NEW! Token Based Licensing

Posted on March 12th, 2019

APEX Turbine Testing Technologies, Inc., a global leader in turbomachinery testing and analysis solutions, today announced a new simplified and a flexible, token-based licensing model for their industry leading offline signal processing and analysis products, DX and DV. Token based licensing is an all new licensing mechanism that provides customers access to all features of the APEX DX and DV data analysis products using one, flexible, simplified licensing structure.

DX and DV are the first APEX products to take advantage of this new licensing mechanism; however, all other APEX analysis products, including the BT tip-timing, post processing software, will eventually share the same token license pool once the transition is complete.

At the 2019 APEX User Conference last week in Nashville, APEX President and CEO Dr. Kurt Nichol unveiled the new licensing to current users.


APEX DX-DATX vs RWX File Formats

Posted on January 11th, 2019

One of the more unique (and overlooked) features of APEX DX is its ability to import and read a wide variety of data formats such as DATX, UFF, and CSV files with seamless integration. One of the main selling points to our dynamic data acquisition software, APEX DS is its ability to interface with any kind of hardware and export files in various types, giving the user the ability to view flexible and accurate plots and collect accurate data, no matter what hardware system they choose to use. Similarly, APEX DX gives the user access to easy, repeatable, and accurate data analysis regardless of what kind of acquisition software recorded the data (including competitor data types). This blog post will focus on how APEX DX can easily process file type with its drag and drop tools and compare how it reads the industry standard DSPCON format, DATX and how that format compares to our specialized APEX file type, RWX.

DX Signal Processing Software-Available File Formats

Shown: A list of available DX file formats ready to be processed.

The main philosophy of DX is to create a program that makes data analysis as simple as possible, from when you load in your files, to when analysis has been run and reports have been created. This is why we implemented the drag and drop file processing feature into DX. When processing a file, simply drag it and drop it into DX and the program will automatically generate a processing chain for viewing the data, no matter the file type. Below, you can see an image of 2 identical files processed side by side, on the left is a signal from an APEX formatted .rwx file, and on the right is a DSPCON .DATX file format. Both sets of plots were created by using only drag and drop functionality. You can read more about how DX automatically generates a design to view your data here.

DX Signal Processioning Software-Campbell and Envelope Plots, RWX vs DATX

Shown: Campbell and Envelope plots from an identical RWX (left) and DATX (right) file processed and shown side by side.

Although various data formats contain much of the same information, reading them can sometimes pose a challenge, because information is presented differently in each file. DATAX files are no exception to this rule, but our team at APEX has worked to ensure that this data format opens without an issue, no matter the bit rate or version of the file. However, when creating our own data format (.rwx), we wanted to make up for some of the shortcomings that the DATX file format possesses by ensuring that the information included in each file was more comprehensive. Below is a breakdown of the commonalities and differences between our RWX format and the DATX format.

 

 

Commonalities:

  1.  Setup information is defined at the top of the file as a text stream.
  2. The setup is defined in keyword = value pairs
  3. Sampled data is recorded as binary signed integers (typically 16 bit) that equal the analog-to-digital converter (ADC) bits 
  4. Sampled data is recorded in sequential blocks of constant (sample) size = 2n where n is a positive integer (n is defined in the setup)
  5.  If multiple ADC devices are present, each will have its own file inclusive of the setup so it can be read/processed independent of other device files

 

Before discussing the differences between the file formats, it is important to note that there are different “types” of dynamic data. When our APEX DS Dynamic Data Acquisition Software is used as the recording device, the user is permitted to define a channel as one of two types of data; a “parameter” or a “signal”. A “parameter” is a channel that is displayed as a once-per-block value (a block contains n samples – see #4 above). Typically, these are sensors that measure data that change slowly relative to dynamic channels. Typical sensors are: speeds (tach based and voltage proportional), temperatures, flow rates, certain pressure measurements, and vane angles, among others. In contrast, “signals” are (dynamic) channels that are typically transformed into the frequency domain, such as strain gages, kulites, and accelerometers.

 

The most significant difference between the RWX and DATX file formats is the RWX format supports multiple types of processed data in addition to the raw data. The most basic data is the sampled “raw” data defined in #2 above. In addition, “parameter” data as well as other processed data types may also be stored depending on the setup (the setup determines how the data is processed). These different types of data are stored using “packets”. Packets contain a “header” and a “payload”. The header of the packet contains the packet “type” while the payload contains the data. This technology permits processed data to be interlaced with the raw data.

 

 

Other Significant Differences:

  1. The RWX setup contains all the necessary information to process the data, including FFT size, FFT window, filters, formulas, etc., as well as all the digitization and signal conditioning settings. Therefore, upon playback, the data is processed identically as during acquisition.
  2. RWX format supports duplicate or virtual channels
  3. RWX format supports compression to reduce the file size
  4. DATX format is simpler format
  5. RWX format is more complex but is easy to extend for support of other types of raw or processed data. In addition, an API is available for easy and efficient access.

 

So, while file type is an important step to consider when planning your tests, APEX DX and APEX DS make the process easier by offering more options to provide an easier path to data testing. No matter what A+D Device you use, APEX DS can interface with it to create the most robust (and space efficient!) data files for your tests, but should you choose to collect the data another way, APEX DX Data Acquisition Software will still be able to process your files with consistency.

 

 

If you are interested in streamlining your data collection and analysis process, please contact our sales team at info@apexturbine.com. We would love to talk with you about how we can help, and get you set up with a fully featured demo license, so you can see the difference for yourself.

