Best in Test Finalists 2010: Data acquisition
Jennifer Kempe- December 22, 2009
--EX540 Wireless Datalogging CATIV Multimeter, Extech Instruments
--Genesis HighSpeed GEN5i Recorder, HBM
--MEASURpoint Multipurpose Instrument, Data Translation
--NI X Series Devices for PCI Express and PXI Express, National Instruments
--U1084A High-Speed PCIe Digitizer, Agilent Technologies
--USB-2404-UI DAQ Device, Measurement Computing
--xDAP 7400 DAQ System, Microstar Laboratories
6000 Series Advanced Measurement Products
The 6000 Series Advanced Measurement Products combine Ethernet-based data-acquisition hardware with Encore software to give users an out-of-the-box system designed for direct sensor measurements. Five 6000 Series modules provide direct voltage (up to +/-60V), strain (including bridge-based sensors), or temperature measurements.
The modules offer up to 24-bit resolution, integrated signal conditioning, and up to 100-kHz per channel sample rates. The Ethernet-based modules can be used in local or remote applications, and users can synchronize modules for high-channel-count applications.
Encore Interactive Measurement Software is included with each module. Encore provides for setup, display, logging, analysis, and report generation without the need for programming. What used to take weeks of programming or required the use of multiple programs can now be accomplished with this one, easy-to-use package. Encore can perform all aspects of an application from start to completion.
Prices start at $2299.
The Extech EX540 digital multimeter is the first handheld multimeter to offer wireless data streaming to a laptop or PC for datalogging or real-time monitoring. Data transmits to a USB receiver for trending, logging, and analysis, using the included easy-to-use software.
Now, a user can monitor and datalog remotely and wirelessly up to 10 m away from a device, adding a physical measure of safety from electrical hazards or moving components. From a time-saving perspective, the EX540 permits users to datalog device readings throughout a site without relocating his or her laptop.
This waterproof, Category-IV, true-RMS multimeter offers 0.06% accuracy and datalogs 9999 readings internally. It measures voltage, current, resistance, capacitance, frequency (two-range: electrical and electronic), duty cycle, continuity, diode testing (2.8 V), and temperature with several one-button data functions. An analog-style bar graph complements the EX540's triple-reading display. The EX540 features a three-year warranty and available NIST certification.
GEN5i is a portable high-speed data-acquisition instrument and transient recorder that features a high-end PC running 64-bit Windows. The portable, "all-in-one" box captures data on 40 channels at up to 100 Msamples/s per channel.
Although GEN5i is a high-performance system, users will easily become familiar with it, according to HBM, so they can start new tasks quickly, saving time, energy, and money. GEN5i allows customers to implement a wide variety of tasks with just one device—there is no need for a complicated special solution based on VME or VMX: HBM says GEN5i does everything as a "complete, portable test laboratory."
Customers can use GEN5i when and where they need to without the worry of lugging additional equipment to the event site—adjustments can be made to testing parameters during testing and re-analyzed, thereby streamlining the data-collection process and saving the engineer valuable time.
Base price: $17,800.
MEASURpoint is a highly accurate, multipurpose instrument that can measure any combination of RTD, thermocouple, and voltage ranges from 300 µV to 400 V. Data Translation says that this is the first instrument of its kind that allows the user to simultaneously correlate temperature and voltage measurements. MEASURpoint incorporates proprietary ISO-Channel technology that eliminates common-mode noise and ground-loop problems under all environmental conditions. In addition, up to 48 configurable input channels in groupings of eight voltage, thermocouple, and RTD inputs offer flexibility to the user.
The instrument simplifies an array of applications, including Li-ion and fuel-cell battery measurement, hybrid-electric-vehicle battery performance, thermal battery management, and portable equipment measurement. Each MEASURpoint instrument ships with a software application that allows rapid configuration of the instrument for acquiring temperature, resistance, and voltage and also for displaying, logging, analyzing, and exporting data to other formats including Excel.
Prices range from $3195 to $8695 (USB and Ethernet versions are available).
NI claims that its NI X Series devices for PCI Express and PXI Express are the most advanced data-acquisition products it has ever made, with high-performance analog, digital, and counter/timer functionality integrated onto a single device. Engineers can define the functionality of an X Series device in software, making the devices flexible enough for applications ranging from basic datalogging to control and test automation.
X Series devices incorporate NI-STC3 timing and synchronization technology and an NI-designed ASIC, which provides four flexible, 32-bit counters and a 100-MHz time base for all analog and digital timing, a 5X improvement over previous devices. This technology lets engineers perform advanced triggering and synchronization that would have previously taken advanced code or several data-acquisition devices.
With X Series devices, engineers can more easily trigger and synchronize their analog and digital I/O, stream large quantities of data, and divide their application processing onto multiple CPU cores.
Prices range from $499 to $6999.
Agilent says that its U1084A PCIe (PCI Express) high-speed data-acquisition card with an onboard FPGA (field programmable gate array) for real-time data processing provides higher sampling rates, faster measurement throughput, and more flexibility to OEMs and many test and measurement engineers.
The Agilent U1084A Acqiris high-speed dataconverter leverages the performance of Agilent's technology and know-how to meet demanding requirements. The product's PCIe form factor and flexible architecture are ideal for use in medical imaging, scientific instrumentation, nondestructive testing, and even the validation of mixed-signal semiconductors in automated test equipment. The extreme performance of the digitizer is also suited for advanced research in high-energy physics, nuclear physics, and astrophysics.
Prices are available on demand.
The USB-2404-UI is a high-resolution universal input data-acquisition device with integrated signal conditioning. Designed for multipurpose testing, the device features four simultaneous 24-bit universal analog inputs, sampling at 100 samples/s per channel. Each channel is capable of measuring voltage, current, thermocouples (Type J, K, R, S, T, N, E, and B), RTDs (Pt100, Pt1000, three-wire, and four-wire), resistance (two-wire and four-wire), or bridge-based (quarter-, half-, and full-bridge) sensors. Measurement ranges vary with the sensor type.
Four six-position detachable spring terminal connectors allow different measurement types to be made on each channel. With 250-Vrms channel-to-channel and channel-to-ground isolation, the USB-2404-UI protects the individual channels and the connected computer from ground spikes and ensures a reliable data stream. Each channel includes a built-in thermistor for cold-junction compensation. The USB-2404-UI ships with a 2-m USB cable and is powered by the +5-V USB supply from the computer. No external power is required.
Price is $999
The new xDAP 7400 systems combine a high-performance analog interface with a speed-optimized USB host connection. This combination allows the customer to build uncompromising data-acquisition systems with a laptop or any other USB-connected Windows PC. The onboard processor—and onboard operating system—frees projects from PC delays.
xDAP 7400 provides high-speed, high-accuracy, simultaneous acquisition with variable gains; differential inputs; 16-bit resolution; and real-time filtering. The system acquires data at 8 Msamples/s aggregate across 16 inputs or at 1 Msample/s on each of 8 inputs. Microstar Laboratories reports that recent tests have confirmed not only continuous transfer to a PC at the full 8 Msamples/s but also continuous disk-logging of the data.