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FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for visiting our website. Below is a list of questions and answers that we hope you find to be helpful. Clicking on a question reveals its answer. If you do not find the information you are looking for on this page, we invite you to call us at your convenience at (800) 829-1553.

General


Why should I choose Ballard Technology?

Ballard Technology prides itself on its extremely responsive, thorough, and personalized customer support. We offer free technical support before and after the purchase of Ballard products.

Our customers tell us that our products are some of the highest quality databus interfaces on the market today. Our interface cards support a wide variety of avionics databus protocols including MIL-STD-1553, ARINC 429/708/717, ARINC 664 / AFDX®, and CSDB, as well as serial (RS-422/232/423) communications and Discrete I/O.

We also offer our intuitive CoPilot® software, which makes it easy to control our interface hardware with a few clicks of a mouse.

With our world class customer support, quality hardware, and easy-to-use software you can't go wrong with Ballard Technology.

Which avionics databus protocols do Ballard's products support?

Ballard's products support many avionics databus protocols including MIL-STD-1553, ARINC 429, ARINC 629, ARINC 664 / AFDX®, ARINC 708, ARINC 717, CSDB, and Space Shuttle. Our products also support serial (RS-422/232/423) communications and Discrete I/O.

In which form factors are Ballard's products available?

Ballard has avionics databus interface products in PCIe, PCI, cPCI, PMC, VME, PC/104, and PCMCIA (types II and III) cards and in various adapters, boxes, and handhelds that operate through USB, Ethernet, and/or stand alone.

Prices are not listed on your website. How do I get pricing?

Please contact us at your convenience for pricing of our products. Our sales engineers are knowledgeable and friendly and we gladly take your calls and emails.

Does Ballard offer discount pricing of products on orders for larger quantities?

Yes. Ballard offers discount pricing of products on orders for larger quantities. Please contact us for more details.

Can I buy direct from Ballard?

Ballard Technology sells direct in the United States and some countries. We sell through distributors in some regions. For a list of our distributors and their territories, please click here.

What is the average lead time on products?

Small quantities of standard products usually ship from stock.

Is it possible to evaluate a Ballard product before purchasing?

Ballard Technology offers product for evaluation. Please contact us for more details.

How long has Ballard Technology been in business?

Ballard Technology has provided avionics databus interfaces to the aerospace industry since 1986.

Is Ballard Technology a small business?

Ballard Technology is a small business as classified by the United States Small Business Administration.

Customer Services


Does Ballard offer free technical support?

Yes. Ballard Technology offers free technical support before and after purchase. Our hours are 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Pacific Time, though support and sales engineers are often available outside those hours. We invite your questions and comments on any of our products. You may reach us by telephone at (800) 829-1553 or (425) 339-0281, by fax at (425) 339-0915, or through e-mail at:

How long does it take Ballard to respond to most customer inquiries?

We make our best effort to respond within 24 hours of receipt of the inquiry.

Does Ballard Technology offer a warranty on its products?

Most Ballard hardware products carry a 3 year warranty. Click here for more details.

My Ballard product is still under warranty and needs to be repaired. What should I do?

Contact Ballard at your earliest convenience. Our support staff may request that you troubleshoot the product in order to narrow the problem down. When your product is ready to be sent to Ballard, we will issue you a return merchandise authorization (RMA) number.

How long do product repairs take?

We make our best effort to repair products in a timely manner.

Multi Protocol/OmniBus®


Do any of your products support multiple protocols?

Yes. Ballard's OmniBus family of products offers multiple protocol support on the same interface card.

What is OmniBus?

Ballard's new OmniBus family of products takes avionics databus interfaces to the highest level of flexibility and power in the industry. OmniBus supports high channel counts of single or multiple protocols and is available in several platforms. Features include one to four DSPs for protocol processing, a PowerPC® user processor, IRIG circuits (for time-tags and synchronization), and digital input/output signals. The efficient, modular design of OmniBus products supports mixed-protocol applications and allows users to upgrade or reconfigure their OmniBus with additional functionality, channels, and protocols as requirements change.

Which protocols does OmniBus support?

Ballard's OmniBus family supports MIL-STD-1553, ARINC 429, ARINC 708, ARINC 717, CSDB, serial (RS-422/232/423) communications, and Discrete I/O.

In which form factors are OmniBus products available?

Ballard's OmniBus products are available in PCI/cPCI, PMC, VME, and USB/Ethernet form factors.

How do OmniBus part numbers work?

The part number for an OmniBus product is a combination of the form factor, the protocol module(s), and any options. Click here for more details.

MIL-STD-1553 Protocol


What is MIL-STD-1553?

MIL-STD-1553 is a standard defining a local area network (LAN) originally developed for and widely used on military aircraft. This digital, command-response, time-division multiplexing network protocol is also used in many other military and commercial applications where fast, positive control is required.

What levels of MIL-STD-1553 functionality do Ballard products offer?

