Measuring and Controlling via USB
The convenience of USB has made this connectivity standard a favoured choice for the controlling and monitoring of instrumentation. Units are small and portable and often require no external power, making such components ideal for use with standalone equipment. Full speed data transfers under USB 1.0 (the original standard) can be achieved at 12 Mb/s, though the advent of USB 2.0 increased this to 480 Mb/s. USB 2.0 (which is also backwards-compatible) is therefore a desirable option for high-volume transfers and for handling media such as audio and video. Even though USB modes of operation ensure easy access to computers and other digital equipment, it’s important to realise that connectivity of commercial instrumentation requires Type B (square) USB ports and not the more-common Type A (flatter) host ports. Measuring and controlling components in stock include high-quality units from market-leading manufacturers, such as Advantech, Meilhaus and Velleman. Digital connectivity is offered, with I/O specifications from 4 to 48, with 8, 16 and 24 ports as popular options. Most measure and control devices also offer generous analogue connections, and many feature onboard DA and AD conversion. Multiple computing platforms are supported, including Windows and Linux, and some components are available with accessories, such as driver software, USB cables and/or screw terminal connectors. A few units are compatible with USB’s plug and play protocol.