Modular Box PC Provides Precise Location of Train Cars

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A modular box PC enables precise positioning of a train car within a railway network. Based on MEN Micro’s standard BL50W used for wireless applications, the custom box PC controls all functions required for the exact positioning of a train car. MEN developed the technology in cooperation with Deutsche Bahn, the German railroad. The use of modular and robust box PCs has been steadily gaining ground as a compact, cost-efficient alternative for applications that traditionally use industrial PCs. Deutsche Bahn is the latest example.

Equipped with two antennas, the box PC receives GPS data from several satellites and forwards it to the control center via UMTS where position and current speed are calculated. Differential GPS enables location accuracy of less than 3m to determine the exact track on which the car is traveling. An odometer provides dead reckoning functionality. Exact vehicle position can be identified even if the satellite signal is interrupted, as when driving through a tunnel.

This precise positioning, down to the track, offers crucial advantages regarding track utilization, wait times and power consumption. A faster train can overtake a slower one between stations without danger, trains can be coupled quicker in switch yards using suitable software, or the train speed can be adapted to the landscape.

The Deutsche Bahn solution can be upgraded to utilize the functionality of the original BL50W including four PCI Express Mini Card slots with eight SIM card slots, an additional hard disk or different I/O interfaces such as CAN or RS-232/RS-485/RS-422 using SA-Adapters. The standard BL50W uses the T48N AMD Embedded G-Series APU and is equipped with a GPS interface. Additionally, it offers two DisplayPorts, two Gigabit Ethernet channels via robust M12 connectors, two USB 2.0 and five slots for serial I/O or CAN bus, as well as a number of universal inputs and relay outputs.

The BL50W is designed for fanless operation in the extended operating temperature range of -40° to +85°C, and is developed in compliance with EN 50155 for use in railway applications. It also complies with the requirements for E-marking according to ISO 7637-2 for automotive applications. As the I/O and the CPU parts of the BL50W are implemented on two separate PCBs inside the box PC, the system can be easily and cost-effectively adapted to a user's needs. Pricing for a standard BL50W is $2,048. 

MEN Micro
Blue Bell, PA
(215) 542-9575