Jyväskylän Yliopisto | University of Jyväskylä| Physics | Study| Research|

FYSS 385  6 ECTS credits

Computer based data acquisition and control



Course objectives

On completion of the course the student will:
-Be able to construct a simple data logging system using the LabView environment.
-Be able to select the appropriate type of interface for single-ended and differential analogue and digital signals
-Be able to implement a simple on-off controller using LabView for valve control on a vacuum system, or a simple oven.
-Have an understanding of how simple functions may be combined to realize complex devices.

Course goals

Give students a basic understanding on the potential and a "how-to" experience in modern data acquisition and control.


  6 ECTS,  (= 150  hours of full-time study)

Prerequisite knowledge

The course requires no in-depth knowledge of computer programming.


Registration ofr the course is made in  KORPPI

Mode of instruction

The course consists of:
Lectures (2h)         6
Labs (3h)               6
Self-study            20 h
Mid-term exam    8 h
Project                80 h
Project report     10 h
Oral report            8 h

The course, labs and exercise classes are taught in English.

Lecture topics

The contents of the lectures are here.
Lecture 1:
Course presentation, explanation of grading criteria.  Introduction to computer based data acquisition and control and computer archetecture. Lecture 1
Lecture 2: Platforms, signals and interfacing Lecture 2
Lecture 3:: Introduction to LabView Lecture 3
Lecture 4:  Sequential, loops and conditional execution  Lecture 4
Lecture 5:
Implementation of analysis instruments Lecture 5
Lecture 6: Introduction to control systems Lecture 6


Lecture notes (and exercise materials) will be published on internet.  "Click" on the links in the previous section.


The exercises are to be handed in to the Course Assistant by 16 March 2012. They are meant to reinforce some of the points made in the lectures.
Each approved exercise contributes one point to the final mark.
Students should  submit individual exercises for marking.

Exercise 1
Exercise 2
Exercise 3
Exercise 4
Exercise 5
Exercise 6

Laboratory exercises

The lab reports are marked. The lab reports should be concise, (normally less than one A4 page).
Approved reports contribute towards the final exam. The criteria for approval are that the report contains:
- A clear description of the objectives.
- A clear description description of what is done.
- Meaningful and motivated conclusions.

Completion of the laboratory work requires the use of a PC or Mac to study the use of software etc. The computers in FL349 have LabView installed and are available for
labs and projects.  Labs need not be done at the specified time - but supervision will not be available.

Interface card
The lab works are based on using a an NI USB-6009 interface card.  This has  8 14 bit ADCs, 2 12 bit DACs and 12 digital I/O lines and a 32 bit counter. The interface can be controlled and handled using a sub-set of the National Instruments DAQmx software.

Generic interface VIs
The following generic interface VIs are for the NI USB-6009 interface. They are single-task VIs that can be used to output a  single voltage and read a single voltage, digital line or the counter from the NI USB-6009 interface.  They are intended to be used for constructing simple instruments such as a digital voltmeter, conductivity meter,  power meter etc.  They are intended to be used one after another (sequentially) for slow input and output and they do not make use of hardware for high-speed readout.

It turns out there are some small differences between Mac and PC VIs. Therefore two versions are provided.

Important note about installing LabView
LabView is commercial software, consequently it may not be installed without a license. Registered students may purchase a student edition http://www.ni.com/labviewse/ if it needs to be installed on a private computer. It can installed on request on JyU computers with the help of the Information Management Centre support staff. The current 2011 version is not easy to install with Linux and only works with OpenSUSE. LabView-2011 works fine on Mac.  Note however, that for installation and running LabView DAQmx Base under Lion OS the Mac must be started-up with the 32 bit kernel. This apples both to installation and running LabView. See http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4287

Mac VIs


Lab 1. Signals handling and real life data aquisition and control systems
This lab is a demonstration lab where we will look at some systems in the Accelerator Laboratory
We will look at different systems that range from simple LabView control of stepper motors, PIC control units and  RS232 interfaced motor drivers to advanced large scale system built upon CAMAC and VME.  In addition demonstration lab will be set up in the accelerator lab to demonstrate impedance matching in transmission lines.  We meet outside my office FL243. Lab 1

Lab 2 Familiarization with LabViEW
The goal of this lab is to learn about the basic constituents of LabView. A thermistor thermometer will be implemented. Lab 2

Lab 3 Graphs and data rendering in LabViEW
The goal of this lab is to learn about array and cluster handling how to plot point, waveforms and image data in LabVIEW to make it understandable by humans Lab 3

Lab 4 Data collection with LabViEW
In the Lab we will construct  (i) an interface that uses DAQmx commands in a VI with the USB-6009 that writes to the 8 digital IO  lines. ii) a data logger to measure the time variation of the sun’s light and  outside temperature. This involves logging three parameters in a computer file that is analysed off-line using MS Excel. (One system will be set-up outside to record for a number of days.) Lab 4

Lab 5. Instrument control and parametric analysis with LabViEW
In this lab we use LabView to analyse 2-and 3- terminal devices by using LabView to generate a test signal and measure the response. This will be used to explore the IV characteristics of a resistor and a photovoltaic diode (Solar cell) This will be used to find the optimum operating point. The final part of a transistor analyser will  constructed to measure the  characteristics of a FET. Lab 5

Lab 6  Process control with LabViEW
In this lab a simple open-loop control will be realised using an on-off controller with variable hysteresis. A PID controller will be investigated. Lab 6


The project is an open-ended project. The theme can be to develop a computer-based data acquisition or control system for a research project, or a project that you choose. The project should be approved with the instructor. You may carry out the project in a research group using their equipment. The NI USB-6009 modules are available for the project but may not be on permanent loan afterwards.

