VisionGauge software and systems for visual inspectionVISIONx machine vision software and visual inspection systemsVisionGauge OnLine machine vision software
ADVANCED VISUAL INSPECTION AND HIGH ACCURACY MEASUREMENT SOLUTIONS

VisionGauge«
Latest Improvements

VISIONx INC. is always working to improve VisionGauge«. The main improvements and new features that have been added to VisionGauge« (version 6.51) since the previous major release (i.e. version 5.45) are the following:

  • Improved TIFF image file format support.
  • It's now possible to select multiple images at once in the "Perfect focus" tool's window.
  • Improved "Full Screen Live Video" support.
  • VisionGauge's« "Counting & Sizing" tool can now be told to ignore objects that touch the image's borders (we have included individual controls for the top, bottom, left and right borders of the image).
  • Also in VisionGauge's« "Counting & Sizing" tool, we've added controls that allow the user to select the colors used to draw the objects (i.e. the color used to draw all of the objects in the sample as well the color used to draw individually selected objects).
  • In both the Manual- and Motorized-Stage Configuration of VisionGauge«, we've added support for serial-port devices, such as micrometer heads, height gauges, dial indicators, etc... VisionGauge« can now read in the stage position for any and all of the 3 axis through such serial-port data sources.
  • Users can now set the file name as well as the image file format (either Bitmap, JPEG, TIFF, or Targa) for the one-key (or one-click) "Image Quick Save" tool. This is done through the "Settings | General preferences" menu command. These new settings are also saved in the "Setup" files.
  • We've added some last enhancements that have to do with stage control & automated measurements. With this release, the "fully-automated stage-based measurements" feature is now complete & fully tested. 
  • We've added an "Options" menu to the Calibration Toolbox that will allow you to increase the number of pre-saved calibrations up to 20.
  • We've added the ability to rotate images by an arbitrary (i.e. user-set) angle.
  • In the motorized stage configuration of VisionGauge«, we've corrected the software's control of very, very fine movements. These improvements have eliminated small "jumps" and very fine "backlash" motions that could occur at very low speeds and that were only visible at extreme magnifications.
  • We've added a new "Video Sequence Capture" tool to VisionGauge«. You can use this new feature to capture full frame-rate (or slower, as set by the user) video to system memory. Once captured to memory, the video can be played back, modified, saved to disk & retrieved later on, etc...  

    The amount of video that can be captured (i.e. duration) is only limited by system memory. Furthermore, with the appropriate video acquisition hardware, VisionGauge«'s new "Video Sequence Capture" tool supports both analog and digital cameras. 

    This new feature is especially useful for time-dependent processes (e.g. motion tracking, etc...)

