Aerospace Consulting LLC
Aerospace Consulting was started in 1982 as a part-time business. The founder, Ed Troy, had just changed jobs from working for a company that made telemetry transmitters and other military communications equipment to a company that produced electronic article surveillance equipment. For those who don't know, electronic article surveillance equipment consists of systems designed to prevent, or at least lessen, shoplifting. While it was fairly new in 1982, most people are now aware of the tags that are put on items in stores that set off an alarm if they are not removed or deactivated before the item leaves the store. In 1982, there were several competing systems. One, developed by Sensormatic, used microwave frequencies in the range of 900 to 1800 MHz for their system. The company that Ed worked for, ICI Americas, was working on such a system. It was developed by former employees of Sensormatic and called D-Tech. The other major EAS system was developed by Checkpoint. It used a much lower frequency signal. That system had the advantage of lower cost tags, but the disadvantage of shorter detection range. Thus, the D-Tech system could cover the whole front of a store without the "starting gates" required by the low frequency systems of that time. (With Checkpoint-like systems, the purchaser had to pass through a "gate", almost like an airline metal detector, to determine if they had a tagged item.)
Customers, and especially their marketing and store design people, loved the higher frequency system developed by D-Tech and further refined by ICI Americas. Ed designed high gain, very directional microstrip patch antenna arrays for the system that could be hidden in walls, floors, and ceilings, thus allowing the system to be "invisible" to the store customers, as opposed to the obtrusive and very obvious "starting gates" that customers had to pass through with the lower frequency systems. But, the ICI America's system used Schottky diodes which were quite expensive. The expense of the tags was an issue for many customers. Plus, because of the expense of the tags, they could not be de-activated. (Technically they could by de-activated by destroying the tag, or at least the Schottky diode, but the cost of the tags made them non-disposable.) So, the ICI America's tags were removed by the checkout clerk with a special machine. But, any criminal with a pair of diagonal cutters could also remove the tags, thus allowing them to steal the merchandise. Additionally, since they operated in the microwave frequency range, the moisture in skin and meat could be used to shield the tags. Thus, they were not as reliable and versatile as the Checkpoint-like tags.
Anyway, when Ed started working at ICI Americas, he had an opportunity to do some design consulting with a company in New York that made hardware related to anti-submarine warfare. Additionally, Narco Avionics needed help in redesigning some DME hardware because the transistor used in their high power pulse transmitter was no longer available and a new amplifier had to be designed and developed. With permission from ICI America's management, Ed started consulting on a part-time basis for these companies that were clearly not competitors of ICI's EAS business. At the same time, Ed, a pilot with commercial, multi-engine, and instrument ratings, was brokering aircraft in his free time. So, given the work for 2 aerospace-related companies and the fact that he was brokering aircraft, Aerospace Consulting seemed a natural name for the company. Today, it might seem a bit of a misnomer since most of Aerospace Consulting's customers are not aerospace companies (although some are), but the name has not been changed.
Eventually, ICI Americas sold the D-Tech product line to another company and decided to concentrate on their core businesses, which did not include EAS products. Ed was offered an opportunity at another ICI Americas division, but decided to go to another company. That company, Agilis, was involved in the design and development of the first spread spectrum WiFi units. Ed worked on developing the hardware for what is now known as 802.11 WiFi. In the late 1980's, there were only a few companies involved in that marketplace, and Agilis was one of them. In fact, Agilis had some FCC rules set to favor their system while a couple of other companies had FCC rules set to favor them. Unfortunately, the main product produced by Agilis was a very robust computer that was the forerunner of today's tablet computers. Unfortunately, at the time, touch screen displays were very unreliable (not to mention costly) and the product was so expensive that only a few companies and government agencies could afford the them. So, while being backed by some of the most well-known venture capitalists of the time, Agilis went bankrupt in the early 1990's, primarily due to problems with the touch-screen displays. One of the reasons that Ed went to Agilis was because they allowed him to continue his consulting. When he left the company, in the middle of 1989, Aerospace Consulting became a full-time business, and it has been since then, although it has expanded vastly in capabilities and facilities since then.
