This report is intended to provide internal documentation for the U.S. Geological Survey laboratory's automatic data acquisition system. The operating procedures for each type of test are designed to independently lead a first-time user through the various stages of using the computer to control the test.
Continuing advances in computer technology and the availability of desktop microcomputers with a wide variety of peripheral equipment at a reasonable cost can create an efficient automated geotechnical testing environment. A geotechnical testing environment is shown in figure 1. Using an automatic data acquisition system, laboratory test data from a variety of sensors can be collected, and manually or automatically recorded on a magnetic device at the same apparent time. The responses of a test can be displayed graphically on a CRT in a matter of seconds, giving the investigator an opportunity to evaluate the test data, and to make timely, informed decisions on such matters as whether to continue testing, abandon a test, or modify procedures. Data can be retrieved and results reported in tabular form, or graphic plots, suitable for publication.
Thermistors, thermocouples, load cells, pressure transducers, and linear variable differential transformers are typical sensors which are incorporated in automated systems. The geotechnical tests which are most practical to automate are the long-term tests which often require readings to be recorded outside normal work hours and on weekends. Automation applications include incremental load consolidation tests, constant-rate-of-strain consolidation tests, direct shear tests, ring shear tests, and triaxial shear tests.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
A microcomputer-based data acquisition and control system for the direct shear, ring shear, triaxial shear, and consolidation tests