Original Code Consulting
MICAS-X Customer Experience
MICAS-X applications have
ranged from mobile labs to complex laboratory experiments; from
experimental process control to environmental chamber
control. In one case, a mobile laboratory system was
needed on extremely short notice. Because of the range of
functionality already in MICAS-X, an initial version was running
in less than a week, with further customization added as needed
the following weeks. In another case, three separate
control programs for various aspects of a laboratory mass
spectrometer system were replaced with an integrated MICAS-X
system that is able to coordinate all three functions while
providing additional flexibility and configuration options that
the original software lacked. Some of the many MICAS-X
applications are described below.
We have been using MICAS-X as our meta-software platform for running a complex scientific instrument on research aircraft for a number of years. This involves reading and controlling many heterogeneous subsystems that need to work together at high time resolution (1 Hz and higher). Importantly, it also involves a lot of highly custom predictive controls and safety features. Using MICAS-X (and Dave's skill at making it all work) has certainly saved us a lot of time (vs implementing this in Labview), and also given us the ability to make last minute changes easily during ongoing missions. But most importantly, it has provided us with a system that has been rock solid in a mission critical environment where every second of missed data counts. I can attest that this makes us a lucky minority among our peers. Highly recommended.
University of Colorado at Boulder
This video describes our work with one of our more recent customers, VSI Parylene of Broomfield, Colorado. For this project, MICAS-X was used to upgrade the control system on an industrial production line and provide more flexibility and greater reliability to their system.
"OCC's MICAS-X was chosen for a test stand that we built to test gaskets under pressure to their limit. Monitoring this system required some tricky sequencing and safety implementations that were no problem for the software to handle and the team at OCC understood the system within minutes which was a huge help. This team is highly effective and quick working. Would highly suggest contacting them for your needs."
- Ian B, Wheatridge, CO
"We used MICAS-X for a study of indoor air chemistry in an art museum in order to automatically control several values for different sampling modes sequences and log multiple instruments continuously 24/7 for more than a month. Operation was robust with no issues encountered. Dave worked with us on configuring a custom console which met all our needs and was easy for several new MICAS-X users to use and make changes during the study as our needs changed or became clearer. It was especially nice to have MICAS-X solidly handling all the integrated control of sampling and logging basic auxiliary instrumentation without issue, so that we could focus our attention on our other custom, developmental instrumentation - thus reducing a lot of stress that often accompanies intensive field experiments! We expect to reuse the system for several future studies with modifications as needed."
- Doug, University of Colorado at Boulder
“MICAS-X has been very useful for collecting and co-locating large time series datasets from multiple instruments. It makes data processing substantially easier when trying to compare different pollutants or meteorological conditions, as they are logged in one file with one timestamp.”
- Aja, Carnegie
“We use OCC's MICAS to operate two custom-built scientific smog chambers. It is a highly configured and complex system with hundreds of HVAC, electrical, and instrumental inputs and outputs. MICAS is the brain of the entire system. Now we can use MICAS to set up customized sequences to operate many different components simultaneously, which drastically reduced the time and effort needed to run and maintain the chamber. It would have taken months or years of programming to interface all of our controllers. Dave was attentive to what we needed and OCC's service is fantastic. Highly recommended.”
- Jordan, University of Colorado at Boulder
“We had an aggressive time line
and were in need of a complex operating system for two
parallel process trains. Original Code Consulting was there
for us at every turn and the final product (operating and data
acquisition system for a pilot membrane plant) exceeded our
highest expectations. I could not not recommend anyone any
- Jon, University of Wyoming
"MICAS-X provides a powerful,
extensible LabView framework to control our custom
instrumentation. Developing with MICAS-X saved us a huge amount
of time and effort and we could never could have produced
something as useful ourselves."
- Prof. M.A. Young
"MICAS-X allowed our lab to
consolidate control of several different instruments into one
unified, customizable system. Dave and OCC were incredibly
responsive along the way and worked closely with us to develop
solutions and ensure that MICAS-X ran smoothly with all the
functionality that we needed."
