View Full Version : Summary of Data Acquisition responses

A.w. Smith
11-16-1993, 12:50 AM
As promised, the summary of the responses to our request for information
regarding data acquisition follows:

>> 12 November 1993

>> Dear BIOMCH-L Readers,

>> We are investigating the best way to set up a computerised data
>> acquisition system for analogue data such as EMG, force transducers,
>> potentiometers and so forth. One way would be to purchase a
>> suitable A/D card and write appropriate software ourselves. Or we
>> could purchase a commercially-available system.

>> With respect to our interests, we would like to get the feedback
>> of some of our more experienced colleagues regarding two questions:

>> 1. We have some experience with Data Translation products, specific-
>> ally the DT2801 A/D board. What are other laboratories employing,
>> ie are there other alternatives and what are the pros and cons of
>> these boards?

>> 2. As far as commercially-available products for analogue data ac-
>> quisition are concerned, what are the available products being
>> used in laboratories and, if possible, whom can we contact to
>> obtain more information?

>> Thank you for your consideration. As usual, should we receive any
>> responses which might benefit others, we will be happy to post a
>> summary.

>> Drew Smith PhD Elaine Aimone MSc

>> A.T. Jousse Research Laboratory
>> Lyndhurst Hospital
>> 520 Sutherland Drive
>> Toronto ONTARIO Canada
>> M4G 3V9
>> (416) 422-5551 ext 3041
>> (416) 422-5216 FAX

From: layne@plato.jsc.nasa.gov (Charles Layne)

A.W. Smith

You might be interested in contacting KISTLER INSTRUMENTS regarding a new
product now known as the BPAS. If you are looking for a light-weight,
portable device which can be used to collect EMG and a variety of analogue
information using the same power and amplification hardware, this new
product fits the bill.

From: tsb@casbah.acns.nwu.edu (Tom Buchanan)

A couple of comments/suggestions in response to your posting on BIOMCH-L.

1) I believe that the right data acquisition hardware & software depends on
your specific needs. From my experience, unless you have a very specialized
application (e.g., very high sampling rates, 16 bit or higher resolution,
or greater than 16 channels), most of the hardware can be used to get the
job done. The difficulty is in the software.

2) As for hardware, I am currently using National Instruments boards on
Macintosh computers and have had good success with them. I've also used
Keathly-Metrabyte boards on PCs without any problems.

3) Software: We tend to write our own using drivers supplied by the
manufacturers. However, one package we've used for some applications is
National Instruments LabView (phone: 800-433-3488). It is based on an
icon-driven programming language and is about as good as you can expect for
an off-the-shelf product. I would take a look at it as it might meet your
needs and is fairly easy to use. Also, it is available on several platforms
(Mac, PC, SUN, etc.).

I hope this helps.

************************************************** *********************
Thomas S. Buchanan, Ph.D.
Depts. of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Biomedical Engineering
Northwestern University Chicago, IL tsb@nwu.edu
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From: MDTS000

Hi Drew,

Our Lab made good experiences with National Instrments boards. They can
provide a wide choice of different boards for Mac, IBM, Sun and VXI. The
offer include boards with D/A A/DE coversion, DMA-access boards, Digital
I/O's and GP/IB interfaces. The boards all fit nice together. The
support is pretty well and the customer services network worldwide.
The software also offers a wide choice of drivers for all common
languages (C, Pascal, Basic) and also high level software drivers. The
most convenient but also most expensive solution is LabView, a graphical
high level software language that allows signal processing, real time
applications, etc.

Order a catalog with a lot of helpful explinations: 800-433-3488

Regards, Thomas Steffen MD, Orthopaedic Research Lab, RVH/McGill
University, Montreal:Phone 514-842-1231 x 5276,
e-mail: mdts@musica.mcgill.ca

From: basdogan@seas.smu.edu (Cagatay Basdogan)

Recently, GW Inst. came up with a new data aqcuisition software
called "SuperScope II". Program is very user friendly and written in
object oriented language. We use this program to acquire the kinematic
data in our motion analysis studies. It is capable of digitizing 20
channels with 100 Hz in continuous format (according to our configuration).
However, you need to have the GWI's A/D board and multiplexer (if you want to
digitize more than 16 channels).

