NI Embedded Vision Systems are rugged automation controllers that combine industrial camera connectivity with open communication and multicore performance. They are designed to acquire and process images in real time from multiple cameras, with the EVS-1464RT offering IEEE 1394 and GigE Vision connectivity, and the EVS-1463RT providing Camera Link and GigE Vision connectivity. Both systems are ideal for complex, high-speed machine vision applications such as high-speed sorting, assembly verification, and packaging inspection, with the Camera Link option also being suitable for line-scan imaging applications such as web and surface inspection.
Figure 1. NI EVS-1464RT with Line-Scan, Area-Scan, and Infrared Cameras
The EVS-1464RT and EVS-1463RT offer a fanless design that includes a solid-state drive (SSD) as well as an extended temperature range, making it ready for the demanding conditions of manufacturing by reducing maintenance requirements and increasing reliability. The real-time OS also adds to the operational reliability and determinism while ensuring that the systems are exempt from IT department updates and intervention to which Windows-based systems are subjected.
With a large variety of digital I/O and industrial communication options, this system can communicate and integrate with a wide range of automation devices including programmable logic controllers (PLCs), human machine interfaces (HMIs), industrial robot arms, sensors, motion drives, and actuators. More information is included later in the Industrial Communications and Onboard Digital I/O section of this article.
2. Camera Selection
The EVS-1464RT works with any IIDC-compliant IEEE 1394 camera and any GigE Vision-compliant Ethernet camera. The EVS-1463RT can acquire from multiple GigE Vision cameras as well as one Base-configuration Camera Link camera. The camera connectivity enables the use of a variety of image sensor types, including infrared (thermal), line-scan, color, area-scan, and 3D laser triangulation.
National Instruments has developed the first real-time driver software for communicating, configuring, and acquiring images from both IEEE 1394 and GigE Vision cameras, the latter of which even enables the use of GigE Vision line-scan sensors.
NI Embedded Vision Systems provide a low-cost way to simultaneously acquire and process images from several cameras to inspect parts from multiple angles, increase overall system resolution, and use several specialty cameras at the same time (color, monochrome, infrared, line scan, and so on). With two IEEE 1394b ports (EVS-1464RT only) and a second Gigabit Ethernet port, you can use hubs to connect several IEEE 1394a/b and GigE Vision cameras to a single port, limited only by the bandwidth requirements of your application.
Figure 2. NI EVS-1464RT Connectivity Options
3. Multicore Image Processing
With NI vision and LabVIEW software, NI Embedded Vision Systems take full advantage of their multicore processor by automatically balancing the computational load on each core. Machine vision applications can run deterministically and reliably with the LabVIEW Real-Time Module, which you can use to implement low-level control for prioritizing crucial tasks, such as your visual inspection, above less time-critical tasks, such as video display.
Also, the 2 GB of RAM offer the performance needed for handling larger amounts of image data and user interfaces.
4. Real-Time Display and HMI
Real-time NI Embedded Vision Systems can output real-time images and pass/fail results from the inspection through the built-in DVI port. You can change all of the user-definable image overlays programmatically to create custom user displays.
Also, a simple Web browser on any Windows CE, XP, or XP Embedded touch panel can act as an operator interface for selecting inspections, updating parameters, or training a new part. NI vision software provides the ability to further program an HMI for the real-time vision systems.
5. Rugged Industrial Design
NI Embedded Vision Systems were designed for harsh industrial environments. They are fanless and passively cooled, and the temperature range of 0 to 45 °C ensures that uptime is kept at a maximum. The two options run with 2 GB of RAM and a 1 GB solid-state hard drive, to which you can add more CompactFlash storage. The absence of moving parts makes this machine vision system a reliable addition to your packaging, assembly, and manufacturing environments.
6. Industrial Communications and Onboard Digital I/O
The EVS-1464RT has 29 reconfigurable digital I/O lines – 15 digital input lines, of which 13 are isolated 24 V lines and two are dedicated TTL lines, and 14 digital output lines, of which four are isolated 24 V and 10 are dedicated TTL. The EVS-1463RT comes with four TTL and two isolated inputs. These lines include built-in functionality for communicating with external devices, such as reading from a quadrature encoder, generating strobe pulses, triggering, and writing/reading from digital lines. Using these signals, you can dynamically control your lighting or cameras, synchronize with a conveyor belt, or integrate NI Embedded Vision Systems with PLCs.
In addition, the system can send commands and data to other devices, such as PLCs and operator interfaces, using industrial protocols such as EtherNet/IP, RS232, Modbus serial, and Modbus/TCP. With enterprise connectivity, you can also monitor the inspection results, view images, or store data in databases for statistical process control.
Real-time NI Embedded Vision Systems are now also EtherCAT master devices, offering a simple way to integrate single-point I/O, including motion drives and I/O expansion devices. In addition, MXI-Express connectivity on all NI Embedded Vision Systems provides deterministic integration for waveform data and supports a variety of I/O in high-channel-count systems.
Customized I/O with the LabVIEW FPGA Module
The EVS-1464RT has a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) directly connected to the digital I/O lines. If your application requires precise timing or custom I/O behavior, you can use the LabVIEW FPGA Module to reconfigure the digital I/O lines to achieve additional functionality such as custom triggers, timing, PWM outputs, encoder-based queued pulse generators, customer digital protocols, and high-speed counters.
7. Software: Configure or Program Your Inspection
With the National Instruments machine vision software approach, you can choose to configure your inspection with easy-to-use stand-alone NI Vision Builder for Automated Inspection (AI) software or to program it for more advanced customization using the NI Vision Development Module. Both options take advantage of the hundreds of built-in machine vision and image processing functions to enhance images, check for presence, locate features, identify objects, and measure parts.
Figure 3.(a) Vision Builder for Automated Inspection Configuration Interface
(b) LabVIEW Project Explorer, Front Panel, and Block Diagram for Vision Application
National Instruments uses the same configuration software (Vision Builder AI) and programming software (Vision Development Module) across the entire NI vision hardware portfolio. So after learning just one set of vision software, you can easily reduce time and cost to maintain your systems or build new applications while enjoying the freedom to choose the suitable hardware for each application, be it a PC, an NI Embedded Vision System, or an NI Smart Camera. All NI vision software comes with NI Vision Acquisition Software, a collection of drivers for IEEE 1394 and GigE Vision cameras that scales to support a larger range of camera types for use with other NI vision hardware.
Figure 4. NI vision software works with all NI vision hardware.
8. Related Links
How-To Tutorial: Getting Started with the Real-Time Embedded Vision System