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Data acquisition system uses USB 2.0

Posted: 29 May 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:CompactDAQ? data acquisition? National Instruments?

NI's CompactDAQ

The selling point of the new CompactDAQ USB-based data acquisition system, said National Instruments (NI), is its flexibilitysomething that is required in current platforms because of their broad set of applications.

According to Brian Betts, data acquisition technical marketing group manager at NI, data acquisition requirements change, depending on who you ask.

For research and design engineers, it's gathering real-world data to validate test models. For engineers doing manufacturing test, it's a data acquisition system at the end of the production line that validates the functionality of a device. For process engineers, it is part of the control system integrated into supervisory control and data acquisition, where data is gathered remotely at different parts around a process facility.

"Vendors designed different architectures for data acquisition as a result of this diversity," said Betts.

Unfortunately, while the PC-based system is the most flexible tool for data acquisition, putting it together requires tedious, manual installation, Betts observed. "You have to connect a data acquisition board to signal conditioning, connect your connector panel and terminal blocks, and write software. Flexibility gets traded-off for ease-of-use."

Citing Wired Magazine Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson's Long Tail theory, Betts stated that there are more data acquisition channels that require a custom set of requirements than that of common, high-volume applications.

That's where CompactDAQ comes in. Instead of having fixed capabilities, the product lets users plug in specific modules, from the initially available 11, as they require.

The new system allows signal conditioning for measurements including voltage, temperature, strain, sound and vibration, digital I/O and switching. The modules are hot-swappable and auto-detectable.

The product, said Betts, uses new technologies to address what their customers need. USB 2.0 was chosen for CompactDAQ over other computer buses because other than its ubiquity, everyone knows how it works.

"There's still no silver bullet in terms of one bus to solve every data acquisition application," declared Betts. "This is why it's important for the user to have a common platform and software to support any bus. Each bus has its benefits. USB has the best combination of performance and ease-of-use."

The product also ships with NI-DAQmx driver software, which includes an open API for LabVIEW, C/C++, Visual Basic 6 and Microsoft Visual Studio .NET languages, as well as the DAQ Assistant, a utility that automatically generates LabVIEW code.

- Michael Martin Lea?o
Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

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