Programmable Data Loggers

MDL-700

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The Dyacon MDL-700

is a fully-customizable data logger.

MDL-700TM is purpose-built by Dyacon engineers and natively includes specialized I/O required for environmental and site monitoring applications. System architecture is tuned to the unique needs of remote data collection and control.

The open-source operating system allows software developers to utilize familiar programming tools and data interfaces in order to create a custom solution in a short time. Programmers can build applications on their desktop or directly on MDL using Python, C, or C++.

Web Interface
Expandable
  • Serial Expansion Module
  • Mixed Signal Input (coming soon)
  • Analog Expansion Module (coming soon)
  • Power and Control Expansion Modules (coming soon)

Introduction

Dyacon MS-100 weather stations are designed to be installed, configured, and maintained by end users with basic technical skills. The limited instruments are understandable and approachable to those with an interest in weather observations.

But, some applications require measurements and capabilities that are more specialized, whether for scientific research, monitoring of remote industrial systems, or autonomous process control. These more complicated applications often employ a programmable data logger, essentially an embedded computer with input and output connections for interfacing to a range of devices.

Similar to PLCs (programmable logic controllers), data loggers are optimized for running a specific program. However, data loggers are optimized for a different role. Typically data loggers operate with very little power and in wide temperature environments. Often the I/O of a data logger is fixed, whereas a PLC might be expandable.

Dyacon MDL-700 is a hybrid solution; it is a data logger, but I/O is added through expansion modules. Another differentiator is the operating system. PLCs and data loggers typically use a proprietary embedded operating system and users must program these with a proprietary development environment. Dyacon MDL uses the Linux operating system. Program development may be done using Python, C, and other common languages.

Data loggers also need the flexibility to store and transmit the collected data. As such, they typically have Ethernet connectivity, embedded wireless modems, or the ability to interface to a range of external terrestrial or satellite modems.

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Meteorology and Hydrology
Industrial Site Monitoring
Grower and Irrigation Control
Process Control

MDL-700 Web Interface

The MDL-700 performs measurement and data logging operations using highly configurable, open source, Python software: DataBear (github.com/chrisrycx/databear). DataBear is available to all users, but requires a significant level of technical knowledge to implement. To make the Linux data logger approachable to a broader range of users, Dyacon “MDL Web Interface” (to be released Q1 2021) is a graphic, user-friendly interface for logger configuration.

The Web Interface (WI) comes pre-installed and enabled on all MDL-700s. To use the WI, simply connect a laptop directly to the MDL using an Ethernet cable. Once the MDL is on the network, a browser is used to connect to the MDL. The initial login page enables administrators to control user access to logger settings.

Once logged in, the WI provides full control over measurement and logging via the ‘Configuration’ pages. This includes adding and removing sensors, changing measurement intervals, and also changing specific measurements to be logged. The Acquisition page displays current measurements and plots the logged data. Logged data can be downloaded to a CSV on demand.

MDL web interface continues to expand. Please stay in touch to watch the progress.

Conclusion

Data loggers are specialized tools that are designed to fill a particular role. Dyacon MDL-700 with its Linux operating system and expandability offers a unique value proposition in the industrial market. The Linux OS offers significant code development capabilities and native connectivity for experienced developers.

The operating system also creates some unique opportunities to provide high-level functionality, such as a network integration and complex onboard data processing.

Meteorology and Hydrology

The Dyacon MS-100 weather controller is capable of handling a generic weather station application. A research meteorology (met) station may require more I/O than the CM-1 weather station controller allows. Some applications need to collect data from multiple wind sensors, redundant temperature sensors, soil salinity, soil moisture, and particulate matter sensors. Similarly, roadway weather stations and remote met stations are often based on a programmable data logger and include visibility and road surface optical instruments. 

Hydrology applications will have similar needs to measure specialized sensors, such as water turbidity, alkalinity, depth, temperature, and other water quality parameters.

Due to the variety of sensors available and the needs of the install, any given installation of a hydrology data logger may be substantially different from another. The variability of sensors and data collection for these applications requires inputs and programmability that an off-the-shelf system cannot accommodate.

Industrial Site Monitoring

Oil and gas extraction requires the transmission and storage of raw and intermediary products. Tank level, temperature, pressure, and other parameters must be collected, stored, and transmitted. This may extend to monitoring multiple tanks with ultrasonic or float sensors and the need to control pumps and trigger alerts.

Pump operation, generator control, level detection, access detection, safety warnings, gas detection, and other needs may be implemented with an industrial site data logger. 

Often these types of specialized applications are implemented by equipment integrators that develop solutions under contract for the end user. Monitoring and maintenance services may then be provided by the contractor.

Grower and Irrigation Control

The link between ambient environmental conditions and agriculture is intuitive; weather seems to have a direct impact on the grower. Optimization of resources can help minimize the weather impact on farming while improving yield and profit. Farming is becoming a high-tech business. GPS-guided and robotic tractors may be the glamorous side of this automation, but similar sophistication is employed with agronomics, which encompasses everything from the soil to meteorology.

Grower data loggers can monitor soil conditions, such as temperature, salinity, and total volumetric water content. The may also be used for irrigation control, including generator operation, pump control, and flow monitoring. 

The general purpose inputs and Python programmability make the MDL data logger a viable tool for agricultural research and similar applications in forestry and range research.

Process Control

While PLCs may own the factory floor, such as operating a cookie baking line with its ovens, conveyors, and packaging systems, data loggers can also be found in similar situations.

Process control data loggers may lack some of the expandability of PLCs, but they may be well suited for processes that require an emphasis on sensor inputs. They may also fill a role as a process recorder; independently collecting operational data that can be used to optimize or troubleshoot processes controlled by one or more PLCs.