Rugged Handheld Computer (RHC) 31A

 Tactical Terminal (Tacter) 31A

© 2013 Brooke Clarke
Background
Description
    Photos
Problems
Related
Links

Background

I got this as part of my general interest in things military, computer and cryptographic.  It's similar to the PSG-9 Message Terminal (aka: Handheld Terminal Unit).  It may even use the same battery?

Description

The 16-bit color, VGA 640×480 LCD touch screen is 5.5 x 4.25" (6.4" diagonal viewable) and a stylus is attached by a lanyard.  In addition there's a small tactile keyboard that can be folded out.  Type II and III PCMCIA (Wiki) slot.
A number of I/O connectors, see connectors below.

From the Talla-tech (division of Tadiran Communications (Elbit Systems)) brochure:
"The Tacter-31 RHC (Ruggedized Handheld Computer) is a versatile, digital messaging terminal designed to serve all combat echelons in the modem digital battlefield. The Tacter-31's embedded communications use modern protocols, such as MIL-STD-188-220, making the terminal a critical building block for any C4I system. The Tacter-31 supports simultaneous connectivity to two independent tactical radio nets, as well as LANs and other nets. The Tacter-31 features an internal GPS receiver, giving the handheld terminal vital navigation and mapping capabilities. The Tacter-31 was selected by the United States Marine Corps as a system of choice for both dismounted and vehicular applications for the years to come."

“basically a Compaq iPAQ (Wiki) on steroids,” . . . "Microsoft’s Pocket PC 2002 (Wiki) operating system" from press release (Wiki)
The Elbit Tacter-31D is a newer and different rugged vehicle computer.
The Elbit Tacter-31M is a newer and different rugged handheld computer

Photos

Fig 1
Rugged Handheld
                  Computer (RCH) 31 Tactical Terminal (Tacter) 31
Fig 2
Rugged Handheld
                  Computer (RCH) 31 Tactical Terminal (Tacter) 31
Fig 3
Rugged Handheld
                  Computer (RCH) 31 Tactical Terminal (Tacter) 31
Fig 4
Rugged Handheld
                  Computer (RCH) 31 Tactical Terminal (Tacter) 31
Fig 5
Rugged Handheld
                  Computer (RCH) 31 Tactical Terminal (Tacter) 31
Fig 6
Rugged Handheld
                  Computer (RCH) 31 Tactical Terminal (Tacter) 31
Fig 7
Rugged Handheld
                  Computer (RCH) 31 Tactical Terminal (Tacter) 31
Fig 8
Rugged Handheld
                  Computer (RCH) 31 Tactical Terminal (Tacter) 31
7/64" hex key to remove the front panel.
Fig 9 stickers:
AMIBIOS, 686c1985-95, American Megatrends, DO53307
Quick Beam Suite 3.4 (IR port software)
PhoenixBIOS Multikey/H8L (keyboard software)
Rugged Handheld
                  Computer (RCH) 31 Tactical Terminal (Tacter) 31
Fig 10 GPS receiver to right of green "T" connector.
GPS RF in metal box on right.
BT1 memory battery at top of PCB. (meas: 2.2 V)
Rugged Handheld
                  Computer (RCH) 31 Tactical Terminal (Tacter) 31
Fig 11 showing the flex circuit cable from the front panel
that has nowhere to go?
Rugged Handheld
                  Computer (RCH) 31 Tactical Terminal (Tacter) 31
Fig 12 Bottom of Box
Rugged Handheld
                  Computer (RCH) 31 Tactical Terminal (Tacter) 31
The connector for the front panel ribbon cable is between
the hard drive and the main battery compartment wall
about centered.  There's another hold up battery on the
 bottom PCB.
Hard Drive: Toshiba MK3017GAP
Laptop hard drive - 30 GB - ATA-100
There is also a dead 3V CR2032 battery on the bottom board


Fig 13 Bottom of bottom board/GPS receiver
Rugged Handheld
                  Computer (RCH) 31 Tactical Terminal (Tacter) 31
Fig 15 Ready to connect Front Panel.
While top PCB was out, soldered red and black wires.
Ribbon cables connected.
Connecting top PCB ribbon cable tricky!
Rugged Handheld
                  Computer (RCH) 31 Tactical Terminal (Tacter) 31
Fig 16
Powered up using HP 6038A power Supply.
draws just over 1 amp at 15 Volts in BIOS.
American Megatrends 
Need to wait for dark to photograph screen, it's very dim.
Rugged Handheld
                  Computer (RCH) 31 Tactical Terminal (Tacter) 31

Getting Screen Brighter

Fig 18 BIOS opening screen
Rugged Handheld
                  Computer (RCH) 31 Tactical Terminal (Tacter) 31

Fig 20

Fig 19 Video of Booting on YouTube


Controls & Indicators

The front panel control is marked: Off, Suspnd (suspend), Stlth (Stealth), On, KBD Light

The I/O panel has the following connectors:

VGA: Video Graphics Array (Wiki) Sub-D(15)f (Wiki: VGA Connector)
COM1: Serial RS-232 coumunications port 1 (Wiki) Sub-D(9)m
MMIO: connector with LAN, USB, firewire (optional), audio in/out, COM2 Sub-D(26)f
CH1:  Sub-D(26)f  Radio channel 1?
CH2:  Sub-D(26)f Radio channel 2 ?
FastIO: commercial LAN and 2 USB 2.0 host/slave
IR port: 14x5mm black
FILL: GPS Crypto Fill Standard U-229 connector
ANT: GPS antenna coax _____tbd_____ 5mm ID for the hole (SMB is too small)
PWR: External DC power Lemo_____tbd_____ 3-male pin 9.76mm ID barrel

Problems

Ribbon Cable from Front Panel to bottom PCB

As received the wide ribbon cable from the front panel was not connected and it was not apparent where it should connect.  It turns out that it connects to the PCB that's at the bottom of the box and only accessible after removing the top two boards.

How to get DC power to it?

When looking into the PWR connector the top of the 3 pins goes to a red wire (positive input)
The bottom right pin goes to a black wire (ground input).
I've just soldered red and black wires to the terminal on the adjacent PCB where those red and black wires go.
With a power supply set to 6 Volts the current draw is more than 1 Amp and not enough to power the RHC-31.
What is needed for the external DC input? about 15 Volts at slightly more than 1 amp (1.6 Amps minimum).
I've routed the DC wires out through the door for the PCMCIA cards, but in the upper right corner so as to not block the slots.
The door can not close, but the front panel is attached properly now.

Screen Brightness

At boot up the screen brightness is very dim, probably in stealth mode for night vision goggles.
I tried pressing Function 7 (Sun icon) but it didn't help.
But after using a leather jacket as a dark hood and selecting DOS (the bottom boot option) and setting the date, time and defining the touch screen corners, pressing Func 7 increased the screen brightness and it now survives power down.  That also may be related to replacing the CR2032 battery on the bottom board.

Windows NT 4.0 Workstation Log On

Need User Name and Password or a work around.
Pressing F8 during Windows boot does not bring you into Safe Mode.


Related

PSG-9 Message Terminal, CHS-2 Handheld Terminal Unit (HTU)
CF28Toughbook Panasonic CF-28 Toughbook Laptop Computer
CF30Toughbook Panasonic CF-30 Toughbook Laptop Computer

Links

Brooke's:  PRC68, alphanumeric index to web pages, Products for Sale
Page created 1 Dec. 2013