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Using the EMPro Interface

The EMPro interface has been designed with new features to integrate the FDTD and FEM simulation engine. It utilizes a workspace design and Project Tree to control the various aspects of the EMPro simulation.

In this section, you will learn about:

  • EMPro Interface Overview
  • Using the FDTD and FEM toggle buttons
  • Features of the Application menu bar
  • Branches of the Project Tree
  • Major functions of the workspace windows
  • Troubleshooting Invalid Operations

EMPro Interface Overview

The EMPro workspace is comprised of several parts that are intended to make it as easy as possible to create projects and run calculations.The following figure highlights the various parts of the EMPro interface.

The EMPro interface includes the following parts:

  • FDTD and FEM toggle buttons: EMPro provides the FDTD and FEM toggle buttons that enable you to verify if there is any violation in a valid simulation setup.
  • Application Menu Bar: The Application menu bar is present at the upper left of the figure. Using this menu, you can select various options for creating and loading a project.
  • Project Tree: The project tree is used to display and organize the contents of the project within categorized branches. The row of buttons above it toggles the various branches of the tree on and off.
  • Workspace windows: The series of tabs along the right of the screen store the various workspace windows so that they can be easily accessed within the project workspace. Minimized workspace windows are stored within the actual workspace. Open workspace windows are displayed in this area as well.

Using FDTD and FEM Toggle Buttons

EMPro integrates the FDTD simulation engine and FEM simulation engine. Using the FDTD and FEM toggle buttons at the bottom left of the EMPro window, you can switch the user interface to check whether the setup is valid for:

  • Both FDTD and FEM simulation: Click the FDTD and FEM buttons to validate the settings for both FDTD and FEM simulation engines. The following toggle selection will check whether all settings are valid for both FEM and FDTD:

  • FDTD simulation: Click the FDTD button to validate the settings for FDTD. The following toggle selection will check whether all settings are valid for FDTD simulations. In this case, only setup violations that would prevent a valid FDTD simulation will be flagged.

  • FEM simulation: Click the FEM button to validate the settings for FEM simulation engines. The following toggle selection will check whether all settings are valid for FEM simulations. In this case, only setup violations that would prevent a valid FEM simulation will be flagged.

The FDTD and FEM toggle buttons are introduced because some of the features or settings can be applied only to either of the simulators. Examples of this:

  • Only port feed components can be used with FEM, whereas with FDTD non-linear circuit components can also be used.
  • FEM supports only planar and far field sensors.

The toggle buttons activate errors (in yellow) and warnings (in blue), more information is displayed on the specific error or warning by moving the mouse over the error or warning sign.

Besides triggering validity checks and violations for a specific simulation, the toggle buttons will also grey-out the portions of the UI that are not valid for the selection. If none of the toggle buttons are pressed, the user interface will not be checking for any violations for a valid simulation setup.

Describing Application Menu Bar Options

The Application menu bar consists of the File, Edit, View, Help, and ADS Links menus in EMPro, as shown in the following figure:

File Drop-Down Menu

  • New Project - Opens a new, blank project. By default, the project is blank. To set a template as the default new project, click the Managing Project Templates link.
  • New Project from Template - Opens an project from a saved template.
  • Open Existing Projects - Opens an existing project.
  • Save Project - Saves a new project to a specified directory.
  • Save Project As - Saves the current project to another filename and opens that project.
  • Save Project Copy As - Saves the current project to another filename.
  • Archive Project - Archives the current project.
  • Unarchive Project - Unarchives an existing archived project.
  • Import - Imports an existing CAD file, voxel object file, AMDS 2007.x, AMDS mesh file, or any other supported file format into the current EMPro project.
  • Export Parts - Exports parts from EMPro to a file in a specified directory.
  • Managing Project Templates - Select this option to create a new template or to assign a default template to be loaded whenever a new project is opened.

