LTA Projects located in Cookeville, Tennessee builds the most portable lighting and antenna towers in the world. The portable lighting and antenna towers are inflatable. Their portable inflatable towers let a user quickly deploy antennas, repeaters, lighting, video camera or sensor payloads, after emergencies, at large public gatherings, or anywhere there is a need for temporary lighting or communications.
For several years, LTA Projects has manufactured high-pressure inflatable antenna towers to serve as portable and back-up solutions for emergency and public safety communications. The towers are self-inflating, utilizing an internal blower and pressure control system to keep them in the correct pressure range. The products have been bothered by inaccuracy and even occasional failure in the analog pressure control systems resulting in performance issues.
As a program of the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services (UT CIS), TMEP utilizes its network of colleges, universities and technical schools to connect small and medium sized businesses that could not otherwise afford the level of services needed to explore opportunities, address challenges or take a chance on a new idea to engineering, research and development services available through faculty and student projects. Through an agreement with Tennessee Tech University (TTU) in Cookeville, Tennessee, TMEP works with TTU and its faculty to identify companies and projects for Senior Student Capstone Projects. The Capstone Projects pair a company with specific needs with a faculty member expert and a Senior Student Capstone Design Team for a semester to work on the project. TMEP supports Capstone projects by assisting in project selection and working with the companies and students throughout to ensure the projects are successful.
In 2014, the challenge presented by LTA Projects issues with pressure control systems was chosen as a Capstone Project by TMEP and TTU. An expert faculty member and a Senior Student Capstone Electrical Engineering Design Team met with LTA Projects to identify issues, discuss the scope of the project and put together a plan to address the challenges. Over the course of the project, the design team worked with the company to address the workings of the analog pressure control system and developed a digital pressure control system design solution that the company is currently using on all mission-critical products.
According to LTA Projects, the new digital design offers almost 50% better accuracy, the pressure range parameters are modifiable at LTA Projects rather than at the sensor manufacturer, and the failure rate in deployed units is negligible.
LTA Projects understands that design and improvements to their products are necessary to keep up with technology and have requested continued assistance through TMEP's support of the TTU Capstone Project program. They have expressed interest in pursuing the concept of wireless communications to add longer-range remote pressure sensing, control and data-collection capabilities to the system.