William Dolson & Associates
Project Survey

Electronic Circuit Breaker System - DO-178 Embedded Programming
Astronics Advanced Electronic Systems, Kirkland, WA, 2015-Present
Astronics Advanced Electronic Systems is an industry leading manufacturer of aircraft electrical power systems, including power generation and distribution. The company's markets include commercial transport aircraft such as Boeing and Airbus, business aircraft, rotorcraft, and military platforms. Astronics AES acquired Vertical Power, one of Mr. Dolson's former clients, and he was asked to consult to Astronics AES for the development of a new power distribution product line. Mr. Dolson acted as the primary software developer of the prototype software for a new solid state circuit breaker system. He then transitioned to the production software team which is developing the FAA DO-178C DAL A certified software for that product line. He architected a new Built In Test (BIT) system for the product in addition to contributing throughout the code base. The first new airframe application for the product line is the Textron/Cessna Denali single engine turboprop. The product line is also being incorporated in a number of other existing airframes.

Developement is done in C for embedded TI Hercules ARM processors. Application Lifecycle Management is being done in Siemens Polarion.

VP-400 Backup EFIS - Advanced Cockpit Display - Simulation, Computer Graphics, Embedded and Linux Workstation
Vertical Power, Inc., Albuquerque, NM, 2011-2013
Vertical power is a start-up manufacturer of advanced electrical systems for experimental aircraft. The company has pioneered the application of solid state circuit breakers to aircraft electrical systems, vastly simplifying aircraft wiring. Mr. Dolson acted as one of three primary developers for the new VP-400 product line, which provides a backup EFIS (Electronic Flight Information System) which features a number of novel capabilities. In addition to providing moving map and electrical system monitoring and control, the system is able to autonomously fly the aircraft to the threshold of the nearest runway, managing both flightpath and vehicle energy. The "Runway Seeker" provides a level of automation normally found only in large-scale transport aircraft. In the event of pilot incapacitaion or inadvertent flight into instrument meterological conditions, the VP-400 provides a valuable safety net.

For the VP-400 program Mr. Dolson developed ARINC-429 interfaces and firmware for a high-current load controller, handling such critical functions as landing gear and cockpit pressurization. He also developed a combined VP-400 and aircraft electrical system simulator for development and production test which features a rich graphical user interface. Developement was done in C++ for embedded Atmel and Linux Tegra and Linux x86 for the simulator.

Landform SmartCam 3D Fusion - Augmented Reality Cockpit and Crew Stations - MPEG-2 Digital Video, Computer Graphics, Machine Vision
Rapid Imaging Software, Inc., Albuquerque, NM, 2005-2011
Rapid Imaging is the leader in flight visualization software. SmartCam3D enriches remote vehicle camera video with real-time 3D overlay information, providing an augmented reality fusion of real-time video and sensor data with synthetic imagery. Using information from the vehicle´s flight data telemetry, SmartCam3D overlays synthetic 3D geographic information on the scene in real-time. This fusion creates enhanced accuracy during live operations. SmartCam3D's complete picture fuses video with synthetic terrain including important information such as the location of runways, taxiways, roads, rivers, identified buildings, phase lines, no-fly zones, restricted operation zones (ROZ), and controlled airspace volumes. This software was employed in the NASA Advanced Cockpit Evaluation System and the NASA SCOUT vehicle which is a proof-of-concept semi-autonomous rover vehicle designed to assist manned or unmanned extraterrestrial exploration. SmartCam software is used in a number of UAV crew station systems including Predator ERMP and UGCS.

For RIS we extended complex open source video software libraries to provide support for embedded sensor metadata in Mpeg-2 transport streams complying with MISB standards. We ported an extensive legacy code base in C and C++ from Windows to Linux migrating the UI from MFC to GTK with OpenGL. We also developed motion estimation software to extract vehicle attitude information from the video stream to augment flight data telemetry, improving the correspondence of the 3D overlay data with the camera video.

In 2010 RIS completed a two year NASA SBIR (Small Business Investment Research) grant to develop ASAT (Advanced Situation Awareness Technology) which explored new paradigms for the orientation of vehicle operators or pilots within terrain and airspace. ASAT has broad applicability to both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial navigation, piloting, and exploration as well as a multiplicity of civilian uses. Over the previous two years RIS developed prototype ASAT devices for evaluation and testing by NASA and others. ASAT was used in flight tests of cockpit instrumentation for the ALTAIR lunar lander. Mr. Dolson was instrumental in writing the SBIR grant application and was principle engineer for the research.

