User application images for PC instrumentation cards - signal capture, 
generation and digital pattern signals

Spectrum card based solutions - case studies and technical resources

Summarised below are examples of where the products we supply have been used. This is just a small sample but we hope this provides you with a useful insight into the ways we can help. To date our solutions cover a wide area of applications including aeronautics, automotive testing, data bus and circuit testing, meteorology, military defence, medical imaging, particle physics research, radar design, satellite tracking, telecommunications, ultrasonic structural testing,....the list goes on!

Digital trace capture data logger   Measuring the performance of CPU based avionic and automotive systems is critical to their development and evolution. PC-based verification tools rely on measurement data collected from such embedded targets. The Rapita Systems RTBx digital data logger provides an efficient way to collect and time-stamp real-time data from a wide variety of embedded targets, over many weeks if necessary. Spectrum M2i.7000 series of digital I/O cards were chosen as a desirable component, due to the versatility of having models with 8/16 bit and 32bit I/O ports as well as a very high data acquisition speed (up to 125MHz).

Fusion energy Machine 3: Vacuum chamber surrounded by 192 capacitors   Fusion energy has long been a research area where the holy grail is to produce safe, clean, and virtually limitless energy for generating electricity. It has proved an elusive goal, however one company First Light Fusion may have the answer. Pioneering a very different approach using inertial confinement, created by launching a projectile to hypervelocities, the energy threshold that needs to be reached for fusion gain should prove lower. Monitoring the results and control associated auxiliary systems is an essential part of this. DataQuest Solutions were given the task to supply a suitable system.

Optical coherence application image, probe in use   The VivoSightŪ OCT scanner uses the technique of swept-source Optical Coherence Tomography (SS-OCT) for cross-sectional imaging of skin. This is a significant new tool to assist in diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers and other skin conditions. This application simultaneously uses four interferometer channels to increase depth of focus and improve contrast. A Spectrum 4 channel 20 Mega sample/sec PCI-Express digitiser card was used in its design.

Close up of Ion Trap device fitted within enclosure   Quantum information Science (QIS) explores and advances the way we will perform the future operations of computing and communications. By exploiting the principles of quantum mechanics scientists are studying the behavior of qubits, quantum bits of information, as they are subjected to different physical conditions. The University of Innsbruck, Austria has chosen Spectrum's latest generation of Arbitrary Waveform Generator (AWG) to generate a wide variety of control and stimulus signals for their research. Their requirement was for an AWG whose output could be easily programmed and could be simply incorporated into a PC.

DESY computer simulation of particle acceleration inside rf cavities.   In particle physics research precise and very reliable instrumentation is required. DESY (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron) research centre in Germany have been using Spectrum Instrumentation digitisers for over 15 years. This article discusses their important roll in the power measurement of RF pulses produced in the Linac-2 particle accelerator. This includes the monitoring the strengths and timing stability of so-called 'Kickers' that are used to transfer particle beams from one accelerator to another. Capturing these pulses was a challenge which required the application of the digitiser's versatile trigger system.

Intelligent road safety animal detector   In many areas of the world, animals straying onto highways can result in serious accidents. This has resulted in the need to develop an intelligent multi-sensor detection system able to recognise potential incursions on to the road and provide an advanced warning to vehicle drivers. To aid with development, signals need to be captured from a micro-doppler radar. The computer based multi-channel M2p PCIe digitiser card has been chosen as the ideal solution.


Further application examples
A Hall-effect sensor is commonly used in the automotive industry to measure accurately the speed of an engine camshaft, such as those commonly found within the cylinder head of a car. A rotating toothed wheel on the camshaft is monitored by such a sensor, which provides a digital output (0 to 5V). A system based on the Spectrum 8 channel 16 bit 10MS/s M2i.4912-exp card was used to provide an accurate and reliable way to automate the test of Hall-effect sensors. Its high speed A/D inputs monitoring the quality of signal transitions to estimate angle error and jitter at the boundaries of tooth and gap. As well as recording the signal shape, precise camshaft positional information was required too, determined by capturing signals from a sinusoidal encoder. Both the encoder's analogue sine-cosine waveform (1V peak to peak) and a 32 bit digital word derived from that waveform were simultaneously recorded. This gave angular position within a rotation and the number of rotations from the start of the test. For this purpose the M2i.4912-exp was combined with the synchronous digital option M2i.49xx-dig. This option takes two of the M2i.4912-exp cards eight analogue channels and using a simple software setting in the card driver, changes these to a pair of synchronous 16 bit wide digital ports.

This solution provided precise windows of sensor data just when required, to automate the test process in a fast and reliable way. For new applications we now offer the M2p range of cards. For example for the above application would now recommend the M2p.5923-x4 digitiser perfectly synchronised via the Star-Hub option to the M2p.7515-x4 digital I/O card.
M2p.5942-x4 (4 channel: 80 MS/sec) digitiser card was utilised to help with fast pulse laser development. The card's also has multi-purpose digital I/O lines, these being perfect to monitor status lines indicating the two types of pulse arriving at the M2p cards A/D inputs. Applications for such lasers include high harmonic generation spectroscopy, photo-electron spectroscopy with XUV probe pulses, studies of autoionisation dynamics and ultra-fast demagnetisation.
Medical research into the development of impedance spectroscopy as an analytical tool in monitoring of the freeze drying processes. For this the M4i.4420-x8 (2 channel: 250 MS/sec) digitiser measures peak amplitude and characteristic peak frequency.
Quantum dot device development optical applications. Here the M4i.4421-x8(4 channel: 250 MS/sec) digitiser is used to monitor a laser pulsed light source. The card's FPGA based block averaging of captured data (option M4i.xxxx-spavg) greatly reduces reliance on the CPU processing. This also helps to enable the highest capture repetition rates possible.
Development a new generation of photoacoustic excitation sources based on the use of laser diodes and ultrasound. In this field of research applications the M4i.4421-x8 (4 channel: 250 MS/sec) digitiser card was utilised in number of ways. For example, a laser interrogated photoacoustic signals generated in a sample, e.g. a tissue sample. A photo diode was then employed to see the resultant light signal and so monitored electrically by the M4i card. Applications for photoacoustic excitation include measurement of burn depths, wound healing, pressure sores, plastic surgery procedures (grafts, flaps etc.) and characterising skin pathologies for planning a surgical procedure

Many interesting applications from around the world can be found here on the Spectrum Instrumentation GmbH website!

Links to informative technical resources

i)     An introduction to waveform digitiser card technology.
i)     Selecting the best digitiser, digging into the dynamic parameters!
ii)    A guide to the methodology of signal capture and generation from MHz to GHz.
iii)   Application notes for Mass Spectrometry and the modern digitser.
iv)   Creating waveforms using the M4i arbitrary waveform generator (awg).
v)    The high speed transfer of signal data with RAID hard drive systems.
vi)   A glossary of signal amplifier design terms and related theory.
vii)  Environmental considerations for rugged portable computers.

© DataQuest Solutions 15.10.14
Last revised 13.05.21