Waveform scroll view for non-audio files

[Posting in Linux but the question is platform-agnostic]

In my job (marine biologist) I frequently need to look at data from fish (currently Atlantic bluefin tuna) with tags on them which record depth, internal temperature, external temperature, and light (and time). These tags can last for up to 6 years so plotting them is a problem - if you plot the whole lot, you miss daily details. If you plot by day, you could have over 2000 images.

I love Audacity for music editing, of course. I thought of it because of the wonderful mousewheel-zoom and L-R drag functionality for inspecting music file data, specifically volume of music. I was thinking - would it be possible for me to leverage this for other file types?

Let’s start with one data stream, depth - somehow convert this vector of numbers to what-looks-like a mono audio track and import it?
Then a second data stream, let’s say light level, have that as the Right channel of a stereo audio file, so Audacity presents both?
Third & 4th I don’t know, probably not possible?

I realise that this is waaaay outside normal question zone, and so I fully understand this isn’t any kind of priority for anyone to address, but IF anyone is interested in joining me in scratching our heads about this, I’d be very grateful. My starting point is that I don’t know much about how music files are encoded, what the limitations or requirements are, what Audacity is looking for and/or will accept.

Thanks in advance!

Interesting idea. This isn’t the first time that Audacity has been used for handling large data (and not the first time for marine biology either), though each of these projects have been very different.

By default, Audacity uses “32-bit float format”. If you zoom in very close on the waveform, you will see that it is made up of a series of dots. Each dot represents one sample value. Each sample value is a 32-bit floating point number.

“Valid” samples (those below 0 dB) are in the range +/- 1.0 (hence the +/- 1.0 on the track’s vertical scale.

The “sample rate” of a track, is the number of samples per second - typically 44100 samples per second.

6 years = 2191.5 days = 52596 hours = 3155760 minutes

If you have one numeric value, normalized to a range of +/- 1.0, for each minute of “tag” recording, then that could be imported into Audacity as 3155760 sample values = 1 minute 56 seconds of audio at 44100 Hz sample rate.

I presume that you can normalize your data to a range of 0 to 1 or -1 to +1 easily enough in your spreadsheet app of choice, which then leaves the question of how to import numeric data as audio samples. Luckily, I wrote a tool called “sample data import”. See: Sample Data Import - Audacity Manual

Thanks for the quick reply steve, incredibly helpful, sorry for me being so slow getting back to you. I’ll give that a try & cross my fingers. Cheers!