Cable Television MPEG-2 Spot Inserter, MPTS Remultiplexing and Splicing - Prototype, PC Integration, Field Trials
Visible World, Inc., New York, NY, 2001-2002, 2005-2006
Visible World is pioneering the development of "Personalized Television" which uses advanced facilities of the new Digital Video Broadcasting formats in cable television systems to customize television broadcasting at the individual household level. Initially targeted at the television advertiser, Personalized Television provides the ability to custom edit a unique version of an advertisement at the individual household's set top box, in real time, based on demographic and personalization data. A critical component of the delivery system is the spot inserter, located at the cable system head end, which must be capable of doing real-time insertion of the Visible World formatted campaigns in the form of MPEG-2 files into spot avails in live MPEG-2 Multi-Program Transport Streams, typically from satellite feeds. Demanding real-time MPTS demultiplexing, splicing, and remultiplexing code was developed in close cooperation with a third-party vendor who provided a PCI MPEG-2 processing engine. Comprehensive knowledge of MPEG-2 formats was required. Responsibilities extended from initial prototype development including PC integration to field trial deployment of evaluation units. Development was conducted on Windows 2000 and NT platforms in C and C++ using Visual Studio and Source Safe. At the completion of the assignment we were presented with a Special Award. A second round of consulting involved providing Linux support and creating a web managment interface and front panel software for the production version of the inserter.

Traxim - Machine Vision for Film and Television Special Effects - Research, PC and Workstation Integration
AFA Products Group, Inc., Northvale NJ, 1998-2000
Traxim is a machine vision image segmentation and tracking technology developed for special effects allowing actors or objects to be isolated from their backgrounds for reinsertion into another scene. The conventional technique uses the "blue screen" process, where the actor is imaged in front of a blue or green background and then a simple color replacement algorithm is used. Traxim was designed to address cases where this technique could not be used and the background consists of an arbitrarily complex image. Over a year of basic research on the problem resulted in a patent filing and reference implementation comprising about 20,000 lines of C code with extensive documentation. A development team was assembled and several products were developed based on the technology, including plugins for high-end computer special effects systems and stand-alone bundled systems for use in television post production suites. The stand-alone system involved PC integration of PCI real-time uncompressed 601 video disk recorders. Traxim was nominated for a Post Award honoring the best of Post Production Technology in 1999 in the category of Dedicated Video Systems, Telecine Product. Both research and product development were conducted on Intel Linux platforms using GCC supported by CVS. Development included extensive use of GTK and OpenGL. Product releases were also made available for Windows, Sun Linux, and SGI IRIX. Visit the Traxim website archive.

Internet Server and Web Site - Unix System Administration, Web Site Authoring
race-cars.com, llc, Estancia, NM, 1997-2004
We configured and deployed dedicated Linux servers and wrote a variety of C programs and extensive PERL scripts to support the race-cars.com web site, the leading web site for racing car sales internationally. Due to the volume of material on the web site it was decided from the beginning to employ dedicated servers. These now host the race-cars web site as well as a number of advertiser sites. We had complete responsibility for the design and implementation of the web site itself. The site features an online marketplace with an eBay-like user interface where sellers can list race car parts for sale, several sections which host viewer-contributed content, a sophisticated interactive user interface to create listings of race cars for sale, interactive message boards, a comprehensive site search facility, extensive photographic content, and very rapid download times due to optimization of page size and image compression. Authoring tools were developed for Windows platforms using Visual Studio, and Linux server scripts and utilities were written in GCC and Perl.

Firearms Training Simulator - Digital Image Processing, PC Integration
Trontec, Cairo, Egypt, subcontractor to Fischer Scientific, Brightwaters, NY, 1994-1996
As part of a domestic technology development initiative, the Egyptian Government funded a start-up to develop a firearms training simulator to compete for an Egyptian Army requirement. The world market had been dominated by a U.S. company, FATS. These simulators score "hits" on projected video target footage using laser target designators mounted on dummy weapons. The Egyption start-up, Trontec, hired consultants to develop some key technologies. We developed digital image processing algorithms for two areas. The first involved implementing authoring tools for the target footage, employing machine vision algorithms for automatically tracking operator designated target areas in the video footage and building a time dependent target area data base. The second involved identifying the laser spot "hit" location and timing relative to the video target footage and scoring the shot based on the target database. These technologies were developed as proof-of-concept prototypes on Intel PCs in C using MSVC.

