Most instruments under development rely on a traditional computer or laptop, LabVIEW software, and data acquisition (DAQ) components (which interface between the instrument and the computer) to operate an instrument and collect data. While this solution is extremely versatile, it is an overly complicated, bulky, and expensive solution to relatively simple problems such as sending commands to a laser controller or recording voltages.

Photo shows a sample display from a laser simulator.
LabNotes is an iOS (iPad/iPhone/iPod touch) software application (app) that can be used to operate and collect data from scientific instruments (see figure), providing a low-cost, compact, and easy-to-use alternative to traditional bulky and expensive instrument control apparatus. The LabNotes app revolutionizes data collection and instrument control by significantly reducing the computer cost and size from a laptop to a mobile device, greatly reducing the cost and size of data acquisition components, and greatly reducing the cost of development software.

The initial version of LabNotes has the following capabilities:

  • Command and control of serial-connected instruments, via a user friendly gesture-based graphical interface allowing in-situ investigation.
  • Data collection, plotting, archiving, and network export.
  • Support for custom data processing routines.

Further development and generalization of LabNotes will allow it to control a broad range of instruments via common interfaces, suitable to a wide range of scientific and commercial applications.

This work was done by Carl Hostetter and Troy Ames of Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16817-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the November, 2015 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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