The Problem

Data acquisition systems based on the PC-ISA bus standard are still widely used for industrial control and measurement systems. The customer, a medium sized global player doing business in the area of professional distance measurements, uses standard DAQ cards with an ISA-bus interface. Unfortunately the life cycle of PC based systems tends to be shorter than well established products in the industrial control industry which resulted in a difficulty in getting these standard products as time goes by.

A possible solution would have been to use a newer DAQ card, but changes in the area of the interface – connectors, the SW, and the mechanical dimensions would have make it difficult to use the same card both in new systems and for repair and maintenance in old ones. A further possibility would have been to buy an “All-time” requirement of the old DAQ cards but this involves a correspondingly high capital investment.

The Best Solution

Meng Engineering received the contract to design a new backward compatible DAQ card. All the important aspects of connectivity were respected utilising readily available components and an FPGA replaces the original ASIC. Non used functionality was removed to reduce costs but a 100% “plug-in” replacement was achieved.

Based on the customer’s technical specifications, the ASIC was redefined using VHDL for implementation in the FPGA with its additional advantage of the possibility of enhancements or modifications through simple code changes.

Meng Engineering performed the entire design from schematic capture, PCB layout and VHDL programming through to the definition and supervision of the manufacturing process. A test concept for the ISA card was developed and integrated into the series production.

This case shows the strength of Meng Engineering and it may be that you have a similar situation in your business. Don’t hesitate to contact us. We would be very happy to get to know your specific requirements and offer you the best solution.