Integrated Motion and Temperature Test Table for Car Sensors

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"With the many benefits of NI products, we can focus on the development of the actual solution and application rather than creating a low-level translation of raw signals from scratch."

- Joey Niño N. Aguila, Global Inventive Technologies International, Inc. Philippines

The Challenge:
Integrating existing motion and temperature test table equipment with a compact, rugged, and customized test measurement system for high-speed data acquisition of 10 car sensors.

The Solution:
Using NI PXI software-defined modular instruments and NI LabVIEW to design, develop, and deploy a PXI-based system that controls test table equipment through USB-GPIB communication and controller area network (CAN) interfaces for simultaneous high-speed data acquisition.

Joey Niño N. Aguila - Global Inventive Technologies International, Inc. Philippines

Global Inventive Technologies International, Inc., is a Philippines-based system integrator that provides innovative turnkey test and measurement solutions to a wide range of industries, including automotive, semiconductor, electronics, industrial automation, energy, academia, radio-frequency testing, and validation. Our specialty is full integration of hardware and software using the latest modular and bench test instrument hardware, test software development, electrical design layout, and mechanical automation components. The need for complex devices as technology advances comes with the demand for more complex and comprehensive test equipment. Implementing a flexible, software-defined test system that integrates with existing equipment with customized functionality can address this engineering issue.

System Setup

We created a functional test system for our customer to acquire CAN signals provided from the device under test (DUT), which, in this case, was a car sensor inside a motion and temperature test table chamber. The system controlled the third-party instrument chamber (from Ideal Aerosmith) by sending an AT command message via GPIB.

The DUT in this project was a rate and acceleration sensor with internal processing of the measured quantity in the vehicle. It transmitted distributed measurement data through CAN signals. The CAN signals were basically the x-, y-, and z-axis directions; yaw and roll rate; and lateral and vertical acceleration. The testing principle was straightforward: the user loaded the 10 DUTs inside the chamber’s test table area (Figure 1) and fitted the special connectors to their output signals. The special connector pins composed of CAN L and CAN H went to the CAN interface and +V and –V for the power source of the unit. On the controller side, the user chose the test settings, including the speed of the turntable, acceleration, angle position, and temperature inside the test area, and started the testing. The system read and recorded the CAN signals of the DUT in every position or angle (Figure 2).

We integrated NI PXI hardware, including a controller, source measure unit (SMU), and CAN interfaces, in one compact rugged chassis to reduce space and take advantage of the speed of PCI electrical bus technology (Figure 3). The low-cost NI PXI-8101 two-slot embedded controller with a 2.0 GHz Intel Celeron processor offered an ideal platform for deploying PXI-based systems in high-volume applications. We combined this controller with an NI PXI-1042 eight-slot chassis to meet our test and measurement requirements. The NI PXI-8513/2 two-port software-selectable CAN PXI interface served as the application interface. This module works well for applications requiring real-time, high-speed manipulation of hundreds of CAN frames and signals, such as hardware-in-the-loop simulation, rapid control prototyping, bus monitoring, and automation control.

We used an NI PXI-4130 to provide power to the DUT. The SMU can source up to ±20 V, 2 A maximum with the auxiliary power supply, which is a shared power supply among the 10 DUTs.

The NI GPIB-USB-HS transforms any computer with a USB port into a full-function, plug-and-play IEEE 488.2 controller for up to 14 programmable GPIB instruments. We used this converter to control and monitor the Aerosmith motion and temperature test table controller by sending AT commands from the main controller (NI PXI-8101).

We used LabVIEW to program the system. LabVIEW gave us the tools we needed to create and deploy measurement and control systems through unprecedented hardware integration. Its unique graphical-based environment also eased the pain of memorizing text-based syntaxes and commands, freeing us to concentrate on actual application development. Because we integrated all hardware in the compact chassis, this step was simple and straightforward.

Another useful tool while developing this project was NI-XNET driver software, which combines a series of high-performance CAN, local interconnect network (LIN), and FlexRay interfaces with the NI-XNET API. This API is a common set of easy-to-use functions for reading and writing CAN, LIN, and FlexRay frames and signals in many different platforms including PXI, PCI, NI CompactDAQ, and NI CompactRIO. NI-XNET interfaces combine the performance associated with low-level microcontroller programming and the speed and power of Windows with LabVIEW Real-Time development. This API performs the translation with the NI-XNET Database Editor, where we previously created our database. In addition, the NI Bus Monitor was useful in the debugging stage.

Saving Time, Focusing on Development 

With the many benefits of NI products, we can focus on the development of the actual solution and application rather than creating a low-level translation of raw signals from scratch. Libraries and drivers are built into the API, and we used the NI community for support.

NI products help us meet our mission as we strive to be a leader among engineering systems focusing on innovative customized test and measurement automation solutions.

Author Information:
Joey Niño N. Aguila
Global Inventive Technologies International, Inc. Philippines
Block 6 Lot 3, Mountview Avenue, Corner Mayon Street, Mountview Industrial Complex, Bancal, Carmona, Cavite
Tel: 639217997263

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