catman FAQs: Data Handling and Analysis

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about data handling and data analysis in HBM's catman data acquisition software such as:

Prepare and Load a DAQ Project

Click on the button 'Offline: Prepare a new DAQ project without connected devices' in the group 'Measure' in the start window of catman Easy/AP.

  • No measurement
  • No zeroing
  • No channel initialization and live update of measurement values
  • No sensor scan

To insert a channel or a block of channels mark the device or a created channel belonging to this device. Then choose 'New channel'. Channels are usually created as channel blocks. Only MGCplus, PMX, and Spider8 single-channel amplifiers can be created individually. Channels are inserted into a signal plan based on their slot position.

Sensors are rejected during the assignment to a channel even if they should be supported according to technical data of hardware. Under some circumstances, the checking routine may be too strict. In this case you can disable sensor checking 'Check validity of EasyPlan sensor assignment' (main menu OPTIONS/SENSORS). With sensor checking deactivated, an invalid sensor will not be detected unless the DAQ project works with the real hardware!

If the specified address is not found while loading a project, a dialog will be displayed which allows you to change the address. The dialog shows IP addresses and hardware types (amplifiers and connector plates) as stored in the project. It allows also a TCP/IP scan showing available devices. You can then edit the address and repeat loading of the project. You can also change the connection type or remove a device altogether from the project.

This mechanism applies to all devices in the project. The dialog appears until all devices in the project have been found or the loading is canceled. The user has even more possibilities to handle the situation if the device(s) is/are not found on loading a DAQ project (see OPTIONS/PROGRAM START):

  • Interactive dialog to replace or temporarily remove devices or to change interface settings.
  • Temporarily remove unconnectable devices from the project. (In this case, no dialog will be shown)
  • Deactivate unconnectable devices. (In this case, no dialog will be shown)

It displays both. The column 'Type' shows amplifier and connector plates of the device, 'Type expected' displays contents of the project. If they are dissimilar both entries will be marked red. Both columns can shown or hidden via options for the channel list.

Only slots stored in the project are visible. Amplifiers taht are not stored in the project are inactive.

You can create a new project and import settings from your existing project ('File' menu -> Import).

From catman Easy/AP version 2.1 and higher, the connection type can be changed if the device is not found while loading a project.

Yes. You can specify the behavior of script execution while loading a DAQ project which contains an EasyScript project, i.e. run script automatically on project load, or on DAQ job start. To enable this feature, go to 'File/Options' and select the corresponding option on the register tab 'EasyScript'.

Analysis Mode

Analysis mode means the display and analysis (computation) of data already acquired and stored in files. This kind of data is often denoted as post-process data.

Before you can work with data you must include one or more existing tests (.TST files) in your Analysis project. For that purpose, you can use the Test Explorer which allows you to browse for existing test files. To include a test in your project, simply drag it from the file list to the left tree view of the Test Explorer or select 'Load test' from the file list context menu. To remove a test from your project, select 'Remove test' from the context menu of the project tree view.

Once a test is included in the project you can examine its contents (Test parameters, channels) by expanding the corresponding tree view nodes. To display a channel simply drag it to an empty region of the page (this creates a graph object) or directly onto an already existing graph.

Once a test is added to the Analysis project, its contents (test parameters, channels) are represented in a tree view. You can view the content by opening the appropriate nodes. You can also see the test information directly, without having to add it to the Analysis project. Select the test file (.TST) in the 'File Selection' on the bottom right of the Test Explorer window, its contents will be displayed in the 'Test parameters' and 'Details' tables.

Moreover, additional test information (such as test file comment and test file path) can be shown in the 'File selection' tab, and all channels of the test are shown more clearly in the 'Channels' tab. Also, the file comments of all test files in the current directory can be displayed in 'File selection'. Note that this requires additional time and is not recommended if many files are present in your data directories.

You can add a single channel of a test to the Analysis project, without having to load the entire test. Double-click on one of the channels listed in the 'Channels' tab and drag it into the project list. It is possible to select multiple channels to add them to the project in one go. Nevertheless, you can’t remove a complete test. 

Simply drag the channel onto a graph on your panel/printer page. If you still have not created a graph, drop the channel onto an empty area of the panel/printer page. catman Easy/AP will then automatically create a graph for you and plot the channel. Moreover, you can assign a channel also to the selected graphic by double-clicking on the channel.

The mathematical functions are provided by the EasyMath module. This is an optional module that must be activated first ('File/Options', register tab 'Program functions'). After activation the register tab 'Computations' appears in the ribbon toolbar. Click on this tab to open den dialog for mathematical computations.

Use the main menu function 'File/Analyze measurement data' or the button with the same caption on the right screen side of the register tab strip. In the following dialog you may choose to analyze your data with an empty Analysis project or an existing project.

Note: Directly changing from DAQ mode to Analysis mode will automatically load the data of your last DAQ job into the Test Explorer.

Assign one or more analysis projects to your DAQ project. Use the menu function 'File/Analyze measurement data' or the button with the same caption on the right screen side of the register tab strip. In the following dialog, you may assign one or more Analysis projects to your current DAQ project.

