Real-Time Applications on a Windows PC
Using an Onboard Real-Time Operating System
Bellevue, WA, December 11, 2007 -- This may come as a surprise: you can develop and operate a real-time application under Windows. Simply use a Data Acquisition Processor (DAP) board from Microstar Laboratories, Inc. Every DAP board includes an onboard processor running a real-time operating system. DAPstudio – a Windows application from Microstar Laboratories – lets you communicate with and control this real-time operating system. You also can do this from third party (or your own) Windows applications.
If this looks like what you need for your application, read on.
Each DAP board gives you an additional processor running a real-time operating system – DAPL – that you control from a Windows application anywhere on your network. This extra processing resource frees your system from PC and network delays and lets your application respond reliably – in time, every time. As explained below, any coding for the onboard processor is strictly optional, but here is an interesting option: if you can use a standard Windows development environment to code any algorithm you want in C, you can run it on a DAP.
All DAP boards include built-in synchronization hardware and support software that work together to let you create a PC-based building block for a system with any number of DAPs. Your application is inherently scalable. Add more channels whenever you need them, and address each additional channel in software simply by channel number.
Microstar Laboratories bases all hardware and software design on a consistent channel architecture. This specifies the signal path all the way from a waveform at the sensor or actuator to a stream of digital values on the PC – from signal connectors on various rack-mounted 3U Eurocard B external boards that perform signal-conditioning functions, through circuits on the DAP, through conceptual pipes in software running on the onboard processor and in the PC.
Configuring a DAP Application
DAP boards acquire data, converting analog signals into digital values. These digital values stream through conceptual pipes on the board that you set up ahead of time using DAPstudio or some other Windows application. The onboard processor performs any required operations as it transfers data from pipe to pipe. DAPstudio lets you specify these onboard operations by clicking on the appropriate tools as you design the system, and it then lets you save the working configuration as a complete DAP application.
Running a DAP Application
At the end of the DAPstudio session you have automatically produced documentation that completely defines your application. You then can use DAPstudio to run your application – from any PC on a network – with no custom programming and no other vendor software. Although DAPstudio lets you configure and control any DAP without any other Windows software, you also can do this from LabVIEW, MATLAB, and other third-party software. And from C++, VB, and other applications that allow DLL calls.
Optional Custom Programming
The onboard processor performs any required operations as it transfers data from pipe to pipe. DAPstudio lets you specify these onboard operations by clicking on the appropriate tools as you design the system. If an appropriate tool is not available, you can create your own. If you can use a standard Windows development environment to write a C program that displays "hello world," you can create your own tool to use in DAPstudio. Pause. Back up and read that again. And think what it could mean.
After trying out DAPstudio and taking a look at all the tools available, you will know if you would like to create one. If you do not want to do it yourself, you can ask one of our application engineers to create a tool for you. Unless you want an unusually complex tool, creating it will take only a couple of days, and cost around a thousand dollars.
Conclusion and Next Step
You can develop and operate a real-time application under Windows by using DAPstudio, a Windows application that lets you select each processing tool your application needs at the stage in the process that it needs it. DAPstudio lets you do this without requiring you to write a single line of code. You can download a full version of DAPstudio and try it out for an unlimited period at no charge. You then can check out all the processing tools available. If your application requires a specialized processing tool and you can write a simple program in C, you can make the tool yourself. Or you can have it made for you. If you want to prototype your application with live data, you will need a DAP board. The company will let you have one at no charge for a trial period. Meanwhile, download DAPstudio from www.mstarlabs.com.
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You can develop and run a real-time application under Windows. You can do this without writing a single line of code if you use DAPstudio – a Windows application – and a Data Acquisition Processor (DAP) board from Microstar Laboratories, Inc. Each DAP board gives you an additional processor running a real-time operating system that you control from a Windows application anywhere on your network. You can have any number of synchronized DAP boards on a network, all acquiring data and emitting signals as required. The system follows a consistent hardware and software channel architecture, implemented in memory as data pipes. DAPstudio lets you specify the runtime behavior of each DAP by clicking on an appropriate processing tool for the onboard processor to use at runtime as it transfers data from one pipe to another. If you need a processing tool not already provided, you can create your own using a standard Windows development environment, or you can have the company develop one for you. You can try out a full version of DAPstudio for an unlimited period. If you need a DAP board too, the company will let you have one at no charge for a trial period.
Note to the Editor:
Microstar Laboratories suggests this text as a caption for the available image:
You can develop and run a real-time application under Windows. An onboard processor runs a real-time operating system on a DAP board that you control from a Windows application. This lets data flow predictably through a consistent channel architecture that specifies the signal path all the way from a waveform at the sensor or actuator to a stream of digital values on the PC.
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