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Rugged, in-vehicle touch-panel PCs support camera and wireless expansion

Aug 29, 2018 — by Eric Brown 769 views

Nexcom’s 12.1-inch VMC 4020 and 10.4-inch VMC 3021 in-vehicle touch-panel PCs run on an Apollo Lake SoC and provide extensive ruggedization features including IP65 protection. You also get 4x mini-PCIe, 3x camera, 2x CAN, 9-60V power, and optional UPS and PoE.

We recently covered a Nexcom telematics computer called the VTC 1911-IPK with an Intel Bay Trail Atom processor. Nexcom’s 12.1-inch VMC 4020 and 10.4-inch VMC 3021 computers are similarly aimed at in-vehicle use in harsh environments, but they ship with touchscreens and a more modern Apollo Lake Atom x7-E3950 SoC. Nexcom supports the dual-core, up to 1.6GHz SoC with Windows 10 or a Yocto Project based Linux distribution on request.

VMC 4020 (left) and VMC 3021 (not to scale)
(click images to enlarge)

The VMC touch-panel PCs are designed for in-vehicle use in warehouses, ports, and other logistic and material applications. The systems support -30 to 60°C temperatures with ambient air flow and offer 10% to 90% (non-condensing) humidity tolerance. Vibration resistance is rated at MIL-STD-810G, 514.6 Procedure 1, Category 4, and shock resistance complies with MIL-STD-810G, Method 516.6, Procedure I and V (crash hazard), says Nexcom.

Both the VMC 3021 and and equally rugged VMC 4020-4A1 version of the 12.1-inch VMC 4020 provide full IP65 protection on all sides of the system with the help of M12 ports. There’s also a VMC 4020-4A0 model with IP65 protection everywhere except for the bottom panel, which has standard ports. It also appears you can purchase the VMC 4020-4A0 with no IP65 protection whatsoever.

VMC 4020 side views
(click images to enlarge)

The 12.1-inch VMC 4020 and 10.4-inch VMC 3021 have very similar features. Their 5-wire resistive, anti-glare touchscreens both support 1024 x 768 pixel (XGA) resolution and 1200 nits brightness for better sunlight readability. The VMC 4020 provides 750:1 contrast and 170° x 170° viewing angles while the VMC 3021 offers 500:1 contrast and 140° x 120° angles.


The different screen sizes result in different dimensions: 339.97 x 261.97 x 75.10mm for the VMC 4020 and 289.98 x 229.97 x 68.70mm for the VMC 3021. The front bezels include volume, brightness, and backlight controls, as well as 4x LEDs, 10x programmable buttons, 2x 2W speakers, and a light sensor.

The VMC systems ship with a “default” of 2GB DDR3L-1600 RAM, suggesting that greater capacities might be possible on this single-SODIMM system. You get a 2.5-inch SATA SSD bay and a CFast slot for storage. Expansion interfaces include 4x full-size mini-PCIe slots — one with USB support and the others with PCIe and USB. Dual micro-SIM slots and 3x antennas are also available.

Oddly, the most highly touted features in the press release and product page intros — 3x CVBS interfaces for analog cameras — are not listed in the spec sheets. Designed for safety and security, the interfaces support under 1-second camera lag time. If you choose the Power-over-Ethernet option (see below), you can also hook up IP cameras.

VMC 3021 bottom panel
(click image to enlarge)

Aside from a side-mounted USB 2.0 port, the remaining I/O on the VMC 3021 and VMC 4020-4A1 is delivered via M12 slots on the bottom panel. One M12 provides GbE, RS232/422/485, a DR interface for odometer and speed information, and 4x GPIO. The second M12 gives you another RS232/422/485 interface, as well as mic-in and line-out, 2x isolated CANBus 2.0B, and an iButton interface for secure identification. There are also M12 ports for the 9-60V DC input (with optional UPS support), as well as 12V/2A DC output and RFID.

The VMC 4020-4A1 adds a few more features. There’s an M12-based second GbE port with optional PoE (802.3af/at), an M12 with dual USB 2.0 ports, and an M12 “expansion port.”

VMC 4020-4A0 and VMC 4020-4A1 bottom views (left) and VMC 4020 rear view
(click images to enlarge)

The less protected VMC 4020-4A0 model instead offer standard bottom panel connectors. You get 2x GbE, a USB 2.0 host port, a DB9 based RS232/422/485 port, and a DB15 expansion port. A 26-pin GPIO connector offers 2x isolated CAN 2.0B connections, as well as a J1939/ISO15765-4 or J1708 (CAN05 or CAN06) interface. The connector also supplies RFID, DR, iButton, 1x GPI, and 2x GPO. A 3-pin terminal block provides the 9-60V DC input with optional UPS.

Further information

No pricing or availability information was supplied for the VMC 4020 and VMC 3021 touch-panel PCs. More information may be found in Nexcom’s announcement, as well as on the VMC 4020 and VMC 3021 product pages.


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