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The new DATAQ Instruments Forum

Categories: FAQs Leave a comment
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About a year ago DATAQ Instruments rolled out a new forum tied into our support ticket system. The ticket system and forum now use the same login. Recently we closed all new posts to the old forum at support.dataq.com. The old forum can still be browsed, but no new posts will be allowed. The new forum can be found at www.dataq.com/ticket. We realize this is not the traditional bulletin board type forum most people are used to.

The new forum does require registration. If you have previously submitted a support ticket, you can use the same login for the forum. Follow the directions below:

  1. Go to www.dataq.com/ticket and click on the “Ask a question” link.

    DATAQ Ticket System

    Click on the Ask a Question link.

  2. A popup login screen will open. If you have previously submitted a ticket you can login and post a question immediately using the same login. If you had not, click on the “Register” link.

    Register to post to the Forum.

    Click on “Register”

  3. Enter your email address (please double-check it) and Name.

    Enter your Email address and Name

    Enter your Email Address and Name.

  4. An email with further instructions will be sent to the address provided. Follow the directions contained therein to complete registration (the email will provide a link that will take you to a password setup screen).

    Follow the directions provided in the Email you receive

    Follow the directions provided in the Email you receive

  5. Once your password is set you will be logged in automatically and you will be able to post a question by clicking on the “Ask a question” link.

We will continue to iron out any wrinkles we find in this system. Feel free to comment to this post to tell us what you think or to ask for further instructions.

Discontinued Support for Windows XP

Categories: Data Acquisition, WinDaq Data Acquisition Software Leave a comment
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As you may have heard, Microsoft has discontinued support for Windows XP, effective April 8th, 2014. After a 12-year run, Microsoft will no longer release updates or security patches for the widely embraced operating system. Consequently, DATAQ Instruments will also end support for Windows XP. While we will continue to assist those who are using Windows XP with previously known issues relating to the operating system, we will no longer make concessions for future Windows XP issues in forthcoming releases of our drivers or WinDaq data acquisition software.

Discontinued support for Windows XP

 

If you haven’t done so already, we strongly recommend upgrading to a more contemporary version of Windows, i.e. Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 (32 or 64-bit). An upgrade will not only allow you to continue acquiring data, trouble free, it will give you some piece of mind knowing that Microsoft is continuing to issue upgrades and security patches to protect your data.

Unfortunately, many of the security vulnerabilities present in Windows 7, are also present in Windows XP. As a result, hackers will wait for Microsoft to release security patches for Windows 7 and use those patches as a “road map” to exploit those same vulnerabilities under Windows XP, which will no longer receives security patches.

 

Additional Reading:

Windows Vista and Windows 7/8 Support Schedule

 

Error Binding UDP Port 1234

Categories: Data Acquisition, FAQs Leave a comment
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It’s come to our attention that some DI-720/730 Ethernet users are having trouble communicating with their instruments. Upon running the DATAQ TCP/IP Manager, users receive an error message stating that there is an “Error Binding UDP Port 1234” and that the IP Manager cannot continue. We are working hard to determine the cause of the problem, which at this point seems unrelated to the DI-720/730s themselves. In the meantime, there is a simple workaround to get customers encountering this error up and running.

The workaround involves disabling and re-enabling the network interface controller (NIC).

To do so (using Windows 7 or 8):

1.)    If the DATAQ IP Manager is running, shut it down.

2.)    Make sure that the DI-7×0-EN is powered up and connected to your PC.

3.)    Navigate to the Windows Control Panel, choose ‘Network and Internet’ and select ‘View network status and tasks’ from the Network and Sharing Center group.

4.)    In the Network and Sharing Center, choose ‘Change adaptor settings’.

5.)    Select the Local Area Connection (the network interface controller NIC that the DI-7×0 is connected to) and click ‘Disable this network device’.

Disable

6.)    Once disabled, click ‘Enable this network device’ to re-enable the network card.

Enable

With the NIC disabled and re-enabled, you can run the DATAQ IP Manager normally, select you DI-720/730 and choose ‘Start WinDaq’.