 

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Automatic Data Processing in APEX DX Dynamic Data Analysis Software

Posted on October 1st, 2018

In our product APEX DX, there are two workspaces created to streamline your dynamic data analysis process. The first is the designer tab where you can create an analysis design to process your data. The second workspace is called the viewer tab, where you can view your data with the analysis performed in the designer tab using a wide range of dynamically interactive plots. In this blog post, we are going to talk about the simplest way to view and interrogate data from a test, and what elements are automatically created when a file is processed to better understand the building blocks of DX.

When opening DX, the first thing that you are met with is the designer workspace. It consists of a canvas upon which you can place combinations of our 22 designer “elements” which can be used to create all kinds of processing flows to perform simple or complex dynamic data analysis. Designs are graphical, intuitive, easily created and reusable.  Designs can be created manually, from supplied templates, saved designs, or by simply dragging a dynamic data file onto the canvas. We will explore this last method because it is amazingly simple and really powerful.  All the other methods are easily understood once this basic concept is demonstrated.

 

Dragging and dropping a dynamic data file on the design canvas automatically creates a very simple design that will be used to automatically process the file and allow you to view the data.  The automatically created design consists of five elements; a Signals element, a Parameters element, an FFT element, a Peaks element and a Scope.

DX Software Process Designer

Pictured: A real data file (321 MB) with 40 signals and 2 parameters is automatically processed by dragging the file onto the viewer.

The Signals Element tells DX what signals in the dynamic data file to process.  It’s a powerful tool that allows users to process all, or a subset of signal from the file without having to create sub-files. There are two types a Signals elements; “Signals” and “Signals*.  Using the Signals element allows the user to select individual signal names to process.  Signal* does the same thing, but allows the user to take advantage of naming patterns in the signal name.  This is done by using wildcards and regular expressions. Both elements provide settings for time domain processing that let you alter the signal type (AC, DC, AC1xInt, AC2xInt, AC Diff, IRIG), Coefficient, EU Scalar and Units.  When automatically processing a file, DX will create a standard Signals element and populate it with the signal names of all the signals in the file and default time domain processing settings.  You can edit this afterward to limit what signals are processed the next time or to adjust time domain processing options.  Notice that this one element type has multiple functions.  Some competing products make the user add separate elements for each of these functions which can clutter the workspace.  Our approach simplifies the overall readability of the process while preserving sophisticated functionality.

DX Software Edit Signals

Pictured: Easily add and remove signals that want to process or leave out of the process chain.

The Parameters element is similar to the Signals element in that it selects which parameters are included in the analysis.  Parameters are measurements made at lower sample rates, like pressure, temperature, speed, and the like, which are sometimes available in a dynamic data file.  Our offline data acquisition product, APEX-DX, easily merges low and high speed data together so users can perform analyses to understand how dynamic responses are affected by various parameters, like speed or pressure.  Not all dynamic data files contain parameters, so if they aren’t present, DX may not automatically create a Parameters element.

Like the Signals Elements, the Parameters elements also can consist of a sensor name list, or can use wild cards and regular expressions to refine the list of data to be processed.  Parameter settings include min and max value, Type (generic, speed (DC), speed (tach)), tach ratio, trigger threshold, average time and units.  These latter settings can be used convert a tach pulse-train into speed value using powerful DX speed decoding algorithms.

The next basic element that is automatically created is the FFT Element – both the signals element and parameters element are automatically connected to it. When added to the design it runs an FFT algorithm on the signals.  Available settings include Scaling (Peak, P2P, RMS), FFT Size (sometimes called ensemble size), FFT Overlap, and Window (Rectangular, Blackman Harris, Hamming, Hanning, Gaussian, Flat Top).  As with the other elements, DX sets default settings for these properties which can later be edited for reprocessing, if desired.

 

The last processing element in the automatic file processing setup is the peaks element. This element performs spectral line interpolation to improve frequency and magnitude accuracy from the FFT.  The FFT Element is automatically connected to it. Peaks provide additional spectral values beyond the normal spectral lines so your analysis is even more accurate. This element is not required (if you are only interested in the spectral line values), but is automatically created when you drag a file on the canvas.  You can delete it later and reprocess, if desired. Available peaks element settings are Maximum Peaks, Peak Threshold, and frequency range – which can also be edited at any time.

DX Software Edit Peaks

Pictured: Available settings in the Peaks Element.

After all the elements have been connected, they are finally connected to a Scope element which basically tells DX to output the processed results to the view canvas.  Scopes can be attached to various elements along the way.  For example, you could add a Scope to output spectral line values from the FFT Element and another to the Peaks element to compare the output.  When automatically processing a file, DX adds one Scope at the end of this simple process to provide output for viewing on the View Canvas.

DX Software Adding Scopes to Process Design

Pictured: A demonstration of adding multiple scopes to a design for side-by-side viewing of FFT and Peaks Processed data.

One important thing to think about is that once the process is defined and the data file is processed (which is done automatically when you drag a dynamic data file on the design canvas), the processed results are ready for plotting in a large variety of ways – instantaneously.  This give the user the ability to look at processed results and compare channels, create different kinds of plots, or otherwise interact with the processed results without having to define a plot in advance.

DX Software Processed Results

Pictured: Comparing the subtle differences between an FFT Element Scope (Top) and a Peaks Processed Scope (Bottom)

One last important feature to note – you can drag multiple files on the Designer canvas and process multiple files at the same time.  This way you can easily compare any signal against any other signal from a group of files in a single work-session.

 

If you are interested in easily processing and viewing data, and would like to try out a free trial of DX, please contact our sales team at info@apexturbine.com

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