Compact PCIe design offers high-speed streaming, multi-channel expansion for demanding SIGINT, COMINT applications

Elsys - PCIeElsys Instruments has expanded its family of LAN-controlled transient recorders to include high speed PCI Express (PCIe) data transfer on its data acquisition modules.

The new TPCE data acquisition modules are high-precision and high-resolution digitizers with sophisticated features such as advanced trigger modes, continuous data acquisition mode, single ended and differential inputs, digital input lines and ICP coupling for piezo sensors. They enable the development of scalable systems that can be expanded to meet growing data acquisition needs.

With the modules’ fast PCIe 4 lane architecture, the recorders provide real-time data streaming in a continuous acquisition mode that appeals to applications requiring exceptionally rapid data acquisition such as signal intelligence (SIGINT), communication intelligence (COMINT), spectral monitoring, RF recording and IF/baseband streaming.

There are a host of other applications that benefit from the new high-speed modules. These include ballistics and explosive tests, acoustic emissions, ultrasonic testing, structural soundness testing, power conversion, renewable power research and variable frequency drives as well as electrical traction, engine control, fluorescence and phosphorescence decay studies and particle accelerator control.

The new PCIe modules can be housed in Elsys’ TraNET FE transient recorders that hold four to 32 single-ended channels, or two to 16 differential channels, in the TraNET EPC industrial computer frame with 16 slots for a total of 64 channels or in the TraNET PPC ruggedized portable computer system with six slots for a total of 24 channels.

Up to eight systems, of TraNET FE and/or EPC, totaling up to 512 channels, can be synchronized for clock and trigger by applying Elsys’ unique Sync-Link Box. Modules with different sampling rates--from 10 MS/s to 240 MS/s--and different vertical resolutions--14 bits or 16 bits--may be combined to match various application needs. Standard memory is 32 MSample per channel, expandable to 128 MSample per channel.

All Elsys recorders feature input channels with the unique ability to be individually triggered. For example, four full trigger circuits are available on a four-channel recorder to obtain logic triggering such as “AND” and “OR.” However, synchronization can be established as well with many associated channels. Advanced trigger modes include slew rate, pulse width, pulse pause, period, missing event, window-in and window-out as well as the usual edge pos/neg triggering with trigger hysteresis values set by the user.

The recorders also feature several data acquisition modes including scope mode, similar to an oscilloscope, that enables the quick configuration of the acquisition parameters before working in a different mode or simply the ability to visualize and analyze single-shot events.

In continuous mode, data is acquired and written onto the internal hard disks under RAID control at a maximum total data transfer rate of up to 240 MS/s with no loss of data or dead times between events. The capture length is limited only by the size of the hard disks.

Block mode divides the available onboard data acquisition memory into absolute or relative time-stamped blocks, especially useful for capturing signal bursts where only relevant data needs to be recorded. Dead time between blocks is in the range of a few sample intervals.

As the most sophisticated data acquisition mode available, event controlled recording (ECR) mode is ideal for trouble-shooting applications. ECR requires a trigger event, but eliminates the dead time between triggers using an overlapping technique of adjacent acquisitions.

Time stamped events are recorded first in the onboard memory, which uses a ring-buffer architecture, and then written off to the internal hard drive. As long as the streaming rate keeps up with the data trigger rate, this mode can run for a very long time or until the hard drive is full.

Pricing for a LAN transient recorder system equipped with TPCE modules is dependent upon recorder selected. Prices for individual TPCE modules start at USD $5,900. Delivery is 4 to 6 weeks ARO.

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February 22, 2012