  • It's now possible for the user to manually set the COM port initialization string when using serial port data sources for stage position feedback.
  • We've improved VisionGauge's« support for the PIXCI SV4 video acquisition board (for analog cameras): higher live image refresh rate & better control of colors.
  • We've improved VisionGauge's« support for the PIXCI D video acquisition board (for digital cameras) and have added support for cameras that have a higher live image refresh rate.
  • We've added a new "Automated Angle" measurement tool to VisionGauge«. With this tool, the user draws two "boxes" on the image and VisionGauge« then finds the strongest edge in each of these boxes and return the angle between these two edges.
  • With the "Marker-to-marker" measurement tool, the "Center of circle" marker now uses the same number of measurement points as the "diameter" and "radius" measurement tools (i.e. more than 3, allowing the user to define a "best fit" circle).
  • We've added a new "Zero position" marker to VisionGauge's« "Marker-to-marker" measurement tool. This "Zero position" marker is used for stage-based measurements and allows you to measure the distance between any other type of marker (e.g. "Center of circle", "Center of arbitrary 4-vertex feature", etc...) and the stage's zero position. VisionGauge's« new "Zero Position" marker is especially useful when you need to measure the distance between one (common) reference position many different features. In this case, if you set the stage "zero" to the common reference position you'll be able to carry out all of your measurements very quickly because you won't have to re-define the reference position for every measurement. 
  • We've added a new "Orthogonal to line" marker to VisionGauge's« "Marker-to-marker" measurement tool. This "Orthogonal to line" marker allows you to measure the orthogonal (i.e. shortest) distance between any other type of marker (e.g. "Center of circle", "Center of arbitrary 4-vertex feature", etc...) and a line. 
  • In the Motorized Stage Configuration of VisionGauge«, we've linked the jog velocities & accelerations to the system's optical magnification. The jog velocities and accelerations for the three jog modes (i.e. slow, medium and fast) are those used when the operator moves the stage with either the external or on-screen joystick. Here's how this works: VisionGauge« now saves the jog velocities and accelerations to the calibration toolbox, along with the calibration coefficients. This way, when the user presses one of the buttons in the Calibration Toolbox, the corresponding jog velocities and accelerations are loaded into VisionGauge«, along with the corresponding calibration coefficients. This is very useful, as it is often desirable to vary the jog velocities and accelerations depending on the optical magnification (i.e. we generally want slower movements at higher magnifications, and faster movements at lower magnifications).
  • In VisionGauge's« Area Measurement tool, in addition to the existing "Straight line" drawing capabilities, we've added "Free hand" drawing capabilities.
  • We've added "Measurement Tolerances" to VisionGauge«. You can enable this feature and set the upper and lower measurement limits through the "Settings | Measurement mode" menu option. "Measurement Tolerances" are especially useful when carrying out fully automated stage-based measurements using the Motorized Stage Configuration of VisionGauge«. In this case, you can tell VisionGauge« to terminate (or not) the automated measurement program upon encountering an out-of-tolerance measured value by checking the appropriate box in the "Settings | Motion Control" menu option of VisionGauge's« Motion Toolbox. Please note that, when carrying out fully automated stage-based measurements with VisionGauge«, it is possible to set different upper and lower limits for each individual measurement, in exactly the same way that it possible to set different modes for each individual measurement. It is also possible to turn the "Measurement Tolerances" feature On or Off for each individual measurement. So, for example, it is simple to create an automated measurement program comprised of three measurement: the first a simple "point to point" measurement that should not be compared against any limits, the second a "marker to marker" measurement that must be within certain limits, and the third still another type of measurement that must be within a different set of lower and upper limits...
  • VisionGauge« now supports a new PCI bus quad card. In the Manual- and Motorized-Stage Configurations of VisionGauge«, a quad card is used to accurately read-in the stage's position. The existing ISA bus quad cards will continue to be available. However, because PC manufacturers are gradually eliminating ISA slots from their computers, compatibility with this new PCI bus quad card will allow VisionGauge« to remain current with the evolution of the PC architecture.
  • We've enhanced VisionGauge's« JPEG image file support, by updating to the new release of the Intel JPEG Library (i.e. version 1.5, released on Friday October 27th 2000).
  • We've improved the auto-focus (added an "emergency stop", etc...) and we've also carried out some minor improvements having to do with stage motion control.
  • We've further enhanced our support of JPEG image files.
  • We've added the ability to "Zoom out" when working with very large images (i.e. larger than the available viewing area. This allows you to "see" - and work on - the entire image all at once, without having to actually reduce it's resolution. When you press "Zoom out" a second time, the image is once again displayed in full resolution (with the usual "slider bars" for scrolling...).
  • We've added support in VisionGauge« for EPIX's« modified drivers for their PIXCI D« & PIXCI SV4« video acquisition boards.
  • VisionGauge« now supports "Computer-Controlled Illumination". This means that VisionGauge« will now let you control up to 4 different light sources. 
    The "Computer-Controlled Illumination" menu command is located in VisionGauge's« "Command" sub-menu. You can also use the "Control-U" hotkey combination to activate it. The interface through which you control the light sources is very intuitive. You can either use the slider-bars to raise & lower the light intensity coming from each source or you can directly type in the relative intensity that you want.

