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Design Of A Simplified Data Acquisition And Control System For Classroom Use

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Computer-Based Measurements

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.371.1 - 8.371.12



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Paper Authors

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Timothy Cooley

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Jeff Randall

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Terrence O'Connor

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Nghia Le

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session # 1159

Design of a Simplified Data Acquisition System for Classroom Use

Tim Cooley, Nghia Le, Terry O’Connor, Jeff Randall Purdue University, School of Technology

While the modern desktop computer used by students today is a valuable analytical and computational tool, it is rarely studied in the classroom as a heat generation/dissipation machine. Normally this type of investigation would involve an array of protruding sensors and other components connected to a separate computer containing the usual data acquisition hardware and software components. To minimize this complexity and provide students with a simple standalone system to study, the authors designed a software and hardware package for installation into any standard desk-top computer. This package, called the Thermal Computing System (TCS), allows students to study the thermal performance of a typical computer and its individual subsystems without reliance on any external components or software.

The TCS consists of a custom designed hardware and software package that will display, control, and record in real-time the thermal behavior of a typical desktop personal computer system and its components. The system will monitor, display, and store the temperatures at eight predetermined internal locations, and has software and hardware controls for manipulation of selected components and air flows. This system allows students to explore the actual thermal behavior of a typical desktop computer and its internal components without the need for secondary data acquisition hardware, software or computers. Additional benefits include low cost (less than $50) and essentially no learning curve.

This paper discusses the overall design and performance of this Thermal Computing System. Sample data demonstrating the behavior of the completed computer system are included.

System overview

The overall system consists of a standard tower-style IBM-clone computer circa mid 1990s, the Thermal Computing System (TCS) housed in the computer’s original CD case, and a Visual Basic program written to simplify operator use of the TCS.

The base computer initially contained the usual components: an AT Form Factor Super Socket 7 mother board, 32 MB RAM, a 166 Pentium 1 processor, a 2.6 GB hard drive, a 100M Zip Drive, a 1.44 M Floppy Drive, and a 12X CD drive. I/O components included an Ethernet card, an SB- 16 sound card, and an S3 Virge video card. The power supply was rated at 250W.

From this initial setup two modifications were made; one for deliberate control of cooling air through the system, and the other for containment and functionality of the TCS within the original CD drive box. First, air flow through the unit was more-specifically controlled by sealing small unintentional entry points with tape, and then by installing an adjustable flap-door over the power supply fan outlet grill. The power supply fan serves to draw air through the system, then through

Cooley, T., & Randall, J., & O'Connor, T., & Le, N. (2003, June), Design Of A Simplified Data Acquisition And Control System For Classroom Use Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12380

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