I’m convinced that real-time display is a must in data acquisition. I think I reached that conclusion one day after setting up an experiment during which I wired a dog to certain appropriate instruments and administered a drug to the animal.

My data acquisition system allowed the data to go directly to the computer, although the screen display lagged considerably behind the sampling. Thus it was well into the process that I realized the data had stopped making sense, a wire had wiggled loose.

No data. I had wasted hours, and the dog had suffered a certain amount of needless discomfort. With a real-time display, the loose wire would have been immediately apparent. Many data acquisition software packages are available, such as Lab Tech’s Notebook, but they cannot provide a real-time display above rates of 100 or 200 samples per second. A special hardware/software combination is necessary for anyone who...

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