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Vendors of data-acquisition systems are addressing increasingly complex customer applications by introducing systems that offer fast acquisition rates as well as wide input ranges across multiple channels. In addition, they are offering a choice of resolution, data-analysis, and storage options. Applications extend from low-voltage IoT and IIoT sensors to SIGINT and electronic warfare.

Specific products extend from portable data recorders and loggers to open-architecture COTS FPGA board-level products. Many companies are augmenting their DAQ systems with ease-of-use features such as touchscreens and intuitive software.


"As customer applications become increasingly complex, DAQ systems must keep up," said Jamie Pederson, product marketing manager at B&K Precision. "This means faster sampling rates to capture transients, lower voltage ranges for small sensor signals, and higher voltages for measuring higher power systems."

But the variety of manufacturers in the market, each offering multiple solutions, can present challenges. "It can be confusing for customers when trying to determine which product meets their needs," Pederson said. "B&K has addressed this by clearly defining each product and providing tools that help the end user select the best recorder for their application."

Pederson identified a trend in the data-acquisition industry toward touch displays, wider input voltage ranges, and increased integration of measurements, calculation, and analysis. "All of our instruments feature an easy-to-use touch interface for menu navigation and on-screen data analysis," he said. "We've also included the ability to write custom functions with an intuitive script editor for creating math functions applicable to multiple channels. Our wide range of input voltage ranges, combined with fast sampling rate and deep memory, help capture events that are often missed by other recorders."

Pederson said B&K Precision offers a full line of data-acquisition recorders and loggers with large touch displays and batteries for portability and power-loss backup. "Our DAS220-BAT and DAS240-BAT both feature a 1-ms sampling interval, 16bit resolution, 100-V maximum input, and up to 15 hours of battery life," he said. "The DAS220-BAT has 10 built-in channels for maximum portability, whereas the DAS240-BAT is expandable from 20 to 200 channels."

Pederson described the company's DAS30/50/60 as high-speed multifunction recorders with a sample interval of 1 [micro]s in memory mode, an input rage of [+ or -]5 mv to +500 V, 64 GB of solid-state memory, and 9.5 hours of battery life. "Users can choose from two, four, or six input channels and a thermal printer as an option," he said. "These instruments are capable of measuring signals from small sensors to large electrical systems and analyzing single- or three-phase power networks."

In addition, B&K Precision recently released its DAS1700 high-speed data-acquisition system. "This instrument features four types of measurement boards that can be installed in the base unit in any combination of up to three boards or up to six boards with an optional expansion," said Pederson. "These boards include a universal input with a maximum voltage of up to 500 V and six channels, a high-voltage board for up to 1,000 V and six channels, a strain-gauge board with six channels, and a multiplexed board with 12 channels. The sampling rate is 1 [micro]s in all memory modes, with a 14-bit resolution for universal and high-voltage boards or 16-bit resolution for multiplexed and strain-gauge boards." He added that options include CAN and LIN inputs and a 2-TB SSD.

Pederson added that B&K Precision offers software tools for remote setup and control as well as post-acquisition analysis. "Data can be displayed in real-time and displayed in a numerical or graphical format," he said.

Keysight offers data-acquisition products including the 3-slot, mid-range DAQ970 Series, which comes with flexible interfaces and a range of plug-in modules, according to Bernard Ang, product marketing. "The DAQ970 Series now comes with a new solid-state switching multiplexer to scan up to 450 channels per second and a new four-channel simultaneous digitizer module that allows sample signals up to 800 kS/s per channel," he said.

Ang added that Keysight's larger-scale, 8-slot 34980A data-acquisition system provides a scan rate of up to 1,000 channels per second and a choice of mix-and-match plug-in modules. "This standalone mainframe offers fast time to insight, measuring multiple signal types and sensors," he said. "You can easily configure and run, with no programming."

Keysight also offers PXI and USB products. The industry-standard modular M9000 PXI Series provides the flexibility, compatibility, and performance required for demanding applications, Ang said, while the U2000 USB Series offers the flexibility to be used as standalone products, or modules can be plugged into a chassis to make synchronized measurements.

