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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.


Here's what customers are saying about MICAS-X:

    "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 Mellon University


    “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 higher.”
     - Jon, University of Wyoming

"Dave

    Thank you.
    I think the platinum cert program that you, Ted and Greg created has the potential to 'revolutionize' the ozone measurement paradigm.
    Only time will tell but I have the utmost hope and confidence that your efforts have given a 'leg up' to the scientific community and En-Sci providing an irrefutable data analysis tool for data integrity."
    - J. Harnetiaux, Westminster, CO

    "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
    Graduate Researcher

“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."
   - Satish
    Laramie, WY

   "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 (with modifiable line styles and markers), 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."
    - R Subramanian
    Research Scientist

Air Quality Studies

Several features of MICAS-X make it an ideal platform for data acquisition and control for Air Quality Studies. Among these are:
- 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 Laboratory
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. "

CMU Mobile Air
                  Quality Lab
Carnegie Mellon Mobile Air Quality Laboratory
CMU Mobile Air
                  Quality Lab
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."

Sloan Air
                  Quality Project at CU
Some of the equipment controlled by MICAS-X in the University of Colorado Art Museum
during the Sloan Air Quality Project
Sloan Air
                  Quality Project at CU
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. 


Ultra-Filtration 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.

MICAS-X running UF-RO Pilot Plant

    Although National Instruments' CompactRIO line of hardware is not supported in MICAS-X with off-the-shelf Drivers, many MICAS-X projects have integrated CompactRIO (as well as many other NI products) into the system.  Due to the standardization of the MICAS-X interfaces for the MICAS-X components of Drivers, Displays, and Instruments, such custom code can be created quickly and efficiently, and integrated easily to the existing MICAS-X functionality.


Dual Environmental Chambers

    One of the largest installations of MICAS-X is at the University of Colorado Chemistry Department, where MICAS-X is used to control the operation of two environmental test chambers. Each chamber operates independently of the other, and both chambers control temperature, humidity, air flow, and UV and visible light levels. In addition to operating variable test sequences in each chamber, MICAS-X logs data from all the control systems as well as from a large variety of sensors and instruments, including pressure, temperature, and RH sensors and a variety of gas analyzers. MICAS-X also controls power to various devices, and monitors the condition of the power used by the systems.
Inside 1W
                  Chamber
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
MICAS-X Chamber Control Station in the background, next to a rack of gas analyzers and instrumentation.
Chamber Status ScreenThe 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.

Drivers
27
Independent Acquisition Loops 13
Input Data Channels
320
Output Data Channels 145
Custom Sequences 30
Triggers 23
Data Files 7

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.

More information on the CU Environmental Chambers can be found on their website.

 CSU Shear Apparatus

CSU Shear Apparatus
    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.




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