    Computer Controlled Illumination

    Furthermore, the intensity of each source is saved in the "setup" files, so that when you recall a "setup" from disk, the intensity of all of the light sources is automatically re-set to the appropriate values saved to disk.

    VisionGauge's« new "Computer-Controlled Illumination" feature is very useful to speedup operations (i.e. much faster than having to reach for light source knobs) and also leads to much more repeatable light intensities, which results in more repeatable & accurate measurements.
     

  • We've added the "File | Open..." and "File | Save As..." menu commands to VisionGauge's« Calibration Toolbox. You can use these new commands to save to disk the entire contents of the Calibration Toolbox & reload it later on. This is especially useful if different users of VisionGauge« want to setup the Calibration Toolbox differently. It is also another way to have rapid access to more calibrations than the toolbox's current maximum of 20 pre-saved values...
  • We've added four "image stitching" tools (i.e. "left", "right", "above" and "below") for creating mosaics by putting images side-by-side. You can find these new tools in VisionGauge's« "Edit" sub-menu.
  • We've enhanced VisionGauge's« "Computer-Controlled Illumination" feature: when you change the illumination, Live Video is turned On automatically, so that you may directly see the results on-screen. 
  • We've added a new "Combine" feature to VisionGauge's« "Video Sequence Capture" tool. You can use this new "Combine" feature to transform the video sequence - made up of many component images - into one (large) image. The "Combine" feature also allows you to a) specify an image offset (to get rid of any overlap that may exist between side-by-side images) and b) resize the resulting "combined" image. 

    You'll find this new "Combine:" feature especially useful when you're capturing video of a moving object or scene. In this case, the "Combine" feature allows you transform the video sequence's many component images into one (large) image of the entire object (or - in the case of a moving scene - the "Combine" feature lets you build a single "panorama" image from the video sequence).

  • We've improved VisionGauge's« support of very(!) large images (i.e. enhanced memory management and image display routines as well as improved image manipulation tools).
  • We've enhanced VisionGauge's« to allow field-of-view measurements during "Live Video" acquisition. To enable this feature, check the "Allow Measurements during Live Video" checkbox in VisionGauge's« "Settings | General Preferences" menu option. Please note that - like all of the other settings and state variables - this checkbox's state is saved in VisionGauge's« "Settings" files. It is important to note, however, that edge-detection is not available for such "Live Video" field-of-view measurements (e.g. edge-detection is not desirable because of vibration, etc...).
  • We've added new "freehand" drawing tools in both the "Live Image Overlay Builder" and the "Annotation Toolbox". To add a "freehand" overlay or annotation, simply select this new tool from the appropriate menu, click once on the image to activate the "freehand drawing" tool, move the mouse to draw in "freehand" mode and click on the image a second time to turn the "freehand drawing" tool off. This new tool is very useful for outlining unusual shapes or boundaries, for example.
  • We've added a new "Pathline" measurement tool in VisionGauge«. This new "Pathline" measurement tool can be used both for field-of-view measurements as well as for stage-based measurements beyond the optical field-of-view (and this with both manual and motorized stages). A typical example of an application for this tool is to obtain a precise measurement of the perimeter of an irregular-shaped object. Finally, it should be noted that this new "Pathline" measurement tool is fully compatible with VisionGauge's« powerful edge-tracker (for automatic edge-detection).
  • We've added Full-Screen Live Video support to VisionGauge« when using the Integral Technologies FlashBus MV family of video acquisition boards.
  • We've added multi-camera support to VisionGauge« when using the Integral Technologies FlashBus MV family of video acquisition boards.
  • With certain video display boards, 640 x 480 images would be slightly "taller" than VisionGauge's« display area when using a 800 x 600 "desktop" display resolution and would thus not be displayed entirely (i.e. a vertical slider bar would be available to scroll the image either up or down). We have resized the status box, at the bottom of the main VisionGauge« window, so as to allow the entire image to fit "all at once" under these conditions.
  • In the Motorized-Stage Configuration of VisionGauge«, we've added the ability to read-in "generic" ASCII data files containing raw coordinate data. This data can then be used to create full motion programs in VisionGauge«. CAD programs, as well programmable production machines (for example: CNC drills & routers, etc...) are able to output such raw ASCII coordinate data, making this a very generic and robust way to import existing part data into VisionGauge«. Finally, please note that this raw coordinate data must be expressed in the same units as VisionGauge« current measurement units (i.e. if VisionGauge's« current measurement units are microns, then this data must also be in microns, etc...).
  • We've added the ability to add "comments" within a Motion Program. These are user-defined text messages that are displayed at certain user-specified positions within the motion program. For example, you might want the message "Turn back-light on" or "Make sure that there is no remaining solder mask" displayed when the program reaches point #25...
  • We've added a "skew function" in both stage-based configurations of VisionGauge« (i.e. the Manual-Stage Configuration and the Motorized-Stage Configuration of VisionGauge«). This feature allows you to adjust - or "correct" - both motion programs & measurements for a part's skew. Another way to say this is that VisionGauge's« "skew function" allows you to create true XY programs & get true XY measurements even if the part is not perfectly "square" with the stage. The skew function automatically "rotates the part" in memory so as to make it mathematically "square" with the stage.

