High-quality embedded software design enabling easy validation of tickets in public transport
Fara contacted Etteplan for help in the design and implementation of the validator. The terminal needed to incorporate several technologies. Moreover, the validator at the vehicle needs to be easy to use and tolerate severe conditions.
Fara’s versatile validation terminal used in public transportation is compatible with almost any type of a travel ticket system. The terminal validates mobile NFC tickets, RFID proximity tickets and 2D barcodes. The Norwegian Fara develops and manufactures systems for travelling and traffic logistics and management. The company needed a travel ticket validation terminal for their product portfolio. The validator has to seamlessly integrate with customers’ existing systems. Fara contacted Etteplan for help in the design and implementation of the validator.
“The customer wanted a turn-key project, covering work from the pre-study phase to production testers and production roll-out. We are familiar with these kinds of embedded solutions, thanks to several other projects."
“From the very beginning it was clear that this was going to be an exciting project,” remembers Mika Liedes. The terminal needed to incorporate several technologies. Moreover, the validator at the vehicle needs to be easy to use and tolerate severe conditions. “And all this within a tight schedule,” remarks Mika Liedes proudly. There were several subproject managers, and around 50 experts from Etteplan's various offices in Finland were involved.
The terminal needs to withstand blows, moisture and temperature variations. It must function under different lighting conditions, even with gloves on. Because of the challenging mechanical design, special expertise like thermal simulations was needed to secure good quality.
The terminal includes several radios which need to comply with the regulatory requirements of the operational area. The experts for implementation, aerial design and testing of the RF part came from Etteplan’s Jyväskylä office in Finland. EMC measurements and regulatory tests were also carried out in Jyväskylä.
“EMS selection and production ramp up was also part of the project. Etteplan designed manufacturing steps and product-specific tools together with manufacturing. The project included support for the production of a larger production batch for the customer,” explains Mika Liedes.
Design for the terminal hardware and embedded software was mainly done in Etteplan’s Kuopio office. The terminal includes NFC and RFID reader capability and a camera for reading barcodes. Embedded Linux software communicates with the vehicle computer using Ethernet and USB. In addition the product has WiFi an Bluetooth connections.
Plenty of work resulted from the tuning of the radio circuit drivers and the drivers and software libraries related to barcode reading and interpretation. Due to end user behavior, barcode decoding has to happen really fast. SW optimization was also quite a big task. The experts in Kuopio also implemented the Linux libraries inside the vehicle computer for controlling and communicating with the ticket terminal.
Configurations management with YOCTO
Embedded software implementation is based on the YOCTO system. “YOCTO is a versatile system for this kind of product. The configurations and versions of an embedded Linux system remain strictly under control. The wanted firmare version can be built with just a couple of commands,” says Mikko-Matti Kukkonen. The flexible and versatile public transport validation terminal Fara FLV+ is currently in use in several cities.
“The number of new technologies and tight schedule were challenges also for the software developers.”