Portable data acquisition applications have to meet a number of stringent requirements not present in traditional laboratory systems. Environmental conditions such as extremes in temperature, humidity, shock and vibration, are all factors that must be considered when selecting portable data acquisition equipment. Other concerns include whether the data acquisition equipment is capable of supporting the mix of particular sensors that will be used, as well as if there is adequate memory/storage to support the test.

Before selecting a particular data acquisition solution or vendor, users should have a clear understanding of the desired results required of the device or system. For example, sampling rates can vary greatly from as low as once per day or more than 1,000,000 samples per second. Data can also be acquired and submitted in a variety of different formats. Anticipating future needs today can save precious time and money down the road. Data acquisition systems can be very simple or quite complex, and they offer a wide range of performance, functionality, and price tags. However, there are some basic criteria that one should consider before deciding to purchase a portable data acquisition system.

Environmental Considerations

Portable data acquisition systems like this 32-channel unit from KineticSystems must be compact, rugged, and capable of performing under adverse conditions.
Given the susceptibility of portable data acquisition equipment to harsh environments i.e. those with extreme temperatures, humidity, dust, etc., ruggedized packaging of the unit itself, as well as the electrical components that comprise it, is imperative in order to maintain the unit's integrity and that of the data being acquired. For example, portable data acquisition equipment used in mil/aero applications needs to withstand a temperature range of at least -55°C to +125°C and beyond. In oil and gas exploration applications, temperatures involved in exploring downhole well formations can reach upwards of 200°C.