How to Select Data Acquisition Systems and Instruments   Image Credit: National Instruments | Dewetron, Inc.   Data acquisition systems and instruments are either the combination of a number of data acquisition components that make up a complete system or a self-contained instrument. They are used to collect, digitize, and process multiple sensor or signal inputs for the purpose of monitoring, analyzing, and/or controlling systems and processes.  Data acquisition...
Learn More about Data Acquisition Systems and Instruments


Q & A on Data Acquisition Systems and Instruments

We asked our users for their input on Data Acquisition Systems and Instruments. Here are the results of 184 users familiar with Data Acquisition Systems and Instruments.

Who Took Our Poll? | Design Trends | Applications and Use | Features | Buying Advice |

Who Took Our Poll?Top

Design TrendsTop

Q:
What new technologies are influencing data acquisition system and instrument design?
25 answers
Answers:
Dynamic signal acquisition with built-in signal amplifier for sensors, Built-in memory for on-board measurements, High dynamic range for better resolution, USB interface based systems
~RAJESH GABRIEL, Marketing/Sales, CHENNAI, INDIA
1. Fiber optic signal inputs in the form of light-frequency (analog) 2. Conversion and capture of high voltage signals (say 4000VDC)
~Juanito M, Systems Project Leader, Dubai, UAE
Embedded designs with self supporting, Communication interfaces, Failsafe process, Break down compliance.
~Uttiramerur PADMANABHAN, Consultant, Bangalore;, India
See More Answers
Q:
From your perspective, which companies are creating the most innovative data acquisition systems and instruments?
23 answers
Answers:
* Microstrain - radio telemetry. * National Instruments - some good bits, and some designed by computer geeks that is completely impractical for field measurements.
~Rod M., Engineering Consultant, Auckland, New zealand
RaceLogic (combining datastream and video, rather than recording video on the side with an overlay)(I know others do this too, but not so affordable).
~Michael D, Data engineer, Amersfoort, Netherlands
National Instrument Freescale Semiconductor DLI Engineering FixtureLaser
~Géza M, Engineering Consultant, Budapest, Hungary
See More Answers

Applications and UseTop

Q:
What are some of the applications you have used data acquisition systems and instruments for?
43 answers
Answers:
Monitoring human physiological parameters, monitoring and controlling environmental factors in thermal lab, human responses in aircraft simulators and controlling the simulators and relative displays, infrared analysis of materials, monitoring and controlling movements in dynamic flight simulation and human responses to acceleration stress.
~Technical Support/Services, Lexington Park, MD
Monitoring of security zones, Installation & commissioning of different projects DAC systems, Water supply management, Railway electrification, Remote monitoring of devices, Peripheral intrusion systems, Attendance Management for large complexes, Centralized traffic control system for Railways etc.
~Uttiramerur PADMANABHAN, Consultant, Bangalore;, India
For general purpose measurements from sensors like strain, temperature, accelerometer, microphone, load, torque etc. Sound and Vibration analysis
~RAJESH GABRIEL, Marketing/Sales, CHENNAI, INDIA
See More Answers
Q:
Please share with us any “non-standard” applications that data acquisition systems and instruments have been used for.
16 answers
Answers:
In our application, we have designed our own data acquisition system to control the output of a rectifier (130-200 kilo ampere) output. Our input is the real-time 100 ampere pulse.
~Juanito M, Systems Project Leader, Dubai, UAE
My standard application the combustion engine measuring, pressure, needle lift, air flow intake manifold, but my "non-standard" was the tubeless tire development.
~Géza M, Engineering Consultant, Budapest, Hungary
As a GPS logger on holiday. Yes, I used my motorsport data acquisition system to trace where I drove on my holidays.
~Michael D, Data engineer, Amersfoort, Netherlands
See More Answers
Q:
Do you know of any disastrous mistakes that occurred due to the incorrect usage of data acquisition systems and instruments?
14 answers
Answers:
* Numerous issues with software. * Sampling rate vs Hz as in (9). * In one radio telemetry application the transmitted timebase was not accurate - not helpful for vibration measurement. * Software can have obscure lower level menu settings.
~Rod M., Engineering Consultant, Auckland, New zealand
Anything that is purchased without a good idea of the cost throughout the life of the system. Having to buy something after 4-5 years service because of obsolescense is very expensive and disastrous especially if one cannot access data.
~Gary G, Business Development, Wellington, OH
Voltage, Amps, bang ?? ALWAYS use one of those little boxes that tell you how much amps and volts are coming out of that little wire. just because it looks like a 5volt analogue sensor ...
~Michael D, Data engineer, Amersfoort, Netherlands
See More Answers

