Elma was tasked with re-purposing an existing commercial router in demanding battlefield environments. Necessary backwards compatibility requirements demanded that modifications to the system should be operating system agnostic and transparent to users. The project utilised commercial Cisco routers, chosen for their capability, high-speed and reliability, which needed to be housed in packaging tested and qualified for extreme environments.

Elma performed a characterisation study of the environmental limits of the Cisco router, including thermal analysis and resistance to high levels of shock and vibration. Elma’s packaging design team implemented board modifications such as conformal coating and component hold down methods. They enhanced an existing rugged COTS 19in chassis, suited to shock isolation, increased cooling and system temperature monitoring. The system successfully passed all testing.

Elma’s extensive experience in ruggedization ensures continued use of this commercial Cisco router, which had been in service for several years. The solution provides rugged network routing capability to communications installations located on mobile and fixed battlefield assets.

The system not only achieves functional compatibility, but also meets the customer’s requirements for form and fit. Managing air flow in order to meet subcomponent operating temperature specifications was critical in this application. With the addition of a chassis management system, the customer is able to monitor key thermal parameters while the system regulates fan speeds, to ensure temperature and humidity control for optimal performance.