A DAQ test file (.TST) only contains references to the file containing the measurement data (.BIN). If you deploy the test file, you must thus deploy the .BIN file also. All file references contain a full path. If catman Easy/AP does not find the data file (.BIN) at the location specified by the path it looks for the file in the folder where the test file (.TST) resides.

An Analysis project only contains references to the test files (.TST). If you deploy the project you need to deploy the test files as well. The test files themselves contain references to the data files containing your measurement data (.BIN). You must thus deploy these files as well.

All file references contain a full path. If catmanEasy/AP does not find the files at the location specified by the path it looks for the files in the folder where the project file (.OFP) resides.

  • Printer Page: Use a printer page if you want to create and print a report. All objects on the page will appear in the printout and you may define page margins as well as headers and footers. A printer page on the screen will be displayed according to the current printer format and aspect ratio (e.g. A4). A printer page can be displayed at different zoom levels for better manageability of objects.
  • Panel: A panel exclusively serves the purpose of displaying and analyzing data. It cannot be printed as a whole (only individual graphs can be printed) and does not consider the format and aspect ratio of the printer.

To be able to change the page format, a printer has to be installed on your computer.

The maximum number of panels/printer pages you can create in a project is 64.

In a table (spreadsheet) you may display sample data of a channel, statistical data like minimum or maximum and the so-called 'traceability data' (like sample rate, amplifier type, sensor, etc.). First, create a table object, mark the desired channel in the analysis project, then select the menu 'Data sources for table drag and drop' from the drop-down menu 'Window' on the right side of the Ribbon. In the following dialog select the kind of data you want to display and drag it to a table cell. Data displayed comes from the channel which is currently selected in your Analysis project. The dialog will stay open so you can select a different channel and repeat the Drag&Drop action. In this manner, you can very quickly fill the table with data from different channels.

Note: If you display all samples of the channel the column to which the cell currently selected belongs will be filled. The column header will automatically be filled with the name and unit of the channel.

In your Analysis project, select the Job parameter you want to insert. From the context menu select 'Copy text'. You may now insert this text into various objects:

  • Text object: Open the configuration dialog of the object and select 'Paste' from the context menu of the dialog's text box.
  • Table cell: Double-click the cell to put it into edit mode. Select 'Paste' from the context menu of the cell.
  • Graph title: Open the configuration dialog of the object and select 'Paste' from the context menu of the 'Title' text box.

In contrast to other computations, strain gauge rosette computations can have several result channels. For this reason, one main node is created on the left side of the test explorer named after the strain gauge computation and one sub-node for each result channel. The main node is used only for managing purposes and cannot be used as a drag object for visualization. That is only possible with sub-nodes (results). However, a strain gauge computation can only be deleted or modified completely by its main node.

The Test Explorer shows only files with known extensions. The default extension is '.TST' for catman Easy/AP test files. Additional extensions must be specified in 'Options', register tab 'Data storage', section 'File extension for Test Explorer'. Specify '.MEA' for MGCplus files and '.STO' for compressed files. Files measured with slow sample rates have the extensions '.ME1' and '.ST1' respectively.

First, select the row/column that should be used as a pattern. Select 'Clone data sources/Copy row/column' from the table context menu. Now select the channel within the Test Explorer whose channel information you want to visualize. Back in the table, select the row/column to insert the new channel information. Finally, select 'Clone data sources/Paste row/column' from the table context menu.

The spectrum computation in catman Easy/AP is not performed on the entire dataset, but on recurring smaller sections whose length is determined by the sampling rate and frequency resolution. The size of a section is the next smaller power of two of 2*1/(dt*frequency resolution). All section spectra are eventually averaged.

This approach has several advantages compared to computing the spectrum over the entire dataset: Since spectrum computation is based on FFT, the computation is always used on the next smaller power of two of the number of values, which can lead to disregarding almost half of the dataset in the worst-case scenario. Also, large datasets would result in far too large computation channels with an unnecessarily high frequency resolution.

Note: Observe that this method used by catman Easy/AP is not suited to compute spectra from signals with a time-dependent frequency characteristic!

With automatic frequency resolution, catman Easy/AP determines the resolution that the entire dataset will use for a single spectrum. Averaging of spectra will thus not occur. If the length of the dataset is not a power of 2, the so-called 'Zero Padding' takes effect. This depends on the length L of the dataset:

  • L is closer to the next lower power of 2: The option 'Always perform zero padding' decides if the dataset will be truncated or filled up with zeros up to the next higher power of 2.
  • L is closer to the next higher power of 2: The dataset will be filled up with zeros regardless of the option 'Always perform zero padding'.

The export function in the ribbon bar 'Export' in Analysis mode allows the saving of computations and channels from loaded tests into new files. You can add a whole test to the export list. The procedure is the same like as adding single channels. If some channels of the test are already present in the list those channels will not be added a second time.

