Continuing on our exploration of ADE XL (see here and here for previous articles), today let's take a look at the Outputs area in the center of the screen.
Any output signals or expressions which appear in the ADE XL Test Editor (or the ADE L window if you created the setup in there) will show up automatically in the Outputs Setup tab. You can still work with them the same way you always have by bringing up the Test Editor (RMB on the test name in the Data View Assistant and select Open Test Editor...).
But I'm not here to tell you how to do things the same way you've always done them...
Let's start by taking a look at the row of icons at the top of the Outputs Setup tab. The first one on the left is a pulldown that allows you to add various types of outputs and measurements to each test. So if you want to add an expression, select the appropriate test and choose "Expression". A new blank line of type "expr" will show up at the bottom of the pane. Now, double-click in the field under the column "Expression/Signal/File." You'll be able to type into the field, and you'll also see 2 cryptically labelled buttons.
Just an aside here...whenever you see a button, icon or even a piece of text that you don't understand in Virtuoso, try hovering your mouse over it for a second. Hopefully, you will be rewarded with a pink box containing a tooltip telling you what that button does. We'd like these tooltips to be helpful and usually they are. But sometimes the tooltips are missing and sometimes they're downright silly. Let us know about those, so we can fix them...or at least share a good laugh...
Anyway, back to adding an expression. In case you didn't catch the hint, hover your mouse over the 2 buttons in the "Expression/Signal/File" field to see what they do. Now, use one of them (hint: "...") to open the calculator.
I'm not going to get into how to use the calculator in this article. I did an article on it late last year and I'll probably fill up one or two more later this year as well.
Let's fast forward to the part where you've got an expression in the calculator buffer that you want to get it back into ADE XL. Go back to the ADE XL window and click on the other mysterious icon in the "Expression/Signal/File" field (hint: "<") to pull the contents of the calculator buffer into the field.
Tip: There's another way to do this if you've already got the calculator open. To save yourself some window hopping, verify that the test name showing in the "Test" pulldown at the top of the calculator is the one you want to work with, then select Tools->Send to ADE XL Test from the calculator banner menu. This automatically creates a new expression for that test in the Outputs Setup tab and sends the contents of the calculator buffer to populate it.
Earlier this year I wrote about the exciting news that dependent expressions are now supported in IC 6.1.4 for ADE L. Well, that goes for ADE XL as well. If you want to build an expression which is built from other expressions, all you have to do is use the name of the expression (which, of course, you can assign in the Name column of the Outputs Setup panel) and off you go.
This works for creating multiple expressions within the same test. To build expressions using results from multiple tests, you use what we refer to as...
To create an output expression using results from multiple tests, just drag the desired expressions (one at a time) starting from any field in the line containing that expression in the Outputs Setup pane and drop them into the calculator buffer. When you drop in an expression, you'll see that it has morphed into a different syntax: calcVal("expression_name" "test_name"). You can use the calculator as usual to build the expression and then use either of the 2 methods described above to get it back into ADE XL.
Bonus Tip: You can create combinatorial expressions for variables in the same way, by dragging from the Outputs Setup pane into the desired Value field in the Global Variables or Design Variables sections of the Data View or Variables and Parameters Assistants (we'll talk more about variables in a future article).
In this way, you can set a design variable value, such as a voltage or current source based on results from another test.
Obviously, you'll need to avoid creating a cyclic dependency when you do this (a variable value which depends on results from a test which uses that variable). ADE XL will scold you if you try.
Quick ways to create more output expressions
Sometimes you might need to use the same (or similar) expressions in several tests. To do this, simply RMB over the expression you want to use in another test, select Copy to Test and choose the test(s) you want to copy it to. You can also use Ctrl-Select or Shift-Select to grab multiple expressions and copy them all to another test. Of course you can edit them as desired after you copy them.
Tip: Double-click on an expression in the Outputs Setup pane and click that "..." icon I mentioned above to push the expression into the calculator buffer if you want to edit it more easily.
Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V also work to copy just the contents of a particular field from one place to another.
Well, I thought I'd have time for a lot more in this article, but it'll have to wait until next time. As always, leave a comment if you find any tips of your own to share or if there are any topics you'd like to see discussed further.