Ang also commented on software. "Keysight's Pathwave BenchVue data-acquisition software helps to control our DAQ970 Series, U2000 USB Series, and 34980A data acquisition systems remotely," he said. "This software runs on a PC and can, therefore, take advantage of the resources of a PC. It can configure and control multiple DAQ systems and other types of instruments together, synchronize data capture, stream data into PC storage as the DAQ system captures data, and provide test automation, without the need for programming. Everything can be completed through a point-and-click graphical user interface. It can display trend charts, time-domain charts, frequency domain charts, bar charts, histograms, and more, for data analysis work."

According to Kristoffer Iversen, senior product marketing manager, data-acquisition lead; Derek Burrows, product marketing manager, data acquisition; and Rebecca Bassett, product marketing manager, systems and data management, all at National Instruments, "DAQ systems are composed of two elements, namely software and hardware. FlexLogger application software supports CompactDAQ, FieldDAQ, and PXI DAQ boards so users can take advantage of our modular data-acquisition products to set up tests and start logging data in minutes without any programming required."

Iversen, Burrows, and Bassett said that NI also provides application and test operations software to accelerate data search, access, and normalization for root-cause analysis. "DIAdem is a robust application software designed for engineering data inspection and analysis," they said. "It's purpose-built for test, and ships with commonly used engineering analysis functions and visualization tools out of the box. Additionally, through our DataPlugin technology, engineers can normalize data in over 1,200 formats, removing barriers that closed solutions introduce to the engineering workflow."

RADX offers DAQ products that build on National Instruments' technology. "RADX has developed the LibertyGT suite of COTS, modular, real-time, software-defined turnkey DAQ solutions that employ the National Instruments FlexRIO PXIe-57xx (and PCIe-57xx) family of FPGA-enabled, high-speed serial DAQ products," said Ross Smith, RADX cofounder and CEO. "The NI PXIe-57xx family includes digitizers, signal generators, and transceivers that include Xilinx Kintex Ultra FPGAs and DDR3. NI FlexRIO PXIe-57xx DAQ modules, combined with RADX Measurement Science Firmware and Software (MSFS), enable users to quickly and efficiently deploy PXIe-57xx-based DAQ solutions, without having to develop their own applications."

Smith said RADX COTS DAQ solutions are available either as an integrated, turnkey system that is ready "out-of-the-box" or as an "integration kit" that includes RADX MSFS apps and accessories including a 22-in. touchscreen interface that customer can add to their existing systems. "In addition, RADX has developed USB-Controlled Signal Conditioning Modules (SCM3) that provide amplification and attenuation for both RX and TX applications for the FlexRIO products that enable users to easily integrate the FlexRIO modules into their applications," Smith said.

Measurement Computing Corp. (MCC) offers a range of data-acquisition and datalogger devices, such as the MCC 152 voltage-output and DIO HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) add-on board for Raspberry Pi-based systems. "We focus on ensuring that MCC systems are easy to use, easy to integrate, and easy to support," said Peter Anderson, general manager. "MCC has seen a huge increase of interest in implementing DAQ and data-logging solutions around low-cost Linux minicomputers like the Raspberry Pi. When paired with a DAQ device, these units provide a perfect platform for edge computing, industrial IOT, agile development, and product prototyping."

Anderson said, "MCC offers a powerful and attractive, yet simple application--DAQami--for data visualization and collection from any USB or Ethernet-based MCC data-acquisition device," Anderson said. "For customized applications MCC offers DASYLab, an icon-based application development environment for data collection, reduction, and analysis. Both these environments are easy to learn and use--reducing development time and cost."

Pico Technology offers PC-based data loggers for measurement of voltage, current, temperature, and numerous user-defined parameters, according to Trevor Smith, business development manager. "The loggers are compact devices that connectare to a host computer and powered over a USB or Ethernet interface," he said. "They are supplied with PicoLog 6 data-acquisition software that enables easy configuration of one or more loggers to capture, display, store and analyze data."

Smith elaborated on the software. "PicoLog 6 is our main tool for data collection and results presentation," he said. "It has additional tools such as Alarms, Math Functions and Waveform Annotations. The file system can store huge datasets, limited only by the size of the hard disk or SSD on your computer."

Smith continued, "At the heart of PicoLog 6 is a robust file system that is resistant to data loss and corruption. If the computer is shut down and rebooted, PicoLog resumes capturing without losing the previously stored data. Data is stored automatically without the need to provide a file name and location--but if you wish to save data to a file, you can, even in mid-capture. This makes it easy to share data with fellow PicoLog users."

