The major problem in the automation of physical measurement with microcomputers is the interfacing of transducer devices and developing a means of monitoring them. Although many solutions are available, they generally involve microcomputer technology; the range of choices is very confusing, especially to those unfamiliar with this type of computer application. A testing engineer wishing to produce a data logging system invariably has to learn about interfacing technology, or the expertise has to be bought in at considerable cost.
The autonomous data acquisition unit (ADU) has been designed to overcome these problems by combining adaptable hardware and software in one unit. It is an intelligent data logging device that can accept a wide range of transducers and monitor them in virtually any manner desired. The ADU is simple to program from most popular makes of microcomputer. All readings gathered are stored in its own solid state memory until requested by the user. Since all the necessary data logging functions are in the ADU, the problem is drastically simplified. All the user has to do is specify the tests to be carried out and retrieve the readings when required. Process control can be added as an option for applying intelligent control to pressures, loads, rates of flow, etc.
The ADU is a universal tool that offers particular advantages for the engineering geologist for automating field and laboratory testing. Typical rock mechanics applications would be strain gauge measurements of rock cores, in situ stress and load measurements, modulus measurements, and monitoring settlements and ground movement.