Boot Your Graphtec Data Logger in USB Drive Mode

Categories: Data Logger, FAQs Leave a comment
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An oft-overlooked feature of Graphtec data loggers is the ability to boot into USB Drive Mode. As the name implies, USB Drive Mode allows you to access, save, copy and delete files from your GL220, GL820, GL900, GL7000 or MT100, just as you would with a USB flash drive.

220

 

USB Drive Mode makes it simple to transfer data files from the Graphtec logger to your PC hard drive, and to view them using the included, PC based APS software. USB Drive Mode is also the easiest way to move data acquired in CSV format to your PC. Rather than transferring CSV files from the Graphtec logger to a USB thumb drive, and on to the PC; simply drag data files from Windows Explorer to your desktop!

SaveCSV

 

As with any other USB drive, files of any type can be saved to your Graphtec logger. Save a PDF of the user’s manual, screenshots, or even a PowerPoint presentation; keeping all pertinent information in one place.

How to Boot Your Graphtec Data Logger in USB Drive Mode

To boot in USB Drive Mode:

1.)    Connect the Graphtec data logger to your PC via USB

2.)    While holding down the Start/Stop button, turn the power ON.

3.)    As the Graphtec logger boots, continue holding down the Start/Stop button until the ‘USB Drive Mode’ screen appears, and release.

The Graphtec logger will be recognized by your PC as external drive, visible in Windows Explorer.

To exit USB Drive Mode, turn the power off and back on again without the Start/Stop button held down.

 

Additional Reading:

Back up GL820 and GL900 Data Using Windows Built-in FTP Server

Sample Up to 14.4 kHz in Stand-alone Mode

Categories: Data Logger, Product Updates Leave a comment
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Thanks to single-level cell (SLC) technology, DATAQ Instruments stand-alone data loggers can once again sample at throughput rates up to 14,400 samples per second.

Due to inconsistencies with older SD cards using multi-level cell (MLC) technology, we were forced to reduce the maximum stand-alone sample rate specification for DATAQ Instruments data loggers to 8 kHz, a 44% decrease. While SD cards using MLC technology allow for greater capacity by increasing the amount of data stored in individual memory cells, they require more error correction than a single-level cell SD card. The increased error correction results in slower write times.

SDPic

With the discovery of single-level cell technology, whereby a single memory cell stores one bit of data, customers can consistently sample up to 14.4 kHz in stand-alone mode. In addition to faster write speeds, single level cell SD cards allow for up to 10 times the number of erase/write cycles as MLC cards. This makes single-level cell SD cards ideal for data acquisition, where information is repeatedly being stored and erased.

The new 2GB SLC SD cards can be purchased in our online store at:

http://www.dataq.com/commerce/flash-memory/101014-2g/

 

Additional Reading:

Stand-alone Data Logger Features of DI-71X Products

Three Easy Steps for Stand-alone Data Logging Using a DI-71X Data Logger

Acquire Data in Minutes

Categories: Analysis Software, Data Acquisition, FAQs, WinDaq Data Acquisition Software Leave a comment
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WinDaq data acquisition software allows you to acquire data in minutes!

So you’ve chosen a DATAQ Instruments data acquisition system (with the help of our PC-Connected and Stand-alone product guides), you’ve connected the instruments to your PC, and you’ve successful installed the software. Now what? How do you record data?

WinDaq data acquisition software allows you to acquire data in minutes! In this video tutorial, we’ll cover the basics of PC-connected data acquisition.  From enabling channels, to scaling WinDaq to display engineering units, and of course, recording data to your PC hard drive.

Additional Reading:

What You Really Need to Know About Sample Rate

Slow Sample Rates Explained

Data Acquisition Gain and Dynamic Range Considerations

 

Save a Segment of Data as a Second, Smaller File

Categories: Analysis Software, Data Acquisition and Excel, WinDaq Data Acquisition Software Leave a comment
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The WinDaq Waveform Browser allows you to select a segment of data, and save it as a second, smaller file.

Suppose you have a very large data file, recorded over several days, or even weeks. Now suppose that that file contains a significant event that transpired in a matter of seconds. Perhaps you’d like to isolate that event, or even email it to a colleague for review. The trouble is, WinDaq data files can be as large as 4 gigabytes.