To create a new template, simply select an existing saved project file. This file will be saved as a template. Click the Create New button and assign the template a name. The default template is a blank project, but this can be changed to any other template that has been saved in this dialog.

Templates are useful for beginning new projects that contain identical parts to existing projects. For example, a new project may reuse the same geometry and discrete components that has already been created in an existing project file. In this case, the existing project file can be used to create a template so that this common geometry can be used over and over without having to rebuild the project from scratch.

  • Recent Projects - Lists the five most recently loaded EMPro projects.
  • Quit - Closes the current EMPro session.

Edit Drop-Down Menu

Using the Undo/Redo Command

The Undo button will "undo" any action or series of actions. Similarly, the Redo button will repeat any actions that were mistakenly erased.

Using the Project Properties command

The Project Properties Editor contains the Display Units tab, which defines the default units used in EMPro and controls the units displayed in the geometry window. This setting will also control the default unit setting assigned to values that are entered by the user without units. A Unit Set definition (SI Metric, Gaussian Metric (GCS) or US Customary) can be applied to all of the parameters listed under this tab, or a Custom definition can be applied to any individual parameter. It consists of the following tabs:

  • Display Units tab: It defines the default units used in EMPro and controls the units displayed in the geometry window. This setting also controls the default unit setting assigned to values that are entered by the user without units. Modifying the display unit only changes how numbers are displayed and entered. It does not affect their scale. A Unit Set definition (EMPro Default, SI Metric, Gaussian Metric (GCS) or US Customary) can be applied to all of the parameters listed under this tab, or a Custom definition can be applied to any individual parameter. The following figure shows the Display Units tab:
  • Advanced tab: It enables you to modify the project timestep. The timestep that is used for the simulation is computed from the grid definition and the materials that are used in the space. In some special circumstances, the user may wish to make that timestep a little bit smaller to improve results or compensate for some other special conditions. The Custom Timestep Multiplier is a factor by which the computed timestep is multiplied to obtain the final timestep that is actually used. For more information on how the timestep is calculated from the grid definition, refer to Grid Appendix. Under this tab, the user can also assign New Part Modeling Units, which defines the units assigned to a new part when it is created.

    Note

    This unit defines how the part is modeled internally, and cannot be changed once the part is created. Note that this unit is not the same as Display Units.

    In the Advanced tab, the Conformal Accuracy editors are used to further control the timestep when using a conformal mesh on any part in the simulation. Under this tab, you can also assign New Part Modeling Units, which defines the units assigned to a new part when it is created (such as in, m, and cm.). Changing the value in the New Part Modeling Units can be helpful when you need to create an part that uses a different unit of measurement than other parts in the geometry. The units assigned to a new part are used by the 3-D modeling engine, which needs to know the range of units to correctly construct solid models. The following figure displays the Advanced tab options.

    After updating the value of the New Part Modeling Units drop-down list, all new parts created use that value. The value in the field can be updated as often as necessary.
    • This unit defines how the part is modeled internally, and cannot be changed once the part is created.
    • This unit is different from the values defined in Display Units.

Using the Application Preferences command

The main tabs under Application Preferences are General, Interface, and Modeling, and Graphs, Compatibility, and FEM as shown in the following figure:

Using the General Tab
  • The options in the Startup section control what happens at the start of EMPro.
    • Show Tip Of The Day, when enabled, will display a pop-up with a helpful tip about how to use EMPro.
    • Show License Window, when enabled, will cause EMPro to show the licensing window when the application starts where the user can specify where the license file/server is.
  • Under Results, choose whether to load or clear results from previously-run simulations. Note that this does not delete simulation results saved to disk. Users can also set the minimum plot size for Fourier transformations.
  • Under Recent Projects select the number of projects that should appear in the Recent Projects submenu in the File menu.
  • Under Templates, enter the default folder location where EMPro project templates are stored.
  • Under Macros Menu, enter one or more folders (separated by ';' on Windows and ':' on Linux and Mac) where XFdtd should look for .xmacro les to populate the Macros Menu.
  • Rendering Options controls several display options in the EMPro GUI:
    • The Transparency Algorithm determines the way EMPro renders the Parts Opacity of an object.
      • Z-Sort is the most efficient rendering option, but may contain artifacts (small areas of inaccurate rendering).
      • Z-sort Only Fast is the most efficient rendering option, but may contain artifacts
        (small areas of inaccurate rendering).
      • Depth Peeling is supported only on certain graphics cards. It is more accurate but runs slower than Z-SORT.
      • Painters Algorithm is the most accurate rendering option, but runs the slowest.
      • The Transparency Algorithm setting only affects the way an object is displayed in the EMPro interface, and will not change calculation results.
    • Text Color defines the color of text automatically displayed in geometry view, such as coordinates, lengths, etc.
  • The Undo/Redo History section controls the how many items can remain on the undo stack. It gives the user the ability to enhance the application performance by limiting the memory used by the GUI.
Using the Interface Tab

The following figure displays the Interface tab:

  • Object Editing: Controls what happens when a new object is added to the Project Tree (i.e., right-clicking on the tree to add a new material).
    • None, will simply add the new object to the tree.
    • Edit Name, will add the object to the tree and provide a blinking cursor to add the object's name in the tree.
    • Edit Properties, adds the object and prompts the appropriate dialog window to immediately pop-up in order to edit the new object's properties (i.e., will prompt the MATERIAL EDITOR to pop-up).
  • Layout: Enables you to set their preferences for saving or restoring the GUI layout.
  • Information: Allows the user to set their preference for decimal precision in tooltips.
  • Gridding: Enables or disables the use of the simplied grid.
  • Tool Bar Icon Size: Adjusts the size of the icons in the toolbar (i.e., New Project, Loading Existing Projects, etc.).
  • Project Tree: The Icon/Text Size scroll adjusts the size of the items in the Project Tree.
  • Workspace:
    • Show All Tabs shows all workspace windows in tabbed workspace regardless of whether they are active or not.
    • Show Only Active Tabs stores only the active tabs that are stored in the project workspace.
    • Don't Show Tabs removes the tabbed workspace. Windows can still be accessed in the View menu in the Application Toolbar.
  • Information: The Information pane allows you to set their preference for decimal precision in tooltips and the dimensions of bounding boxes.
  • Appearance: The Appearance pane allows you to change the appearance of the EMPro GUI and buttons within.
Using the Modeling Tab

In general, this tab provides several options for adjusting the color and appearance of faces, edges, vertices, components, and the background.

Additionally, options for various elements of the view are customizable in the \View Options" grouping.

  • Components: The color used to render circuit components.
  • Background: The background color of the View.
  • Construction Grid: The color for the lines of the construction grid of the Sketcher and Orientation tools.
  • Mesh Slice: The color for mesh edges that are Free Space.
  • Invert Mouse Wheel: Switches the zoom direction when rolling the mouse wheel.
  • Separate View Tools: Toggles between showing all View tools in a drop-down list or as individual items.
  • Smooth View Transitions: If marked, EMPro performs smooth rotations between different view orientations. If unmarked, XFdtd snaps to the selected view orientation.
  • Automatically Assign Unique Colors When Possible: If marked, EMPro automatically assigns a unique color to each material a user adds to a project. If unmarked, EMPro always assigns the color defined in the Face Color eld to each new material a user adds to a project.

Using the Graph Tab

The Graphs Tab contains check boxes (listed below) that enable the user to select what information appears in the Plot Properties tab of a plot.

  • Project ID
  • Project Name
  • Simulation ID
  • Simulation Number
  • Simulation Name
  • Run ID
  • Run Number
  • Project : Simulation : Run
  • Result Type
  • Sensor
  • Sensor Type
  • Domain
  • Field Type
  • Misc Info

View Drop-Down Menu

The View menu allows the visibility of toolbars and windows to be toggled. Note that when the button bar on the right of the application is hidden in the Application Preferences, these windows can be be shown using the View menu.