The Analysis mode allows the saving of computations and channels from different tests into new files. This can lead to the saving of channels with the same name into a single file which can cause errors in functions identifying channels by their name (i.e. EasyMath). For this reason, you can give any channel in an export an alias name under which it is stored to the file so names are remaining consistent.

There are three different cells types: static text (non-editable), editable text, and editable numeric (digits only).

Values and channel info from tests assigned via Drag&Drop set cells to type static text. Additionally, the number of decimal places can be set for cells of type numeric and static text. Both types of formatting can be set for single cells, ranges of cells or whole rows and columns depending on the selection state, except channel values displayed in an entire column. In that case, changing the number of decimal places always affects the entire column. The formatting configuration is found in section Cells in the configuration dialog.

Like a computational channel, you may also create a dataset that contains tabular data provided by yourself. For that purpose, open the register tab 'Data series' of the computation module and enter the data in the table. Clicking 'Create computation' will add the new dataset to your project. Such a dataset can be plotted, used for other computations, or exported just like any other channel or computation.

Instead of typing in the data, you may fill the table with measurement data of a channel. Simply mark the channel and click to 'Copy from DAQ channel'. In contrast to the original channel data, which can never be modified, these tabular data may now be edited, for instance, to eliminate outliers.

As a third option you can generate the tabular data using a function f(x), e.g.  0.8+0.5*x-0.0032*x^2. In this case you may additionally create an x-dataset containing the x-abscissa values (0,dx,2*dx,3*dx....). This is useful if you want to plot your function vs. x.

Usually, an analysis project only contains references (to test and data files) and computations (as a 'rule', not the actual data) but not the data themselves. With custom datasets there are, however, no 'computational rules' so catman Easy/AP provides the option to include these data directly in the project file. You may control this behavior individually for every dataset via the option 'Save data with project' under the register tab 'Data series'. Keep, however, in mind that this may result in very large project files, especially if your datasets consist of copies of original DAQ channels. Usually, you will thus include only smaller datasets that are required for automated analysis (like data for a tolerance band or similar).

Usually, you will need an additional dataset providing the x (abscissa) values for your plot (Exception: if your dataset is a copy of a DAQ channel. Then the dt of the DAQ channel will be used). To plot a dataset against another dataset providing the x-values proceed as follows:

  1. Add the x dataset to the list of x datasources (context menu 'Add to x-datasources').
  2. Drag the dataset you want to plot into the graph.
  3. In the configuration dialog for curves (click to legend), select the x-data source for this curve.

Several channels can be marked in the test list by using the Ctrl key together with selecting the channels. You can afterward perform different operations with the selected channels: Assign to a graph, assign to export list, delete in case of computation channels, create new computation channels.

Several computation channels can be created simultaneously if the computation type has only one argument channel. This includes all computations except algebraic and strain gauge computations and data series. Settings and name prefixes are used on all selected channels. Source channels of computations can also be assigned to the input boxes of the computations by clicking onto the assignment buttons next to the input boxes.

Computation channel names are assigned the test index of the argument channel in the form 'ChanName[Index]'. The index is formatted to two decimals.

Deleting tests shifts indices of remaining tests together. If a test is assigned a new index the change will be propagated to computation channel names. That is also the case for curve names and export lists. The index is assigned automatically so you should not use suffixes in the same form in your channel names, otherwise they could be overwritten.

That depends on the position of the deleted test. If the deleted test is not the last one in the list all computations except algebraic ones and display channels pointing to this test will be deleted. If the last test is deleted only curve data and computation results will be deleted. Users will even be prompted whether computations and display sources pointing to the deleted test should be deleted as well. 

Set the option in the test loading part of Test Explorer. Load the first test and create the desired computations and graphs. If you are loading additional tests new computations will be created and curves added to graphs if the argument channel names are found in the new test.

Only manually created computations are considered in creating new computations. If they are deleted there will be no new computations created by test load. You first need to provide the desired computations manually.

To compute channels with each other (e.g. C_Force * C_Way) or use them as x- and y-data sources of a graph they need to be sampled with the same rate. Since this is not always the case, catman Easy/AP provides the math function 'Interpolation'. With this function, you may create a new dataset originating from a 'slow' channel where additional data points are inserted using interpolation.

The synchronization can be carried out directly using the synchronized display objects (video, map, indicators, table) on the normal visualization panel.

Besides the predefined file types (such as catman .TST and .BIN file), it is possible to specify a custom file type (e.g. use pattern '*.avi' to search files with the extension '.avi') to be searched for and to define a search pattern to search for files whose name match the pattern. You can select the option 'Search sub folders' if sub folders of the selected folder should also be searched for.

Examples of search pattern:

  • 'ABC*': all files starting with "ABC"
  • '*ABC*': all files with "ABC" in name
  • '*': all files

It is also possible to search for specific test parameter values. In that case, all tests are listed with test parameter values matching the search criteria. Example: 'Operator=Smith': all tests done by operator Smith.

