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what is serial based data acquisition?

Serial based data acquisition  is an alternative method of data acquisition and control using a computer serial communications ports ( RS232, RS485, USB ) as opposed to PCI or other bus-based hardware. Data acquisition via RS232 or RS485 typically involves sending and receiving ASCII data via a com port to external measurement and control hardware. USB data acquisition involves obtaining a handle to a device and then sending/receiving commands by reading and writing to that handle using API calls. There are several advantages and disadvantages to using serial data acquisition ( ADR, ADU ) interfaces.



  • Hardware located closer to point of control.
  • No slot required.
  • Lower cost.
  • Platform independent ( MAC, PC, Laptop or Desktop)
  • Minimal or no software drivers required for virtually all software languages including BASIC, Visual BASIC, C, LabVIEW and TestPoint.
  • Lower possibility of damage to PC if improperly used.
  • No power supply required for USB based devices.


  • Slower sampling rate.
  • External power supply required for RS232/RS485.

Ontrak Control Systems manufactures a complete line of interface cards for a variety of applications. Visit our web site for product information, applications and programming examples using serial data acquisition and control interfaces.



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