ITM Uses the Stand-Alone NI CompactDAQ System for In-Vehicle Testing of Exhaust Systems

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"The new stand-alone NI CompactDAQ system provides a high-performance and portable system for demanding in-vehicle testing applications. Our iTestSystem software, based on NI LabVIEW, combined with the stand-alone NI CompactDAQ system allows us to build flexible data logging systems faster than traditional logging systems could."

- Mark Yeager, Integrated Test & Measurement

The Challenge:
Creating a rugged and flexible in-vehicle testing solution to determine the vibration levels of an on-highway vocational vehicle’s exhaust system during operation.

The Solution:
Using the high-performance and rugged NI cDAQ-9139 stand-alone system, NI C Series modules, and our data acquisition software based on LabVIEW, iTestSystem, to create a high-performance, portable exhaust test system for large vocational vehicles. Our solution provided a wireless interface to the stand-alone NI CompactDAQ system to allow the operator remote control and monitoring of the embedded acquisition and logging system.

Mark Yeager - Integrated Test & Measurement

Transitioning From NI CompactDAQ to the Stand-Alone NI CompactDAQ System

For years, NI Gold Alliance Partner Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM) has used USB-based and Ethernet-based NI CompactDAQ systems and our iTestSystem software, built with NI LabVIEW system design software, to build high-performance data acquisition and test systems for our customers in the transportation and in-vehicle space. The stand-alone NI CompactDAQ systems provide a new line of portable and flexible hardware from National Instruments by combining an embedded processor with the modular NI CompactDAQ platform. Since these new NI cDAQ-913x systems can be used with LabVIEW, the NI DAQmx driver, and over 50 NI C Series modules, we can build new flexible logging solutions for our customers in a very short amount of time.

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Designing a Flexible Logging Solution for Exhaust Testing

For this application, we chose the high-performance and rugged NI cDAQ-9139 stand-alone system with seven NI 9234 accelerometer modules and one NI 9229 module to interface directly to the sensors we used in this application. We bundled the  NI cDAQ-9139 with a cellular network interface and packaged it inside a rugged carrying case. For the sensors, we mounted 28 piezoelectric accelerometers to the exhaust system and connected them to the seven NI 9234 accelerometer modules. We also installed a magnetic pickup sensor and connected it to the simultaneous, differential NI 9229 analog module to determine rotational speed for later use in a post-processing order analysis algorithm.

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In order to transition from using USB-based NI CompactDAQ systems connected to a laptop or PC, we used the Windows Embedded Standard 7 OS running on the NI cDAQ-9139. We used our iTestSystem software to stream data from staged events and operation directly to the non-volatile hard drive of the NI cDAQ-9139 in a TDMS file format.  We controlled and monitored data acquisition remotely via Remote Desktop by connecting the NI cDAQ-9139 to a Wi-Fi network using a cellular broadband modem and router with Wi-Fi. 

After collecting data, all of the TDMS data files were transferred to a computer for post-processing and analysis. We calculated the overall vibration levels for each accelerometer using the order analysis plug-in for our iTestSystem software that takes advantage of the built-in analysis functions within LabVIEW. Additionally, using the iTestSystem software and LabVIEW, we provided our customer with a professional report containing overall vibration levels and order analysis graphs that identified which sensor locations failed or met the design criteria.

The Advantage of a Solution From National Instruments

By leveraging the stand-alone NI CompactDAQ systems, LabVIEW, and our iTestSystem software, this project was a huge success. Our customer was amazed at how quickly we integrated new technologies, including both NI and third-party hardware and software. With this system, we reduced the overall cost of their tests by reducing the manpower needed to perform the test and providing them with instantaneous feedback of the system functionality. Our customer liked the system so much that instead of sending the system back to us, they redeployed the system on another on-highway vehicle to solve a different problem.

Author Information:
Mark Yeager
Integrated Test & Measurement

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