Ballard Technology offers five different levels of functionality in their MIL-STD-1553 products: "A", "B4", "B32", "C", and "D". Level "D" functionality is only available with OmniBus products. The table below describes these five levels of functionality.

MIL-STD-1553 Functionality Table
 AB4B32CD
Number of Simultaneous Terminals14323232
Monitorcheckmark.gifcheckmark.gifcheckmark.gifcheckmark.gifcheckmark.gif
    Filtering for terminal addresscheckmark.gifcheckmark.gifcheckmark.gifcheckmark.gifcheckmark.gif
    Filtering for subaddress checkmark.gifcheckmark.gifcheckmark.gifcheckmark.gif
    Concurrent terminal monitoring   checkmark.gifcheckmark.gif
Protocol Error Injection   checkmark.gifcheckmark.gif
Variable Transmit Amplitude    checkmark.gif
Zero Crossing Distortion    checkmark.gif

Does Ballard offer easy-to-use software for MIL-STD-1553?

Yes. CoPilot is an intuitive, graphical databus analyzer that simplifies the simulation and testing of MIL-STD-1553-based systems. When used with one or more of Ballard's interface cards for MIL-STD-1553, users can quickly configure and simulate a bus controller, remote terminals, bus schedules, and monitor and view data in meaningful engineering units. Many other features make CoPilot an invaluable resource.

What MIL-STD-1553 accessories does Ballard offer?

Ballard offers a wide assortment of MIL-STD-1553 accessories including cables, transformer couplers, terminators, tee adapters, and barrel adapters. Click here for more details.

ARINC 664/AFDX® Protocol


What is ARINC 664 Part 7 and AFDX®?

ARINC 664 is a multipart specification that defines an Ethernet data network for aircraft installations. Part 7 of ARINC 664 defines a deterministic network also known as AFDX® (a registered trademark of Airbus Deutschland GmbH), which stands for Avionics Full Duplex Switched Ethernet.

In which form factors are Ballard's products for ARINC 664 available?

Ballard's ARINC 664 Part 7 compatible products are available in PCI, cPCI, and PMC form factors.

What levels of ARINC 664 functionality do Ballard's products offer?

Ballard Technology offers two different levels of functionality in their products for ARINC 664: "A" and "B". The table below describes these two levels of functionality.

ARINC 664 Part 7 Functionality Table
 AB
Transmit and Receivecheckmark.gifcheckmark.gif
Bus Monitorcheckmark.gifcheckmark.gif
    Filteringcheckmark.gifcheckmark.gif
    Concurrent with Tx/Rx checkmark.gif
Error Injection checkmark.gif

Does Ballard offer easy-to-use software for ARINC 664?

Yes. CoPilot is an intuitive, graphical databus analyzer that simplifies the simulation and testing of ARINC 664-based systems. When used with one or more of Ballard's interface cards for ARINC 664, users can quickly configure and simulate ports, virtual links (VLs), and entire end systems, and monitor and view data in meaningful engineering units. Many other features make CoPilot an invaluable resource.

ARINC Protocols


What is ARINC 429?

ARINC 429 is the industry standard that is used on virtually all commercial aircraft. It is a specification that defines a local area network for transfer of digital data between avionics system elements. The specification describes how an avionics system transmits information over a single twisted and shielded pair of wires (the databus) to all other system elements having need of that information (up to as many as 20 receivers).

Does Ballard offer easy-to-use software for ARINC 429?

Yes. CoPilot is an intuitive, graphical databus analyzer that simplifies the simulation and testing of ARINC 429-based systems. When used with one or more of Ballard's interface cards for ARINC 429, users can quickly configure and simulate channels, labels, and schedules, and monitor and view data in meaningful engineering units. Many other features make CoPilot an invaluable resource.

What is ARINC 708?

ARINC 708 describes the characteristics of an airborne pulse Doppler Weather Radar system intended for installation in commercial transport type aircraft.

In which form factors are Ballard's products for ARINC 708 available?

Ballard's products for ARINC 708 are available in PCI, cPCI, USB/Ethernet, PC/ISA, and VME form factors.

Does Ballard offer easy-to-use software for ARINC 708?

Yes. CoPilot can transmit, receive, display, and monitor the display data passed on the ARINC 708 bus.

What is ARINC 717?

ARINC 717 provides design guidelines for a Digital Expandable Flight Data Acquisition and Recording System (DEFDARS) or more simply a Flight Data Recorder (FDR).

In which form factors are Ballard's products for ARINC 717 available?

Ballard's products for ARINC 717 are available in PCI, cPCI, PCMCIA, USB/Ethernet, VME, and Handheld form factors.

CoPilot® Software


What is CoPilot?

CoPilot is Ballard Technology's easy-to-use avionics simulation, test, and monitoring Windows®-based graphical software designed to effectively utilize the rich set of features in our hardware. Our software significantly reduces system development time enabling our users to be up and running with relatively little effort. It can be ordered in two different levels: Standard and Plus.

