I'm not a programmer -- how can I get data from a data acquisition board?
This is a typical situation where a data acquisition (DAQ) user has placed a higher priority on solving an application rapidly than on learning the details of hardware and software. Learning a programming language such as C/C++ or Visual Basic is hardly a trivial task. Even becoming proficient in a so-called 'no programming' software package can be very time consuming.
Many vendors of DAQ products provide start-up software that allows the user to execute standard data acquisition tasks, such as acquiring and graphing data using a spreadsheet environment, with a minimal learning curve. True start-up software does not require any programming knowledge. The user need only point and click in order to set up a test and get data. Keithley, for instance, bundles a suite of 'Up & Running' software with many DAQ boards. It includes an Excel add-in, a digital oscilloscope application, a test panel graphic user interface (GUI), and other tools to speed the setup process.
In some cases, the intended task requires more capability than the start-up software can provide, especially for customized data acquisition systems. Programming becomes essential in order to gain flexibility, but comes with a corresponding learning curve. A non-programmer might opt to sacrifice some less essential 'wants' in the interest of completing the project as quickly as possible.
The first step should always be defining the application's requirements. Next, check with the DAQ vendor for available software tools.
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