A typical DAQ system consists of sensors, measurement hardware, and a computer with application software. Zooming in a little closer gives you additional items including signal conditioning circuitry, cables, sensor connectivity, and driver software that you must consider with nearly every DAQ application.
Figure 1. Parts of a Traditional DAQ System
As your application needs change, system components will need to be added, removed, or modified. For instance, you may need to add new channels or sensor types or operate in a different environment and, ideally, your DAQ system could adapt to meet all of your current and future needs. By combining a processor and sensor-specific I/O modules, NI CompactDAQ controllers integrate the common components of a measurement system into a single device. This reduces system complexity, increases accuracy, and lowers both hardware and development cost.
2. Reduce System Cost and Complexity
To run completely independent, NI CompactDAQ controllers include embedded processing and onboard storage, which eliminates the need for an external PC. NI CompactDAQ controllers include a multicore processor and the option to run Windows Embedded Standard 7 (WES7) or LabVIEW Real-Time OS. This gives you the ability to run your measurement, analysis, and logging software directly on the device, as well as any additional software supported by your choice of OS. For long-term monitoring and logging applications, the LabVIEW Real-Time option offers the increased reliability needed for weeks and months of continuous uptime. With 32 GB of built-in nonvolatile storage and removable SD storage, you have plenty of space for extended logging tasks locally. Other options include transferring data to a network location or using cloud storage accessible with the NI Technical Data Cloud. The new high-performance NI CompactDAQ platform combined with NI LabVIEW system design software can be configured for various stand-alone architectures to meet your data-logging requirements.
Figure 1. The new NI CompactDAQ controller is a rugged, integrated solution for embedded measurements and logging.
3. Increase Accuracy
By integrating the entire signal chain into a single rugged system, NI CompactDAQ controllers reduce the number of links, thereby reducing points of failure and sources of error. Consider the analog signal path. In a traditional measurement system, with the signal conditioning and analog-to-digital conversion split between two boxes, three new sources of error are introduced—the cable and the connectors on the signal conditioning box and DAQ device. External noise and loose connections can reduce the integrity of the analog signal and limit the ability to take accurate measurements. Similarly, data and power wires are susceptible to human error and prone to wear and tear.
4. Enable Online Processing
NI CompactDAQ controllers integrate high-performance embedded processing with industry-leading measurement quality and platform integration. Unlike many alternative data-logging solutions that require a separate PC for analysis, Intel Atom or Core i7 processors can run your measurement and logging software plus online analysis from more than 850 LabVIEW analysis functions. Advanced applications particularly benefit from the high-processing power. For instance, machine condition monitoring requires processing-intensive algorithms to perform statistical analysis for machine prognostics or failure predictions. These algorithms exceed the capabilities of traditional solutions.
For high-channel-count applications, you can turn an NI CompactDAQ controller into a centralized hub with more than 1,500 synchronized channels by integrating up to six additional NI CompactDAQ chassis directly through the four Hi-Speed USB and two Gigabit Ethernet ports. The Gigabit Ethernet ports can also connect to a range of GigE vision cameras for high-resolution image acquisition and processing tasks, such as image enhancement, pattern matching, and object measurements. If you’re using an alternative solution and you need to add more channels or vision capabilities, you’re typically going to have to augment or completely replace the system. This costs money and time, not to mention the synchronization and disparate data organization challenges it introduces.
The array of I/O modules is fundamental to the performance of any NI CompactDAQ system. The modules contain all the circuitry needed for particular electrical or sensor measurements in a single, rugged package. The integrated signal conditioning includes amplification, filtering, excitation, and isolation, which are essential for acquiring accurate sensor measurements. Modules are available with simultaneous sampling, 24-bit resolution, and up to 1 MS/s/ch sample rates so you can meet the most demanding measurement requirements.
5. Keep Up with Application Requirements
NI CompactDAQ controllers combine flexible hardware and software to meet a diverse set of application requirements and user needs. Solutions with fixed or limited I/O types are difficult to adapt and often require completely new hardware for different applications. With over 50 I/O module options for analog, digital, and controller area network (CAN), inputs and outputs deliver more than one billion I/O combinations so you can easily add or replace modules as your measurement needs change. Common analog input modules include signal conditioning for measuring thermocouple, strain gages, load cells, accelerometers, microphones, and more. NI CompactDAQ controllers also include four built-in 32-bit counter/timers for event counting, quadrature encoder measurement, PWM, pulse train generation, or frequency measurements. In addition to I/O flexibility and USB and Ethernet expansion options, NI CompactDAQ controllers offer RS232/RS485 serial, MXI-Express, and VGA output ports. You can use these standard ports to integrate a variety of devices ranging from a mouse to a touch panel monitor to a GPS device. With flexible I/O and standard interfaces, NI CompactDAQ provides a platform that you can standardize on to reduce equipment costs and training time.
Figure 2. NI CompactDAQ is compatible with more than 50 C Series modules to offer more than one billion I/O combinations.
With LabVIEW, you can develop custom measurement systems faster. Within a single software environment, LabVIEW provides unparalleled integration with NI DAQ hardware, extensive signal processing libraries, and UI controls built for measurement data visualization. Additionally, LabVIEW abstracts low-level programming calls so that your system can adapt to changing requirements and technologies over time. For example, you can reuse LabVIEW VIs written for USB NI CompactDAQ with an NI CompactDAQ controller without making changes to the software. This adaptability, along with the capability of NI-DAQmx driver software to synchronize measurement data and easily add new measurement types, provides an extremely flexible software solution. In LabVIEW 2012, NI offers new examples, templates, and sample projects focused on user proficiency to help engineers and scientist of all levels to innovate faster. These options provide different starting points for novice programmers interested in seeing measurements fast and experienced programmers seeking scalable software architectures designed by LabVIEW developers. NI continues to provide new tools to increase the proficiency and thus the productivity of LabVIEW programmers worldwide. Nonprogrammers interested in configuration-based data-logging software can choose ready-to-run applications that are powered by LabVIEW and available through the LabVIEW Tools Network.
Alternatively, to define your own turnkey solution, you can choose from more than 600 companies worldwide in the NI Alliance Partner Network. These partners specialize in integration and customization services with LabVIEW and NI DAQ products. No matter the application size, complexity, or need for customization, there is a software solution to meet your needs.
NI CompactDAQ offers the performance and flexibility to meet your advanced data-logging requirements today and into the future. The integrated processor and hard drive combine with the C Series modules to deliver stand-alone operation to the NI CompactDAQ platform for the first time to address high-end embedded measurement and logging applications. The high-performance processing, measurement quality, and data streaming offer a platform that can solve high-speed measurement, high-channel-count applications, intensive analysis, image acquisition, and more. NI CompactDAQ controllers provide the flexibility to adapt to changing requirements and technologies through the modular I/O, standard peripheral integration, and software tools based on LabVIEW.
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