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Industry Trends & Events . . .
The Blurring Line Between PCs and PLCs

The Blurring Line Between PCs and PLCs How do you choose between a PC and a programmable logic controller (PLC), for a given automation or control assignment? At one time, that decision would have been easy, as only PLCs were rugged enough for the factory floor. But industrial PCs have since evolved to come closer to meeting the ruggedness requirement. They're also available with fanless options, solid-state drives, and real-time operating systems. Today, there's no hard-and-fast rule for choosing between the two — but that doesn't mean they're interchangeable. This article takes you into the specific evaluation criteria you'll want to consider, to help you make an informed decision.

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High Performance PC-based Measurements from $99
National Instruments
Data Acquisition System

Taylor Dynamometer, Inc.

High Performance PC-based Measurements from $99 Use your PC to measure from hundreds of sensor types with National Instruments DAQ devices, connect to thousands of different instruments with NI instrument control devices, and combine results into a single interface for analysis and data presentation with easy-to-use NI software solutions. Compare products now.

Data Acquisition System DynPro works equally well with waterbrake style dynamometers, eddy current dynamometers, DC dynamometers, and AC dynamometers. DynPro gives the operator complete control of the engine dynamometer or chassis dynamometer functions and provides for comprehensive data acquisition of the test results. From Taylor Dynamometer, Inc.

Data Acquisition Software . . .
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May the Force Be Measured

May the Force Be Measured Developed for quantifying a variety of physical forces — including crash impacts, reaction forces, and cutting forces — this force measurement software works with its maker's stationary and rotary (dynamometer) measurement hardware. Depending on the hardware chosen, the software can "talk" to the acquisition hardware via USB, a PCI card, or PCMCIA module.

An Open Source Approach to Instrument

An Open Source Approach to Instrument Control Have a data acquisition application that's going to require some programming? You could use a commercial programming language, but when this engineer needed to measure a mechanical system, he chose the open-source Python scripting language. In this article, read how he controlled a collection of instruments using a Python script he custom-developed for the job. Listings are provided.

Digital & Analog I/O Modules . . .
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"Acquiring" New Knowledge

'Acquiring' New Knowledge Students, or those who just like to learn, might want to check out this multifunction data acquisition module that's targeted directly to students. You can use it as a virtual instrument, such as an oscilloscope. Among the interesting educational apps that have been developed for it, this video shows a radio-controlled toy car being tested on a miniature dynamometer.

When MP3 Doesn't Cut It

When MP3 Doesn't Cut It This audiophile liked the idea of having his computer serve up music — but not compressed music (as in MP3). Rather than sinking $1,000 or more into a high-fidelity music server, he decided to build his own, using an old Macintosh laptop and some very high-precision DACs, bypassing the fairly low-performance sound-cards that most computers sport. Here's his story.

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Real-time Data Acquisition and
Control System

CAS Data Loggers
Micro RTU Controller for Automation

Moxa Inc.

Real-time Data Acquisition and Control System The ADwin-Gold-II from CAS is a powerful real-time system that can handle the toughest applications. It features 16 analog inputs and up to 8 analog outputs plus 32 digital I/O points and can run up to 8 simultaneous PID loops at 100 kHz or respond to external events in under a microsecond.

Micro RTU Controller for AutomationMoxa's ioLogik E2210 Ethernet micro RTU controller uses proactive, event-based reporting to control I/O devices. Unlike traditional RTUs, Moxa's Active OPC Server makes seamless connection with SCADA systems a reality.

Your options don't stop here — Find the one that fits your specific needs and view the complete line of active Ethernet I/O Solutions.

RS232 & TCP/IP Data into Windows or Web
TAL Technologies, Inc.
Portable Data Recorder GEN2i

RS232 & TCP/IP Data into Windows or Web WinWedge software inputs RS232 or TCP/IP data directly into MS Excel or any Windows or Web based application. It easily collects data from balances, gages, meters, analyzers, sensors, PLCs and other serial or networkable instruments and devices. To automate your device data entry call 800-722-6004 or visit

Portable Data Recorder GEN2i The GEN2i is equipped with 4, 8, or 16 input channels, offering sufficient flexibility for demanding measurement tasks. The data can be written at speeds up to 20 MB/S onto the integrated semi-conductor hard drive or temporarily stored at higher rates in the RAM of the input modules. From HBM.

