Measurement and Automation
Technischer Stand / Last update: 2020-05


About us

Developing software hardware for measurement and automation at large

As National Instruments™ Alliance Partner and Certified LabVIEW™ Developer, we are familiar with a wide variety of Hardware and Software products in order to choose the right system for your needs.

Our sound background in physics, electronics and electrical engineering allows us to find the optimal sensor and measurement technique. Sometimes those approaches originate from a completely different field of application to open new possibilities and outperform conventional, boxed solutions.

With more than 20 years experience in LabVIEW™, gathered from delicate laboratory application, sophisticated in-vehicle systems to reliable industrial solutions, we are the right partner for your projects.

Please see the table below as well as some of our reference projects for a more in-depth picture. We will also be glad to send you further information on any topic or request. 

Software Hardware and Platforms
LabVIEW™ (version 4.1 to current version) PC-based DAQ
LabVIEW™ Real-Time PXI-based DAQ and control
DSC FieldPoint™
various add-on modules and toolkits FPGA, CPLD
Data mining and report automation Instrumentation (GPIB, USB, CAN, TCP/IP, UDP, ...)
EAGLE, PCB Design In-House Prototype PCB Assembly
Modelica fluid simulations (in preparation) Hydrogen Filling Stations, Fuel Cell Test Stands 

We usually develop highly customer- specific applications.  However, the following products are examples for re-usable software and hardware developments

SW Development

HW Development

Fuel Cell Test Stations

Signal Conditioning Hardware

240 Channel Isolated, Simultaneous Sampling Fuel Cell and Battery Voltage Monitoring System 

High Frequency Impedance Analyser for Fuel Cell Stacks 

Isolated, simultaneous sampling universal measurement system with interchangeable signal conditioning


Software Development

We try to build all custom specific VIs from reusable, generic subroutines. This procedure allows us to use pre-tested code segments, a clean program structure and high cost efficiency.

Over the years we assembled a library of more than 500 sub-VIs in well organized hierarchy. Those VIs are maintained to subsequent versions of LabVIEW™ to ensure full functionality and compatibility. We cover a wide range of functionality like Active-X, traditional DAQ, DAQmx, Instrument specific VIs, RT, FPGA, CAN, software security and more.



Hardware Development

With our sound electrical/electronic background and decades of experience we develop and assemble circuit boards for our projects or individually for our customers. After design and SPICE simulation, we have high-quality boards made and populate and solder them in-house. Most of our PCBs are prototypes or unique designs, so assembling them in-house allows us to fine-tune component values or have a quick turn-around with our customers for their own tests.

Below are examples of boards for an after build for large telescope controller (left) and our own design of a uC-based, multi-channel, high voltage data acquisition system for a photo voltaic research project.


Custom Fuel Cell Test Stations

GRandalytics develops and builds test stations for hydrogen fuel cell testing for more than 10 years. With experience in highly competitive automotive testing, we know that a test station needs to adapt to the test, rather than constraining your research innovation. In order to save valuable time and cost, alarms and filters can be configured during a running test; extra hardware channel can be added by the user without consulting support.

We are primarily focused on specialized stations such as fast Hardware-in-the-Loop (HiL) stations for cells and stacks, segmented cell stations, integrated electro-impedance stations for up to 240 cells or retrofitting your existing station with a new controller, adding hardware options and/or integrating high channel count Electro-Impedance Spectrometry.

Due to our modular software framework we can adapt the control quickly and economically to your requirements. You get exactly the station that you need with the option of future expansion.

Our software is split into a controller section and one or more Human-Machine-Interfaces (HMIs). The controller can be a standalone Real-Time (RT) PLC (compactRIO, PXI, etc.) or run on the same PC as the HMI.

By splitting the code, all operational and safety related tasks can reside in one section while the user input and convenient features can be easily customized without having to re-evaluate safety and functionality.

