Advanced Instrumentation Support
Thumbnail: click to enlarge
The Intelligent System for Abstraction & Integration of Instrumentation Hardware (ISAIIH) methodology was developed and documented with a focus on aviation T&E.
The effort was motivated by the requirement that current Instrumentation Support Systems (ISS) use vendor-specific languages in order to support the programming of instrumentation systems prior to testing.
Since there are a number of vendors selling various data acquisition, control, transmission, and storage components, an ISS would not only have to interface with these different systems but also with the different vendors that sell various instrumentation systems. Considering that it is practically impossible for a single ISS to interface with every known system and vendor, the ISSs typically select only a few and offer an almost complete solution for those hardware vendors. This hinders the ability to mix and match vendors and develop a robust and cost-effective solution. A second issue involves format change. Any hardware vendor format change or functional enhancement requires a change in the ISS. Even if these change considerations were to be deemed financially feasible by the ISS vendors, they would be incorporated into the next release after a considerable period of time.
To help mitigate these issues KBSI is developing an XML-based Instrumentation Hardware Abstraction Language (IHAL)—a neutral or common language that acts as an intermediary between the ISS and each hardware instrument vendor format.
The IHAL is designed on the principle that the same language must serve three roles: as a descriptive language for specifying and describing the components and configuration of an instrumentation system, as a command language for issuing configuration and data commands to instrumentation hardware, and as a query language for requesting the current state of instrumentation hardware. In this sense, the same IHAL must serve as a specification language such as LISP and as a procedural language such as C.
Under this effort, KBSI additionally developed two major desktop applications to specify and browse IHAL models—the Instrument Configuration Repository (ICR) and the InstrumentMap. The ICR is a tool that provides the user with a top-level visualization of the configurations stored in one or more IHAL files and the InstrumentMap is an application that lets the user visualize and control a single IHAL configuration.