A medical device manufacturer contacted ProDigiSys to redesign a piece of drug research equipment, used to analyze respiration rates and cardiac waveforms of pre-clinical research subjects. The product line was aging; many features had fallen behind those of competitors and some electrical components had been discontinued. The original system was a multi-slot, multi-card chassis ranging from three to ten slots, depending on the buyer’s configuration needs. The management team was also seeking a reduction in size from the previous version, and the ability to manufacture the re-designed system using multiple supplier components instead of single or sole-sourced components.
PDS analyzed the existing system and several popular cards, such as the DAC waveform generator and multi-channel ADC card, working through a requirements document to capture which features and interfaces to carry over in the redesign. A new system specification was written, and the new system architecture was designed around a Xilinx Virtex FPGA. The previous system lacked USB interfaces, so a USB interface compatible with PCs in the market was added.
“PDS’ system, PCB and Xilinx FPGA expertise supported the client through a system redesign enabling the improvement and extension of the client’s bio-medical drug research product line.
PDS designed an 8-layer PCB supporting the new, extendable system architecture, which allowed future expansion of I/O ports and a video card. VHDL was used in the FPGA, and C code was used to support the USB interface of an embedded Cypress USB controller. A VHDL interface was written to control multiple DAC channels and up to 16 ADC channels, and to match the customer’s previous Windows application. The latter was important to avoid a rewrite of the existing desktop PC software. This required careful design of the register interface logic and sampled data packets. Additionally, an interface PCB was designed to support up to 20 BNC bulkhead mounted jacks.
The result was a significantly smaller, single card system with a single USB interface to configure ADCs and DACs. The new design enabled the capture of respiration and cardiac waveforms via a USB interface, without a software rewrite. PDS’ redesign successfully enabled the customer to breathe new life into the product line, achieving their business goals while enabling their algorithm expert to focus on improving their secret sauce.
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