R&S®Scope Rider RTH educational story uni darmstadt

Handheld oscilloscopes 03-Feb-2020

The handheld oscilloscope - R&S®Scope Rider RTH - helps on the race track

Before a race car can hit the track, its electronics must be thoroughly tested. The Formula Student (FS) competition features student-developed race cars resembling Formula 1 cars. The FaSTDa racing team from Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences equipped the F18 Clara – 2018’s race car – with extensive sensor technology.

For testing, the students relied on the R&S®Scope Rider RTH. With its isolated inputs, it enables engine voltage measurements up to 1000 V (RMS) in measurement category III. Additionally, transferred CAN bus data can be analysed with the decoding function.

Formula Student and the FaSTDa racing team

The FaSTDa racing team is a group of students at Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences who have developed and produced their tenth race car - F18 Clara - with a combustion engine as part of a project in the 2017/18 academic year. F18 Clara was publicly unveiled in late May 2018. With a 59 hp modified one-cylinder KTM engine, it accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 4 seconds and has a top speed of around 130 km/h.

The engineering design, racing performance, cost report and business plan were assessed at Formula Student Germany, the world's largest competition of its kind. Since 2006, FS Germany has taken place annually in August at the Hockenheimring circuit and is sponsored by the VDI. Comparable competitions also take place at other internationally known race tracks.

Testing requirements: an instrument to measure the engine control unit

The FaSTDa racing team received the Efficiency Award in 2017 at the Formula Student East competition in Hungary and wanted to build on this success with the F18. To further optimize efficiency, the F18 features a very light chassis and a new engine control unit.

During a race, all important parameters can be seen at a glance on the display in the cockpit, including engine speed, oil temperature, oil pressure, battery voltage and speed. Thus, numerous sensors are connected to measurement modules and send the data via a CAN bus interface to the cockpit.

For troubleshooting and optimization of the control unit, the racing team was looking for an instrument with an integrated data logger for acquisition and long-term monitoring of the sensor data. The respective oscilloscope also had to be able to analyse CAN bus data and needed to be sturdy, portable and certified for high voltage measurements.

The solution: R&S®Scope Rider RTH

The young engineers opted for the portable oscilloscope R&S®Scope Rider RTH. With its isolated inputs, it enables engine voltage measurements up to 1000 V (RMS) in measurement category III. What's more, Rohde & Schwarz has equipped the oscilloscope with special analysis functions for automotive applications to provide additional testing features.

Testing strengths of the R&S®Scope Rider RTH

The triggering and decoding options of the R&S®Scope Rider RTH support not only the conventional CAN and LIN bus protocols, but also protocol analysis functions for SENT – a serial point-to-point protocol defined specifically for sensor communications in the automotive sector. Thus, users can acquire specific events, data or error states of fast and slow SENT protocol channels. It also supports the short and enhanced message formats and the various available CRC check methods.

With the R&S®RTH-K9 CAD-FD serial triggering and decoding option based on the R&S®RTH-K3 CAN/LIN serial triggering and decoding option, the user can also analyse CAN-FD signals. At transmission rates of up to 15 Mbit/s, the CAN-FD serial bus is significantly faster than standard CAN (up to 1 Mbit/s) and is gaining importance.

The fully digital trigger and decoding unit operates at a sampling rate of 1.25 Gsample/s, irrespective of the analog or digital channel sampling rates used for signal acquisition. This makes it possible to easily decode serial protocols even when very slow time domain signals are displayed at the same time.

At the press of a button, the R&S®Scope Rider RTH displays the currently analysed protocol in table format together with additional protocol-specific information. Another benefit is the support for symbolic labels. Decoded control signals are displayed in plain text, making it very easy to work with the instrument.

The R&S®Scope Rider RTH offers a wealth of functions for automotive applications

The R&S®Scope Rider RTH offers a wealth of functions for automotive applications

Debugging CAN bus data

Debugging CAN bus data

Niklas Waldstein measuring the engine control unit of the F17 to test Ignition interruption

Niklas Waldstein measuring the engine control unit of the F17 to test Ignition interruption

F18 Clara on the wet surface of the Most circuit in the Czech Republic

F18 Clara on the wet surface of the Most circuit in the Czech Republic

Reliable performance and convincing race results

At the first race of the 2018 season in late July in Most (Czech Republic), F18 Clara came 12th out of 32 teams despite unfavourable circumstances. The race was stopped prematurely due to a thunderstorm. In early August 2018, the team achieved a very respectable 16th place with the F18 Clara at the Hockenheimring circuit in a field of 58 teams with combustion engines. In the last race of the season at the end of August 2018 on the slippery pavement of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the F18 managed to achieve 10th place overall.

That season, the car once again showed that it performs reliably even under adverse conditions.

RTH Scope Rider
RTH Scope Rider
RTH Scope Rider

R&S®Scope Rider handheld oscilloscope

Key facts

  • Bandwidth: 60 MHz to 500 MHz
  • Sample rate: up to 5 Gsample/s
  • Memory depth: up to 500 ksample, 50 Msample segmented memory

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