I was wondering what actual wire/connection do you use to connect the NI / TB 9212 DAQ to my laptop? I really tried reading through the manuals but I didn't see any explicit statement anywhere about this.
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It is just a C-series module, it needs to be installed in a cDAQ or cRIO, in turn, that cDAQ or cRIO can connect to any computer as long as the communication method is supported (for example, USB, Ethernet).
There is nothing specific limiting you from using these modules with laptop (just not directly as they need to be used in a cDAQ or cRIO)
If you don't mind me asking, what is a good compactDAQ to purchase? I am ultimately trying to obtain thermocouple readings from a small heating + cooling system for a university senior design project. Similarly, what connection wire between this 9212 module and the cDAQ would be needed? I know that the 9212 has a connection port of 15 female pins just like a female VGA connection port.
First, these modules plug directly into the cDAQ or cRIO chassis (as shown in the below image) and do not use an extension cable for the D SUB connector.
The selection of cDAQ chassis depends on the application, for your application, you just need to measure temperature in a university, you're better off with any USB based cDAQ with enough slots.
I would recommend considering this USB temperature measurement bundle - https://www.ni.com/en-us/shop/hardware/products/usb-temperature-measurement-bundle.html
cDAQ9171 is the lowest cost 1-slot cDAQ chassis out there - https://www.ni.com/en-us/support/model.cdaq-9171.html