Data Acquisition (DAQ) and Control from Microstar Laboratories

Four Channels at Up to 1.25M Samples/Second/Channel

Simultaneous Sampling and Channel-to-Channel Isolation

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isolated high-speed analog input module

Bellevue, WA, September 9, 2009 -- A new simultaneous sampling product protects your application from ground loops and lets you sample at very high speeds. The new product, a 4-channel signal interface (SI) module, part number MSXB 082, with four onboard analog-to-digital converters and channel-to-channel isolation, was announced today by Microstar Laboratories, Inc., maker of Data Acquisition Processor (DAP) boards and network-ready DAPservers. The four analog-to-digital converters on the new SI module are synchronized to within a few nanoseconds of each other, and each one can convert an analog signal to a 16-bit data stream at up to 1.25M samples/second. All inputs are differential, and each analog channel is isolated from all the others and from any other system component. You can set the gain of each channel to 1, 2, 5, or 10 in software, and channels can have different gains.

The MSXB 082 design allows each of four channels to sample at 1.25M samples per second. Initially the per-channel maximum is reached if only one channel is in use. With two channels in use, the maximum is 1M samples per second; with three, 667k samples per second; and with four, 500k samples per second. Planned upgrades to other system components will allow the new product to sample at full speed – 1.25M samples per second per channel – on all channels simultaneously. No changes are required to the product itself.

Onboard Intelligence

The new signal interface module joins a growing family of SI modules related to an established family of intelligent products. All SI modules are intelligent: each includes a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) programmed to communicate with, be configured by, and respond to commands from a DAP. And every DAP is intelligent: each includes an onboard processor running a real-time operating system that communicates with, is configured by, and responds to commands from a PC application. For the application you can use DAPstudio – a Microstar Laboratories product – or a third-party product, like LabVIEW. Or you can write your own. You can run the application on a DAPserver or on any PC on a network. The DAP does not have to be local to the PC that controls it. You communicate with your application on a PC – setting the channel-by-channel gains, for instance – and the software takes care of the details... right down to what happens on the SI module.

Signal Interfacing

SI modules like MSXB 082 fit into a backplane in a standard industrial enclosure as do other products that conform to the hardware specifications of the Microstar Laboratories channel architecture: signal connectors on 3U (100mm high) Eurocard B (220mm deep) boards – Eurocards – that often pre-process a signal. Signals connect to a DB37 male connector or to Wago connectors. A backplane connector on each board connects it to a digital backplane factory-fitted into the industrial enclosure. An interface board that also plugs into the backplane sends digitized waveforms to a DAP board controlled from a PC or DAPserver. Each DAPserver comes in its own industrial enclosure and includes one or more DAPs and a 10-slot Eurocard cage with a preinstalled digital backplane for SI modules like MSXB 082. Separate industrial enclosures are required only when this 10-slot limit is exceeded by the number of SI modules controlled by the DAPs in the DAPserver. SI modules connected to DAPs not in a DAPserver do require their own industrial enclosure.

Other SI Modules

You can choose from a range of SI modules for analog input, analog output, analog input and output, and digital input and output. The SI designation is reserved for MSXB products that are intelligent: those that a DAP can communicate with and configure. All new MSXB products are SI modules. The full range of SI modules and earlier MSXB products is described on the company Web site. SI modules all include the level of isolation required to prevent ground loops. Using these boards saves you from having to take other steps against this common nuisance. If spurious currents are corrupting your signals, your application is not doing the job you want it to do.

Conclusion and Next Step

If you need to sample channels simultaneously, to sample at very high speeds, and you want to be sure you are measuring signals and not noise from ground currents, then take a close look at the new signal interface (SI) modules described above. You can install these MSXB 082 SI modules in an industrial enclosure and connect them to DAP boards you control from a PC, or you can install them directly into a DAPserver that contains one or more DAPs. You control DAP boards by using DAPstudio – or other Windows software – on any PC or DAPserver on a network. You can download a full version of DAPstudio to try it out. To try out all its features, you will need a DAP board. The company provides evaluation hardware at no charge. MSXB 082 is available now.

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Editorial Overview:

A new 4-channel signal interface (SI) module offers you differential inputs, channel-to-channel isolation, channel-selectable gains, simultaneous sampling, and very high data rates – all combined in a convenient 3U Eurocard B package. Microstar Laboratories, maker of Data Acquisition Processor (DAP) boards and network-ready DAPservers, now also has a growing family of SI modules like this new top-of-the-line product. SI modules fit into a 10-slot card cage in a DAPserver or into other 19-inch enclosures with factory-fitted backplanes. You run the system as a Windows application on a PC or DAPserver that communicates with and controls DAPs that communicate with and control SI modules. And you can do this from any PC on the network. You can use DAPstudio – a Windows application from Microstar Laboratories – or you can use a third-party product like LabVIEW. If you want to, of course, you can write your own software. Download DAPstudio now and try it out. To explore all its features, you will need a DAP. The company provides evaluation hardware at no charge. MSXB 082 is available now.

Note to the Editor:

Microstar Laboratories suggests this text as a caption for the available image:

This new 4-channel signal interface (SI) module from Microstar Laboratories offers you differential inputs, channel-to-channel isolation, channel-selectable gains, simultaneous sampling, and very high data rates – all in a convenient 3U Eurocard B package.

Microstar Laboratories, Inc. claims Microstar Laboratories, Data Acquisition Processor, DAP, DAPL, DAPserver, and DAPstudio as trademarks. Microsoft Corporation has registered Microsoft and Windows as trademarks. National Instruments Corporation has registered LabVIEW as a trademark. 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.