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.