products, and to ensure that knowledge was transferred to the
company in the following areas; technical management, top-down design
methodologies (including VHDL, digital simulation and synthesis), selection
of FPGAs, test techniques, and modern CAD tools for digital design.
Meeting these objectives has enabled the company to utilise this flexible
technology not only for the products involved in the AE, but also for
future products, providing a means of competing more strongly in the
market place. In fact work has already started on other products utilising
the knowledge gained through the application experiment. Improvements
- Large reductions in the component count, number of PCBs, PCB area
and power consumption.
- Cost savings in labour, manufacturing and test of up to 31%.
- More reliable and versatile products.
- Economic benefits allowing larger sales to be achieved and new
markets to be exploited.
- Feature improvements
- Improved display, making the unit more user friendly.
- Adding more programmable target reactions.
- Flexibility to use various data formats.
- Generation of a 'trigger out' signal after programmed target
action and present number of hits sensed.
- Self-checking diagnostics
- Single board stocked for most products.
- Increased commercial security.
The prototype development costs of 48 KECU which were entirely funded
by the FUSE programme will improve company sales, resulting in a payback
period of 8 months and a ROI of 882% over the 6 year design life of
The duration of the application experiment was 7 months. The application
experiment took approximately 1 month longer than envisaged to complete
because of RF interference effects in the RF communications system.
Fortunately the re-programmable nature of the FPGA device allowed improved
digital protocols to be implemented to solve the problem. This flexibility
demonstrated the significant technical benefits achieved by adopting
FPGA device technology.