Help Drop-Down Menu

Documentation contains links to the EMPro reference manuals, User's Guide and online Scripting Documentation.

Project Tree

The Project Tree provides a tree-structured representation of the active project. It is organized into the following branches:

  • Parts
  • Circuit Components
  • External Excitations
  • Static voltage
  • Sensors
  • Definitions
  • Simulation Domain
  • Scripts
  • Graphs
  • Groups

The EMPro Project Tree is easy to manipulate by means of branch and object toggle buttons. This section describes in detail the branches and display of the tree as shown in the following figure.

Project Tree

Branches of the Project Tree

Parts

The Parts branch organizes the physical parts of a project. It also lists material definitions and modeling operations applied to any parts object in the tree. It is possible to organize similar parts objects in groups with an Assembly by right-clicking and selecting Create New: Assembly, as shown in the next illustration. Any parts object or assembly can be exported to a CAD file using this right-click menu as well. For information about adding geometry parts to the project, refer to Using the Geometry Workspace.

Adding a new Part or Assembly from the Project Tree

The Parts List is also helpful for dening and organizing characteristics of geometric parts. To access this menu, right-click on any part or assembly in the Project Tree and select View Parts List. A window will appear displaying each part for the current part or assembly selected. Using the right-click menu, it is possible to change the meshing priority, enable grid regions or fixed points, include the part in the mesh, change the visibility, and assign materials. The search bar also enables searching by selected fields. Placing the mouse over a gray checkmark in the list will bring up a tooltip explaining why it is not fully solid.

Circuit Components

The Circuit Components branch organizes discrete circuit components in a project. It also lists any associated Definition objects applied to a component. Then next figure shows how to add a component by right-clicking in the Project Tree. For information about adding new components and associated tools, refer to Defining Circuit Components and Excitations.

Defining a new Circuit Component from the Project Tree

External Excitations

The External Excitations branch organizes the external excitations applied to a project. It also lists any associated Definition object applied to an external excitation, such as a waveform. How to add an external excitation by right-clicking in the Project Tree is shown in the following illustration. For information about defining external excitations within the External Excitation Editor, refer to Defining Circuit Components and Excitation.

Creating a new External Excitation from the Project Tree

Static Voltage Points

The Static Voltage Points feature is used to create and place a voltage point on an object made of PEC material.
These points are used by the LaPlace static solver to initialize the starting E field within the problem space to voltage values assigned by the user.
With no static voltage points defined, the initial E field at the beginning of the FDTD computation is set to 0 V/m at each cell edge.
To use this feature, right-click the Static Voltage Points branch of the Project Tree and select New Static Voltage Point. A static voltage point will be added to the project.
Double-click the new point to edit the points properties.Static Voltage Points are specified by graphically picking or manually entering the location of the static
voltage point and by specifying the voltage. Click the Done button to apply your changes.

Only one entry per conducting object is necessary. Duplicate entries will overwrite the voltage preset value. (PEC outer boundaries and any untagged metal objects will be preset to 0V. If the boundary is PML, the fields at a PML boundary will be initialized appropriately to prevent non-physical reflections at the interface.)
Additionally, static voltage points can be used by themselves to excite an object containing PEC materials, or in conjunction with an external excitation or a discrete source.
Following figure shows the available parameters when creating a static voltage point.

Sensors

The Sensors branch organizes the sensors defined in a project. Sensors are responsible for saving all data collected during a calculation. They are added by right-clicking on the appropriate branch of the Project Tree and choosing the desired sensor, as seen below. For more information about sensors and related definitions, refer to Saving Output Data with Sensors.

Adding a Near Field Sensor from the Project Tree

Definitions

The Definitions branch stores definitions that can be applied to or shared with other objects within the project. To add a new definition object, right-click on the branch and select the desired object, as shown in the next illustration. This definition is applied to other objects in the Project Tree by clicking and dragging the definition object onto the desired object. Several editors are accessible from this branch depending on what type of definition object is selected.