Dawn/Dusk Simulator for SADS Patients - Embedded Microcontroller
Hughes Lighting Technologies, New York, NY, 1993-1995
Dr. Michael Terman, of The New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University, has done pioneering work in SADS or Season Affective Disorder Syndrome, otherwise known as Winter Depression. The phenomena emerged into the public spotlight when workers on the Alaska Pipeline from predominantly southern states experienced far higher than normal suicide rates. He developed a successful light treatment regimen which exposed the sufferer to a simulated dawn and dusk from artificial light sources. We were commissioned to develop a small calculator like unit with an integral light dimmer which would cost effectively implement the dawn/dusk algorithms currently running on laboratory workstations. This project was a turn-key product design and development contract which involved the design of custom LCD and Membrane panels, printed circuit boards and enclosures and final assembly, all targeted at the lowest possible price point. We employed extensive use of a product simulator running on IBM PCs implemented in MSVC to achieve consensus on the user interface prior to freezing design on the LCD and membrane. The product employed Intel 8051 micros executing C code which could be compiled either for the PC simulator or target machine using the Tasking C compiler. We also successfully re-hosted the original dawn/dusk simulation code from laboratory Macs to PCs. View a photo of the Dawn/Dusk Simulator

Telecine Color Correction - Product Line Software Engineering
Corporate Communications Consultants, Inc., Colorvision Inc., AFA Products Group, Inc., Northvale NJ, 1977-1993
All film material which is broadcast as video must undergo scene-by-scene color correction to map the much greater dynamic range of the film material to the restricted range of television signals. This process is dependent on an operator called a "colorist" and this is considered a creative position similar to an editor. CCC was the pioneering company in this market segment, introducing the first commercially available system in 1978. We provided the comprehensive software engineering expertise for CCC from start-up through nearly two decades of continuous product development. For much of that two decades virtually every film which was broadcast on television as well as most commercials shot on film were transferred using CCC systems. This work involved extremely demanding embedded, real-time, video processing, initially on minicomputers, then 8 bit micros, and eventuallythen on to 16 and 32 bit machines. Initially processor performance dictated much assembler with PL/M where possible. As processor performance and compilers improved virtually all programming was done in C with local assembly language optimization on time critical segments. Two product generations of analog video processing systems were supported and in the early 90s a new product line based on digital video processing was designed. This work saw intensive involvement in ASIC design with closely coupled software integration, again in an extremely demanding real-time environment. The system won both Oscar and Emmy technical awards. View the Sunburst and Sunburst II Brochures

C-Scan - TV Audience Response Data Logger - PC Integration
Consumer Outlook, Inc. New York, NY, 1992-1993
A straightforward integration task, we developed a laptop based system with joystick and SMPTE timecode reader which would log audience reactions to television material, either commercials or programming. Data files were collected for each respondent and transmitted to a desktop analysis system. Here they were correlated and one of the resultant reports consisted of a recording of the original video footage with a superimposed graph indicating the audience response. All software was written in C on PCs. View a C-Scan brochure.

Cable Television Copy Protection and Anti-Taping System - Research, Real-Time Embedded Microprocessor
Eidak Corporation, Cambridge MA, 1986-1989
Eidak developed and patented technology which rendered television signals difficult if not impossible to record on VCRs. The objective of the system was to obtain an earlier programming release window for cable operators. If the broadcast could not be recorded then the early release would not impact recording sales. The system was a digital video device which varied the vertical frequency of the signal in a manner which could be tracked by monitors but not by VCRs. We performed both basic research and product development and were named in the patents. The system consisted of a headend processor which applied the process and a set top box which could optionally undo the process to provide pay-per-view taping. Both devices employed embedded Intel x86 processors running predominantly C code with some time critical assembler. The system was designed and tested to be compatible with satellite transmission and the control data from uplink to set-top was DES encrypted. Both devices involved demanding real-time video processing and control of video frame stores. View an Eidak brochure.

DOM - Diagnostic Online Monitor for Video Cartridge Machines - Embedded Microcontroller
DaVinci Research Group, Roslyn, NY 1985-1986
The first generation of complex videotape cartridge transport systems which emerged in the 80's lacked self diagnosing capability, resulting in excessive maintenance demands and under utilization. In response to a request from CBS, DaVinci developed a line of Diagnostic Online Monitors which were wired into the transports and monitored performance of the most troublesome electro-mechanical mechanisms. Long term performance data was accumulated and trend data could be printed out on an integral thermal printer, allowing incipient failures to be detected. Our responsibilities included initial software specification, all subsequent development and field testing. The embedded Intel 8085 was programmed primarily in assembler.

