Computers have become essential to the marine, military, and industrial sectors. Due to the nature of these industries, regular desktop computers often cannot be used because they are not designed to withstand harsh and volatile environments. Instead, these industries require rugged computers to ensure durability and reliability in challenging and non-traditional settings.
So, what exactly makes a computer rugged? Although regular desktop and rugged computers may share some similar components, rugged computers use different materials and are designed to meet specific industry standards. Rugged computer enclosures, for example, are composed of materials that can survive severe temperatures and keep out things like dust, debris, and water; internal components are also engineered to resist shock and vibrations that can typically ruin a regular desktop computer.
Rugged computers have evolved significantly during the last ten years. Technological advancements have improved the performance and durability of these computers. Size is one of the most visible improvements; rugged computers are now smaller, more compact, and can accommodate more features into a single computer. Other advancements include user-friendly connectivity, advanced picture quality, faster processing power, and a change from analog to digital, allowing for higher speed and a more reliable device.
What to look for in a rugged computer?
As mentioned in the text above, rugged computers must include certain features and meet specifications to operate successfully in marine, military, and industrial environments. Those features include a wide temperature range, resistance against vibration and shock, resistance against moisture (humidity), protection against water, dust, and debris, and the proper certifications to meet each industry’s standards.
Vibration and Shock
Rugged computers used in the military and marine industries are exposed to constant shock and vibrations from extreme conditions and harsh movements. Vibration-resistant computers should be able to withstand up to 5 Grms, 10-500 Hz, half hr/ axis in vibration, 50Gs, half sine, and 11ms in shock.
A rugged computer’s design is critical in passing shock and vibration tests. For example, most newer generation rugged computers are built with few to no moveable parts, such as fans and rotating hard drives; the casings of these computers are also designed to absorb shock and vibration to prevent damage to the inside components.
Rugged computers must be able to operate in a wide range of temperature changes. For example, non-temperature regulated factories, such as steel mills or ironworks, can quickly reach temperatures over 37 degrees Celsius, and in certain military or marine operations, temperatures can suddenly drop below -30 degrees Celsius. If the computer is not equipped to handle these extreme environments, operations can become compromised, and equipment failure is guaranteed.
Humidity, Water, Dust, and Debris
Industrial computers are frequently subjected to high moisture, water, dust, and debris levels.
Rugged computers, particularly those used in maritime or factory settings may have extended or
even continuous exposure to these conditions. Certain industries even demand wash downs on
a daily basis for sanitation reasons.
Rugged computer enclosures are constructed either as a one-piece component or a sealed
multi assembly that is designed to reduce the danger of water damage and intrusion of dirt and
Rating and Standards
Rugged computers must meet particular criteria and classifications to be used in marine, industrial, and military applications.
- IP Rating: Seatronx provides computers with IP-66, IP-67, and IP-68 ratings. The IP rating indicates the level of protection from water and dust. The higher the first digit, the greater the dust protection level; similarly, the higher the second digit, the greater the level of water protection. The 6 indicates total dust protection, the 7 indicates water protection up to 1 meter for 30 minutes, and the 8 indicates water protection against under pressure submersion.
- MIL-STD: The United States Military uses MIL-STD to verify whether the equipment is acceptable for military application. Seatronx offers military-level computers that have passed various MIL-STD tests.
- MIL-STD810H computers have been tested against shock and vibration.
- Vibration can cause loose components, cracked housing, mechanical component misalignment, damaged wires, and short circuits.
- Electronic failure, shattered crystals, distorted materials, and loss of EM strength can all result from shock.
- MIL-STD-461G computers are designed to operate effectively in electromagnetic conditions and avoid emitting electromagnetic radiation that could cause Electromagnetic interference with surrounding devices.
- MIL-STD-1275E/704F equipment is connected to the input of a 28VDC Vehicle Power system to verify operating voltage restrictions.
- MIL-STD810H computers have been tested against shock and vibration.
Linux vs Windows
Rugged computers can use many operating systems, Linux and Windows are among the most popular.
- Windows Operating Systems: Windows is a more familiar and user-friendly system that is simple to install and does not necessitate considerable technical knowledge. Although it is simple to use, Windows offers few customization options.
- Linux Operating System: Linux is a free operating system recognized for security. Linux is a reliable platform for developing working programs, but installation can be more complicated and requires many user inputs.
Edge computing has become very popular, especially in military applications; it allows for real-time processing, increased security and reliability, and deployment flexibility.
Other advantages include improved remote location connectivity, time-sensitive data performance, and reduced data transit by processing information on the edge rather than transferring it to the cloud.
Rugged Computers by Seatronx
The Seatronx marine computer range is developed and tested to perform reliably in all marine settings where power fluctuation, vibration, shock, and severe temperatures are common occurrences.
- SEA-C65 / SEA-C67 Series
This advanced rugged computer with 7th Generation Intel® Core™ Mobile-U Processor features a full system with IP65 level dustproof & waterproof capabilities, the ability to operate in extreme temperatures of -40°C to 70°C, and relative humidity levels of 10% to 95% (non-condensing). Check out the data sheet for more information.
- MP-3700 Series
The MP-3700 series computer offers a superior fanless system, versatile I/O connections, and rugged reliability. This computer has improved CPU and graphics performance, large power and feature scalability, modularized expansion I/O, rich connectivity interfaces, wide range (948V) DC power input, and high reliability in extreme temperatures of -25°C up to 70°C. Check out the data sheet for more information.
Seatronx provides a complete line of rugged military computers to meet your individual application needs. Off-the-shelf and custom configurations for compact stowaway and rackmount solutions are available.
The MILPC-4000 is a robust, high-performance, multi-mission embedded edge computer built around a highly rugged form factor, allowing for an economy of capabilities while achieving improved SWaP-C optimization. This rugged computer also supports and enables real-time AI training and inference by integrating numerous near-future technologies. Check out the data sheet for more information.
This SWaP-optimized Rugged Embedded Edge Computer can be integrated into any vehicle or platform. With a modular and expandable design to satisfy strict customer standards, the MILPC-SWaP provides advanced computing capability and ruggedization that is required in mission-critical applications. Check out the data sheet for more information.
Seatronx industrial PCs with Intel® Core Processors are designed primarily for use in remote industrial activities with demanding environments that require reliability and durability.
- MPC 3600 i5 and i7 SE Computers
This rugged fanless system features Intel® Core™ i7 /i5 Processor, Capability to operate under extended operating temperatures -25 °C to 70 °C, 9 to 48 VDC wide range power input, and 4x Full-size mini PCle for communication or expansion modules, 4x SIM socket. Check out the data sheet for more information.
- MPC-101 Computer
The MPC-101 is a compact fanless rugged computer, built to withstand temperatures of -25°
C to 70°C, includes a Celeron J1900 processor, has 2x full-size mini PCle for expansion. Check out the data sheet for more information.
Seatronx in-vehicle and surveillance applied computers with intel core processors ( available in i5th, i6th, i7th gen).
In-Vehicle rugged computer with 6th/7th Gen Intel® Core™ Processor, 2xU-IO, Intel® Q170 Chipset, this computer has power ignition management and can operate in temperatures of -25 °C to 70 °C. Check out the data sheet for more information.
Surveillance applied rugged computer with 6th/7th Gen Intel® CoreTM processor and Q170 PCH, 2x LAN, 16x M12 LAN. Other features include, Intel® Q170 Chipset, 2x 260-pin DDR4 SODIMM. Max up to 32GB, triple independent display supported by 1x DVI-I and 2x DisplayPort. Check out the data sheet for more information.