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LabVIEW aids Formula 1 dynamometer design

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Engineers at Computer Controlled Solutions (CCS) used the LabVIEW graphical development environment along with National Instrumentsdata acquisition and motion control products to build a dynamometer designed specifically for testing calipers and brakes on Formula 1 high-speed racing cars.

With a flexible, virtual instrumentation approach based on National Instruments LabVIEW, CCS engineers designed a testing system that meets unique size and performance requirements and provides more accurate data to help drive decisions for optimal brake design.

AP Racing, a world leader in brake caliper and race clutch technology and manufacturing, required a new, specialised dynamometer for accurately simulating Formula 1 vehicle speeds, acceleration rates and air flow around the caliper as well as importing track data on the braking and acceleration profiles.

Selected as the control system designer, CCS created this software and electronics control system based on LabVIEW software, NI PCI data acquisition and motion control boards as well as NI-DAQmx measurement services software.

"As a provider of custom test, control and acquisition systems, we selected LabVIEW because it meets all of our control software requirements in a single product," said Paul Riley, managing director of CCS.

"This is important to us 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, both on 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.

In addition, the engineers took advantage of LabVIEW 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 data acquisition boards to control parameters such as a 288kW inverter, extraction fan system and 240km/h inlet air flow control because of the boards' seamless integration with LabVIEW.

Requiring closed-loop control for torque, pressure, air flow and speed, the engineers also chose an NI quadaxis motion controller based on its high PID loop rates (up to 16kHz) and price for performance.

The CCS system now tests all motor sport brake and caliper ranges for AP Racing development and Formula 1 teams. Using LabVIEW and NI data acquisition and motion control hardware, CCS designed a stable system achieving complex control while maintaining operator ease of use.

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