Rugged computer systems are being used increasingly in mobile environments. These systems capture a variety of sensor data. Is it important in your application to know when and where something happened? Time and position can be very important factors in synchronizing this information from multiple sources or data streams.
GPS can provide a very accurate source of time and position. The GPS satellites contain an accurate atomic clock, and they distribute this time via their signal. You can take advantage of this accurate time by installing a GPS-based time and frequency card in your rugged system. This accurate time can also be distributed to other devices. There are various standards that relate to timing. IRIG-B is the most common time standard in use today. IRIG-B is a good way to distribute accurate time to several devices.
An example application would be measuring cellular phone signals from a mobile test vehicle. When you install a GPS based time and frequency card in your rugged system, you gain access to both time and position information. You can tell when and where the signal is strongest and weakest. Now imagine you have a 100 vans driving around the country. You are able to accurately synchronize the data being collected from all the vans. You may also have cameras installed to capture video data. You can synchronize the data from a low cellular radio signal to the video data. You may realize that the low signal happens when driving under a bridge, near a building or during a storm when analyzed together.
This sort of analysis is difficult if the time stamp on the various data streams is inaccurate. A typical PC clock can drift dramatically over time. It is important to have an accurate time source for your data if you need to know when and where your data is collected.
Chassis Plans manufactures rugged computers and can install 3rd party cards and devices such as GPS receivers to customer specification.