Why an Arduino Based Data
Figure 1 is an example of the measured voltage from
a modified speaker with a large hanging mass that is part
of the sensor I use in a seismometer project. This is the
transient response of the system when perturbed, showing
the damped oscillations.
The setup for this measurement is shown in Figure 2. I
used an analog front end to convert the induced current
from the speaker into a voltage in the range an Arduino
can measure with its analog pin.
From the measured data, I can fit the resonant
frequency and q-factor for an ideal damped oscillator. The
agreement of this simple ideal model and this real physical
system is really remarkable.
At the heart of this process is bringing the data into
the computer. While there are a few really cool low cost
data acquisition systems like the DATAQ DI-145 Electronic
Strip Chart Recorder ($29) and the more advanced
LabJack ($108), I’ve been exploring using an Arduino as a
data acquisition interface to the real world.
Even a low end RedBoard (UNO compatible from
SparkFun for $19.95) has six independent analog-to-digital
converters (ADC), each with 10-bit resolution. This makes
Arduinos potentially great platforms for sensor data
acquisition. When I started down this path to use an
Arduino as a data acquisition system, the stumbling block
for me was how to get the data from the Arduino directly
into an analysis tool like Microsoft Excel.
I wanted a method that was easy, robust, low cost,
and wasn’t a long time-consuming process involving
hacking a lot of code. Did I mention I wanted it to be
The problem was not that I couldn’t find any way of
doing this. The problem was that I found too many ways
of doing this. When I Googled “Arduino data acquisition,”
I got more than 250,000 entries. They generally fell into
I love data. Measuring things, plotting the results in a way to instantly
visualize the behavior, and — most importantly — analyzing the results.
Maybe it's because of my physics training, but even as old as I am, I still
get a thrill when I can measure something and have it match the
predictions of a simple model. This is especially exciting when I can
collect the measurements by computer and utilize the power of easy-to-use yet powerful tools to perform the plotting and analysis.
By Eric Bogatin
34 June 2015
Quick and easy data
acquisition and display
with an Arduino