dB Control: High-Power Amplifiers for Rugged Military Operations

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Mike Lee, Director of Sales and Marketing, and Steve Walley, VP of Business Development, dB ControlMike Lee, Director of Sales and Marketing, and Steve Walley, VP of Business Development
The airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) sector is one of the fastest growing segments of the defense industry, ripe for disruption. The US Department of Defense (DoD) has an avid appetite for ISR collection — increasingly so in challenging environments. If ISR equipment is vulnerable in certain operating environments, it compromises the entire mission. New technologies and platforms have emerged to meet the evolving requirements of the military. Airborne environments add another layer of specifications. This is where companies like dB Control stay ahead of the curve. For more than 30 years, dB Control has designed and manufactured reliable, high-power products for even the most complex military applications.

Established in 1990, dB Control Corp. supplies mission-critical, often sole-source, products worldwide to military organizations, as well as to major defense contractors and commercial manufacturers. dB Control is a subsidiary of the Electronic Technologies Group of HEICO Corp., a publicly-traded aerospace and electronics company with more than 60 subsidiaries. The company also designs and manufactures high-power microwave power modules (MPMs), transmitters, and power supplies with modulators for radar, electronic countermeasures (ECM) and data link applications. “As the two founding members were specialized in power supply design engineering and manufacturing, they started to build high voltage power supplies for the military. Starting from power supply to building a whole amplifier, dB Control has grown over the years,” said Steve Walley, VP of Business Development. The company also serves as a contract manufacturer and repair depot for specialized high-voltage and low-voltage power supplies and amplifiers. dB Control also repairs legacy amplifiers, with or without the schematics. “Primarily we are a military contractor, and we are specialized in designing, developing and manufacturing high power amplifiers. This also drives the amplification of signals for both ECM, radar and EW applications. Moreover, we are also AS9100D and ISO 9001:2015 certified,” said Mike Lee, Director of Sales and Marketing.
In 2019, dB Control acquired TTT-Cubed. This led to an expanded product offering. In addition to its usual slate of products, the company now designs and manufactures the following: Instantaneous Frequency Measurement Units (IFM), Frequency Locked Oscillators (FLO), Digital Control Units (DCU), Antenna Control Units (ACU), and Integrated DCUs.

The team of experts at dB Control closely works with different manufacturers of TWTs (traveling wave tubes) and specializes in building custom high-voltage power supplies that drive an output device. In fact, the company developed a full vacuum encapsulation and potting lab in 1992. It’s in this lab that dB Control uses its proprietary technology to enhance the reliability of a high-voltage power supply.

Without this technology, a high-voltage power supply would be almost the size of a truck. Thanks to encapsulation, it’s possible to shrink that same product to the size of a shoebox — without compromising performance. Encapsulation also prevents any type of arcing in harsh environments and ensures high reliability. Simultaneously, dB Control performs the full RF testing in-house, and test every piece of the sub-assemblies. The company also has temperature, vibration, altitude, HALT/HASS equipment in-house.

With its long heritage supporting defense programs, dB Control’s culture and capabilities ensure products are designed and manufactured to withstand harsh environments, whether in the air, on a ship, or land. The commitment of the company is also well proven in the time of COVID-19. As an essential business, dB Control has remained fully operational and delivered products to the end customers. While the pandemic posed some material and supplier challenges, dB Control managed to deliver their best and achieved success in terms of delivery and new orders. In parallel, while other companies planned to reduce manpower to cope up with economic strains, dB Control continued to hire engineers and other technicians to meet an influx of client requests.

At this juncture, dB Control’s unique value proposition can be best explained with a client success story. A client approached dB Control because they needed a high-voltage power supply (HVPS) for a towed decoy application. In a tactical situation, the towed decoy diverts incoming ballistics away from the actual aircraft, and potentially increases pilot survivability rates – even in very hostile conditions. The HVPS is an integral part of the application – and dB Control delivered. The client was very happy with the end result. Similarly, dB Control has helped the US Air Force. dB Control developed an amplifier used in a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) system that goes on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone used by the US Air Force. The US Air Force provided dB Control with stringent specifications to develop a sophisticated, compact amplifier that could withstand harsh airborne environments. SAR systems enable the UAVs to capture high-res aerial photographs and videos of any terrain. Every minute detail can be detected – even at night and in harsh environmental conditions. Surprisingly, this is not a recent project with modern facilities, instead, it is a project that was carried out 15 years ago and dB Control has fielded over 400 units of these amplifiers.

This is one of the many instances where dB Control has proven its excellence in driving mission-critical results for its clients. For the days ahead, the company will continue to deliver products with next-gen capabilities, higher reliability and better efficiency. Whether it comes to TWTAs or GaN SSPAs, every product that leaves the dB Control facility will meet stringent specs for size, weight, and power (SWaP) . Historically, dB Control has always been a pioneer. The company shipped the first Ka-Band (millimeter wave) HPA in 2006., Over time, the team of experts at dB Control continues to develop products that cover wider bandwidth and higher power. In the future, mmWave and higher frequency amplifiers (ranging from one to 50+ GHz will be applied in both electronic warfare and radar. As this takes place, dB Control is fully equipped to offer the best solutions and services for even the most complex, rugged applications.
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Company
dB Control

Headquarters
Fremont, CA

Management
Mike Lee, Director of Sales and Marketing, and Steve Walley, VP of Business Development

Description
dB Control Corp. supplies mission-critical, often sole-source, products worldwide to military organizations, as well as to major defense contractors and commercial manufacturers

dB Control

"Primarily we are a military contractor, and we are specialized in designing, developing and manufacturing high power amplifiers.” — Mike Lee, Director of Sales and Marketing"

- Mike Lee, Director of Sales and Marketing, and Steve Walley, VP of Business Development