Polygon to Raster Scan Converter Software - Computer Graphics, PCs
Judson Rosebush Company, New York, NY, 1986
Judson is one of the pioneers in the use of computer animation in television. The objective was to write a utility program which would allow the display of animation key frames or slides from a custom mainframe graphics system on an IBM PC using AT&T Targa display boards. The application was for a point of sale display for the introduction of the NEC Multisync Monitor. The agency wanted an array of complex computer images which were broadcast quality. Judson had the images from prior animation work, however the images were all from a 3D system in a proprietry polygon format. We developed a utility which would scan convert the polygon data in the raster images in the variety of display formats supported by the Targa board.

Building Automation Lighting Control System - Product Line Systems Engineering
Architel Systems, New York, NY, 1978-1985
Extensive systems design and development work was done on an architectural lighting control system. The system featured completely programmable control of line voltage circuits via a local area network of low voltage control panels and sensors whose actions were programmable via keyboard and display. Central control was provided by an embedded 8-bit Intel processor. Initially programmed in assembler, PL/M was used as reliable compilers emerged, development being done on single user 8 bit systems, then PCs as they become available. The system eventually included a Basic interpreter for programming special purpose algorithms. In addition to the central control system, a large number of specialized peripherals were designed including low voltage wall pushbutton switches on the proprietary LAN and solid state relay and dimmer racks for lighting branch circuits. All line voltage equipment was UL listed. Systems were installed nationally, primary application being museums and luxury residences. A staff of 20 including development engineers, software engineers, and field engineers were managed an a daily basis. View an Architel Systems brochure.

Yellow Pages Distribution on Video Disk - Feasibility Study
AT&T, Bernardsville, NJ, subcontracted to Pangaro Inc. Cambridge MA 1983
Prior to divestiture, AT&T commissioned the design of an integrated digital video system which would permit electronic publishing of the Yellow Pages, most probably on Laser Video Disk. A system specification document, numbering several hundred pages, was completed but the entire effort was halted by the divestiture assignment of the Yellow Pages to the operating companies. Our responsibilities included specifying a large mainframe graphics processing system on which digital images of advertising pages would be compositited and transferred to video disk mastering equipment. Graphics storage algorithms, frame buffers, and large capacity rotating storage were specified for buffering real-time high resolution animation.

Automated Teller Machine and Central Banking System Cash Card System - Embedded Microcontroller, PC Integration
L.R.G. Inc., Rosyln, NY 1981-1983
This project involved the development of a proof-of-concept demonstration system for a cash card system. This type of card differs from a debit or credit card in that a balance is credited to the card and then debited from the card via consumer transactions. The system required development of a rewritable mag stripe card since every transaction modifies the balance on the card itself. A special purpose ATM was designed to read and write the cards. The ATM buffered transactions and then dialed a central banking system at night, eliminating significant ATM line costs. Our responsibility extended to all of the ATM software including the card read/write unit, display, keypad, modem and printer. The ATM featured an embedded Motorola 6809 programmed in C. Our responsibility also included prototyping of a central banking facility which logged ATM transactions and forwarded them to the appropriate member banks. This system was simulated on PCs running C.

Interactive Cable Television System Prototype - Real-Time, Systems Integration
VVR Associates, Roslyn, NY, 1978-1980
A proof-of-concept prototype was developed for an early effort at a two way cable system which featured interactive shopping and video-on-demand. The project was developed for a major nation retailer (Sears) and featured development of set top converters with embedded color character generator, video frame grabber, and return channel modem. A headend system hosted multiple interactive sessions as well as requests for downloading of on-demand movies. Development involved extensive coordination between set top and headend teams. Our direct responsibility involved developing the headend system and included hardware and software integration. Intel 16-bit Multibus hardware was selected running a single user OS. Programming was done in PASCAL and assembler as required. To reduce network traffic a novel "parade" channel continuously repeated the most commonly used single frame shopping menus which were grabbed as needed by the set top. This parade channel was continuously refreshed from a dedicated hard drive on the headend system, a very demanding real-time application for the time.

Video Character Generator - Development System Tools - Systems Programming
Chyron Corporation, Hicksville, NY 1975-1977
In the early 70's Chyron invented the television character generator. The first generation product was hosted on a proprietary minicomputer which suffered from an almost total lack of software support. The initial product development was done in machine code and paper tape assembler. After assessing the client needs we wrote a disk operating system and rehosted the assembler to run under it, permitting disk based program development. This significantly decreased the difficulty in maintaining the existing system as well as greatly aided the development of new products.