data analysis on PCs

Dave Coder dave at
Fri Aug 27 12:13:07 EST 1993

Although the overhead of Windows may make flow data acquisition on a  
PC difficult, it is certainly possible to do with with a DOS machine.  
I and others have done this. Howard Shapiro, for example, has been  
doing it for quite a while.

Several years ago, I put together an acquisition system that  
collected data from FACS sorters that employ the universal data  
lister. A '386 PC running Quarterdeck's DESQView was used. The  
digital data were run into a single digital I/O card, and using  
double buffering the data were checked for consistency and written  
directly to disk as FCS 2.0 files. Data acquisition could proceed at  
up to 10,000 events per second of four parameter data. Data analysis  
could run at the same time in another DESQView Window. Though not  
recommended, data could be written directly to a remote server disk  
over an ethernet connection.

(DESQView has quite good multitasking. To see how far we could push  
the envelope we had a 20MHz '386 with two ethernet cards (one running  
Coulter's EPINET, and the other running PC-NFS) and two serial ports  
all operating simultaneously. This allowed downloading data from an  
MDADS II via EPINET, data from a pdp/11-73 via a 9600 baud serial  
line, data from a pdp/11-23 via another 9600 baud serial line, and  
data transfers over the network to a Sun server. All transfers ran  
without problems.)

Bidirectional operations (data acquisition and instrument control)  
add further levels of complexity that a more robust (and  
appropriately more complex) operating system such as OS/2 may handle  
more easily.

Dave Coder
dcoder at

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