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Orbit Micro Creates a System to Monitor and Record Electrical Brain Activity

The Application:

Front View
Brain Electrical Activity Monitoring and Recording The customer required a system to temporarily record and monitor brain electrical activity (< 30 days). This system would sense action potentials from individual neurons in the brain, and then record these high resolution signals and also provides a physician with the tools to analyze them. Information obtained from this system would represent a new data set for physicians that could result in the development of future products that have the potential to detect and respond to the onset of certain neurological conditions.
Top View

The Hardware Requirement:

This customer required an extremely dense rackable system less than 20" deep with high performance computing power and advanced graphics capability in order for it to be able to record and analyze real-time neural signal decoding and neural stimulation. For easy transportation of the huge amounts of data that this system will record, they also requested a removable hard drive to be installed in the front chassis. As well as an external USB hard drive reader, that they could plug the removable hard drive tray into, to be stored and archived on the physicians personal computer or NAS.

The Solution:

Dual Xeon Processors
We went with a shallow 1U rackmount chassis, and a dual Xeon motherboard with an AGP slot. One of the hardest requirements to meet to was the high end video card, but we were able to find a motherboard that would accommodate an AGP slot. As for the removable hard drive, a lot of customization work went in to custom fitting the removable hard drive tray to fit in this shallow chassis right in front of the power supply. We ended up making in-house a custom cable harness for the power as well as milling the chassis for the new mounting locations. Another challenge with this project was the thermal requirements. Because of the nature of the motherboard, it was no optimized for cooling in a 1U chassis, there was ne direct airflow to the processor. We installed special active heatsinks on the processors with a special layer of thermal conductive compound to help the heat transfer from the CPU to the heatsink. Compared to standard thermal compound, this particular type was able to drop the temperature of the processor by 4°C. In addition we installed a large 120mm blower in the front of the chassis to draw-in large amounts of cold air into the chassis so that the hard drives, memory, CPUs, and power supply would be cooled effectively.
Removable Hard Drive Tray

Additional Services:

After receiving the first prototype from Orbit Micro, the customer proceeded to get the system completely UL, FCC, and CE certified. From that point it was our responsibility to make sure that every system we shipped the customer was exactly the same as the first. Which normally isn't a problem, but because the computer industry is so volatile and the parts that were used were all COTS, being able to support their project for than 10 months is difficult when it comes to sourcing parts for the build. We were able to solve this problem, by analyzing our customers need and their expected forecast. With that information we were able to stock inventory just for them, for future builds, and/or replacements or repairs. Combined with very diversified distribution channels and direct contacts with the manufacturers. If our stock runs low in the future, sourcing parts through the distribution channel would not be a problem.