The ATE (Automatic Test Equipment) has to be able to generate sixteen 4-20mA signals and read the status of the twelve relays on each flow computer.
A small ATE system was required to test each flow computer, and a large ATE system was needed to test up to 16 flow computers simultaneously. Both ATE systems had to be built using the same technology and software.
Solution 1 - Large ATE system with 256 x 4-20mA output & 192 x digital inputs
A PC system with expansion for about 20 traditional PCI cards could control all the outputs and read the digital inputs. However a Windows based application would struggle to manage all the operations effectively.
Instead, a real-time data acquisition system was offered, based on a DAP (Data Acquisition Processor) which is able to control hundreds of I/O channels. A DAP is a PCI data acquisition card with on-board microprocessor, RAM and a dedicated operating system which runs independently of Windows. This means the card can handle data acquisition functions without being impeded by other tasks taking place in the PC's Operating System.
The system required two DAP cards installed in an Amplicon Industrial PC as well as 32 analogue output cards and 12 digital input cards installed in two 19” rackmount enclosures. All the input and output cards had a D-Sub connector for use with a custom wiring loom. They were fitted into a 19” rack along with a rackmount monitor and keyboard and a rackmount oscilloscope for additional testing.
Solution 2 - Small ATE system with 16 x 4-20mA output & 12 x digital inputs
This system required only one DAP in an Amplicon Industrial PC, two analogue output cards and one digital input card in a half width industrial enclosure.