Custom Software Development
ASG has supported projects requiring knowledge of gravity measuring techniques used in mineral and oil exploration. ASG has been involved in all software aspects of these projects: real-time instrument monitoring, calibration and stabilization software, data communications, data analysis, operator interfaces, data collection and archiving, failsafe operation, low-level interrupt services, and critical timing algorithms. These very extensive projects have involved several staff members with diverse backgrounds, programming requirements that included knowledge of Assembler, Pascal, C, C++ and Visual Basic, and low-level understanding of three different operating systems, numerous processing platforms and peripheral equipment, plus real world experience with instrumentation and industrial environments.
Applied Sciences Group participated in the development of a series of gravity gradiometric measurement systems. These gradiometers are sensitive instruments used to detect changes in the gravity field over an area of land or water, and as such are useful for oil, water and mineral exploration. Each system comprises three elements:
- A gyro-stabilized platform containing an array of accelerometers, which senses changes to the gravitational environment
- A real-time control program that maintains platform alignment and counters the effects of the Earth’s motion through space and the transport vehicle’s motion across the Earth
- A program to process the sensor inputs in real-time and to display these results on a console.
Applied Sciences Group has been involved in all control and MMI aspects of the gradiometer program development. ASG assisted in the design of the platform calibration, platform stabilization and gravity instrument control algorithms; and is principally responsible for the design and implementation of the real time task manager and control program that drives the entire system.
Sensor data is shuttled from the control processor to an analysis processor via Ethernet for subsequent processing (also in real time). Here, ASG developed the process algorithms and the man-machine interface, used for both system control and to visually observe interesting gravitational events.
The gradiometer system was developed using a common design and programming methodology, which was adapted to support each customer’s specific needs. The maximization of common software components (and minimization of components unique to a customer) was given a high priority in order to keep costs down. Additionally, several different programming languages – C, Pascal, Assembler and PVWave – were selected for different subsystems, based on the overriding real-time performance issues.
POWER GENERATION SIMULATION SOFTWARE
The control systems for typical power generation facilities are complex and revisions to the control code are generally not available for online testing prior to use. ASG has been providing support for the development of simulation software that augments the testing process, to increase confidence that the software will not fail. Software is also being developed to support remote monitoring and display of key power generation parameters. The software is written mainly in C++, VB and VBA, with hooks into Intellution IFix SCADA software and Honeywell DCS.
Aircraft flying in close formation require constant communications between them to eliminate the possibility of midair collisions. Military aircraft in close formation do not always have the luxury of visual ranging, as some of their operations require nighttime flights or flights in bad weather. ASG was part of the team that is developing the next generation of military “station keeping” software. The software is written in Ada, C++ and Visual Basic and relies on shipboard radar for detection of aircraft and communication between aircraft. Most of the software that ASG developed was dedicated to maintaining the reliable communications channel, and simulation.