Panasonic Toughpad tablets help drive success at Formula Ford
The perfect environment for motorsport’s future driver champions to hone their talents, the 2014 Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship is contested and televised at 10 events, across 30 races making it the most attractive junior single-seater series in the UK.
Working hard to ensure the racing season runs smoothly and fairly is Nigel Jones, the Motor Sports Association Technical Delegate for Formula Ford, who is in charge of scrutineering and technical eligibility at the races. His essential tool for the job is the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1 tablet, which makes his role as the official rule keeper of technical specifications much easier.
“My job is to ensure that the cars are built and maintained to the technical specifications issued by Ford,” explained Nigel. “During race meetings, I check that the cars continue to comply with the specifications and race by the rules.”
One of the key elements of Formula Ford’s success, unlike other single-seater series, is that it is not a one-make championship. By allowing freedom of chassis design, engine build and numerous technical items of specification on the car, it drives the teams to develop cars of an exceptionally high technical standard. The vehicles can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 2.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 160mph.
The strictly enforced technical regulations have been one of the mainstays of the championship over the years. The Ford Motor Company is behind these regulations, with staff at Ford Racing in the Dunton Research Centre, writing and updating and providing the vital expertise of the championship scrutineer and electronics experts.
Diagnostics during race weekend
The latest cars have an Electronic Control Unit (ECU), which controls the engine and records all the car performance data during the course of the weekend. Nigel can plug the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1 tablet into the car’s ECU at any point to check that the cars are meeting regulations. Data recorded includes information such as revolutions per minute, speed, engine and oil temperatures. In the event of an engine problem, the scrutineers can also use the Panasonic Toughpad tablet to help diagnose specific issues for the drivers and their mechanics.
Perfect for the race environment
“For the environment that we work in, the Panasonic Toughpad is perfect,” said Nigel. “It is so compact and easy to carry around, so I have all the data and information I need at my fingertips wherever I am during the meeting.”
“As well as downloading and analysing race data from the vehicles, I use the Panasonic Toughpad for a host of different activities during the race meeting. I record the weights of the driver and cars before and after the race, I have all the rules and regulations available on the device to check at any time and I can also use the tablet for judges to review in-car camera footage of racing incidents.”
Nigel says that the tablet is built for working on the move. “The flexible specification is ideal for tailoring the tablet to meet your needs. We use an Ethernet connection for downloading data from the cars and the USB connection for fast exchange of data. The stylus enables me to work accurately with forms and information on the screen using Windows 8 Pro.”
“I trust the Panasonic Toughpad tablet implicitly,” said Nigel. “It is very reliable and I can be using it consistently from Friday afternoon through to Sunday on a race weekend. With its hot swappable battery option, I can change the battery on the hoof and just carry on, without having to turn the device off and without losing time or data. It works in all the weathers and difficult conditions we can throw at it and the screen clarity is perfect.”
Designed for mobile workers of all kinds, the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1 tablet is a fanless design powered by a 4th generation Intel® Core™ processor. This powerful new processor delivers exceptional performance with a very low power consumption of just 4.5 Watts, compared to the regular 15 Watts, keeping heat generation to a minimum. The Toughpad FZ-M1 comes with 4GB RAM (8GB optional) and 128 SSD (256GB optional).
Weighing in at just 540g, and 18mm thin, the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1 tablet is also highly flexible with its configuration ports and its integrated business expansion module. Configurable integrated options include 4G mobile broadband, GPS and vehicle pass through antenna. The integrated business expansion module options include Mini-Serial, LAN, NFC, Smartcard Reader, 1D/2D Barcode Reader, UHF RFID and battery hot swap capabilities. As standard, the Toughpad FZ-M1 includes a full size USB 3.0, Micro SD, Headset, DC-In and microSIM.
Using the latest LCD technology the Toughpad FZ-M1 offers unrivalled levels of viewing quality for 7” tablet users working inside or outside. Offering extra wide viewing angles, strengthened glass, high contrast ratio and 500cd/m² high brightness paired with a Panasonic anti-reflection layer, the WXGA (1280x800) Resolution screen is purpose built to perform in any light conditions with ten finger capacitive touch screen capabilities.
The Toughpad family meets similar durability standards to Panasonic’s Fully Rugged Toughbook product line. The Toughpad FZ-M1 is drop tested to 150cm as well as having an IP65 ingress protection rating for resistance to dust and water and it will operate effectively in temperatures ranging from -10 to +50°C.
The fully rugged Toughpad FZ-M1 sets the new benchmark for outdoor tablets making it ideal for field workforces in challenging environments. With its capacitive 10-finger multi-touch outdoor display and flexible configurations (integrated business expansion module), this Windows 8.1 Pro tablet has been designed to optimise the efficiency of field workers.
Never before has so much flexibility and performance been packed into such a compact, durable tablet with such great outdoor viewing capability.
- Intel® Core™ i5-4302Y vPro Processor
- Windows 8.1 Pro
- Intel HD 4200 graphics
- Fanless design
- 7" WXGA (1200x800) outdoor display (up to 500cd/m²)
- Capacitive 10-finger multi-touchscreen
- 150cm shock resistant*
- Water and dust resistant (IP65)*
- Up to 8 hours battery life with user replaceable battery
- Flexible configuration port (serial, LAN, 2D Barcode Reader, NFC)
- Integrated business expansion module (Hot Swap battery, RFID, UHF RFID, Smartcard Reader)
- Lightweight and pocket size: weights approx. 540g
- 3 year standard warranty
* Tested at Panasonic Factory