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Help with selecting materials -- military surveillance application

  1. Dec 30, 2014 #1
    1.
    To carry out a materials selection exercise for a military/surveillance portable infrared imager tripod. The exercise will be carried out by means of any legal and valid technique possible and applicable, including (but not withstanding) techniques described in lectures, textbooks & crowd-sourcing.

    2.

    No equations needed at this stage. :)

    3.

    The main focus is on the choice of a material suitable for the legs of such a tripod. I've managed to source information related to the function of the tripod & constraints the materials I am looking into must meet. Conditions such as being lightweight (density), capability to hold a load 'comfortably' (mechanical aspects) as well as holding up to environmental challenges.

    Thus my idea would be to have some sort of bulk material (probably a metal or composite) along with a compatible coating of some sort such as a) specific surface treatment, b) Rubberized pain coating to protect from oxidation/corrosion.

    Ultimately what I am asking for are suggestions to materials which could be relevant and which I can look into further. Thanks for reading!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 30, 2014 #2

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to the PF.

    I think you have covered many of the important aspects of the material for this application. However, there are a couple of important aspects of this *military* surveillance application that you are missing so far. What things do you need to be sure to incorporate to be as stealthy as possible?
     
  4. Dec 30, 2014 #3
    Hi thanks for a prompt reply! My intention was to optimize for weight and performance mainly. Hence the materials I am looking at would have suitable strength properties, rugged (tough) and ideally corrosion resistant. For example using a tubular stainless steel as the core material.

    I guess to include the aspect of stealth it would have to have a discrete colour or surface finish. What kind of coating/material do you have in mind?
     
  5. Dec 30, 2014 #4

    Mark44

    Staff: Mentor

    How heavy is the IR imager? If it's not too heavy, aluminum tubing legs might work, and would probably be lighter the stainless steel for the same gauge tubing. The tubing could be anodized, which would cut down on the corrosion, and the legs could be in sections so that the unit could be collapsed to a smaller size. Take a look at camera tripods or hiking poles.
     
  6. Dec 30, 2014 #5

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    In a military setting, what are the various ways that an enemy might watch for your surveillance?
     
  7. Dec 30, 2014 #6
    @berkeman The reconnaissance in such a case would probably involve scouring the area for flashy objects and heat signatures, however I do not believe that on such a small scale the signature would be that problematic. From a military point of view the main issues I can think of are the durability and repeatability of being rapidly deployed and carried around in such harsh conditions without becoming damaged. I'd also have to consider the fact that a battlefield could range from being a warm dusty desert setting to a humid salt water coastline or even in freezing cold snow conditions. Hence apart from the corrosive elements I'd also have to include constraints such as the thermal expansion.

    @Mark44 Yes that would work even better. A lot of the high end camera tripods I've seen come with an anodized finish on what seems to be aluminium for weight and cost cutting reasons I presume. At the moment I could even consider polymeric legs which might also be suitable when considering the corrosion effects. Of course that is the point of the exercise, to screen and then rank each material in order to find the best fit. *EDIT* The mass of such an infrared imager isn't clear depending quite greatly on the type however, falling back on research, I found that it can vary between 10Kg - 40Kg

    Can anyone name a few types of suitable polymers/plastics which I can look into further detail about. At my university we go into good detail for metals, ferrous materials especially, however we lack the same type of coverage for plastics & ceramics (although I don't imagine they would be relevant in this case anyway).
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2014
  8. Dec 30, 2014 #7

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    Good. In addition to visible and IR wavelengths, there is another band of wavelengths you need to consider... :-)
     
  9. Dec 30, 2014 #8
    Hmm.. could it be radio? I seem to recall the possibility of searching for metallic objects (exclusivly?), using an antenna with varying frequency on that band. *Edit* Now I feel dumb. A quick google search yields RADAR. haha so that would mean I'd either have to include materials which avoid detection completely or something to dampen its visibility!
     
  10. Dec 30, 2014 #9

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    Correct! Microwave radar and other frequencies can be used to detect metal objects. If you are on a military surveillance mission, you don't want any metal objects of any size standing up next to you where you are hiding. That makes you way too easy to detect. Your weapon gets laid on the ground next to you pointing at the folks you are watching (so it is not sideways like a horizontal antenna), and you don't use anything that is metal in a vertical stand. :-)
     
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