industrial computersEmbedded computers are prevalent across the industrial sector, which means that many different businesses and organizations use these products. Depending on what a particular industry needs, the embedded system may often find itself in less than optimum conditions.

An example use case is water quality research; almost the entirety of the field researchers’ work is done on the banks of a river or knee deep in a lake or ocean. When water protection is the name of the game, having reliable, waterproof industrial computers on hand becomes an absolute necessity. Let’s look at what makes these computers so different from other embedded systems, and how these changes can be leveraged for better use.

What Makes a Waterproof Industrial Computer Unique?

The most apparent answer to this question is that the system’s enclosure is watertight. Repellent seals ensure that the internal components remain dry and functioning, even with lengthy submersion or Continue Reading…

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rugged tablet pcTaking inventory, updating logs, receiving orders, shipping and receiving: the warehouse is a very busy place. Add onto this load moving forklifts and all of the necessary filing that takes place and you can see why efficiency is key in this type of environment. But at a certain point, you can only get so efficient before you need better tools and technology for the job.

The answer to all of these problems is a rugged tablet. These slate-shaped devices that are now so popular in the consumer market have actually been a staple in the industrial setting in rugged form for years, in applications such as field work and the health care sector. Their wide popularity in the consumer realm has definitely helped to spur design innovations. What this tells us, however, is that tablet PCs, after more than a decade of widespread use, are actually already inherently designed for an industrial setting.

The Rugged Tablet PC: How It Improves Efficiency

When we get right down to it, we want to know how this technology can make our jobs easier. Many rugged tablet PC manufacturers offer the option to include barcode scanners (both 1D and 2D), as well as RFID scanners built inside their Continue Reading…

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industrial PCIn the industrial sector, we sometimes neglect the larger questions that get us talking in the first place. How can we dissect the necessary components of a PC-104 board or the benefits of an SSD hard drive in an embedded system, without first addressing the larger question of an industrial PC? It may seem like a bygone question, or one that is below the regular readers of this blog, but such a discussion can actually contain some important information.

Just what is an industrial PC? Answering such a question helps to acquaint new people with and bring them into the industry, meaning new minds and a fresh take on solutions to existing problems.

 An Industrial PC as the Right Tool for the Job

 In the most basic sense, an industrial PC (sometimes known as an IPC) is one which is suited to fulfill one or more needs in Continue Reading…

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pc casesWhen approaching the subject of an embedded computer, every single component holds importance and can mean the difference between a proper functioning machine and a machine that either fails completely, or is rife with bugs. One such component that can be quite easy to overlook is the chassis or the pc case. Then again, this may be the thing that you are focusing on most.

Having a proper case can mean the difference between a system withstanding the rigors of the work day or failing under the pressure. Here’s the key thing to know: one of the most important things that defines how well an enclosure performs is its ingress protection rating. Understanding how this scale works and what it can mean for PC cases is well worth knowing.

What is Ingress Protection for PC Cases?

Ingress protection ratings, or “IP” ratings for short, were developed by the European Committee for Electro Technical Standardization. Their goal was to create a graduated scale in an effort to categorize the different levels Continue Reading…

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Wide Temperature StandardsIt’s hard to say what computer component can be called the “most necessary.” They all play their particular important roles in ensuring that the entire machine runs well. Processors compute and implement complicated code, hard drives send and retrieve necessary data and programs, motherboards house many of the key components and contain much of the I/O that give a computer its functionality.

The one major facet missing from this list is RAM, the secret workhorse of an embedded system and something easily forgotten about once installed. However, understanding the load and stress placed on this important piece of the computer “puzzle” could mean the difference between a machine running or failing.

What Sets Industrial RAM Apart?

Industrial RAM has much of the same functionality seen in its commercial counterpart, but with a very significant difference. The standards that an embedded device should maintain while working in a variety of different surroundings, ranging from both extremes on the temperature scale to dust- and sand-filled environments, must remain high. The places where industrial RAM is used can be classified as high stress, both for workers and their machines. Having reliable equipment is paramount to an efficient workplace and wide temperature industrial RAM can ensure Continue Reading…

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embedded computingOne of the most pressing matters within our world has to do with a substance that currently takes up more than half of our planet. We are surrounded by water, using it on a daily basis both for consumption and industry, and have a terrible track record when taking care of it. In the last forty years, there has been a major push to ensure that our oceans and water supplies are clean and free from pollution. This mentality has been adopted on an international scale, meaning that information must be collected and transmitted great distances from places that are often off the grid.