    It is very easy to create a "skew corrected" program using VisionGauge's« "teach" mode. Simply proceed as follows: 
     

    1. Start by setting the part's "zero" position;

    2. Then, tell VisionGauge« how the part is skewed relative to the stage. You do this through the "Command | Skew Part..." menu command, either in the Motion Toolbox or the DRO window. VisionGauge« will then ask you to pick two points along the part's X-axis. 


    Then, when you later recall this part program and wish to measure a part that is skewed differently from the first part, simply repeat the same 2 steps...

    To disable skew-correction, simply press the "Un-Skew" button in either the Motion Toolbox or the DRO window.

    Please note that it is good practice to try to keep skew corrections as small as possible (i.e. you should attempt to keep parts as "square" with the stage as possible). If the parts are skewed very differently from one to the next, then stage calibration (either LEC or NLEC) becomes critical. 

  • We've added a new "Offset" tool that you can use to create & edit motion programs in the Motorized-Stage Configuration of VisionGauge«. This new "Offset" feature allows you to take the definition of a device (including all of the related motion program data) and make multiple copies of it at specific (X, Y, Z) offsets.

    As an example, let's consider a sample with 4 rows of 5 devices so that, in total, there are 20 identical devices. In this example, you would use VisionGauge's« "teach" mode to define a single device (including changes in illumination, measurement mode, etc...), and then make 5 copies of this device definition at specified (X, Y, Z) offsets, so as to obtain a complete row. In a second step, you would use the "Offset" tool to make 4 copies of this row, at the appropriate (X, Y, Z) offset. 

    It is now possible to change the "Live Image Overlay" line width in VisionGauge«. This is the width of lines used for both standard overlay objects such as "Crosshair" and "Bulls-eye" overlay objects, as well as the line width in VisionGauge's« "Overlay Builder".

  • We've added Non-Linear Error Correction (i.e. NLEC) in both stage-based configurations of VisionGauge« (i.e. the Manual-Stage Configuration and the Motorized-Stage Configuration of VisionGauge«). NLEC allows you to correct for system inaccuracies that cannot be properly accounted for using simple linear error correction (i.e. LEC).
     

