Having the ability to collect data from sensor units in testing or in system operations and having that information captured and transferred to your PC is a critical component in most process control systems.
With an advanced type of data acquisition system that works with the sensors and also provides the ease of use needed for data recording, analysis and tracking, the testing and monitoring of systems becomes much easier and much more efficient.
There are a lot of different data acquisition system designs and options on the market today. Selecting the right model and the right system for your needs is a factor of knowing what you need today and what you anticipate you will need in the future. Buying just the unit you need today is one option, but it is very likely to leave you in the position of looking for a new system in the next few years.
The System Basics
There will be different options for a data acquisition system. One of the practical factors in the system will be in the connection to your PC. Some systems may require the use of a specialized PCI card while others may be a simple plug and play type of system using the USB port.
Most of the top systems will come with the option to use a variety of sensor input options. This will allow you to use the system for multiple sensors; they will just need to be compatible with the inputs. Sensor inputs can include strain gages, thermocouples, VR sensors, RTDs and potentiometers as well as others.
The software will come with the system and will work with Windows and also with Linux based systems. The GUI or graphic user interface should be easy to work with and intuitive to use. Look for systems that allow you to control the various parameters and settings and save your configurations for greater efficiency in future testing and monitoring requirements.