Using a computer to replace lab equipment?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by ztjust, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. ztjust

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 1, 2012
    Hello, I was wondering if it was possible to create a substitute lab using a computer. For instance, I would want to interface a computer with my breadboard. I would want to use the computer as a variable power supply, as well as maybe a function generator and scope. Is there any way to do this?

    Thank you.
  2. bertus


    Apr 5, 2008
  3. BMorse

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 26, 2009
    Yes, as Bertus has said, your PC can pretty much do anything a lab equipment can, some may require buying other parts to make it work, but for interfacing to a Breadboard, you can use a Serial Port or Parallel port, even USB through an RS232 to TTL converter IC, you can also use your sound card as a function generator, etc....
  4. wmodavis

    Distinguished Member

    Oct 23, 2010
    Just tweek your circuit design skills and software skills and go for it.
  5. t06afre

    AAC Fanatic!

    May 11, 2009
    To some extent. You can use the sound card for both generating waveforms. And also as a scope. At least in the audio signal frequency range 20-20 KHz. but a sound card will probably not be so good in the high end of its frequency range. And it will have trouble with pure square waves.
  6. GetDeviceInfo

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jun 7, 2009
    Check out Labview.
  7. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
    You can get a computer controller power supply. It will cost more then a stand along supply.

    Same applies to just about any piece of test equipment you can think of. Switches too.

    I used to do test engineering for a now forgotten company where we had 2 6 foot tall relay racks jammed with all sorts of equipment to test just about anything we wished.

    It still took some skill to convert from general purpose equipment to the specific demands of each unit for testing. plus lots of custom software was needed.
  8. vk6zgo

    Active Member

    Jul 21, 2012
    Yes,your computer can do most of these things---very poorly!
    Sound card based Oscilloscopes for instance,are basically a party trick,& not really usable for general work.

    You can steal a bit of power from your USB port,but it is quite limited.

    Probably the most useful thing is your sound card output as an audio generator,but even that is a bit limited.

    Another point is that if you mess things up,you can kill your computer!
    My suggestion is to get some basic standalone stuff,& let your computer do what it does best---be a computer!:D