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When to Isolate Data Acquisition Equipment

In a computerised measurement and control system, a high transient voltage at one input may damage not only the input circuit, but the rest of the data acquisition hardware and, by propagating through the signal conditioning and analogue-to-digital circuits, eventually damage the computer system as well. You can prevent this type of damage by isolating the input from the earth of the data acquisition and computer hardware.

A transient at one input can also propagate across to other input circuits and then cause damage to other equipment connected to those inputs. This is prevented by providing isolation between inputs.

Another case where you may need isolation is when you have very large ground loops. These may occur when the computer and DAQ equipment are widely separated.

Isolation is a special case of input protection. Inputs may be protected using components to limit the voltage at an input circuit.

Electrical equipment that may be subject to switching transients, component failure, mis-wiring and so on should only be connected to isolated inputs. So a system used to test electrical equipment following manufacture would be a prime candidate for isolation.

Input protection from high voltages is provided by our 59x range of hardware. These units connect to the standard data acquisition equipment and offer them many extra facilities. More details...

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