Spiral Technology - Telemetry Attributes Transfer Standard (TMATS)


otis logo With the publication of IRIG 106-93, the Inter-Range Instrumentation Group (IRIG) introduced the Telemetry Attributes Transfer Standard (TMATS) presented as Chapter 9. This long-needed standard was designed to provide a common thread through which test programs could move from one test range to another without major re-work in the setup environment.

As stated in IRIG 106, the purpose of TMATS is "... to provide a common format for the transfer of information between the user and a test range or between ranges. This format will minimize the 'station unique' activities that are necessary to support any test item. In addition, it is intended to relieve the labor intensive process currently required to reformat the information by providing the information on computer compatible media, thus reducing errors and requiring less preparation time for test support."

The attributes defined by TMATS are those parameters required by the receiving/processing system to acquire, process and display the telemetry data received from the test item or source. Each attribute is represented by a unique code name and associated data.

These attributes are divided into the following groupings:

Attribute Group
General Information
Defines various top-level program definitions and defines each data source used within this TMATS file.
Transmission Attributes
Describes each RF link that was defined in the General Information Section.
Tape Source Attributes
Describes each tape data source defined in the General Information Section.
Multiplex/Modulation Attributes
Defines each FM/FM, FM/PM, or PM/PM multiplex characteristic. For analog measurement, this section defines a link to the Data Conversion Section.
PCM Format Attributes
Defines the format and various characteristics of a PCM data stream. This definition includes subframe and embedded format descriptions.
PCM Measurement Attributes
Defines and describes each PCM measurand to the system. This definition includes the measurand location(s) and measurement names.
1553 Bus Data Attributes
Defines each 1553 data stream by defining the various messages and their locations.
PAM Attributes
Definition of the Pulse-Amplitude Modulation system. This includes PAM format characteristics and measurement attributes.
Data Conversion Attributes
Defines the various conversions that are to be applied to defined measurements.
Airborne Hardware Attributes
This section was recently added to the TMATS specification (5 May 1995). It defines the specific configuration of airborne instrumentation hardware in use on the vehicle under test.

The TMATS file may contain multiple definitions for various configurations. A TMATS file is structured similarly to a hierarchical database allowing a user to extract the necessary information for a particular setup.

The Figure below represents the hierarchical structure of a TMATS file.

TMATS graphic

The primary considerations for using TMATS are represented in the following:

  • A single TMATS file contains the entire description of a test system from onboard transducers through data converted to engineering units as one "database" of definitions and descriptions. By incorporating TMATS, projects can be easily transported between different hardware and software platforms and test ranges.

  • TMATS, like any other "setup file", can be difficult to read/maintain/edit without additional tools. Although TMATS is an ASCII file, it can be quite large with even the most modest PCM definitions. In order to create or edit a TMATS file manually the user must be quite familiar with the TMATS "keywords" and syntax. This is a job not well suited for the everyday word processor, since the simplest error could result in an invalid TMATS definition.

  • Most vendors are now offering TMATS support for their ground systems either directly or through a third party (Spiral). In addition, the commercial off the shelf (COTS) developers are offering tools to maintain TMATS structured data files. Windows based COTS software tools are available to allow users to create, edit and maintain TMATS files in a simple, easy to use environment (Figure 2). With these COTS applications the TMATS structure becomes invisible to the user and is replaced with a friendlier graphical format, allowing the user to visualize the various data formats in the TMATS file.

Benefits of using TMATS Technology

Ranges-As a range systems user, TMATS offers you the ability to support new programs coming from other ranges or test facilities with a minimal amount of tedious setup work by importing the majority of the mission definition in the TMATS format.

Test Programs-As a Program Manager you can move your testing from internal to external test facilities with minimal cost using TMATS.

Telemetry System Upgrades-When competitively procuring a new Ground System, the migration from the existing system is made much simpler with TMATS as the transition mechanism.

Operations-Used as the primary interface between telemetry instrumentation and the ground station, TMATS can simplify the number of setup environments your operators need to learn.

User's with Multiple Vendors-For facilities with multiple vendor products in use, TMATS provides a common setup environment which, when coupled with translators to convert from TMATS to unique vendor formats, will, again, simplify the number of setup environments you need to learn.

Shrinking Budgets-With budgets shrinking, TMATS helps to reduce Test Program Life Cycle Costs.

All versions of the IRIG 106 documents are available for download on our downloads page.

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