In the process of investigating new ways of data acquisition for a course, Educator Jose Ives has detailed his experience with comparing an Arduino board against a National Instuments USB-6009 Data Acquisition device. From a software perspective he used the NI LabView software with their device; and the Arduino IDE with Firmata, Python and so on.
Although the NI device had a great resolution and sample rate - the entry cost per example just for the hardware is over $300. Furthermore the LabView software can be somewhat expensive, even for student pricing. From an educator's perspective that's a lot of money and certainly an investment for something that can possibly be damaged or go missing in a classroom environment.
Thus using an Arduino-compatible board for data acquisition in an education setting can save a lot of money, reducing expense and also allow many other uses. A perfect solution - as long as the sampling speed and resolution meet the needs of the experiment. And with the use of data logging software such as MegunoLink, an inexpensive data acquisition system can be had for less than $40 per head when used with a sturdy Arduino-compatible board such as our Freetronics Eleven:
Fore more information about Jose's research and his results, visit the blog here.