Signal & Data Conversion . . .
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Differential — Sort of

Differential — Sort of This successive-approximation-register ADC has a pseudo-differential input that its maker says allows single-ended drive on the input (simplifying the job of the ADC driver) while still reducing unwanted signals common to both inputs. Besides reducing complexity, the pseudo-differential device cuts power consumption by 40%, compared to one having fully-differential inputs. The 18-bit, 1.6 Msps chip offers a 96.5 dB SNR.

Dual DACs Use Little Power

Dual DACs Use Little Power Designed for applications including software-defined radio systems, wireless base stations, and point-to-point microwave links, these 500 Msps, 10-bit, and 12-bit dual digital-to-analog converters (DACs) combine low power consumption with compact physical size and low cost. Their 7 mm x 7 mm package size gives a footprint less than half that of comparable dual DACs.

Signal Conditioning Components & Systems . . .
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An Op Amp ADC Front End

An Op Amp ADC Front End When you need to drive a differential-input ADC from a single-ended source, a transformer is often used to provide the single-to-differential conversion. But if you need DC coupling, a transformer isn't the answer. This in-depth application note shows how a high-speed operational amplifier can be used as a high-performance single-to-differential conversion stage — one that can be either AC- or DC-coupled.

Correcting Capacitive Sensor Signals

Correcting Capacitive Sensor Signals Developed for use with a variety of capacitive-type sensors, this sensor conditioning IC essentially provides capacitance-to-digital conversion, along with correction of sensor signals. The device provides digital correction of first- and third-order non-linearities that would otherwise be difficult to correct using purely analog means. It offers 0.25% accuracy across a broad range of temperature and sensor capacitance.

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Universal Input Data Logger

Status Instruments, Inc.
8-channel Thermocouple-based Temperature Recorder
Linseis Inc.

Universal Input Data Logger The SL7000 data logger has a very flexible combination of inputs from a single temperature input up to 4 universal inputs. They are connected to the computer via a USB cable (provided). It is possible to network up to 64 devices using regular USB hubs. From Status Instruments, Inc.

8-channel Thermocouple-based Temperature Recorder The OctTemp is a miniature, battery-powered, stand-alone, 8-channel thermocouple-based temperature recorder/datalogger. This is an all-in-one compact, portable, easy-to-use device that will measure and record up to 14,563 measurements per channel. The storage medium is non-volatile solid state memory, providing maximum data security. From Linseis Inc.

Careers & Commentary . . .
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Register Today! Register Today! GlobalSpec's Industrial Processing  Event Event — January 11, 2012
GlobalSpec's Industrial Processing Event — January 11, 2012

Time to Ratchet Up SCADA Security


Register Today! GlobalSpec's Industrial Processing  Event Event — January 11, 2012Join your peers and leading manufacturers for this free, informative, and interactive ONLINE conference and trade show — right from the convenience of your desktop. Participate in any or all of the educational sessions, network with peers, and meet with manufacturers eager to showcase their latest products, services, and new technology offerings. Learn more about the educational sessions offered to meet your information needs, and register today!

Attend Current On-Demand Events:

Power Generation & Distribution
Aerospace Technology
Material Handling & Supply Chain Technology

Time to Ratchet Up SCADA Security With exploits like Stuxnet in the wild, it's perhaps fortunate that a cyber security conference like SANS North American SCADA 2012 is just around the corner. It takes place January 21-29, at the Walt Disney Contemporary Hotel, Lake Buena Vista, FL. It's where security staff from user organizations meet and exchange ideas with security experts and vendors

Diversions . . .
Challenging Solar Race

Challenging Solar Race Tokai University's solar-powered race car for the second year in a row won the 2011 World Solar Challenge — a grueling 1,860 mile dash across Australia. Its winning average speed was 56.88 MPH (91.54 KPH). In addition to blistering heat, this year's race featured raging brushfires spewing smoke that obscured the road and doubtless cut solar inputs to the panels, at times.

Share Your Thoughts . . .
About This Month's Topic

About This Month's Topic What Tops Your Innovation List?

Some of the innovations that futurists see on the horizon include remote "presence robots" and programmable magnets. What's on your list of innovations that you want to see, and what's in your innovation forecast?

Join the discussion...

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January 3, 2012 - Volume 7 Issue 1
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