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Real-time PCI system leverages Windows

Posted: 26 May 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Microstar? data acquisition? DAP 840? DAPstudio? Alex Mendelsohn?

Microstar's DAP board

Are you looking for a real-time data acquisition system that uses Microsoft Windows? Then check out this product from Microstar Laboratories Inc.

The company's data acquisition processor (DAP) boards and systems for data-acq and control combine PCI-bus DAP 840 boards with DAPstudio software as a development and runtime package to let you have a real-time system with Windows.

DAP 840 boards include an on-board 50MHz 486SXLC2 microprocessors and 8Mbytes of DRAM. They can transfer data to your PC at speeds to 800KSps. Latency is held to 0.2ms/task. The DAP 840 also provides on-board emulation of DSP routines.

A DAP 840 provides a 14bit successive approximation ADC for eight analog inputs. It also includes a 12bit DAC on two output channels. The two output channels each can run at 400KSps.

Deterministic resource
For its part, DAPstudio lets you develop a PC-based measurement and control system with one or more DAP boards. Each DAP board gives a system an additional processor running the company's DAPL real-time operating system that can be controlled from a Windows application.

This deterministic resource frees the application from system delays, and lets you apply computing power when and where it's needed as you sample data and control a process.

Two or more DAP boards, in the same PC or on a network, can work together as a single synchronized system using DAP-to-DAP communications. You use DAPstudio to develop your system, and also use DAPstudio to run it from a PC on your network. No custom PC software or software from other vendors is required.

DAP data converter boards stream through so-called conceptual pipes that you set up in DAPstudio. The onboard processor performs any required operations as it transfers data from pipe to pipe, and you can choose the operations from more than 100 available in DAPL.

The commands issued to DAPL determine exactly what low-level tasks a DAP will perform, and how it will respond with control signals. Commands also configure a DAP for an application.

In use, DAPstudio lets you specify commands by clicking on the appropriate tools as you design a system, and it then lets you save the working configuration as a DAP application.

Command modules
An optional developer's toolkit for DAPL lets you re-write any sequence of DAPL commands, or any algorithm, as a single custom command in C or C++. One or more of these custom commands then form an application-specific command module, which is downloaded to DAPL on system start-up.

DAPstudio, or any other Windows application that uses DLLs, can then use the custom commands, as well as built-in DAPL commands.

If you want a command module specific to your application and you don't have the time or resources to create one yourself, Microstar Laboratories can do it for you.

A DAP board and DAPstudio software can cost less than $1200. For a limited period, the development system will be priced at less than $1,200, too. Microstar Laboratories also provides unrestricted versions of both hardware and software for evaluation at no charge.

- Alex Mendelsohn
eeProductCenter




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