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Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Company, for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, ... more.
Former Green Beret Designs Rapid-Zoom Rifle Optic â€“ Kit Up!
"The impetus behind the idea of push-button zoom is you can acquire what you're interested in at low magnification and - without getting lost - zoom in for more clarity," said RAZAR developer Brett Bagwell, now an optical engineer with Sandia National Laboratories.
Development of the system was led by Sandia National Laboratories optical engineer Brett Bagwell, a former Army Special Forces officer who designed and built the first RAZAR from scratch and developed a manufacturing process for it.
Sandia National Laboratories optical engineer Brett Bagwell led the development of the Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles (RAZAR) prototype.
At the push of a button, RAZAR can toggle between high and low magnifications, enabling soldiers to zoom in without having to remove their eyes from their targets or their hands from their rifles. "The impetus behind the idea of push-button zoom is you can acquire what you're interested in at low magnification and, without getting lost, zoom in for more clarity," Bagwell said. Bagwell began work on RAZAR in 2006 responding to Department of Defense interest in a compact zoom riflescope that could rapidly toggle between magnifications. Early work had been funded by Sandia's Laboratory Directed Research and Development program. Bagwell found no commercial products or components that would enable the riflescope to meet military requirements, so he had to design and build the first RAZAR from scratch and develop a manufacturing process. The invention, Bagwell said, means "this is the first time in a long time that there has been a new technology that a direct-view optical designer can take advantage of." When the polymer is sealed, no air bubbles or specks of dust could remain in the lenses or on the surrounding rings, Bagwell said. While many of the technologies and designs that make up the riflescope came from mechanical engineers, robotics experts, chemists and other Sandia experts, Bagwell went outside the labs for the actuator to flex the lenses, seeking help from Dynamic Structures and Materials, LLC, a small business in Franklin, Tennessee. The feature allows users to complete 10,000 actuations on two AA batteries, Bagwell said. Meeting the power usage, speed and accuracy specifications required by the military took years. "As an engineer, I was impressed with our progress," Bagwell said. From 2010-2012, the team also ensured the riflescope would be reliable in the field by conducting shock, vibration and temperature testing, Bagwell said. By 2010, Bagwell began demonstrating it to the military and, in late 2012, tested it with representatives from U.S. Special Operations Command at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center near Edinburgh, Indiana. When he handed the rifles to military personnel to let them test them, he realized that Sandia had developed a concept that would benefit the military. "The guys picked it up and when they pushed the button and it zoomed, and then instantly it zoomed back out, they were like kids at Christmas. There was this look of astonishment and pleasure," he said. "That's very gratifying. Feedback from ex-military personnel and soldiers who have tried RAZAR has motivated Bagwell. He is now working to develop night vision systems and recently demonstrated adaptive zoom in thermal infrared. "It's an opportunity for me to take my technical expertise and give back to people I really care about," he said.
Aside from weapons, an emerging technology being developed by a team under Dr. Brett Bagwell of Sandia National Laboratories caught the attention of those intuitive to the fact that a good optic will radically enhance system performance when incorporated with the right ammunition and training.
Developed in response to Dr. Bagwell's belief that current optical aiming solutions are not optimized for the varying scenarios warfighters encounter today, he set off on a mission to develop a small, quick, and effective variable power optic. The potential in the design produced by his Sandia team lies is the use of deformable lenses in place of traditional scope designs that rely on changes in the distance between the aperture, erector, and eyepiece to effectively change focal length and vary magnification. Dr. Bagwell's team has successfully developed a unit to proof the concept that Adaptive Polymer Lenses, electrically driven to change the surface shape of lenses instead of their distance from one another, can achieve quality variable magnification in a small robust package.
Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference
Ty Martinez (Naval Research Laboratory), Freddie Santiago (Naval Research Laboratory), David V. Wick (Sandia National Laboratory), Brett E. Bagwell (Sandia National Laboratory), Sergio R. Restaino (Naval Research Laboratory), Christopher Wilcox (Naval Research Laboratory), Jonathan Andrews (Naval Research Laboratory), Don M. Payne (Narrascape)