FieldWorks computer to travel the Balkans in a Humvee

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Engineers at FieldWorks in Eden Prairie, Minn., have embedded their FW2000 rugged computer system in an U.S. Army utility vehicle that will patrol in the Balkans.

By John McHale

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Engineers at FieldWorks in Eden Prairie, Minn., have embedded their FW2000 rugged computer system in an U.S. Army utility vehicle that will patrol in the Balkans.

The Army`s High Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicle — better known as "Humvee" — and the FieldWorks computer will be involved in a situational awareness application that provides a common view of the battlefield to combat troops and support personnel.

However, FieldWorks officials declined to comment on specifics of the application.

The FW2000 is a rugged, modular PC system built for demanding in-vehicle environments, that ties together the onboard technologies in truck, utility, farm, police, and military vehicles, FieldWorks officials say.

Embedded vehicle systems can easily expand to integrate several different technologies into one customer-specific platform, they claim. It is a single, scalable, upgradeable in-vehicle computing solution.

The FW2000 is based on the company`s rugged FW5000 and FW7000 computers, says Robert Szymborski, executive vice president and chief technical officer for FieldWorks. It uses an Intel Pentium processor running at 266 MHz, he adds.

However, packaging was the key to fitting it into the vehicle, Szymborski says.

FieldWorks engineers eliminated the fan used for cooling their other systems — it brought in too much dirt and dust — and instead used a specially designed heat sink that regulates the air throughout the case, Szymborski explains

The FW2000`s connectors are also sealed for water and dust protection, he adds.

Industry used portable notebooks in the past, but found that they are not suited for vehicle mounting, Szymborski says. "They do not do the job," he adds. The device has problems in high vibration and shock applications such as in military vehicles, Szymborski explains.

The FW2000`s rugged server is its brain. Featuring shock and vibration protection, a passive cooling system, and sealed and/or locking I/O and power connectors, it can mount in a remote vehicle location. The server module has open I/O ports for connecting peripheral technologies. Space is also provided within the sealed module for proprietary and future technologies, which can connect via the card bus. A temperature-monitoring system is also built-in.

When an operator wants to take the computer mobile, all he has to do is unhook the device from the mount and leave the cabling behind, he says.

The aluminum-alloy 250 to 500 NIT display offers daylight readability in a reliable, space-saving package. NITs represent a measure of the brightness of a screen for sunlight readability, Szymborski says. A notebook only has a brightness of 70 NITs, he adds.

The 10.4-inch 800-by-600-pixel liquid crystal display has eight backlit, programmable function keys. Both display and function keys can be dimmed for discreet nighttime use. Three light emitting diodes indicate when system power is on; when the system is operating with a secondary power supply; and when the display is not within operating temperature range — the display will not turn on until it is within the specified range. The display can mount as far away as 16 feet from the server.

The aluminum-alloy keyboard is sealed to NEMA-4x specifications and system power on/off capability. The adjustable backlight option illuminates the key legends for nighttime use.

The FW2000`s modular design also enables custom configuration and easy upgradeability and service, Szymborski says.

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