Engineers' Corner

The Signal.X Blog

Author Archives: Robert Hoffman

Pushing the Limits of the CompactRIO – Almost 10 years later

Pushing the Limits of the CompactRIO – Almost 10 years later

Back in 2011, I gave a presentation at NIWeek in Austin, Texas titled “Pushing the Limits of NI CompactRIO.” It remains the best attended presentation that I have ever given at NIWeek, and it focused on the experience of implementing a production test system using a 9024 cRIO controller that combined acquisition, control, and automation on one hardware platform. The case study for that original test system can be found here.

I remember that project vividly. I beat my brains out trying to figure out how to eke the most out of the limited hardware platform that we were relying on. But, through that project, we at Signal.X cut our collective teeth on embedded development, and the lessons that we learned in that project became the foundation of our STAX platform.

Almost 10 years later, we were hired to upgrade that first set of end-of-line testers to improve cycle time by altering the mechanical tooling. Along the way, we also upgraded the software to the latest STAX platform. With cost as a major constraint, we chose to keep the existing 9024 controllers as part of this upgrade. This is no small feat – giving a customer almost a decade of improvements on 10-year-old hardware. But, we committed to doing it knowing that it was a critical part of extending the life of those test systems.

As STAX has evolved over the years, we have paid close attention to efficiency and optimization. This has allowed us to deploy huge gains in computation, diagnostics, interface, and automation capability while keeping a lean footprint that can be deployed to low power (and low cost) CompactRIO controllers. What does this mean for our customers? Both the ability to optimize costs and the ability to promise high levels of performance as processing power increases.

We are continually innovating and building on our software platforms that provide real value for our customers. But, innovating does not mean adding complexity and taking more resources. Real innovation comes in balancing “creature features” with the reality of 24/7 production in an environment that doesn’t tolerate imperfection, and is always driven to control capital costs. At Signal.X, this is realized through constant improvement and responsiveness to customer needs without sacrificing efficiency and reliability.

Contact us to learn more about how to be a part of this adventure!

Platform Spotlight: STAX

Platform Spotlight: STAX

Since 2004, Signal.X Technologies has provided software and systems integration for complex end-of-line test systems and industrial automation. Controlling a production test system requires a multi-disciplinary team that brings together electrical, mechanical, hydraulic and controls knowledge. Done correctly, end-of-line test systems operate reliably day in and day out, while maintaining the level of flexibility needed… Continue Reading

Platform Spotlight: Shield

Platform Spotlight: Shield

It has been 14 years since the initial conception of Shield, and we thought it appropriate to spend a moment in review to understand the evolution of the Shield platform as well as give you a preview of what the future looks like. Shield was created in 2004 with one purpose: to capitalize on the… Continue Reading

Stop, Drop, and Roll

Stop, Drop, and Roll

We were all taught as kids these three actions when faced with a fire emergency, and recently I have been thinking about how analogous they are to the phrase “fighting fires” in business. We all know what fire-fighting means in this context – all of us have lived through this to some extent at one… Continue Reading

Scout v2.1 Released!

Scout v2.1 Released!

Signal.X is excited to announce the latest release of Scout TDMS Editor to the LabVIEW Tools Network community. Scout continues to be one of the most downloaded software products on the Tools Network, and we have well over 1,000 registered users, and just last quarter we surpassed 10,000 downloads! Thank you to all the users… Continue Reading

Embedded Specialty

Embedded Specialty

Having recently gone through the ordeal of attaining my certification for LabVIEW Embedded Developer (CLED), I thought now was an opportune time to talk about why Signal.X is part of the Embedded Specialty partners, and what it really means. According to the NI website, the Embedded Specialty “recognizes partners with proven success in designing medium-… Continue Reading

Signal.X Engine Cold Test Systems

Signal.X Engine Cold Test Systems

An internal combustion engine is a very complex machine, both to design and to manufacture. By the 1980s, engine testing became increasingly important in the assembly plant to ensure defect-free, quality products. However, the technology of the time focused on hot test, which is running the engine with fuel and spark to mimic in-vehicle conditions.… Continue Reading

National Instruments Merges Specialties and Recognizes Signal.X as an NI Embedded Specialty Partner

National Instruments Merges Specialties and Recognizes Signal.X as an NI Embedded Specialty Partner

National Instruments has recently combined the Embedded Control Specialty and the Electronic Design Specialty to create the Embedded Specialty. Embedded Specialty partners are proven experts designing medium- to large-scale embedded control and monitoring applications with the NI software and hardware platform. Signal.X is proud to be recognized as an Embedded Specialty Partner. What does this… Continue Reading

Engineers' Corner

The Signal.X Blog

Author Archives: Robert Hoffman

Pushing the Limits of the CompactRIO – Almost 10 years later

Pushing the Limits of the CompactRIO – Almost 10 years later

Back in 2011, I gave a presentation at NIWeek in Austin, Texas titled “Pushing the Limits of NI CompactRIO.” It remains the best attended presentation that I have ever given at NIWeek, and it focused on the experience of implementing a production test system using a 9024 cRIO controller that combined acquisition, control, and automation on one hardware platform. The case study for that original test system can be found here.

