Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel manual & software required

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Q-Prof
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Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel manual & software required

Post by Q-Prof » Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:35 am

Anyone that could help, greatly appreciated:

Background:
Back around 2001-03, through our school I picked up a Airtech 40ic wind tunnel from Pitsco supplier for use with our grade 9 tech course. It was used mostly for testing F1/co2 dragsters. It interfaced with a computer, I think running Windows 95 at the time, and with a electronic test bed sensor inside the wind tunnel and hooked up to a game port on the computer would test for drag and wheel weight at both ends with about 40-50 mph wind speed.

History:
The program changed and I ended up with other course responsibilities, now 10 plus years later, resulting in the manual and software going missing, leaving a perfectly great working wind tunnel minus the manual and application interface software. Refreshing the tech course/program I am not getting any support from the supplier/manufacture of this unit at all, have not been successful in obtaining the operation manual, nor the software (was on a 3.5" floppy disk at the time) and am hoping that someone reading this has this unit with the manual and software, so that they may be able to pass on.

Require:
Getting the manual and software will enable students to be able to test their projects in the wind tunnel, learn from their prototyping, and all about aerodynamics in a practical hands-on view.

Related Pictures:
Picture of Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel
Image
Larger image of Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel:
http://mfranzen.ca/images/pics/classes/ ... nnel-l.jpg
A closer look on the larger image you can see in the centre of wind tunnel(inside), the white testing bed sensor and just below that sitting on a scanner is the hardware control interface that runs a game port cable to the computer.

Picture of a printed project test report from the interface software
Image
Larger image of a printed project test report from the interface software:
http://mfranzen.ca/images/pics/classes/ ... -rpt-l.jpg

Help!
If anyone reading this has or knows someone with the Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel, I could sure use your help here in obtaining the operation manual and application interface software. Or maybe you have another suggestion on where I can look, or who can help me here.
Once I have the manual/software, I can try to get this working, so students can use with their racing project design
and hands-on testing.
"Quality of life is too valuable to take short cuts. By constantly improving our habits and striving to do our best, will dramatically improve the quality of our lives"

notsofast
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Re: Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel manual & software required

Post by notsofast » Sat Jul 28, 2018 12:46 pm

Someone sold one on eBay not too long ago. Perhaps you could ask the seller to put you in touch with the buyer?

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Pitsco-AirTech ... 2945817583

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Re: Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel manual & software required

Post by Q-Prof » Sat Jul 28, 2018 7:49 pm

Thanks notsofast for the suggestion...
that is the standard unit that does not come with the computer hardware interface (it comes with a built in measuring/reporting interface), and therefor will not have the correct manual nor any software to match the upgraded model I have. This model in the ebay ad (Airtech 40) is a little more common, as I tried to find one for sale somewhere a couple of months ago, and was thinking also to contact the buyer, but had no luck finding the same model so far. After that I spoke to Shane Shepherd, Customer Service & Technical Support Specialist, at Pitsco , and apparently do not have the software or manual, which I think is poor customer service/support as they should have it on hand for this very reason.

This is why I am hoping someone reads this and happens to have this unit, will still have the manual and software to share with me. I have already purchased a game multi-port adapter to USB, just need the software, as I could probably get by without the manual, but would be nice to have also.
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Re: Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel manual & software required

Post by flynfrog » Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:54 am

It might be easier to get it working by just writing new software. Try getting a hold of someone at National Instruments. They used to give out there CRIOs like candy for education. You could just hook it up to the strain gauges and get your data. They have pretty good canned code to report out values. If you have a FRC team at your school they phased out the RIOs a few years ago.

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Re: Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel manual & software required

Post by Q-Prof » Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:05 am

Well Flynfrog,
If I don't get any further with obtaining the software, that sounds like something to discuss with our FRC team next school semester and this maybe a project that will give them a practical real life challenge to work on.
Thanks for this suggestion, I never actually considered that, but it may just be possible to do.
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Re: Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel manual & software required

Post by Greg Locock » Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:32 am

flynfrog That's a great idea. Dare I suggest Arduino?

