Product Focus

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Success Aboard QM2

Datamodul´s daughter-company, CONRAC GmbH was awarded by Kelvin Hughes for the delivery of Type Approved TFT Displays in their new and future IBS Programs. Next to the superior performance and quality aspects, one of the main reasons for this decision was, the high level of own development integrated in the concerned TFT monitors. The result can be recognized in the Queen Mary 2 bridge. All TFT displays are delivered in an OEM Chassis-Only version, ready for integration in the special design of the bridge.

The QM2

During the late 1990's Kelvin Hughes realized that the availability of cathode ray tubes (CRTs) for use in bridge navigation displays, such as Radar and ECDIS, was becoming limited. The introduction of flat panel screens into the leisure/home market and commercial industry was also seen to be growing. Kelvin Hughes was making good inroads into the Integrated Bridge market with its Ninas 9000 system based on the Nucleus range of Radar and ECDIS displays.

International Design Consultants (IDC) was brought in to work with Kelvin Hughes in the past on Concept and Nucleus Radar. IDC was now tasked with looking at commercial shipping, speaking to navigators and ship's bridge operators to see how they operated and what they wanted from the bridge of the future: in essence how it would look and operate. At the same time the designers at Kelvin Hughes sought flat panels to meet the rigorous demands of the marine environment and the requirements of the type approval authorities. While numerous panels were commercially available, their lack of ability to completely dim to black was just one of the problems encountered. At the same time the systems department of Kelvin Hughes were looking at multi-switching processors and displays to provide a more versatile future bridge. Kelvin Hughes and IDC came up with a futuristic "Concept" design for a small five panel integrated bridge which would incorporate commercially available flat panels, engine controllers, autopilots, communication systems, steering control and other gauges and indicators. This bridge design became known as the Manta system because of its shape from above resembling that of a Manta Ray. The "Concept" Manta Bridge was never intended as a saleable product, it was intended to show the market in which direction Kelvin Hughes was heading, in its design and engineering. The company had continued to sell the traditional CRT based Ninas 9000 bridge to world-wide markets including the cruise ship industry with the 'Mistral' built at yard of Chantiers De L'Atlantique.

In 2000 Chantiers De L'Atlantique won the contract for the new Cunard cruise ship the QM2 and contracts went out for the equipment to be fitted in her. Kelvin Hughes won the contract to supply the complete navigation bridge against stiff competition. At this stage no one was quite sure what the final layout would be or how it would look. One dilemma was that although the company had won the contract in 2000, the supply of the equipment would not take place until 2003. Kelvin Hughes knew that by then although CRTs would still be available it would be difficult to offer full life replacements. By now TFTs had improved, they were available, type approved and fully met the marine requirements. Kelvin Hughes now had TFT flat panels suitable for bridge installations and looked to IDC to produce a workable design which would accentuate the benefits of this new technology. What was needed was a design that showed that TFTs were more compact than CRTs, lighter in weight and could be incorporated into an ergonomically pleasing unit. It was also required that these units could be incorporated into simple styled consoles to form anything from a small fast ferry bridge to a complex unit such as that required by Cunard for the QM2. After much discussion and passing of various designs back and forth, the shape and form of the Manta Display was finally agreed. All that had to be done now was to convince Cunard that what Kelvin Hughes intended to supply their prestigious ship would match its image and take it well into the 21st century.

One of the radical aspects of the new bridge layout was to move the center console away from the displays. This console, which traditionally protrudes out from the bridge, normally contains the engine controls, autopilots, communication handsets and other essential controls. Because of the amount of equipment that the console has to accommodate and the restrictions on its size to conform to class approval it can give problems in the design of bridge layouts. The decision to move it away from the displays now allows more equipment to be put in it, while allowing the bridge operators free access to all the displays. As this design concept had not been used before, Kelvin Hughes has taken out a patent on this layout. At a meeting at the headquarters of Kelvin Hughes in Hainault, expected by the representatives of Cunard and Chantiers De L'Atlantique to last an hour or so, the new design was launched to them showing all the benefits and features that would enhance the new ship. Thankfully everyone was more than enthusiastic and embraced the new look. They immediately set about replanning the bridge to incorporate all the new ideas and designs in a meeting that now took up most of the day.

LCD's Turning Black

An outdoor designed product is required to be totally sealed to eliminate uncontrolled system contamination through external fans and openings. To increase system reliability, it is advised to eliminate active cooling devices such as heat exchangers. Before applying passive cooling it is necessary to measure the amount of energy that will be introduced into the box and know how much thermal load the enclosure can remove.

For outdoor use, aluminum (when treated with the right chemical processes) is a good alternative to stainless steel. An aluminum enclosure with integrated heat sinks (usually a cast assembly) with good thermal conductivity characteristics is recommended. Integrated heat sinks not only offer the lowest thermal resistance for the heat to move out of the system, but also utilizes natural convection cooling through the heat sink fins.

In addition, low power components in the design help reduce overall power consumption, hence the internal temperature rise resulting in heat transfer efficiency and a lower internal temperature rise by thermally bonding high power components such as power supply, processors and LCD backlight. "Hot spots" are avoided inside the enclosure by circulating the air evenly towards the heat sinks. All of these features result in a minimum internal ambient temperature rise minimizing the temperature on the LCD from inside the box.

