Package supports test and evaluation applications

Industrial control projects are not always large with hundreds of data points with extensive control action and display requirements. Many applications exist where the number of input and output (I/O) signals is small and only few display graphics are required. These smaller applications can be standalone systems or be part of a larger process that needs to be isolated from the primary control ...

01/01/2003


Industrial control projects are not always large with hundreds of data points with extensive control action and display requirements. Many applications exist where the number of input and output (I/O) signals is small and only few display graphics are required. These smaller applications can be standalone systems or be part of a larger process that needs to be isolated from the primary control system. An example system of this type is an experimental process development activity.

DT Measure Foundry software from Data Translation (Marlboro, MA) provides a single platform for just these types of test and evaluation applications. It enables a personal computer to be easily configured to perform I/O communications, control calculations, data acquisition, and graphical display functions.

DT Measure Foundry software can accept data from a number of sources, providing versatility for configuration. These sources include the developer's PCI boards, USB modules, and the Datax system. In addition, the software is OPC-compliant and can access data over an enabled network using its OPC tool.

Plenty of support available

Within the package, there is an extensive library for mathematics support in its 'Formula Evaluator.' This function allows a user to select graphical elements for the different functions and then configure them on the display graphic. The function also facilitates development and evaluation of control approaches in a well-documented environment. An important part of any evaluation system is the ability to collect and store data for later analysis. To this end, DT Measure Foundry has a configurable logging feature that allows data storage on either set cycles or on events.

Power to the graphics

A major strength of this package is the range of display options available to the user. Features include standard line trends, bar indicators, display dials, numeric displays, and active graphical elements for development of interface graphics. Another option adds ability to integrate images of equipment or test instruments as operator aids. Image integration ability allows still and moving inputs, live data, and vision signals to be put on the same display.

Graphic configuration is quite simple. Graphic elements exist in a library of functions accessed by drag-and-drop technology. The system supports multiple display pages using screen targets and 'hot-keys' that can be useful in location of formula elements, for example. Otherwise display of data with these elements on the same page can get crowed and overly busy. It is well to keep in mind, however, that while this capability exists, DT Measure Foundry was designed as an instrument interface and not as a control system human-machine interface package.

To support configuration, the software includes a very useful help function, in addition to well-documented examples and a series of tutorials. These training aids are very effective and would allow most users to apply the software without attending formal training classes.

This review is based on version 3.0 of the DT Measure Foundry software package operating under Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional. DT Measure Foundry also runs under Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP operating systems.

For more information on DT Measure Foundry, visit the Data Translation web site.


Author Information
Contributing Editor Tracy J. Coates P.E. is a consulting engineer at PCE Engineering, Johnson City, TN.




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