Danfysik was to develop a DC/DC converter with 10 ppm accuracy. The converter consists of a current regulating DigiLoop and an interlock module with some GPIO functionality, connected to buck converters, cooling system etc. This needed to be controlled so that regulation parameters could be set, currents and voltage monitored, interlocks viewed and reset and system configuration altered. The control system needed an ethernet interface, a usb interface with client PC software to connect to it and a touch display to monitor and control the device on-site.
DVel was chosen to create a prototype for the control system. It was developed by a team of engineers in DVels office in close collaboration with Danfysik. In parallel to this the DC/DC converter was developed by Danfysik. The project started off by evaluating suitable hardware platforms for the control system taking price, form factor, connectability and development costs into consideration. Risks were evaluated and requirements defined, keeping in mind that these might change as the device was under development.
A Singleboard RIO from National Instruments was chosen as hardware platform, making use of its FPGA capabilities for SPI and GPIO interfaces. The device has an ethernet interface and it's serial port, together with a usb-to-serial converter, acted as usb interface. An Amulet touch display was chosen as on-board interface for the device. To accomodate for keeping multiple interfaces synchronized a message based object oriented software architecture approach was used. This makes it easy to add new interfaces and makes the system robust and independent of interfaces going down or being reconnected. In addition to the client PC software for the usb interface, a python API for the ethernet interface and a GUI on the Amulet touch display were developed.
The nature of the system, the chosen software architecture and making good use of project management tools made this a great example of successful team development. The close interaction with Danfysik made the development team quick to react and give feedback on changing requirements. When the device was ready, integration with the control system was successfully performed at Danfysiks premises.
Adding it up
The resulting prototype gave the user control over the device through a multitude of interfaces, both local and remote. While fulfilling all the set requirements it is also easily expandable to more interfaces and functionality thanks to its modular message based architecture. When the device had reached a state where it could be connected, the prototype was ready for integration which went smoothly thanks to close collaboration with Danfysik during the project. This was DVels first project together with Danfysik and the two companies continues to successfully develop systems together.