There is a solution! The WinDaq Waveform Browser allows you to save a segment of data as a second, smaller file. The following multimedia presentation will guide you through the process, step-by-step. You’ll learn how to select a segment of data using the time marker and cursor, and save it into WinDaq format (Binary (with CODAS header)). The resulting file will contain only the data that you’re really interested in.

Additional Reading:

Waveform Analysis Using The Fourier Transform

 

Data Logger vs. Data Acquisition

Categories: Data Acquisition, Data Logger Leave a comment
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If you need to digitize an analog signal, record it, and provide a method to analyze it, do you need a data logger or a data acquisition system? It has become increasing clear that the answer is ‘Yes’ to both products. What I mean is that the traditional definitions of these two broad product categories have become blurred to such an extent that they’ve become one-and-the-same.

Traditional Data Logger and Data Acquisition Definitions

I’m old enough to remember when data loggers were battery- or DC-powered devices that sampled very slowly (once per second was considered very fast.) They featured on-board memory to operate without a connected computer, and they may or may not have had a built-in display of some sort. Finally, they usually featured very high analog-to-digital conversion resolution.

In contrast, data acquisition referred to a system that operates while connected to a computer and uses the computer’s display and storage facilities. The typically lower analog-to-digital conversion resolution of data acquisition systems was compensated for with much higher sample rates on the order of 100 kHz or more.

In the traditional sense, data loggers were plodding instruments deployed in places and applications where others couldn’t go, and data acquisition systems were nimble thoroughbreds connected to a ball and chain in the form a computer.

Time Blurs Traditional Distinctions

If we fast forward, the above legacy definitions for data logger and data acquisition have all but vanished. Whether due to advancements in technology, evolution of the vernacular, or a combination of both, the two terms are increasingly and likely permanently used interchangeably. We talk to customers who say they want  PC-connected data loggers, and those who want stand-alone data acquisition systems. The melding of the two terms is so complete that it’s futile to use them as starting points for a discussion of product solutions, since doing so injects confusion and is likely to start down the wrong product path. As a supplier of both kinds of products, we need to find a better, more efficient way to match customer requirements to product features.

Stand-alone versus PC-connected

New buttons on our website to select PC-connected or stand-alone products. Another captioned "Data Logger Product Guides" sends you to the same place.

New buttons on our website to select PC-connected or stand-alone products. Another captioned “Data Logger Product Guides” sends you to the same place.

If asking a customer whether she wants a data logger or data acquisition system is ambiguous, asking if she wants a stand-alone or PC-connected solution instantly defines the requirement and begins a meaningful discussion of product solutions. While customers do not differentiate between data loggers and data acquisition systems, all know if they want to use a PC to acquire data, or if they want the instrument to operate without a connected PC.

As such, DATAQ Instruments has split its product choices along these lines, the first manifestation of which are two filtered product selection guides, one for stand-alone products and the other for PC-connected. So, it no longer matters if you define data loggers and data acquisition systems along traditional lines, or if you’re a contemporary with different ideas on the matter. All you need to know to get started on the right product path is: Do you want one that acquires data to a connected PC, or operates without one?

We invite you to try our new product guides by following the links in the Additional Reading section. Place “Product Guide” in the subject and email us at sales@dataq.com with your comments. We’d love to learn your thoughts.

Additional Reading:

Stand-alone Data Logger and Data Acquisition product guide

PC-connected Data Logger and Data Acquisition product guide

How To Measure Current

Categories: Data Acquisition, Data Logger, FAQs, Unrelated but Interesting Leave a comment
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…current is always measured indirectly from an external sensor that produces a voltage output that is proportional to current. Since the only difference between a voltage and current measurement is the scaling that you apply to the result, voltage measuring instruments are almost always used to measure current.

Model CL601 current data logger is a rare example of an instrument with a built-in current sensor.

Model CL601 current data logger is a rare example of an instrument with a built-in current sensor (click for details.)

 

 

We often run across applications that require general-purpose AC or DC current measurement. In many cases, customers are surprised to learn that dedicated current measurement options appear to be limited.Simply stated, this is because current is always measured indirectly from an external sensor that produces a voltage output that is proportional to current. Since the only difference between a voltage and current measurement is the scaling that you apply to the result, voltage measuring instruments are almost always used to measure current.

