The Scoop on Data Acquisition

Feb. 26, 2010
Control's Monthly Resource Guide. This Month We Cover Data Acquisition

Every month, Control's editors take a specific product area, collect all the latest, significant tools we can find, and present them here to make your job easier. If you know of any tools and resources we didn't include, send them to [email protected], and we'll add them to the website.

Data Translation
Looking for information on data acquisition? This website has a collection of white papers on subjects ranging from "High-Performance Data Acquisition on USB" to "Avoiding Pitfalls in Precision Temperature Measurement." The latest paper on isolation of signal inputs can be found at The complete collection is at

Onset Computer Corporation
This website offers a variety of data-logging resources, including white papers, webinars, videos, newsletters and podcasts on DAQ subjects, including "Reducing Energy Demand Charges," "Introduction to Data Logging Software," "Evaluating and Applying Data Loggers for Pharmaceutical Monitoring,"  and "Choosing a Water Level Logger: Five Things You Should Know."

Omega Engineering
This website provides extensive information on all aspects of DAQ hardware, including analog and digital I/O functionality, signal transmission, presentation and analysis, and recording, printing and storage. It also contains a glossary, list of acronyms and a list of additional readings. The direct link is at

National Instruments
This site contains extensive links to a variety of DAQ subjects: "Introduction to Data Acquisition," "How-To Guide for the Most Common Measurements," and "Introduction to PC-Based Data Acquisition." There are also links to resources on how strain gages work and ways to improve data-logging efficiency. The direct link is

Microlink Engineering Solutions
One of the most crucial tasks of data acquisition and control systems is to get real-world signals to higher-level  computers. These signals come from a diverse range of instruments and sensors, and each type of signal requires special consideration. This webpage highlights points to think about, and should help users identify the most suitable interface for their measurements. Some of the techniques covered include voltage signals (voltage, conditioned transducer, level and flow measurement), high-impedance probes (concentration measurement) and thermocouples (temperature measurement), and counter-timers (speed and flow measurement). A direct link to the webpage is located at

Dataq Instruments
The application note, "Four Easy Steps to Wi-Fi Data Acquisition," explains briefly how to set up a wireless data acquisition network. Other resources on this site include application notes and tutorials on dozens of data acquisition subjects in free, downloadable PDF form. Subjects covered include "What You Really Need to Know About Sample Rate," "The Fact, Folly and Mathematics of Analog to Digital Converter Resolution," "Data Acquisition Gain and Dynamic Range Considerations,"  "Getting Started in PC-based Data Acquisition" and "Five PC-Based Industrial Measurement Traps and How to Avoid Them." A direct link to this resource page is at

This booklet contains all the issues to be addressed when planning a data acquisition or control application. The tutorial starts out with considerations of environment—how to best deal with the electrical noise and what to use for your wiring types and wiring runs. Six pages are dedicated to sensor applications, including temperature inputs that use thermocouples, RTDs and thermistors. Additional information is given on motion sensors, potentiometer sensors, and strain gages, including full, 1/2 and 1/4 bridge gages. The direct link is at

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