Here is the tel. number of GWI:
Tel: 617 625 4096
Fax: 617 625 1322

Southern Methodist University
Dallas, TX.

From: Robert Newton

Dear Drew,

Concerning your question:

> 2. As far as commercially-available products for analogue data ac-
> quisition are concerned, what are the available products being
> used in laboratories and, if possible, whom can we contact to
> obtain more information?
We have purchased a system called AMLAB. It is basically a 486 PC with between
4 and 32 medical quality amplifiers/AD modules. It allows the collection of
just about any physiogical/biomechanical data. It accepts either AC or DC
signals from an enormous range of transducers. To set up the data collection,
analysis and display, you simply use a series of icons to draw the project you
require e.g. there is an icon which represents a data channel you connect this
to say a FFT icon, output this to a display icon for smoothed data and another
for power spectrum and also output to a disk icon which saves the processed

It is an excellent system especially if you have limited funds or limited
technical support. If have one AMLAB system you can design a whole rnage of
different projects so the system can be a force measurement system, an EMG
system, a respiration/expired gas analysis system etc.

We have 3 AMLABS now and I can highly recommend both the equipment and
support. I am at home at the moment and do not have their address but if you
want more information email me and I will send it to you.

================================================== ======================
Robert Newton Internet: rnewton@alsvid.une.edu.au
Lecturer in Biomechanics Phone: +61 66 203762
University of NewEngland, FAX: +61 66 203880
Northern Rivers
P.O. Box 157

From: Young-Hoo Kwon

Dear Drew:

I have some experiences with the DT A/D board (more specifically, DT2801-A).
Since I am writing a ground reaction analysis package (force-plate program)
right now, I may say I am in the area where you are interested.

1. So far I am pretty satisfied with DT 2801-A. Programming is very easy.
Max. sampling rate of DT 2801-A is high enough for me. The only problem I have
experienced is that the data array for DMA operation can not cross the physical
64K boundary of the PC memory. I guess other products are the same in this

Upto this point,I have used Keithley MetraByte Dash-16 , PCL-718 and DT 2801-A
, and all these products were pretty reliable. Programming is also very easy.
MetraByte Dash-16 and PCL-718 have the same library structure, while DT 2801-A
uses its own library functions. If you need any help in programming these
boards, I will gladly share my experience with you.

2. About the software:

It is pretty difficult to have a general data acquisition software for EMG
analysis and other data acquisition tasks all in one, I think. It is basically
due to the difference in signal processing in these areas. For example, in
the EMG analysis, the sequence of signal processing is:

Collection -> rectification -> linear envelope -> time-reset integration or
level-reset integration, phasic analysis

In general data acquisition (in case using strain gauge, accelerometer, etc.)
the sequence is:

Collection -> linear envelope -> integration,etc.

Upto this point, I have developed several data acquisition packages:

KEMG: EMG analysis package written QuickBasic for MetraByte Dash-16
+ Ensemble average program
KAcquis: General data acquisition program written in C for DT 2801-A
Strain gauge , accelerometer, photocell, etc.
KSPEED: Photocell application program written in C for DT 2801-A
Measures interval times and speeds
KGRF: Ground reaction force analysis program written in C for DT 2801-A

KGRF is the one I am working on right now and is more general than others,
since I expect to use other signal sorces such as photocell, strain gauge and
accelerometer. The strategy to distinguish one type of signal source from
another is to use the Channel Type flag. For example, 1 is force channel
from the plate, 2 is center of pressure location, 0 is photocell, 3 to 9 are
for other sensors. But I am not quite sure whether I will include the EMG
channels here.



Hi Dr Drew,

We are using LabView(commercial) package to collect data. It's very very easy
to use. Please contact National Instruments Co. for details. The toll-free #
is 1-800-433-3488.

Good Luck,

Room 10, Intramural Building
Center for Locomotion Studies
Penn State University


I have had extensive experinece with A/D conversion on a PC. I still prefer
writting your own code for most flexibility and to elimnate software
" black boxes." Attractive graphical front ends can be developed using
interface routines available (e.g. Lab view by national instruments).
As to board manufactures, try Computer boards, Inc. They produce
a wide range of Metrabyte clones that work very well (fully software
and hardware compatible) at about 1/2 the price.
Hope this is helpful.
-Michael Sacks

From: BI_RSMITH@cchs.su.edu.au

Hi there. You know our setup. DT2801 with either the ExpertVision ADS
system or with ASYST or C programs. All the best.

