High-speed software synchronizes images and data

Actions such as a skier simulating movements in a wind tunnel or a heart valve opening and closing 100 times per second in a column of water require the precise and synchronized interaction of high-speed image capture with transducer-produced data.

Jun 1st, 2002
Th 96098

Andrew Wilson Editor andyw@pennwell.com

Actions such as a skier simulating movements in a wind tunnel or a heart valve opening and closing 100 times per second in a column of water require the precise and synchronized interaction of high-speed image capture with transducer-produced data. In air-bag testing, for example, a technician might examine the time sequence for a vehicle's crash impact, air-bag pressure release, and air-bag deployment. This testing might also be required to visually measure the effectiveness of the deployment of the air bag. To measure such test parameters, Xcitex (Cambridge, MA; www.xcitex.com) has developed a motion and integrated data-analysis system—MiDAS—that synchronizes imaging data from as many as four high-speed cameras with data obtained from up to 64 sensors.

"Our Waveform-per-Frame technology enables users to acquire and visualize video and information from external data-acquisition sources in a single application," says Peter Carellas, Xcitex president and chief executive officer. Systems based on this technology have already been deployed in applications such as artificial-heart-valve monitoring, where data from flow sensors and electrical-pulse sensors can be monitored simultaneously with high-speed data from digital cameras (see figure). To support the company's software, Xcitex offers several cameras, frame grabbers, data-acquisition boards, timing boards, and sensors.

For image capture, the MiDAS system supports numerous industrial and high-speed video cameras such as the Motion Scope PCI camera and the new Motion PCI camera from Redlake/MASD (San Diego, CA; www.redlake.com). These feature 1280 X 1024-pixel resolution and recording rates up to 10,000 frames/s. Containing as much as 6 Gbytes of on-board memory, the supporting PCI board can capture 4912 frames at full 1280 X 1024-pixel resolution. In support of the Pulnix America (Sunnyvale, CA; www.pulnix.com) TM-6702 monochrome, progressive-scan camera, Xcitex uses proprietary and OEM image-capture boards.

"In high-speed-event-capture applications," explains Brian Anthony, Xcitex vice president and chief technical officer, "it is desirable to use frame grabbers that support on-board camera control and large on-board memory to off-load image-capture, control, and storage functions from the host computer."

To synchronize images with captured data from accelerometers, pressure sensors, transducers, and position sensors, Xcitex offers a line of MiDAS data-acquisition modules based on the E-Series of multifunction data-acquisition boards from National Instruments (Austin, TX; ni.com). Because multiple configurations of cameras and data-acquisition devices are possible, Xcitex provides customized bundled solutions that include cameras, data-acquisition hardware, sensors, rugged PCs, and analysis software.


Artificial heart valve is monitored during accelerated lifetime testing using high-speed video, two flow sensors, and an electrical pulse sensor (top). With MiDAS software, high-speed camera image data can be monitored at the same time as data from the pressure and electrical pulse sensors (bottom).
Click here to enlarge image

"While our growth has been in selling a la carte technology tools," says Carellas, "our customers are becoming more interested in portable, self-contained, integrated solutions from a single vendor." To that end, Xcitex has enlisted the help of Dewetron (Graz, Austria) to build a range of customized, rugged, PCI-based passive-backplane portable computers—MiDAS PCs—to house MiDAS components and boards.

"The modular structure of MiDAS software," says Anthony, "also offers the end user benefits such as the ability to automate and annotate the recording process, to automatically track the motion of objects, and to synchronize video to the network of global-positioning-system (GPS) satellites. "Providing precision time and frequency references to the host computer system and peripheral data-acquisition systems," adds Anthony, " is valuable, especially for military customers involved in time-of-flight weapons testing." By using a PCI receiver card from Datum Inc. (Irvine, CA; www.datum.com), global time can be acquired from the GPS satellites using a supplied antenna/receiver or from an IRIG-B time code generator.

More in Cables & Connectivity