Designing a Thermally Optimal Data Acquisition Unit

Designing a Thermally Optimal Data Acquisition Unit

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 considered. Excessive heat can lead to malfunctions and 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) comprises high-performance data acquisition systems (DAS) that are required to operate reliably in harsh environmental conditions.

Designing a Thermally Optimal Data Acquisition Unit
Conduction, Convection, and Radiation in Data Acquisition Units

Keeping components inside a DAU cool is, in theory, simple and easy. One must 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. While it does sometimes 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