The Ophir LightIR 16-180mm f/3.6 continuous zoom lens is a compact, folded design that reduces size while maintaining a long effective focal length (EFL). It uses fewer optical elements than similar focal length lenses to reduce weight. It is designed with low power consumption to meet design criteria.
Almost any application can benefit from reducing size, weight, and power, but in some applications it is essential. Drone and UAV designers are constantly balancing the size and lift capacity of the aerial vehicles with the sophisticated technology needed in the payloads. The Ophir LightIR 16-180mm f/3.6 lens allows for a sophisticated, long-range MWIR sensor while limiting the payload size, weight and power consumption. This makes it ideal for airborne gimbles on SWaP constrained platforms. It is specifically designed to enhance imagery in MWIR 640×512 10µm pitch sensors preferred by engineers with SWaP constraints.
Even though SWaP constraints limit size, weight and power, the performance required of the systems cannot be compromised. Imaging systems must maintain the ability to produce clear, crisp images for the end user. Ophir’s LightIR 16-180mm f/3.6 maintains excellent MTF (modulation transfer function) as well as maintaining focus throughout the zoom. It also includes fast zoom and focus, tight boresight, low power consumption, wide operational temperature range, and high durability in harsh environmental conditions. Ophir has created a unique design that implements strict quality control to achieve the best images any given sensor can produce.
Maintaining high performance in any lens begins in the design phase, the key to the designs is to build in performance and manufacturability. Near diffraction limit MTF with a design that allows for some minor tolerances in the build cycle leads to a superior product that meets or exceeds its testing requirements. Ophir’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities maintain tight quality control over the entire manufacturing process from design to delivery, to ensure a superlative product.
Single- and dual-FOV (field of view) lenses are not well suited to SWaP constraints. Single FOV does not provide the flexibility required by systems engineers and dual-FOV cannot meet size and weight constraints. Ophir’s LightIR 16-180mm f/3.6 lens provides a wide FOV for detection and situational awareness and continuously narrowing FOV for identification of objects of interest. The folded optical design allows this in a smaller volume package perfect for SWaP design constraints. In order to withstand harsh environmental conditions, the lens is offered with high durability (HD) and low reflection hard carbon (LRHC) AR coatings.
Drone and UAV design engineers are perpetually balancing size and capability requirements for each aerial system. Larger aerial vehicles have larger lift capacities, but cannot be readily moved by the people who operate them. Smaller aerial vehicles have limited range and limited lift capability. In order to balance these constraints, design engineers detail size, weight and power requirements for each subsystem used on a particular design. Ophir works with sensor manufacturers as well as drone and UAV designers to provide the best optics to meet these rigorous needs. LightIR 16-180mm f/3.6 is the culmination of this teamwork between optics designers and the end users of complex aerial systems.
When it comes to developing optical components and optical systems for UAV payloads, three factors must be measured. These factors can be summarized by the acronym SWaP – size, weight, and power consumption. UAV payloads, especially for smaller commercial UAVs, impose strict size and weight restrictions. Power consumption must be reduced to minimize fuel usage, thus maximizing flight time.
The optical payloads for small autonomous aerial systems must be able to provide high optical performance despite their compact form. Detectors are increasing in both resolution (number of pixels) and format (size), while decreasing in pixel size, which puts pressure on optical manufacturers to make smaller, lighter optics with lens quality that will still allow for maximum imaging performance.
Various technologies are being used to meet these optical needs. These technological solutions include innovative optical and mechanical designs, free-form optics, and unique lens coatings.