Embedded Control Software for Weathering Instrument

Project Description

The Context

Accelerated weathering simulates the damaging effects of long term exposure of paints, coatings and materials to climate conditions. These tests are carried out in specially designed weathering instruments and are crucial to determine the durability of materials. A leader in the material durability testing space was revamping their flagship weathering instrument. Tismo was brought on board to develop the embedded control software and implement web based monitoring for the instrument. 

The Problem

The weathering instrument under development would run and monitor tests using an array of sophisticated sensors. Tismo was tasked with developing a control software with features such as method creation and editing, alarms, calibration, diagnostics, data logging, multilingual support and remote monitoring. 

The Challenge

At the time of project start, the instrument prototype developed by the client measured only the most aggressive components of weathering – ultraviolet radiation, moisture and heat. But the final product would also simulate other outdoor conditions such as wind, dust, ice etc. This meant that the control software developed by Tismo would have to be robust and versatile enough to accommodate the future upgrades. Additionally, the client wanted support for 13 different languages and a provision to remotely monitor the instrument.

The Solution

Tismo developed an embedded control software for the client’s flagship weathering instrument, using C#/.NET. The software was designed to run on a Windows embedded platform and followed the MVVM architectural pattern. The user interface was designed on Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) using XAML. 

The software supported upto 24 unique test methods. Accelerated weathering tests could be set up by specifying combinations and sequences of parameters such as temperature, moisture, UV irradiance, duration etc. Other features included alarms, calibration, diagnostics, plotting of multiple graphs and report generation. The control software developed by Tismo communicated with the firmware of the weathering instrument using RS 232 communication protocol. An MS SQL database was used to store all test related data. 

Architecture of Embedded Control Software for Weathering Instrument

Keeping the client’s target market in mind, Tismo provided multilingual support through resource files populated with identifiers and translated strings. By not hard-coding the text during the programming stage and by adopting a plug-and-play approach to the language resource files, Tismo was able to provide support for any number of languages. 

Tismo also developed a web app, to remotely monitor all weathering instruments, connected to a local network. This was developed using Angular on ASP.Net Core framework. This web app pinged the databases of all available weathering instruments and populated its dashboard with data collected from the different weathering instruments. Thus real time monitoring of each weathering instrument, connected to the local network was made possible. Chart.js library was used to support the plotting of multiple graphs. Temperature, humidity and UV irradiance was plotted against time, for the duration of the tests. 

Summary

Tismo developed the embedded control software for a flagship weathering instrument using C#/.NET. The software was designed to run on the Windows embedded platform and the user interface was designed on Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) using XAML. The software supported upto 24 unique test methods and 13 different languages. Tismo also developed a web app, to remotely monitor all weathering instruments, connected to a local network. This was developed using Angular on ASP.Net Core framework.

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