CAN in design and test: From the lab to field test, and back again

19/06/2019 by Kvaser

Whether an intended ‘product’ is a prototype for R&D purposes, or will be manufactured in any volume, design and test are iterative. A CAN interface or CAN logger can play an important part within an iterative test routine. In the early design phase, a CAN interface or data logger might have a role within a HIL test solution, simulating part of the system under test. For example, a design team developing a new instrument panel for a truck might need to simulate the inputs, in the absence of the rest of the system being readily available. In a later phase, they might be tracking down intermittent hardware and software bugs under different test conditions.

This cyclic process of prototyping, testing, analyzing and refining a product or process places specific demands on any test equipment, particularly hardware that follows a product from the lab to field test. In University research, this is often the case, so when choosing a CAN interface or data logger, it’s important to ensure that it is up to the task by prioritizing quality and reliability.

Optimal performance in the lab & field

Kvaser’s Memorator data loggers are proving indispensable in some extreme test conditions. For example, Ohio State University’s electric motorcycle development team, Buckeye Current, designed their datalogging system around a Kvaser Memorator Professional HS/HS. The device allows the team to record and monitor CAN bus traffic during electronics development, test and during the race. At the 2016 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, they achieved a second place with the Memorator onboard!

Similarly, Caltech has used a Kvaser Memorator Light HS and Kvaser BlackBird Wifi to CAN interface during the development of its electric vehicle contender for the Formula SAE Electric events, installing it on the vehicle during field testing. Santiago Navonne, the project’s Energetics Division Lead commented: “It is imperative that this system be very reliable, as it needs to function when anything (or everything) else fails; Kvaser’s devices accomplish this beautifully.”

Meanwhile, over the pond at Cranfield University in the UK, Ph. D student Chris Whiteford used a Memorator Professional HS/LS to collect vehicle and sensor data during wind tunnel and real world testing during the design of an automatically adjustable airfoil system for cars. The system’s complexity and the importance of the response times meant that the CAN data and error handling was extremely critical, which was why he chose the Memorator.

Experts in pipe handling, LaValley Industries, use the Kvaser Blackbird high performance wireless link for CAN communication, along with CSM MiniModules and DiagRA X Data Acquisition software to test its excavator attachments under real load conditions, across a range of environmental conditions and with different excavator types. Kvaser’s BlackBird is proving essential in this situation, as a wired solution would be constantly wrapping around the swiveling bearing on the excavator head. Recounted Joe Wildenberg from CSM Products, Inc.: “CSM’s MiniModules and the Kvaser BlackBird are portable enough to be carried to a variety of test sites, and small and rugged enough to be installed on any excavator for day-to-day testing.”

The reliability and flexibility of the CAN bus make it a perfect tool for research and real-world. Similarly, Kvaser’s CAN hardware has a proven history following design projects from the lab to the field. Whilst our standard CAN interfaces and data loggers are suitable for most applications, our Rugged units meet challenging environmental constraints.

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