alma automotive: custom solutions for engine development and testIng

Combustion analysis systems

Distinctive features at a glance

  • Direct connection to standard crankshaft position sensors, without any crank angle adapter needed
  • Time-based combustion analysis system
  • Time-to-Angle conversion performed with the interpolation approach for the highest precision
  • Real-time calculation of indicating parameters
  • Combustion parameters updated and published on CAN cycle-by-cycle
  • Easy integration with ETAS INCA®, VECTOR CANape® and ATI VISION®, or any environment supporting CAN data measurement.
  • User interface for in-cylinder pressure and combustion data monitoring
  • Data acquisition based on analog trigger or event-based (limit value violations)     


Combustion analysis parameters integrated and synchronized in INCA®


Real-Time combustion analysis

The combustion analysis system evaluates in Real-Time and publishes on the CAN network:

  • Pmax, APmax
  • Cumulative Heat Release
  • MFBxx angles (xx defined by user, for example: MFB10, MFB50, MFB90)
  • Knock indexes (MAPO and integral)


Configuration of the algorithms includes (but is not limited to):

  • Engine geometry
  • Low-pass and high-pass digital filtering of pressure data (IIR, 2nd order)
  • Angular window for knock analysis
  • Crankshaft reference sensor and analog input filter delays (delay compensations)

Software functionalities 

  • Oscilloscope, for cylinder pressure signals monitoring, with overlap and time-based function
  • Main page with moving average values of combustion parameters
  • Tabs with statistical analysis (CoV, max, min, average, percentile) of combustion parameters
  • Chart with selectable combustion parameter trend over the last 1000 engine cycles
  • Automatic TDC determination, with pressure sensor or capacitive TDC sensor
  • X-Y graphs with IMEP vs MFB50 and MAPO vs MFB50 (X and Y axis can alternatively be defined by user) 

The Combustion Analysis System can be implemented on different hardware platforms:  

OBI-M2: our most compact combustion analysis tool

Thanks to its rugged and compact package OBI-M2 is the best solution for Combustion Analysis in Vehicles and Motorbikes, ideal for on-board engine calibration and control from passenger cars to racing applications.   


HeatIT is based on National Instruments hardware platforms and can be integrated with other applications, such as Test Bench control. Take a look to some solutions we developed for our customers. 

Test Bench control systems

Strong of our long term experience in engine testing, we are able to offer solutions that are individually tailored to our customers needs. 


TestIT layout 1



Layout hardware:

TestIT layout 2

  • Real-Time OS
  • FPGA: fast digital and analog signals management
  • I/O signals 
    • Analog Input/Output
    • Thermocouples
    • Thermistors
    • Relay
    • Digital Input/Output
    • Counters
    • CAN
    • RS232




Layout software:

  • Easy-to-use and easy-to-configure host interface
  • Standard functionalities
    • Data acquisition
    • Configurable logger functions (MEMO, post-mortem, etc.)
    • Actuators management and feedback control
    • Limit values monitoring and alarms management
    • User defined variables, based on algebraic operations on input/costants
    • Automatic test management
    • Graphical representation of acquired variables 
    • Signals plausibility assessment
    • Interface support with external measurement devices
  • Possibility of developing ad hoc functionalities, even if not defined in the initial specification requirements 

 TestIT host

Example of TestIT user interface, it can be configured, saved to and loaded from file  



Thanks to the flexibility offered by National Instruments hardware and our wide range of solutions installed at our customers companies, the Test Bench system can be implemented on different hardware platforms.

Should you be interested in knowing more, you might want to take a look at TESTIT and one of our custom solutions.   


Hardware In the Loop systems

Thanks to our strong know-how about modeling of internal combustion engine systems (see RESEARCH section), we are capable of developing HIL systems featuring complete engine and vehicle models.


Common features at a glance: 

  • Based on National Instruments software (VeriStand) and hardware (PXI, CompactRIO fpr simpler applications)
  • Model-based (Simulink)/data replier: engine-vehicle models available
  • Custom signal conditioning (Fault Insertion Units, conditioning for high voltage generation/acquisition)
  • Custom exchangeable Load boards





Rapid Control Prototyping systems

Alma Automotive has matured insightful experience in ECU simulation and prototyping. In particular we offer our customers the possibility to implement a V-ECU (Virtual Engine Control Unit) in short time scale. We are capable of developing RCP systems for functional bypass and new strategies validation as well.


The three main levels of intervention can be defined as:

  • Parallel ECU - the unit based on National Instruments hw/sw works in parallel with the original ECU. This allows the implementation of functions that the original ECU cannot manage
  • ECU bypass - a single function or a group of functions can be implemented on National Instruments hw/sw, while the main controller (ECU) remains active
  • ECU Full-pass - a complete engine control system is implemented on National Instruments hw/sw (Compact RIO or Single-Board RIO).


Only a few examples of solutions developed for our customers are given below. Should you be interested in knowing more, you might want to take a look at some Case Studies or contact us


Parallel ECU - MultiSpark generator 

The Compact RIO receives the low-power ECU ignition command and outputs the multi-spark pattern 


Parallel ECU - Multi turbo/electric turbo management

The Compact RIO controls the boost pressure, by means of the electric turbo (or managing the valves) 



ECU bypass

The ECU is set to receive Spark Advance (SA) corrections from an external unit. The Compact RIO (or PXI) running HEATIT RT is used to analyze the combustion process. An optimization tool running in RT or in host changes Spark Advance according to IMEP, Knock indexes, exhaust temperature, and other variables. 
The approach can be used for on-line evaluation/calibration of control/diagnostic algorithms (misfire detection, knock detection, torque estimation, etc.)
ECU bypass


ECU full-pass 

Formula Student & tractor pulling ECUs developed on Compact RIO platforms. The control system has been designed starting from scratch. Basic control algorithms (lambda control) and advanced  functions (traction control, launch control, water injection, etc.) developed in LabVIEW RT/FPGA. Calibration/telemetry interfaces accessible from host-PC.
ECU fullpass
Rapid Control Prototyping systems can be implemented on MIRACLE, our in-house designed Micro Rapid Controller & Logging Environment.

Very compact and rugged Rapid Control Prototyping platform with comprehensive I/O, fast processor running a RTOS and FPGA. Powered by National Instruments and programmable in Labview.



National Instruments


Unibo Motorsport


NIDays 2013

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