Ruggedness testing matters
Ruggedness testing is about common sense. If it is likely that a device will be used in an unpressurized aircraft, how high will that aircraft fly? Determine that and then test operation under that pressure.
If a device is likely to be used in very cold or very hot climates or conditions, determine how hot and cold it might get, then test whether it will work at those temperatures, for how long, and without an unreasonable drop in performance.
Test procedures for most environmental conditions can be found in the MIL-STD-810G or some other pertaining standards. I say “most” because some are not included. For example, I’ve often wondered why some rugged devices use shiny, gleaming materials that are certain to get scratched and dented on the first impact. It will not affect performance, but no one likes their costly rugged device to be all scratched up after a week on the job. Scratch and dent resistance should be part of ruggedness testing.
The big picture is that serious, documented ruggedness testing, based on common sense and tailored for the device and application at hand, matters. The ability to hold up on the job is what sets rugged handhelds apart. Testing that ability is an integral part of the product, one that benefits vendors and customers alike.
By: Conrad H. Blickenstorfer