Dielectric materials in capacitors restore charge to the capacitive plates following a momentary short of the terminals by an effect known as dielectric absorption. Characterizing materials based on their absorption behaviors may have applications in material sensor technologies. A specific application in mind is in the creation of a probe for generating a rapidly attainable oil yield metric in algal bio-fuel cultures. Detailed here is the development of the data collection apparatus to be used in this research and the systematic fulfillment of the requirements for measurement of dielectric absorption in materials. This USB system provides software variable control of experiment parameters including capacitor charge time, charge voltage, and measuring time, as well as real-time digitization and storage of the analog signal on the computer. This system has been tested successfully in the collection of absorption data on a variety of commercial capacitors.