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Rugged DAQ system runs real-time Linux

Aug 5, 2014 — by Eric Brown 2,459 views

NI unveiled a rugged 4-slot “CompactDAQ” system for data acquisition and control (DAQ), with real-time Linux, an Atom E3825, and optional sensor modules.

Usually, when you have a choice of Windows or Linux, the Windows version costs more. In the case of the National Instruments (NI) CompactDAQ cDAQ-9134 Controller, however, it’s the Linux version that costs $500 more, at $4,999. That’s because it’s a special real-time Linux variant called NI Linux Real-Time, also available on NI’s CompactRIO cRIO-9068 controller and sbRIO-9651 computer-on-module, both of which are based on the Xilinx Zynq-7020 system-on-chip. The cDAQ-9134 instead runs on a dual-core, 1.33GHz Intel Atom E3825 SoC.

CompactDAQ cDAQ-9134

The controller can run either Windows Embedded 7 or NI Linux Real-Time “so you can choose the familiarity of a Windows user interface or the reliability of a real-time OS,” says NI.

The cDAQ-9134 is designed for data-logging and embedded monitoring applications in extreme environments. It supports up to four NI C Series I/O modules for use in configuring a customized DAQ system, including analog input, analog output, digital I/O, counter/timer, and CAN bus functions, says NI. More than 60 such modules are available, including thermocouples, resistance temperature detectors, strain gages, load and pressure transducers, torque cells, accelerometers, flow meters, and microphones.

cDAQ-9134 details
(click image to enlarge)

Like other CompactDAQ models, the cDAQ-9134 combines sensor measurements with voltage, current, and digital signals to create a custom, mixed-measurement system, says NI. Such integration reduces the number of components, connections, and wires, which also helps to reduce signal noise and costs, says the company.


The cDAQ-9134 has four 32-bit general-purpose counter/timers accessible via an installed, hardware-timed digital module such as the NI 9401 or NI 9402. This combination is said to support applications that involve quadrature encoders, PWM, event counting, pulse train generation, and period or frequency measurement.

cDAQ-9134 dimensions
(click image to enlarge)

The cDAQ-9134’s Atom E3825 SoC is backed up with 2GB of DDR3 RAM. You get 32GB of flash, as well as an SD slot for adding an additional 32GB. Dual gigabit Ethernet ports are provided, along with two USB 2.0 host ports, a USB 2.0 device port, an RS-232 port, and a Mini DisplayPort.

The system provides an analog input and output, and a combination CAN port and LIN (Local Interconnect Network) port. In addition to the four supplied counters there’s also a frequency generator and digital triggers.

The rugged controller box supports temperatures of -40 to 70°C, and features shock and vibration resistance. The 220 x 119 x 88mm system runs on 40 Watts and is DIN mountable.

Summary of cDAQ-9134 specs

Specifications listed for the CompactDAQ cDAQ-9134 Controller include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom E3825 (2x 22nm Silvermont cores @ 1.33GHz)
  • Memory:
    • 2GB DDR3L RAM
    • 32GB SSD
    • SD slot for up to 32GB
  • Networking — 2x gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports
    • USB 2.0 device port
    • RS-232 port
    • Mini DisplayPort
    • CAN/LIN port (NI-XNET)
    • Analog input (127x samples per slot)
    • Analog output
    • 4x counters @ 32-bit resolution
    • Frequency generator
    • Digital trigger input
  • Expansion — 4x controller slots for NI C Series modules
  • Other features — RTC; DIN mounting; user button; LabVIEW RT support
  • Power — DC supply, requires 40 W; CMOS battery
  • Operating temperature — -40 to 70°C
  • Shock resistance — 50 g, 10Hz – 500Hz
  • Vibration resistance — 5 g, 10Hz – 500Hz
  • Weight — 1.85 kg
  • Dimensions — 220 x 119 x 88mm
  • Operating system — Ni Linux Real-Time Linux; Windows Embedded 7 (WES7)

On the software side, an included NI-DAQmx driver is said to include the following features:

  • API for LabVIEW, ANSI C/C++, C#, and Visual Basic .NET
  • DAQ Assistant code generation for LabVIEW, LabWindows/CVI, and Measurement Studio
  • Example programs for all supported languages
  • NI Measurement & Automation Explorer (MAX) for system configuration and test

“Because the CompactDAQ controller is a stand-alone device, we don’t have to spend money on a separate computer, signal conditioning or cabling,” stated Ryan Ewart, mechatronics engineer at Yanos Aerospace. “Using the CompactDAQ platform, we’ve reduced system complexity, cost and installation time.”

Further information

The CompactDAQ cDAQ-9134 Controller is available for $4,999 with Ni Linux Real-Time Linux, or $4,499 with Windows Embedded 7. Accessories include a 32GB “Industrial SD Card ($450), a Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter ($40), a 5-Amp “Industrial Power Supply” ($221), and more than 60 C Series modules. More information may be found at the National Instruments NI cDAQ-9134 product page.

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