…more than a thousand miles away. A display of gauges, needles and dials showed precisely how their product performed during every day over-the-road stress.
Turn Weeks Into Hours with iTestSystem’s Configuration Feature
If you are like most engineers, the last thing you want to do is spend hours upon hours configuring your project, your hardware and your sensors before gathering important data.
The team at Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM) has been there. In fact, they grew so tired of repeating all those monotonous configurations when setting up NI cDAQ and NI FieldDAQ hardware that they built their own custom software known as iTestSystem to simplify the experience.
In this blog, a new series by ITM, we’ll share details about Configuration, the core feature of iTestSystem and a driving reason their software engineers first dreamed it up clear back in 2007.
Imagine opening a single screen to set up your entire test — from the hardware you are using to all the sensors you are employing to how you are planning to take the data. With iTestSystem’s Configuration feature these things are not only possible, they are reusable. In other words, you set up your hardware and configure your channels once, and all future applications can reuse the same setup.
iTestSystem users are used to heading to the Configuration screen not just to set up their MultiDAQ tests but also to calibrate, zero and test their sensors to be sure everything is working and connected correctly prior to going into a test. It is also a simple way to preview all your channels.
Managing tests has never been easier, even when taking thousands of channels of data. You can even save and share your test setup with others. And, best of all, iTestSystem is a free download, so anyone can take advantage of the massive time savings — turning weeks of work into hours of work.
iTestSystem is an engineering measurement software platform that enables test engineers to organize, acquire, view, and analyze data from machinery, processes, vehicles and other complex systems. iTestSystem was specifically designed for use with NI cDAQ or FieldDAQ hardware for data collection and data logging.
Automotive and off-highway engineers and designers often need to log vehicle bus data along with vibration, strain gauge, and other sensor data during normal operation to evaluate their design. Using data from all these sources enables these engineers and designers to pinpoint a vehicle’s response to staged or damaging events. For example, engineers can see how steering wheel position and speed effect structural response when the vehicle hits a pothole.
How does steering wheel position and speed effect structural response when the vehicle hits a pothole?
In situations where our engineers need to tap into the vehicle’s on-board diagnostics using CAN bus data and analog sensor data to identify and solve a problem, we will deploy a rugged measurement solution based on NI CompactDAQ (cDAQ) hardware. These systems usually include an industrial compact pc or standalone cDAQ running the iTestSystem engineering measurement application. iTestSystem logs data from the vehicle bus connected to NI 9862 CAN module and other analog sensors connected to NI cDAQ modules like NI 9234, NI 9236, and NI 9229 into one data file.
NI 9862 CAN Module Specifications and Connections
According to the NI data sheet, the NI 9862 modules is a single CAN port device that is isolated from the other modules in the system. The port has a Bosch DCAN CAN controller that is CAN 2.0B-compatible and fully supports both 11-bit and 29-bit identifiers. The port also has an NXP TJA1041AT High-Speed CAN transceiver that is fully compatible with the ISO 11898 standard and supports baud rates up to 1 Mbps. This module requires +9 to +30 VDC supply voltage to operate.
The table below shows the connections between the NI 9862 9 pin D-Sub and the SAE J1962 connector that are required for CAN communication. NI sells a OBDII9M-DB9F CAN Cable cable if you don’t want make your own cable.
iTestSystem CAN Channel Setup
Setting up a vehicle CAN bus connection can be difficult, especially if you need to acquire non-standard, proprietary messages and frames. iTestSystem simplifies this setup by leveraging the NI XNET and CAN drivers to view and configure CAN bus data, import databases, and assign scale factors. iTestSystem then allows users to browse and choose which CAN signals to acquire.
For more information about collecting CAN bus data with an NI 9862 and iTestSystem, or our testing services, contact Chase Petzinger via email at email@example.com or phone at (844) 837-8797 x704
- Sound & Vibration DAQ Tools: NI-9231 Module
- Engineering Data Acquisition Tools: NI-9236 Strain Module
- How Do I Collect Vibration Data with iTestSystem and a cDAQ?
Suspended in a harness 30 feet above a concrete spillway in central North Dakota, ITM engineer Ryan “RJ” Matthews instruments the gate of one of the world’s largest earthen dams with dozens of strain gauge sensors.
Integrated Test & Measurement’s field service technicians and engineers have installed strain gauges on civil structures and machinery around the globe for decades, and this project represents one more example of rugged data acquisition. In this instance, the team rappelled from an overhead abutment on the Garrison Dam — a 2-mile-long structure along the Missouri River built by the Army Corp. of Engineers starting in 1947.
Contracted by Cotech IRM Services, ITM was charged with collecting data to measure the strain on one of the 28 spillway gates which are designed to raise and close to allow water to pass from the reservoir during rare flood events. Just behind those gates is Lake Sakakawea, one of the largest man-made lakes in the United States.
Despite the complex location, Matthews and co-worker Zach Strong were able to successfully instrument the spillway gate with 44 single-axis strain gauges and solder signal cables which lead back to a NI CompactDAQ system connected to their laptop, allowing them to successfully gather streams of crucial data using iTestSystem while the gate was put through its paces.
The project is yet another example of ITM’s ability to combine the use of strain gauge sensors, a cDAQ system and the firm’s iTestSystem software to create a structural health monitoring system. In this instance, the project required only one-time testing, but ITM can also establish a permanent structural health monitoring system as well. iTestSystem is an engineering measurement software platform that enables test engineers to organize, acquire, view, and analyze data from machinery, processes, vehicles and other complex systems. iTestSystem was specifically designed for use with National Instruments (NI) cDAQ hardware for data collection and data logging.
