How to accessorise your rugged computer

Much like the computers we use at home or at work, rugged computers for military applications will often require additional accessories to perform certain tasks or aid the user in some way. GRiD Defence Systems is not only a leading manufacturer of rugged computers, but also provides a range of accessories for a complete package solution. In this article we look at the accessories that are available and how they can provide additional benefits for the end user.

As a tablet and laptop manufacturer, our customers are able to quickly use our systems straight from the box, with no long and expensive set up and integration times. Our computers can function in a standalone capacity for many applications, and often do not require any additional boxes or hardware to function. Take for instance our flightline computers, which are able to plug directly into an aircraft’s avionics suite without the need for extra equipment.

That said, there will be instances where there are additional items required to perform a role or function, and that is where accessories come in. Some accessories can be crucial to the functioning of a computer, while others are a ‘nice to have’ that make operating the computer easier for an end user with a specific role.

With 30 years of experience under our belt, we understand the requirements for accessories and have developed a range of options for customers, which results in a complete and fully-integrated solution that is ready to deploy to the field. So what are some of the key accessories that you can source from GRiD as part of an integrated package and what benefits do they bring? Let’s take a look.

Power supplies

It may seem obvious that when buying a computer you will need some kind of power supply, but it’s not as simple as just buying a cable. There are several options available that a customer needs to consider depending on the use case for the computer and where it will be fielded.

For instance, you can power a GRiD computer with a standard commercial power cable that we are all familiar with, although this would only be appropriate for benign office conditions and will not be suitable for more extreme environments, including conflict zones.

If you’re purchasing a rugged computer, the chances are that you will also need a rugged power supply. These are built using military-grade components that are fully sealed in order to withstand various weather and environmental conditions as well as meeting strict military electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) standards.

Another option for powering a GRiD computer is a DC-to-DC rugged cable configuration, whereby the laptop or tablet is powered directly from a platform such as a vehicle or aircraft. This is a power source that is common in the military, especially on deployed operations far from an established power grid, and requires specialised cables and connectors to maintain a constant power source to the computer. GRiD’s products will run from any DC power source from 9-36V making it even easier for the user, especially as there is no need for any additional filtering. GRiD has experience in providing this configuration, particularly for military vehicles, aircraft and naval vessels.

Battery charger

Wires and cabling can be restrictive for some applications, especially if you wish to move around with a device. It’s for this reason that we developed some of our tablets and laptops with a hot-swappable battery capability, allowing users to swap out dead batteries for a freshly-charged unit without stopping the device from running, effectively removing the need to have power cables and plugging in directly to a power source.

To support this functionality and to ensure that fresh batteries are available to the user, GRiD developed a specialist 4-bay charger system that can charge up to four batteries simultaneously. Much like the batteries found in power tools or other wireless devices, there are LEDs on the battery that can communicate whether the unit is charged, is charging, or often more importantly, is empty.

Interface cables

GRiD is able to manufacture cables in-house by leveraging the significant expertise of its UK-based staff. Depending on the project and the specific requirements of the customer, GRiD’s engineers are able to take specific connectors and build the cabling required to interface the computer with other equipment.

Our staff are trained to high standards, meaning they can read complex wiring schedules and build intricate cable assemblies. There are a range of interfaces and standards that GRiD can build its cables to, including Ethernet, USB, and serial ports, as well as more bespoke standards such as MIL-STD-1553.

Carry cases

Most customers will want to be able to carry and protect their GRiD computers, and this is where carry cases come in. GRiD offers both soft carry cases as well as hard transit cases. The latter hard transit cases are extremely robust and are designed to offer maximum protection when computers are in transit, especially over large distances. These are developed in close cooperation with case specialists Peli.

Soft carry cases come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the project requirement. This could even be a webbing pouch configuration, allowing for a smaller device, such as the GRiDCASE 1510, to be carried on a soldier’s webbing for ease of access.

Peli Hard Carry Case


Rugged DVD drives and spare hard drives

The use of CD/DVD drives in commercial laptops has all but disappeared now thanks to the rise of streaming, but CD/DVD drives are still in use in the military world due to ongoing operational requirements. That’s why GRiD still offers an integrated DVD drive on all of its laptops and on some larger tablets. GRiD has also developed a specialist external DVD drive to use alongside its more portable rugged computers where space is not available, in response to specific customer requirements.

Our durable external DVD drive gives users a way to securely store and access data on a DVD without the need for a built-in drive. These can be used in harsh and remote environments, which is equally important for customers that may not be able to access networks to store and access data.

In addition, GRiD can provide spare hard drives for customers that allows for modular storage, which enables end users greater flexibility by being able to switch between different operating systems and applications. A removeable hard drive also facilitates the rapid transfer of data by allowing users to physically move hard drives between devices and locations, depending on security levels.

Mouse and keyboard

It’s common in the consumer space to add a mouse and keyboard to a laptop or tablet, and that’s no different in the rugged computer market. The addition of a mouse or keyboard gives users more choice in how they use their computer, with some preferring peripherals for the job they are undertaking. Some may prefer to use the computer’s existing thumbstick, while others will prefer a separate mouse and keyboard for inputs, and we are happy and able to accommodate both.

Of course, in the harsh environments that GRiD laptops are often used, it doesn’t make sense to use a consumer-grade mouse or keyboard as these would simply break and not be fit for purpose. That is why we offer waterproof mice with optical technology that can operate on most surfaces, reflecting the environments that our users find themselves in, as well as rugged external keyboards built by GRiD engineers.

And unlike off-the-shelf office mice and keyboards, our solutions can be fitted to use Mil-Spec connector cables, which are preferred on military-grade computers. The use of Mil-Spec connectors such as D38999 Series III is significant, as many rugged computers do not have traditional consumer-level USB ports for a variety of operational reasons, which would make integrating a standard mouse and keyboard difficult.


GRiD Defence Systems is not only a designer and manufacturer of rugged laptops and tablets, but it also offers a comprehensive range of accessories that further enhance the functionality of its products, whatever the mission.

Whether it’s essential power supply or battery charging capability, or robust carry cases and specialist interfaces, each accessory has been meticulously designed and developed by GRiD’s UK engineers to address the demanding needs of our military and defence customers.

By designing these accessories, occasionally in conjunction with trusted partners, GRiD ensures that all components work together seamlessly, reducing compatibility issues and simplifying the procurement process for customers. This is what we call our ‘one-stop-shop’ approach and this guarantees that every product is tested and ready for immediate deployment, with unparalleled reliability and performance in the field.


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