Facilities and Capabilities by The Pilot Group
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Facilities and Capabilities

The Pilot Group is a specialty engineering and commercial R and D company. We design, analyze, and build instruments and prototype devices involving a wide range of technologies. We have built a stable and solid reputation based on our technical capabilities and expertise. We complete projects at a fixed price that few are willing to match. One is unlikely to find a combination of fixed price, timely delivery and technical performance in other businesses offering similar services.

Our technical capabilities encompass:

  • Analog and Digital Electronics
  • Feedback Control
  • Hydraulics
  • Image Acquisition and Processing
  • Mechanics
  • Optics
  • Optomechanics
  • Pnuematics
  • Signal Processing
  • Software

The Pilot Group clientele includes universities, research, medical and industrial organizations, such as Allergan, NASA/JPL, Ophthalmic Innovations International, Pratt and Whitney, The Boeing Company, The Carnegie Institution of Washington, US National Observatory, University of Washington, U.C. Santa Cruz / Lick Observatory, Wise Observatory and many others.

About the President

Alan Schier founded The Pilot Group in 1990, although he has been doing similar work since the time he could walk. This natural predisposition toward technical endeavors led first to an automotive repair business, and then to a Bachelor's and Master's of Science in Engineering from Stanford University in 1986, complete with academic accolades including the F.E. Terman Engineering Award, Rotary Foundation Scholarship, election to the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society and election to the Phi Beta Kappa liberal arts honor society. His short history as an employee elsewhere has also yielded honors including the Finnigan Corporation Award for Engineering Excellence, several NASA Tech Brief Awards, and Published articles in the area of spacecraft control.

Since founding The Pilot Group, Mr.Schier has achieved significant accomplishments in servicing the needs of his clients. These include:

  • In 1996, the world's largest digital servo control system used for the two hydraulic snakes in the movie "Anaconda", each having 120 coupled degrees of freedom.
  • Opto-mechanical design for some of the world's largest spectrograph optics used on the Keck telescope.
  • Design and fabrication of the highest performance gas pressure control system in regular industrial use. It is accurate to 0.1 psi over a 1000psi range, with a resolution better than 0.02 psi.
  • Design and fabrication of the world's fastest research telescope mount, used in the RAPTOR and ROTSE programs.
Mr. Schier speaks fluent German, some French, sang Bass in an award-winning acapella group, and can, in theory, play the piano.

Facilities and Equipment List

The Pilot Group facilities include approximately 1,000 square foot office, 2,500 square foot lab and shop area in a company-owned 10,800 square foot building.

Machining and Fabrication Equipment

  • Allis-Chalmers 3000 lb. forklift
  • Baldor diamond grinder
  • Bendmore 12" sheet metal brake
  • Boyar-Schultz 612 surface grinder
  • Buffalo drill press
  • Dake 5-ton press
  • Diacro 24" shear
  • Hein-Werner 2-ton mobile crane
  • Husky 7.5 hp compressor, 175 psi
  • Lux-Matter 13" x 40" (19" through gap) lathe
  • Miller 250DX TIG/stick welder, 325 amps
  • Miller Spectrum 2050 plasma cutter, 75 amps
  • Oxy-acetylene torch
  • Shizuoka CNC vertical mill, 18" x 38"

Metrology and Alignment Equipment

  • Assorted shop optics and fixturing
  • Dover 10" air-bearing spindle
  • Fowler 100 mm indicator, 2 mm resolution, 4 mm accuracy
  • Grade A gage blocks to 14-inches long
  • Meiji stereo/trinocular zoom microscope
  • Mitutoyo 30-inch height gage
  • Mitutoyo F604 CMM
  • Mitutoyo LVDT gage head, 0.1 mm resolution
  • Nikon measuring microscope
  • Scherr-Tumico 14” comparator
  • Starrett 1.5" to 28" inside micrometer
  • Starrett 24" Master Caliper, 0.001" accuracy
  • Yuasa precision 12" rotary table
  • Various indicators, micrometers, and calipers with resolutions and accuracies in the range of 0.0001" to 0.001”

Optical Assembly and Test Equipment

  • 12" f/10 Schmidt-Cass collimator
  • 16" f/4.5 parabolic collimator
  • Assorted optical and IR filters
  • Assorted precision pinholes
  • Assorted light sources, including halogen and fiber optic
  • Brunson 83 autocollimating alignment telescope
  • Custom focal length and resolution bench
  • Eidolon nodal slide MTF bench
  • Laminar flow bench
  • Newport RP Reliance 36” x 72” vibration isolated optical table
  • NRC 36" x 48" vibration isolated optical table
  • Pulnix TM7-CN CCD
  • Welch vane-type vacuum pump
  • Wyko Phase II interferometer

Electrical and Electronic Equipment

  • Assorted bench power supplies
  • Fluke 87 III DVM
  • General Microwave 454A microwave power meter
  • HP 5345 frequency counter
  • Rutherford 816 pulse generator
  • Tektronix 7403 analog oscilloscope
  • Tektronix FG504 signal generator
  • Tektronix TDS3012B digital storage oscilloscope
  • Wire-wrap, soldering, and prototyping equipment

Computing and Software

  • AutoCAD (CAD)
  • Algor (finite element analysis)
  • Inventor (solid modeling)
  • MathCad (numerical computation and analysis)
  • Matlab (numerical computation and analysis)
  • Mechanical Desktop (solid modeling)
  • Vellum (CAD)
  • Zemax EE (ray tracing)