From: Moshe Nissan

Dear Elaine & Drew:

We are using Apple Mac's in our lab. If you are too, I can recommend highly
the MACADIOS and MACADIOS MANAGER by GW Instruments, from Somerville, MA
02143. They have also an excellent SuperScope prog. which can solve much more
then we needed.
Hope will be of help. Moshe

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* MOSHE NISSAN, PHD ! FAX: 972-4-552296 *
* BIO-MEDICAL ENGINEER ! TEL: 972-4-295264 (WORK) *
* Rappaport School of Medicine ! : 972-4-371788 (home) *
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From: RICARDO@physocc.lan.mcgill.ca

Have you seen the National Instrument catalogue 1994, they have very
good ADC board and also software. How much would you be willing to
spend. If you need more info on our equipment, write back

Ricardo Torres-Moreno

Ricardo Torres-Moreno, Ph.D., Bioengineering
Assistant Professor
School of Physical and Occupational Therapy
McGill University
3630 Drummond Street
Montreal, Quebec

Phone : (514) 398-4521
Fax : (514) 398-8193

From: INVX000

In regard to your second question, you should look into a commercial sof
tware package entitled LabView by General Intruments. This product is
nothing short of spectacular. It smoothly and completely integrates all
steps of the data acquisition and processing. I cannot begin to describe
the flexibility of this product. I recommend that you send away for a
demo disk. The only weakness of this software is that you must use cards
specifically designed for it. However you should find these cards to mee
t your biomechanics needs nicely.

************************************************** ********
************************************************** ********
** **
** Vassilis Vardaxis **
** McGill University, Physical Education Department **
** 475 Pine Ave, West, P.Q. H2W-1S4, Montreal CANADA **
** **
** Email: invx@musicb.mcgill.ca **
** Fax: (514) 398-4186, Phone: (514) 398-4186 **
** **
************************************************** ********
************************************************** ********

From: kevin@biomed.QueensU.CA (Kevin Hood)

Drew and Elaine:

We are developing some hardware and software at the Biomedical Engineering
Unit here at Queen's University that may be of interest to you. Our
hardware APT box (Analog Preprocessor and Timer) is a custom box that has
16 channels of analogue preprocessing including amplification, filtering
(hi- and lo-pass), bin-integration and rectification (useful for measuring
EMG envelope functions without having to sample at a high rate and software
integrate), DC-offsets (the input signal can be DC-coupled). Each element
is controlled from a host computer which talks to the APT through a standard
RS-232 serial interface using a simple ASCII command language. In addition,
a time-code (SMPTE - used for video) can be used to time-stamp the data so
that if recorded to tape, on playback a given point in time can be located
to 1/2400-th of a second. Using this time-code, we can also synchronize
our analogue signals with video signals from video cameras, third-party
motion-analysis systems (that provide external sync or that can sync to
an external pulse) and other independently clocked systems that meet a few
simple requirements (not normally restrictive from an acquisition point of

The above is perhaps not fully clear but we could send you a brochure and
some other documentation if interested. The APT will be transferred to
a startup company in the new year for manufacturing and the price (not yet
set) will be very competitive with the cost of implementing a similar system
from other components.

Simultaneously, we are developing software to run on a PC/Windows platform
that would allow the APT to be used with other devices. Initially we will
be supporting a DT-2821 series A/D card - indeed, we have provided a connector
on the back of the APT to plug directly into this board. The software is
made to be easily added to by users who may wish to write their own custom

If you are interested, I suggest that you contact me and I could answer any
questions or send more information.

Kevin Hood
Biomedical Engineering Unit
Queen's University,
Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6

************************************************** ************************
* Andrew (Drew) Smith, Ph.D. | INTERNET: awsmith@utcc.utoronto.ca *
* Director of Research | BITNET: awsmith@utorgpu *
* Lyndhurst Spinal Cord Centre | *
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