Thursday, May 11, 2017

--- Computer equipment ---


I'm a packrat when it comes to collecting equipment for my lab. I look for inexpensive but reliable sources, both online and in my  neighborhood and travels. For instance, I can easily walk to several local WalMarts, a Home Depot, or The Science Company.

I've acquired a nice array of small accessories for both my computer and my smartphone. Here are a few items.

My computer equipment is kept in two computer bags.

My Dell N5040 laptop. I've had it for years and have no desire to replace it.

A couple of gigabyte flash drives is necessary because I'm always passing files to people when I carry my laptop out.

A few extra recordable CD's for the same reason.

A USB hub. That gives me four USB ports off one of the two on my laptop.

A dust brush to clean off the display.

A CD drive cleaner, because it tends to need it at the most inopportune times.

And, of course, all those cables, half of which I have no idea why they're still there.

The other computer case has the interesting stuff in it.

Trackball. I'm used to a mouse and would probably never switch to a trackball, but it comes in handy when you're doing psychological experiments dealing with coordination and such.

2 extra webcams. There's one built into the laptop, but it's nice to be able to switch between viewpoints and these tiny webcams are much easier to point at things.

A USB thermometer sensor.

A lamp that can be plugged into the computer's USB port. Those things are amazingly useful to be so simple.

My sensor hub is a Sinometer VA18B multimeter. It has all the cables including a USB link that will connect to my laptop. I can measure just about anything that I might want to measure with that, and the software allows me to either display a instantaneous value or track measurements over time as a graph or table of values.

(Note: Over time, the multimeter has stopped working with my computer and I have switched to a Dataq DI-145 data logger. For the price - much less than $100 - it does a great job.)

If I want to keep track of faster changing quantities, I have a Sainsmart computer oscilloscope in my bag.

A portable Adesso EZScan 2000 document scanner. Once I got used to feeding pages into it, operation has been pretty much flawless.

Intuos drawing tablet with the pen. It works very nicely as a computer blackboard.

The smartphone equipment is kept in a waist pack.

Very good smartphone cases are very inexpensive. Mine is a three piece LK case that has a silicon shock absorbing inner shell (which is important since I drop my phone from heights as parts of physics demonstrations), a hard outer case, and a cover that all that slides into. The cover and hard case has easel stands that slide out and the cover has a belt clip.

I also have an armband mount that keeps the phone where I can get to it - on my arm. Since I use it as a field instrument, that is one of the best purchases I've made for my phone.

The waist pack carries a couple of flashlights (one red, for night vision).

A clip on microscope lens with LED light. I got it from American Science and Surplus and they're right - it has no business working as well as it does. It gives me up to 30X, and that's about perfect for most field work.

A Carson 6X telephoto lens that has a clip on phone mount. I find smartphone telephoto lenses hard to aim, but once you have the target in sight, they're fantastic. One thing is certain - a tripod is necessary. I have a table tripod in the pack. If I need a full size camera tripod, I have a Bower professional rig I can sling over my shoulder (the carrying bag has a shoulder strap). It's not heavy but tends to swing in all the wrong directions.

I also keep a lens cloth in the pack.

A Edmund Scientific pen microscope/telescope (remember those? Mine still works fine and they still sell them).

A laser pointer.

A tape measure/minidriver tool set I picked up at a conference somewhere.

A tripod clamp mount that allows me to clamp a variety of things to my tripods.

And I have an iStabilizer smartphone tripod mount that has standard size tripod sockets on two sides. With the 1/4" x 20 threads per inch hardware I keep with me, I can mount my smartphone to just about anything. The mount will even clamp onto my Arduino microcomputer.

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