Reliable In-Vehicle Data Logging and Tracking

asset-tracking

Having access to live data from out in the field is incredibly valuable in making smart, informed decisions about your business. Fleet vehicle and other traveling asset operations benefit greatly from an in-vehicle data logging and tracking solution. The challenge is collecting and sharing this data reliably because of the inherent challenges with a mobile solution. For example, there are additional power supply considerations for a vehicle that is always starting and stopping. When power is unexpectedly cut off from the embedded data logger, there is a high likelihood of filesystem and data corruption. Another consideration is how to transfer the data once you’ve captured it via CAN or GPS. Thankfully, cellular network providers have done a great job at providing an always-available, nationwide service accessible from nearly anywhere. It would make sense to tap into this network using a cellular modem. Then, perhaps when the vehicle returns to a base station, WiFi or Bluetooth connections can be used to share auxiliary, non-real time data. Lastly, you’ll want to consider operating temperature ranges, as the inside a vehicle can easily reach 130 ºF to 170 ºF (54 ºC to 76 ºC) and on the opposite, reach “Ice Road Truckers” cold to -50 ºF (-45 ºC). It’s important to keep these considerations of power, temperature, and connectivity in mind in order to keep all this data safe and sound. The TS-7670 and TS-7680 single board computers are embedded systems which aim to provide reliable, low power, industrial-grade vehicle asset tracking solutions and solve these challenges.

TS-7670 and TS-7680 Hardware Overview

Engineered to withstand the toughest of environments, the TS-7670 or TS-7680 single board computers (SBCs) have no moving parts or fans and can reliably operate in temperatures from -40 ºC to 85 ºC and high-vibration environments. They boot to a preloaded Linux OS from either on-board flash or microSD card, both featuring data reliability insurances. The TS-7670 and TS-7680 use eMMC SLC flash technology for highly reliable data storage, and the microSD cards use our DoubleStore technology for a RAID-like solution. Furthermore, on the TS-7680 only, an onboard backup power source, called TS-SILO, provides twenty to sixty seconds of reserve power to allow for a graceful shutdown in case of a sudden power outage or brownout.

Powering the TS-7670 and TS-7680 is a NXP i.MX286 454 MHz ARM CPU, which provides many of the industry standard interfaces, like CAN, ADCs, DIO, Ethernet, USB, etc. The TS-7670 and TS-7680 differ in that the TS-7670 provides GPS and Cellular modem options and the TS-7680 provides WiFi, Bluetooth, and TS-SILO options. Except for TS-SILO, both feature sets can be completed using third party USB devices.

On the TS-7670, a GPS radio is connected by a simple UART and a cellular modem (HSPA) is located on a daughter card that is connected via USB pins on the 10-pin header. A WiFi and/or bluetooth dongle can be plugged into the USB ports for wireless transfers.

On the TS-7680, a WiFi and Bluetooth module is soldered to the board itself. It has two standard USB host ports which you can plug in a third party GPS and cellular modem. Technologic System’s future roadmap includes GPS and cellular modem daughter cards that will be designed to work with the TS-7680. The area in which the TS-7680 shines is the inclusion of the TS-SILO onboard backup power source for graceful shutdowns.

Each system can be powered by a standard vehicle’s 12 VDC power supply, or 8 to 28 VDC if something more specialized is required.

For protection against damage, static, sand, etc., the TS-7670 and TS-7680 have an available lost cost plastic enclosure. They can be mounted to a DIN rail using a DIN mount clip for easy installation and removal.

In-Vehicle Operation

Important vehicle health and safety data is gathered using one or both of the isolated CAN bus ports implemented using a set of open source CAN Linux kernel drivers called SocketCAN. By reading this vehicle data, decisions can be made to prevent failures in the field through predictive maintenance. For example, reading engine duty cycle counts or vehicle mileage via CAN would allow you to tell if the vehicle is in need of an oil change. Additionally, the TS-7670’s analog and digital inputs/outputs and relays provide a versatile platform to monitor a wide variety of external sensors and control events. Other specialized I/O behavior can be programmed into the customizable FPGA. A visual monitoring component can also be added using the USB ports to hook up an external camera.

Given the importance of data reliability and the frequent loss of power, as often seen in vehicle applications, TS-SILO technology provides plenty of time to gracefully shutdown the TS-7680. Similarly, if there is a power dip or brownout, TS-SILO will allow the system to continue operation as usual. This elegant solution preserves all data on the different busses and prevents file system corruption, which can prevent the system from coming back up after an outage.

Why Technologic Systems?

We do all of our design, test, assembly, and support from Arizona, USA. Both the TS-7670 and TS-7680 single board computers come with a Linux board support package providing all necessary drivers to utilize on-board resources. Our technical support team is available by phone and email ensuring your productivity and ability to deploy efficiently. We also provide professional services and design customization.

Once the solution is in the field, you want to be sure the hardware will be available for the lifecycle of the deployment thus preserving your software development investment, and for this we offer a 10+ year lifecycle guarantee. In over 30 years of business we have not retired a single product, a fact that we are very proud of. We achieve this by mitigating all supply risks and selecting partners and components which have long lifecycle guarantees, such as NXP i.MX286’s 10 year guarantee. With Technologic Systems as your partner, you can rest easy knowing our support and supply chain is solid so you can focus on what matters to your project’s development and business.

Author: Bill Wasserman

Sales Manager for Technologic Systems