Why Software Scan Conversion?

SPx Radar Scan Conversion

For many years, hardware-based radar scan conversion was the only realistic solution to the display of high quality radar video. The development of higher performance graphics cards, combined with the availability of low-cost multi-core processors, has changed that. A modern software-based solution offers flexibility, performance and the ability to meet evolving requirements, all at a lower cost, and with higher reliability and ease of maintenance. By contrast, hardware scan-converters have a high initial cost, high maintainance costs, and demand careful integration with the graphics hardware.

Flexible Display Formats

Interfacing to hardware or network streams, the SPx software scan-converter accepts polar format radar video and converts into a number of possible display formats including PPI (Plan Position Indicator), A-Scan and B-Scan. See here for an explanation of the different formats for radar scan conversion. The SPx scan-converter is a self-contained software module that can be targeted for a range of processing and display platforms, allowing radar imagery to be incorporated into complex multi-layer graphics applications.

The SPx scan-converter operates on incoming radar video to create real-time updating images. These images are either available to application software to incorporate within displays as a bitmap layer, as an OpenGL texture, or else can be rendered directly into a nominated window with minimal cooperation from, and impact on, the application software. This ease of integration is a key feature of Cambridge Pixel's scan-converter.

Underlay/Overlay Display Architectures

A feature of graphical applications for command and control, VTS or ATC is the need to display multiple layers of graphical information. One solution to this has been the development of special-purpose hardware graphics cards that support separate display layers for overlays and underlays. These provide a good solution, but the hardware architecture is often proprietary and expensive. With modern graphics architectures, the same multi-layering capabilities can be implemented in software to provide equivalent layering capability, with more flexibility and at a much reduced cost. The SPx software takes full advantage of modern processing and display architectures. Applications can be built with underlays for maps and charts, radar video that is semi-transparently blended with these underlays, and finally opaque overlays for overlay symbology.
For more information on layering, see here.

Flexible Configurations

Supporting either client-server based configurations, in which the scan-converter and the display are on different machines, or local applications where a single processor handles both, the SPx scan-converter is a highly flexible and configurable set of software components. From a Windows-based laptop through to a multi-computer Linux/X-Windows client-server configuration, the SPx scan-converter provides a single cross-platform solution for cost-effective radar video processing and display.