Newly released FieldWorks test unit to support Global Hawk UAV

Engineers at FieldWorks have released their next-generation field workstation, the FW8000.

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By John McHale

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Engineers at FieldWorks have released their next-generation field workstation, the FW8000. The device will eventually replace existing FW7000 systems on platforms such as the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle from Northrop Grumman/Ryan Aero-nautical Center in San Diego.

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The FieldWorks FW8000 portable computer will replace the FW7000, pictured above, on the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle from Northrop Grumman/Ryan Aeronautical Center.
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The FW7000 performs flightline test-and-measurement troubleshooting on the Global Hawk, as well as uploads of mission data and downloads of fault logs.

The FW8000 will bring increased test-and-measurement capability to Global Hawk such as a larger display with sunlight readability, and faster performance with a Pentium II processor running at 366 MHz, says Lisa Baker, field technology solutions program manager at FieldWorks.

FieldWorks engineers also doubled the available wattage of power to the card cage on the FW8000, enabling a "more sophisticated use of high-tech boards in the back of the computer," Baker says. "This increased the response time for flightline on the Global Hawk. It also enables more sophisticated communication to be accomplished between the FW8000 and Global Hawk," Baker continues.

FieldWorks designers increased the display size on the FW8000 to 12.1 inches with 1,024-by-768-pixel resolution. The large display makes it easy for flightline engineers on Global Hawk to view data, Baker explains. The computer also has a CD-ROM embedded in the base model — the CD ROM drive was only an option on the FW7000, she adds.

The system also has 64 megabytes of RAM expandable to 128 or 192 megabytes, as well as rugged removable hard drives, with two USB ports.

"FieldWorks workstations are used in situations where accurate, real-time data is a must," says Dave Mell, chief executive officer for FieldWorks. The FW8000 and its predecessors were designed for data reliability and ruggedness to prevent the downtime that can occur in the field, Mell adds.

The device has a magnesium chassis and patented shock mounting for internal components. It also meets MIL-STD-810E for shock and vibration — withstanding as much as 75 Gs shock.

An expansion card cage can connect as many as three full-length ISA or PCI expansion cards. This is an advantage for flightline applications, which use multiple communication protocols to interface with an aircraft, FieldWorks officials say.

The system uses active cooling to operate in temperatures as hot as 50 degrees Celsius. A cold weather optional is available to start and operate in temperatures as cold as -30 C. A weather-seal option protects the unit against dust, rain, and humidity.

The FW8000 design alleviates the need to carry loose cables, external devices, or power supplies in the field, FieldWorks officials claim. With an integrated handle, the device closes like a briefcase and houses all the components in a lightweight small package.

With the release of the FW8000, the company will no longer market the FW7000 workstation, FieldWorks officials say. The company also offers the FW2000, a mobile data server for in-vehicle applications, and the FW5000, a modular, rugged laptop.

For more information on the FW8000 contact Lisa Baker by phone at 612-974-7133, by fax at 612-949-2791, by mail at FieldWorks, 7631 Anagram Drive, Eden Prairie, Minn. 55344, by e-mail at lbaker@field-works.com, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.field-works.com.

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