Two months prior to the release of a new data acquisition system, a digital clock displayed the deadline in the hallway at MTI Instruments Inc. (Albany, NY). Some engineers joked that they would then use another hallway, but there was no avoiding the deadline. Lights would be blazing at the facility at all hours, according to Bob Kot, vice president and general manager, and staff joked that the bags under their eyes were the result of the five-month time-to-market.
MTI, a subsidiary of Mechanical Technology Inc., officially announced the release of Eve, a stand-alone measurement solution and data acquisition system, on June 18 at their shareholder’s meeting. Shipment is expected to begin in the fourth quarter. It has not been a smooth ride-even just a week before the meeting the cabinet for the product arrived in brown instead of the desired black.
Eve is compatible with most sensors, including MTI’s noncontact displacement sensors, allowing correlation of displacement, temperature, pressure and other physical parameters for test, research or process monitoring applications.
“We believe Eve is the first system that incorporates precision noncontact dimensional measurement technology within a complete and scalable data acquisition system,” says Kot. It can be used for quality control, aerospace vehicle testing, medical device manufacturing, in-line process monitoring, machine tool gaging, spindle and shaft runout/vibration, and ultrasonic vibration control.
The BeginningMTI Instruments supplies precision noncontact physical measurement solutions, condition-based monitoring systems, portable balancing equipment and semiconductor wafer inspection tools. Customers came to them and asked for a product to meet their needs.
Before creating Eve, MTI asked 15 end users, systems integrators, OEMs, Tier One suppliers in aerospace, research and automotive industries what they wanted in a data acquisition device. Although Kot anticipated short, 15-minute interviews, the customers had a lot to say, with the shortest interview running two hours, and the longest, more than four.
Armed these customer requests, the engineers got to work, designing the product their customers wanted. Based on the information from customers, Eve is able to accept data from multiple analog and digital channels allowing numerous variables to be measured and correlated in real time. The data can be stored internally, on USB memory sticks or transmitted via Ethernet to any IP address on a particular network.
Despite the product’s capabilities, companies will not be forced to hire software engineers to operate the system. “That’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid with Eve,” says Peter Opela, senior electrical engineer. MTI wants their customers to hire staff to make money, not to support their product’s software.
Eve costs anywhere from $9,000 to $20,000, depending on features, which is more expensive than the competition, Kot says, but MTI hopes Eve also will be more useable. In a new step for them, MTI will also be offering prices online.
There are always things to improve, as customers from the beta testing period continually offer suggestions, and as with any first version, MTI already has ideas for the next version of Eve.
- TECHNOLOGY CONTACT
For more information on Eve, contact:
MTI Instruments Inc.
325 Washington Avenue Extension
Albany, NY 12205
• 2 front-panel MTI proprietary capacitance cards, enabling a total of 6 capacitive displacement channels.
• 4 dual-channel plug-in interface cards that can be any of the following combinations:
– Voltage input modules, 1 kHz bandwidth
– Current input modules, 3 Hz
– Linearized 2- or 3-wire RTD module
– Linearized 4-wire RTD module
– Potentiometer input modules
– Thermocouple input modules
– Strain gage input modules
– Voltage input modules, 3 Hz
– 2-wire transmitter interface modules
– Frequency input modules
• 1 digital 8-channel I/O card
All cards support auto-discovery that enables Eve to determine what card type is plugged into each slot and its specific configuration.
• 4 USB ports
• Ethernet 100 base (external laptop connection to perform complicated HMI configuration in lieu of onboard LCD/touch screen)
• RS-232 configurable serial port
• RS-485 configurable serial port
Eve is housed in a 19-inch modular desktop chassis with an optional rack mounting kit. The enclosure is EMC-shielded, providing protection from electromagnetic interference and unwanted noise. The rear panel accepts up to four 3U cards that can accommodate any combination of signal processing modules listed above for a total of 8 signal processing inputs. The fifth slot provides digital 8-bit TTL input and 8-bit TTL output connections. Two additional front-panel slots can accommodate MTI proprietary 3-channel capacitive amplifiers cards, providing up to six simultaneous measurements of displacement, position or vibration.