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Build a DAQ system for about $30

-November 02, 2011

Arduino is an open-source hardware microcontroller with its own development environment. The latest board, the Arduino Uno costs under $30 from a variety of vendors. Hobbyists have developed most of the Arduino applications to date, but things may be changing. With six 12-bit ADCs, 14 DIO (digital input/output) pins--6 of which can perform PWM output--simple serial communications over USB, and low price tag, Arduino is showing up in professional applications.

 

LArVa_SimpleGraphApp_v1.2_AIOscreenShot

Free LabView drivers let you use the Arduino hardware as a data-acquisition system.

Angstrom Designs has recently released a free driver that turns the Arduino into data acquisition hardware. The LArVa (LabView Arduino) driver features automatic firmware upload, on-board data averaging, and variable communication rates in addition to accessing the Arduino ADCs, PWM (pulse-width modulation) and DIO pins. The figure shows the LabView user interface. Click here to download an image of the LabView graphical code.

The free LArVa sample Simple Graph Application installer, available at www.angstromdesigns.com/larva/download, includes the driver, LabView source code, an executable file, and support files. You can use the LabView source code as a starting point for all sorts of projects, including data acquisition, temperature monitoring and control, PWM motion control, and much more. To get users started, Angstrom Designs has also provided application notes on voltage and temperature data acquisition (www.angstromdesigns.com/larva/application-notes).

With a 16 MHz, 8-bit, Atmel microcontroller at it's core, Arduino isn't right for high-end test-and-measurement applications. With solid features and an affordable price, however, it meets the needs of many projects. It's too soon to tell, but Arduino may mark the introduction of open source hardware into professional test and measurement.

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