Bob 1-resized-600
, , ,

A tale of Two BOBs: Simple Solution for a Complex Problem

AMREL customizes a lot of computers.  Sometimes, the customization is almost a complete build-to-order.  Other times, it’s as simple as adding a connector to a laptop or tablet.  Actually, adding a connector isn’t so simple. Consider the conventional way of adding a connector to a mobile computer:

  • First space must be found to accommodate the connector
  • A hole and mount points must be machined into case wall
  • Power and signal wires must be soldered to mainboard and routed to backside of the connector
  • Finally, the laptop or tablet is reassembled and tested

This approach is problematic. If he can, a good engineer always avoids taking apart any machine and putting it back together.  If someone not familiar with the customization repairs the computer, will he be aware of the changes?  The repair may take longer than expected or inadvertently damage the computer.

James Gathings, AMREL’s new Senior Design Engineer, showed me an elegant alternative to disturbing the computer case. He uses a breakout box, known as a “BOB.”

James makes his own BOBs out of aluminum tubing, rather than the more expensive billets, a trick he picked up from aeronautics, BOB allows us to break out power/ signals from the docking connector and route them to a wall mounted connector.  The BOB has room inside for a small converter as well.

“I love giving a client an empty BOB, and telling them to put whatever they want in it,” explains James. “Even multiple connectors can be put it.”

While the I/O interface of the tablet/laptop is expanded, its structural integrity is preserved. Once attached to the computer, the BOB can easily be removed, for modification or repair.

AMREL makes rugged computers, so the BOB has to be tough as well. Again, James relies on his aeronautical experience as well as extensive background in rugged computers.  The end caps are double wall thickness. Keyed to the tablet’s grab points, they act as guards for the enclosure.

When applicable, we mount the connector to the inside wall. This reduces profile. Connectors flange reinforces wall and is keyed to the floor to prevent twist. When there is a concern about space, we use a “mini Bob.”  All walls are double thick and we locate connectors to the outside.

The BOB solution approach is typical of AMREL’s work.  We are always looking for modular, elegant, economical solutions that fit our clients’ needs.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply