Fairchild Airmen create ‘R2D2,’ provides portable network capabilities
By Tech. Sgt. Vincent Appel, 92nd Communications Squadron
/ Published July 18, 2016
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Technicians at the 92nd Communications Squadron Network Infrastructure shop here have developed a way to rapidly introduce network capabilities to customers who need network access quickly.
The Rapid Response Distribution Device, referred to as R2D2 by Airmen of the Network Infrastructure shop, is the brainchild of Staff Sgt. Kazimier Buryn, a 92nd CS cyber-transport journeyman.
“It’s a mobile module we designed to be able to rapidly respond to any kind of additional network needs,” Buryn said. “The versatile R2D2 can be utilized to provide network access to up to 48 users in cases such as emergency response, temporary office relocations, visiting working groups and a myriad of other situations.”
According to Buryn, the R2D2 concept began during preparations for an exercise.
“Network Infrastructure technicians were discussing how to increase network access to a building that normally didn’t support many users,” Buryn said.
He asked the technicians, “Wouldn’t it be great if we had some little deployable boxes you could throw out temporarily for exercise purposes?”
Since then, Buryn worked on the concept and developed a design for a Pelican touch box with all the network equipment required to get users connected quickly.
After sharing his design with Airman 1st Class Johnny Mitchell, a 92nd CS cyber-transport journeyman, they began implementation and soon every member from the infrastructure shop was working to build and further develop the devices based on Buryn’s original plan.
Working as a team, the Airmen modified the design to create a more functional and easier to deploy product, building five machines, enough to support up to 240 computers.
The final design included an uninterruptible power supply that provides power in the case of a power outage, a patch panel that allows reconfiguration without having to permanently change the box setup and keeps network equipment concealed from customers so switches cannot be modified, resulting in a system that is easy to store and transport when required.
The R2D2 concept was field-tested when the Unit Effectiveness Inspection and Nuclear Operational Readiness Inspection teams came to Fairchild last January, who needed network access for more than 160 members.
“We cut a set-up time that might take three days with a full team, to possibly two or three technicians going out there for an hour just hooking up the trunks and everything,” Mitchell said. “It was just a cleaner way to represent comm [92nd CS], and more efficient.”
Col. Philip A. Clinton, team chief of the most recent Nuclear Operational Readiness Inspection team, praised the infrastructure technicians, writing, “Their flawless logistical support ensured a well-organized work center was established in a timely manner.”
Clinton thanked Fairchild’s NORI support team for providing a working office to his large group with no delay.
“The ability to pull this together while also preparing for the inspection, demonstrated an exceptional level of expertise, motivation and professionalism,” Clinton wrote.
The Network infrastructure shop has plans to build at least five more systems and have begun work on a similar design that will allow the introduction of secure network capabilities. They also have plans to develop a system that communicates over microwave, a design that would allow Internet access powered by generators for more remote locations.