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OKors
Posts: 225

Post your improvement ideas & suggestions for future Signal Express releases.

I'd like to start a thread and get some feedback from other Signal Express users regarding improvement ideas and suggestions for features that either should be included or need to be improved on for future releases.

  

I have tons of ideas (for my applications) that would make Signal Express a much more functional piece of Data Acquisition software.

These ideas are not original, they are features found in almost every DAQ software I've ever been exposed to, but for whatever reason SigEx either does not support these functionalities or greatly needs to improve on them. I don't think it's appropriate to turn this into a BUG BASH thread but rather a consolidated list of suggestions from users all across the board.

 

My hope is that with these suggestions Signal Express will develop a fair bit more momentum on the development end of things and target specific user needs for future versions of SigEx.

I enjoy working with Signal Express but it is in my opinion that it does not get the development priority that most other NI software gets. This puts a lot of users in a frustrating position because Signal Express is not cheap and once our businesses have purchased the license it's not realistic to drop the software and 'try' something else.

 

Also, I have not noticed the presence of any Moderators on these forums but perhaps if this thread gains any traction it could be "stickied"?

 

  

SCXI- 1000 Chassis w/ 1346 adapter
PCI 6281 DAQ card
SCXI- 1520 Bridge Board w/ 1314 Terminal Block (x2)
SCXI- 1180 Feedthrough Panel w/ 1302 Block
Signal Express 2012.
Win7 Enterprise
Active Participant
OKors
Posts: 225

Re: Post your improvement ideas & suggestions for future Signal Express releases.

I'll go ahead and throw a few out there:

 

  • Improve time column when exporting to ASCII:
    Issue- For certain signals (scalar dbl) exporting time is not even an option. For raw signals the time is repeated based on the 'samples to read' perameter; e.g. if sampling at 1k and samples to read= 50, the time column reads 0-49 (milliseconds) then repeats 0-49, for the full duration of the acquired data file.
    Suggested improvement- allow an option for continuous time history (non-repeating). Export time history for scalar dbl signals as found in Amplitudes and Levels (I realize this is filtered, or 'averaged' data but there should still be a unit of time)

 

  • Auto zero:
    Issue- no auto zero function for simple transducers other than what is found in the strain gage wizard.
    Suggested improvement- allow a range of 'like transducers' to be selected and enable an auto zero function.

 

  • Improve or automate SIGNAL INPUT RANGE min/max:
    Issue- Signal input range is entered manually based on the transducers current range (calibrated with no offset). When an null offset is applied these values must be changed again manually since the transducer is operating in a different range.
    Suggested improvement- these values could be automated to some degree. If creating a custom scale, the slope is already defined. SigEx should be able to auto range based on the transducer's full scale and new zero point.

 

 

There may be CAR's out there already but the point is to gather user feedback and suggestions. I think it's also important if other users share similar improvement ideas, they need to post that as well.

 

Multiple identical suggestions= greater global need!

 

 

 

SCXI- 1000 Chassis w/ 1346 adapter
PCI 6281 DAQ card
SCXI- 1520 Bridge Board w/ 1314 Terminal Block (x2)
SCXI- 1180 Feedthrough Panel w/ 1302 Block
Signal Express 2012.
Win7 Enterprise
Member
Phil J
Posts: 109
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Re: Post your improvement ideas & suggestions for future Signal Express releases.

[ Edited ]

There have been a few requests for a Waveform Strip Chart so that you don't have to convert the data to a scalar.

 

Also some saving to text options, which although there are suggestions already mentioned above, this Convert Multiple Runs post highlights some worthwhile suggestions.

Message Edited by Phil J on 06-09-2010 05:14 PM
Member
JockeR
Posts: 17
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Re: Post your improvement ideas & suggestions for future Signal Express releases.

