Porticos Engineers Rugged Laptop

Dell, a popular developer of computers and other innovative technology, wanted to develop a ruggedized variant of a product from their laptop computer line. They turned to Porticos, a product design and product development engineering consulting firm in Morrisville, NC, for their expertise in this area.

Latitude ATG Development Challenges

The Latitude ATG is a tough, All-Terrain Grade laptop designed for industries like construction, manufacturing, oil and gas, as well as public organizations such as police forces. Built and tested to meet MIL-STD 810F—a tough military standard of durability—the Latitude ATG is designed to meet almost any physical challenge and the most demanding work environments.

Porticos’ hardware design engineers have ample experience designing products to meet the MIL-810F requirements and a history of supporting Dell on other projects, and was honored to design the ATG.

The two most challenging aspects of the ATG project were isolation of the hard drive and display, and designing the hinge and latch systems to accommodate the new design. What made the hard drive even more difficult a task was the need for it to fit into the same space currently allocated in the non-ATG D620 Latitude platform. The solution was to take a physically smaller Hitachi hard drive, and design a protective case that would function as the interface to the existing electrical connections. This also effectively protected the hard drive from shock and vibration.

The hard drive with it’s mated rigid flex was secured in a frame molded from EAR Specialty C8002 isolation material, then sandwiched between two sheets of 3M “G Sheet.” To meet the thickness limitations while still addressing stiffness goals, a titanium stamping was mated to a magnesium casting to form the mechanical enclosure. Similar isolation solutions were chosen to support the display.

After modeling the hinge mechanism and latches in Pro-Engineer, Porticos’ hardware engineers conducted finite element analysis (FEA) using the COSMOS analysis tool. The design was optimized to address high-stress areas, and the results were shared with the manufacturing source.

In addition to the structural analysis conducted, Failure Mode Effect and Analysis (FMEA) and Design For Assembly (DFA) were conducted. The feedback was then incorporated into the final Pro-E 3D CAD geometry and drawings.

With its shock-mounted, removable hard drive, shock-mounted LCD screen, a dust and spill-resistant keyboard, port covers and highly durable, textured paint to protect against scratches, scuffs and daily wear, the Latitude ATG is prepared for life working in the field.

The Smallest BioMedical System

Porticos and Device Solutions worked closely to optimize placement efficiency to create the smallest BioMedical system package possible. This was especially important for both units because power consumption needs to support a 30-day transmission period, which is provided by a large battery cell.

Ambulatory ECG Monitoring System Product Development

BioMedical Systems (now part of ERT), has been providing medical data analysis and support for physicians and their patients for nearly 40 years. They saw a need for a mobile cardiac telemetry system that could take advantage of their sophisticated arrhythmia analysis software, record the data and transmit that information in real time to a group of certified cardiac technicians. To make their vision a reality, they came to Porticos and Device Solutions—one of Porticos’ partners—who experienced in hardware and software development for wireless devices. Herein, the TruVue™ product was born.

The TruVue™ system consists of a patient-worn ECG recording device, a hand-held device that receives and analyzes the information from the recording device. The device then transmits the real-time data to the BioMedical Systems headquarters in St. Louis, where the data is analyzed further and formatted for easy access by the physician.

Porticos’ hardware engineers created the 3D CAD data using Unigraphics software. Bluetooth was chosen as the wireless communication protocol between the patient-worn device and the hand-held device, while GSM-based-cellular was used to transmit between the hand-held and the cardiac center.

In order to minimize detuning of the chip antenna in the patient-worn device, snap features were incorporated into the PC/ABS housings to limit the need for metal assembly hardware. FEA was conducted in Ansys to ensure snap features would remain secure during normal use and drop scenarios.

One of the unique features for the hand-held was the keypad. In order to support the user interface and reduce confusion to the patient, the keys had to be individually backlit and, at the same time, isolated from the surrounding keys. This way, as the menu options changes on the display, only the keys applicable for those options would be lit. The result is deceptively simple-looking keypad, that integrates mechanical and software user interface to create an intuitive and positive experience for the patient.

Hardware Production Results

Thanks to the hard work of Porticos and Device Solutions, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Biomedical Systems 510(k) clearance to market TruVue™, a truly wireless ambulatory ECG monitoring system. Additionally, TruVue™ has made its mark as the industry’s first cardiac Mobile Telemetry system that analyzes, records and transmits every heartbeat for up to 30 days.

Fiercely Small: Porticos Helps Design Radios that Channel Durability and Portability

Police need reliable technology that can work overtime. Fire responders need loud, clear communication tools that work in any environment. EMS need multiple communication channels, so they’re always accessible. They all need their equipment to be as tough as the people using them.

But just like the rest of us, emergency responders also need their technology to be portable. When Harris, a leader in communications technology, was ready to work on the development of a smaller, LTE-capable portable radio, Porticos was proud to answer the call.

Harris has been a leader in radio technology for over 80 years, meaning many of Harris’ customers have already purchased accessories for other radio series. They knew that the new radios would need to remain backward compatible with these accessories while channeling cutting-edge advancements in size, durability, and quality.

The radio would have to offer the best in communications technology, including extended battery life, superior audio quality, plus GPS, Bluetooth®, Wi-Fi, and LTE capability.

Most important, they would need to be built tough: sealed against water, protected against drops, and ready to work in fast-paced, sometimes dangerous environments. Furthermore the radios needed to be easily upgradeable to allow the customer to take advantage of LTE technology or upgrade from single-band to full-spectrum at their convenience.

Balancing the need for durability and portability is a challenge that Porticos has met before. Porticos team members focused on each aspect of the design to ensure that the modular construction wouldn’t impact the durability. For example, in order to meet this project’s goals for extended and upgradeable battery life, Porticos developed an external, replaceable battery with an innovative latch system that is both easy to remove in the field and durable enough to stay in place during harsh use. This allows for easy battery replacement in the field or upgrades to higher capacity batteries for customers who need it.

Product Design for Durability“We tested the product in some incredibly harsh environments to ensure that these radios will be reliable in the field,” said Porticos engineer Mike Kiplinger.

With the end customers in mind, the Porticos team also spent a lot of time considering ergonomics. As a result the radios’ side buttons and top switches were designed to be easy to operate and replace, but also reliable enough to stay in place during use.

Porticos is proud to have been chosen by Harris as a development partner and of our ability to achieve world class results by developing the smallest full-spectrum LTE-capable portable radio on the planet; the Harris XL-200P.