A KEY COMPONENT OF DATA ACQUISITION SYSTEMS
Sensors that are used to collect the data from the environment often don’t produce signal of characteristics optimal for an analog to digital converter (ADC) to translate to digital data. Additionally, these signals can be subject to electromagnetic interference (EMI) that introduces noise, having a negative impact on the reliability of the data. To make this analog input readable for the processing unit and dependable enough to give the desired quality of data the signal has to undergo a process of signal conditioning.
Signal conditioning is one of the key components of data acquisition systems that makes inputs usable for a DAQ system. When working with different ground voltages, proper isolation of the signal line is required as signals outside of the specified range of the ADC circuit can damage the sensitive components of the measurement system. Depending on the sensor, the signal might also need to have a higher amplitude to be effectively read by the digitizer, therefore requiring to be amplified, or a lower amplitude, therefore being in need for attenuation. Other signals might need to be linearized to be easier to analyze or filtered from external interferences coming from the environment or the system itself. Sensors like accelerometers will need current or voltage excitation before anything can be done with the input. Knowing the properties of the signal and the system is therefore the key to choosing the right set of conditioners for a precise and reliable measurement unit.