Electronic equipment faces some extremely harsh tests in military applications, whether facing fire on the battlefield or just in during day-to-day deployments. To protect gear and maintain the highest performance under extreme conditions, two firms operate as unsung heroes. Deposition Sciences offers protective optical coatings and test services, while Ballistic provides engineered cases that can literally make electronic equipment bulletproof.
A government-accredited facility, Deposition Science’s special products group (SPG) offers a range of rugged optical coatings and comprehensive test-and-measurement capabilities for a wide array of specialized optical coatings for military and aerospace applications (Fig. 1). Based on customer specifications, Deposition Science’s SPG manages product development from engineering to prototyping through final production.
TOTAL TEST CAPABILITIES
Testing capabilities include measurement of in-house produced materials, independent verification of external-coated samples for vendor and supplier surveillance, process analysis, and qualification testing. Spectral measurement capabilities include testing spectral ranges from 0.190 to 50 ìm. Reflectance and transmittance tests range from near normal to 45 deg. The facility even provides the means to perform cryogenic measurements from ambient to less than 10 K on materials and high-temperature-superconductor (HTS) components, such as low-loss filters that are used in some tactical radio front ends. If necessary, polarized measurements are also available. For example, hemispherical transmittance and reflectance tests measure from 0.19 to 2.5 ìm.
Additionally, Deposition Science’s SPG can accommodate a wide array of environmental tests, including measurements under conditions of humidity, salt fog, abrasion, temperature cycling, adhesion, solubility, and cleanability. Available tests and measurements include flatness and reflected-wavefront error, surface-quality characterization (scratch and dig, scatter, etc.), surface resistivity, and dimensional verification. SPG performs environmental testing to both MIL-C-48497 and MIL-F-48616 standards.
For more information on the company’s durable optical coatings and test and measurement capabilities for military and defense, go online to http://www.depsci.com/CoatingProcesses/default.aspx and http://www.depsci.com/Services/default.aspx#measurement. Most small electronic devices, including some handheld variants of tactical radios, are not designed in an equipment enclosure that can withstand the abuse of military environments. For protecting small electronic devices such as iPhones, Ballistic’s HC (Hard Core) is trumpeted as the most rugged case on the market. It has passed all forms of durability testing and meets MIL-STD 810G specifications, making it the first and only available iPhone 4 case to meet military specifications (Fig. 2). To ensure that the Ballistic HC case met MIL-STD 810G requirements, it was subjected to an array of tests, including shock (drop test), vibration, extreme temperatures, humidity, and dust testing.
According to Adam Stubin, Vice-President of Business Development at Ballistic, “We’re proud to offer a case that meets military specifications. There are a lot of fashion companies out there that attempt to add a rugged case to their case lineup. We pride outselves on offering purpose-built, top-notch protective gear to our customers, and this confirms our leadership in the rugged case market.”
The HC case features an inter-changeable outer gel skin layer, a front facing inward holster, and a built-in screen protector for the display portion of the end product. For further protection, the case incorporates some very unique connector seals, water-resistant meshes, and tough lenses. These ensure that moisture, dust, dirt, and other corrosive materials and elements do not enter into the connector, speaker, and/or microphone ports.
How is an electronic equipment case engineered for total protection of an electronic device, and to meet the applicable requirements of the MIL-C-48497 and MIL-F-48616 standards? The Ballistic HC case actually consists of a multilayer design, with four layers of protection for electronic devices such as an iPhone. The first layer is an industrial-strength plastic shell which includes an integrated screen protector as the second layer. The third layer is a thick, heavy-duty silicone material that provides a generous measure of protection and also a grippable surface. The fourth layer is an included holster with a 360-deg. rotating belt clip.
The Ballistic HC housing is actually engineered to allow it to be used without the third layer. The first and second layers are designed to cover most of the sensitive parts of an iPhone, including the power button, the volume buttons, the screen, and the home button. It also provides several cutouts for the controls and inputs that require access, such as the headset jack, the noise cancellation microphone, the silent switch, the microphone, the 30-pin docking connector, the speaker, and the camera/flash. Although its multiple layers add bulk to an electronic device such as an iPhone, the added size and weight are the tradeoffs for the added protection to the electronic circuitry.
The Ballistic HC case is one example of the company’s workmanship in developing electronic equipment cases for rugged commercial, industrial, and military environments. Although it may be rare to actually find iPhones in use on the battlefield, this case represents an example of what Ballistic can produce in therns of specialized equipment cases for a wide range of electronics equipment, including for handheld tactical radios that are more commonly found on the battlefield and in other miitary environments.
The Ballistic HC case currently sells for $49.99. Additional models meeting MIL-STD 810G specifications are also available.