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Case Study: Design & manufacture of an embedded PC for air traffic control communications

Design & manufacture of an embedded PC for air traffic control communications

Design & manufacture of an embedded PC for air traffic control communications

Our client is the world’s leading manufacturer of Air Traffic Control (ATC) ground to air communication systems for civilian and defence applications and supplies products to customers around the globe. Their equipment now integrates the latest VoIP standards for ATC and one part of that portfolio is an IP Controller providing direct access to a radio voice channel via IP technology.
 
At the heart of the IP controller is an embedded touchscreen pc which not only provides the unique user interface, but it also performs the necessary speech processing and routing.

The original solution provided by BVM utilised an off the shelf industrial Panel PC interfaced to the client’s own electronics and integrated into their bespoke metalwork housing.  Although the Panel PC met the original requirement specifications, the Intel CPU and supporting chipset was fast approaching its seven year lifetime availability.
Our challenge was to design a solution that provided a performance advantage, increased I/O options and  extendable long life availability with an operational temperature range of -20°C ~ 55°C.

BVM’s engineering team collaborated with our client in creating a ‘Requirements Specification’ (an MOU) based on essential needed features and potential requirements for future-proofing. The solution had to integrate seamlessly into the original product providing compatibility and allowing our client to service equipment already deployed in the field. 

The Requirements Specification provided 3D CAD renderings of a customised Panel PC design with itemised details of its hardware specification. At its heart, an industrial grade mini-ITX motherboard utilising an SoC (System on Chip) on Intel’s 15 year lifetime availability plan - providing the solution with extended control around lifetime availability on one of the solutions most major components.

A critical part of the deliverable was the embedded operating system. Working with our client’s software team, a bespoke operating system utilising Windows 10 IoT LTSB was created ensuring their application software ran robustly in conjunction with the OS image.

The engineered solution provides our customer with a standard platform that more than meets their requirements for many years to come without the need for costly engineering development and technical refreshes every 5-7 years. Components have been carefully selected so that, when they do eventually go end of life, they can be replaced with a solution that meets form, fit & function providing minimal disruption all round.


Deployed around the world in many remote locations, the units are designed to work reliably 24/7 across a wide range of temperatures and humidities.

 

  • 2018 saw the first Production systems rolled out at BVM’s Headquarters in Southampton, overseen by our customer during a factory acceptance tests.
  • Temperature operational, from -20°C and up to +55°C to allow use in various locations.
  • Deployed globally providing essential radio communications for ATC environments.
     

 

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