VTI Instruments, a product line in AMETEK's Programmable Power business unit, offers data-acquisition instrumentation on each of two platforms, PXI Express and LXI, according to Chris Gibson, senior product manager. "The PXIe systems are designed for interoperability with the LXI interface to enable tight integration into hybrid test systems that offer the advantages of both platforms," he said. The PXIe line includes the EMX-425x and EMX-43xx digitizers with up to four 24bit, 625 kS/s channels, the EMX-2500 Gigabit Ethernet remote controller with an LXI interface and IEEE-1588 synchronization lines, and the CMX09 and the CMX18 enclosures with up to 18 PXIe slots and 8-GB/s backplane bandwidth.

The LXI product line includes EX1200 Series mainframes as well as switch, sensor-simulator, resistor-ladder, and comparator/event-detector modules. Gibson added that the EX1200 multifunction counter, DAQ, and digital I/O Module offers eight frequency channels, 16 isolated digital I/O ports, and two isolated DAQ channels; it can measure revolutions/minute from a tooth wheel and position and speed from a quadrature encoder signal.

"VTI products also include a set of independent, Gigabit Ethernet, ruggedized, LXI instruments for testing in a wide range of environmental conditions," Gibson said, including the RX0124 24-channel bridge and strain-gauge measurement, RX0224 24-channel charge-vibration-measurement, RX0424 24-channel IEPE-accelerometer instruments, and the RX1032 32-channel thermocouple measurement system. "These instruments are rated for operation over an extremely wide temperature range of -20[degrees]C to +60[degrees]C and are capable of withstanding harsh environments such as jet engine test cells," he added.

Additional independent, LXI data-acquisition instruments employ power-over-Ethernet (PoE) for portable acquisition applications and include the EX1401 16-channel isolated thermocouple and voltage measurement instrument with built-in cold-junction compensation, open thermocouple detection, and 13thorder polynomial linearization for thermocouple voltages in real time; and the EX1403 16-channel bridge and strain gauge measurement instrument with built-in shunt calibration and TEDS support, Gibson said.

Gibson also commented on software. "Customers with sophisticated data-acquisition applications need to write their own software," he said. "To serve these customers, VTI products provide industry-standard IVI-COM, IVI-C, and LabVIEW drivers. In addition, these products enable customers to work in either the Windows operating system or the Linux operating system, depending on the customer's preference."

All LXI modules have built-in web browsers for web-based access using any web-enabled device located anywhere in the world. All modules allow monitoring and control to save significant time during test setup and troubleshooting.

He added, "VTI ExLab, a data-acquisition software package with icon-based setup/control and a spreadsheet-style format, is available for less extensive data acquisition applications. ExLab has a client/ server architecture with multiple displays, real-time graphical analysis, and numerous post-acquisition analysis methods."

VPG offers two brands of instrumentation, according to Anton Chittey, Europe product and sales manager with MicroMeasurements, and Patrick Rule, senior sales manager with Pacific Instruments. "Micro-Measurements instruments including our StrainSmart systems offer turnkey solutions enabling setup in minutes for rapidly changing test requirements, from 1 to 1,024 channels. This makes them ideal for small-to-medium test laboratories performing anything from material property tests, PCBA production qualification, automotive, aerospace, and education," they said. "Pacific Instruments (PI) offers high speed (up to 10 Ms/s) and high channel counts (>8,000). In addition, PI [products] have compatibility with third-party control systems and data streams as well as in-rack analog, DSP, and digital outputs for low-latency control and emergency shutdown conditions."

With regard to data collection and analysis, Chittey and Rule said data is sent to a Windows-based PC over USB or Ethernet. "An optional embedded hard drive inside the DAQ allows for redundant recording and is often desired in destructive testing applications where tests can only be run once," they explained. "Data is recorded in raw A/D counts and exported after recording to any post analysis package format for data analysis. Data reduction is available by decimation either during export or during recording which effectively allows the user to change their sample rate on the fly."

They added, "Export features also allow for the user to export all or certain channels or specific time slices of data. Playback mode allows for recorded data to be replayed and viewed in desired time increments and in many different types of displays. Calculated channels are also easily defined pre- or post-recording and easily displayed and exported along analog data."

