View Full Version : Responses: Best Data Acqisition Software

Angshuman Prosad Bagchee
06-13-1996, 11:39 PM

Sincere thanks to all those who replied.


Name of software Positive reviews Negative reviews
---------------- ---------------- ----------------
LabWindows *
SuperScope *
TestPoint *
LabVIEW **
ASYST * **
Most of the descriptions are commendably thorough and the responses are valuable for anyone trying to select or switch to a Data Acquisition system.


Very positive responses from several biomechanists (some of which are included here). Anyone interested in picking up the discussion further? :-)

Angus Bagchee


>From bagcheap@ucunix.san.uc.eduFri Jun 14 09:05:43 1996
Date: Thu, 6 Jun 1996 12:25:35 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Dr. A. Bagchee"
To: listserv@nic.surfnet.nl
Subject: Q? Which data acquisition sofware is better?

Dear Biomech-L netters:

I am sure a major portion of the readers of this net are involved in data
acquisition and/or analysis using both p/c and mac. We have been using
ASYST as our language of development for BOTH data collection and
analysis. However, it is DOS based system and as such provides a poor
user interface as compared to windows (or at least extremely hard to
incorporate). Although I have heard a lot about Windows based systems
like Labview/Notebook, VTX Custom Controls, TestPoint, I would appreciate
hearing your comments on the system you use in light of the following:

(1) Ease of programming.

(2) Power (How fancy and what degree of manipulation offered)

(3) Versatality (Not just limited to Metrabyte A/D or Data Translation
A/D, for example)

(4) Reliability

(5) Popularity - This brings the joy of sharing programs and
modules developed by other user, and not re-inventing the wheel.

[On a related topic: We can solocit requests to set up a repository of
such softwares amongst Biomechanists at a WWWeb location for everyone to
tap into --- :-)]

I would compile the responses and post them on the Net as usual.

Thank you.

Angus Bagchee.

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>From s_duray@nwu.EDUFri Jun 14 09:03:41 1996
Date: Thu, 06 Jun 1996 13:17:38 -0500
From: "Steven J. Duray"
Subject: Which data acquisition software is better?

Dear Angus,

I would say without a doubt, that National Instruments LabWindows
is superior to Keithley ASYST.
Why? Humor me whilst I enumerate the advantages:

1) LabWindows utilizes "C" and/or "BASIC" programming languages
allowing to link your data acquisition program to data processing programs
written separately in QuickC (for example). Anything written in ASYST is
unique to Keithley. I used ASYST for 4 years for process control of a
plasma-assisted deposition system. Linking the program to external
programs was
either not doable or very difficult.

2) The graphical user interface (GUI to you computer jocks) in
LabWindows is so far beyond ASYST in what you can do with buttons, dials,
graphs, user input, etc.

3) Writing the code for user input through the GUI requires one or two
commands in LabWindows. In ASYST, any user input requires countless cursor
positioning statements.

4) If your a real DAQnogeek, check out LabWindows CVI. The generation
of a DAQ program complete with GUI can be done graphically using icons and
drawing lines between icons. You don't need to know or learn "C" (although
it probably helps).

5) Asyst requires, or at least they used to require, a module plugged
into the serial port before you can enter into the ASYST environment.
LabWindows does not.

In all fairness, I do have to say that I liked the programming structure
used in ASYST. Employing a
stack protocol helped to condense data processing and acquisition
statements. Also, I must add the caveate that I last used ASYST in 1993.
Although that was a long time ago, all that I wrote above was
true at that time.

Good luck in your endeavours, and thank you for permitting me to sound off.

With kindest regards,

Steven J. Duray, Ph.D.
Lame duck post-post-doc, Scientist, Accordianist, etc.

Division of Biological Materials/Ward 10-019
Northwestern University
311 E Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 503-7068

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>From Antaki@pittsurg.nb.upmc.EDUFri Jun 14 09:03:58 1996
Date: Thu, 06 Jun 1996 14:40:22 -0500
From: Antaki@pittsurg.nb.upmc.EDU
To: Angshuman.Bagchee@UC.EDU
Subject: Q: Which data acquisition software is better? -Reply

Dear Angus,

I, like you, have also converted from ASYST to a windows-based platform. I
recommend you scan recent issues of Personal Engineering magazine. They
periodically publish a Consumer-Reports-Like survey of all data acquisition and
analysis software.

