Case Study: R&S®Scope Rider RTH

Case Study / Scope Rider RTH

R&S®Scope Rider RTH - Electrifying the automotive future

How Rohde & Schwarz helped Politecnico di Torino design vehicles with record-low fuel consumption

At a glance

  • Customer: H2politO team at the Politecnico di Torino
  • Task: Testing high-efficiency prototypes and urban concept vehicles
  • Challenge: Monitoring CAN bus and debugging cellular module for a real-time telemetry system
  • Solution/product: R&S®ScopeRider RTH handheld oscilloscope
  • Key benefits: Isolated and fully portable oscilloscope, visualization of serial communication like CAN bus, extraordinary remote controllability

The customer

Team H2politO brings together students from across all the engineering disciplines at Politecnico di Torino in Turin, Italy. Since its inception in 2007, it has been sharing knowledge among the different engineering fields, closing the gap between academia and industry, and training the next generation of engineers for a sustainable future.

Customer situation and requirement

The team’s current task is to take on the challenge of the Shell Eco-marathon program to design and build vehicles with extremely high energy efficiency. Building such efficient vehicles requires that everything be tested thoroughly, and the team turned to Rohde & Schwarz for the test and measurement expertise.

The Shell Eco-marathon has been one of the world’s leading student engineering competitions for 35 years running. For the competition, the H2politO team has built five hydrogen-powered prototype vehicles, one ICE urban concept and two hybrid urban concept vehicles.

To help reach the goal of high energy efficiency, the H2politO team selected the R&S®ScopeRider RTH handheld oscilloscope to monitor the controller area network (CAN) bus and debug the H2politO telemetry board.

The Rohde & Schwarz solution combines the unique demands on the instrument in this competition: precision measurements achieved with a solution featuring small size and portability, rugged construction and fast operation.

A strong need for on-point debugging

A dedicated part of the testing process before the race focuses on the vehicle communications systems that gather and transmit data to the pilot and the strategy division in charge of simulating and optimizing all aspects of the vehicle. The telemetry system relies on a cellular module that communicates with a specific microcontroller and peripherals via serial communication, while the sensors use a CAN bus in the car.

Standard measurement equipment either lacked the required functionality or portability – or both – to achieve proper timing, clear communications, and the capability to fix problems both on the track and in the laboratory.

The Rohde & Schwarz solution – a perfect match

After consulting with the channel sales engineer at Rohde & Schwarz Italy, the H2politO team was convinced that the R&S®ScopeRider RTH was the only solution suited to the unique T&M tasks required. The team needed a solution that was both highly portable and powerful enough to perform measurements quickly. In addition to researching the solutions available on the market, the team also considered advice from Würth, an electronics company connected to motor sports that recommended the R&S®ScopeRider RTH. The Rohde & Schwarz solution also offers special analysis functions for automotive applications to provide additional testing features.

R&S®Scope Rider handheld oscilloscope

“The R&S®ScopeRider RTH enabled full monitoring of all communications between our microcontroller and our cellular module, reducing the time for prototyping the telemetry system. In addition, the ability to take snapshots of all measurement data at the press of a button simplified and enriched our documentation for years to come.“

Marco Pascarella, Electronic Division Manager, H2politO

CAN bus and remote control

The Team H2politO design uses a CAN bus for powertrain communications. Once the messages were displayed on the screen, the component parts of each of them could be clearly seen. With this information, the team was able to adjust the timing of the engine and monitor all of the boards in the car. This helped the team to spot and fix a problem in the packet’s structure that was compromising the data stream during the data logging phase. In addition, the remote-control function of the R&S®ScopeRider RTH allowed the team to maximize the efficiency of the whole process, while students worked concurrently on the car and the firmware.

High performance on the track, in the lab and in training

The R&S®ScopeRider RTH enabled the team to implement well-displayed serial decoding and triggering of UART, SPI and CAN protocols in their testing routines. In addition, the solution helped the team reduce the power consumption of their vehicles by enabling them to monitor even the smallest signals. The 10 bit A/D resolution and high-speed acquisition system of the R&S®ScopeRider RTH enabled the H2politO team to spot the slightest error, even in the middle of the race.

An additional benefit of the R&S®ScopeRider RTH was its K201 web interface remote control option that allowed the team to work simultaneously on the oscilloscope and the computer. The ability to work simultaneously in the laboratory and on the track saved the team a considerable amount of time.

The R&S®ScopeRider RTH has a fully digital trigger and decoding unit with a sampling rate of 1.25 Gsample/s. This made it possible to easily decode serial protocols even when very slow time domain signals were displayed at the same time.

Their experience with the R&S®ScopeRider RTH confirmed for the H2politO team that the solution was a perfect match for their task. Not only did it add value to measurements taken during the Shell Eco-marathon, but it has also proven to be a useful instrument for training. The team carries out regular training, and the ease of the operation combined with the intuitive UI of the R&S®ScopeRider RTH makes it the ideal instrument for this task as well. Consequently, the solution has become one of the core elements for the education of new team members.

Troubleshooting a CAN in the laboratory.
Troubleshooting a CAN in the laboratory.