in-vehicle PCYou have a vehicle application that requires an embedded computer and no computer to fill it. Where do you start? Well, looking in the embedded computing sector for a rugged PC is a step in the right direction but, as you know, there is a specific set of required features, such as unique I/O (input-output) and a resistance to certain environmental factors that are necessary for an in-vehicle PC.

The I/O and Software Difference

On a very basic level, what makes an in-vehicle PC different from any other embedded computer is the CAN bus (Controller Area Network). If there is an embedded PC in a vehicle and it is expected to have some sort of communication with any Continue Reading…

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embedded system hardwareIndustry has always pushed in two seemingly opposite, yet connected directions. The first is embracing the creative and logical side of the human element. A good worker, trained in his or her craft and knowledgeable about a product or process, will produce the best outcome and push a design further than it specifications.

The other industrial movement, however, embraces the use of robotics in the manufacturing process. These machines are made for very specific purposes, which they can fulfill with constant precision and power for long periods of time. They may not be able to “think” about their actions, but with proper programming they can detect problems and rectify them faster and more effectively than any person could.

Where Embedded System Hardware and Robotics Intersect

What drives industrial robotics is a different type of computer system, specifically a programmable logic controller, which works by reading both digital and analog I/O and changing variables on the fly to keep up. Where embedded system hardware comes into play for the robotics sector is in Continue Reading…

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gaming computersStepping into any casino these days, you will be confronted by the bright flashing lights and ringing, jingling sounds that constantly fill the entire space. Walking around the slot machine or video poker section offers an absolute ton of games to tantalize you and your wallet, ranging from traditional-style three reel slots to high end, multiscreen systems that are linked between multiple machines.

Understanding the basics that drive these niche machines can be a difficult prospect. On the surface they seem like run-of-the-mill embedded systems, but there are some particular facets coming into play that set them apart as unique.

The Everyday Innards of Gaming Computers

The necessary internals for gaming computers are not what makes these systems out of the ordinary. Many of these slot and/or video machines use components that Continue Reading…

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PCIe mini cardGetting an embedded system that is perfect for your specific application can be tough. You can have an industrial motherboard or system that perfectly suits every need for your specific application… except for one. Whatever that missing piece is, it may either be something that would be convenient to have for your application or, in the worst case scenario, something absolutely crucial, forcing you to turn away from this otherwise perfect computer part. In some cases you may therefore be forced to use a lesser product or one from a less trustworthy manufacturer.

The Solution is the PCIe Mini Card

When it comes to the problem of missing components, there is no one solution that will act as a panacea. But when it comes to a small footprint solution that is relatively low in cost, the PCIe mini card fills the empty shoes quite well and can solve most issues. The data rate for mini PCIe version 1.0 is 250 MB/s, which is more than Continue Reading…

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mini-ITX motherboardWhen delving into the computing world, trying to develop an embedded system presents companies with a unique problem when considering which direction to go in with their design. What exactly does the device need to achieve? How can they balance the need for computing power with the machine’s overall cost?

The answers to these questions usually come down to the different components that can be put into a system. Furthermore, what governs overall within the machine is the motherboard, the fulcrum point from which all of the directions and commands need to spring. Trying to decide on the best type and standard of motherboard to suit the requirements of the computer and to go with other components comes with a multitude of caveats. But there is definitely one that could be considered “the usual.”

Why a Mini-ITX Motherboard Fits the Standard

A Mini-ITX motherboard fills a “jack of all trades” role within embedded computing for a number of reasons, the first being reflected in its name. While there are smaller form factors when it comes to motherboards, such as the Nano or Continue Reading…

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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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