We're living in an increasingly mobile world where many hundreds of millions of smartphones and tablets keep us informed and connected pretty much no matter where we are. Consumers simply stick their phone into a pocket and put their tablet in a case. Field workers — be they in government, the military, first response, utilities, or any other deployment in potentially harsh environments — have different requirements. Their gear must be rugged enough to stand up to abuse and the elements. And often it must be mounted in trucks or other vehicles, and sometimes in all sorts of fixed, but not always protected, locations.
That's where the docking and mounting specialists at RAM Mounts come in. Anyone in the industry knows that RAM's revolutionary universal ball and socket mounting system allows you to mount practically anything anywhere. The patented rubber ball approach provides much better grip than anything else on the market. And RAM's unique modular design allows mounting devices exactly where they are needed, easily and affordably, and in a variety of vehicles and applications.
In this article we're looking at an amazing new product from RAM Mounts, one that's initially available for the Harris RF-3590 rugged 7-inch Android tablet computer, but will almost certainly become available for other rugged gear as well. On the surface, it's just a docking station, albeit a very competent and well-executed one. It offers threaded DC power input with ground and ignition sense, operating with a nominal input range of 9.6-33VDC, there's a USB Type A connector, an RS-232 DB9 9-pin serial port, an Ethernet RJ45 connector, and a 3.5mm stereo audio jack.
RAM's trademarked 3D Float System docking connector technology provides constant positive contact force between connector and tablet, ensuring connectivity even if things get bumpy or there is vibration. There's a key lock to keep the tablet from being stolen, and a specially designed ergonomic insertion and release mechanism. The dock is manufactured from fiber-reinforced Polycarbonate material, making it strong and very rigid, and keeping the weight of the dock down to a mere 2.5 pound.
But now for the amazing part: what RAM designed and built here is the world's first composite IP65-sealed dock. What that means is that the dock is completely protected against dust, and that it can also handle low pressure water jets from all directions. IP65 is the level of sealing against the elements that we'd expect from a particularly rugged and well-protected piece of computing equipment, but certainly not from a dock.
But why should we not expect it? Why should an extension to a rugged device not be just as tough and rugged as the device itself? Why pay the price for extra protection in a device but then using it with a dock that is not built and sealed to the same exacting specifications, thus potentially risking damage? It makes no sense to underbuild the dock, even if the tablet itself is more likely to come in contact with dust and liquids. Both parts should be able to handle the same level of abuse and be sealed to the same specs.
And the unique high level of sealing isn't even the full extent of it. RAM also built this dock to pass the stringent MIL-STD-810G testing procedures for vibration, humidity, crash hazard and shock, salt fog, and icing/freezing. This, again, is usually only done with computing devices themselves, and not with their docks.
The picture above shows the backside of the dock. Here you can see the sealed and threaded connectors, as well as the 75x75mm VESA mounting plate with the massive 2.25 inch ball that then connects to either a RAM double socket arm for horizontal or flat surface mounts, a RAM rail/bar mount, a pedestal mount, or any combination of the probably thousands of compatible (and amazingly inexpensive) mounting components RAM offers.
How did RAM do it, and why? We're not sure if the exceptional toughness and sealing levels were required by the client, in this case Harris, or if RAM simply set out to build the toughest, best sealed, and overall best possible dock for extreme mounting requirements. We do know that RAM has numerous patents that give them an edge over the competition, and their customers appreciate mounting products that are every bit as tough and well sealed as the expensive and important rugged computing gear they use. And that makes perfect sense.
Are we impressed? We are. -- Conrad H. Blickenstorfer, June 2014
National Products Inc
8410 Dallas Ave. S.
Seattle, WA 98108, USA
Tel: (206) 763-8361
Fax: (206) 763-9615
Web: RAM IP65-sealed dock for HArris RF-3590 page