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6.3 Sampling and monitoring data

There are a set of general post-processing functions for sampling data across the domain for graphs and visualisation. Several functions also provide data in a single file, in the form of time versus values, that can be plotted onto graphs. This time-value data can be monitored during a simulation with the foamMonitor script.

6.3.1 Probing data

The functions for probing data are boundaryProbes, internalProbes and probes as listed in section All functions work on the basis that the user provides some point locations and a list of fields, and the function writes out values of the fields are those locations. The differences between the functions are as follows.

  • probes identifies the nearest cells to the probe locations and writes out the cell values; data is written into a single file in time-value format, suitable for plotting a graph.
  • boundaryProbes and internalProbes interpolate field data to the probe locations, with the locations being snapped onto boundaries for boundaryProbes; data sets are written to separate files at scheduled write times (like fields). data.

Generally probes is more suitable for monitoring values at smaller numbers of locations, whereas the other functions are typically for sampling at large numbers of locations.

As an example, the user could use the pitzDaily case set up in section 6.2.3. The probes function is best configured by copying the file to the local system directory using foamGet.

    foamGet probes
The user can modify the probeLocations in the probes file as follows.
13#includeEtc "caseDicts/postProcessing/probes/probes.cfg"
15fields (p U);
18    (0.01 0 0)
21// ************************************************************************* //

The configuration is completed by adding the #includeFunc directive to functions in the controlDict file.

    #includeFunc  probes
    ...  other function objects here ... 
When simpleFoam is run, time-value data is written into p and U files in postProcessing/probes/0.

6.3.2 Sampling for graphs

The singleGraph function samples data for graph plotting. To use it, the singleGraph file should be copied into the system directory to be configured. We will configure it here using the pitzDaily case as before. The file is simply copied using foamGet.

    foamGet singleGraph
The start and end points of the line, along which data is sampled, should be edited; the entries below provide a vertical line across the full height of the geometry 0.01 m beyond the back step.
14start   (0.01  0.025 0);
15end     (0.01 -0.025 0);
16fields  (U p);
18// Sampling and I/O settings
19#includeEtc "caseDicts/postProcessing/graphs/sampleDict.cfg"
21// Override settings here, e.g. 
22// setConfig { type midPoint; }
24// Must be last entry
25#includeEtc "caseDicts/postProcessing/graphs/graph.cfg"
27// ************************************************************************* //

The configuration is completed by adding the #includeFunc directive to functions in the controlDict file.

    #includeFunc  singleGraph
    ...  other function objects here ... 
simpleFoam can be then run; try running simply with the -postProcess option. Distance-value data is written into files in time directories within postProcessing/singleGraph. The user can quickly display the data for x-component of velocity, Ux in the last time 296, by running gnuplot and plotting values.

    gnuplot> set style data linespoints
    gnuplot> plot "postProcessing/singleGraph/296/line_U.xy" u 2:1
This produces the graph shown in Figure 6.5.
Figure 6.5: Graph of U x at x = 0.01, uniform sampling

The formatting of the graph is specified in configuration files in $FOAM_ETC/caseDicts/postProcessing/graphs. The sampleDict.cfg file in that directory contains a setConfig sub-dictionary as shown below.

9interpolationScheme cellPoint;
11setFormat   raw;
15    type    lineUniform; // lineCell, lineCellFace
16    axis    distance;    // x, y, z, xyz
17    nPoints 100;
20// ************************************************************************* //

This shows that the sampling is at uniform distribution of 100 points and that the axis labelling is based on the distance from the start point. Instead the user may wish to sample at the mid-point of each cell, using the y-ordinate for the axis labelling. This can be done by override the settings in setConfig in their singleGraph file, as shown below.

14start   (0.01 -0.025 0);
15end     (0.01  0.025 0);
16fields  (U p);
18// Sampling and I/O settings
19#includeEtc "caseDicts/postProcessing/graphs/sampleDict.cfg"
21// Override settings here, e.g. 
24    type lineCell;
25    axis y;
28// Must be last entry
29#includeEtc "caseDicts/postProcessing/graphs/graph.cfg"
31// ************************************************************************* //

Running simpleFoam produces the graph in Figure 6.6.

Figure 6.6: Graph of Ux at x = 0.01, mid-point sampling

6.3.3 Sampling for visualisation

The surfaces and streamlines functions can be used to generate files for visualisation. The use of streamlines is already configured in the pitzDaily case. The surfaces function is configured by copying the surfaces file to the system directory using foamGet.

    foamGet surfaces
The file is configured with a set of example surfaces that includes cutting planes, isosurfaces and patch surfaces. We can edit the file to produce a cutting plane along the pitzDaily geometry, normal to the z-direction.
17#includeEtc "caseDicts/postProcessing/visualization/surfaces.cfg"
19fields       (p U);
23    zNormal
24    {
25        $cuttingPlane;
26        pointAndNormalDict
27        {
28            normalVector $z;
29        }
30    }
33// ************************************************************************* //

The function can be included as normal by adding the #includeFunc directive to functions in the controlDict file. Alternatively, the user could test running the function using the solver post-processing by the following command.

    simpleFoam -postProcess -func surfaces
This produces VTK format files of the cutting plane with pressure and velocity data in time directories in the postProcessing/surfaces directory. The user can display the cutting plane by opening ParaView (type paraview), then doing File->Open and selecting one of the files, e.g.  postProcessing/surfaces/296/U_zNormal.vtk as shown in Figure 6.7.
Figure 6.7: Cutting plane with velocity

6.3.4 Live monitoring of data

Functions like probes produce a single file of time-value data, suitable for graph plotting. When the function is executed during a simulation, the user may wish to monitor the data live on screen. The foamMonitor script enables this; to discover its functionality, the user run it with the -help option. The help option includes an example of monitoring residuals that we can demonstrate in this section.

Firstly, include the residuals function in the controlDict file.

    #includeFunc  residuals
    ...  other function objects here ... 
The default fields whose residuals are captured are p and U. Should the user wish to configure other fields, they should make copy the residuals file in their system and edit the fields entry accordingly. All functions files are within the $FOAM_ETC/caseDicts directory. The residuals file can be located using foamInfo:

    foamInfo residuals
It can then be copied into the system directory conveniently using foamGet:

    foamGet residuals

It is advisable to delete the postProcessing directory to avoid duplicate files for each function. The user can delete the directory, then run simpleFoam in the background.

    rm -rf postProcessing
    simpleFoam > log &
The user should then run foamMonitor using the -l option for a log scale y-axis on the residuals file as follows. If the command is executed before the simulation is complete, they can see the graph being updated live.

    foamMonitor -l postProcessing/residuals/0/residuals.dat
It produces the graph of residuals for pressure and velocity in Figure 6.8.
Figure 6.8: Live plot of residuals with foamMonitor

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OpenFOAM v8 User Guide: 6.3 Graphs and Monitoring