Sens-X Vehicle Current Measurement Hardware System

Sens-X Hardware

Sens-X vehicle current measurement system form factorsSens-X vehicle current measurement hardware allows engineers to investigate current draw of embedded systems within vehicles and test boards.

In modern vehicles there has been a significant increase in the number of electronic hardware devices connected to the vehicle battery, each of which has the potential to cause supply issues.

Once of the key challenges in modern systems design is being able to test and demonstrate there are no low power or quiescent power issues. This is especially true for systems that consume relatively high power when operating, but very low power when in a dormant or standby state. The problem is that it is often difficult to find instruments that can measure both the highest and lowest current levels with the appropriate resolution and accuracy.

Sens-X vehicle current measurement hardware can be used to help find and test for electrical supply scenarios such as flat battery, overload or transient power issues by monitoring one or more ECU (Electronic Control Unit) supplies.

Sens-X is a range of current measurement devices that can be plugged directly into the fuse box, fuse holder or similar repositories for specific current measurement testing. It is designed for engineers seeking compact, high dynamic range current measurement that can be used from vehicle breadboards up to whole vehicles.

Sens-X sensors measure currents, voltages and transients at levels from over 1000A to sub-milliamp, and can stream data onto CAN. The system can support up to 100 sensors per CAN bus and offers a sample rate of up to 1000S/s. Noise levels approximate to 0.002% of the rated current. This allows for accurate diagnosis of quiescent current issues.

Available with a range of sensitivity and high response variants, these smartfuses are particularly appropriate to automotive testing and development, but are also applicable to many other markets. These devices support current measurement simply by replacing a fuse with the Sens-X smartfuse.

Software is provided to configure and monitor the Sens-X network using an intuitive GUI, or alternatively any CAN 2.0b compatible system can be used.


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Form factors

Sens-X isn’t just one singular product; it is a range of in-vehicle current measurement devices that can be configured to meet almost any testing requirement. There are two different form factors of Sens-X smartfuses, which are typically connected by CAN networking, cabling and adaptors. Sens-X smartfuses are single, DSP based plug-in boards that can be sleeved, un-sleeved or enclosed, as appropriate for the particular installation. Sens-X TVC units connect in series with the vehicle battery and measure current flow throughout the entire vehicle or breadboard, again sending data out via the CAN network.

Sens-X smartfuses can be used with fuse holders, fuse boxes, or any other appropriate connectivity. They are specially designed for test, development, and systems engineers looking for compact, high dynamic range current measurement that can be used in vehicles and vehicle yellowboards.

These smartfuses either connect in-circuit via specialist connectors, as required for test and laboratory applications, or plug directly into automotive fuse-holder, creating a real fuse with current and voltage measurement capability.

Smartfuses can be supplied in an enclosed unit to allow a more flexible solution, supporting easily replaceable fuses and a range of interchangeable probe accessories. They can also be supplied for use in high density fuse boxes or within a DIN rail mountable unit for increased versatility around the lab.

Once you’ve selected the appropriate form factors, you can customise your Sens-X system according to your measurement and protection requirements.

Smartfuses are also available with a range of sample rates offering a highest measurement frequency of 1000S/s and noise levels approvimate to 0.002% of the rated current.

Sens-X vehicle current measurement 30A Piggy Back Adapter

Sens-X vehicle current measurement fuse DDIN format

Sample rate of 20-22bit measurements Tick
Supply range of 5A – 80A in 5A increments Tick
Voltage measurement -30V to 30V Tick
Minimum resolution 0.3μA Tick
Maximum resolution 9.5nA for restricted headroom Tick

The TVC (Total Vehicle Current) enclosed variant is designed for measuring the current taken by an entire vehicle, requiring substantially higher power capability. It features three smartfuses mounted inside a unit that also includes appropriate temperature control.

TVC smartfuses are used where extremely high currents are required with the ability to resolve low currents without range switching. This means they can perform key-off load testing on the same device during engine cranking sequences.

Sens-X TVC units are also compatible with any commercially available CAN logging packages. Alternatively, our GDSP GUI running VISUALCONNX can be used to configure bespoke interfaces.

Total vehicle current measurement unit (horizontal view)

Total vehicle current measurement unit

Sample rate 60S/s Tick
Supply range of 400A continuously or 1000A in short bursts Tick
Minimum resolution 0.3μA Tick
Connection in series to the vehicle battery Tick
Suitable for use in engine bay Tick

Key features

Small enough to plug directly into a fusebox Tick CAN interface allows around 100 devices per bus Tick
Different formats available Tick Bipolar current measurement Tick
Exceptionally high dynamic current measurement range Tick On-board temperature monitoring Tick
Large number of current range and speed option Tick EEPROM storage of configuration data Tick
Voltage measurements from both sides of the fuse Tick Temporary current offset facility Tick
Isolation ensures minimal draw from the current path Tick Status LEDs to indicate calibration, data and more Tick

How does Sens-X work?

The Sens-X range comprises of a range of ‘plug and go’ devices for many points of measurement, allowing quick and efficient testing. It replaces vehicle fuses with smartfuses that provide sensitive measurement in the space normally taken by the fuse. Using a pre-configured GUI, each smartfuse can be monitored and configured to broadcast its data onto CAN using streaming support, or alternatively can be polled if required. The smartfuse contains an actual fuse to protect against over-measurement.

Sens-X systems can be adapted to measure new test boards or prototypes, meaning a system suitable for testing one environment can be redeployed by simply deconstructing its constituent parts. A range of adapters are available to accommodate an assortment of automotive fuse socket types. A form factor is also available that connects in series with the vehicle battery to measure total vehicle current. Any variety of automotive fuse can be accommodated on request if desired.

Sens-X vehicle current measurement system setup overview

Protection options

Sens-X smartfuses are optionally available with in-line automotive fuse connections. A range of standard automotive fuses can be easily fitted into the socket pictured below. Other, alternative models feature onboard fuses that can be easily replaced.

Vehicle current measurement in-line protection fuse capability

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