High Channel Count Synchronous Datalogging

Faced with the challenge of testing a large and complex on‐highway vehicle, engineers from Integrated Test & Measurement knew it would take hundreds of channels…

Sound & Vibration DAQ Tools: NI-9231 Module

NI-9231 CompactDAQ Module

When measuring noise and vibration levels, our engineers use the NI-9231 sound and vibration module, a CompactDAQ chassis and a Laptop running iTestSystem to collect and analyze data. The NI-9231 module is an updated, higher channel count version of the NI-9234 module.

The NI-9231 is an 8 channel, 51.2 kS/s/channel, -5 V to 5 V, C Series Input Module with IEPE excitation that can be turned on and off, and open/short circuit detection. To increase channel capacity, these modules use 10-32 plug for its sensor input connections. NI provides a PCB Low Noise Coaxial Cable, 10 ft w/10-32 plug to BNC plug to accommodate most standard accelerometer and microphone connections.

For more information about the NI-9231, iTestSystem or sound and vibration measurements, contact Ryan Welker via email: ryan.welker@itestsystem.com or phone: (844) 837-8797 x702

Railcar Structural Testing

Obvious signs of fatigue — cracks at the corners of doors — had begun to surface on an in-service Railcar. A case study describing the structural testing.

Engineering Data Acquisition Tools: NI-9236 Strain Module

NI-9236 Strain Gauge Module

The most common strain gauge installation configuration is a 350 ohm, quarter bridge.  Quarter bridge installations a generally the easiest and most economical installation for determining structural strain levels.  In the quarter bridge configuration a single element strain gauge is mounted in the principle axial or bending strain direction.

One tool that our engineers and technicians use to collect data from 350 ohm, quarter bridge strain gauge installations is the NI-9236 strain module.  The NI-9236 is an 8-Channel C Series 350 ohm strain/bridge input module that is used with a CompactDAQ or CompactRIO chassis.  This module provides bridge excitation (3.3 Volts), Wheatstone bridge completion, shunt calibration, and filtering for 350 ohm quarter bridges.  Use this module in conjunction with a CompactDAQ chassis and iTestSystem engineering measurement software to collect synchronized, high-speed (10kHz) structure strain data.

For more information about the NI-9236, DAQ module rental, strain gauge installations or iTestSystem, contact Ryan Welker via email: ryan.welker@itestsystem.com or phone: (844) 837-8797 x702

Engine Test Cell Vibration Monitoring

Check out this video of a Lego Test Cell Model that is controlled with an NI CompactRIO.  ITM implemented an embedded vibration health monitoring application at an engine manufacturing company in Texas.  The distributed system monitored and reported damaging engine dyno vibration levels on 10 engine test cells.

Quiet Please: ITM Tunes Into Importance of Measuring Sound Levels

Construction Site Noise Testing

Whether manufacturing vehicles, mining natural resources or operating machinery on a construction site, a single common factor can bring your operation and productivity to an absolute halt. 

That factor is noise. 

In a world where precision and performance rule, measuring and controlling sound levels can be crucial to the success of your product or project. The team at Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM) have developed a customized solution that not only measures and collects sound-level data, but will help your team identify the specific components causing all that noise. 

On-Site Sound Testing Capabilities 

ITM can assist with all types of sound testing on site including: 

  • Vehicle/Automotive Noise Vibration & Harshness (NVH) Testing  
  • Drive by Noise Testing  
  • Sound Level Testing  
  • Vehicle/Automotive Component Noise Testing  
  • Construction Site Sound/Noise & Vibration Level Monitoring  
  • Mine Sound/Noise & Vibration Level Monitoring  
  • ISO Noise Testing  

In each of these instances, their engineers will be packing a custom Sound Level Test Kit full of data acquisition hardware, microphones and more. The key to their equipment, however, is that each kit includes ITM’s proprietary iTestSystem software, an intuitive sound-level human machine interface (HMI) that allows for sound-level recording and reporting. 

Mark Yeager, ITM Lead Programmer, says building the capability within iTestSystem to measure microphone data now allows customers to look at a real-time display of sound-level measurements. 

Yeager says their crew can build out tests on site to do such things as measure pass-by noise, a process by which the team arranges mics inside a vehicle and along both sides of a 40-yard stretch then capture, monitor and analyze a vehicle’s sound and compare it to acceptable standards. By breaking apart the frequencies of components, they can even zero in on trouble spots such as a turbocharger on a car or a loud cooling fan on a piece of construction equipment. 

Measuring Dangerous Sound 

Yeager also points out the need to measure sound in places like construction sites or mines, where there may be concern over hearing loss for operators. According to the Centers for Disease Control, hearing loss can result from a single loud sound (like firecrackers) near your ear. Or, more often, hearing loss can result over time from damage caused by repeated exposures to loud sounds. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for hearing loss to occur. Sound is measured in decibels (dB). A whisper is about 30 dB, normal conversation is about 60 dB, and a motorcycle engine running is about 95 dB. The CDC advises that noise above 70 dB over a prolonged period of time may start to damage your hearing, and loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to your ears. 

Test-Ready Sound Level Kits 

If you have test engineers on-site and simply need the equipment to help you get to the bottom of your sound issues, ITM will ship their test-ready kit that includes a pair of pelican carrying cases packed with the following components: 

Whether your needs include on-site sound testing and analysis or you simply need the crucial equipment to measure sound and vibration levels yourself, ITM can help. 