Yes. You can add your frequently used working directories to the favorites list 'My favorites' via the context menu 'Add to favorites' of the select directory. The favorites list enables you to quickly and easily access directories you work with. The favorites list 'My favorites' is shown on the top line of the folder list.

Data View

The analysis module DataView lets you quickly examine your test data. It provides a tabular view to the data as well as a graphical preview. In addition to the numerical test data it also displays the traceability data for every channel in the Header Table. Moreover, the DataView module is also available in the DAQ project. It can be used to view the data stored in the temporary data storage after termination of a DAQ job.

By default there is one DataView window - you may, however, create up to 12 DataView windows overall.

You can do this in different ways:

  • Drag a channel from the Analysis project channel list to any location in the DataView window.
  • Double-click a channel in the Analysis project channel list to add it to DataView. Double-click again to remove the channel.
  • Select (highlight) a channel in the Analysis project channel list and use the function Add channel in the ribbon bar or the context menu (right mouse button).

Alternatively, you may define a shortcut key to add a channel to DataView (Main menu/Options/Shortcuts/register tab Visualization/Show or delete channel in DataView). Select a channel in the Analysis project channel list and press this shortcut. Pressing the shortcut again will remove the channel.

You may do this in different ways:

  • Drag the node with the measurement file (.BIN) or the test file (.TST) to the DataView.
  • Select (highlight) the node with the measurement file (.BIN) or the test file (.TST) in the Analysis project channel list and use the function Add channel in the ribbon bar or the context menu.

Please note that the maximum number of channels that can be displayed in the preview graph depends on the total available area of the preview graph. Use the option 'Overlay plots' if you want to display a lot of channels with a similar scale, create additional DataView windows, or increase the screen space of the preview graph. 

You can do this in different ways:

  • Select a column in the DataView table (click anywhere inside the column) and use Remove channel in the ribbon bar or the context menu.
  • Double-click the channel in the Analysis project channel list.

To remove all channels of a DataView please use the button Remove All from the ribbon bar or in the context menu.

Use the checkbox Auto preview from the ribbon bar. Otherwise, use the checkbox In preview in the header table, or Preview on/off in the context menu to add a channel manually to the preview graph.

To modify values the option 'Allow editing of saved data in DataViewer' must be enabled (Main menu/Options/Program functions). After that, all channels displayed in the DataView are unlocked for editing. By clicking on the button 'Edit' from the ribbon bar or 'Unlock/lock editing' in the context menu, you can activate the edit mode.

Select the menu Channel info/Table/Preview from the drop-down menu "Window" from the ribbon bar.

The preview graph has its own built-in configuration dialog which you access via the context menu 'Configure' of the graph. The configuration is, however, limited in comparison to a regular graph object on the visualization panel.

Zooming is always enabled - just hold the left mouse button down and span a zoom range. Zooming in the preview graph is restricted to a vertical (x-axis section) zoom - use a graph object on a visualization panel if you need rectangular zoom. Alternatively, use the menu 'Zoom out' and 'Reset zoom' menus of the preview graph to zoom back or undo zoom.

Print the preview graph or copy the graph in different formats to the clipboard via the 'Export/print' button in the ribbon bar or in the context menu.

Matrix, class counting, CAN raw data, and peak valley computations cannot be displayed in the DataView.

Go to the ribbon group 'Table' to jump to values in the table that meet certain conditions like 'Value greater than', or 'Difference to preceding value absolutely greater than'. Browsing through the dataset is possible with 'Find next'.

Graphs

Just click the 'Edit' button in the graph configuration dialog. The current settings will then be applied to all new graphs created. This setting will persist between catman sessions. Click on the button again to reset to standard configuration again.

You need the channel list to assign the channels to be displayed in a graph, or the channel for the x-axis of a graph. Use the mouse to drag the channels from the channel list into the graph. If the channel list is not visible, open it via the menu 'Window/Channel list'.

To assign a channel to the x-axis or a y-axis you must drag the channel onto the corresponding axis. The drag symbol changes to show which axis the channel will be assigned to in case of a drop: Plot with an arrow to the left or right axis for left or right y-axis respectively, only an x for the x-axis.

Note: If you assign a channel to the x-axis of a graph, all plots in that graph are plotted against the x-data of this channel.

Double-click the graph to open the configuration dialog. Open the group 'General'. There you will find a selection list for the Time window. The unit selection list determines how the x-axis labels are formatted - it does not influence on the time window. Alternatively, you can perform the same settings in the 'Axes' group, the x-axis is selected by default.

Double-click the graph to open the configuration dialog. Open the group 'Axes' and select the x-axis. Deactivate the option Auto (Scaling) and activate the option 'Manual'. You are now able to enter the min/max values for the axis manually. Make sure that the maximum is equal to or greater than the time window of the graph - otherwise, data will 'vanish' when reaching the axis maximum.

catman can either assign a global x-dataset to all y-curves or an individual one to each y-curve.

Global x-dataset: From the channel selection list, drag the channel to be used for the x-axis in the area below the graph's x-axis (the cursor will change to an 'x' symbol).