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Re: Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel manual & software required

Post by Greg Locock » Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:51 am

Another approach would be to replace all the electronic instrumentation with manual equivalents (manometer and balance scales). Then instead of pressing a button the students will have to write stuff down and analyse it themselves.

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Re: Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel manual & software required

Post by Q-Prof » Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:24 am

Greg,
Yes that too is a good idea also, if I can find the instrumentation that will work in that wind tunnel cavity.
Students can always learn more from manual measuring then as you say just push a button.

For their project the top two things they have to be concerned with is weight, then wheel friction.... the last is aerodynamics for this racing project design and build.
We have a digital scale for the static weight and we use a free roll for distance to measure the friction, and the wind tunnel would be used for the aerodynamics. So obviously if they can max out the design for weight and friction, then aerodynamics is the last hurtle/challenge, but in grade 9, some still don't seem to get past minimizing the weight challenge.

Anyways, two good ideas so far from this thread, manual instrumentation and/or get a FRC RIO/Arduino/ or similar controller to interface with new programming code.

It still would be nice to get the original software app, so in the mean time I will look at both alternative ideas, as possibilities.
"Quality of life is too valuable to take short cuts. By constantly improving our habits and striving to do our best, will dramatically improve the quality of our lives"

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Re: Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel manual & software required

Post by notsofast » Sun Jul 29, 2018 8:02 pm

Don't give up on Pitsco just yet. It's possible that their customer support personnel haven't been around very long and have little knowledge of older models. Ask if you can pretty-please speak to an engineer who has been there for a long time. There's probably someone there who has something useful in his/her desk drawer.

You could search LinkedIn for anyone who has Pitsco on their CV.

Are you sure the latest software won't work with the older model? They seem to have something called Scout Data Acquisition software.

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Re: Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel manual & software required

Post by flynfrog » Mon Jul 30, 2018 1:14 am

Greg Locock wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:32 am
flynfrog That's a great idea. Dare I suggest Arduino?
It would be fine for this as its steady state but the refresh rate is crap for data logging. I stuck at programming and the pre canned NI code for DAQ works well for me. It also outputs colorful graphs out of the box without crunching files in excel.

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Re: Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel manual & software required

Post by Q-Prof » Mon Jul 30, 2018 1:43 am

Yes I hear you on that notsofast (appreciate your continued ideas)... When I with spoke to Shane Shepherd, Customer Service & Technical Support Specialist, at Pitsco, (e-mail and phone) he told me in an e-mail:
I talked to the engineer who originally designed this wind tunnel. Unfortunately he confirmed that the age of the tunnel makes it very difficult to support with modern technology/computers. If you’ve got a computer with Windows XP, he suggested you give that a try from the operating system perspective. We typically do not maintain software updates on equipment of this age, given the difficulty in finding computers that will support it. As for the USB-to-gameport adapter – he hasn’t heard of this before so it’s difficult to make a recommendation.

We do have an extensive collection of our manuals and other support, and we also maintain an inventory of parts for older equipment. Also, our engineer and many of our curriculum developers have been with Pitsco for 20+ years so we are usually able to help out when it comes to older equipment. The challenge comes in when technology is several generations newer than the equipment, and we’ve shifted priorities our development and maintenance to newer equipment.

I wish I had better news for you. Don’t hesitate to reach back out if you think of another way we might be able to assist.
The first part I can work with... i.e. just get an older computer with an older operating system, or try a newer computer with a game port adapter to USB. At the time of my conversation with Shane, I was optimistic that I would get the software, so I ordered a multi configured game port adapter, and was considering to run the original software in either a virtual environment or just run the executable in a compatibility mode.
The second paragraph was emphasizing their focus in support and direction.

I later received a manual from him that he had found from another office (pdf) but it was for the wrong model and was little help, as the software was the real requirement to get the unit going.

I still find it hard to realize that Pitsco would not have extra copies or at least a server with copies of software versions like all the tech companies I know do keep.

