High-Speed Filter Wheel

LaunchPoint Technologies collaborated with Raytheon to develop a switching mechanism for a high-speed filter wheel. Electromechanical designs typically used for controlling high-speed filter wheels did not achieve the required switching speed for the specified size, weight, vibration, and power consumption levels of the application. To address the problem, LaunchPoint developed a novel rotary switch utilizing concentric Halbach magnet arrays (US patent 7,265,470, "Magnetic Spring and Actuators with Multiple Equilibrium Positions").

The video below shows two Raytheon high-speed filter wheels (patent pending) built with LaunchPoint’s rotary switch technology. Two actuator shafts are visible, each with a flat filter star containing three round filters. Any one of the filters can be rotated into position at a very high speed and then held fixed. The average power consumption of one of the magnetic actuators, switching 15 times per second, is less than 30 Watts. In comparison, a high-efficiency electric motor with sufficient torque to rotate the filter wheel 120 degrees in 33 milliseconds, with no spring assist, would require over 900 Watts.

LaunchPoint was recognized with an R&D award from Raytheon "for the rapid development and demonstration of a fast filter switch mechanism."