    To carry out NLEC, simply select the "Motion | NLEC..." menu command. You will then be asked to mark the stage zero position as well as the zero position of your calibration grid. After this, you will be asked to enter calibration points. Please note that VisionGauge's« NLEC requires - as a minimum - 10 calibration points. Also, VisionGauge« has no special requirements as to where the calibration points are located. It is always a good idea, however, to attempt to space-out the calibration points somewhat uniformly. And it is certainly not a good idea to have any area of the stage severely under-covered by calibration points. Also, if you see that your system has a noticeable and precisely located point inaccuracy, it is probably a good idea to increase the density of calibration points around this area.

    Once you've completed NLEC, VisionGauge« will automatically save to disk all of the necessary calibration data so that it will always be applied until you either erase it from disk or carry-out a new NLEC calibration. The NLEC calibration data is saved in the file named "VisionGauge.nlec". This file is located in the main VisionGauge« sub-directory.

    Once you've carried out NLEC, it is very important that you remember to set the stage zero position every time you startup VisionGauge«, before carrying out any measurements. You do this by giving the "Command | NLEC: Set Stage Zero" menu command in either the Motion Toolbox or the DRO window.
     

  • We've added a new type of "marker" to VisionGauge's«  "marker-to-marker" measurement tool: the "centro´d of a thresholded object" (sometimes, a thresholded object is also referred-to simply as a "blob"). This new type of marker is available for both field-of-view and stage-based measurements (either manual or fully-automated). In both cases, this is an extremely fast "one-point" measurement tool that is very simple to use: simply click on the object of interest and let VisionGauge« find it's centro´d.

    So - for example - you can use this tool to measure the distance between the center of a "blob" and any other marker, such as the perpendicular distance to a line, or the center of another blob, or a line midpoint or a simple point marker... Finally, please note that you can set different lower & upper thresholds for markers #1 and #2.

    The following image shows a simple example of a "marker-to-marker" measurement where both markers are the "centro´d of a thresholded object" (the thresholded object, in this case, is simply a PCB interconnect pad).

    Marker to Marker Measurements between centroid of a thresholded object


  • We've added a new "grid" tool in both VisionGauge's« "Live Image Overlay Builder" and Annotation Toolbox. When you access this new "grid" tool through VisionGauge's« "Live Image Overlay Builder", it allows you to put a calibrated grid "over" the live video image, whereas when you access it through VisionGauge's« Annotation Toolbox, it allows you to superimpose a calibrated grid over a "frozen" image. The grid increment is user-specified and can be different along the horizontal & vertical axis (as illustrated in the image below). Finally, please note that the thickness, color & style of the grid's lines is entirely user-selectable. 

Grid display in VisionGauge's Live image overlay builder

  • We've added three new measurement tools in VisionGauge« to measure:
    1. the area 
    2. the equivalent diameter, and
    3. the radius 

    of a thresholded object (sometimes, a thresholded object is also referred-to simply as a "blob"). These new measurement tools are available for both field-of-view and stage-based measurements (either manual or fully-automated). These are extremely fast "one-point" measurement tools that are very simple to use: simply click on the objet of interest and let VisionGauge« carry out the measurement.
     

  • We've added the capability for programmable illumination to the Motorized-Stage Configuration of VisionGauge«. You should note that all of the editions of VisionGauge« have the capability for computer-controlled illumination, but fully-programmable illumination is only available in the Motorized-Stage Configuration of VisionGauge« as it is only this edition that is capable of fully-automated measurements.
    This fully-programmable illumination feature lets you setup different illumination configurations at each measurement point. VisionGauge« can control up to 4 light sources. All of the information about the illumination configuration at each measurement point is also saved in the motion program file, along with the rest of the coordinate data & measurement mode settings so that the illumination settings are an integral component in the "part program".
    It is also worth noting that the programmable illumination is extremely simple to setup. Another noteworthy feature is that VisionGauge« changes the illumination to the "next" settings as soon as is possible (i.e. even before the stage starts moving to go to the next measurement point). This give the light sources as much time as possible to stabilize before VisionGauge«  starts carrying out its measurements.

