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Simply drag and drop to build your test application

by Heiko Krautter | Jun 21, 2016

Easy configuration instead of programming – even for complex tasks

Standard embedded PCs, e.g. for inspection tasks in the automotive industry, require in-depth programming skills even for simple tasks. That this can be done more simply is shown within consumer electronics: graphic configuration instead of elaborate programming nowadays is the standard. This approach can now also be used for industrial purposes, for example, in the automotive sector. A compact embedded solution from HMS which is easy to configure via an intelligent, scalable software running on an office PC, saves time and resources. Windows know-how is sufficient to quickly and safely solve even complex tasks.

Automotive Prüfanwendungen 

Engineers and skilled workers are nowadays the most wanted specialists in the industry. They have to work as efficiently as possible to be able to cope with their tasks at all in their field of responsibility. Therefore it’s a huge advantage if they can be relieved from work outside of their area, such as complicated programming routines. HMS, the specialist for complex data communication therefore offers the possibility to easily and quickly configure even complex test, inspection or analysis programs for its embedded solution using scalable software on office PCs. Coordination problems with programmers are omitted thereby saving valuable development time, as an example will demonstrate from the automotive sector.

 

Safe time

In the automotive industry there are numerous, often complex test and measurement tasks, which often must be processed in the field, far from any infrastructure. Large electronic equipment here isn’t applicable – compact solutions or embedded PCs are state of the art. Thanks to a new approach every engineer and technician who is used to Windows is now able to build own special test routines on its PC – simply via drag and drop. The configurations created in this way are then transferred to the embedded PC and can be used immediately. This saves valuable resources, also allowing the user to quickly and flexibly respond to unexpected results and customize the test routines. The new solution allows to choose (via the PC) from a whole range of suitable options and to configure complex processes. Several test scenarios can be pre-configured and may be transferred later via an SD card or USB stick to the device.  Similarly, the memory card with the obtained data is quickly replaced and the test run can continue. The practical interaction of the software platform and the embedded PC saves valuable time in the field as well as in the preparatory office work. An example shows how easy a solution with data logging, trigger function and a visualization can be realized.

 Automotive-Plattform

Figure 1: Embedded platforms FRC EP 170/190 – basis for
customer-specific applications and the IXXAT ACT tool

 

Data logging easily configured

There are many solutions available for data logging. A single, very flexible solution covering virtually all applications, is the IXXAT embedded platform FRC EP 170/190 from HMS (Figure 1). Together with the Automotive Configuration Tool (ACT) it allows to cover the full range of standard data logging with only one hardware component (Figure 2). In addition, further easy configurable features are available, like a data player. The data obtained in field tests can be transmitted by the data player to the test bench for simulation purposes. Thereby assemblies can be tested in the laboratory under real conditions using real parameters recorded on the road. Here, the embedded PC also simulates all the necessary bus components.

 

ACT-Tool 

Figure 2: IXXAT ACT – Multi-functional tool for gateway,
RBS, data logging and other applications

 

The range of data storage ranges from crash test with total times of one to two minutes at high data rates with many signals up to dynamic driving tests. In this case average data rates over minutes or hours, usually with precisely specified data windows – which must be repeatedly performed and recorded – are in demand. Even long-term tasks for example on the engine test stand with a few selected parameters and low data rate over periods of more than 2,000 hours can be preconfigured. Especially important in the field test: The obtained data are stored on an up to 32 GB SDHC card or an external USB media, which can be changed quickly at a stop.

 

Link trigger graphically

The trigger configuration can be done quickly and easily via a graphical user interface (Figure 3). The user first defines individual events for the start or end of a data recording which for instance will be started by incoming sensor signals. These trigger points, the user can then assign a time component as needed and connect the individual events via mouse click to complex event sequences. Thus, e.g. a sensor on the vehicle front can give the “go” for the record during crash tests. The in-vehicle signal to activate an airbag as a subsequent trigger then starts further measurements and this via defined periods of time. In engine test benches, at individual or interconnected trigger points, such as crossing temperatures, load or speed values, certain preselected events can be recorded with defined data transfer rates. Here all time-defined workflows run on a single time base, which applies to all connected bus systems. Thus all values also subsequently can be correlated quickly and easily. The single definition of trigger points together with the simple graphical concatenation allows to generate even complex test instructions quickly and to optimize them if necessary with minimal effort. Again, the goal was to free the user from unnecessary ballast during operation.

 

 Logger-Konfiguration

Figure 3: Simple logger configuration via drag & drop

 

HTML5 visualization made easy

The visualization of data make complex issues easier to understand. To support this functionality the specialists in Ravensburg integrated a web server into their embedded platform solution. Thus, independent of the operating system, each device with an HTML5-compatible web browser – like laptop, tablet or even a smartphone – can be used as display unit (Figure 4). Individually selected data, which are also scalable in data rate and the data size are thereby shown with no visible delay.

In many cases it makes sense to give the driver feedback about the previous tests. For this, the visualization application is able to access the logged data and informs the driver whether the test requirements were met or whether further testing is necessary. The user is able to individually select the relevant values from the provided data pool. Last but not least the visualization application can also be used for signal stimulation. Depending on the (safety) requirements, the output of data can be done optionally via wire, WiFi or Bluetooth. Common applications, like gateway, data logger or signal visualization, can easily be configured on a Windows PC without the need for programming. Based on the data description of the network databases – either CANdb, FIBEX or ASML files – configuration can be done via drag & drop of the desired signals or messages. This saves time and relieves the specialists from routine tasks. For very specific tasks, there is also the option/opportunity of integrating own code or entire Matlab / Simulink models, to set very specific triggers or to perform preprocessing of measuring data  or special diagnostic jobs. Thus, the interaction/combination of compact, high-performance hardware and intelligent software can take over all inspection tasks related to data logging and visualization.

 

Einfache Datenvisualisierung via HTML5

Figure 4: Simple data visualization on any device
via HTML5 and standard web browser 

 

Universal automotive test system

The combination of the compact embedded platforms FRC-EP 170 and FRC-EP 190 from HMS and the associated Automotive Configuration Tool (ACT) opens up new worlds in the data collection for automotive technology. Depending on requirements, the user selects among many options the right one for its needs: Data logger and visualization, residual bus simulation, gateway, diagnostic interface, development platform, etc. The various applications can also be combined, e.g. residual bus simulation together with data logging and simultaneous visualization. So there is no need to purchase new equipment for each new task and departments can assist each other with the same components in a case of need – this is particularly helpful at field tests. To wrap it up: Many tasks can be covered with the same product/solution, the learning curve is reduced and the value of the test equipment increases.