Keithley Instruments focuses on precision data acquisition when accuracy and reliability are a priority, according to Brad Odhner, technical marketing manager. "Our two main offerings are the DAQ6510 6-1/2-digit data-acquisition and logging multimeter and the 3706A systems switch/multimeter," he said. "The DAQ6510 features a touchscreen user interface that greatly simplifies test setup without the need to navigate complex menus or use an external computer. It also allows simple real-time monitoring of tests via the front panel, allowing users to check their tests at a glance. The 3706A offers a 7-1/2-digit multimeter for enhanced precision and six customizable card slots, allowing test flexibility and up to 576 2-wire channels. Both instruments also offer built-in scripting support with Keithley Test Script Processor (TSP), allowing custom programs and calculations to be run on the DAQs themselves."

Odhner added that Keithley Test Script Processor (TSP) technology helps to enhance scan speeds and achieve the faster scan rates. "This embedded scripting also allows our DAQs to operate on their own without waiting for a controlling computer to command the next step in a sequence or calculate a result," he said. "TSP is commonly used so a Keithley DAQ can control a part handler or environmental chamber."

William Wadkins, FPGA product manager at Digilent, outlined his company's DAQ products. "We recently released several new products as part of our Eclypse platform: the Eclypse Z7 development board, Zmod ADC, and Zmod DAC,' he said. "The Zmod ADC and DAC can acquire and generate, respectively, signals at up to 100 MS/s with 14 bits of resolution. The Eclypse Z7 also comes with Petalinux supported out of the box, and pre-built Linux images are accompanied by the API for bulk data transfer. This system allows users to plug in their Zmods of choice and get started prototyping new high-speed measurement systems without directly interfacing with the FPGA until desired.'

The Eclypse Z7 with Zmod converters is designed for high-speed instrumentation, control, and measurement. "The best-in-class for performance-per-watt Zynq-7000 SoC also makes this development board suitable for edge-computing," Wadkins said.

Newark offers DAQ products from a variety of manufacturers. "One of Newark's best-selling DAQ products is the Keithley DAQ6510," said Maureen Lipps, product manager, Test & Tools. "This precision data-acquisition/data-logging system features the measurements, functions and traceability of a 6.5-digit DMM plus 80 channels of instrument-grade switching. A large 5-in. multitouch display guides users through set-up, data visualization, and analysis, removing the necessity of a PC and custom software for many applications." She added that the system is commonly applied to device characterization, where a DUT resides in an environmental chamber and is being stressed under varying environmental conditions. For users who prefer a PC, IVI and LabVIEW drivers are available.

"The B&K Precision DAS220-BAT, another key product in Newark's DAQ portfolio, measures and records parameters commonly found in process applications including voltage, temperature, current, resistance, frequency, and pulse," Lipps said. "It includes 10 universal integrated analog channels with convenient screw input terminals. For maximum ease of use, measurement results are viewed graphically and numerically on a 10-inch color touchscreen and saved either to internal memory or external USB memory. The user experience is further simplified and improved through icon-driven menus which make the instrument easy to navigate. The free DasLab Windows PC software allows users to remotely control and configure the recorder, transfer logging results and configuration files, and view live data in graphical or numerical format on the PC."

Lipps continued, "Pico Technology's TC-08 is one of Newark's most popular DAQ products. The TC-08 is an 8-channel thermocouple datalogger designed to measure an effective temperature range of -270 to +1,820[degrees]C. The TC-08 is also capable of measuring other sensors using the 70-mV range," adding that the thermocouple datalogger comes with Picolog 6 software.

"Newark's broad product portfolio and holistic support services ensure engineers at every level are supported, whether that be to set up simple or advanced acquisitions, or to record, view and analyze data, products such as the TC-08 ensure engineers can do so quickly and easily," Lipps said.

To 5 GB/s and beyond

According to Oliver Rovini, CTO of Spectrum Instrumentation, the company offers 130 different DAQ products with speeds ranging from 1 kS/s to 5 GS/s. "They are available as PCIe and PXIe cards with one to eight channels on a j single card or one to 128 channels in A a PC-system," he said. "For customers wanting a fast setup and a mobile solution, we offer stand-alone units with LXI/ Ethernet connection to any PC, laptop, or LAN. They cover the same wide speed range with two to 48 channels per box." In addition, he said the company offers a five-year warranty plus support directly from the company's design engineers.

Rovini also said the company offers easy-to-use and out-of-the-box SBench 6 software for data collection, storage, analysis, and reporting. "The software is designed by Spectrum and focuses on our own product range and supports all hardware features," he said. "Key benefits are the fast start with first measurement results within minutes and the possibility to do high-speed data streaming with a speed of several GB/s."