Individual x-dataset: There are two ways to assign individual x-datasets:

  • First, add the x-channel to the list of 'x data sources' (context menu of the channel list). Then go to the 'Curve' configuration dialog of a y-curve (click to legend) and select the desired x-dataset in the 'X-dataset' dropdown list.
  • To arrive at the same result more quickly just drag the x-channel on top of the legend name of the y-channel.

In the case of individual x-datasets make sure that all the x-datasets used in the graph represent the same physical quantity and cover the same value range (e.g. a displacement between 0....100 mm). Since the graph has only a single x-axis, otherwise distortions of this axis could occur!

From the channel selection list, drag the first entry (labeled 'Time from sample rate') to be used for the x-axis in the area below the graph's x-axis (the cursor will then change to an 'x' symbol). For individual x-datasets, go to the 'Curve' configuration dialog of a y-curve (click to legend) and select 'Time' in the 'X-dataset' dropdown list.

Just move the mouse over an axis in the graph (mouse cursor changes to a hand symbol) and click. The corresponding axis will be automatically selected in the configuration dialog. 

The 'Apply to' selection of the graph configuration dialog lets you choose the target for the changes made:

  • the graph currently selected (default)
  • all graphs on the current panel
  • all graphs on all panels

The setting is available only for certain types of graphs (cursor graph and polar diagram).

Click the legend of that curve (the name - not the symbol). This will open the configuration dialog for curves. You can also click a data point of the curve (the mouse pointer will change to a hand symbol when over a data point). Please note that this method will not be available when the graph has been switched to cursor mode.

Select one of the zoom modes in the context menu of the graph or the ribbon bar group 'Graph tools'. Now you can repeatedly select areas within the graphic that will be magnified then. To view the whole graphic again click to 'Zoom reset'. 'Zoom out' is restoring the previous zoom level instead. Selecting a zoom mode switches all graphs to zoom mode. 'Zoom reset' and 'Zoom out' are working only on the selected graph.

Note: A graph cannot be moved while it is in zoom mode!

If the number of samples contained in a dataset (curve) exceeds a certain threshold value catman will compress the graphics display automatically. This is to avoid unnecessary drawing operations all falling onto the same pixel. In this manner, even very large datasets consisting of millions of samples can be displayed quickly. While compressing, catman Easy/AP generates a min/max pair for every block of original data. The default value for the threshold value roughly corresponds to the number of pixels of the screen. It can be adjusted in the graph configuration dialog under 'Special' functions.

Note:

  • When zooming into a graph the size of every compression block shrinks - i.e. resolution increases with every zoom step.
  • Only the graph memory is compressed - the original sample data remain unchanged!
  • If the number of points to display in uncompressed form is bigger than 50,000 you should think about reducing the maximum number of plots per graph (OPTIONS/PANELS).
  • Applies only to version 3.2 and earlier: y(x) graphs will always use scatter plots (points only) if in compressed mode!

If you plan to use more than one y-axis layer the max. number of plots must be a multiple of the number of layers:

  • with 2 layers: max. plots = 2 * max plots per layer
  • with 3 layers: max. plots = 3 * max plots per layer

If you want to switch between all layer types the number must be a multiple of 6.

catman Easy/AP compresses y(x) graphs if the number of points exceeds the (selectable) compression limit. In that case, the connection lines between points will not be drawn. Since the connection lines would connect the points according to their increasing timestamps this would completely distort the graph. Increase the compression limit to achieve a greater point density or to force connection lines to be drawn.

Even if these graphs do not display y data vs. time, they require the time window to determine the chart's history buffer, i.e. the number of data points (depending on the sample rate) to keep in memory. Older data points are discarded.

As with the post-process graph, catman Easy/AP also compresses data blocks to a min/max pair in real-time graphs. The size of the block in compressed form depends on the x-axis total time and the sample rate of the current DAQ job. The resulting compression factor is displayed in the lower, right corner of the graph. y(x) graphs will always use scatter plots (points only) if in compressed mode!

Note: In contrast to the post-process graph, you will not increase resolution when zooming into a real-time graph. This is because the zoom does not operate on the original sample data but the data already compressed. You may, however, increase the threshold value from which compression will start. It can be adjusted in the graph configuration dialog under 'Special' functions. Observe, however, that setting this threshold to a large number increases the amount of time required for the graph update and may lead to a real-time lag (RT Lag displayed in the status bar). If the number of points to display in uncompressed form is bigger than 50,000 you should think about reducing the maximum number of plots per graph (OPTIONS/PANELS).

Click the cursor and annotations button of the graph's context menu or the ribbon bar group 'Graph tools'. This will switch all graphs to cursor mode and the cursor window for coordinate display will be opened. Clicking the ribbon bar button 'Edit' will abort cursor mode and close the cursor window. Alternatively, you can abort cursor mode by closing the cursor window.

To measure the difference between two data points, select the point of the dataset that should be used as the reference point for the differences. Click the pin symbol. Now, if you select further points by mouse or cursor-keys, the difference between the current cursor position and the reference point will be displayed in the cursor window.

