What is Data Recording?

Recording Digital Data can be achieved by a number of different means. Most often, the data is recorded onto some form of tape based media such as DAT or AIT tapes, although Hard Disk and Solid State drives are fast becoming the norm. The type of data can be from any source that provides a constant or variable data stream such as PCM, ARINC 429, MIL-STD-1553, Voice data, Aeronautical signals etc.

A Data Recorder uses Signal Acquisition circuits (Data Acquisition System DAS) to accept the incoming data and make it available to be recorded onto the media. Sometimes the data requires conditioning to assist in the correct recording of the data. Timing accuracy is achieved by inbuilt clocks which can be synchronised to an IRIG clock signal from an external IRIG time generator.

Once recorded the data can be played back either in real time or at an accelerated rate for analysis by computer software.

Typical types of Data Recorder are:

  • Flight Test Recorders
  • Mission Recorders
  • Voice Recorders
  • Video Recorders
  • Event Recorders
  • Flight Data Recorders (Black Box Recorders)
  • Voyage Recorders

A data acquisition system is a device designed to measure and log some parameters. The purpose of the data acquisition system is generally the analysis of the logged data and the improvement of the object of measurements. The data acquisition system is normally electronics based, and it is made of hardware and software. The hardware part is made of sensors, cables and electronics components (among which memory is where information are stored). The software part is made of the data acquisition logic and the analysis software (and some other utilities that can be used to configure the logic or to move data from data acquisition memory to a laptop or to a mainframe computer). An example: Data logging, carried out by a data acquisition system (DAS), can be used to measure parameters such as temperature and humidity in storage facilities with perishable products; the measurement data is then stored for analysis to improve quality assurance. Another example: a data acquisition system can be placed on a race car to measure RPM and vehicle speed to analyse car's behaviour once it's back to pits and improve the car setup.

Data logging and Recording systems

Data logging and Recording systems consist of four elements:

1. Measuring output (sensors around the vehicle)
2. Recording output signals (logger unit)
3. Uploading/accessing recorded data (telemetry)
4. Analysis of recorded data. (DAS software)

The 4 elements above have specific requirements which need to physically present and included in the design process. Sensors to measure selected parameters must meet certain specifications, and the routing of the sensor cables ensures they will not suffer from electromagnetic interference from other electronic systems. The DAS unit (including memory) and the link from the DAS unit to the operating platform to upload the acquired data via a hardwire cable or telemetry also must conform to requirements.

The Zodiac Data Systems data recorders supplied by Photo-Sonics International are airborne qualified and tested for use in Aircraft Test and Development. We also supply Ground Station systems for monitoring Telemetry Data and replay of the data.

Recording media has moved on since tape based equipment. We now supply recorders which use a variety of media, including Hard Disks and Solid State Systems.


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