Zippermast

The Zippermast is a mast system with a very small footprint that requires minimum power and can withstand the rigors of the various environments it operates in. The construction is non-corrosive materials; three bands of stainless steel bands with special cuts on each side of the band. The bands are rolled into a coil and placed 120 degrees apart. When unrolled the small compact mast becomes rigid, strong and straight. A cable system that controls the top sensor is internal to the mast to avoid entanglement. As the ZM extends it feeds the cable from the bottom of the unit to the top sensor mount.

Product Description

zippermast_transparentThe Zippermast is a mast system with a very small footprint that requires minimum power and can withstand the rigors of the various environments it operates in. The construction is non-corrosive materials; three bands of stainless steel bands with special cuts on each side of the band. The bands are rolled into a coil and placed 120 degrees apart. When unrolled the small compact mast becomes rigid, strong and straight. A cable system that controls the top sensor is internal to the mast to avoid entanglement. As the ZM extends it feeds the cable from the bottom of the unit to the top sensor mount.

Picture2The ZipperMast was initially developed exclusively for Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs).

The control of the ZM can be achieved by RF/hand control/or USB. Special interfaces can be offered. The cable system uses a Sub-D 15 pin connector. Special cables and connectors can be installed as customer requires.

The ZipperMast product is made for rugged applications and can be used in standalone as well as integrated applications. There is a battery option available that can provide internal power.

ZM/ZipperMast can be constructed to be lighter for special applications. The ZM can be used on small UGVs or hand held applications. An example is to raise cameras above a crowd to capture video or pictures.

csm_wa_Raupenfahrzeug_f22b29d344The ZipperMast was developed by the U.S. Army, TARDEC, under a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I and SBIR Phase II.

Zippermast

Zippermast1The smallest model, the ZM4, is just 15 centimetres high and the standard model, the ZM8, is 25 centimetres. How far the mast can be extended can be seen from the model number – it corresponds to the height in feet. In the case of ZM8, which is easy to carry with its weight of seven kilograms, the mast extends to around two and a half metres. The mast of the ZM40 reaches a height of more than 12 metres.

The trigger for the development of the innovative telescope technology was a request from the American armed forces. They were searching for a particularly compact and robust system which can be used on unmanned vehicles. For the design of the Zippermast, its developer was inspired by the metal tape measure which is under tension due to its curvature and can therefore be extended without kinking. He used three steel tapes and interlinked them when extending according to the zipper principle. In this way, the flexible tapes become a stable mast.

csm_wb_Zippermast-Grafik_898fd8c052The three tapes made out of spring-tempered stainless steel are wrapped around coils and arranged in relation to each other at angles of 120 degrees. A guiding spindle, which is in the middle of this triangle, grips the tapes in the bevelled slots provided. The tapes are rolled upwards by the rotation of the guiding spindle. Their jagged outer edges interlock with each other. The Zippermast can be extended to any position in-between. No additional locking mechanism is required to hold this position: the weight of the tapes and the load rest on the guiding spindle’s thread which can only be moved by rotation, like the nut on a screw.

Frank Woodcock acquired the technology in the USA in 2012 and brought it to Germany. He reworked the telescopic mast with his team from progenoX and got it ready for series production. Customers are mainly the so-called blue-light organisations such as the fire service, emergency service, disaster control, civil defence and the police. They mostly deploy the masts for monitoring and surveillance purposes – hence in the area for which it was originally designed. But the Zippermast has also proven itself to be useful at other tasks, such as inspecting pipes and shafts. Thus, it is used in nuclear power plants in order to search the ventilation systems for cracks and foreign objects.

Saves space and is stable

Thanks to the coiled tapes, the Zippermast finds space in very small housing. Another advantage of this design: the diameter of the Zippermasts remains constant in any position across its entire length – unlike telescopic masts which consists of components nested into each other. Thus, enough space in the interior of the masts remains to lead the cable through the guiding spindle to the head and be protected from outside influences.

Furthermore, its design principle makes the Zippermast extremely stable. This sturdiness is increased further by heat treatment of the steel tapes. To do this, coiled tapes are heated on the coils and subsequently cooled again. The crystal structure of the steel adapts itself to this position and seeks to adopt it. Tension is therefore generated by rolling up the tapes which further stabilises the mast. Thanks to its stability, the Zippermast can also extend horizontally and be loaded.

Suitable for the high seas and outer space

ProgenoX has done a lot to make the Zippermast fit for everyday use. The steel tapes are coated with a special surface coating in order to minimise wear. The guiding spindle is hardened in a heating process, the electronics moulded. Furthermore, the originally used spindle motor has been replaced.

As the Zippermast is often used under the most severe conditions, it must have a particularly robust and long-lasting motor. Furthermore, it was important to achieve very high performance at low volumes. “The motor which drives the guiding spindle, had to find space between two of the three coiled steel tapes and could only have at most a diameter of 32 millimetres”. Nevertheless, the DC-micromotor had to deliver high output torque in order to extend the mast quickly even when loaded. They use a FAULHABER DC-micromotor. This provides a rated torque of 120 mNm with its powerful rare-earth magnets. The Zippermast also requires a very powerful drive, a FAULHABER planetary gearhead which are made solely from steel components”.

csm_wb_Mast-System_18e8cc0616With this, the motor can also work reliably under the most adverse conditions and it has an extremely robust housing made from highly-resistant plastic. The DC-micromotor thereby fulfils the requirements for protection class IP68, keeps both dust as well as water away and is resistant to chemicals, UV and infra-red radiation. The FAULHABER DC-micromotor also drives the sea-water resistant variants of the Zippermast which can be integrated, for example, in a submersible or buoy in the sea. The Zippermast can be used as a boom for small and medium-sized antennas or optical devices.

 

Reviews

There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Zippermast”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.