Pentek offers ADC and DAC open-architecture COTS FPGA board-level products for VPX, PCIe, XMC, cPCI, and AMC, with sampling rates ranging from 200 MS/s to 6.4 GS/s with resolutions of 12 to 16 bits, according to Rodger Hosking, vice president and cofounder. "They are highly programmable across wide operating limits using software board support packages and drivers for Windows and Linux," he said. "We also provide graphically oriented FPGA development tools with source code and development libraries for custom applications."

Pentek also offers its Navigator development tools for software and FPGA development, including acquisition and waveform generation engines for triggered operation suitable for radar range gates and beamforming. "We include hardware and FPGA-based decimation and interpolation filters to cover bandwidths from a few kHz to 2.5 GHz," he said. "Our Navigator Signal Viewer displays time and frequency display of live signals acquired during runtime to speed development of new applications."

"Per Vices offers the highest bandwidth DAQ products available," said Brandon Malatest, COO. "Our Cyan platform is the latest and highest performance COTS platform available with up to 16 GHz of instantaneous RF bandwidth and 4*40Gb/s QSFP+ ports for data transfer to host systems."

Malatest said the company's focus is on two parts: data acquisition and data processing. With respect to the former, he said, "Our platforms are very high-performance and application-agnostic, which allow them to meet the needs of many markets. These systems are designed for flexibility for the customer to use as needed." As for data processing, he said, "Cyan has a Stratix 10 FPGA SoC on board which enables customers to take advantage of very high DSP capabilities on the same platform as the raw data acquisition. These DSP capabilities are either offered to the customer to implement their own solution, or we can use and modify our existing IP to offer a complete solution."

Targeting niches for DAQ technology

While many DAQ providers address a variety of industries and signal types, others focus on a specific niche. TotalTemp, for example, applies data-acquisition technology to the thermal test of devices such as power semiconductors. (1) "TotalTemp uses the award-winning Synergy Nano temperature controller, which not only can log thermal and process information, but includes logging of external analog and digital signals as well as alarms that can stop testing or notify the test operator of events via text or email," said John Booher, CTO. The low-cost logging capability built into the controller, he said, supports automated cloud storage for data protection, on-screen logging, and the ability to automatically print results to a PDF file or network printer. It also facilitates the export of results to Excel.

"Lawson Labs has been making high-resolution data-acquisition systems since 1981," said Thomas Lawson, founder and president. "Distinguishing features include 24-bit resolution, optical isolation, true differential protected inputs, signed USB drivers, and free software with free updates."

Continued Lawson, "We serve the most demanding lower speed applications. Those include electrochemistry, chromatography, precision temperature measurement, instrumentation, and mechanical testing. DC accuracy, stability, flexibility, reliability, and low cost make our products attractive for both research and OEM applications."

When asked about tools for data analysis, Lawson said, "A data-acquisition system based on Excel already has first-rate analysis and presentation tools that the customer already knows how to use. We have templates for various applications, and the customer can write their own, if they prefer. Control rules can be as simple or complex as desired, and exceptions or variations or calibrations can be inserted by nonprogrammers."

Lawson continued, "If you look at DAQ2GO you will see a company that sells user-friendly spreadsheet templates for many different applications. Their software, with our hardware, makes a first-rate GC instrument, or a viscometer, or an autosampler, or a mechanical testing system."

Ikonix offers data-acquisition products serving the field of electrical safety test. "The reality is that electrical safety testing is required for compliance," said Nick Piotrowski, Ikonix USA Product Manager. "Records need to be strictly stored and monitored for analysis and I audit purposes, and our solutions meet that customer expectation. Our DAQ solutions cover every customer application. Whether the customer is running a handful of benchtop tests for R&D or compliance purposes all the way up to thousands of safety tests per day--our instruments and software will record and store all data."

Piotrowski cited several specific products for data acquisition and analysis. "Our Hypot and HypotULTRA Series have onboard data storage as well as a USB port for direct connection to a USB thumb drive," he said. "The user can program the instrument to record all data to the onboard memory or directly to the drive." The company also offers a software solution called Autoware 3. "With the software, users program the system to save all testing data as well as provide print reports."

Piotrowski said that in mid-2020, Ikonix USA will release a new SaaS. "This will allow for complete cloud storage of instrument information, test sequences, and test data," he said, adding that data can be recorded anytime, anywhere without the risk of losing any information. "Ikonix will be the first electrical safety testing manufacturer to offer a SaaS platform for customer data and analytics," he said.