Note

For more information about the Material Editor, refer to Creating Materials.
 
For more information about the Circuit Component Definition Editor, refer to Defining Circuit Components and Excitations.
 
For more information about the Waveform Editor, refer to Defining Circuit Components and Excitations.
 
For more information about several of the sensor editors, refer to Saving Output Data with Sensors.

Accessing a Definition Editor from the Project Tree

Simulation Domain

The Simulation Domain branch stores definitions associated with the outer boundaries of the project, as well as the grid and mesh. It consists of the following parts:

  • Boundary Conditions: Double-clicking the icon will opens Boundary Conditions Editor which is valid for both FDTD and FEM
  • FDTD Grid: Double-clicking this icon opens the Grid Tools dialog box, used to specify the characteristics of the grid.
  • FDTD Mesh: Double-clicking this icon enables Mesh View.
  • FEM Padding: Double-clicking this icon opens FEM Padding Editor.
Viewing the Simulation Domain branch

Scripts

The Scripts branch stores user-defined scripts. Right-click on this branch to add a new script or to import an existing macro or function script to the project. After adding the script, right-click on the script object, as seen in the following illustration, to execute or edit the script in the Scripting workspace window. For more information on scripting, refer to Additional Tools for Customizing and Organizing Projects.

Accessing scripting tools in the Project Tree

Graphs

The Graphs branch organizes the graphical output associated with data collected during a calculation. For more information about viewing calculation results, refer to Viewing Output.

Groups

The Groups branch enables you to create fully customizable short-cut groups that may include any grouping of objects (Parts objects, Sensor objects, Definition objects, etc.). The Groups branch is thus a tool for users to conveniently organize their projects. It also contains automatically generated groups created by EMPro to store deletions, additions, or other modifications to CAD files. To add a shortcut group, right-click on the branch as seen in the following figure. For more information on how to import CAD files, refer to Creating Geometry.

Adding a Group within the Project Tree

Customizing the Display of the Project Tree

The row of buttons above the Project Tree toggle the branches of the tree on and off and simplify the display. This row is shown below. Active branches are displayed as fully colored buttons, and hidden branches are dulled.

Toggling the branches of the Project Tree

Expanding and Collapsing the Project Tree Display

In order to make the tree easier to navigate, EMPro enables the user to manually expand (+), collapse (-), and toggle the visibility of each branch. Demonstrates an expanded and collapsed branch in red.

Expanding and collapsing individual branches in the Project Tree

Additionally, it is possible to expand or collapse all branches by right-clicking on any branch in the tree and selecting the Tree icon, as seen in below.

Expanding and collapsing all branches in the Project Tree

Workspace Windows

The EMPro workspace windows are a series of windows that each has its own designated function. Each window is described below. This section also explains how to display active windows and how to control the display of each workspace window button in the tabbed workspace.

The following illustration shows the location of the EMPro workspace windows.

Workspace windows toolbar

Summary of Workspace Windows

Geometry

The Geometry workspace window comprises the main project viewing area. The window contains four main tools used to add and edit the fundamental elements of a project:

  • Geometry Tools
  • Component Tools
  • FDTD Grid Tools
  • Sensor Tools

This window also contains buttons to manipulate the project view. The capabilities of this window are detailed in Creating Geometry.

Simulations

The Simulations workspace window provides the main interface to define simulations to send to the calculation engine. Each time the project is modified and saved, the user must define a new simulation to register the change. This workspace window stores definitions such as source types, parameter sweeps, S-parameters, frequencies of interest, scattered/total field interfaces and termination criteria that are specific to a calculation. For a detailed discussion about setting up and running simulations within EMPro, refer to Running Calculations.