Note: A graph cannot be moved while it is in cursor mode!

The graph cursor in catman Easy/AP is a so-called 'snap to point' cursor. You cannot move it around freely - instead, it will always snap to the nearest data point of a curve. Click a data point on the curve to move the cursor at this position (the mouse pointer changes to a 'hand' symbol if it is located over or near a data point).

Once the cursor snapped to a point you can move it using the keyboard:

  • Arrow right/left: one data point right/left
  • Cursor up/down: moves cursor between data sets (curves)
  • Page up/down: as arrow right/left but in larger steps

Open the cursor window for the graph by clicking the cursor and annotations button of the graph's configuration dialog or the ribbon bar group 'Graph tools'. Then point the cursor to the desired position (data point) in the graph and click the create button. Once created you can change the attributes of the annotation with the different format options provided in the cursor window. The coordinates are the default text of the annotation. To change attributes later click on the annotation.

Use the mouse to drag around an annotation. Nevertheless, the annotation type anchored text is restored to its original position if the graph is redrawn. A graph is redrawn, for example, when adding a new curve or adding/removing an axis layer. It is thus recommended to move anchored text annotations to their final positions immediately before printing or copying to the clipboard.

Note: Graphs in cursor mode cannot be dragged around!

It is possible to configure a graph to have up to three different scale layers and an additional right y-axis. This can be done with the 'Axis' buttons of the graph configuration dialog. Each layer and y-axis can be scaled separately. If you want to arrange the different layers in overlapping form instead of one below the other, you can do this by clicking 'Overlapped axes'. In this case all y-layers fall together, and their axes will be plotted on the left side of the graph.

However, all plots are displayed over a single x-axis! If you want to display the channels over different x-axes you must use several graphs.

A maximum of 1,000,000 points per curve can be displayed in a post-process graph, and 128,000 points can be displayed in a real-time graph in uncompressed form. If you specify a higher value, it will be reset to the limit.

Create a Post-Process graph and assign the channels you want to be displayed. Post-Process graphs can be updated automatically during a DAQ job but also manually, using the 'Refresh graph' button of the configuration dialog. In any case, Post-Process graphs will be refreshed when you add or remove channels, after DAQ job termination, or if you move to another panel.

Set the refresh interval in the configuration dialog of the graph (function group 'Special'), for example 'Every 5 seconds'.

In the configuration dialog, group 'General', select the time unit 'hh:mm:ss'.

Usually, the x (i.e. time) values in a y(t) post-process graph start with zero. If you choose, however, one of the units marked with '(abs)' all datasets are plotted so that their x-coordinates reflect the difference in start time with respect to the first dataset plotted in the graph.

Note: This type of time unit is available for post-process graphs only.

AutoRange is a special autoscaling mode which forces the y-scale to a band around the latest data point in the graph. This is useful if the signal shows abrupt amplitude changes - in such a case 'older' data (i.e. data before the change) still visible in the time window will make ordinary autoscaling useless. Enter the bandwidth in the text box right beneath the AutoRange checkbox and press <RETURN> to accept.

The following two-character prefix codes can be used to control the placement of text. If no prefix is supplied, the graph annotation text will be dynamically positioned around the graph annotation location to prevent overlapping text. Write those prefixes before the text in the textbox inside the cursor window to have the desired effect:

  • Ic: Centerd text
  • Il: Left justified text
  • Ir: Right justified text
  • Ie: Top, vertical, and centered text
  • IE: Bottom, vertical, and centered text
  • Im: Bottom, vertical, right-side
  • IM: Top, vertical, left-side
  • Is: Botton vertical, left-side
  • IS: Top, vertical, right-side
  • Id: Centered on theleft side and vertical
  • ID: Centered on the right side and vertical

For visual comparison purposes, it is sometimes useful to shift a plot in x- or y-direction. Click on the plot legend. The plot configuration dialog gives access to the function 'Shift plot'. 'Reset' reverts all shifting.

Note: The original data points are not changed by plot panning.

Video Panel

This module allows the comparison of video recordings and actual measurement data. For this purpose, data channels are assigned to graph layers and tables. During the video playback, a data cursor on the graph is moving in parallel to the video, so the time coordinate of the data cursor corresponds to the current video frame. Vice versa, positioning the data cursor moves the video stream to the frame corresponding to the cursor time.

Yes, you can create a second video object on a video panel.

A video panel can have a maximum of 3 layers and each layer can contain up to 8 curves.

The playing time is displayed in a status bar together with the total running time of the clip and no longer inside the picture itself.

Switch the module from 'Playback' mode to 'Offset determination' on the graph tab. In this mode, the video and data cursor are not coupled and can be moved independently of each other. The time difference between the positions is automatically retrieved. Position the video and cursor so that the recording matches the measurement value, then switch back to 'Playback' mode. The video and cursor are now running together again but taking into consideration the time offset determined.

Assign the applied slow-down factor in the 'Time factor' field. This factor is used for updating cursor positions. A time factor of less than 1 means a time-lapse.

