Thursday, August 28, 2014

What is fine resolution?

The technology used to enhance the resolution of a digital image is known as super resolution. Over the course of digital imaging system development, many different techniques of super resolution have been developed; each with its advantages and disadvantages. A thermal imag­ing system assimilates the resolution enhancement technology used in digital imaging system to improve on its resolution. The TrueIR thermal imager uses a specific multi-frame super resolution technique and algorithms that is known as fine resolution, which enhances the resolution of a thermal image by four times.

So what is fine resolution and how does it work?

It can be summarized to 3 main processes – Acquisition, Super-position, Reconstruction.

Each of the above mentioned processes have different tasks on its own.


Whenever the trigger button is pressed, the thermal imager will automatically capture multiple images of the same scene continuously. It also assumes that each of the images or frames taken is shifted, due to natural hand movement of the thermographer. Also, during the acquisition, all the frames are automatically up-scaled to higher resolution images through interpolation technique – predicting image pixels using data from adjacent pixels that has been captured initially. The technique is very similar to a curve fitting mathematic function. The new pixels are predictive values instead of measured values.
The interpolation process is fast, hence, the high resolution inter­polated images are real time. Instead of showing the real time low resolution image on the display, the interpolated high resolution images are displayed on the LCD, which serves as a view finder for the thermal image, just like a digital camera.


As mentioned, each of the frames taken through multi-frame acquisition process is slightly shifted. Therefore, overlapping the frames without any intelligence will not work. In this process, feature points from each of the frames needs to be identified, positioned and aligned together before being superimposed to form a high resolution image. Figure 1 below illustrates this process.

Figure 1: Super-position


Superposition process above might incur some noise into the thermal image, causing it to be fuzzy. Hence, at this stage, many mathematical models and image processing techniques are used, such as an averaging algorithm for noise reductions and an edge enhancement algorithm for image sharpening.

The Result

Here’s a simple lab test to prove the point. We simply measure the temperature of a slim 1-mm vertival bar at a fixed distance. Figure 2 illustrates the ability of the TrueIR detector’s array to capture the thermal image of the slim bar. Due to limitation of the physical iFOV discussed earlier, if a single frame is used (in this example that means only Frame 1 is used), only the average temperature of the bar is recorded, which is inaccurate.

Figure 2: Detector's pixel arrays

Through multi-frame acquisitions, Fine Resolution is able to recover sub-pixel information. Figure 3 shows the test result comparison between using a detector with 160 x 120 pixels versus the results obtained using a fine resolution imager which generates an image with 320 x 240 pixels. Fine resolution provides 1.5x better iFOV, thus resulting in 1.5x more accurate temperature measurement. So you get to reap the benefit of a 320 x 240 pixels thermal imager for just a fraction of the cost!
Figure 3: Lab test resuts (1-mm bar)

Sample Fine Resolution IR images taken with Keysight's U5855A TrueIR thermal imager

To read more about Fine Resolution capability, click here

The U5855A TrueIR thermal imager

Or to learn more about U5855A TrueIR thermal imager, go to Keysight U5855A TrueIR thermal imager

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Preventive Maintenance test with Insulation Resistance Test, Part 3

Part 1 provides an overview on the insulation resistance test in preventive maintenance. To read part 1, click here.
Part 2 covers the insulation resistance test methods. To read part 2, click here.
Test Voltage Selection
As the insulation resistance test consists of the high DC voltage, the appropriate test voltage has to be selected to avoid over stressing the insulation, which may lead to insulation failure. The test voltage applied to should be based on the product/equipment manufacturer recommendations. If the test voltage is not specified, industrial standards and practices may be applied.   The following guideline for rotating machinery shown in Table 2 may be adopted in the absent of the manufacturer’s data.

Table 2 Guidelines for DC voltage to be applied during insulation resistance test (extracted from IEEE Std 43-2000)

  Winding rated voltage (V)1
  Insulation resistance test direct voltage (V)
  < 1000
  1000 - 2500
  500 - 1000
  2501 - 5000
  1000 - 2500
  5001 – 12000
  2500 – 5000
  > 12000
  5000 - 10000
1 Rated line-to-line voltage for three-phase AC machines, line-to-ground voltage for single-phase machines, and rated direct voltage for DC machines or field windings.

Table 3 insulation Resistance Test Values Electrical Apparatus and System (extracted from NETA ATS-2007 Acceptance Testing Specifications for Electrical Power Distribution Equipment and Systems)

In the absence of consensus standards dealing with insulation-resistance tests, the Standards Review Council suggests the above representative values.

Test results are dependent on the temperature of the insulating material and the humidity of the surrounding environment at the time of the test. Insulation-resistance test data may be used to establish a trending pattern. Deviations from the baseline information permit evaluation of the insulation.

The test voltage may vary according to the international standards. Consulting the product/equipment manufacturer for the proper test voltage values is recommended.

Determination of Minimum Insulation Resistance

The IEEE Std 43-2000 indicates that the minimum insulation resistance for AC and DC machine stator windings and rotor windings can be determined by:

Rm = kV + 1
  • Rm is the recommended minimum insulation resistance in MΩ at 40 °C of the entire machine winding, and
  • kV is the rated machine terminal-to-terminal voltage in kV unit

Table 4 Recommended minimum insulation resistance values at 40 °C (extracted from IEEE Std 43-2000)
Minimum insulation resistance (MΩ)
  Test specimen
  IR1 min = kV + 1
  For most windings made before about 1970, all field windings, and others not described below
  IR1 min = 100
  For most dc armature and ac windings built after about 1970 (form-wound coils)
  IR1 min = 5
  For most machines with random-wound stator coils and form-wound coils rated below 1 kV

Safety consideration

As insulation resistance testing involves high DC voltage application, the following safety precautions should be taken:
  • Make sure that the device under test is discharged.
  • Conduct the test at the de-energized condition to ensure that no test voltage other than that from the insulation resistance tester is applied.
  • Restrict personal access when high voltage testing is being conducted.
  • Use of personal protective equipment (e.g. protective gloves) where applicable. 
  • Ensure suitable test leads are used and that they are in good condition. Using unsuitable test leads not only contributes to errors in readings, they may be hazardous.
After the test, make sure the device is fully discharged. This can be done by shorting the terminal with a suitable resistor. A minimum discharge time of four times the applied voltage duration is recommended. Some insulation resistance testers may have the built in self discharge circuit to ensure a safe discharge after the test. Testers with this feature ensure devices are safely discharged after every test.

When planning for a maintenance program, equipment that needs maintenance needs to be identified, and priorities set accordingly. A motor or machine that supports the whole line should be a high priority. The frequency of checks to be conducted should also be defined. The frequency can be varied from unit to unit depending on the criticalness of the unit in the environment. Past history will be a good guide for determining when the next maintenance activities will be needed.
The maintenance record should cover the following:
  1. Date of the test
  2. Test voltage and current
  3. Test time
  4. Insulation resistance value
  5. Temperature of winding/equipment
  6. Identification of the equipment/device under test
  7. Parts or equipment that were included in the test
  8. Relative humidity
As with every preventive maintenance program, record keeping and plotting of consecutive readings can identify trends and enable you to predict and plan for the next action.

Periodic testing is the best approach for preventive maintenance of electrical equipment and charting result values helps in monitoring the trend of the insulation resistance, which helps predict the future need for action.