Software toolboxes for DAQ

MathWorks addresses data acquisition with its software tools. "MATLAB is our platform for data acquisition and analysis," said Eric Wetjen, senior product marketing manager, test and measurement solutions. "With MATLAB and add-on toolboxes like Data Acquisition Toolbox, Signal Processing Toolbox, and Statistics and Machine Learning Toolbox, our customers can collect and analyze all their data from the same environment." He said the company offers additional toolboxes for acquiring data from webcams and frame grabbers for computer-vision applications and from software defined radios (SDR) for wireless and RF algorithm development.

"Data Acquisition Toolbox lets users bring data directly into MATLAB from USB, PCI, PCI Express, PXI, and PXI Express DAQ devices from National Instruments and other vendors," Wetjen said. "For less demanding applications, we have hardware support packages that let user collect data from Arduino and Raspberry Pi directly into MATLAB. MATLAB users can then leverage built-in apps to configure and run a data acquisition session without writing MATLAB code. To later set up automated procedures, users can automatically generate MATLAB code from these built-in apps. Using apps and command-line functions, users can easily control the analog input, analog output, counter/timer, and digital I/O subsystems of their DAQ devices."

He explained that once the data is in MATLAB, customers can use MATLAB and analysis add-on toolboxes to analyze and visualize data for a variety of signal-processing and AI applications. "For example, our customers often use Signal Processing Toolbox functions and its Signal Analyzer app to explore and preprocess signals. This app can be used to apply low-pass, high-pass, bandpass, or band-stop filters to a signal, and it can remove trends and compute signal envelopes. With the functions and apps provided by Statistics and Machine Learning Toolbox and Deep Learning Toolbox, our customers build and train predictive models for AI and predictive-maintenance applications. These toolboxes provide algorithms for feature extraction, classification and regression algorithms for supervised machine learning, and clustering algorithms for unsupervised machine learning."

Applications, challenges, and trends

The topics covered in this article span the gamut of DAQ products: simulation and data-analysis software, rugged and portable data recorders, modular instruments, and high-channel-count systems. Vendors will continue to leverage advances in data-converter and communications technologies to meet the challenges of future DAQ applications.

Several contributors to this report elaborated on applications, trends, and challenges in the DAQ marketplace. For example, Pederson at B&K Precision said, "Our data-acquisition solutions feature fast sampling rates of up to 1 MS/s, wide input voltages from a few millivolts to 1,000 V, up to 16 bits of resolution, and battery life up to 15 hrs. This makes our instruments suitable for a wide range of applications from small sensor signal logging to large electrical power analysis in both portable and benchtop environments."

Pederson added, "The biggest challenge is staying on the leading edge of DAQ technology by providing more channels, better accuracy, and a lower price. We've met this challenge headon with new platforms and by adapting our user interface to keep up with an ever-evolving market and changing customer requirements.

He cited the DAS30/50/60 Series input voltage up to 500 V, fast sampling rate to 1 MS/s, resolution of 16 bits, and the integrated power analysis feature. He also cited the DAS1700's interchangeable measurement boards, which let customers configure the recorder to meet their requirements. "These boards allow for up to 72 input channels, a maximum input voltage of 1000 V, and the 1 MS/s on up to six channels simultaneously," he said. "For applications that require a higher number of input channels, our DAS240BAT can be configured with up to 200 analog inputs."


Ang at Keysight said the company's DAQ systems are used across multiple industries for product characterization and validation, product manufacturing testing, and process monitoring. Until recently, he said, Keysight standalone DAQ systems were used as data-logging systems capturing static data. However, he added, Keysight's recently introduced DAQM909A four-channel simultaneous digitizer module for use in the DAQ970 Series enables new dynamic data acquisition applications such as mechanical vibration analysis, acoustic analysis, and dynamic AC/DC power analysis.

When asked about trends, Ang said, "With the proliferation of IoT solutions across all industries, we have seen requirements for new solution form factors, improved connectivity to the cloud for data storage and analysis, improved battery-analysis tools, and lower cost RF measurement solutions." He also cited a trend toward including data acquisition into simulation models to improve model performance.