ITM is a structural test & measurement engineering service and software company located in Milford, Ohio, that helps companies reduce costs and improve efficiencies in their product development, manufacturing, and production activities. ITM is a recognized NI Gold Alliance Partner that provides software development, structural and mechanical testing services, industrial monitoring, strain gauging, and data analysis solutions to clients around the globe.

For more information about sound and noise level testing or our sound level test system, contact Ryan Welker via email at ryan.welker@itestsystem.com or phone at (844) 837-8797 x702.

Video: Custom Rugged Data Acquisition Systems

Check out this video showing one of our custom rugged data acquisition systems!

Silo Load Monitoring

Plant operators need to continuously measure bulk material levels/weight in their silos and hoppers to ensure their processes are running safely, efficiently, and without bottlenecks. Measuring these levels allows operators to automate vessel filling, verify material consumption, and prevent overfilling.

How do you measure bulk material levels/weights in silos and hoppers?

The two ways to measure bulk material quantity in silos/hoppers are level indicators (laser, ultrasonic, radar) and weight measurements (load cells, strain gauges).  Weight measurements are more accurate, safer to install, and can be installed during operation.  Of the types of weight measurements, ITM prefers to implement strain gauge-based solutions since they do not require structural modification of the vessel.

An ITM silo monitoring system typically consists of weatherproofed strain gauges for each silo leg and a NI CompactRIO embedded controller to acquire data, process signals, and output results. Systems are scalable to accommodate all the silos at the plant.

The graph above shows a typical trend of real silo data during unloading.  Weight levels are sent directly to factory DCS systems and historians via common communication protocols like Ethernet/ip and Modbus, or they can be viewed on the system’s webpage or a local/remote workstations and panels.

What are the challenges when measuring bulk material levels/weights?

Most bulk material storage is outside, so temperature and other environmental factors must be accounted for not only in the durability of the equipment, but in the sensor design and data processing. Changes in temperature, wind, and humidity can result in changes to the load path in silo legs. Load changes are account for by instrumenting all or most of the silo legs and selecting the appropriate strain gauge bridge design which results in continuously accurate weight measurements.

While other systems require calibrating the system with known loads (point calibration), ITM calibrates the system using a shunt voltage across the strain gauge bridge. This process automatically calibrates the system and eliminates the requirement of having pre-known material weight added to the vessel.

For more information about silo monitoring, contact Ryan Matthews @ 1.844.837.8797 x706.  To see how ITM’s structural load monitoring systems work watch this video.

video link: https://youtu.be/TwVtDYLkFKs.

Engineering Data Acquisition Tools: cDAQ-9189

When our engineers go on the road to troubleshoot structural component failures or machine vibration problems, they grab their laptop with iTestSystem installed and Pelican case containing an NI CompactDAQ (cDAQ) chassis and an assortment of C-Series modules, accelerometers, and strain gauges. The cDAQ chassis that they typically use is a cDAQ-9189 ethernet chassis.

The cDAQ-9189 is an extended temperature TSN enabled 8-Slot Ethernet chassis designed for distributed sensor measurement systems. The chassis controls the timing, synchronization, and data transfer between C Series I/O modules and your laptop. Since the chassis has an integrated network switch and is TSN enabled, measurements from multiple chassis are synchronized by simply daisy-chaining chassis with an ethernet cable.

For more information about the cDAQ-9189, DAQ hardware rentals or iTestSystem, contact Josh Fishback at (844) 837-8797 x705

High Channel Count Structural DAQ Systems

At ITM, we understand that our customers do not settle for good enough. When it comes to measuring and capturing data for real-world applications and structural analysis, you cannot compromise, so neither can we. Instead of having to pick and choose the most critical locations to measure, we ensure that you can capture every piece of data you need, simultaneously. Whether that is a single strain bridge, or thousands of strain channels.

On past projects, we have worked with our customers in the manufacturing industry to test the structures of their aerospace, mining, construction and other transportation equipment.  Some of these applications not only needed to collect strain, vibration, voltage, and other signals simultaneously but also required well over a thousand total sensor channels.  Network synchronization technology embedded within the NI cDAQ chassis allow users to account for the sheer number of channels during these structural tests. The true secret to our success in these high-channel jobs has been our iTestSystem software which leverages the cDAQ’s synchronization technology while providing an intuitive data acquisition and sensor configuration and setup.

iTestSystem is far more than just a barebones data collection software. It can be a time saver to our engineers by helping to sort channels, keep various tasks organized, and even provide an easy and quick way to view results with the integrated TestView Plus Application (shown below).

The mining shovel pictured below, which is similar to other equipment that ITM has instrumented in the past, illustrates a distributed data acquisition system for collecting data. Using iTestSystem, we can implement a modified tree synchronization topology to collect data from over 20+ cDAQ chassis simultaneously.  Data can be collected in one giant file containing all sensor channels or saved into separate files based on location.  In past projects, we saved over 1000 channels from strain, acceleration, and voltage sensors into a new file every 10 minutes.  We added the sensor location to the sensor description, including the Boom, Operator Cab, Main Frame and Base. This allowed us to easily sort data both during and after the collection.

Our goal at Integrated Test & Measurement is to provide efficient testing solutions and services to address your company’s needs.  If you need to measure high channel counts, or have questions about our rugged DAQ systems, software, rental equipment or testing services, then please contact ITM by phone or e-mail.

Contact Information: For more information on this Article, please visit iTestSystem.com or contact: Ryan Welker – Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM), LLC – ryan.welker@itestsystem.com or (844) 837-8797