  • Cross correlation between two signals.
    A simple but powerful tool to compare two signals for similarities.
  • Select signals as well as time span for creating log subsets.
    When creating log subsets the current version only allows you to select the time span. Would be even more useful if only the signal of interest were exported to the subset.
  • A short cut key for importing a TDMS-file, Ctrl-I 
Active Participant
OKors
Posts: 225

Re: Post your improvement ideas & suggestions for future Signal Express releases.

[ Edited ]
  • Disable Step option (right click a step and select disable/enable or something)

As it is if I want to temporarily bypass a step I need to delete it entirely and rebuild it again when I need it. This would be especially useful for the Save to ASCII step where I don't always want to save a file but don't want to delete the step either.

SCXI- 1000 Chassis w/ 1346 adapter
PCI 6281 DAQ card
SCXI- 1520 Bridge Board w/ 1314 Terminal Block (x2)
SCXI- 1180 Feedthrough Panel w/ 1302 Block
Signal Express 2012.
Win7 Enterprise
Active Participant
Seth_B.
Posts: 756
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Re: Post your improvement ideas & suggestions for future Signal Express releases.

I've had your thread "stickyed" to help promote it.  Thanks for taking the initiative to collect feedback.  We'll make sure our R&D group reads through this thread.

Seth B.
Staff Test Engineer | National Instruments
Certified LabVIEW Developer
Certified TestStand Developer

“Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems.”- Scott Adams
Active Participant
OKors
Posts: 225
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Re: Post your improvement ideas & suggestions for future Signal Express releases.

[ Edited ]
  • Better handling of Save to ASCII file export.
    Issue- Save to ASCII's file saving options are a bit counter intuitive for simple data file export needs.
     
    "Next Available File Name" implies that if I already recorded a data file called "Test Run_01" and I record another data file SigEx would see that Test Run_01 exists, thus automatically creating a Test Run_02 file.
    This is not how the "Next Available File Name" handles it in Continuous Run mode (sort of). It creates a single file for each sample point. i.e. if I acquire 1 second of data at 1k, I end up with 1,000 .txt files, each containing one data point- totally useless for my needs. I realize there might be ways to manipulate the Timing Settings to get them all into one file but again, too complicated for most simple acquisition needs.

    "Overwrite Once Then Append to File" saves all the data points to one file (like Next Available File Name should), but you have to manually change the file name before each run. Some obvious issues exist with this method:
    1) if I forget to manually increment my file name then I've just overwritten my last file. Not Good! :smileymad: 
    2) there is no prompt telling you you're about to overwrite an existing file (understandibly since that's the option you've checked: "Overwrite...")
    3) During the times when it is okay to overwrite the file, if you have the file open (previewing your .txt data in Excel), SigEx will not save a file and does not warn you till you've stopped the acquisition.

Suggested Improvement- Improve the Next Available File Name option so SigEx will log all data points to one file and increment the file name automatically when another data plot is taken.

Improve Overwrite Once then Append to File, such that it warns you when you're about to overwrite your own file. Once that is addressed examples 1-3 will fix themselves.

 

Caveat being; if the Next Available File Name does what it "should" then leave the Overwrite Once... option alone, because that's exactly what you're asking it to do by checking that box; Overwrite...

 

I use the Overwrite option as a workaround to the Next Available File Name issues.

SCXI- 1000 Chassis w/ 1346 adapter
PCI 6281 DAQ card
SCXI- 1520 Bridge Board w/ 1314 Terminal Block (x2)
SCXI- 1180 Feedthrough Panel w/ 1302 Block
Signal Express 2012.
Win7 Enterprise
Member
hibux
Posts: 24
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Re: Post your improvement ideas & suggestions for future Signal Express releases.

This is a very good initiative, and I will just add that I'm also missing zeroing of trandsucers. This is a very common feature in other data data acquisition softwares, and I was a bit baffled when I realized this feature was missing. At work we are in a phase were we are planning on moving from the HBM spider and catman SW to National Instruments and Signal Express, but the lack of simple zeroing is a real show stopper.

