Army workhorse helicopters are doing heavy lifting with the help of VT Miltope's Mass Memory
Server 2 (MMS-2). The MMS-2, which resides in the aircraft's hot, cramped avionics bay, is a
lightweight, network-attached, solid-state storage platform that is part of the helicopter's
Avionics Management System. It serves as a digital map server and collects aircraft data
including usage, maintenance, vibration monitoring, and engine, rotor, and balance information
in order to monitor aircraft health.
Cooling the MMS-2, while protecting its interior electronics from contaminants (such as sand
and dust, rain, humidity, and salt fog), required a separate, "dirty" conduit for air flow and
heat exchange. Two rear fans pull air into the chassis from the lower front panel. The air then
runs through a short, wide duct below the circuit boards before exhausting through the rear.
A baseboard with its processor module and power supply board is cooled by conduction and
forced convection. Custom aluminum heat sinks mounted to these boards pull heat from the
thermally significant chips, such as the processor chipset and memory. Attached to these
conduction heat sinks are finned heat sinks that project downward into the air flow space of the
internal duct. These heat sinks also serve as the ceiling of the cooling duct.
Coolit modeling ensured a reliable cooling system design across an operating temperature
range of -40C to +71C. After a few minor tweaks to the design of the ducting and placement of
fans to achieve lowest chip temperatures, Coolit predicted that all major components would
remain within their manufacturer's specifications with a healthy thermal margin. This modeling
outcome later was verified by thermocouple measurements
on pre-production hardware.
Early thermal predictions indicated that the Ethernet board's components would benefit from
additional cooling. So an aluminum heat spreader plate was added to those components to lower
chip temperatures. Coolit further showed that a stirring fan was needed for spot cooling on a
small toroid transformer on the power supply. This component could not be cooled by the same
conduction heatsinking as the other power supply components, and could not be located in the air
duct for environmental reasons, so spot cooling was necessary. Coolit showed that the stirring
fan reduced the toroid's core temperature significantly. Finally, Coolit showed that the
temperature of the four internal solid state drives remained within the manufacturer's
Simulating a fan failure in Coolit was as easy as checking the box labeled "Failed Fan". The
MMS-2's rear fans are divided by a septum which continues the entire length of the internal duct
to prevent shortcircuiting of air flow in the unlikely event of a fan failure. If one fan fails,
the air flow from one fan still cools half of the heat sinks for the baseboard and power supply.
Coolit verified that the parallel heat exchange paths of the MMS-2 provided sufficient cooling
even with a single fan operating.
Late in the design, solar radiation loading became a new requirement. Coolit easily modeled
a solar load intensity of 1120 Watts per square meter, using a 45-degree solar angle and an
azimuth for side loading. Predictions indicated that all component temperatures were still
within acceptable limits.