The only exception to the above are instruments that happen to have a current sensor built into them, which is very unusual. An example is model CL601 AC Current Data Logger from DATAQ Instruments (see accompanying picture), which features a built-in, clamp-type current probe to accommodate AC current measurements.

Some examples are in order to crystallize the much more common concept of using voltage instruments to measure current, and they are best categorized based upon the most common types of current sensors.

Current Measurement Using Shunts

 

Current shunt

A typical current shunt

A current shunt is a precision resistor of very low value that is installed in series with the conductor from which current will be measured. Since its output is scaled to produce typically 50 or 100 mV at full-scale current, a voltage measuring device is used with the result scaled into units of current.

Instrument sample rate comes into play with ac current measurements, since the shunt passes an unfettered current waveform. In cases like that, you might connect an RMS voltage amplifier to the shunt’s output to generate a DC output that is proportional to RMS current, minimizing both sample rate and the size of recorded files.

Note that the instrument used to measure current shunt voltage will often need to be isolated. 

Current Measurement Using Probes

Example of an AC/DC current probe sold by DATAQ Instruments.  Click for more information.

Example of an AC/DC current probe sold by DATAQ Instruments. Powered by a 9-V battery, the probe outputs a DC voltage proportional to applied DC and AC RMS current (Click for more information)

Current probes provide the convenience of being hung on, or wrapped around a conductor. Unlike current shunts, they do not require that you install them in series, and all provide inherent isolation. However, these conveniences come at the price of accuracy and price when compared to current shunts.

Some current probes measure AC and DC current, and others only measure AC. Further, some probes provide built-in amplifiers that produce an RMS output for AC current measurement. Those that do not yield a current waveform. So, care should be exercised when matching a probe to an instrument, especially for AC measurements. It wouldn’t make sense to use a probe without an RMS amplifier to measure 60 Hz line current using an instrument that can sample at only a 10 Hz rate.

Current Measurement Using Current Transformers

The final method commonly employed to measure current is a current transformer (CT). Some CTs can be used to measure AC and DC current, but most measure only

A typical current transformer. A conductor is passed through the hole, and an output is provided for indirect current measurement by an instrument.

A typical current transformer. A conductor is passed through the hole, and an output is provided for indirect current measurement by a voltage measuring instrument.

AC current. CTs commonly have a hole in them through which the conductor is passed, and an output for connecting to a measuring instrument. The output is actually a current output and must be shunted with a known resistance to develop a voltage. Failure to do so results in extremely high and possibly lethal voltages present on the secondary, so be sure to carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions.

Match the Current Sensor to the Instrument

Whether you choose a current shunt, probe, transformer, or some other current sensor, the key takeaway from this article is that current measurement is always a voltage measurement by any other name. So it follows that the the same precautions you’d exercise to measure voltage apply equally to measure current:

  1. Ensure that the expected output voltage range of the current sensor is within the measurement range of the instrument.
  2. Ensure that the instrument has the sample rate flexibility to provide meaningful results if the sensor passes a true current waveform.
  3. Ensure that you understand the isolation requirements of the measurement, and use a suitably isolated instrument if required.

 Additional Reading:

Isolated True RMS Amplifiers

Isolated mV amplifiers suitable for use with shunts

Using WinDaq software to calculate true RMS

Learn the Importance of Isolation in Four Easy Lessons

 

WinDaq System Used in Bridge Monitoring

Categories: Data Acquisition, Synchronous, Unrelated but Interesting Leave a comment
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The I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis, MN connects Downtown East to Marcy-Holmes. Following its catastrophic failure on August 1, 2007, a decision was made to rebuild the bridge with a state-of-the-art monitoring system. The contractor chose DATAQ Instruments hardware and software for the job due to our expertise in distributed and synchronous data acquisition technology. Since the bridge’s reopening on September 18, 2008, DATAQ Instruments hardware and software have played a vital role in monitoring bridge health, a contribution that was recently featured in a Minneapolis news report, which you can find here.

Additional Reading:

Bridge Structural Monitoring System