Here I have brought together my favourite examples of what I believe to be really 'smart' equipment and kit.
I love data loggers; they allow data from experiments to be measured on-location and I like the fact that its just up to your imagination and skill what you do with them and in the process what you will discover. Here are two data loggers that I regularly use. The smaller pen-like device is by Lascar Electronics. Its a very reasonably priced logger that can be set-up using the usb into a computer and then it can be used as a stand-alone device. You download the data by plugging it in again to the usb port of the computer. I use this extensively in the longboard speedometer projects. The larger device is a 175-S2 logger from Testo Ltd, it is also a stand-alone logger but uses IR communications to the computer. It has a 'Go' button so you can start the logger when you are ready and it also has an LCD screen to show you the latest data values etc. I brought the Testo loggers for atmospheric electricity measurements but actually use them for all sorts of measurements and experiments. Each can be set up for a maximum 1 log / sec or for much longer duration between measurements.
Solar tent (Terra Nova)
I enjoy going to the mountains. It's great to go with a group but you get a deeper experience going on your own. Solo mountain treking requires you to take everything (food, water, tent, sleeping bag etc) on your back so lightweight and trustworthy gear is essential. The Terra Nova Solar tent is a fantastic lightweight single person tent. It's perfectly made for one person, and once the porch has been pulled down their is also extra weather protected space for your gear.
Homage to polyurethane! Without the development of this fantastic plastic modern day skateboarding and longboarding would not be possible. If you could wave a magic wand it would be hard to better the properties of polyurethane (of course its not magic its chemistry).
Swiss Army Knife
This particular version of the well known Swiss army knife is particularly good. It has a good sized knife, scissors and extras such as tweezers etc. The main knife locks which is a useful safety feature.
LMC6041 fA input-offset op-amp
The LMC6041 op-amp chip is a modern state-of-the-art technological wonder. It has an input resistance of about 1014 ohm, will operate with input currents of just a few fA (yes 10-14A) and has a power supply current consumption of about 100uA ... and its only a few quid to buy.
Rare earth (neo) magnets
The last ten years has seen the widespread use of rare earth magnets in all sorts of applications including: electrical generators, computer hard drives, magic tricks, toys and even cupboard fasteners. They are a little more expensive than ferro magnets but roughly ten times the strength.
GPO and Fluke multimeters
There is still a place for the old fashioned analogue meter and I still make use of my old GPO meter (above) all the time. A meter is often better at dealing with varying dc voltages and although the lower resistance has to be taken into consideration (20,000 ohms / volt) it means that spurious induced readings are less likely. For crucial offset measurements and general electronics I also use an excellent Fluke 23 digital multimeter.
Matheuns Monographs in Physical Sciences
This series of little books (ca. 10 x 8cm hardback) started in the 1930's. Each volume tried to encompass a whole area or topic of science. They are exceptional in the quality of writing and the depth and clarity of the science. They just don't write small technical books like this anymore ... much to society's loss.
Oxford Very short introductions
These are excellent accounts of a topic, they don't have the mathematical depth of the Metheuns but their topic range and style of presentation are excellent.
I love my psion 5mx. It is cleverly designed, simple to use and very effective. It's rather old now (ca. 2000) .... but I still use it everyday. It think it is a design classic because its: * beautifully designed * light weight * excellent simple and effective operating system * boots-up is less than 1 second (no waiting) * runs on two AA battery's (available everywhere) * batteries last me about 1 month (ca. 2 hours a day) * touch screen makes it very 'intuitive' to use * its been with me all over the world * have written 100's of articles on it * CF card allows me to load articles to PC * CF back-up * excellent world clock and alarm * great programmable data base system * programmable in OPL * can get parts on e-bay and repairs possible * love the simplicity, robustness and ease of use * I trust the technology.
THE CREATIVE SCIENCE CENTRE
Dr Jonathan Hare, The University of Sussex
Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 9QJ
home | diary | whats on | CSC summary | latest news