Military Laptop Docking Station


For the past decade, the U. S. military has used a ruggedized laptop made by a Sealevel customer for diagnostics and maintenance of vehicles and aircraft. Over this time, Sealevel has designed multiple cards for expanding the I/O capabilities of the laptop including MIL-1553, RS-485, Ethernet USB, and digital I/O interfaces. The latest generation design requirements called for two versions of the laptop with identical functionality, but different sizes. Each system requires a docking station that allows the core mobile device to be lighter and more portable. The customer chose Sealevel to provide a turn-key solution for their dock station requirements, from design to production in order to meet the stringent time and technical constraints for design and delivery of their new system.

Application Requirements

  • Optical Drive
  • Modem
  • Parallel Printer Port
  • RS-232 Port
  • Replaceable Battery with Smart Charge Circuitry
  • 85-264VAC Power Input, 47-440Hz
  • Cast Magnesium Enclosure
  • MIL-STD for Shock, Vibration, Moisture, EMC, Radiated Emissions, and Safety

The Sealevel Solution

Sealevel managed the development of the dock design and all compliance testing to meet an extensive list of MIL-STDs and other key requirements. Our electrical team designed six PCBs to accommodate the I/O requirements in the mechanical envelope available. The complex mechanical assemblies were created in SolidWorks through a collaborative effort between Sealevel, our customer, and the vendor selected to fabricate the tooling and produce the finished cast magnesium enclosure parts. Once prototypes were available, Sealevel test engineers conducted field and laboratory testing to guarantee compliance with the customer’s specifications.

Key Design Challenge

Meeting Critical Military Environmental and EMI Specifications
Sealevel’s electrical and mechanical design team was challenged to design two complete, military-grade docking stations that met complex packaging requirements and rigorous environmental and EMI compliance standards. The docking stations were designed and tested to an extensive list of required specifications including:

    • Operating Temperature -18°C to 60°C (MIL-STD -810F)
    • Composite Wheeled Vehicle Vibration Profile (MIL-STD -810F
    • Drop and Functional Shock (MIL-STD -810F)
    • Operating and Non-Operating Wind Driven Rain (MIL-STD -810F)
    • Conducted Emissions and Susceptibility – EMI ( MIL-STD-461F)