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PowerFlex - 24/7 Power Grid Monitoring Using Circaflex and NI sbRIO

PowerFlex - Power Line Monitoring & Measurement System

PowerFlex is a ready-to-use platform for energy monitoring and measurement of signals directly from the power line.

Typical Applications:

  • Continuously monitor up to 16 mains or auxiliary signals 24 x 7 x 365

  • Trigger Events from any input based standard or custom trigger definitions 

  • Record event data on all channels, perform calculations and measurements

  • Store data nearly indefinitely on the device

  • Ethernet, fiber optic, or wireless secure networking

The Challenge

An industrial controls provider approached us with the need for a system to provide 24/7 power grid monitoring in extreme weather conditions.

The Solution

Using Cyth Circaflex and NI Single-Board RIO hardware we designed a rugged monitoring system that continuously monitors the voltages across circuit breakers used in power grid applications.

The Cyth Process

Sub-stations are the locations in a grid where power is stepped down from high transmission voltages to levels that are safe for homes and businesses. To maintain fail safes in this process, circuit breakers are installed to prevent overcurrent or short-circuit failures. These circuit breakers must be tested at sub-stations annually according to state and federal law and this task has traditionally been performed by on-site work crews. An industrial control provider approached us with the need to mitigate the risk of work crews visiting sub-stations in person by creating a system that could monitor and test these breakers remotely.

Monitoring circuit breakers remotely requires a system to run 24/7. Our engineering team began by designing hardware that would run headless while continuously monitoring live events in real-time. This hardware, the NI Single-Board RIO paired with our Circaflex control system provided the I/O capabilities required of the system. The NI sb-RIO offers a user-programmable Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) which when compiled acts similarly to a hard-coded, custom silicon chip.  FPGAs are extremely deterministic and robust, and using the FPGA in this application ensured that all information on short-circuit events were captured.

Complimenting the capabilities of the NI-sbRIO our engineering team designed the Circaflex 580, an embedded signal conditioning board. We applied signal conditioning to step down the high voltages present at the substation (50 – 150 kVs) to a signal level the sbRIO was capable of reading. When the breaker is tripped, the unit does real-time analysis of voltage waveforms using proprietary algorithms to ensure the breaker is functioning within specifications. The Circaflex and NI sb-RIO controller provides the unit with the conditioning, tracking, and data storage capabilities required to monitor the voltages present at the substation.

Predesigned I/O is suitable as-is for most 

Energy Monitoring applications:

  • 12 AC Voltage measurements

  • 3 Current Transducers (CT’s)

  • 8kV Isolation

  • 10k Samples/sec synchronous data

  • Customizable voltage and current ranges

  • Powered by AC line power 

Unlimited Customization Options

  • Unlimited Sensor inputs 

  • Signal Conditioning

  • External devices or cameras

  • Communication / Networking

  • Customization not required, but...

  • Fully customizable if necessary


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