Some features and options of our control software are:

- channel configuration on-the-fly by user, with multiple access levels
- user upgradeable channels and functional core
- 2 upper/lower static alarms with hysteretis and delay
- 3rd upper/lower alarm on independent hardware layer for extra safety (RT only)
- 2 upper/lower dynamic alarms which can be linked to any other channel
- user configurable alarm response from warning lamp to ESD and automatic purge
- configurable filter on all analogue and digital (de-bounce) channels
- hardware watchdog, FPGA/RT core watchdog (RT only)
- sign-of-live and plausibility check of input channels
- software PID for heaters, blowers, pumps, etc.
- open data communication to multiple HMIs in parallel
- multiple parallel script engines (LabVIEW VIs, Java, Simulink, etc.)
- stoichiometric control - multi-range mass flow controllers
- switchable fore/back pressure control - impurity injection
- operation with air, oxygen, synthetic air, liquid fuel, etc.
- post-mortem ring buffer with selectable channels and trigger events
- configurable logging and streaming - ramping and synchronisation of set points
- intuitive, easy understandable HMI with configurable units and right-click info

Examples of Executed Test Stations

Example of Segmented Cell station with multiple gases and multi-range MFCs

Example of HiL station with embedded Electro-Impedance Spectrometer

Example of Electro-Impedance Sweep

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Signal Conditioning  Hardware

In some cases commercially available hardware is just not right for a particular job. In that case we develop what we can not buy. Most custom made PCB boards are very specific for a particular project, but some may be re-used for different applications, like the signal conditioning system and the RS232 interface we designed, both to expand cRIO distributed IO by National Instruments™.

A back plane connects to a cRIO 9205 32 channel voltage measurement module as well as up to 3 auxiliary power supplies as needed, usually +/- 15V, 5V and 24V. All voltages are available on all module slots. 


The sub-panels hold up to 2 channels with specialized signal conditioning and real differential input. Signals are then passed on to 2 adjunct NRSE channels of the 9502 (e.g. channel 2 vs. AISENS and channel 10 vs. AISENS). If for some reason differential connection to the cRIO is desired a corresponding sub-panel can be used together with the same back plane.

Currently sub-panels for RTD, TC, V, and mA are designed and used.


High Power Digital Output Module

For version 2.0 of our digital driver module we slipped a lot of user feedback into modifications and enhancements.

New Highlights: 
- two different sources selectable
- fuses for every bank of 8 output channels
- LED power indicators for every bank of 8 channels
- smaller outline 

the module accepts now two different power sources, referenced to the same ground. Many applications use a pilot source for indicators or to switch the actual working source. The module is now split into 4 banks of 8 digital outputs, each capable of up switching to 1,5A. Each bank can be connected to one of two power sources, by placing the fuse into a different socket. Both source paths can run a total current of 6A. LEDs monitor the supply power of each bank. Though more features are boxed, the physical outline shrank to 100mmx100mm accommodated in a nice, industrial-standard, DIN-rail mountable housing.

Striking features from V1.0:  
- Oversized power MOSFETs with a low on-resistance, capable of switching up to 8A at 60V
- recovery diodes for trouble free switching of inductive loads, like solenoids and conductors
- direct plug-in to CompactRIO™ 9477 and compatible modules with sinking output and 24V supply.


16-Channel Voltage to Current Converter Module

This module was designed to interface with the CompactRIO™ 9264, a 16-channel voltage output module. The V2C converter allows to select either straight thru voltage or 0-20mA current output. It features 16 VCCs OPV ciruitries that can be bypassed via a jumper and are supplied by an external 24V supply.

The benefit of the converter is a scalable output configuration and more current output channels per module than with plain C-Series I/O modules.

2nd Generation:
This 2nd generation has better temperature stability, less heat dissipation and is capable of supplying up to 40mA, as an option.  


Watchdog Timer

This watchdog timer is a simple, reliable hardware-based timer that can trip emergency stops when not periodically whacked. The wide timing range allows for a variety of applications from fast fan monitoring to long- time periodic venting. A normally open and normally closed output can be used as AND and OR gates for adding multiple units to a supervisory system.

Revision 2 has now a second time base for a hold-off period after triggering. This allows for PLCs to reboot after they have been power cycled by the watchdog.