- D Pagonis
“Original Code Consulting developed a custom DAQ
and control system application for running our
ultrafiltration-reverse osmosis pilot test system at the
University of Wyoming. The application is very user friendly and
doesn't take a lot of time to get familiar with even for someone
without a sufficient engineering background. Some of the biggest
pros for the software are the ease in adding new sensors,
scaling new sensors (if one did replace a failing sensor with a
different one), graphical display, calculations, and display of
equations calculated on the basis of the data acquired."
Air Quality Studies
Several features of MICAS-X make it an ideal platform for
data acquisition and control for Air Quality Studies. Among
- MICAS-X is highly configurable, and already supports many instruments used in these types of studies, so it can be configured and deployed very quickly.
- Since MICAS-X has been used for several mobile and fixed-site Air Quality Studies in the past, numerous relevant instruments have already been integrated into it. These include Thermo Scientific gas analyzers, Picarro gas analyzers, GPS's, Airmar weather stations, sonic anemometers, NI Daq data acquisition from numerous sensors, Alicat flow meters and flow controllers, Vaisala humidity and temperature sensors, valve control and sequencing, etc.
- MICAS-X includes much of the needed functionality out-of-the-box: data acquisition, data logging, sequencing, alarms, email alerts, logging of streaming data from other systems, sending data to other systems.
- It can be easily customized to accommodate new instruments and even custom instrumentation.
- Individual instruments can be disabled and enabled as needed, accommodating temporary instrument failures and maintenance without reconfiguring the program.
- For mobile studies, an optional XYZ plot can color code measurement variables on GPS X,Y coordinates to map the measurements.
- MICAS-X can run headless on NI's robust, real-time products, including the 7 oz myRIO, providing an excellent platform for drone-based measurements.
Here are two examples of MICAS-X deployed for Air Quality Studies.
Carnegie Mellon University - Mobile Air Quality
CMU needed a software solution for the mobile lab on very short notice. OCC was able to configure MICAS within a week, with additional features added soon thereafter. Over the following years, MICAS-X was improved and instruments were added and removed from the configuration to address the needs of additional studies.
R Subramanian, CMU, said:
"We needed a single interface that would record and display (in real-time) data from 4 instruments, a GPS unit, and a weather station. A single interface is useful for mobile applications, as it avoids switching between multiple screens. In addition, synchronizing instrument measurements with GPS information in real-time helps us identify plumes and pollution hot-spots, with the ability to revisit these points shortly after the initial intercept. MICAS-X provided a simple, elegant solution that collected data from our instrument suite at 1-Hz (which were recorded to an easy-to-read text file), displayed time-series of up to six variables, and plotted these variables on a map using the GPS information, with the mobile lab's path colored by a chosen trace species. We could add markers for the initial location on the GPS map, which helped identify the mobile lab's relative position and relate that to the wind vectors. In addition, the ability to log comments and take screenshots of plume passes/hot-spots was very useful in later post-processing, allowing us to easily identify these incidents.
"Dave Thomson was very responsive all through the initial deployment and provided updates/fixes as needed with a rapid turnaround time. MICAS-X, with a simple laptop and serial cables/serial-to-USB hub, provided an easy-to-use data acquisition and monitoring set-up, and I highly recommend MICAS-X for mobile or lab applications."
And Aja Ellis, CMU:
"MICAS-X has been very useful for collecting and co-locating large time series datasets from multiple instruments. It makes data processing substantially easier when trying to compare different pollutants or meteorological conditions, as they are logged in one file with one time stamp. "
Carnegie Mellon Mobile Air Quality Laboratory
MICAS-X running in CMU Mobile Lab
University of Colorado - Sloan Air Quality Study
The Chemistry Department at the University of Colorado was awarded a grant by the Sloan Foundation to investigate indoor air quality in a number of settings. This project involved integrating four gas analyzers, an optical spectrometer, and a Vaisala humidity probe, as well as coordinating numerous valves to cycle through various measurement sequences involving room air vs filtered HVAC sampling. All the functionality for this system was already available in MICAS-X, allowing the entire system to be customized quickly and efficiently. The initial configuration allowed the experimenters to begin working with the system to discover additional needs, which were quickly accommodated through the MICAS Configuration Editor.