Yours Truly,

James F. Antaki, PhD
University of Pittsburgh
Artificial Heart and Lung Program
300 Technology Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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>From rnewton@scu.edu.AUFri Jun 14 09:04:06 1996
Date: Fri, 07 Jun 1996 08:48:12 +1000
From: Robert Newton
Subject: Re: Q: Which data acquisition software is better?


In our laboratory we have been using VB-EZ (Data Translation product) and
the Data Translation range of AD cards for the last few years. I have found
VB-EZ to be an excellent system for developing data acquisition applications
and the ease of programming in Visual Basic and its interaction with other
products in Microsoft Office make analysis and reporting relatively easy.

>(1) Ease of programming.
Visual Basic is in my opinion the easiest system for the development of
Windows programs currently available.

>(2) Power (How fancy and what degree of manipulation offered)
Visual Basic (and the VB-EZ library) provide excellent power. Visual Basic
code does not execute as fast as say C but with today's Pentium computers
this is not really a significant point. There are many plug-in libraries
for VB and just about any data manipulation routine is available somewhere.

>(3) Versatality (Not just limited to Metrabyte A/D or Data Translation
I believe the VB-EZ AD control will only work with Data Translation cards.

>(4) Reliability
VB program are generally very reliable. VB handles arrays and memory
functions very safely. Also, having hte backing of Microsoft, VB tends to
be more reliable under Windows.

>(5) Popularity - This brings the joy of sharing programs and
>modules developed by other user, and not re-inventing the wheel.
VB support is very high in hte general programming community. I am not sure
however of its use within the biomechanics field.

I hope this helps.


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>From DEJONG@NICI.KUN.NLFri Jun 14 09:04:15 1996
Date: Fri, 07 Jun 1996 11:34:31 +0100 (MET)
From: "Peter de Jong Tel:+31-24-3615754 Fax:-3616066"
To: Angshuman.Bagchee@UC.EDU
Subject: Re: Q: Which data acquisition software is better?

Dear Angus Bagchee,

Saw your request for information about windows
software in the BIOMECH-L list. I don't have any
advice for you on this point, but I liked the idea
of having a repository for software and modules.

We have developed specialized software here at the
NICI (Nijmegen Institute for Cognition and Infor-
mation), for experiment in which a CAD-CAM digitiser
is used, and we want to share this software with
other researchers. A repository would be a good
idea in this case.

You can get more information about the software
at URL: http://www.pi.net/%7ewpdejong/home.html

If you would know about any initiative to create
such a repository then please let me know.

Thank you,

Peter de Jong

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>From syoung@uoguelph.CAFri Jun 14 09:04:21 1996
Date: Fri, 07 Jun 1996 10:36:10 -0400 (EDT)
From: Simon S Young
Subject: Re: Q: Which data acquisition software is better?

Dear Angus,
I have used SuperScope (GW Instruments) a lot and others,
particularly LabWindows, a little. I tried to learn ASYST a few
years ago but gave up, the learning curve was steep and it was not a
high priority at that time. Here is my comparison of SuperScope vs.
other systems. Remember that at the moment SuperScope is a Mac
only system.

(1) Ease of programming: SuperScope is about the easiest there is
apart from the systems that are dedicated to one task. The user
interface is all done for you. Graphs are particularly flexible.

(2) Power (How fancy and what degree of manipulation offered).
As always, there is a trade-off between ease of use and
flexibility/power. SuperScope is medium power. It has a good array
of signal processing functions with the usual integration, filtering,
spectral analysis etc. But it is not very flexible on the maths front. If
you want to do something fancy (matrix multiplication, for example)
it is difficult because you can't explicitly access individual elements
in an array, and there is no facility for two-dimensional arrays. On
the last project I hit the limits of the system, but did manage to get it
to do a lot of complex maths including Bessel functions (or at least
an approximation to them) and cross-power spectra. It has a built-in
kernel for FIR filters but does not have a good algorithm for
calculating the coefficients, you need to use Matlab or something
and then import the coefficients. If the built-in functions will do
what you want, fine. If not it's difficult or impossible to add your
own. If you need a lot of flexibility in the maths dept. then one of
NI's offerings is the best bet.

