2005 at Microstar Laboratories: The Year in Review
Data Acquisition and Control under Windows
Bellevue, WA, December 30, 2005 -- [Microstar Laboratories, Inc., maker of Data Acquisition Processor (DAP) boards, has issued this summary of developments over the past year for the benefit of their customers and potential customers.]
Microstar Laboratories last year renewed its customer focus by building on the four components of its core competence:
Customers receive most value when the company delivers products and services that package and present this core competence in a way that engineers can put to use quickly and easily. Two developments over the past year – DAPstudio 2.0 and the new MSXB signal-conditioning boards – stand out as examples that combine all of these four components in a way that delivers value to customers. Before giving more details on these two examples, this announcement briefly expands on the four bullet points above.
Onboard intelligence – in the form of DAPL, a real-time operating system running on dedicated processor – sets Data Acquisition Processor (DAP) boards apart from other PC products for data acquisition. A user normally controls DAPL through Windows on a PC, either locally or over a network, with a Windows application like Visual Basic, with a third-party product like LabVIEW or, of course, with DAPstudio.
A channel architecture based on Eurocards – plug-in boards that mount in 19-inch industry-standard racks – allows even a single DAP board to support an application with many channels and various specifications.
Anti-aliasing protects against data corruption. Digitizing any signal inevitably corrupts it with aliases if it contains any frequencies above half the sampling rate (Nyquist). If you design a system without knowing in advance and beyond doubt that the sampled signal contains no frequencies above Nyquist, then you may want to include anti-aliasing hardware with analog circuits to filter out those frequencies before any analog-to-digital conversion takes place.
System integration ties it all together. This is easy to say but hard to do well. Microstar Laboratories makes it easier for you to do well. We design all our products with a view to your integrating them quickly and easily into a system.
DAPstudio Selected as Product of the Year at Scientific Computing
DAPstudio 2.0, selected as a Product of the Year by readers and editors at Scientific Computing, hands you each design tool you need, precisely when you need it, to create elegant and powerful data acquisition systems that take maximum advantage of onboard intelligence. Version 2.0, shipped in October, adds new display types – including multi-channel alarms and digital panel meters – and many new configuration options for existing display types. It also supports multiple data rates, sending raw and processed data to the PC at different rates over different data channels.
If your application has many inputs, many outputs, or many inputs and outputs, you will find DAPstudio especially helpful. With just a few mouse movements, you can select and deselect channels, set all or some of them to certain values, apply gains selectively, and so on. And when you have finished with the relevant design tool, DAPstudio documents what you have done: as perfectly formed DAPL commands that configure the DAP to behave precisely as you intend it to at run-time. You can choose whether to review these commands or simply to save them as part of a working DAP configuration in an integrated data acquisition system.
Signal Conditioning: New Channel Architecture Product Family
Microstar Laboratories last year announced the first four of a family of signal-conditioning expansion boards, part numbers MSXB 064, MSXB 065, MSXB 066, and MSXB 067, all available for immediate delivery. More members of this product family – that conditions signals from strain gauges, RTDs, and other sensors – will come out in 2006. The new boards provide differential instrumentation amplifiers with optional sample-and-hold circuits and jumper-selectable gains. Any application that requires accurate interchannel phase measurements – any application that computes transfer functions, for example – needs signal-conditioning expansion boards like these. These products eliminate the phase error that sequential sampling introduces. The MSXB 065 and MSXB 067 also include fourth-order anti-alias filters. Future signal-conditioning expansion boards also will come in pairs: with and without built-in analog filters.
The new boards each have eight differential input channels and eight differential outputs on a backplane connector. Conditioned signals pass through the backplane and an interface board and cable to a DAP board in a PC. Circuits on an optional daughterboard implement eight four-pole lowpass filters – one for each channel – before analog-to-digital conversion. Different daughterboards have different cutoff frequencies. Customers can choose from cutoff frequencies of 100Hz, 250Hz, 500Hz, 1kHz, 2.5kHz, 5kHz, 10kHz, 25kHz, and 50kHz. DAPL includes several built-in filtering commands. DAPstudio lets you apply these onboard digital filters to the output data from signal-conditioning boards with built-in analog filters to produce a wide range of filter responses, including very sharp lowpass filters.
Conclusion and Next Step
Over the last year, Microstar Laboratories has renewed its focus on the four components of its core competence: onboard intelligence, channel architecture, anti-aliasing, and system integration. This focus resulted in a Product of the Year award from the readers and editors of Scientific Computing for DAPstudio 2.0, the interactive development environment for DAP boards that allows full use of onboard intelligence. It also resulted in the first four boards in a new family of signal-conditioning products, each available with or without anti-aliasing hardware, that extend the functionality available under the same channel architecture to make system integration even easier. To contact the company from the United States, call 888 MSTARLABS (888 678-2752) or (425) 453-2345. From other countries, contact your local distributor or email us.
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Microstar Laboratories, Inc., maker of Data Acquisition Processor (DAP) boards, sums up the past year as one of renewed focus on the four components of its core competence: onboard intelligence, channel architecture, anti-aliasing, and system integration. This focus resulted in DAPstudio 2.0, a significant upgrade to the interactive development environment for data acquisition systems with DAP boards that allows full use of onboard intelligence. It also resulted in the first four boards in a new family of signal-conditioning products, each available with or without anti-aliasing hardware, that extend the functionality available under the same channel architecture to make system integration even easier. To contact the company from the United States, call 888 MSTARLABS (888 678-2752) or (425) 453-2345. From other countries, contact your local distributor or email us.
Note to the Editor:
Microstar Laboratories, Inc. claims Microstar Laboratories, Data Acquisition Processor, DAP, DAPL, and DAPstudio as trademarks.
Microsoft Corporation has registered Windows as a trademark. Microsoft and other organizations may claim - or may have registered - as trademarks any trade names, logos, and service marks that appear in this document but not in the list above.
Microstar Laboratories makes it a practice to use an appropriate symbol at the first occurrence of a trademark or registered trademark name in a document, or to include trademark statements like this with the document.