Here’s where embedded computing takes the process from a single researcher in the field to the wider scientific community in a flash. Embedded systems provide a link between in-the-field testing equipment and cataloguing and transmitting data through cellular or wi-fi signals. Water quality testing is a niche industry and has some very specific needs when it comes to the necessary equipment. An OEM distributor can definitely handle this demand, whether it means providing components to fit certain specifications or helping to design and prototype new devices.

Demands on Embedded Computing in the Testing Field

Understanding what researchers need in the field should be the first step when analyzing what direction to go in for Continue Reading…

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industrial pico-itxWhether for functionality or entertainment, outfitting a space with embedded systems capable of video output necessitates a major investment. This is especially pertinent when considering the role of interactive displays, such as human machine interfaces. In the locomotive realm, for example, displays are in constant use, both inside and outside of the train. Embedded systems control many of the functions around the rail station, which means that the OEMs responsible for designing these machines need reliable components that withstand the environment.

The commercial railway industry has a very specific set of needs ranging from the basic readouts necessary to drive the train to the entertainment sets that keep customers happy. On both ends of this spectrum lies an embedded device that must be low power, output high quality video, and have the proper I/O to hook up to a multitude of devices. Enter the industrial Pico-ITX board, a miniscule powerhouse that OEMs can utilize to drive their designs.

What’s in an Industrial Pico-ITX Board?

A Pico-ITX motherboard adheres to a specific form factor standard, much like its big brother in the ATX line of boards. What separates the former from Continue Reading…

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military mSATAThe mSATA SSD inherently is a shoe-in for military and any other rugged industrial applications. It is a small footprint computer storage device that uses NAND flash memory. So, in addition to being small enough to fit on a fully populated motherboard, it can deal with more stress than an HDD and still have that split-second speed we’ve all come to know and love. But does that mean it’s enough for a high stress environment such as, for instance, in a military application?

The short answer to that is yes. However, there are certain specs that have to be adhered to in order to guarantee that this is the case. For instance, if the part is going to be used in sub-zero or especially hot environments, then the mSATA is going to Continue Reading…

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peripheral deviceClosed circuit television has spread throughout the business world. Any company that oversees a significant piece of property will likely need to install some sort of video surveillance system to ensure the security of their premises. This entails a multiple camera system, either all hard-wired or wirelessly connected to a main computer that outputs the signal and, most importantly, records the footage. Capturing footage from a screen is not something that comes natively in many embedded systems. It requires a separate component to handle the output and convert the data.

A peripheral device such as a capture card handles this process, and not only for surveillance systems. Capture cards have many uses across multiple sectors, ranging from corporate to industrial. Regardless of the use case, this kind of peripheral device must fit the embedded device, taking into account power demands and size to ensure that it does the job—but not at the expense of overtaxing the system.

How Does a Capture Card Work?

Capture cards come in a variety of different forms. The most common is an internal board that hooks into the motherboard via Continue Reading…

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fanless Panel PCObtaining a fanless panel PC poses an interesting situation. The reason for this is that there are actually two things that you need to worry about when you’re a manufacturer designing a fanless panel PC. There is the processor, which is the usual part that needs to be given attention in a fanless system. However, when it comes to a fanless panel PC, the display is actually another part that needs to be taken into consideration, due to its heat sensitivity, which is why while fanless systems are a dime a dozen, fanless panel PCs are less prolific.

That said, we happen to be benefited by the happy circumstance that with the advent of the iPhone and iPad, touch screens have exploded in popularity. The embedded computing industry can sometimes be a bit slow on the uptake, but every manufacturer has jumped on board in making these. And in the embedded computing industry, when there are numerous options, it becomes a lot more likely that quality options will be available.

Factors for Selecting a Fanless Panel PC

Being that a panel PC is going to be constantly touched, jostled, and possibly moved, depending on the application, having fewer moving parts that could break down is a great benefit. As well as that, in any Continue Reading…

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