At recent conferences and exhibitions we (Emerson Network Power) have shown a video clip we made to demonstrate the idea that MicroTCA is suitable technology as a base for various rugged applications. Ahead of the official Rugged MicroTCA specifications, this video was created to show what might be possible in an air cooled environment.


Previously we’d developed a video clip showing a proof of concept MicroTCA system using totally standard AMCs operating while being vigorously shaken on a vibration table in our lab. This was pretty impressive even though the vibration was limited to a single axis. This time we wanted to widen the scope to show a more realistic scenario that included temperature. Since most automotive companies test their prototype vehicles in the desert near Emerson’s Embedded Computing headquarters in Arizona, where summer temperatures often exceed 110ºF (whew!), we used the same environment to demonstrate the system’s ability to withstand extreme temperatures.


We used an M561 Gama Goat vehicle for our somewhat unscientific, but nevertheless interesting test. The Gama Goat is a six-wheel drive, semi- articulated vehicle that was widely used by the US military from the 1960s to 1980s. It has exceptional off-road manoeuvrability while generating incredible amounts of noise and fumes from its rather environmentally unfriendly diesel engine!


We mounted one of our standard PrAMC7210 AMCs, based on the Intel Core 2 Duo processor and a physical AMC hard disk inside a ruggedized MicroTCA enclosure from Hybricon. Running a standard OS, the processor AMC was set up to capture video from an external webcam connected via a USB port. The ruggedized Air Transport Rack (ATR) was physically bolted to the roof of the Gama Goat using some metal brackets along with the webcam, which was positioned to show the ATR box in the foreground with the environment in the background.


We hit a temporary problem with applying power to the system; due to time limitations and availability of connectors we couldn’t make use of the rugged connectors on the front of the ATR box. We had to run cables directly into the top of the box, which meant we had to leave the lid off, mitigating any cooling effect of the forced air fans and instead exposing the AMC boards to the full effect of the sun.


I’m not sure who was the hottest: the driver of the Gama Goat, the camera team who had to climb the desert hills with their equipment or the AMC modules. Either way, they all survived and as you can see from the video clip, the Intel AMC board recorded some great footage. Since we’ve now recovered, we’re looking for the next idea to show off a MicroTCA system………..ideas on a postcard please?


A snippet of the full video in WMV format can be downloaded from the resources section at