In the 25 years since going full-time, Aerospace Consulting has grown dramatically both in terms of capabilities as well as the types of businesses served. While originally working for mostly aerospace-related companies, Aerospace Consulting has expanded the range of clients to companies that work in fields as diverse as medical electronics, robotics, body scanning using FM CW radar, telemetry, expert-witness services, circuit board layout, Bluetooth applications, technology evaluation for corporate expansion or acquisition, the "Internet of Things" (IoT), short range communications, to machine to machine (M2M) systems. Aerospace Consulting has helped solve many problems that companies had with their own designs, or designs performed by other people, that did not work as required. Aerospace Consulting has also worked with many inventors in helping them to get a working prototype of their patent, or to evaluate their ideas for basic feasibility. (Unfortunately, while many people come up with great ideas for inventions, patents, and new products, the required technology is often not legal from an FCC point of view. While we can help to advise you on how you might be able to get your "illegal" idea "legalized", many times there is no hope for the legalization of your great idea. In those cases, a little advise from us can save you tens of thousands of dollars on ventures that are doomed to fail from the start due to legalities. That said, we have had clients that got special dispensation from the FCC for products that would otherwise be illegal, so there is always hope.)
During the 1990's, Ed returned to Lehigh University to receive a Master's Degree in Electrical Engendering. For a while, he was also a PhD candidate, but he did not have the time to finish his dissertation research and defend his dissertation before the elapsed time limit for a PhD at Lehigh ran out because of his business commitments.
So, what does Aerospace Consulting do today? There is no simple answer to that. Aerospace Consulting works with companies ranging from huge corporations through individual inventors, government agencies and contractors. Our most common customers are companies that are just getting started in producing products that use RF, microwave, wireless, M2M, and IoT technologies, but we also do a lot of work with large companies that need support engineering services at times when they are busy and would rather use the services of Aerospace Consulting than make the time and expense commitment required to hire contractors. A new area of special interest to Aerospace Consulting is SDR, or Software Defined Radio. For decades, this has been the ultimate goal of radio designers, and thanks to the offerings from several companies, SDR has finally come of age.
RF and microwave engineering is unlike most electronics development. Unlike most electronics, these technologies require special expertise, massive amounts of expensive software, and a laboratory full of expensive test equipment that most companies simply do not have unless they do this kind of work day-in and day-out. (And, just having the test equipment and software is not going to do a company any good unless they have specially trained employees who know how to properly use these expensive assets.) Unless your company does this type of work all of the time, it is much more cost effective to hire Aerospace Consulting to work with you on the RF, microwave, or wireless aspects of your projects. Or, Aerospace Consulting can train your employees in these areas if you really feel that you are going to be doing a lot of work requiring these skill sets, including software and test equipment.
Aerospace Consulting also works with companies, both large and small, that have plenty of RF, microwave, and wireless facilities and employees, but they just need some extra help to get through an especially busy time. Sure, your company may have the facilities, thus allowing you to hire a contract engineer, but that usually requires a commitment of at least a few months worth of work, and that contractor is going to tie up your software and test equipment. It is much better to use the services of Aerospace Consulting where your facilities will not be tied up and you don't have to commit to jobs taking weeks or months of time to complete. Many of the jobs done by Aerospace Consulting only require a few days worth of time. (Aerospace Consulting accepts work requiring as few as a couple of hours up to many months worth of time.) Aerospace Consulting can also work out an arrangement where services are available at a reduced rate for situations where your company only needs a few days a month worth of help, but you know you will need that help over a period of many months. We call these arrangements "retainers", and they work very well for companies that need a little bit of consulting services every month on a continuing basis.
Ed got interested in radio as a child, and got his first ham radio license at the age of 11 or 12. He has had an extra class license for many years and his current call sign is K3UP.
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