Our Mobile Test Trailer: Fending Off Snow, Rain, and Sun

  • Posted on: 7 March 2011
  • By: Matthew Zimmerman
trailer_external

One of the aspects of working at FarSounder that is pretty exciting to our team is all the field testing we do. We make sure that all of our developers, engineers, and sales staff get a chance to participate in some level of testing in order to make sure everyone has a solid understanding of our product. We develop 3D forward looking sonars and diver detection systems primarily for ship based solutions. Obviously, this means that we do a lot of testing on various vessels around the world. For the most part, these vessels are big enough to have nice cabins for our equipment and to shelter us from the elements. 

However, we also do a lot of pier based testing. When possible, we like to do testing off of commercial piers so that our tests take place in waters with real world propogation characteristics. Unfortunately, most commercial piers don't have convenient enclosed work spaces near the water for our use. So we decided to bring our own. A few years ago we aquired a mint condition 12' x 6' trailer that we outfitted as a mobile lab space. 

The picture at the right shows the trailer with the rear and side doors open. In nice weather we leave them that way. In bad weather, we close the rear door. The front outer door stays open but we have a clear plexiglass door that closes from the inside so we have a nice view out of the trailer over the water while still keeping the elements at bay. 

Layout

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Inside the trailer, we set up a number of features that allow us to use the trailer as a comfortable work space when we arrive at our destination. 12' x 6' is more than enough cargo space to haul our equipment when we travel, but we needed to be smart about the layout. First of all, we often work with wet equipment and divers. In the wintertime, we need a space for the divers to change and to work with wet equipment out of the cold. So we split the space into 1/3 for a potentially wet area in the rear and 2/3 dry area in the front. The dry area has counter height bench space along one wall with a floor to ceiling divider at the end of the counter separating it from the potentially wet area. The layout is shown below. You can see the divider on the left side of the trailer in the image at right.

trailer_layout

Custom Features

In order to make our work inside the trailer as efficient and comfortable as possible, we installed a number of features:

  • Latching Drawers underneath the work counter at either end
  • Monitor Shelf above the counter for viewing at standing height
  • Cable Ports in the counter and shelf
  • Cable Port with Cover in the floor of the trailer under the counter
  • Equipment platforms under the counter (to keep computers off the floor in case of wet shoes)
  • Large UPS under the counter to provide clean power to electronics and fill the gaps between generator refueling
  • Power Strip mounted on the bulkhead
  • AC and DC powered lights
  • Whiteboard mounted on the front wall
  • Equipment tie-downs on walls
  • Plexiglass inner door to allow daylight and outside view while doors are closed
  • Wall mounted hand sanitizer dispenser
  • Broom storage

Externally, we also added a boom mount for our radar system so we can monitor the area around the trailer. The images below show some of these built out features.

trailer_internal_bench trailer_internal_user

Rentals

We've spent a lot of time and effort getting this trailer fit up for our needs. It's pretty integral to our testing, but it's not it use all the time. We're happy to rent this great resource to local companies that could benefit from having this portable workspace. Contact us for more details.