Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis
Scope - Spectrum - Spectrogram - Signal Generator
Software for Windows
Science with your Sound Card!
The following is from the Daqarta Help system:



Spectrum Analyzer

Signal Generator

(Absolutely FREE!)


Pitch Tracker


DaqMusiq Generator
(Free Music... Forever!)

Engine Simulator

LCR Meter

Remote Operation

DC Measurements

True RMS Voltmeter

Sound Level Meter

Frequency Counter
    Spectral Event

    MHz Frequencies

Data Logger

Waveform Averager


Post-Stimulus Time
Histogram (PSTH)

THD Meter

IMD Meter

Precision Phase Meter

Pulse Meter

Macro System

Multi-Trace Arrays

Trigger Controls


Spectral Peak Track

Spectrum Limit Testing

Direct-to-Disk Recording



Frequency response

Distortion measurement

Speech and music

Microphone calibration

Loudspeaker test

Auditory phenomena

Musical instrument tuning

Animal sound

Evoked potentials

Rotating machinery


Product test

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Full-Scale Range - Output Voltage Method

Controls: Calibration Menu >> Full-Scale Range

This approach to Full-Scale Range calibration involves measuring the Generator output with an external voltmeter and setting the Output Range, then applying the now-calibrated signal to the input to get the Input Range.

Note: You must have previously run Auto-Calibrate for the output and input lines whose range you want to set; otherwise, their controls will be disabled in the Full-Scale Range dialog.

To measure the output voltage accurately you need a separate voltmeter that has a sensitive AC Volts range, ideally one that can read 3 decimal places (1.999), or at least 2 places (19.99) AC volts full-scale.

Since the second part of this procedure will be to use the output to calibrate the input, you will ideally need a way to connect the output to Line In as well as the external meter. If you measure the output alone you will typically get a higher reading than if the input is connected, because the input impedance may load down the output, reducing the voltage that the input actually sees. If you then tell Daqarta that the input is seeing the output-alone voltage, the input calibration will be "off" such that measured voltages will read too high.

The amount of error could be as much as 2%, though typically much less. If you only have an inexpensive meter, it's accuracy is probably no better than this anyway. So if you don't have a Y-cable, or a pair of ordinary male-male cables and some clip-leads to jury-rig a 3-way connection, don't worry. Just measure the unloaded output now, and remember to re-do this calibration whenever you need higher precision.

Connect the meter to the output, or the output-input junction. If you are clipping the meter leads to the end of a male-male cable, the red lead goes to the tip (Left channel) and the black lead goes to the shank (common or ground). Don't try to clip onto the little ring between the tip and shank (Right channel), since it's hard to avoid shorting things together. Daqarta assumes the Left and Right readings are identical anyway.

Set the Generator to produce a sine wave at maximum volume and 100% Level. The frequency should be in the range of 50 to 1000 hertz for best accuracy on most meters. The reading from the meter will be an RMS value, which you must convert to amplitude by multiplying by 1.4142 (the square root of 2). Enter that value for Wave Out in the Range dialog.

Alternatively, you can skip the RMS-to-amplitude conversion and compare the Daqarta Voltmeter RMS reading with the external meter RMS reading. You might want to do this if you are tweaking a prior calibration, or especially if you want to run the output at a softer volume because it distorts at the maximum setting (see below). Note that you can use lower volumes only because you have done a relative calibration with Auto-Calibrate.

Just open the Daqarta Voltmeter (ALT+V) and set the channel to Left Out and the mode to RMS. The true Wave Out range will then be the current Wave Out range (default 1.000) times the external meter reading divided by the Daqarta Voltmeter reading, both in RMS volts.

True_Range = Current_Range * V_Ext / V_Daqarta

Now Daqarta has become a calibrated signal generator which you can use as a reference signal source to calibrate the inputs. Use a "loopback" connection (as you did for Auto-Calibrate) to connect the outputs to the inputs. In the Input dialog make sure both Left and Right channels are active. Select Line In and set the Line In level to 0.

Adjust the output volume and/or Stream Level until you get a large (nearly full-scale) input, without over-driving it into distortion. One easy way to do this is to monitor the spectrum instead of the waveform; when you drive the input too hard, you will see a sudden onset or rise of spectral peaks at harmonic frequencies. This is much more sensitive than judging sine-wave distortion by eye.

It is unfortunately all too common for sound card inputs to distort well before the input signal reaches full-scale... sometimes as little as half-scale.

Now set the Daqarta Voltmeter to Left In and read the RMS voltage. Since Daqarta is assuming whatever Input Range value is currently set (default 1.000 volt), this "apparent" voltage is unlikely to be the true input voltage... yet.

Now read the signal level that produces that input voltage by toggling the Daqarta Voltmeter from Left In to Left Out. To find the true full-scale input range, multiply the current Range by the output voltage divided by the apparent input voltage.

True_RangeIn = Current_RangeIn * Vout / Vin

For example, suppose the true output is 250 mV where the apparent input is 0.600 volt with the default full-scale range of 1.000 volt. Then the correct full-scale value will be:

1.000 * 0.250 / 0.600 = 0.4167

Enter the computed value as the Stereo Range value for that Input line.

Double that value and enter it for Mono. That's the value Daqarta will use when only the Left or Right Input channel is selected; it will be OK for most cards, since they sum the two inputs together in that case. But note that if you have separate Left and Right Input level controls, each will be applied to its respective channel, even though one channel is apparently not selected.

This makes Mono calibration very tricky to use. It's much better to always use both channels, even if you have no signal applied to one of them.

See also Full-Scale Range Dialog, Input Voltage Method, Polarity Determination, Calibration Menu


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