This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Managing the Effects of Heat, Dust, and Vibration on a GPS Receiver in a Desert Environment




Thornton, Stephen

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Mechanical Engineering


Applications for personal handheld electronic devices, such as GPS receivers, have significantly increased in recent years. It is now necessary for such devices to be able to operate in a wide variety of harsh environmental conditions. A desert environment poses several threats to electronic devices, such as heat, vibration, and dust. This creates a complex design challenge as techniques to reduce the effects of one condition can make the box more susceptible to another. This thesis details the tests performed and resulting design choices for ensuring that a GPS receiver would be able to operate in the midst of these harsh conditions. It was shown that solar radiation posed the greatest threat to the life and performance of the GPS receiver box. The threat of dust from the environment and the desire to decrease power consumption eliminated many commonly used active cooling techniques to control the interior temperature of the GPS receiver box. Instead, the effectiveness of several passive cooling methods, such as reflective tape, insulating coating, and a hood design was tested and the results have been detailed. A hood design was shown to be effective in protecting the GPS receiver box from solar radiation, but it was also shown that this design may not be necessary for a larger box. Vibration testing showed that using hex nuts with tooth washers held components more securely than regular hex nuts. The final individual components used to counteract the harsh environmental effects have also been discussed.