The project may not be an existing project that you have been working on before. 

You should tightly define the project to do one thing and do it well, rather than make an advanced system that cannot be completed on time.

In the beginning of March a review meeting with the instructors should be held, to gain feedback and steer the project towards completion.

Project form  to be filled in and returned to the Course Assistant by 31 January 2012.

Project reviews
The project reviews will take place Tuesday 7 February 0900-1300 and Tuesday 6 march 2011 0900-1300  in Harry's office. Each meeting is allocated 10 min.  You should present what your project is about. How far you have come, unexpected problems etc. It is not marked. It is intended to help you with your project. Lists will be put up outside Harry's office so you can book a slot time.


Lecture notes published on the internet.

Source literature
1. Introduction to NI LabVIEW  National Instruments,  http://www.ni.com/gettingstarted/labviewbasics/

2.Measurement and Instrumentation: Educator and Classroom Resources, National Instruments 

3. Learn 10 Functions in NI-DAQmx and Handle 80 Percent of Your Data Acquisition Applications, National Instruments    http://zone.ni.com/devzone/cda/tut/p/id/2835  (A bit technical but gives a good introduction to functions in the USB-6009.)

4. Building an Analog Input VI in NI-DAQmx, National Instruments, http://zone.ni.com/devzone/cda/tut/p/id/5370  (Great video presentation that shows how to use the hardware interface

5. Tips and Techniques in Data Acquisition Triggering - NI-DAQmx,  National Instruments  http://zone.ni.com/devzone/cda/tut/p/id/4329, (Good presentation of hardware triggering options.)

6. NI-DAQmx Express VI Tutorial, National Instruments, http://zone.ni.com/devzone/cda/tut/p/id/2744 (Good step-by-step guide for setting up the DAQ with an express VI.)

7. NI-DAQmx Base: Write to Digital Line, National Instruments,  http://zone.ni.com/devzone/cda/epd/p/id/1688, (VI for digital interfacing USB-6009).

8. Approximate Frequency Measurement with USB-600X Simple Edge Counter, National Instruments  http://zone.ni.com/devzone/cda/epd/p/id/513 (illustration of how the counter can be used.) (Not Mac)

9. Get Up and Running Fast With the USB 600x Series DAQ Device, National Instruments,  http://zone.ni.com/devzone/cda/tut/p/id/9541 (Useful VI to test USB-6009 bix)

10. Make Accurate Power Measurements with NI Tools, National Instruments,  http://zone.ni.com/devzone/cda/tut/p/id/7077 (Useful information about measuring power voltage and current.)

11. A quick guide to National Instruments USB-6009 and USB-6008 multifunction I/O devices, Tech Teach, http://techteach.no/tekdok/usb6009/index.htm  (Useful getting started guide with videos for PC).

12. Building a Homemade Nuclear Fusion Reactor with NI USB-DAQ, http://decibel.ni.com/content/blogs/labview-tech-content/2010/08/20/building-a-homemade-nuclear-fusion-reactor-with-ni-usb-daq (Do not try this at home.)

13. Episode 01: DIY Fireworks with LabVIEW  http://decibel.ni.com/content/docs/DOC-5488 (Cool video)

14. Tutorial: Arrays and clusters, National Instruments http://zone.ni.com/devzone/cda/tut/p/id/7571 (Useful reference on how to handle arrays and clusters.)

15. Field wiring and Noise considerations for analog signals. National Instruments, http://zone.ni.com/devzone/cda/tut/p/id/3344


Credits: 6 ECTS credits.
Grading: Pass grades run from 1 to 5.
Passing the course requires: A minimum score of 40% and completion of all exercises and labs.
Form of the examinations: The student performance is assessed by a mid-term examination (multiple choice), project and associated oral examination.
Project work
The project work will be carried out in the research groups.  Each project will run by a steering group to whom the student will report two times during the duration of the project. The first time the students will report their proposal as to how the topic will be implemented. The second time will review progress and make suggestions. . At a final (common) meeting all the projects will be presented. The oral presentations are assessed in the final meeting.

Some advice on the examination can be found in the Guide. Download pdf

The marks are assigned as follows:

  • 28 %  of the marks are given for the multiple-choice examination
  • 12 % of the marks are given for the lab reports and exercises. Each approved report or
    exercise contributes one point to the final result.
  • 40% marks can be obtained from the project
  • 20 % of the marks are given for the oral

Examination times

  • The obligatory multiple-choice examinations will be held Friday 2 March 2012 10-11 in YlistöKEM3
  • The written project reports are to be handed by e-mail to harry.j.whitlow@jyu.fi by 31 March 2012 23.59 EET
  • The obligatory oral presentation of the projects is held 1415-17:00 on Thursday 12 April 2012 in FYS 3


The course calendar is available as an iCal file. The calendar is a also available in .pdf form. It is also in Korppi


Lecturer and course coordinator

Prof. Harry J. Whitlow
Room FL 243
Department of Physics PO Box 35 (YFL)
FIN-40014 University of Jyväskylä Finland
Telephone: +358-14-260 2465,
Fax: +358-14-260 2351 
e-mail: harry.j.whitlow at jyu.fi 

(Spam prevention: "at" in e-mail addresses should be replaced by the symbol  @)

Course assistants

Henri Kivistö will act as course assistant for labs and exercises.  His work will be guided by  Rattanaporn Norarat aka "Jiku"


  20.12.2012 harry.j.whitlow@jyu.fi