Fly-Out Optical Tracking System

Fly-Out Optical Tracking System

Fly-Out Optical Tracking System


Our Fly-Out system is a high performance, mid-sized optical tracking system capable of tracking high-dynamic targets and capturing Time-Space-Position Information (TSPI) data, six degrees of freedom (6DOF) attitude data and high-speed sequential image data.

This system can be equipped with six or more multi-spectral sensors and lenses, including zoom lenses, to allow multiple missions to be accomplished without the need to reconfigure the sensor suite. The system is designed to accept larger optics and/or distance measuring equipment on the outboard payload platforms.

The Fly-Out system can track from sidereal speeds up to 120°/second with acceleration up to 120°/second² even with a nominal payload in excess of 1,000 pounds. With this wide performance envelope, it is a very versatile, multi-use optical tracking gimbal. The high dynamic performance of the Fly-Out system records very large, high-quality images that are ideal for calculating 6DOF data.


  • Fully Integrated Argus Pedestal and Sensor Control Software

  • Real Time TSPI Data Output

  • Single Station Solution Option  

  • Sensors and System Timing Synchronized to GPS/IRIG

  • Multi-Gate Video Auto-Tracking System

  • Remote-Control Console


The Fly-Out gimbal can be deployed as a fixed pedestal in a dome, on a ship with stabilization, or with a custom-designed trailer specifically engineered to provide the accuracy of an optical bench in a mobile configuration.

Robust Pedestal Construction:

Photo-Sonics utilizes Almag35, an aluminum magnesium alloy, which provides excellent corrosion resistance to support long life with minimal maintenance in the harshest environments. We use only full-size bearings to provide the highest stability and accuracies, as opposed to narrow diameter bearings found in lesser systems. We provide powerful DC torque motors in both the azimuth and elevation axis, coupled to 24-bit optical encoders.

Local Support Electronics:

The modularity of the Fly-Out control electronics supports multiple installation scenarios largely dependent on the type of communications link being used between the gimbal and the control station. Equipment required for real-time operation of the gimbal, sensors, and optics is usually located in environmentally conditioned enclosures in the trailer close to the gimbal. If a low bandwidth data link is used (such as a microwave link) then the digital image recorders and video trackers will also be located local to the gimbal and standards-based video streamers will be supplied to send video to the control station. If a high speed (dark fiber) link is used, then much of this equipment can be co-located at the operator station.

We can provide an optional hand-held tablet computer for ease of system setup and checkout at the pedestal.

Argus Control Software:

Photo-Sonics provides all the functionality the user would expect of an advanced TSPI tracking system with our Argus control software. It provides a single interface for the tracking pedestal, sensors, auto-tracking, ranging devices, calibration, target simulation and diagnostics of the complete tracking system. We have simplified control of the system via an intuitive touch screen graphical user interface (GUI).

The standard Argus application can control up to 10 sensor stations; including fixed focal length and zoom lenses, focus tables, ranging devices, and single- and multi-gate auto-trackers. The close integration of the system allows a single operator to retain complete control of all aspects of a complex and highly capable tracking system from a remote location.

We have achieved the highest TSPI accuracy of any optical tracking system manufactured today, in part, because Argus simultaneously uses a combination of automated star calibration and turn-and-dump calibration. Using these methods of calibration, you can achieve post-mission accuracies of 50 micro-radians and better. When multiple mounts are used, with the Photo-Sonics Multi-Station software, you can achieve real time accuracies between 50 to 100 micro-radians.

System Options
Multi-Station Processing and Control System:

Photo-Sonics’ MSPC software is used to generate the real-time TSPI data used to designate the tracking mounts (if needed) and to focus the cameras. This software also provides a 2D and 3D visualization tool set to display the tracks in real-time, provide quick-look displays, to aid in mission planning, and for data reduction presentation.

Test and Training Enabling Architecture (TENA) Integration:

TENA is an object-oriented communications software used for inter-system data sharing. Photo-Sonics supports the use of TENA stateful distributed objects. Alternatively, Photo-Sonics can support customer specific interface protocols.

Automated Calibration System:

Photo-Sonics offers two methods of calibration: automated stellar calibration and an automated turn-and-dump calibration. We also offer a fully-automated, centimeter-accurate differential global navigation satellite system (DGNSS) survey subsystem. We provide a single base station to communicate with permanently installed rovers on each gimbal and each target board. During the calibration process, the base station and rovers communicate using a set of 400 MHz, 5W radios and record accurate surveyed locations of each gimbal in the Argus software prior to the mission. The survey system is designed for operation covering 10 to 20 km baselines.


The Fly-Out system can be configured with stabilization hardware and software that allows use of the system on a ship or other moving platform.

Operator Stations

Photo-Sonics offers a variety of remote operator station configurations including a full-size console, a compact console suitable for mobile command vehicles, and a desktop configuration with large touchscreen monitors displaying multiple images from various sensors on the tracking systems. The compact console is available in a standard 19” rack cabinet or easily-moved transit cases.


Photo-Sonics can support a variety of connection methods between the tracking mount and the operator station. One option is via a single-strand, single-mode “dark” fibre optic cable, which allows for separation up to 20 kilometres. A total of four video channels and two Ethernet channels are multiplexed on the single fibre. Other supported interfaces include shared networks and point-to-point microwave transmission links.

Optical Tracking Systems Product Menu : Close-In - Mini-Sextant - Fly-Out

For more technical details, contact a member of the team at Photo-Sonics International Ltd.

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