High-Powered Engine Testing on a Navy Patrol Boat

CHESTERLAND OH - CAS DataLoggers recently provided the data logging solution for a heavy equipment and engine dealer. The company was running a strenuous test program to help a leading manufacturer validate a new engine design by measuring the performance of its engines installed in a navy patrol boat. The customer's client specified the test procedures to be carried out, and company engineers conducted these tests by operating the boat, capturing all the required data, and then organizing it for later analysis. The program collected various data to test the effects of a wide range of factors including engine speed, boat speed, temperature, differential fuel pressure, and many others. Over 230 hours were logged for each engine, which specified the measurement of over 40 different parameters taken once a second. The customer used their own equipment to find meaningful trends in the data, identifying problematic issues that developed with the engines over time, then notified the manufacturer's engineers who provided more specialized devices to analyze the vast amount of data to further identify the problems. However, the customer became concerned during their test runs that their existing equipment was occasionally missing trends due to the sheer amount of data they were collecting. These trends could be difficult to catch--for example, if the engine's cooling temperature went up, that alone could affect many other factors. A related problem was that many of these issues, especially engine noises, were hard to describe, involving questions such as 'Does it sound like a click or a clack?' so that the company had to search across wide areas of data to analyze these trends in detail. Given these problems, the customer began looking for an advanced datalogging solution to record all the different values and also archive and analyze the data.

CAS DataLoggers recommended installation of a dataTaker DT80 Intelligent Data Logger along with a dataTaker CANgate CANbus to Serial Converter in the console of the test boat, and the equipment's slim yet robust design made for an easy fit. The two onboard engines were both monitored by the single DT80. Via the J1939 CAN interface for the engine control units (ECU), the CANgate took readings of the many different parameters being collected by the ECU and passed them onto the dataTaker logger, which was capable of performing stand-alone data acquisition without an attached computer. This simplified the data collection setup in the difficult environment of a small boat moving at considerable speed across the water. Additionally, a toggle switch was attached to the datalogger that could be thrown whenever a problem occurred in testing, creating a marker in the stored data allowing operators to later view all the data recorded at specific times for a more thorough analysis. The data collected with this system also gave the manufacturer's own teams more insight into identifiable trends to work with.

Special programming was required for the CANgate because the test engines used a few nonstandard values for some of the monitored parameters. CAS postsales support helped the customer's engineers design and write a program for the DT80 that measured several temperatures using thermocouples, several pressure transducers for the coolant pumps, and 10-20 engine parameters using the CANgate. CAS DataLoggers engineers also set up alarms to flag the data when certain vital parameters went out of specification.

The dataTaker DT80 intelligent data logger proved to be an effective remote monitoring and control solution, providing a broad array of features including 18-bit resolution for accurate measurements, USB memory stick support for easy data transfers, a full suite of communications capabilities, and a built-in display. Featuring a ±30 V input measurement range, the datalogger incorporated a Dual Channel concept allowing operators to use its 5 input channels for up to 10 isolated or 15 common referenced analog inputs in many combinations. The logger also offered 8 digital channels, 4 high speed counter inputs and a serial sensor channel. The DT80 operated as a low-power, robust, stand-alone solution in the boat's console, with the ability to store up to 10 million data points in user-defined memory, ensuring that the customer's crews could keep testing for extended periods. Additionally, the data logger's Windows-based dEX software made it configurable and easy-to-use.

The CANgate, CANbus to ASCII gateway captured the real-time data monitored and recorded on J1939 bus from the ECU (engine temperatures, RPM, throttle settings, load, etc.) and relayed that information onto the dataTaker logger. The CANgate also provided support for GPS data capture from standard serial NEMA-compatible devices, allowing location information to be simultaneously logged with the other parameters, enabling correlation of data with the boat's position, ground speed, heading, etc. The CANgate also included two CAN interface ports, allowing for connection of two independent CAN networks. The data logger's versatile configuration options allowed operators to select their necessary parameters, apply statistical functions, and control the format in which the data was returned.

The customer's engine test program benefited immediately from installing the DT80 intelligent data logger and the CANgate. Using this new equipment, operators were now able to capture important data trends that they were never able to see with other tools. Additionally, the dataTaker system that they installed on the test boat has since become the backbone of the test program for the manufacturer's own engineer teams. Although more specialized equipment had been in use all along, the customer now had an advanced datalogger to find, document and present issues that earlier they would have missed. The customer's team all agreed that without this installed equipment, many of the key issues found to date would have gone unaddressed.

Moreover, the CANgate was a key tool for successfully communicating problems with the manufacturer's team. The ability to simultaneously view the data that the engine controller broadcasted along with independently-collected analog measurements of pressure or temperature sensors allowed immediate identification of potential issues that could be missed by looking only at the CAN data. Users could also download and export the test data into Excel for easy access and data manipulation. The dataTaker DT80 and CANgate let the customer present many more trends for analysis, and their recording and archiving capabilities eliminated the need to have to try verbalizing the problems. Both these factors greatly increased the quality of the data and the effectiveness of the test program with its goal in validating the new engine design.

Now the customer could use the datalogger to recreate the test second-by-second on demand to identify earlier problems and observe how a trend had evolved over time, such as finding instances of consistently low pressure, so that they could be better understood and identified in future. Finally, the customer could simply run the test boat and then attend to other tasks. Then, if they heard a strange noise while the engines were running, they just threw the toggle switch and could go back later and find the issue. They didn't have to write down any codes, just find where the engine noise started using an Excel spreadsheet.

To learn more about the dataTaker DT80 Intelligent Data Logger, other data loggers from dataTaker, or to find the ideal solution for your application-specific needs, contact a CAS Data Logger Applications Specialist at (800) 956-4437 or visit the website at www.DataLoggerInc.com.

Contact Information:

CAS DataLoggers, Inc.

12628 Chillicothe Road Chesterland, Ohio 44026

(440) 729-2570

(800) 956-4437



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