Results

The Results workspace window stores all of the results available for a particular project. It is also possible to load the results of a past project into this window without having to load the entire project itself. This makes it convenient to compare the results of several projects in a single interface. For more information about this workspace window and reviewing results Viewing Output.

Scripting

The Scripting workspace window enables you to create, edit, manage and execute user-defined scripts. For more information on the capabilities of this window, refer to Additional Tools for Customizing and Organizing Projects.

Libraries

The Libraries workspace window enables you to create and save collections of objects grouped by category. Because a library is saved to its own filename (and not to a specific project), it is easy to import common objects and definitions to multiple projects. For information about the capabilities of this window, refer to Additional Tools for Customizing and Organizing Projects.

Parameters

The Parameters workspace window enables you to create, edit, and delete parameters that are referenced universally throughout the project. A parameter can be a simple numeric value or a mathematical expression. They can be used to run "Parameter Sweeps," which are specified in the Simulations workspace window. Details about the capabilities of this window can be found at Additional Tools for Customizing and Organizing Projects.

Organizing Project Workspace

There are three ways to display and organize active windows in the project workspace: Maximized, Cascade and Tile.

In Maximized mode, windows are maximized to take up the entire workspace. Switching tabs in tabbed workspace will bring the corresponding window to the front.

In Cascade mode, the windows appear stacked on top of each other, each with its own title bar showing. Users can switch windows by clicking on the title bar, or by using the tabs at the top of the workspace. To assume this mode, select the Cascade mode icon in the lower right-hand corner, as seen in below.

Project workspace view modes

In Tile Mode, the workspace automatically sizes any non-minimized windows to fill up the space without overlapping. This is useful in order to quickly view all windows as large as possible. Any minimized windows will remain minimized. To assume this mode, select the Tile mode icon in the lower right-hand corner, as seen in the previous illustration.

Tabbed Workspace Window Display

All of the workspace windows are easily accessible from the workspace to the right of the screen. Unless the project preferences are defined to show all windows, only active workspace windows are located in this workspace. Any additional workspace windows can be added to the active workspace by right-clicking and selecting the desired window, or by selecting View in the Application Menu Bar. If a window is already open and present in the workspace, right-clicking in the tabbed workspace or using the View menu to select a window will instead close the window. Similarly, the windows can be closed by clicking the button in the upper-right corner of the appropriate tab.

The tabbed workspace, displaying only Geometry and Scripting workspace tabs

Troubleshooting Invalid Operations within the EMPro Interface

The EMPro interface will display an error or warning icon, to indicate when any invalid definition is created within a project. This error icon will appear in the dialog or editor window as the invalid definition is created, as well as in the Project Tree beside the invalid object or definition. Additionally, an error icon will appear next to the project's name at the top-level of the Project Tree to indicate globally that the project contains an invalid definition. A few of the most common invalid operations are discussed below, but in most cases the source of an error are easily pinpointed by holding the mouse over the error icon. A brief message will appear, summarizing the source of the error and the steps necessary to validate the project.

The error icon often appears when objects are created without applying the appropriate definitions. For example, the error icon will appear if a Parts object is created without applying a material definition, or if an External Excitations object is added without an applied waveform definition. In these cases, the error will be resolved by dragging-and-dropping the appropriate Definitions object (if one exists) onto the invalid object in the tree.

Other common errors occur due to invalid or conflicting FDTD grid definitions. If grid definitions are assigned that cause the project to exceed the maximum number of cells or memory size (defined in the Limits tab of the Grid Tools dialog), an the error icon will appear. In this case, the limit may need to be increased or removed, or else the number of cells in the project will need to be reduced by increasing their minimum cell size. EMPro will also generate an error if the Maximum Cell Step Factor defined in the Limits tab is too low to create valid transition regions, or if a Minimum cell size definition is specified anywhere in the interface that falls below the universal Minimum Cell Size definition in this tab. For more information about grid definitions and associated invalid operations, refer to Defining the Grid and Creating a Mesh.

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