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Whether you are performing basic measurements or designing complex systems with NI data acquisition (DAQ) hardware and NI LabVIEW software, you need a specific set of skills to successfully complete your application. Before you begin a project, you should determine the skills you need to implement a high-quality and scalable solution in the
shortest amount of time. As you move from project to project, assess what additional concepts you should learn to complete your new application. By becoming proficient in both LabVIEW and DAQ to the level that your application demands, you can take advantage of the innovative technologies built into DAQ and the software-driven productivity gains of LabVIEW.
NI offers guidelines on the level of DAQ proficiency that best ensures success for your current and future projects. Use Figure 1 to find the level your application falls into and learn more about the skills you need. The second and third levels build on the skills from the previous levels.
Figure 1. Choose the level of proficiency that best fits your application.
Perform Basic Measurements
Everyone who uses LabVIEW and DAQ, whether acquiring basic measurements or generating simple waveforms, should be able to perform these tasks:
- Install hardware and software and connect signals properly
- Measure and analyze signals with the DAQ Assistant
- Use and modify the NI-DAQmx shipping examples
- Understand resolution/sampling rate considerations
- Understand when signal conditioning is necessary
Develop DAQ Systems
Most DAQ users should exhibit this level of proficiency. Your application or job determines whether you need more than basic measurement skills. If you plan to trigger acquisitions, develop systems with multiple measurement types, or synchronize multiple devices, you need to be comfortable using NI-DAQmx API functions to build your application. In addition to the NI-DAQmx API, you should understand the following:
- Ground loops
- Virtual channels
- Absolute accuracy
- Basic synchronization
Architect Complex DAQ Systems
If you plan to measure hundreds of channels, stream large quantities of data to disk, perform advanced control, synchronize measurements across multiple chassis, or manage deployed systems, you should invest time to become an expert in those concepts specific to your application challenges.
To perform these advanced tasks, you should be comfortable with the following concepts:
- Advanced timing and synchronization
- Property node use
- Hardware-timed single point acquisition
- NI-DAQmx events
- Performance optimization
- Signal import/export
- State machine model (verified, committed, reserved, and so on)
- System API and device management
Become Proficient With DAQ Products
See Figure 2 for a map of resources to help you develop your DAQ skills:
- Getting Started With NI Products at ni.com/gettingstarted
- LabVIEW Core 1 training course
- Data Acquisition and Signal Conditioning training course
- Introductory and advanced training resources at ni.com/data-acquisition/setup/
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Figure 2. Identify the skills you need for your project and the learning resources you can use.
Add Someone With These Skills to Your Team
Many National Instruments Alliance Partners have already invested in the level of proficiency you need for your application. If your DAQ project requires specific skills and you are unable to develop those skills in the time allotted for your project, you can connect with an Alliance Partner that can provide consulting services while you get up to speed.
Navigate the LabVIEW Learning Curve
Proficiency with DAQ hardware and driver software are not the only skills you need to be successful. NI LabVIEW system design software increases productivity for simple measurement and control applications, but also has the power to automate large systems. The challenge for many LabVIEW users often lies in moving along the learning curve from simple systems to more sophisticated systems. If you are using LabVIEW, make sure you have the right level of software engineering skill for your application.
Mallori Martin is the program manager for customer training and certification at National Instruments. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Texas A&M University.
This article is the second installment in a four-part series on proficiency to be featured quarterly in Instrumentation Newsletter. The first installment on RIO proficiency was featured in the first quarter 2012 issue.
This article first appeared in the Q2 2012 issue of Instrumentation Newsletter.
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