How To Install Docking Stations In First Responder Vehicles

Most police patrol and pursuit vehicles are equipped with laptops or tablets to aid in their patrol duties. Modern police departments have to manage a great deal of information, and officers require immediate and frequent use of this information. Using their laptop, an officer can access databases, put together paperwork, upload photos taken at a crime scene or accident, record witness statements, run license plates and check a perp’s criminal record and photograph. The in-vehicle computer has become an essential part of the officer’s job.

PC Docking Stations For Police & Emergency VehiclesThe laptop needs to be accessible at all times, and it needs to be easy to maneuver and use in the vehicle. Docking stations make this possible, and they do more than that. They anchor the laptop or tablet in the vehicle, ensuring it does not move while the vehicle is in motion, which protects the computer from the occasional bump and sharp turn.

There are a couple reputable manufacturers providing cost-effective, rugged docking stations. Manufacturers like Go Jotto and Havis have a docking station model for nearly any laptop or tablet, and for nearly any vehicle.

Installing a docking station is a relatively simple affair that just about anyone can manage. Even people with close to zero technical skill should have little issue getting the docking station in the vehicle. Still, it’s always a good idea to get a second person involved, as the other person can hold components in place while they are being installed.

How to Install a Docking Station into a Vehicle

Again, docking stations rarely pose a challenge during installation, and the focus is on securing the docking station in the vehicle with the provided hardware. As this hardware usually consists of screws, a screwdriver is often the only tool needed.

The Havis DS-DELL-700 series is among the company’s most popular docking stations, as it is paired with the very useful and sturdy Dell Latitude Rugged. The Latitude Rugged is a durable tablet, and Havis has engineered an equally durable mounting solution for it. The DS-DELL-700 series is IP65 compliant, which means it can resist water and dust intrusion to an impressive degree. It’s a lightweight piece of equipment, coming in at 2.5 pounds and a small 12.7 inch x 7.7 inch x 2.6 inch footprint. Given its small size and modest mass, the DS-DELL-700 series can be installed by a single person. Here’s how to do it.

1.       Remove the I/O cover brackets – This may not be necessary, but if access to the tablet’s I/O is desired, remove the cover brackets from either the right side or the left side. Doing so will require removal of a few screws, but they can be handled with a #2 Phillips screwdriver.

2.      Havis Docking Stations Connect the cables – Once the I/O panel is exposed, connect the power cable to its mounting spot. There is a socket in the I/O panel for this purpose. In addition to the power cable, plug in all route cables and peripheral cables. It’s best to use the given cable channels to do this, as it ensures the cables remain taut and does not shift while the vehicle is in operation.

3.       Refit the I/O cover and bundle the cables – After all cables are secured in the tablet’s I/O, it’s time to secure the I/O cover back to the tablet. A T8 Torx bit and six screws are used for this purpose. Be mindful not to pinch the cables as the I/O cover is put back in place. It’s wise to keep the cables organized, so Havis provides zip ties with its docking stations. These can be used to bundle the cables together at the corner of the docking station. Refer to the installation guide to get an idea of where the cables need to be bundled and routed.

4.       Mount the tablet in the docking station – Orient the docking station in an upright, landscape position. The bottom of the tablet should be angled toward the docking station. Carefully lower the tablet into the docking station’s base, using the tablet’s alignment sockets as a guide into the docking station’s alignment posts. Once secured, push the top of the tablet into the docking station frame. As soon as the tablet is properly aligned in the docking station, apply light downward force on the tablet and anchor it to the docking station with a T15 Torx bit and a pair of screws.

5.       Mount the docking station inside the vehicle – To do this, first remove the screws (the M4 screws) and washers, making sure to keep them handy for reassembly. Once done, align the back of the docking station with the VESA 75 motion or mounting device, using the screws and washers to fasten it to the docking station.

6.       Install the cables – The docking station I/O enclosure is IP65 rated, so it makes for an excellent chamber for protecting sensitive cables. There are three USB 3.0 ports, a Serial RS232 port and an Ethernet RJ45 port. Up to four of these ports may be used at once, so decide which one, if any, gets left out. Plug the cables in and thread them through the cable channels. Do not tie or tangle the cables together inside of the enclosure.

7.       Grease up the sealing elements and install them – The IP65 enclosure can’t just be screwed shut. To ensure the enclosure does it job, position the enclosure cover over the I/O enclosure. Apply silicone grease on the edges of the sealing elements. These sealing elements fit between the enclosure and the cover, and they plug up the holes through which the cables are run. Place the sealing elements and drop the cover into place.

8.       Anchor the I/O enclosure cover in place – After verifying that the cables are where they need to be, lower the enclosure cover and secure it using six tamper-proof screws.

This installation only requires a screwdriver and a little time. But once the installation process is done, the officer will have a powerful, compact computer assistant riding safely on the dash. 

How To Install Docking Stations In First Responder Vehicles