1. Top Five Reasons to Choose PC-Based Measurements
1. Modular I/O for your specific application requirements
2. Inline signal processing and analysis techniques
3. Custom user interfaces with real-time visualization
4. Data storage for further analysis with industry-standard software tools
5. Automatic report generation to share your results
1. Modular I/O
Fixed-function, stand-alone instruments have vendor-defined I/O with little flexibility for channel count or specifications. From low-cost to high-performance, the more than 300 NI data acquisition devices offer many options to meet your different application needs. You can choose to use external buses such as USB, wireless, and Ethernet for distributed measurements or internal plug-in buses such as PCI Express and PXI Express for high-speed streaming and high-channel-count synchronization. With platforms such as NI CompactDAQ, you can mix and match different types of sensor measurements within a single USB chassis to incorporate both ease of use and performance.
When selecting I/O for your application, there are a number of options to choose from on popular PC buses.
2. Inline Signal Processing and Analysis Techniques
In measurement applications, the measurement itself is often only the first step. Processing and analysis are typically required to interpret and better understand the measurements you have taken. Traditional methods for analyzing data involved writing down measurements and manually entering recorded values into a spreadsheet program, or using an instrument control bus to save data to disk for offline processing and analysis.
Inline processing and analysis form a new level of measurement automation that saves time and generates the results you need more quickly. Because of the rapid adoption of multicore processors and faster buses such as USB 2.0 and PCI Express, you can take advantage of PC technology to implement signal processing and analysis in real time while you acquire your data. This reduces the amount of time you need to spend searching through data files and performing offline analysis to understand and learn from your measurements.
Save time by processing and analyzing your measurements in real-time, instead of offline.
3. Custom User Interfaces with Real-Time Visualization
Everything from the buttons and knobs to the display on an instrument was defined by the instrument vendor to address a wide variety of applications. With PC-based measurements, however, you define the way you interact with your I/O and view results. You can choose from several programming languages, including NI LabVIEW, to build graphical user interfaces (GUIs). LabVIEW was designed for engineers and scientists without any computer programming experience.
Creating a custom user interface with a LabVIEW front panel is as simple as dragging and dropping the controls and displays you need and wiring them up on the block diagram. From there, you can edit sizes, shapes, colors, and other properties to improve functionality and usability.
With LabVIEW front panels, you can quickly build a custom graphical user interface (GUI) for your measurement application.
4. Data Storage for Further Analysis with Standard Software Tools
By using data acquisition hardware, you can take advantage of ongoing innovation in PC technology, such as the continuous increase in hard drive capacity at decreasing costs. In fact, it’s not uncommon to encounter standard PCs with terabyte hard drives in them – enough to log data 100 times a second for decades.
LabVIEW provides several file I/O functions for writing data to disk. You can then read and interact with data files offline, using LabVIEW or other software tools such as Microsoft Excel or NI DIAdem, for further analysis or report generation.
5. Automatic Report Generation to Share Your Results
Report generation is a critical component of most measurement applications for sharing and archiving results from data analysis. With PC-based measurements, you can use your computer to automate everything from the measurement to the actual report itself. Create reports using functions in LabVIEW and interact with other software packages such as Microsoft Word and Excel using additional toolkits for LabVIEW.
2. Saving Time and Money with the PC-Based Approach
Virtual instrumentation provides the best way to learn from your data and share the results with others. With software flexibility and customization, you can save time by automating measurement tasks and reduce overall system costs using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) data acquisition hardware and standard PC components.