240 Channel Isolated, Simultaneous Sampling Fuel Cell and Battery Voltage Monitoring System

The Voltage Monitoring system is a modular data acquisition system that allow to measure up to 240 channels without multiplexing. A dedicated hardware trigger line assures trigger accuracy of less than 1us, the sampling envelop of all channels is even shorter. Buffered data can be read via SPI interface, software support for cRIO and micro-controller based systems (e.g., NI 8451) can be provided. The NI 8451 is also a cost efficient solution to connect the monitor to any PC via USB port.

- 16 channel per module, stackable up to 240 channels total
- Fast read out (24us/Channel+200us)
- 12 bit resolution
- Real-Time support
- True differential input
- Galvanic isolation: channel to channel > 300V
- Galvanic isolation: input (test item) to output (SPI interface) > 1000V
- Simultaneous sampling of all channels with hardware trigger line for exact timing
- Custom specific PCB interface for connecting test item, no cable adapters needed
- Industrial standard DIN rail mount close to UUT (unit-under-test)
- Standard SPI interface to controller (cRIO, C8051, NI 8451 USB, etc.) 
- Great for fast, reliable voltage monitoring …
- Even greater for fuel impurity propagation experiments (e.g.)

Firmware 1.1 introduces now two methods of triggering, namely hardware and software trigger.

Firmware 1.2 allows for switching individual models on and off (DIP-switch) to reduce the power consumption

Firmware 1.3 allows for remotely switching individual all modules on/off reduce for power saving between longer pauses

Firmware 1.4 cascade power- on to reduce peak load on power supply causing brown-outs on larger systems

The originally implemented, dedicated digital input allows highly accurate triggering of a snapshot within 1us. Since all channels share the same trigger and clock lines, channel-to-channel timing, is accurate within some 10ns.

The software triggering method is useful for generic voltage monitoring. Sending the SPI channel address 15 triggers a snapshot without the need of an additional digital line. Especially USB and uC- based controlling systems will benefit from the update.


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High Frequency Impedance Analyser for Fuel Cell Stacks

We developed a high frequency impedance analyser for individual cells of a fuel cell stack based on our voltage monitoring system. The unit will be available as stand-alone diagnosis system or as integral component of a dynamic fuel cell test station.

First tests on the simulator R/C network was a great success. We could run a sweep from 1Hz to 50kHz measuring 5 simulated units with almost no deviation to the theory. Component tolerances and secondary set-up effects caused the small spreading which can be observed at high frequencies. There is also a  very close match of the calculated and observed frequency check points.


We recently ran the very first tests on real fuel cell stacks and single cells to demonstrate the usability of our system on the units under test. Since we had no research grade measurement system for stacks, we tested a single cell and compared the results with a high quality Solartron 1260. As the figure below reveals, the two measurements are qualitatively and quantitatively comparable. We certainly do not attempt to compete with the Solartron 1260 which has better resolution and a much wider frequency range, however, we target a totally different field of usage.

The unique feature of our Multi-Channel EIS is the high channel count at a price that can make it a standard diagnosis tool for any advanced test station.

- scaleable system of up to 240 measurement channels
- simultaneous measurement of all cells
- multi-period RIS (random interleaved sampling) for increased accuracy
- frequency range DC to 50kHz (may be limited by electronic load)
- current perturbation, total current measurement and individual cell voltage measurement
- single frequency or sweep mode
- multiple data visualization and export templates
- embedding in existing test station software (LabVIEW) possible

The system was presented as
Multifunctional Diagnosis Tool for Large Fuel Cell Stacks
at the  at the Hydrogen + Fuel Cells 2011 International Conference and Exhibition, Vancouver, BC

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Isolated, simultaneous sampling universal measurement system with integrated signal conditioning

Based on our isolated multichannel impedance spectrometer, we developed a new data acquisition system with individual signal conditioning for each channel. The carrier board offers 8 channel of isolated, simultaneously sampling digitisers which can be equipped with plug-in modules for resistance thermometry, thermocouples, 4-20mA industrial current transducers or an extended voltage measurement range with AC or DC coupling. Every plug-in has its own instrumentation amplifier with input filter to increase input impedance and improves noise immunity. We certainly offer the development of custom specific plug-in.



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