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LINUX and Data Acquisition

Linux, as the only growing alternative to Microsoft Windows, is becoming an extremely popular operating system in today's demanding data acquisition industry where it benefits directly from the leading-edge support that Linux servers enjoy like networking, multi-user and SMP processing.

That's why it is fast becoming the operating system of choice for test and measurement as well as process-control applications based on traditional desktop hardware due to its open source format, stability, reliability and portability. Over the past two years, Linux has been making inroads against Microsoft Windows as a platform for data acquisition and control applications. This is particularly apparent with applications that require 24/7 operation.

EAGLE Technology has seen this interest develop over the past year and they have decided to embrace Linux wholeheartedly. They plan on supporting all of their current products under Linux. For this reason they have developed EDR Enhanced for Linux.

EDR Enhanced for Linux comes with technical documentation, sample programs and source code, a common API implemented in a shared library and drivers for each series of devices. In future EDR Enhanced for Linux will ship with WaveViewX, which is the Linux version of WaveView for Windows, a TCP/IP Server that can be used for distributed applications and a Web-based data acquisition package.

The API has functions to perform analog input routines, write to analog output channels and generate waveforms, control digital input/output ports, do timing calculations with counters and generate digital waveforms. Interrupt sources are fully configured and is implemented with blocking I/O.

Documentation provided includes chapters on the installation procedure, functions exported by the API, troubleshooting and the system architecture. The driver package includes startup scripts, pre-build driver and shared libraries with loadable kernel modules for optimal memory usage.

Current products supported under Linux are their range of PC/104, PCI-30 Multi-I/O, PCI-62 Opto-Isolated Digital I/O, PCI-63C Reed Relay, PCI-703 Multi-I/O and PCI-800 Digital I/O series products. These products enable you to develop process control applications to control digital equipment, taking readings from transducer-based probes, controlling voltage input electronics and doing flow or timing measurements by making use of counter-timers. These data acquisition products can be used for a wide variety of functions from human interface functions to very technical scientific measurements.

Future developments include WaveViewX, a TCP/IP based protocol which can be used for distributed data acquisition applications thus enabling remote data acquisition across a network or even the internet and a Web-based data acquisition package.

Furthermore WaveViewX giving users the ability collect and analyze data in the X Windows environment with mouse support by means of two modes, scope mode and chart recorder mode. The scope mode displays information on screen in real-time on a voltage versus time graph and also supports software triggers, software events and data logging to disk. The chart recorder mode can be used in processes where real-time data is not if the essence and sampling rates can vary between seconds to hours. It also features triggers that can generate alarm conditions and data can be stored to disk.

(Windows is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation)

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