Example: If the measurement and the actual video recording time was 300 ms, however, the replay time is 30 seconds, enter 100 as the time factor.

Printing

Unlike printer pages, the whole window area including all overlaying windows (i.e. channel list or Test explorer) is printed as well. They are also available in the DAQ project mode.

Single graphs can be printed in a DAQ project as well as in Analysis mode. Open the export dialog of the graph via the context menu 'Export/print...' and select 'Clipboard' or 'Printer' in the dialog. In the 'Export graph' dialog, you can select the output format and the output target. At this point, you can still redirect the output to a file.

A single graph is usually printed as a vector graphics (metafile). In this mode, bitmap styles (like 'Light color, inset border') are ignored. In that case, use the 'export to clipboard' function and select 'BMP (Bitmap)' as output format.

With this format, the plot data will be exported instead of the graph's image. Data will be in spreadsheet form, each column representing a curve. Columns are separated with a TAB character. You can immediately insert this format into an Excel worksheet.

In the export dialog use the option 'Use large fonts' to adjust the font size.

If the dimension of the graphic is too large, the printing routine resizes the graphic to fit into the textbox. To prevent ugly printing effects do not use graphics that extend the size of the textbox.

Create a textbox that occupies the whole panel/page. Then assign a background graphic to the textbox and set the textbox itself to the background (context menu 'To back'). To prevent ugly printing effects do not use graphics that extend the size of the textbox.

Alternatively, you may directly assign a background picture to the panel or the page (s. object property window). It is no longer recommended to use a textbox for this purpose!

You can upsize or downsize the entire panel with all its objects in steps via the buttons 'Decrease' and 'Increase' in the group 'Panel/page' of the ribbon bar to fit the panel to your screen.

To avoid strange effects in your printout, please do the following:

  • Arrange all objects within the borders of the page.
  • Be sure that background pictures for textboxes do not exceed the area of the textbox.
  • Assign data (curves) to post-process graphs.
  • Try to print your document on another printer or convert the document into PDF format before you print it.

Auto Sequences

With AutoSequences you can easily automate your measurement tasks. In contrast to working with EasyScript (VBA) no code is required. Instead, a sequence of 'actions' is defined graphically (much like a movie sequence). The actions are then parameterized via interactive dialogs. AutoSequences thus address the user who is not familiar with VBA but wants to solve simple automation tasks. One possible field of application for AutoSequences is, for instance, the automation of smaller functional test rigs with channel counts < 50. A typical automation task could look like this:

  • Open an Excel workbook
  • Perform a measurement (DAQ job)
  • Retrieve the maximum of a channel
  • Retrieve the value of a different channel at the position of this maximum
  • Export results to Excel worksheet
  • Save an Excel workbook
  • Next measurement

Go to 'Main menu/Options' and activate AutoSequences on the register tab 'Program functions'. After that, the main menu features a new entry called 'AutoSequence editor'.

Note: To activate AutoSequences you need either the optional module EasyMath or a full license. Otherwise, you will be prompted for the EasyMath license every time you try to activate AutoSequences. If you enter 'EVAL' as license number you may operate AutoSequences in evaluation mode. This can be repeated up to 25 times.

AutoSequences are available only in DAQ project mode. Nevertheless, you can perform analysis operations based on the data of your last DAQ job. However, analysis of arbitrary tests (as in analysis mode) is not possible (Use EasyScripts to automate the analysis operations).

You may create up to 64 AutoSequences in a single DAQ project. Select 'Add AutoSequence' from the 'Project' menu of the 'AutoSequence editor' register tab to create a new sequence.

An AutoSequence can contain up to 2,048 actions at maximum.

No, this is not possible. Only one AutoSequence can be executed at a time.

AutoSequences are automatically stored together with your DAQ project - Therefore you do not need to save the AutoSequences separately. If you plan to use an AutoSequence repeatedly in many projects, you may save the AutoSequence as an individual file (ribbon tab 'AutoSequence editor/Export as...') and later load this file in a different project (ribbon tab 'AutoSequence editor/Import').

Moreover, you may collect all you AutoSequences currently contained in your project into a single 'Autosequence workbook' (Main menu/Save/AutoSequence). These workbooks can later be loaded. In this manner, you may maintain AutoSequences independently from your DAQ project.

You may start the AutoSequence directly from the AutoSequence editor (in the debugging and testing phase) or create a button object on the panel for that purpose. For a button object, assign an AutoSequence in the configuration dialog (Tab 'Action/Action stock/Start Autosequence/Current Autosequences'). After the assignment, every click on the button executes the AutoSequence.

You may even execute an AutoSequence automatically when your DAQ project loads. For that purpose, check the option 'Execute on project load' in the AutoSequence editor. 

This behavior is by design. It prevents unintended interaction between the catman Easy/AP user interface and your AutoSequence execution. After the termination of an AutoSequence, the menus and toolbars will become visible again. You may abort a running AutoSequence by clicking the button 'Terminate' in the ribbon tab 'Cockpit'.

