Racer Testing in Software

AP Racing, a world leader in brake caliper and race clutch technology and manufacturing, needed a new, specialized dynamometer that would accurately simulate Formula 1 vehicle speeds, acceleration rates, and airflow around the caliper. The instrument also had to import track data on braking and acceleration profiles.

AP racing called on CCS, Inc. (Warwickshire, UK, www.ccsin.com), which devised a software and electronics control system based on LabVIEW software, NI PCI DA and motion control boards, and NI-DAQmx measurement services software. Paul Riley, CCS managing director, liked LabVIEW because it met the company's control software requirements in a single product. "This is important to us," Riley says, "so that we can service our products for many years down the line without having to integrate other add-on tools."

With NI modular hardware, CCS engineers created a dynamometer to test brakes and calipers, on both a rig mounting and within the actual wheel and suspension assembly. They designed the software entirely in LabVIEW, setting up a test program with a clear and intuitive main menu as well as a calibration screen with a tabular view of all I/O and a simplified test list for easily managing test execution. The engineers also took advantage of LabVIEW's speed to present a full-run screen that indicates position in the test, mimic, dual-scrolling graph displays, and all status information.

CCS engineers selected multiple National Instruments PCI-based DA boards to control parameters such as a 288 kW inverter, extraction fan system, and 240 kph inlet airflow control because of the boards' seamless integration with LabVIEW. To satisfy their requirement for closed-loop control of torque, pressure, airflow, and speed, they chose an NI quadaxis motion controller for its high PID loop rates (up to 16 kHz) and price for performance.

The CCS system, which achieves complex control while maintaining operator ease of use, now tests all motor sport brake and caliper ranges for AP Racing development and Formula 1 teams.

Contact Ernest Martinez, National Instruments, Austin, TX; 800-258-7022, info@ni.com, www.ni.com.