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Card cage family geared for measurement, control

Posted: 27 Jan 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:GW Instruments  card cage  module  measurement system  control 

GW Instruments, a maker of data acquisition hardware and software, has rolled out a card cage standard for measurement and control, together with a line of low-cost, high-accuracy plug-in modules. According to the company, the "instruNet i4xx" consists of four different card cages (4, 8, 12, 16 slots), five different plug-in cards and three different wiring boxes.

The card cage family enables the designer to create an 8 to 256 channel measurement system. Cards can easily plug into a 4, 8, 12 or 16 slot card cage that communicates with Windows computer via USB 2.0. Additionally, the solutions allow direct connection to voltage, current, resistance, thermocouple, thermistor, strain gage, load cell, RTD and accelerometer sensors.

instruNet i4xx

A free instruNet World strip chart recorder software supports Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 (32bit or 64bit). In addition, the i51x wiring boxes can easily attach to i4xx series cards, added the company. The card cages are also compatible with LabVIEW, DASYLab, C and Visual BASIC Software. Likewise, the products allow the designer to digitize any combination of channels at 166,000 samples per second aggregate. The solutions feature an optional anti-aliasing filter and can reduce noise by placing i4xx cards near sensors and up to 100m from a noisy computer, continued the firm.

instruNet is a low-cost hardware card cage that attaches to Windows computers via USB 2.0. The advantage of a card cage is one can mix and match modules as needed, to build exactly what they need. The advantage of the instruNet card cage is cost. For example, instruNet 4 to 16 slot chassis sell for $100 per slot, whereas comparable chassis are 2x to 4x more costly.

The instruNet card cage typically has one A/D measurement module; additional modules provide signal conditioning. The conditioned analog signal is routed to the A/D module via the backplane. This is dramatically different from comparable systems, which place A/D measurement electronics on each module. The advantage of the instruNet topology is cost. After the first module is installed, additional instruNet channels are conditioned at approximately $40 per channel, whereas comparable systems typically cost 2x to 8x more.

The optional 8-pole i500 analog low-pass filter daughterboard provides very accurate anti-aliased data at low cost.

Prices start at $990 for an 8-channel system.

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