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Blogs by Trenton Systems

Rugged Computers and the MIL-STD-810G Standard

Note: Trenton Systems is not a compliance testing facility. We manufacture rugged servers and workstations that conform to military and industrial standards, such as MIL-STD-810 and DO-160, and we can ensure that our systems comply with these standards using our in-house testing equipment, or by sending our systems to a third-party compliance testing laboratory for validation, but our facility does not offer compliance testing services for products manufactured outside of Trenton Systems. For a list of laboratories that can assist you with your testing needs, please read this blog post, which lists the best compliance testing laboratories in the world.

Update 06/01/2020: Learn all about the different MIL-STD-810 test methods in our MIL-STD-810H series. Read the first installment here.

Update 05/11/2020: Check out our blog post on MIL-STD-810 servers and how they're enhancing military defense worldwide. You can also learn more about MIL-STD-810's newest iteration, MIL-STD-810H, in our MIL-STD-810H blog post.

When US-made military computer manufacturers certify a system for Shock & Vibration they are doing so according to the United States Military Standard MIL-STD-810G. This Standard is designed to imitate harsh environments to test the military computer's ruggedness.

A total of 29 different laboratory test methods encompass the MIL-STD-810G Standard. The two methods relating to shock and vibe are Test Method 516.6 and Test Method 514.6, respectively.

Even though the test was specifically prepared for military applications, it is often used on industrial computers alike to test the durability in extreme environments.

Let's dig a little deeper on what these tests mean for those purchasing a Shock & Vibe certified military computer.

Test Method 516.6 - Shock

One of the most popular methods used by manufacturers across various industries, sometimes referred to as the "Drop Test". This method measures how well a rugged computer can withstand various impacts from pre-determined heights while in operation. Eight different procedures are allocated to this method alone, which test different ways shock or impact can be applied to the rugged chassis:

  1. Procedure I – Functional Shock
  2. Procedure II – Material to be Packaged
  3. Procedure III – Fragility
  4. Procedure IV – Transit Drop
  5. Procedure V – Crash Hazard Shock Test
  6. Procedure VI – Bench Handling
  7. Procedure VII – Pendulum Impact
  8. Procedure VIII – Catapult Launch/Arrested Landing

Procedure IV - Transit Drop

An often cited procedure is the Transit Drop. Before the test begins, a visual and operational check is completed and noted. Once the initial inspection passes, the testers outline the height of the drops, how many drops per chassis, and the drop surface. Upon completion of the test, a final visual inspection is performed, notes are documented and compared to the data in the initial inspection.

At the end of the day, the military computer will be dropped on all of its faces (6), corners (8), and edges (12), for a total of 26 drops - only a truly rugged computer can pass this test.

Test Method 514.6 - Vibration

A method designed to verify the ability of military computers to withstand vibration exposures through a lifecycle. This is the most complicated test since it involves various calculations based on what phase the computer is in and what location. Four different procedures make up this popular yet complex Test Method:

  1. Procedure I – General vibration
  2. Procedure II – Loose cargo transportation
  3. Procedure III – Large assembly transport
  4. Procedure IV – Assembled aircraft store captive carriage and free flight

The test itself looks quite simple. A lab "shaker" that applies different frequencies, wave forms, and intensity levels to the computer system. The duration of the test is also pre-determined and all is documented to show how well a military computer can stand to the extreme vibrations simulated in the test.


The MIL-STD-810G Standard, specifically Shock & Vibe Testing methods, are rigorous tests that stress the chassis and internal components of a computer system. Not all chassis are cut out for these methods and can fail while in operation. When you do purchase a system certified by this standard, you are equipped with a military computer ready for the battlefield.

Trenton Systems has been designing and manufacturing US-made military computers since 1989. We build our rugged computers to surpass the military standard in order to ensure utmost reliability when you need it most. Take a look at our rugged and military computers and speak to one of our Support Engineers today. We are ready to answer your most technical questions whether by phone, form, chat, or e-mail.

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