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Retrieving Data From Sensors?

  1. Nov 19, 2013 #1
    How do you get started learning how to write a program to display and manipulate information from various sensors? What I am mainly interested in are volts and mA's since thats what most transducers and sensors use. I would like to be able to see the information on a computer or eventually on a dedicated LCD screen but I think thats a little ambitious at this point. One of my pressure modules can be read via Hyperterminal but I would like to have a dedicated program to show various sensors all at once. I am just at a loss at where to start looking for help.

    For example I have seen a companies program where they had its reading about 6 pressure transducers to make various calculations to give useful data. The guy who wrote the program was there but it wasnt a situation where I could take the time to ask about it.

    Thanks for any help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 19, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    There are many programs that can collect and process data from external devices (and send data to them) - LabView, MATLAB, self-written code, ...
    You always need some device to convert analog data (like voltages and currents) to digital data, of course.
  4. Nov 19, 2013 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    You need to first start by looking at how your various sensors transmit their data. Some only have analog outputs (putting out a voltage or current), so as mfb says, you need to digitize those analog values with some sort of data aquisition device, before the data can be read by a PC or laptop. Many sensors put out their data in some digital form, like via a USB connector or RS-232 connector (hence the HyperTerminal application can read their data). Others interface with microcontrollers via I2C or SPI or other serial data interfaces.

    Here is some introductory information from National Instruments:


  5. Nov 19, 2013 #4
    Have a look at the mbed website. It has adc and dac capability as well as an easy interface (USB cable) to LabVIEW. I'm trying to use it to simulate a front panel of a CHP unit at the moment.
    I've found the online compiler to be very useful and there is code online that can be manipulated to suit.

    There may be better ways, but as someone starting out I found the mbed to be user friendly.
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