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Rugged COM-based SBC provides Italian First Responders with Embedded Solution

Access to information is critical for first responders needing traffic data, GPS location and mapping, wireless internet, and still and video image capture on the job. Such was the need of an Italian municipality requiring a rugged embedded computing platform for vehicles that included police cars, buses, ambulances and fire rescue vehicles. For an embedded system to be selected, the solution had to be small, high performance, consume little power, be rugged enough to withstand shock and vibration from moving vehicles, and meet the industrial operating temperature range of -40°C up to 85°C. Because the platform was intended to be used in multiple configurations and vehicles, compatibility with a variety of display types was also desired.

Outside of these requirements, the solution also needed to be cost-effective and be manufacturable for a long time. Many embedded solutions already on the market provide robust capabilities in many small form factors with mounted processors on the board. Unfortunately, in many cases, the available life of the solution is dependent upon the lifespan of the processor. Providing a COM (computer on module) based single board computer (SBC) conveniently solves this problem. Since COMs provide near-identical functionality in identical physical configurations, an obsolete one can easily be replaced with a new one to extend the product’s lifetime, often with the added benefits of improved performance, lower cost, and/or lower power consumption. Using a COM-based SBC enabled this customer to devise a solution that effectively met their computing needs and cost requirements, while extending the product’s lifetime significantly.

Diamond's solution readily met the requirements of the application. The solution included an Eaglet COM baseboard equipped with the requested 4 analog inputs, 4 PWM, 8 GPIO, PCIe MiniCard socket and a micro SD socket in a compact form factor of 4.0” x 4.0” (102mm x 102mm). Also attractive was Eaglet’s versatile VGA, HDMI and dual channel LVDS display options. The Eaglet baseboard works with Toradex Apalis ARM COMs. These modules are available in a variety of processor / performance / memory capacity options, allowing the customer the ability to tailor the performance and cost of each configuration to each new project. The two-board combination of baseboard and ARM COM provided a convenient, off the shelf, scalable, long-life complete embedded system that provided a variety of standard and industrial I/O features. Diamond also provided an off-the-shelf embedded Linux distribution for the product that includes all the extensions needed to support the full range of I/O features on the baseboard.

The Toradex Apalis module family currently has three members which include the Apalis iMX6, Apalis T30Apalis T30 and the Apalis TK1Apalis TK1. The Apalis form factor, as well as all processors used on the modules, have long life commitments from their suppliers, ensuring long life availability of the complete product. The Italian municipality described here used the Apalis iMX6 Quad core Cortex-A9 CPU (Motorola Freescale ARM) with a processor that will run at 1.0GHz, has 2GB RAM, Gigabit Ethernet Port, 4 Serial Ports and 12C, and SPI in addition to many other features and a guaranteed long life through 2028. Toradex’s pin-out is the same for each of the three Apalix COMs, allowing them to be changed out for a system upgrade, or to extend the lifespan if needed.

While this application did not require custom options, Eaglet is highly customizable with options such as a hardwired configuration (no jumpers) and conformal coating. A low-cost expansion socket with i2C and SPI interfaces enables the addition of Diamond- or customer-designed low-cost, custom I/O modules to add A/D, GPIO, and other I/O features to the board.




The Eaglet SBC provides municipal vehicles with a means of sharing important data including a variety of displays as seen above. In some cases displays show information relevant to first responders’ immediate location via cameras, with GPS mapping, to assist in showing what other safety vehicles are nearby for backup, or for showing when the next train comes in.



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