What is the difference between CoPilot Standard and CoPilot Plus?

Both levels simplify the testing of MIL-STD-1553, ARINC 429, ARINC 664/AFDX®, ARINC 708, and serial protocols through numerous automated features, translation of data into engineering units, extensive monitoring capability and a variety of data creation and display methods. The CoPilot Plus version also supports creation and display of data through strip charts, controls, dials, and flight instruments and moving maps. In addition, CoPilot Plus users can customize operations with scripting and analyze the data through software playback.

Which products does CoPilot support?

CoPilot is compatible with Ballard's interface products for MIL-STD-1553, ARINC 429, ARINC 708, ARINC 664 / AFDX®, and serial protocols in USB/Ethernet, PCI, cPCI, VME, and PCMCIA form factors.

In order to run CoPilot on an active databus using a Ballard board, you must have a CoPilot key installed. You can purchase a key for your hardware, or you can request an "evaluation key" to try the software on your hardware system for a 30-day period.

What are the system requirements for running CoPilot?

The system requirements for running CoPilot are as follows:

 
CoPilot System Requirements
 MinimumRecommended
Operating SystemWindows® XPWindows 7
Processor1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or
64-bit (x64) processor
Intel® Core™2 Duo, 2 GHz (multi-core)
processor or higher
Memory2 GB RAM4 GB RAM
or more
Hard Drive
Space
1 GB

Is it possible to evaluate Ballard's CoPilot software?

We provide CoPilot software for evaluation upon request. The evaluation version includes functionality for MIL-STD-1553, ARINC 429, ARINC 708, ARINC 717, and ARINC 664/AFDX® protocols. If keyed hardware is not present in the computer, CoPilot runs on a "demo" card, which is a software implementation of one of our interface cards.

If you would like to evaluate our CoPilot software and see if it is the right application for you, please call us at (800) 829-1553 or email us.

What is a CoPilot key and how does it work?

The CoPilot software is sold on a per-board basis, and is enabled by a software "key" on the target interface card. CoPilot can run with or without a keyed card, but to actually transmit or receive on a databus, a keyed card must be present.

There are two kinds of keys:

  • Evaluation Key - An evaluation key allows the keyed card to be used for a limited time. When the evaluation key is within two weeks of expiring, a notification dialog appears.
  • Production Key - A production key is purchased from Ballard and does not expire. Production keys are available for CoPilot Standard and Plus.

Do I need to send my interface card to Ballard to get a key?

No. All you need is a current copy of CoPilot running on your computer, with the target interface card installed. Ballard Customer Service will assist you by telephone to install the key.

Can I copy the CoPilot program to other PCs?

Yes. You can copy and run CoPilot on any computer that you wish. This allows you to create CoPilot projects on other computers and to share project components and review collected data among colleages. However, you need Ballard hardware with a CoPilot key to transmit and receive using CoPilot.

How do I upgrade to a new version of CoPilot?

Two types of upgrades are available - revision upgrade and PRO upgrade. Licensed CoPilot users are entitled to the latest revision of their software (CoPilot or CoPilot PRO) free of charge. CoPilot users may also upgrade CoPilot to PRO for a fee. Please contact Ballard Technology for more details on CoPilot software upgrades.

Drivers and APIs


With which operating systems are Ballard's products compatible?

Most of Ballard's hardware products as well as our CoPilot software are compatible with Microsoft® Windows®, including Vista®. Linux, VxWorks, and Solaris support is also available for some products.

What is an application program interface (API)?

An application program interface (API) is a library of functions a program calls to configure and control a device.

What is the BTIDriver™ API?

BTIDriver is a unified library of API (Application Program Interface) functions designed to control Ballard's BTIDriver-compliant hardware products.

Ballard's BTIDriver is accompanied by many useful example programs in C, Visual® Basic®, and LabVIEW.

Which products support the BTIDriver API?

Ballard's family of OmniBus products, PMC for MIL-STD-1553, as well as the USB BUSBox support the BTIDriver API.

Is software developed with the BTIDriver API compatible with other OmniBus products?

BTIDriver supports different avionics databus protocols and different Ballard hardware devices. As long as the devices have similar hardware capability, BTIDriver applications written for one Device can run on another Device with little or no change.

Does software developed for a competitor's product work with Ballard's products?

No. Ballard's interface products are not compatible with any software developed for our competitors' products.

Legacy Products


Does Ballard still offer support to those customers with legacy products?

Yes. Ballard supports customers using our legacy products.

How much effort does it take to upgrade the Ballard products in my legacy system to newer Ballard products?

Many newer Ballard products are designed to be "drop-in" replacements their older counterparts. Please contact Ballard to discuss your upgrade requirements.

Is Ballard capable of delivering replacement legacy products?

Ballard is committed to serving our customers, and on special occasions, has provided replacement parts for legacy systems.

 
 
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