There are two major sources of power on the LCD (a) solar (b) backlight. The solar power is about 1KW/M^2 and the backlight power varies on type and size of the LCD. For example, on a 15-in. ACTFT LCD, the solar power amounts to approximately 60W on the LCD and high bright backlight power is about 30W. The LCD assembly in this case acts like a glass house with energy sources on both sides. This excessive power increases the temperature of the liquid crystal to a point where it stops polarizing and turns the LCD "black". The loss of polarization is marginally recoverable and typically follows a consistent pattern. Initially, a black dot expands in the center, growing larger until it fills the entire screen. Also, LCD's left for a long period of time in a 'black screen' mode can cause damage beyond repair. To eliminate the LCD turning black, verification of the design is needed. For instance on certain 15-in. LCD's, temperatures of 85°C or higher will cause the LCD to turn black. The LCD ambient temperature must equal an external ambient temperature of 55°C, plus an internal temperature rise of best case 10°C, to 65°C. Typically, 1000W/M^2 solar gain should equal 60W of power on the surface of the LCD (60W of power is equivalent to a 60°C temperature rise) and the total minimum temperature rise on the surface of the LCD is equivalent to 125°C. For the LCD not to turn black, an additional 40W of energy must be removed. Removing the additional 40W of energy is done by applying special solar filters. These filters reflect major portions of the solar energy, blocking it from the LCD glass. In addition, circulating air between the enclosure glass and the LCD will complete the cooling required to eliminate the LCD from turning black. Azonix Corporation was founded in 1981 as a design and manufacturing engineering firm specializing in rugged, high-precision measurement, control and display products. Originally designed for the demanding standards of the offshore oil industry, this core technology is now integrated into the ProPanel Mariner, used in the commercial and military marine industry.

New TFT Monitors from Simrad

Simrad's recently launched a range of LCD monitors based on high quality TFT MVA Premium technology and available in 15, 17, 19 and 23-in. versions, with a 10-in. version due soon. Dubbed the CF range all the displays offer improved input options, meaning that each model includes DVI-D input, RGB standard input and Video input. A Picture In Picture (PIP) function enables a secondary input to be displayed, this could be a deck camera or video feed. CF displays can be viewed almost anywhere on a vessel, making them easy to position for effective working conditions.

The Needs of Maritime Electronic Equipment

The rigorous standard of the International Electrotechnical Commision IEC60945 for the maritime market is mandatory for reliable and safe Electronic components. Following the CRT-tubes new technologies like LCD has emerged. In opposite to the analogue CRTs the LCD Screens are digitally driven and therefore this aspect must be considered. The link between Displays and Computers is more important and this combination must be understood and handled in a proper way. For example the calibration of ECDIS Displays requests deep know-how because Display and Computers graphic card both influences the result. Beside the technological understanding it is self explanatory that such high sophisticated equipment cannot be compared with consumer products. Hence the availability, serviceability and form-fit-and-function must be secured through many years. The right choice of industrial key-components is essential. Focused on the Martitime Market the Jakob Hatteland Display Group is dedicated to offer and fullfill these requirements. Jakob Hatteland Display, Norway with its recent daughter company Jakob Hatteland Technology started in 1987 and has been involved in the maritime market since then. Today the Group develops and manufactures a complete range of high quality and type approved Displays, Panel-Computers, Stand-alone and Rack-Computers for maritime and industrial applications and was worldwide the first company to offer a fully approved 23" LCD Radar-Display, back in 2001.

The Products

Based on high quality and state-of-the-art components with the highest specifications Hatteland's products meet the requirements for harsh applications. Integration into systems are made easy due to standardized products and features. The Displays (MMD) and the Panel-Computers (MMC) are suitable for a variety of applications with manyfold available accessories, like remote control, brackets, touch screens, sunvisors, etc. ECDIS&ARPA compliant units and MIL tested units for Naval use are obtainable. All products are fully dimmable for night vision use.

The Computers (MSC) are powerful and compact and can be placed virtually everywhere. An ideal and robust unit for maritime environments, available either with AC- or DC-PSU and many more options.

The 19-in.-Rack computers are ideal for use in environments where performance is important, different versions in 2U and 4U heights are available. Equipped with Intel Pentium 4 Processors, respectively with (dual) Intel Xeon Processor these computers are the choice for demanding applications. Opened in September 2003 with a notably opening ceremony with guests from worldwide, Hattelands plant #1 in Nedre Vats, Norway is equipped with modern installations with Heat-up chambers, 3 ECDIS calibration chambers and a closed dust-free zone for final assembly. A dedicated production area for Computers and for prototype production is running in the same building. The capacity here is more then 20,000 units per year and offers expansion possibilites for future needs.

Testing and Approvals

The Standard IEC945 (EN60945) test is mandantory for all of the products. ECDIS products are approved by BSH in accordance to the IEC61174 standard. For MIL applications the MIL-STD 461D (1993), MIL-STD 462D (1993) and extended environmental tests are done. All products are/will be approved by world's leading classification societies.

Fusion 980 Display Wall

The high-performance Fusion 980 display wall controller processor, by Jupiter Systems utilizes Jupiter's revolutionary new switched-fabric architecture, Intel's new dual-core Xeon processor and ATI's Radeon Mobility 7500 graphics chip. These enable the Fusion 980 to drive as many as 60 displays at 1600 ? 1200 resolution and to display up to 32 video sources, 32 RGB computer sources and virtually unlimited network and local applications.

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