Overview of Different Software Tools
We have two different software packages: the Lab and the Analyzer. Both are free and compliment each other so we recommend you download and utilize both! In this article, we'll explain the differences between them and when each may be more pertinent to meet your needs.
In this Article
Comparison of Features
The following table provides a simplified comparison of features with additional discussion on each topic below with follow-on links.
| Best for
||Device configuration, initial plotting, batch file conversion||Analysis|
| Programming language
| Requires installation?
Each Software's Core Competency
The Lab software has a robust UI for configuring devices (see article), initial plotting (see article), and batch exporting fully calibrated/converted data (see article). The plotting is memory efficient to allow for quickly opening up all of the different sensor channels in different tabs which the user can then zoom into areas of interest. A screenshot is provided below with various tabs opened to highlight how much information across many channels can be visually displayed in one window.
The memory efficiency that the Lab software utilizes for quickly displaying data can also make it not ideal for post-processing and analysis. Which ultimately led Mide to develop the Analyzer software with the primary focus of analyzing recorded data. The Analyzer utilizes the MATLAB runtime and libraries (discussed in the next section) to provide many analysis functions that can quickly execute to provide meaninful plots and figures to best understand the nature of your test and environment.
Where the Lab only loads individual data points necessary for plot views, the Analyzer loads everything into memory to make matrix operations quick and easy after initial loading. Analysis functions that are supported by the Analyzer include:
- Digital filtering
- Fully loaded plots of the waveform
For more on the Analyzer software, see this article. The Analyzer software (and the Lab software) are not done, see the future section that discusses new features planned.
Programming Language Used
The Lab software is written in Python which is completely free and open source. The Analyzer software is written in MATLAB which is controlled (and developed) by MathWorks. The main difference between the two programming languages is that very fact that one is free and open while the other is paid and managed by a single commercial entity. In some cases, it can be beneficial for the low cost and transparency that Python provides, but on the other hand, this can lead to licensing issues and a sprawling list of different libraries to utilize to meet your needs. We wrote a blog a few years ago that goes into more depth comparing the two programming languages: MATLAB vs Python.
Many users have MATLAB licenses themselves which allow them to also use the various libraries we've developed to write their own scripts. Files converted to MAT with the Analyzer software will contain all the information in the IDE file, whereas converted MAT files from the Lab only contain the final array of the data of interest. This article provides more information on how to manipulate converted MAT files with the libraries of the Analyzer.
The Lab software is a standalone executable that requires no installation of drivers. The Analyzer utilizes the MATLAB runtime and therefore requires an installation. The instructions for that installation are available here.
Comparison of Future Development Directions
The Lab software will evolve into more of a scripting environment where users can utilize Python libraries we develop and example scripts to perform their own analysis functions with code. Because Python is so versatile, this software will also be able to be integrated into the backend of any cloud-based analysis tools we develop in the future. The software will also be able to better handle "live" events that are necessary when the recorders begin serving the needs of conditioning monitoring applications.
The Analyzer software will continue to add analysis functions into the GUI. Some that are planned in the near future:
- Integration and double integration
- Moving metrics (moving RMS, peak-to-peak, etc.)
- Windowing in PSDs and FFTs
- Phase response of FFT
- Frequency and amplitude over time
- Quaternions converted to Eulers
- Resultant acceleration and vector angles for tilt
- Find peaks routine to pick off various events/peaks in both the time and frequency domain
- Smoothing for cleaner plots
We have also partnered with Tom Irvine to bring his Vibrationdata Signal Analysis and Structural Dynamics Package to everyone. Right now he freely provides the code (and updates it several times a month!) but this can't be utilized by folks that don't have MATLAB licenses. We'll be able to compile that tool and publish it quarterly with Tom's updates so that non-MATLAB customers can get the benefit of all of his analysis capabilities. And, of course, this will be provided for free!