Doug Day, University of Colorado Researcher:
"We used MICAS-X for a study of indoor air chemistry in an art museum in order to automatically control several valves for different sampling mode sequences and log multiple instruments continuously 24/7 for more than a month. Operation was robust with no issues encountered. Dave worked with us on configuring a custom console which met all our needs and was easy for several new MICAS-X users to operate and make changes during the study as our needs changed or became clearer. It was especially nice to have MICAS-X solidly handling all the integrated control of sampling and logging basic auxiliary instrumentation without issue, so that we could focus our attention on our other custom, developmental instrumentation - thus reducing a lot of the stress that often accompanies intensive field experiments! We expect to reuse the system for several future studies with modifications as needed."
Some of the equipment controlled by MICAS-X in the University of Colorado Art Museum
during the Sloan Air Quality Project
CU researchers checking on the instrumentation used in the Sloan Air Quality Project.
For more information on MICAS-X for Air Quality Studies or other applications, please email us at MICASAQ (at) originalcode.com.
Reverse Osmosis Pilot Plant
In the screen-shot below, a
UF-RO (Ultrafiltration Reverse-Osmosis) pilot plant was
integrated with MICAS-X. The image below is shown at
half-size, as the system had a large, high-resolution monitor
available. The main MICAS-X window is seen on the left,
with four tabs configured. The UF-RO system had two
parallel lines, the Control and the Test. The two panels
to the right are two instantiations of the same custom MICAS-X
Display, with different configurations allowing them to control
the different lines. These two Displays were configured to
be opened as their own windows, allowing the operators to
arrange them as needed so as to view more than one MICAS-X
Display/tab at once.
View of the inside of the West environmental chamber at CU. Gas and aerosol chemistry experiments take place inside the teflon bag. Banks of UV and visible fluorescent lights can be programmed to mimic diurnal daylight cycles.Industrial-grade HVAC heats or cools the entire chamber to maintain the desired temperature inside the bag.
MICAS-X Chamber Control Station in the background, next to a rack of gas analyzers and instrumentation.
|The Chambers Status screen
is duplicated on a large-screen monitor on the opposite
side of the lab.
MICAS-X Environmental Chambers Application Statistics
The MICAS-X system for the Environmental Chambers is highly dynamic and continuously being updated to accommodate new requirements, new sensors, and new experimental conditions. As of this writing, the system has the following features.
For the Environmental Chambers, MICAS-X communicates
with the HVAC system via Modbus to a PLC. Lighting
control is via a vendor-proprietary TCP-IP protocol. A
cRIO controls clean air generation, flow, and
humidification. Power is monitored via Ethernet and
serial interfaces to several UPS's. Over half a dozen
instruments communicate via serial ports, and AC power
is controlled by web services on power strips.
| The Humidigraph is a
scientific instrument developed by the Department of
Energy and which studies the properties of atmospheric
particles. Specifically, it measures how particles
absorb water vapor from the atmosphere in wet conditions
and how the water vapor leaves the particles under dry
conditions. The Brechtel
company was awarded a contract to rebuild these
instruments to a higher level of performance, and they
turned to Original Code Consulting for the control
software. OCC provided a MICAS-X solution for the
Humidigraph, in which MICAS-X controlled numerous
valves, flow controllers, and temperature controllers
while measuring humidity, temperature, flow, pressure,
and other parameters. Custom sequences were created to
run the instrument through a variety of experiments,
while various triggers and alarms were created to keep
the system operating within safe parameters. The program
also integrates custom documentation, in addition to the
MICAS-X manuals, so that the operators can easily
understand the functionality specific to the
MICAS-X is being used by the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Colorado State University to control several experiments. In one, the Shear Apparatus, MICAS-X controls an industrial grade motion control system which can apply up to 5,000 pounds of lateral force on a sample. The sample is also under up to 10,000 pounds of pressure vertically, controlled by MICAS-X through an air cylinder. The program maintains these forces over days to months, while monitoring the deformation of the material.
report any bad links, other problems, or comments