4 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Rugged Military Display

With the success of the mission on the line, choosing the right rugged military display for your programs is essential. Knowing the correct questions to ask your manufacturer and to ask of the product itself ahead of time can help ensure you find a solution that meets not only your environmental standards, but also delivers on performance. 

With which standards is the display compliant? 

This question is often the easiest and yet the most important to ask. Because many programs use MIL-STDs as a benchmark of product performance, these standards have become a reliable way to quickly understand how a rugged military display may operate under specific environmental conditions. 

When choosing a rugged military display, look for the specific MIL-STDs, or other guidelines such as DO-160 that the display is built to withstand. Credible manufacturers will be able to share data, test results, experience, and product design specifics. In many cases, representative products and qualification test reports may be shared to validate the supplier’s claim.

The FHDRM is designed to meet a variety of guidelines found in standards, including: MIL-STD-810, 461, 704, 1275 and DO-160.. These standards are a powerful determinant for gauging performance. For example, adherence to MIL-STD 704 and 1275 demonstrate its ability to withstand vehicle power anomalies and fluctuations. Explore these and other qualifications from a recent third-party laboratory test.

Will the rugged military display withstand environmental stress?

The importance of durability under the pressure of extreme environmental stress cannot be overstated. Whether a display is outfitted in freezing temperatures, tropical climates or sandy deserts, it must be able to operate reliably. 

While MIL-STDs can provide context for many key environmental stress factors, such as temperature, learning more about the components and features that comprise your military display will help you understand if it meets your expectations. Look for a manufacturer experienced in engineering ruggedized electronics and focus on the design features that make the display truly rugged. Manufacturers shall also offer optional ESS testing for temperature, vibration, runtime, power cycles, etc. to be included in their already rigorous Acceptance Test Procedures. These types of midstream checks and balances can prove to be valuable validation efforts. 

For example, ask if the display is fully-sealed, which protects against exposure to water, dust, dirt and sand. Determine what materials the enclosure is made of; those constructed from plastics can harbor harmful nuclear, biological and chemical agents.  Asking these questions and tailoring them to the use-case for your rugged military display will help you narrow your decision to a product that meets your needs. 

The PTAC2 displays, as are all DSE MIL-Spec products, are built with a hard anodized aluminum enclosure, which protects against shock, vibration and field use. Its fully-sealed system safeguards against water and dust ingress, corrosion, and physical abuse but also is the baseline for a solid MIL-STD 461 compliant design.

What additional features will help optimize performance?

Up to this point, we’ve covered questions focusing on environmental conditions, and while it is important to focus on how a display will fare under extreme conditions, it’s also key to have an understanding of how the product is uniquely positioned to optimize operations through its features.  

In the defense world, these features can be critical to mission success, as they often determine how data is extracted, interpreted and communicated during critical operations. When looking for a rugged military display, question the features available. What video inputs, resolutions, and formats are supported? What software interfaces are available? Is the display sunlight readable? What sort of video latency can be expected in the field?

The PSM display offers ASCII or HEX code (via RS232 or RS422 protocol) for control of external systems and/or internal display features. Its integrated digital video recorder delivers full-frame rate video, with H.264/MPEG-4 compression and embedded time stamping up to 1/100th of a second, all while guaranteeing low latency video processing.

Is my manufacturer reputable?  

Finding the right manufacturing team is crucial, as the process of awarding a contract and fielding a product can be a long one. You’ll want to ensure not only is the product quality and performance top-notch, but also the company you partner with has a track record of customer satisfaction. 

Ask your partner what quality management system (QMS) they adhere to, as this can often reflect the general quality of the customer support you can expect. Ensuring the manufacturer has control over subcomponent life cycle is an often overlooked criterion. The supplier must be able to support and produce the product for the life of the program without risk of other manufacturer’s end of life (EOL) decisions. Make sure your manufacturer has ample experience, not only from the manufacturing side, but also in engineering and product design, which can be useful if your program requires customized solutions.

DSE is a design-build manufacturer with over 25 years of experience developing COTS displays, as well as custom products for its partners. DSE’s AS1900 Registered QMS has been in place since 2007, and is audited annually to ensure the strictest level of record keeping and continual improvement. As a privately-held small business, DSE prioritizes customer relations, creating mutually beneficial relationships while building a worldwide reputation for excellence.

As you think about your next rugged military display, or even evaluate your current applications, keep these questions in mind. They can help guide you when exploring a product’s technical capabilities and the level of quality and support you can expect from your manufacturer. Because these relationships often extend from one project to another, be sure to partner with a company that understands your unique needs. And most importantly, be sure they are as committed to your success as they are to their own!

Want to learn more about DSE’s rugged military screens? Contact our team at sales@digitalsys.com to get your questions answered.