TI Ultrasonic Sensing RoadTest - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: TI Ultrasonic Sensing RoadTest

Author: Jan Cumps

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Evaluation Boards

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: I haven't evaluated comparable solutions

What were the biggest problems encountered?: The online configuration tool didn't play well with the evaluation board software (solved via support ticket). The SPI chip select signals for the main sensor ICs TDC1000 and TDC7200 are not broken out.

Detailed Review:

The  TDC1000-TDC7200EVMTDC1000-TDC7200EVM evaluation module has 5 main parts

The TDC1000 analog front-end and a pre-programmed MSP430 microcontroller on the board, a 1MHz Piezo Ceramic sensor that plugs into the board, a picosecond capable timer IC and a GUI client for on your PC.

 

I've blogged extensively about my experiences with the kit. This post is the RoadTest report.

 

 

The whole concept of liquid measurement, ultrasonic wave processing and piezo sensing was new to me. That was the main reason why I joined the roadtest.
And I learned a lot. I started with reviewing the webinar on element14, the videos published by Texas Instruments, and the application notes for ultrasonic sensing.

 

 

The whole Road Test has been a deep dive into the measure with waves and echo subject.

Theoretical subjects, such as:

- What does a piezo sensor do?
- What can I measure with it?
- How does the speed of sound help me when inspecting liquids?
- What does the time of flight of a signal tell me?

 

And practical subjects, such as:

- How do I mount a ultrasonic sensor?

- Reliable installation outside of the liquid container

- What SPI traffic is circling on the board?

- How do I configure the ICs? What are good parameters for a precise measurement?

 

The Ultrasonic Sensing landing page is a good place to start from. You can branch off to application notes that explain how to mount the sensors, presentations that explain ultrasound measurement theory and setup, and videos that walk you through the ins and outs of utlrasonic liquid inspection.

 

 

In the last couple of weeks, I've posted about every exercise I did with the board. Here's the list of posts that I made for this Road Test. Most of the blogs include video material.

 

Related Posts
RoadTest: Unboxing the TI Ultrasonic Sensing evaluation module
TI Ultrasonic Sensor - A Very First Trial of the GUI
TI Ultrasonic Sensor - Prepping the Transponder
TI Ultrasonic Sensor - First Measurements
TI Ultrasonic Sensor - Set the Parameters for Level Measurement and Content Identification
TI Ultrasonic Sensor - Show 3 Signals on a 2 Channel Oscilloscope (RIGOL DS1052E)
TI Ultrasonic Sensor - Liquid Identification and Concentration
TI Ultrasonic Sensor - Create a KiCad Part for the Sensor IC with KiPart
TI Ultrasonic Sensor - SPI Traffic Snooping

TI Ultrasonic Sensor - RoadTest Review

 

What would I like to do next?

Throughput measurement. I've played extensively with levels, speed of sound and fluid identification.
I haven't checked flow measurements yet. That's on my wishlist.

 

 

Can this kit be improved?

Yes. It would be great if the kit would include a second piezo sensor, so that you can measure level and concentration in one setup - or that you can set up liquid flow measurements.

And I'd also like to see a temperature sensor added. Temperature has a fairly significant impact on the measurements.

 

Both board and GUI are capable to deal with that.

If the evaluation board would include these two additional components, the engineer would be able to set up a comprehensive test installation in the lab, and be able to evaluate the full capabilities of the ultrasonic sensing solution.

 

 

End Verdict

The evaluation kit is really great. It covers a subject that we don't get to see that often, and gives you the tools to master the subject.

With the mix of hardware, documentation, datasheets, app notes, software and videos , you have a rich set of tools to learn an EE area that has real world relevance.
This is a great kit to evaluate TI's solution. But it's an even greater kit to master something that may give you an advantage in the job market. A full understanding of an industrial niche skill.

 

 

{gallery} RoadTest Impression

Setup before first use

Access the SPI traffic

Access the SPI traffic

Access the SPI traffic

Setup with liquid

Start signal, echo and stop pulse captured on a RIGOL1052e

SPI traffic of the TDC100: read operation

SPI traffic of the TDC100: write operation

Time of Flight diagram

GUI in action

KiCad part made with KiCad

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