Computer/Embedded Technology


Rugged single-board computers

18 May 2016 Computer/Embedded Technology

Diamond Systems unveiled its compact, rugged Helix PC/104 single-board computer (SBC) based on the 1 GHz DMP Vortex86DX3 system-on-chip (SoC) processor. Targeted for low-price, low-performance applications, it offers low to mid-range CPU performance, more than double that of the AMD LX800.

Features of the SBC include optional integrated high-quality data acquisition circuitry, PCIe MiniCard I/O expansion, and rugged construction. With a long processor lifetime of 10 years or more, Helix is ideal for applications needing a stable, low-cost platform with many years of availability.

Two standard Helix models are available off-the-shelf; one aimed at low-cost basic applications and the other targeting data acquisition applications. The data acquisition model expands on the features of the basic model by adding a complete data acquisition circuit as well as other I/O. A variety of customisation options are also available allowing customers to match the specific needs of their application with onboard features of the Helix SBC.

Using an expanded PC/104 form factor measuring 102 x 102 mm, Helix’s full rectangular shape provides more coastline for I/O connectors. VGA and LVDS displays are supported and the available PC I/O includes up to 6 USB 2.0 ports, 2 RS-232/422/485 and 2 RS-232 ports, 1 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port, 1 Gigabit Ethernet port, and 1 SATA port that supports both on-board SATA DOM and off-board SATA devices.

The optional integrated data acquisition circuitry includes 16 16-bit A/D channels with 100 kHz sample rate, 4 16-bit D/A channels with voltage outputs, and 11 additional programmable digital I/O lines for a total of 27 lines, all supported by Diamond’s free Universal Driver data acquisition programming library. An interactive, easy to use graphical control panel for Windows and Linux is provided to control all data acquisition features.

Helix SBCs are highly customisable to better fit specific application needs. These customisation options include 2 GB on-board RAM instead of 1 GB on the D model; 1 CANbus 2.0 port; mSATA interface shared with the PCIe MiniCard socket; latching connectors instead of pin headers for increased ruggedness; replacement of configuration jumpers with 0 ohm resistors; conformal coating, and custom BIOS and custom FPGA code.

Helix supports stackable I/O expansion with PC/104 (ISA) I/O modules and also provides a PCIe MiniCard socket for additional I/O expansion. PCIe MiniCard I/O modules featuring Wi-Fi, Ethernet, analog I/O, digital I/O and CAN are available from Diamond Systems and other vendors, enabling compact expandability without increasing the total height of the system.

With an operating temperature of -40°C to +85°C and memory soldered on board, Helix is an excellent choice for rugged applications including industrial, medical, on-vehicle and military.



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