Active Participant
OKors
Posts: 225

Re: Post your improvement ideas & suggestions for future Signal Express releases.

  • Better integration for conditioning transducers

While acquiring a signal from a Custom Voltage with Excitation source (i.e. load cells, pressure x-ducer, string pots, etc) It would be really nice if there was a box in the Settings tab where you can enter the mV/V sensitivity and have Signal Express create the curve for you.  

As of now I need to calculate a y=mx+b slope in a totally seperate environment (custom scaling in Measurement & Automation Explorer). In every case, these slopes are specific to the device and change each time the device gets calibrated (we calibrate before or after every project). After a while I've got an unwieldy list of custom scales that cannot be deleted except from within MAX.

 

  • The addition of "microStrain" to the Scaled Units list in Strain Setup>Settings tab

If acquiring strain signals we always measure in MICROstrain. When I export strain data to ascii the engineers get columns of numbers with far too many zeros.

 

0.00001962514 "strain" should read  19.625 uE.

 

In order to convert the strain into microstrain I need to create a Custom Linear Scale where m=1000000 then apply this scale to all my strain channels.

 

SigEx is the only DAQ software I know of that does not measure micro strain natively.

SCXI- 1000 Chassis w/ 1346 adapter
PCI 6281 DAQ card
SCXI- 1520 Bridge Board w/ 1314 Terminal Block (x2)
SCXI- 1180 Feedthrough Panel w/ 1302 Block
Signal Express 2012.
Win7 Enterprise
Member
sraykens
Posts: 10

Re: Post your improvement ideas & suggestions for future Signal Express releases.

Thanks for starting this - from what I can tell the user base isn't large, but with some improvements I think this can be a great product with more exposure.  I feel like I know what I'm doing with SE, but if any of my ideas are already possible, I'd appreciate a heads up!  

 

Here are some of my ideas:

Prompt for log location: I've been burned more than once when someone else logs data and by default it goes to their My Documents folder, where I can't access it.  I know there are places to change this, but I would like a reminder of this.  When the popup box for naming the log file comes up, I would like to see the log file save location listed - and an option to change it from that popup.  That way, even if your default or project-specific save location isn't set correctly, you can change it when you start your log.  

 

Simultaneous log display: I often take consecutive data in separate logs that I'd like to compare, but I can't do that from within SE.  Instead, I have been using DIAdem, which is great...but not always necessary.  

 

Default control: there are so many things I do every time I log something.  The most annoying to me is checking the "play entire interval" box within Playback Settings.  I really wish that was able to be checked by default instead of unchecked by default.

 

Sensor/Transducer setup wizard: We have a lot of people who are DAQ newbies (I'm not much better...) who don't understand anything related to setting up a new step.  Some of the expanded input options (Force-Bridge, LVDT, etc) are getting better, but I would like to have the OPTION to have a "wizard" for setting up the sensor - something that prompts input instead of expecting someone to change the default if it isn't right (guess how often that happens?).  I likely wouldn't use it, but others might until they get the hang of what things they need to worry about.  I know NI doesn't make the sensors, but something simple like the Force(Bridge) Configure Scale... is incredibly valuable.  Basically, what I'm saying, is try to make the process more foolproof than it is right now.

 

Events improvement: I really like the option for Events, but getting usable information from them so far has proven difficult.  I'd like to see the signal value for every channel at that event time.  Right now, I'm using it in a Force-Deflection setup, and I'd like to be able to display the deflection at a Force-triggered event.

 

Stability: Am I the only one who gets crashes/lockups with this software?

 

More to come I'm sure, but I'll stop here for now...

Steve Aykens

9172 8-slot cDAQ chassis OR 9162 cDAQ USB carrier
9234 4-Ch IEPE Sound/Vibration Input Module
9219 (2) 4-Ch Universal Input Module
9213 (3) 16-Ch Thermocouple Input Module
Signal Express 2012 with Sound and Vibration Suite
Labview 2012
DIAdem 2012