I remember that project vividly. I beat my brains out trying to figure out how to eke the most out of the limited hardware platform that we were relying on. But, through that project, we at Signal.X cut our collective teeth on embedded development, and the lessons that we learned in that project became the foundation of our STAX platform.

Almost 10 years later, we were hired to upgrade that first set of end-of-line testers to improve cycle time by altering the mechanical tooling. Along the way, we also upgraded the software to the latest STAX platform. With cost as a major constraint, we chose to keep the existing 9024 controllers as part of this upgrade. This is no small feat – giving a customer almost a decade of improvements on 10-year-old hardware. But, we committed to doing it knowing that it was a critical part of extending the life of those test systems.

As STAX has evolved over the years, we have paid close attention to efficiency and optimization. This has allowed us to deploy huge gains in computation, diagnostics, interface, and automation capability while keeping a lean footprint that can be deployed to low power (and low cost) CompactRIO controllers. What does this mean for our customers? Both the ability to optimize costs and the ability to promise high levels of performance as processing power increases.

We are continually innovating and building on our software platforms that provide real value for our customers. But, innovating does not mean adding complexity and taking more resources. Real innovation comes in balancing “creature features” with the reality of 24/7 production in an environment that doesn’t tolerate imperfection, and is always driven to control capital costs. At Signal.X, this is realized through constant improvement and responsiveness to customer needs without sacrificing efficiency and reliability.

Contact us to learn more about how to be a part of this adventure!

Platform Spotlight: STAX

Platform Spotlight: STAX

Since 2004, Signal.X Technologies has provided software and systems integration for complex end-of-line test systems and industrial automation. Controlling a production test system requires a multi-disciplinary team that brings together electrical, mechanical, hydraulic and controls knowledge. Done correctly, end-of-line test systems operate reliably day in and day out, while maintaining the level of flexibility needed… Continue Reading

Platform Spotlight: Shield

Platform Spotlight: Shield

It has been 14 years since the initial conception of Shield, and we thought it appropriate to spend a moment in review to understand the evolution of the Shield platform as well as give you a preview of what the future looks like. Shield was created in 2004 with one purpose: to capitalize on the… Continue Reading

Stop, Drop, and Roll

Stop, Drop, and Roll

We were all taught as kids these three actions when faced with a fire emergency, and recently I have been thinking about how analogous they are to the phrase “fighting fires” in business. We all know what fire-fighting means in this context – all of us have lived through this to some extent at one… Continue Reading

Scout v2.1 Released!

Scout v2.1 Released!

Signal.X is excited to announce the latest release of Scout TDMS Editor to the LabVIEW Tools Network community. Scout continues to be one of the most downloaded software products on the Tools Network, and we have well over 1,000 registered users, and just last quarter we surpassed 10,000 downloads! Thank you to all the users… Continue Reading

Embedded Specialty

Embedded Specialty

Having recently gone through the ordeal of attaining my certification for LabVIEW Embedded Developer (CLED), I thought now was an opportune time to talk about why Signal.X is part of the Embedded Specialty partners, and what it really means. According to the NI website, the Embedded Specialty “recognizes partners with proven success in designing medium-… Continue Reading

Signal.X Engine Cold Test Systems

Signal.X Engine Cold Test Systems

An internal combustion engine is a very complex machine, both to design and to manufacture. By the 1980s, engine testing became increasingly important in the assembly plant to ensure defect-free, quality products. However, the technology of the time focused on hot test, which is running the engine with fuel and spark to mimic in-vehicle conditions.… Continue Reading

National Instruments Merges Specialties and Recognizes Signal.X as an NI Embedded Specialty Partner

National Instruments Merges Specialties and Recognizes Signal.X as an NI Embedded Specialty Partner

National Instruments has recently combined the Embedded Control Specialty and the Electronic Design Specialty to create the Embedded Specialty. Embedded Specialty partners are proven experts designing medium- to large-scale embedded control and monitoring applications with the NI software and hardware platform. Signal.X is proud to be recognized as an Embedded Specialty Partner. What does this… Continue Reading