Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Unveiled: Two New Quanser Products Allow Quicker Development of Control Algorithms in LabVIEW™

Last month I had the pleasure of attending the National Instruments NI Days UK event in London. This one-day event brought together over 600 leading engineers and scientists from across the UK and Ireland to see the latest advancements in design, control and test.

 As part of the academic track, I had the opportunity to run a couple of hands-on sessions to teach professors and researchers how they could quickly and effectively develop control algorithms to control real hardware in LabVIEW™. In each of the two hour-long sessions, the attendees were able to configure the data acquisition (DAQ) hardware, obtain real-world sensor data, command a servo motor open loop and then, program a basic control algorithm in LabVIEW. The algorithm was then deployed onto the stand-alone real-time controller, the NI CompactRIO.

The Quanser Q1-cRIO control interface module is designed to be driven by the RCP Toolkit for NI LabVIEW™  and interfaces with over 85 control experiments from Quanser. The module is compatible with NIcRIO-9024 controllers paired with the NI cRIO-9113 chassis.
It was all made possible because of two new products, a new C-series DAQ, the Quanser Q1-cRIO and Quanser’s Rapid Controls Prototyping Toolkit add-on for LabVIEW, both of which had been under development for the past year. These two new products greatly simplify the hardware access, configuration and algorithm deployment onto the cRIO.

For those of you that have had experience developing your own embedded controllers on the cRIO platform, you'll understand what a feat this was for an untrained audience. In the past for this to be possible, the controls engineer would first have to learn how to program the cRIO's FPGA, and then code and debug hardware access configurations and hardware algorithms, such as quadrature decoding. Then after hours or days of this phase of development, they would be ready to start doing what they originally wanted to do, and that is to develop their control algorithms. That kind of efficiency is of great value to anyone working in controls education and research.
The Quanser Rapid Control Prototyping Toolkit is a new add-on to the NI LabVIEW™  graphical development environment. With the Q1-cRIO, igreatly simplifies the hardware access, configuration and algorithm deployment onto the NI CompactRIO. 
This was the first time that Quanser’s RCP Toolkit and Q1-cRIO were used by education professionals so I was watching closely to see how they took to the experience. But as the sessions progressed and each and every one of the participants got their servo motors moving under control, I was both pleased and proud that the development efforts of our R&D team had hit the mark.

- Derry Crymble
Academic Solutions Advisor

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