Iversen, Burrows, and Bassett said NTs DAQ portfolio addresses applications ranging from low-channel-count systems for quick measurements to high-density, distributed, and custom systems. "Because our hardware is modular, users can tailor their setup to meet their needs across different applications," they said. "FlexLogger software provides the sensor configuration, logging options, and event response needed for typical measurements, while LabVIEW can provide lower-level control over an application when custom functionality is necessary. Our NI-DAQmx driver also provides support for third-party languages such as C#.NET, Python, and MathWorks MATLAB software, with its Data Acquisition Toolbox."

Iversen, Burrows, and Bassett also identified trends that align with connected devices and the IIoT. "There is a need for Ethernet devices that can be distributed and synchronized with minimal efforts, like our time sensitive networking (TSN) CompactDAQ chassis and FieldDAQs," they said. "Users are also looking for ease-of-use so they can connect their hardware, test their sensor input, configure their measurements, and log and analyze data. FlexLogger application software delivers on that experience and provides the ability to perform engineering analysis with just a few clicks."

Ross Smith at RADX elaborated on his company's product offering. "RADX LibertyGT DAQ Solutions uniquely employ COTS hardware and RADX MSFS, with a focus on advanced, wideband, multichannel, synchronized DAQ applications for customers that desire to use their instrumentation as opposed to develop applications for it," he said. "RADX LibertyGT DAQ solutions are uniquely scalable, high-performance, and low-cost and support precision synchronization that is essential for advanced sensor-based systems."

Trevor Smith at Pico Technology said the company's dataloggers are widely used in laboratories and in field applications. "They address diverse engineering, scientific, and industrial applications," he said. "Up to 20 loggers of any type can be configured and controlled with PicoLog 6 to collect up to 160 channels of data. One or more loggers can be reconfigured in just a few minutes to address the specific measurements that are needed at each stage of a project, or to build ad hoc configurations as the need arises."

IoT devices are presenting designers with challenges related to conserving power and prolonging battery life, Smith said. "Engineers need more insight about the power consumption behavior of their devices over time and operational life cycles," he explained. "The Pico ADC-20 / ADC-24 precision voltage loggers provide 20- and 24-bit resolution respectively. Matched with a user-configurable terminal board and precision shunt resistors, the loggers can make differential or single-ended measurements at the [micro]V or [micro]A level with better than 0.1% accuracy."

In addition, he said, engineers working on embedded systems have to pay special attention to power consumption and thermal performance of their designs to maintain semiconductors and other devices within their specified temperature ranges. "Thermocouple based loggers, such as the Pico TC-08, provide precise multipoint measurements of package temperatures as well as monitoring heat sink, inlet and outlet temperatures, etc. Prototype devices can be equipped with multiple thermocouples to measure all the critical points of a design. Thermocouple loggers are particularly well suited for making multichannel measurements in an environmental chamber during burn-in or accelerated life cycle testing."

Smith said scientists and engineers need to make diverse measurements in applications ranging from life sciences through industrial processes. "No one data-acquisition equipment manufacturer can address all of those needs with out of the box' solutions," he said.

By Rick Nelson, Contributing Technical Editor


(1.) Nelson, Rick, "Effective test and measurement drives wide-bandgap device applications," EE-Evaluation Engineering, March 2020, p. 16.

For more modular test equipment content, see the full story in the Special Reports section at

Caption: Keysight Technologies DAQ970A and DAQ973A-modules. Copyright Keysight Technologies. Reproduced with Permission

Caption: National Instruments FlexLogger datalogging project with CompactDAQ hardware.

Caption: RADX LibertyGT modular COTS system.

Caption: A Measurement Computing Corp. MCC 152 voltage-output and DIO HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) add-on board for Raspberry Pi-based systems.

Caption: Keithley DAQ6510 6-1/2-digit data-acquisition and logging multimeter.

Caption: Spectrum Instrumentation SBench 6 software for data collection, storage, analysis, and reporting.

Caption: Pentek Quartz Model 5990 3U OpenVPX board.

Caption: Per Vices Cyan platform rear view showing QSFP+ ports

Caption: TotalTemp Synergy Nano temperature controller.

Caption: Ikonix Associated Research HypotULTRA electrical safety compliance analyzer.

Caption: VPG Micro-Measurements strain gage patterns and StrainSmart System 9000 screens.

Caption: VPG Pacific Instruments 1,000 Channel Series 6000 signal conditioning and data acquisition system.
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Title Annotation:SPECIAL REPORT
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Date:May 1, 2020

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