Data logging and recording is a very common measurement application. In its most basic form, data logging is the measurement and recording of physical or electrical parameters over a period of time. The data can be temperature, strain, displacement, flow, pressure, voltage, current, resistance, power, or any of a wide range of other parameters. Real-world data logging applications are typically more involved than just acquiring and recording signals, typically involving some combination of online analysis, offline analysis, display, report generation, and data sharing. Moreover, many data logging applications are beginning to require the acquisition and storage of other types of data, such as recording sound and video in conjunction with the other parameters measured during an automobile crash test.
Data logging is used in a broad spectrum of applications. Chemists record data such as temperature, pH, and pressure when performing experiments in a lab. Design engineers log performance parameters such as vibration, temperature, and battery level to evaluate product designs. Civil engineers record strain and load on bridges over time to evaluate safety. Geologists use data logging to determine mineral formations when drilling for oil. Breweries log the conditions of their storage and brewing facilities to maintain quality.
The list of applications for data logging goes on and on, but all of these applications have similar common requirements. The purpose of this paper is to provide a general background on data logging, discuss the various functional requirements that are common to most logging applications, and examine some of the modern hardware and software options available to scientists and engineers for implementing powerful PC-based data logging systems.
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