I will try and contact again and maybe I can find another person who can try in finding another engineer/service person that may have copies, although he told me there was only the one that Shane knew of at the time. I think the office that Shane works out of is in the States and they may have another office/service centre here in Canada that I can contact. I just have to find that contact info first.
"Quality of life is too valuable to take short cuts. By constantly improving our habits and striving to do our best, will dramatically improve the quality of our lives"

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Re: Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel manual & software required

Post by Q-Prof » Mon Jul 30, 2018 1:54 am

flynfrog,
Arduino, not the best in your opinion because of the data logging - noted...
so cRIO would be the best to use as the program mods already in place to support the data logging/tracking and reporting effectively.

Good to know.
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Re: Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel manual & software required

Post by flynfrog » Mon Jul 30, 2018 2:32 am

The ardunio would work ok for what you are doing. everything is steady state so sample rate is not a big deal. I have had good luck with the NI stuff and they used to give it away for free to EDU programs. If I am spending my own money you could probably buy a few hundred Arduino for what a NI daq costs. Keep in mind either route will work better with a clean power supply. You may need an op amp for each channel to work with the Ardinio. You will need to be reading in the milivolt range.

Keep in mind a CRIO can do about 10,000 times more than you need we used them on entire aircraft with 100s of strain gauges.

The Arduinuo might be a good class project too and they are cheap.

It might be worth opening it up and seeing what the strain gauges look like they should have the bridges on them already this will make your life simpler.

Another option might be a PLC the automation direct ones are pretty cheap. Just make sure you get one with enough analog inputs. Again might need op amps to read milivolts.


How did the tunnel interface with the computer? Was it serial or parallel port that box might be the amplifier?

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Re: Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel manual & software required

Post by flynfrog » Mon Jul 30, 2018 2:39 am

Sorry for the brain dump here. There is a NI product called CompactDAQ you can then get a module for reading strain gauges that you just plug in and go. These are much simpler than the full on RIOs.

http://www.ni.com/en-us/shop/select/compactdaq-chassis

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Re: Pitsco Airtech 40ic wind tunnel manual & software required

Post by Q-Prof » Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:59 pm

Again, I thank you all for your input and suggestions on other possibilities.

Yes Flynfrog, I seen one of those on one of our robots used in the past.... if I don't get anywhere with someone sharing the software with me, I will talk to our robotics team and see what extra's they have, and using the right hardware mods and see if they can program to software.

It is frustrating as everything is all there(see below), just missing the software, lol. Pitsco has a current controller interface for over $1000.00 with their current wind tunnel which includes the base plate sensors, a pendent display, and a computer usb interface with software. Most of the cost is the wind tunnel itself, so hopefully I can get this working without spending a lot.

More detail on sensor base and sensors:
The wind tunnel itself has a sealed plastic white base where three sensors are located (if you look closely in the picture you can see it through the test window chamber in the centre) that has the two wheel weight sensors and a small arm to hook your eyelet under the car to get the drag pull force, and it also has a small propeller module in the upper, top, back corner of the wind testing chamber that plugs into the white base.

All of that is connected to a 15 pin game port connector which connects to their hardware controller. Their hardware controller has it's own power supply (not sure what voltage it needs at the moment), calibration adjuster for small drag arm sensor, and another output for a game port cable to plug into a computer.

See picture below:
Image
Larger image: http://mfranzen.ca/images/pics/classes/ ... face-l.jpg

Everything is there, ready to go, just need to power up hardware controller with correct DC feed (manual would help with that... I do have two power bricks, one of which I am sure goes with this unit but not 100% sure which one), and install needed software. If I get the software, then it would just be working out the compatibility with OS (or just use an older computer with old OS and game port) using the multi game port configuration adapter or:
get a new controller cRio/CompacDAQ or Arduino - see if it can read signals (mini op amp maybe?) and write the code, or:
Get new sensors altogether that are more compatible with new controller and then code.

Obviously the easiest to resolve this would be the acquiring the software. Ugh!
If only one other person that has this model and would see this request, it would be a great help!

I am sure I am not the only person who bought one of these back in 2000, there must be others with working units still being used, where are they? I would think that Pitsco could just look up who they shipped the models to, but looks like they don't have that info either.
"Quality of life is too valuable to take short cuts. By constantly improving our habits and striving to do our best, will dramatically improve the quality of our lives"