Ordering New DAQ

Sachi Sanghavi's Avatar

Sachi Sanghavi

19 Jan, 2021 03:30 PM

Hi Chris,

I have an NI I/O board in my current rig, and I’m thinking of transitioning to an Arduino Uno based on the post you had shared. Before making the purchase, I just wanted to check if you’d heard of any strong arguments for/against Arduino (vs LabJack, or other devices) from other users recently?

Thanks,
Sachi

  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by Christopher Sta... on 19 Jan, 2021 03:59 PM

    Christopher Stawarz's Avatar

    Hi Sachi,

    Arduino and compatible boards remain my first choice for basic I/O tasks. However, I don't recommend the Arduino Uno, which is based on a very old and limited microcontroller chip. Instead, I'd suggest something more capable, such as the Adafruit Feather M0. I've been working with the Bluetooth variant of this board for several years and have found it to be very capable and reliable. (You may hear some gripes from Michael about this same board, but his issues revolve around connecting to it from an iPad via Bluetooth, which I assume isn't relevant to your setup.) I also think the Arduino Nano 33 BLE looks like a great option, even if you don't need its Bluetooth capabilities. However, I haven't yet used that board myself.

    A LabJack device would be a better choice if you require more powerful I/O capabilities (e.g. high sampling rate analog input, or counter or quadrature digital inputs). However, MWorks' support for LabJack hardware is still a work in progress. If an Arduino-compatible board will meet your needs, that will be the quickest way to get up and running with a replacement for your NI hardware.

    If you need more info, please let me know!

    Cheers,
    Chris

  2. 2 Posted by Sachi Sanghavi on 19 Jan, 2021 07:46 PM

    Sachi Sanghavi's Avatar

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the detailed response!—this is really helpful. While my current set-up doesn’t require extra ADC support, Ko suggested it’d be safer to purchase LabJack so we can standardize across all our experimental rigs.

    Would you recommend purchasing the U6 then? (Mworks compatibility-wise). We’re also okay waiting for a month or two if you were already planning on any updates in that time-frame.

    Thanks again!

    Best,
    Sachi

  3. Support Staff 3 Posted by Christopher Sta... on 20 Jan, 2021 01:59 PM

    Christopher Stawarz's Avatar

    Hi Sachi,

    Would you recommend purchasing the U6 then?

    No. MWorks will support the T4 and T7, so you should go with one of those.

    We’re also okay waiting for a month or two if you were already planning on any updates in that time-frame.

    I'm not sure I can make any promises in that time frame, but we'll see. Can you tell me what specific I/O capabilities you need (digital, analog, etc.)? That is, how do you currently use the NI device in your experiments?

    Thanks,
    Chris

  4. 4 Posted by Sachi Sanghavi on 21 Jan, 2021 05:30 PM

    Sachi Sanghavi's Avatar

    Hi Chris,

    I currently only use three DAQ inputs: for juice reward, experiment start/stop trigger, and stimulus on/off information.

    Alternatively, we could hold off on purchasing DAQs for other rigs, and just purchase one Arduino board for my current setup. Then, once LabJack T4/T7 is compatible with MWorks, we could upgrade all of them. What do you think?

    Sachi

  5. Support Staff 5 Posted by Christopher Sta... on 22 Jan, 2021 01:58 PM

    Christopher Stawarz's Avatar

    Hi Sachi,

    I currently only use three DAQ inputs: for juice reward, experiment start/stop trigger, and stimulus on/off information.

    So that's three digital output lines, one to the juice pump, two to the recording system, correct? The new LabJack interface already supports single-line digital input/output, so I could make that available to you relatively quickly.

    That said, let me just emphasize again how great Arduino-type boards are for these kinds of tasks: They're inexpensive, simple, reliable, and not hampered by lousy, vendor-provided software drivers. LabJack's interface software is relatively good, but with Arudinos we have full control of the software on both the Mac and device sides. It's hard to overstate how useful that is, particularly when debugging problems.

    Alternatively, we could hold off on purchasing DAQs for other rigs, and just purchase one Arduino board for my current setup. Then, once LabJack T4/T7 is compatible with MWorks, we could upgrade all of them. What do you think?

    Given how inexpensive Arduino boards are, that seems like a fine plan. But as I said, I can have a limited version of the LabJack interface ready in relatively short order, if you'd prefer to go that route.

    Chris

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