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iTestSystem Application: TestView Plus

Tach Signal in TestView Plus

TestView Plus is an iTestSystem application for quick and easy viewing and analysis of data recorded in .TDMS files.  Test engineers can open data files and then simply drag and drop data channels into a variety of graphs and tables.  Data plotting algorithms allow for viewing and zooming into even the largest data files without running into memory issues.

TestView Plus has many features that allow test engineers to manage multiple data analysis projects at once.  TestView Plus Sessions allow for fast transitions between data processing projects.  A Session retains the current tab and graph information, analysis files, and data workspace.  TestView Plus Windows and Tabs allow for quickly adding and ordering new and existing data views.  The TestView Plus Reporting Utility allows for simple customized layouts sized to fit neatly in a report or presentation.

Besides data viewing, TestView Plus also provides access to the iTestSystem analysis functions.  Data analysis can be performed on data in an active Time History graph.  To run an Analysis tool, select an icon in the Analysis toolbar or select an option in the “Analysis” dropdown in menu toolbar.  Once the analysis is performed, the results will be graphed in a new window.

Collect Vehicle CAN Bus data with NI 9862 and iTestSystem

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 chase.petzinger@itestsystem.com or phone at (844) 837-8797 x704

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ITM Gathers Dam Spillway Data During Midair Strain Gauge Project 

Garrison Dam

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. 

Garrison Dam Spillway

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 NICompactDAQ 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

 

iTestSystem Application: MultiDAQ

iTestSystem MultiDAQ

MultiDAQ is a configurable general data logging and real-time data viewing application for iTestSystem (iTS).  An intuitive user interface allows test technicians and engineers to choose sensor channels, synchronize DAQ hardware,  change sample rates,  setup input data filters, configure data file triggering, and manage automated data file naming.  Once configured, MultiDAQ provides graphical, tabular, and digital real-time data views for test operators to visualize data trends during the data collection process.

Function List

  • Stream data from multiple C-series NI chassis.
  • Stream data at different sample rates.
  • View real-time data, including RMS and waveform data in tables, graphs, colormaps, spectra, and waterfall graphs.
  • Alarm when signals exceed channel’s minimum or maximum values.
  • Trigger acquisitions based on custom duration or value trigger statements.

For more information about MultiDAQ or iTestSystem, contact Chase Petzinger via email at chase.petzinger@itestsystem.com.

Industrial Monitoring Tools: cRIO-9046 Embedded Controller

CompactRIO cRIO-9046

One of the tools our embedded software engineers commonly use for industrial control and process monitoring applications is the NI CompactRIO (cRIO) controller. These controllers let our engineers deploy autonomous systems that use complex algorithms to generate process outputs or key performance indicators (KPIs) from structural, vibration, and process monitoring sensors.

For example, in one of the latest industrial boiler monitoring applications, we embedded a cRIO-9046 controller with our Sootblower Fouling Detection (SFD) algorithms which are used to compute and then output equipment health and process efficiency KPIs. Let’s take a look at the cRIO-9046 controller’s specifications, functionality and programming.

cRIO-9046 is an 8-Slot CompactRIO Controller that has an Intel Atom 1.30 GHz Dual-Core CPU, 2 GB DRAM, 4 GB Storage, a Kintex-7 70T FPGA that can operate from -40 °C to 70 °C. The eight slots are used for C-Series conditioned IO modules that connect sensor inputs and data/control outputs and buses.

Its operating system, NI Linux Real-Time (64-bit), allows real-time performance with the usability desktop operating systems. Our engineers use Xilinx Kintex-7 7K70T FPGA to implement high-speed, (MHz) low-latency hardware-level data processing and decision-making . The cRIO-9046 also has several connectivity ports, including 2x Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.1, USB 2.0, RS232, and RS485 ports.

Embedded LabVIEW developers can use these ports and standard communication protocol toolkits to develop standard or custom machine/system interfaces.

For a cRIO-9046 or other CompactRIOs to operate, custom LabVIEW RT applications must be developed and then deployed to each controller. Depending on the complexity of your application, you may also need to develop and deploy LabVIEW FPGA code to the cRIO’s FPGA. Over the years, our embedded software engineers have developed a standard architecture as well as software tools for communication and analysis routines to simplify the custom LabVIEW RT application development. They also have experience developing embedded LabVIEW FPGA code for advanced hardware-level signal processing.

For more information about the cRIO-9046 and our LabVIEW development capabilities, contact Mark Yeager via email at mark.yeager@itestsystem.com

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iTestSystem Application: Archive Manager

 

iTestSystem's Archive Manager Application

Managing data from autonomous data acquisition systems that generate megabyte and gigabyte data files can be a challenge. iTestSystem’s Archive Manager application simplifies this data collection challenge by allowing users to configure a local directory as a data file FIFO and a separate directory (usually on a USB drive) as a data archive.

When enabled, Archive Manager solves two problems common to DAQ systems: system crashes due to a full hard drives and removeable drive (USB/network drive) management.  The Archive Manager allows users to set a limit on the amount of data stored in a specific directory. It monitors this directory and removes older files to accommodate new data files (data file FIFO).  This application keeps track of all data files removed from the watch directory and all files moved to the archive directory.  This allows users to swap removeable drives on the fly without duplicating data files in the archive or interacting with the DAQ system’s HMI.

Another feature of the Archive Manager application that ensures autonomous DAQ system stability is the configuration backup process.  When enabled, the configuration backup service periodically copies all files added in the log file list to the archive directory.  Backing up files like the iTestSystem configuration file allows test engineers to keep track of setup changes that occur during a test or data logging project and restore previous configurations.

For more information about the iTestSystem Archive Manager or iTestSystem, contact Chase Petzinger via email at chase.petzinger@itestsystem.com.

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 for data logging and analysis. 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 doing data collection with 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 Case Study

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

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 
  • Data Logging

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 or other data collection solutions, contact Ryan Welker via email at ryan.welker@itestsystem.com or phone at (844) 837-8797 x702.