Data acquisition is the term used to describe the process of collecting and monitoring electrical or physical signals such as temperature, current, voltage or pressure. This allows the digitalisation of data so that it may be stored, analysed and displayed in the most efficient and effective way. As technology has advanced, electrical equipment has been developed to allow more accurate and reliable readings to be taken from using data loggers, to smartphones and complex computer systems.
A complete data acquisition system (DAQ) comprises both hardware and software and will always include sensors, signal conditioning and an analogue-to-digital converter (ADC).
Data loggers are digital devices used for measurement and recording environmental conditions such as temperature, using sensors to read the signals and have memory storage capabilities that can be transferred to a computer for analysis.
Readings can be taken automatically at timed intervals set by the user and the data can be transferred wirelessly to a computer, completely freeing the time up of the user that would have had to manually take these readings and input them into a system previously.
Traditionally, data loggers were used where data acquisition systems could not be used as they were battery powered, recorded on their own memory and had higher resolutions. Now little differences are seen between a data logger and a data acquisition solution.
Chart recorders are a type of mechanical device that features a pen that draws the readings from its sensor onto a paper rotating chart. They allow data to be quickly viewed and refills are inexpensive and readily available. Paperless chart recorders are available that allow data to be digitally transferred to a computer.
Accessories are available and have been designed specifically for use with data loggers, chart recorders and data acquisition systems that can help with connectivity, accuracy and performance. Some popular product areas include: