White Papers

Designing a Thermally Optimal Data Acquisition Unit

December 10, 2019 | BY: Pat Quinn, Stephen Willis

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With the drive for data acquisition units (DAU) to have higher channel densities, be smaller and faster, and the trend towards distributed network architectures, thermal considerations are more important than ever and must be taken into account. Excessive heat can lead to malfunctions and/or shorten the lifespan of electronics. Some industrial, military, and aerospace applications face heat dissipation challenges that require careful mitigation strategies. For example, flight test instrumentation (FTI) is comprised of high performance data acquisition systems (DAS) that are required to operate reliably in harsh environmental conditions.

Conduction, Convection and Radiation in Data Acquisition Units

Conduction, Convection and Radiation in Data Acquisition Units

Keeping components inside a DAU cool is, in theory, simple and easy. One just needs to ensure they make good thermal contact with the chassis, add a big heat sink and some fans to the chassis, and bolt the DAU to a big chunk of metal in a well ventilated location.

However, this scenario is rarely practical, and while it does sometime happen that DAUs have large heat sinks and are located in large racks with forced air cooling, this is far less common and much less desirable than it used to be, and not an option for more compact aircraft.

This white paper examines DAU heat challenges including dissipation, and the best strategies to meet size and performance constraints without compromising data integrity with excessive heat build-up. Read about:

  • Heat dissipation
  • Flight test instrumentation (FTI)
  • Data acquisition units (DAU)
  • Remote nodes

Author’s Biography

Pat Quinn

Product Line Manager Aerospace Instrumentation

Pat graduated in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Trinity College in 2000. He worked as a PCB Design Engineer in Stratus Technologies, a server company, before joining Acra Controls in 2006, later acquired by Curtiss-Wright, where he spent 5 years in the Design Verification Department before moving to Applications and Support. After a short time away working in an augmented reality company, he re-joined Curtiss-Wright in 2018 as the Product Line Manager for Data Acquisition, looking over the data acquisition product lines in the Newtown and Dublin business units.

Author’s Biography

Stephen Willis

Marketing Portfolio Manager

Stephen Willis works for Curtiss-Wright in the role of Marketing Portfolio Manager. He has a degree in Electrical Engineering, a Masters in Philosophy for research in mathematical models and their market application for risk assessment and a PG Dip in marketing and management. His current research interests include data acquisition, recording and control systems and their applications in enabling a cost effective route to gathering large amounts of data. In particular, applications of interest include flight test, crash protected recording and structural/ usage monitoring programs. He is the author of several of academic papers and magazine articles.

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