Mini PCs for super wind boosters

Louise Smyth

Skydivers fly without a parachute, only carried by the air pockets between the ground and the aircraft. When skydiving indoors, this all takes place in a vertical wind tunnel with an airflow velocity of up to 286 km/h which holds the skydiver similarly to free falling from a genuine parachute jump. The indoor skydiving facilities in Bottrop, Germany, belong to the most modern of their type worldwide. In the 17 metre high wind channel, beginners, enthusiasts and professionals alike experience the dream of flying – emotions, fun and a good portion of of adrenalin all-inclusive.

Now, Nuvo-3003LP series industrial mini PCs are used as part of the control and monitoring technoloy. Safety plays an important role at the complex facilities where four axial ventilators with an overall output of 1600 kW ensure a constant airflow in the flight chamber. The reference facility in Bottrop was made state-of-the-art by the experts from measX GmbH, a company which primarily specialises in the planning and execution of measurement and test engineering up to complete systems for test stand engineering. Measurement data such as temperature and pressure at several measurement locations, rotational speed, motor current and blower speed provide the basis for regulating and controlling the facilities. Despite all the technology applied, finally human beings remain the top controlling authority. The operating panel displays all the data in real time and enables manual intervention such as releases, door controls, acoustic and optical warning signals and, in emergencies, also the emergency stop.

Special controllers were needed for communication with the control system via the Ethernet and complete visualisation on several monitors. The decision was taken in favour of the industrial Nuvo-3003LP mini PCs from the distributor Acceed. The crucial factor for the decision was these controllers’ special features: high output at surrounding temperatures of  -25 to +70°C, smallest construction size and maintenance-freedom as a result of the fanless and robust housing design.

Cable ducts, distributors or control desks provide the perfect operational environment for the Nuvo-3003LP and its larger 'brother', the 3005LP. The very flat chassis with only 240 x 225 x 69mm has an internal 2.5” HDD and a hot swap tray for a further 2.5” HDD for fast exchange of data to be saved, for example in monitoring systems or testing stations. The casing is fanless and with it robust, energy-saving and low-service at the same time. When in operation, an extended ambient temperature range from -25 to +70°C is nonetheless permissible.

Three GigE interfaces support 9.5 kB jumbo frames. Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) is also available as are insulated digital IO interfaces with COS interrupt support. Several USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports and 3 independent display outputs (DVI/HDMI and DB-15 analogue) round off the equipment options. Two PCI-Express sockets are provided for hardware expansions. External audio, keyboard and mouse connections are designed as standard interfaces.