Logging with a self-contained unit

Logging with a self-contained unit

Publication Date: September 23rd 2016

Many loggers that have been produced over the last 10 years have relied on the availability of a computer or most recently a tablet or mobile to provide the analysis engine once the data has been acquired. The Vision logger bucks this trend by having a fully self contained logger with graphi-cal and analysis functions built in.

The logger is approximately 15 cm by 10 cm in size. It has a 5 cm × 10 cm colour touch screen and comes with a small, but useful stylus. Once the unit has been charged and turned on you are met with a fully fledged graphics interface. The menu choices are suf cient for most levels of usage. Options available are logging, meter, snapshot, programmable logging, timing and oscilloscope. On top of this there are buttons to allow access to stored data, a cable link to a computer and an apps section containing the WiFi app that allows the unit to act as a WiFi transmitter.

Choosing the ‘Easylog’ option leads to a plug and play logger which auto scales as it logs. This for basic logging is  ne. If more detailed logging is required then the Graph option allows a number of parameters to be specified; including the total time and the time between samples as well as a triggering level. Once data has been acquired then there is no need for attaching to a computer. All the data analysis functions are available on the logger itself. 

The range of analysis tools is very impressive and allows the logger to be self-contained; no need to have a computer nearby to continue the experiment. Constructing a simple distance time graph using a distance sensor allowed the gradients to be calculated and velocity and acceleration graphs to be constructed. Other calculations are simple to perform; logging voltage and current for a cell allowed a graph of power versus load resistance to be calculated with ease. The scaling functions made displaying the data very easy. Using the logger as a timer with light gates was equally as easy. The timing function allows light gates to be used in dynamics experiments such as force and acceleration at different loads. Saving the data is straight forward, as is taking screen grabs. What is really surprising is how much can be done on the logger itself including saving and recovering data using a GUI interface.

Once connected via a cable to a computer, tethered logging is enabled, although I found very few advantages of having a tethered connection. The computer software (Windows) allows a similar range of analysis to that found on the logger. The layout was similar and had the same menu structure; this is a great advantage in that one menu system has to be learned. The review model is WiFi enabled and so is able to be tethered via a WiFi link; this is enabled via an ‘app’. Using the iPad software is not as intuitive as either the PC or logger software. The layout is different and the range of what can be done seemed limited, although I am assured that the software is to be updated in the very near future. 

However this does allow tethered logging to take place and for the data to be analysed and sent to other applications. I was disappointed to find that an X-Y graph was beyond my ability to achieve if time was not on the X axis and that a CSV export, failed on two occasions sending zero data to ‘notes’, ‘numbers’ and Google Drive. 

The iPad software should not be something that puts any potential purchaser off buying this logger. The software (version 1.07) can be updated, it is the logger itself, which is the key; it is very easy to use and at £299 for the basic logger or £349 for the Wi-Fi enabled unit, is very cost effective. The learning curve is very shallow; without the use of a manual I was able to log, manipulate and analyse data in less than 30min, even the most complex tasks are easy to carry out. A typical school student should be able to pick this up very quickly. The similarity of the PC and screen software makes this a joy to use. There is a wide range of sensors (see link below), which cover almost all the scenarios that I could imagine wishing to log. The sensors are easy to use and are recognised by the logger immediately. The logger can accept up to four sensors or two timing gates.

The logger has a variety of outputs; two USB connectors, Wi-Fi and a video out to connect to a monitor. Free software is available for PC/OSX and iPad. Alongside the logger, once paired with the Dynamics system (see separate review), you have a very powerful system for teaching a wide range of Physics. Data Harvest have now provided an Android version of this software, which was not available at the time of the review. If, as hoped, that it and the accompanying iPad software are of a similar quality to the software available on the logger itself, then they will have a formidable piece of classroom equipment.

John Kinchin IOP

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Product Link: http://www.data-harvest.co.uk/catalogue/science/secondary/data-loggers/secondary-science-data-logging/2021
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