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 it’s all on show at BETT 2003) you can build on what you have, start from scratch or extend what you do.


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 Harvest’s ‘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 there’s now a new colorimeter and force sensor – because they’re able to tell the computer what they can do. In the past you’d 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 PASCO’s 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 that’s not something you’re used to doing, try it as you study reaction order. You’ll 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 log data.

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 there’s a heart sensor to show pulse and ECG, even during exercise. But then there’s 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 Economatic’s 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 Insight’s 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.


  • Don’t miss:

    Visual accelerometer and PASPORT sensors from PASCO

    Flash Logger from Data Harvest

    Insight Data logging software from Timstar / Griffin;

Commotion Tel: 01732 773399
Data Harvest Tel: 01525 373666
Deltronics, Tel: 01269 843728
Economatics Tel: 0114 281 3204
Griffin Tel: 01509 233344
IT in Science & Roger Frost Tel: 020 8986 3526
Matrix Multimedia Tel: 0870 700 1831
PASCO Scientific Tel: 020 8560 5678
Pico Technology Tel: 01480 396 395
ScienceScope Tel: 01225 852800
Valiant Technology 020 8673 2233


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