Data logging update (TES January 2003)
Small or fast, innovative or functional, this year sees a new batch of data
loggers and sensors aimed at the science classroom. With what is arriving (and
its all on show at BETT 2003) you can build on what you have, start from
scratch or extend what you do.
DATA HARVEST www.data-harvest.co.uk
If you are looking for small, the EasySense FlashLogger (Data Harvest £125)
is one of the most compact loggers you can find. It slots into a socket found
on many Pocket PC devices as made by Casio, Toshiba and Hewlett Packard. It then
connects to Data Harvests SmartQ sensors to do any experiment you would care
to do. Creditable is its software (Sensing Science) which is well-featured for
such a tiny computer. Helpful are the onscreen worksheets which set up the
system up for you. Intelligent are the SmartQ sensors and theres now a new
colorimeter and force sensor because theyre able to tell the computer what
they can do. In the past youd have a troublesome upgrade.
What needs testing is how well data logging gone dinky-size can work as Pocket
PCs as these are not the most robust, functional or inexpensive computers.
However, many will find ways over the hurdles - printing graphs, recharging
batteries and installing software - to find a platform as versatile as any.
A new logger called Flowlog (from £99) distinguishes itself by working with low
cost Palm handhelds as well as a PC. Its use of infra-red to link with a Palm is
novel but the bigger appeal is that these pocket organisers start at £70 and
reduce the overall cost. As well as data logging, Flowlog has D&T uses as a
storage oscilloscope, circuit board tester and control technology interface.
There are two models, one boxed to use plugs and one bare board version using
screw terminals. Launched with a huge range of sensors from US supplier Vernier,
it begs a trial.
For ease of use, very little comes near PASCOs USB range which this year
includes the highly innovative Visual Accelerometer (VA - £145 approx). This new
sensor has a line of ten LEDs which light up in turn to measure and so
visualize, acceleration. Push it in one direction to see one or more red LEDs
light, push it in the other to see the green LEDs light. Place it on a cart,
wheel it down a track or bounce it from a spring and you quickly find yourself
with the most effective new teaching tool in years. The VA works well without a
computer but connect it with a USB-Link and run Data Studio software (for PC,
Apple, OS-X) and you have a handy accelerometer. This means that you can not
only graph acceleration live, but if you use a Force sensor as well, you can
plot one against the other and do F=ma.
New PASCO sensors in this unbelievably plug and play range include a turbidity
sensor and a carbon dioxide sensor. And then there is a smart colorimeter which
without fuss records absorbance over four wavelengths simultaneously. If thats
not something youre used to doing, try it as you study reaction order. Youll
see four graphs, choose the best and soon realise that colorimetry is useful and
better using technology.
Sciencescope will have two new data loggers both of which are able to use Philip
Harris sensors. The Logbook SM (£275) has a 16-character display, three built-in
sensors and room for two others. The Logbook XD (£250) offers more sophisticated
recording options including very fast recording for physics. New sensors
include a colorimeter, pulse, force, voltage, current, oxygen, humidity and a
barometer. See here also for a new (USB) camera that can film experiments as you
LOGIT - GRIFFIN / Timstar
After winning a BETT award last year for LogIT Explorer, the primary school data
logger, the unit gains an inexpensive accessory to build a feedback system. The
Explorer Controller (£50) allows you to power a buzzer, a fan or lamp in
response to changes in temperature. Also from LogIT comes a Datameter USB
Starter Pack (£310) to make data logging work out of the box on computers
without a serial port.
The Human Physiology pack (£869) looks like just the thing Biology and PE
teachers have been asking for. For starters theres a heart sensor to show pulse
and ECG, even during exercise. But then theres a ventilation sensor to measure
air flow and a respiration box to measure oxygen levels. Completing the
package is the portable VTT Console that has a tiny screen and many
computer-like features. Data you collect can also be uploaded to the computer.
The best news for Economatics VTT Console (above) as well as devices from
Deltronics, LogIT, Data Harvest and others is that each works with Insight Data
logging (£85) the latest or fourth version of this legendary software. New
features like automatic scaling of graphs remove the need to set the recording
time, while the screen layout now puts a graph, digits, bars and results table
all on screen at once. Many will want to see how Insights data logging program,
physics timing program and teach yourself module have now been melded into one.
An upgrade from those with version two looks tempting enough.
- Dont miss:
Visual accelerometer and PASPORT sensors from PASCO
Flash Logger from Data Harvest
Insight Data logging software from Timstar / Griffin;
Commotion Tel: 01732 773399 www.commotiongroup.com
Data Harvest Tel: 01525 373666 www.data-harvest.co.uk
Deltronics, Tel: 01269 843728 www.deltronics.co.uk
Economatics Tel: 0114 281 3204
Griffin Tel: 01509 233344 www.griffinandgeorge.co.uk www.dcpmicro.com
IT in Science & Roger Frost Tel: 020 8986 3526 www.rogerfrost.com
Matrix Multimedia Tel: 0870 700 1831 www.matrixmultimedia.co.uk
PASCO Scientific Tel: 020 8560 5678 www.instrumentsdirect.co.uk
Pico Technology Tel: 01480 396 395 www.picotech.com
ScienceScope Tel: 01225 852800 www.sciencescope.co.uk
Valiant Technology 020 8673 2233 www.valiant-technology.co.uk