The Karbon 300 Story: A Customer-Centered Design Journey

The Karbon 300 Story: A Customer-Centered Design Journey

The Karbon 300 Story: A Customer-Centered Design Journey

The Karbon 300 Story: A Customer-Centered Design Journey


Our new Karbon 300 Rugged Computer combines the latest in vision processing, wireless communication, security, and cloud capabilities in a chassis built to withstand anything users can dish out.

But why did we build it?

We asked a couple members of our team to answer that very question, and others, to give you an inside look at the motivations that drove us to create this unique computer. Below, you’ll read about a few of the incredible things builders are already using Karbon 300 for, and learn more about what led us to combine the features and capabilities the Karbon 300 has to offer.

First, here’s a quick introduction to Jim and Maxx from our Engineering and Product Management teams.

My name is Jim Watson, I’m an Applications Engineer here at Logic Supply, and one of my key roles is to work with our customers to help them find a system that’s going to do something that a traditional computer cannot do. My job is to make sure that the hardware we suggest is going to work exactly as intended when it’s taken out of the box. I also do a lot of new product testing, specifically thermal and functionality testing on all the new hardware. (Connect with Jim on LinkedIn)

My name is Maxx Garrison and I’m one of Logic Supply’s Product Managers. My team works across the company to develop the best possible products for our customers. That means working with sales to understand what our clients need, and what applications they’re working on now, and what they’ll be looking to do in the future. I then work with engineering to see what’s technically feasible how we can exceed what’s currently on the market. (Connect with Maxx on LinkedIn)


What were some customer needs that lead to the development of Karbon 300?

Jim Watson: From an engineering and testing perspective, Karbon 300 has been a ground-up internal development, so we’ve been able to ensure that this system is going to offer full performance within the defined operating temperature range. This system may go into an enclosure that’s going to get heated up by the sun in the desert, or added to an industrial process at a meat packing facility, where you’re going to find temperatures that are sub-freezing. Basically, we set out to create a system that will not only survive in those environments, but also perform at a high level.

Maxx Garrison: We built Karbon 300 to combine application-specific features that our customers require, such as automotive interfaces like ignition control or CAN bus, and industrial features like DIO and wide power input. By combining this feature set into a compact rugged system we’ve created a differentiated offering at a price point that will fit within our clients’ project budgets.


What are some real world applications for Karbon 300?

JW: Interestingly, we often find solutions that were designed for one type of deployment, but in fact solve challenges in a different use case.

One such example is a manufacturing application in Germany where Karbon 300 is being outfitted into an existing cart system to test the strength of metal components after they have been welded. This application, although industrial in nature, will utilize a number of automotive features such as CANbus, which is required to talk to other devices on the cart. The wide voltage input that is required for automotive applications is useful in these types of environments where the system may be connected to an unregulated power input, such as a battery. In addition to this the automotive ignition sensor is being used as a way to safely power the system on and off via a PLC.

That’s just one early application for Karbon 300, but we’re already hearing about a number of interesting applications in the works and I’m looking forward to diving into those as they develop.

MG: Another interesting Karbon 300 use case is a customer of ours who is using the CBRS radio band for next-generation wireless communication. This technology was previously only available for military use, but has now been opened up for civilian use. Karbon 300 can be deployed in weather-tight containers on cell towers around the coast to actively manage prioritization of the radio band.The IoT gateway will sense if there’s a naval ship using the band for radar, and will automatically prioritize the communication bands used, allowing for dynamic management of both military and civilian access. A rugged system like Karbon 300 is required for an embedded use case like this because wide temperature swings are common and reliability is essential.


Could you offer some examples of how Karbon 300 powers data processing at the edge?

JW: It’s become common that all data is sent to the cloud, but in many instances, particularly with vision processing applications, this quickly becomes incredibly expensive. This is because you would need to have a fleet of servers in the cloud to process the data, and you also need to do a lot of wireless data transmission, which is expensive.