For Matthews, it was his first experience installing strain gauges while strapped into a bosun’s chair and dangling in midair, but he points out that ITM’s strain gauge process is essentially the same whether their engineers are standing on a bridge or inside a railcar. All that changes is the method of access and environment.
His field notes reveal that each strain gauge on this job was wired in a quarter bridge configuration, which provides one individual measurement of strain (positive tension or negative compression) per location. All gauges were adhered to the gate using M-bond 200 epoxy. A final report submitted to the customer contained detailed instrumentation and test notes and results reported in a series of stress/strain tables and stress graphs.
Contact ITM for your Strain Gauge Needs
Installing strain gauges in the field for structural and fatigue measurements requires expertise and experience. Whether you use our iTestSystem software to stream and analyze strain signals for static measurements and real-world fatigue data acquisition or contract our software engineers to build a real time strain monitoring system, we will make sure you acquire quality strain data. Contact our strain lab and technicians to install strain gauges on test specimens or to design, build, calibrate, and test strain-based load cells.
Strain Lab Contact Info: Ryan.Welker@iTestSystem.com, (844) 837-8797
Check out this video showing one of our custom rugged data acquisition systems! We provide custom systems like this for aerospace, vehicle, off-highway, and civil applications. This system shown in this video was designed for collecting strain, vibration, and other sensors on a civil structure.
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, which is ideal for data logging.
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.
A case study describing a reliable system for testing generator vibration levels after production in order to verify proper unit design and assembly.
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, we make your data logging project a success.
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org or (844) 837-8797
Sang-Soo Kim is used to overcoming bumps in the road. After all, his career is centered on developing technology that improves pavement conditions.
The Ohio University researcher and civil engineering associate professor was facing a fast-approaching deadline to prove his novel asphalt testing device was worthy of startup funding from the state of Ohio when he turned to Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM) for help.
The preeminent researcher had a challenge for Chase Petzinger, ITM software engineer. His scratch-built device — essentially an extreme oven/freezer combo that heats or freezes pucks of asphalt material to force expansion or contraction — needed complex hardware and a custom software solution to control signals from the device and ultimately record asphalt cracking data.
“I was extremely happy and impressed with ITM’s technical skills,” said Kim. “I was on a very tight schedule to finish the project in time, and they were very flexible and accommodating to my needs.”
The job required ITM’s team to develop software to record data from National Instruments hardware as well as control and monitor a custom built Watlow Programmable Logic Controller. In addition, the team had to design and build an enclosure that held all the data acquisition equipment and did all the power-cable management signal conditioning.
“So he had the oven shipped to us, and then he showed up with a big box of all the stuff that he had brought,” recalls Petzinger. “He set it down and said, ‘Okay, make this work.’”
Specific sensors and fixtures included GT1000RA LVDT Sensors, NTC-6000 signal conditioners, RDP S7AC signal conditioners and custom-built stainless-steel fixtures. In addition, the data acquisition process required employing a NI cDAQ-9174 Chassis, NI-9216 RTD modules as well as an NI-9209 Voltage Module.
Petzinger explained that he was able to customize the software application using LabVIEW to both collect the data from the sensors inside the oven as well as directly communicate with the device to control start and stop functions as well as the temperature inside.
“I think there were about 50,000 rows in this Excel document of different commands and ways that I could talk to the device,” said Petzinger. “I had to figure out how to use that information and then start from scratch writing a program that would send the commands that the oven could actually interpret.”
Petzinger considers these types of automation and data logging applications a melding of both science and art.
“We were able to create an application to communicate with a unique piece of hardware that we had never seen before,” he said. “if you have your own proprietary oven or switch or machine or something, we’ve worked with unique applications before, and we can do it again.”
Thanks to ITM, Kim not only was able to present his device to the Ohio Department of Development, but it outperformed even his own expectations.
“We wanted to demonstrate this testing device is indeed able to predict low-temperature performance,” he said. “We ran the test with the device that ITM made, and we had one of the best correlations I’ve seen in an asphalt pavement study.” Kim says ITM helped him prove that his device can predict which mixtures of asphalt will crack more accurately than existing tests. And, importantly, it will yield results in a single day where traditional asphalt studies take a week or longer. Next up in his effort to commercialize the unit, Kim intends to publish the results of his work in industry publications, and he’s already seeking a patent.
Our iTestSystem customers who routinely acquire data with high channel counts and data from full-bridge transducers recently requested that we update the sensor auto-zero utility to improve test setup efficiency. In the latest version of iTestSystem, we updated the sensor auto-zero utility to include all channels that use the From Custom Scale option. This update enables users to quickly adjust selected channel offsets with only a few mouse clicks.
One of our test engineers recently used this feature to test and calibrate a new load cell design for measuring loads in a manufacturing process. He was able to quickly calibrate and zero the strain gauges along with a calibrated load cell and a pressure transducer prior to testing and before each directional test. The offset values are included in the calibration data files for traceability.
Contact Information: For more information about this update or iTestSystem contact:
Chase Petzinger – Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM), LLC. Email: email@example.com or Phone: 1.844.TestSys
ITM | Integrated Test + Measurement
227 Water Street, Suite 300
Milford, OH 45150
Email: ITM Sales
ITM provides software development, structural and mechanical testing services, industrial monitoring, strain gauging, and data analysis solutions to clients on six continents. ITM is a recognized National Instruments Gold Alliance Partner.