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Introduction

Formula SAE is a national competition for university level students. Using a comprehensive set of SAE guidelines, teams must design, build, and race a compact formula style race car. The cars are then judged by static inspection, engineering design, solo performance trials, and high performance-track endurance. Within the overall design work of the team, students will specialize in electrical systems, steering/suspension, chassis/body work, and power train/drive train.

(See the LeTourneau Racing web site)

The Electrical Engineering team was tasked with the creation and implementation of a complete Data Acquisition system that includes both the hardware to collect the physical value and transmit and receive the data, and the software to save and display the data.

While there are similer commertial sollutions available, they are expensive and would have taken up a great deal of our budget.

Receive sensor data from serial port

Using the serial port on your computer or laptop, data can be received from the data acquisition system on the car through a wireless modem. The modem must be connected to COM 1 or the first serial port on your computer.

Configuring sensors quickly and easily

If there are sensors that have changed or are out of calibration, then they can be modified in the Configure Sensors dialog. A new configuration can be tested and then saved as a secondary configuration or as the default configuration for next time. The calibrate sensor dialog allows you to quickly calibrate the sensor using it's known condition and the voltage value that the data acquisition system is reading.

Quick reference of all data values on one screen

Using the Current Data tab, all the configured sensors are shown on the screen along with their most recent value; either from the data acquisition system or from an open dataset.

Create a custom look with visual controls

You can easily customize what data your are looking at and the format that it is displayed in by adding visual controls to the tabs after Current Data. For example, this allows you to see just the data that is most important on tab and several charts showing trends on another tab.

Recording to play a run over and over

By recording a dataset, you can save all the data collected in a run and view them at another time. The Start New Run dialog provides a wizard that lets you use recently used parameters with minor changes and automatically generates the best filename for your dataset.

Playback data from dataset

After a run is recorded in a dataset file, the file can be opened up at a later time and the data in it can be viewed by playing at real time, or by jumping to various spots in the file. One of the best visual controls for viewing data in a recorded data set is the chart control.

Export data in spreadsheet format

If you have a need to perform an in depth analyses of the data or just want to see the raw number, a dataset can be exported to a format that Microsoft Excel can open. You can then run calculations on the data or produce graphs or anything else that sparks your imagination.

 

Copyright © 2005 Nathan Brown