    VisionGauge's« new programmable illumination feature is another useful tool that will allow you to solve difficult applications and increase measurement repeatability!
     

  • We've enhanced VisionGauge's« automated line width measurement tools tools to make them compatible withfully automated stage-based measurements. To do this, we've added the ability to associate a "Region of interest" (ROI) with each measurement point in a motion program. VisionGauge's« automated "Orthogonal line width" and "Arbitrary line width" measurement tools can then be applied within this ROI.
  • We've added two new measurement tools to VisionGauge's« already extensive measurement toolset. These new measurement tools will let you measure the maximum X & Y dimensions of a thresholded object (sometimes, a thresholded object is also referred-to simply as a "blob"). These new measurement tools are available for both field-of-view and stage-based measurements (either manual or fully-automated). They are extremely fast "one-point" measurement tools that are very simple to use: simply click on the objet of interest and let VisionGauge« carry out the measurement.
  • We've added a new "Centered crosshair" tool in both VisionGauge's« "Live Image Overlay Builder" and "Annotation Toolbox". When you access this new tool through VisionGauge's« "Live Image Overlay Builder", it allows you to put a centered crosshair "over" the live video image, whereas when you access it through VisionGauge's« "Annotation Toolbox", it allows you to superimpose a centered crosshair over a "frozen" image.
  • We've added a "JPEG Image Quality" setting to the "Settings | General Preferences" window. Acceptable values for this setting range from 0 to 100. A higher value produces less compression and thus a better quality image, but of course a larger file size. Like all other state variables in VisionGauge«, this parameter is saved in the "setup" files.
  • We've added the ability to turn the Auto-focus & Edge Detection (i.e. VisionGauge's« "Snap Mode") both On & Off from within a Motion Program. The ability to do this can come in handy in some of the more challenging applications. These enhancements make our Fully-Automated 3D  Measurement Systems even more powerful & just as easy to use!
  • We've enhanced VisionGauge's« support of the Integral Technologies FlashBus MV« video acquisition board. For instance, we've added more on-line board-specific installation instructions that will help when setting up the board & with troubleshooting.
  • We've enhanced VisionGauge's« Fully Automated High Accuracy Volume Measurement Tool. Specifically, here's what has been done:
     

    We've added more flexibility to the controls that allow you to define areas that you want VisionGauge« to ignore for the volume calculations. You can also set & change this "disregarded" area's color in all of the different modes that are available to view the results (i.e. blended image, height map & 3D projection).

    We've also improved the different tools available for viewing the results and made them more "interactive" (e.g. the displayed "preview image" is changed as soon as you change the parameters).

    We've also given the user more control over how the results are displayed (e.g. you can now change the mesh's line width in the 3D projection mode, etc...)

    Finally, we've also added some extra controls over the algorithms that actually do the volume computations. We added a "limiter" control that you can use to tell VisionGauge« to automatically disregard areas where the edges are very weak (relative to all of the other edges across the entire image). This new "limiting" control can be very useful when you're working on a sample on which the feature of interest is visible & clear, but where the background is very "flat" (i.e. there are absolutely no edges or visible features). In this type of a situation, the new limiting control is very useful to tell VisionGauge« that it shouldn't attempt to "find edges where there are none".
     

  • We've added a new "Calibrated Circle" tool in VisionGauge's« "Live Image Overlay Builder". This new tool allows you to precisely position a circle of a user-specified diameter, at a user-specified (x, y) distance from the center of the field-of-view.


    We've added a new "Calibrated Angle" tool in VisionGauge's« "Live Image Overlay Builder". This new tool allows you to draw two lines that meet at the center of the field of view and that form a user-specified angle. You can also specify in which quadrant of the image this angle is to be drawn (i.e. Top-Left, Top-Right, Bottom-Left or Bottom-Right). 
     

Follow this link to see the previous list of enhancements (i.e. those that are slightly less recent)

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