Besides simply starting an AutoSequence, a button can also be used to control the execution flow of a running sequence. For this purpose, the button will modify the process variable which is monitored by the running sequence. In the configuration dialog of the button, assign the standard action 'Set process variable' (Tab 'Action/Action stock/Predefined actions'). Then click the 'Configure action...' button to assign a value to the process variable.

Note: Controlling the execution flow of a running AutoSequence, requires proper programming of the sequence (e.g. 'If <condition>...then...' action which will cyclically monitor the process variables and execute an action if necessary).

In some cases, you might not want an AutoSequence to take full control over your DAQ project but instead, you only want to 'insert' some custom actions at specific stages of normal catman Easy/AP operation. DAQ jobs in this case are started as usual. Via the 'Auto execution...' menu you open a dialog where you can assign AutoSequences to an execution stage (like 'After DAQ job', 'After channel init' etc.). Simply drag the action to the desired stage. You may even assign more than one AutoSequence to an execution stage.

'Process variables' are used to store data items. You may create as many of these process variables as needed. Many actions use process variables as inputs or provide results back to a process variable.

Process variables can be created directly in the AutoSequence editor (function 'Process variables' in the ribbon bar). Alternatively, you can create a new process variable in the configuration dialog by typing for some actions which could return results to process variables.

The name of the process variable must always be enclosed in %-characters (like %MinTemp%). However, you don't need to remember this when typing variable names. catman Easy/AP will automatically add the %-character if necessary.

Normally the content of a process variable will be cleared or initialized to its default value when the AutoSequence starts. To keep the content of a process variable you must mark it as 'Global' (in dialog 'Process variables' in the AutoSequence editor). Variables of this type will not be reset when AutoSequence starts. In this manner, you might exchange information between two different AutoSequences or keep counter variables that should not be reset with each start of AutoSequence.

In the AutoSequence editor, you can set a breakpoint on every action. Double-click the left border of the line containing the action to add a breakpoint and double-click again to remove it. If AutoSequence execution reaches a breakpoint, execution is stopped and the AutoSequence editor works in 'debug mode'. In debug mode, you can inspect the contents of your process variables or even modify it. Use the 'Execute', 'Terminate', and 'Next action' buttons in the ribbon bar to control the execution flow of an AutoSequence.

If an error occurs, execution stops at this action and the debug window will show up.

No. You may only execute existing jobs. DAQ jobs must be configured as usual.

These functions use data from exported measurement data files (test files). Consequently, they can be used only after a DAQ job is completed and the measurement values are permanently stored. If you use these functions at an earlier stage, you will receive the error 'Test not loaded'.

To permanently store process variable content on disk, catman Easy/AP provides the action groups 'MS Excel' and 'MS Access'. In both cases, you need a pre-configured template file (MS Excel workbook or MS Access database). Once you opened a file you can use actions like 'MS Excel/Set cell content' to save data to the Excel sheet.

With an MS Access database you will in general first open a table (action 'MS Access/New SQL query'), then add a new dataset, populate it with data (action 'MS Access/Write field content') and eventually update the dataset with (action 'MS Access/Refresh dataset').

Note: Advanced users can obtain full access to VBA-supported (Visual Basic for Applications) file operations by using the action 'Execute EasyScript Code'.

catman Easy/AP provides the action groups 'MS Excel' and 'MS Access' for that purpose. Once you opened the file you can use actions like 'MS Excel/Read cell content' to read data from an Excel sheet into process variables. With an MS Access database you will in general first open a table (action 'MS Access/New SQL query'), then move to a specific dataset and read data from one or more fields (action 'MS Access/Read field content').

Note: Advanced users can obtai full access to VBA-supported (Visual Basic for Applications) file operations by using the action 'Execute EasyScript Code'.

You cannot use the name of the process variable directly in your script code. Instead you must access the process variables by using the VBA methods EA.SetProcessVariable resp. EA.GetProcessVariable:

  • EA.SetProcessVariable(Name,Value)
  • EA.GetProcessVariable(Name,Value)

 

Example:
Dim pn As String
Dim temp As Double

RetVal = EA.GetProcessVariable("Operator", pn)
RetVal = EA.SetProcessVariable("MaxTemp", temp)

With automatic data storage (see 'Configure DAQ jobs') catman Easy/AP usually creates a new data file for every job or job repetition. If necessary the file base name will be incremented with '_001', '_002' etc. You may however change this behavior by activating the option 'Overwrite storage file after measurement' in the configuration dialog of the action 'Execute DAQ job'. In this case, the data of every job are written into the same file, and data of the last job will be lost. This option is only available if you execute the DAQ job from an AutoSequence.

Assign your Autosequence to the execution stage 'After DAQ job', but not to the execution stage 'After DAQ stop' (in the latter execution stage the measurement data are not yet stored permanently).


catman FAQs: Setup of DAQ Project

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about setting up a DAQ projet in HBM's catman data acquisition software.

catman FAQs: Visualization and Recording

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about visualization and recording in HBM's catman data acquisition software.


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