Data Acquisition (DAQ) and Control from Microstar Laboratories

About Us and What We Do

data acquisition filtering data acquisition software channel architecture enclosures services

Microstar Laboratories makes xDAP (Data Acquisition Processor) systems for the USB bus and PCI-bus Data Acquisition Processor (DAP) boards for PC systems. A unique1 product feature – onboard intelligence – may make all the difference in the world to you and your application. That and anti-aliasing. And we provide you with easy expansion and plenty of application engineering help on top of that.

If this looks good so far, read on.

Onboard Intelligence with Windows or Linux

We make xDAP systems and DAP boards, and every one we make has an onboard processor that runs DAPL, a multitasking real-time operating system optimized for data acquisition and control applications. A user normally controls DAPL through Windows2, either locally or over a network. Every standard DAP model in current production also will run under Linux.

DAPL makes it easy to configure an xDAP system or DAP board for high-performance applications. The onboard operating system supports over 100 easy-to-use commands optimized for data acquisition and control. A complete application can require as few as six or seven commands out of the many available. Command categories include

  • DSP – Filtering
  • DSP – Spectral Analysis
  • Sensor Conditioning
  • Software Triggering
  • Process Control

You can check out the complete command list (with brief descriptions) now. To receive a complete set of our user manuals, including the DAPL manual, download our DAPtools Basic CD or call us.

Continued (FFTs, filters, triggers, networks)...

Channel Architectureconnecting the DAP board to the world

Many people want to know that, even if their system starts with only a few channels, they can expand it at any time with only a few simple steps. DAPL takes care of all the software details associated with expansion, so software on the PC – LabVIEW, VEE, VB or C programs or whatever – need address nothing more complicated than a higher logical channel count. DAPL also supports multiple DAPs in one PC, and enables DAPcell software servers to support multiple PCs in a single synchronized data acquisition system.

A system starts with an xDAP that connects to a USB port or a DAP board that plugs into a PCI slot. A channel architecture based on Eurocards – plug-in hardware that mounts in industry-standard 19-inch racks – provides expansion, termination, and other functions that greatly extend the reach of even a single DAP.

Anti-Aliasingsomething to take care of

Whenever you digitize real-world frequencies higher than half the sampling rate, you corrupt the data. Samples of these higher frequencies appear in any subsequent analysis only as lower frequency aliases. And by that stage you can do nothing – nothing at all – to correct the problem. So unless you know for sure that the signal you measure contains none of these higher frequencies at energy levels that your sensors can detect, you have to deal with the issue up front.

Microstar Laboratories provides two solutions to this problem: one in the form of a specialized DAP for high-frequency applications, and the other – with lower cutoff frequencies – as a Eurocard-format expansion board for all other DAPs.3

System Integrationextensive application engineering support

We take support very seriously. Take a look at our Product Life Cycle pages – especially if you are an industrial customer. After three decades of providing application engineering support, we have become skilled at finding out exactly what a customer needs and at working with each customer to come up with a system that performs as required. We look forward to doing that for you. Check us out, give us a call, and tell us what you want to do. In the US, use our toll-free line: 1-888-MSTARLABS (678-2752). Outside the US, contact one of our international distributors or email our sales staff.

Footnote 1 [unique]
Other companies now feature some degree of onboard intelligence. Our approach remains unique, however: engineers who use compiler-provided IDE implementations like Microsoft Visual C++ and Visual Studio or Borland C++Builder to build applications on a PC under Windows can use the same tools to build applications to run on a data acquisition board under a real-time operating system.
Footnote 2 [Windows]
Microstar Laboratories products work with current Microsoft operating systems. See the list and download DAPtools Basic software today.
Footnote 3 [anti-aliasing]
Both solutions employ a built-in four-pole lowpass Butterworth filter on every channel before analog-to-digital conversion. The specialized DAP, the iDSC 1816, uses onboard DSP chips to implement further signal processing on the filtered data.