FeaturesTop

Q:
What would your design or feature "wish list" be for this product?
21 answers
Answers:
Standardization around usb and usb cards (eg SD card) and mobile phone technology. USB stick style loggers with options to change the sensor head. Ability to use a mobile phone to collect or view data either by blue tooth, or wifi or directly (by physically connecting). To use mobile phone to reset and program loggers. Ability for logger to connect to either internet/mobile network via modem (these fit in usb stick now) OR using a mobile phone. Ability to call a number and transmit data (maybe as an extended sms?) at a predetermined interval. If connected to mobile network then the logger can be called and interrogated remotely. I have seen kits for a remote web server in electronic magazines where the user can interact with the remote system. Option for USB style system described above to have a sensor device that can be connected to the logger remotely either by wire or by blue tooth/wifi. If by blue tooth one logger could then support multiple sensor units. This would be great for chemistry sensors in environmental studies (provided the sensor is low power). System to have water resistant and water proof options. System to have remote/auxillary power input (12V battery or solar). It would be nice to also have options/support for cameras. A further extension would be GPS support. And finally it would be really great if a trigger level could be set on inputs that activated an output (or multiple outputs). For example when the trigger level on a depth gauge reaches a certain level (eg river in flood) an output triggers a message to the researcher OR triggers a device to collect samples OR ... As cheap as possible. Given everything mentioned above except for the sensors is mass produced... Not much to ask is it? ;-)
~Shane P, Lecturer/Researcher, Makassar, Indonesia
RaceLogic have already introduced predictive lap timing for their entry-level loggers. I am very innovation focused and they trumped me on that one, so I'm a little short of ideas at the moment. It'll come back, though! Oh yes, 100Hz instead of 10Hz would be (very) nice.
~Michael D, Data engineer, Amersfoort, Netherlands
Auto-calibration and selectable for a wide variety of analog inputs (DC volts and mA, AC volts and mA, resistance input, frequency-light input)
~Juanito M, Systems Project Leader, Dubai, UAE
See More Answers

Buying AdviceTop

Q:
Do you have any advice for people relative to buying or using data acquisition systems and instruments?
20 answers
Answers:
For motorsports: start with video and frame counting. If you how to extract info from that source, you'll be able to extract more from your DAS. Otherwise you''ll be driving around with a fashionable automotive accessory.
~Michael D, Data engineer, Amersfoort, Netherlands
For buying - confirm on sampling rates, resolution, isolation between channels, input voltage ranges For using - Periodic calibration of system will help in the quality of data measured
~RAJESH GABRIEL, Marketing/Sales, CHENNAI, INDIA
Know your system and determine what it is you would like to get out of it. Then Research it with existing applications.
~Daniel R., Technical Support, Lewiston, ME
See More Answers
Q:
Is there any advice you want to share with users to help them avoid common errors in selection or usage of data acquisition systems and instruments?
22 answers
Answers:
How hard do you want to win? That's the key to how much money you want to invest. And start off simple and upgrade. Entry level loggers are cheap nowadays and can sometimes be run off an iPhone or Android phone. Once you've mastered a certain system and want more, upgrade. That way you'll arrive at the system that feeds your needs in the most efficient manner. Too complex and it will end up in a corner never to be used again!
~Michael D, Data engineer, Amersfoort, Netherlands
Short list the possible candidates. Do the following for each prospective product: Study the options and specially the maximum and minimum ratings of the system. If possible visit the site where the product has been installed and observe the product performance. Ask the users how they feel about the product.
~Juanito M, Systems Project Leader, Dubai, UAE
Hardware is typically updated within 5 years. Choose something that can be updated technologically without buying a new system. Look at the history of the products offered 5 years ago versus today. Ask yourself, Can I use those with the present equipment?
~Gary G, Business Development, Wellington, OH
See More Answers

Related eNewsletters
See More

Also on GlobalSpec...
  • Receive email updates on new products and suppliers of interest to you
  • Online, interactive conferences / trade shows featuring latest news and industry trends
  • CR4
    Q&A and discussion for the engineering, scientific, and technical community
  • Engineering and scientific news from hundreds of sources
  • Industrial manufacturers and distributors