The other limit I've hit is flexibility in automation. Making a turnkey
system that does exactly what you want is not easy and I have gone
through a lot of hoops trying to persuade it to do what I want it to

(3) Versatility (Not just limited to Metrabyte A/D or Data Translation
A/D, for example). Limited. Does have drivers for other a/d card but
works best with GW's own boards.

(4) Reliability. Fair. It has more bugs than I think it should have,
and each new version seems to add some new ones as well as fixing
old ones. But on the other hand, setting up LabWindows was no
walk in the park. Took me 3 days to get the compiler and LW
running together smoothly and linking properly, and had to read all
the manuals plus all the "read-me" files to sort out the problems.

(5) Popularity - This brings the joy of sharing programs and
modules developed by other user, and not re-inventing the wheel.
Medium, because it only runs on Macs so the potential user base is
smaller. I won't start a war on the Mac vs. DOS issue but will just
say that I'm a Mac fan.

Simon Young
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>From gdheise@bentley.UnivNorthCo.EDUFri Jun 14 09:04:32 1996
Date: Fri, 07 Jun 1996 09:07:59 -0600 (MDT)
From: Gary D Heise
Subject: Re: Q: Which data acquisition software is better?

Dr. Bagchee:

I have recently switched from EASYEST-LX to Testpoint from Metrabyte. So
far, based on limited use as of now, Testpoint seems very easy to pick up
and appears to offer versatility to other boards (however, I use
Metrabyte). If you have a full-time technician or research assistant, I
suggest you look into VTX because of its even greater flexibility. I
don't have time to learn (or re-learn) programming tricks for VTX which
is why I purchased Testpoint, a more "canned" data acquisition program.

Best of luck with your decision.
Gary Heise

+================================================= =============+
| Gary D. Heise, Ph.D. gdheise@bentley.UnivNorthCo.edu |
| Assistant Professor |
| School of Kinesiology and Physical Education |
| University of Northern Colorado |
| Greeley, CO 80639 (970) 351-1738 (970) 351-1762 (FAX) |
+================================================= =============+

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>From dickeyj@mcmail.CIS.McMaster.CAFri Jun 14 09:04:44 1996
Date: Fri, 07 Jun 1996 12:16:48 -0400 (EDT)
From: Jim Dickey
Subject: Re: Q: Which data acquisition software is better?

I have been been using LabVIEW for Windows for data acquisition for
the last several years. The good news is that it is powerful (it is a
true programming language rather than an acquisition package, and
therefore many things are possible). The not-so-good news is that it
requires a slightly different mindset than other programming languages,
and therefore there is a rather steep learning curve. I should mention
that is comes with canned vis (programs) for performing basic acquisition
etc, but these must be expanded in order to be fully functional.
Additional advantages are that the code is portable between different
platforms including Mac and Windows, and that there is a well established
and tremendously helpful internet users group online.

Hope this helps,
Jim Dickey
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>From vint@asu.eduFri Jun 14 09:04:49 1996
Date: Fri, 07 Jun 1996 09:48:25 -0700 (MST)
From: vint
Subject: Re: Q: Which data acquisition software is better?


I have been using LabView for Windows for about a year and have found it
to be exceptional. The program comes with a number of pre-packaged
acquisition "sub-routines" which have served as backbones to a number
of programs I have written for our lab. The interface is very user
friendly and the results are of professional quality. I have used
LabView primarily for real-time display and acquisition. However, our
motor control researchers have used it extensively for post-processing
and data analysis.

Depending on your programming experience, there is somewhat of a learning
curve with the LabView programming language. I have programmed in C/C++
for about 5 years now and had very little difficulty in getting up and
running with LabView. The only comment I would have is that LabView's language
is sometimes less intuitive than, say C, for very simple tasks. However,
I'm sure this is more a function of my inexperience with the language.
LabView does offer a tutorial booklet and a "basics course manual" - both of
which I would recommend to anyone who is starting from scratch. They
present a number of easy-to-follow examples and speed up the learning
process considerably.

We use the NI AT-MIO-16X A/D board and have been very happy with
it. The speed and the reliability of our system has been terrific. I
would be surprised if LabView is not compatable with other boards.

I have seen a few postings here and there from biomechanists interested
in sharing "vi's" (i.e., subroutines). I, too, would be very interested
in participating in such a group. If you have any other questions about
LabView, I would be happy to offer my thoughts.

Peter Vint
Arizona State University

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