By Ricardo Sávio Teixeira Moretz Sohn, Instituto Nacional de Metrologia, Qualidade e Tecnologia (Inmetro)

Research activities developed in the field of metrology naturally involve the measurement and assessment of the uncertainty budget of several quantities. In order to increase the confidence in the measurement results, it is important that each measurement can be performed repeatedly, generating indeed a matrix of data. Thus, computer programs designed to deal easily with matrices are extremely convenient in this area.

To produce and manage arrays of measurement data, some software groups are available: spreadsheets, numerical computing software, data acquisition systems and software for interfacing equipment. Spreadsheets, such as Excel for example, tend to meet the users’ needs very well when the amount of data is not very high, there is no need for more complex graphical user interfaces and most of the calculations can be performed by means of simple mathematical functions. However, when this is not the case, programs like LabVIEW and MATLAB are often more appropriate.

The programs mentioned above, in spite of their recognized quality, are all closed source, expensive and generally have limited licenses in terms of time and number of installations. Furthermore, they tend to be more hardware resource consuming. Scilab is, in turn, an extremely effective, low cost (free download) and lighter (regarding to hardware resources) alternative, that can be used to replace all or part of proprietary software.

In the Radiation Thermometry Laboratory of the Brazilian National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology – Inmetro, Scilab has been used for the development of calculation and data acquisition systems, most of them using graphical user interface – GUI, aiming more user-friendly environments and minimization of errors by typing command lines. The applications have been developed by the laboratory technical staff, with little previous experience in Scilab programming, since the learning curve of this software is quite satisfactory.

In this work, we intend to demonstrate the use of Scilab at Inmetro Radiation Thermometry Laboratory, presenting its main features used in the development of the graphical interfaces, data acquisition and calculation codes. Some of the results obtained will be reported and illustrations of GUIs will be presented, as well as it will be demonstrated how Scilab can become very effective when interacting with other programs.

Co-signed paper by Ricardo Sávio Teixeira Moretz Sohn & Mario Anselmo Pereira Neto – Inmetro 

Radiation Thermometry, Inmetro, Scilab, Laboratory, Automation