We work with customers who have fleets of vehicles that are doing a level of data acquisition and edge processing that requires compute power directly in the vehicle. Autonomous vehicles, for instance, need to process data from cameras and other sensors  in real-time. If a traffic light turns from green to yellow, the time it takes to collect this data, transmit it to the cloud for processing, and then receive the instructions is far too long to avoid an accident, and that’s why localized compute power is required, which Karbon 300 is equipped to manage.

This edge compute processing provides for a much faster response time. We’ve seen other customers using these options to maximize efficiency. For example, we’ve received interest from cities who are seeking to save on overhead development when adding new infrastructure, as a large data center will no longer be required thanks to the processing happening at the edge.


Karbon 300 has been designed to be very compact, how is this of benefit to customers?

JW: The compact form factor supports a lot of customers who are looking for a rugged, wide-temp solution that can be installed in a space-constrained location, such as a sealed and waterproof enclosure with other electronics, and can therefore become very hot. Having a computer that can be DIN rail mounted in a small form-factor really is tremendously beneficial because a lot of times customers only have a very limited amount of space with which they can actually install the computer itself.

There are typically a number of other components that have to also be installed, and it can be challenging to fit all of the needed components in tight spaces, such as within a vehicle. Karbon 300 offers the ability to install a high powered rugged computer discreetly and still leave room for the other sensors and cameras to be installed in the vehicle as well. It also features expansion options which provide installers the option to further save space by consolidating and integrating numerous external devices into the computer, such as 4G gateways, GPS, and Movidius.


How does the combination of the Intel® Apollo lake platform in a compact rugged system help customers achieve their goals?

MG: With the Apollo Lake platform we are able to drive three independent digital signage displays, and the fresh lifecycle is a major advantage for many of our customers who are embedding these devices in locations that are difficult to service or replace equipment. Combine that with a rugged, wide-temp design and you really open up the number of possibilities. With an outdoor digital signage environment for example, where you see the wide swings in temperature in the winter or summer, and all your electronics are going to be contained behind the screen you really need this to be reliable year-round.

JW: Exactly, think about customers who may be installing kiosks in locations such as Texas or Florida, or customers who are looking to install a video displays inside gas pumps in northern Canada. If the revenue model involves playing ads, for example, then it’s critical that the system is able to meet those demands and always be operational to secure that revenue.


How does Karbon 300 fit into Logic Supply’s existing rugged portfolio?

MG: I think it’s a great addition to our portfolio because it balances rich integrated features with an entry-level price point for a rugged system. Integrated CAN bus is actually a relatively new feature, with very few systems available that have it integrated onto the motherboard. It’s a very interesting feature for automotive and even some industrial automation customers. Furthermore the integrated DIO is generally not found on rugged systems with an entry level price point, as it is here.

JW: The keyword is integrated. Every system has a maximum number of expansion options, and that’s true across the board. When you talk about taking advanced features and integrating them into the computer, it frees up space for other things to increase connectivity, like wireless, cellular, LoRa, and Bluetooth. When the board itself can only accept a certain number of expansion options, you restrict your ability to be open and flexible. By adding these features natively to the board, those expansion options are still free, so this gives innovators in the field the option to create a rugged system with expansion options that we haven’t had before.


Anything else you would like to highlight about Karbon 300?

MG: I’d like to go back to the size of the system, it’s not the smallest system available but because it’s a proprietary motherboard design, it offers far more than a standard form factor board. We engineered this system to be as compact and high performance as possible, but to still include a really rich feature set, that’s tough to match. We packed in 3 LAN, 4 USB, 8-bit DIO, NVMe or SATA storage, plus mPCIe for 4G and M.2 for WiFi, all in such a small system. Every component has been thermally optimized to provide reliable wide operating temperature operation, in a chassis that is thermally designed to perform in whatever situation it finds itself in, from deserts to glaciers.

JW: We were able to design this chassis in a way that thermally accommodates all the expansion options that innovators in the field can conceive of, and that’s what we kept in mind through the entire development process.

To learn more about Karbon 300, check out the video below, or visit www.logicsupply.com/karbon300/.

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