How do USB sensors work?
USB sensors are similar to any other datalogging sensors except that they produce a digital signal that is recognised directly by the computer. Standard sensors need to go through a datalogger to change the signal to digital (from analogue). Therefore, there is no need for any datalogger or interface, reducing costs and the need for yet another box!
Do the sensors need batteries?
No – USB sensors take their power from the computer – so no more batteries!
Do I need a datalogger?
No – this unique system does away with a datalogger because of the direct USB sensors. Dataloggers and interfaces are required to change the analogue sensor signal to digital, the digital USB sensors mean you no longer need a datalogger or interface for this
Are sensors automatically recognised?
Yes - simply, plug in the sensor and open the software or open the software and plug in a sensor – it makes no difference
Can I plug more than one sensor into the computer?
Yes…and No! Windows 7 & 8 will allow multi sensors in the same computer but be aware that in earlier version of Windows e.g. XP & 2000 you may need to use a 4 port USB hub allowing up to 4 sensors to be used simultaneously. Win7 & 8 will only be restricted by the number of USB ports free – therefore a hub may be required on occasions.
What is a USB hub?
This is a 2, 3 or 4 port device that you plug into the computer. It then allows more devices, in this case, sensor to be plugged in. These are standard devices used for printers, cameras etc but the xllogger hub is designed specifically for sensors
Will the sensors work on any computer?
Yes provided it is a Windows computer with Excel* installed. We hope to develop Linux and Mac based systems in the future
Can I log data remotely?
Using a laptop or mini notebook computer you can log data as you can if you were in the lab’ or classroom.
Do I need Excel* on my computer?
Yes, the sensors feed data into Excel* for graphing & analysis
Does it work with any Excel* program?
All Excel* program from Office 2000 onwards
Do I need to do anything to Excel* to make it work with the sensors?
No - provided you have installed xllogger software (see next) – this makes your version of Excel* read the sensors and offers a range of options for graphing & analysis
What is xllogger software?
xllogger software is a specially designed Add-In to Excel* that recognises the sensors you have plugged in, understands the data being transmitted and allows you to manage the data entering the computer. Once it has been captured the data is ‘standard’ Excel* data and can be analysed as required
Can I use Excel* as I do normally?
Yes, all that xllogger does is to capture the data and offer options for graphing & analysis. If you are an Excel* user you can carry on as normal
Can I share data easily?
Yes, simply save the data as a standard Excel* file (file extension .xls) and copy to a memory stick, network space or email or wifi it to colleagues. If you want to use an online spreadsheet system e.g. Editgrid, Zoho then you may need to save as a csv file and then upload to the web.
Can anyone one use the program in school?
Yes, provided you have bought a school site licence.
Can anyone one use the program at home?
Yes, provided you have bought a school site licence and the user is either a pupil or a member of staff at the school
For schools networks and ICT coordinators there is a .msi file for silent installation
Which computer? ...and which software?
xllogger works with any Windows based computer using Windows and Excel* from version 2000 onwards. xllogger is an application described in MS jargon as an Add-In which means it ‘sits inside’ Excel* and works in a fully compatible way with the normal software. Therefore any computer running Windows with Excel* 2000 onwards functions fully with the sensors once xllogger is loaded.
It is also fully functional on school networks running the correct software as described above. Your ICT coordinator will of course have to load it onto the network but it is simple task for anyone to load it onto a non-network computer of any type.
Remember that when you order if you are using a pre-Win 7 system you will need to tell us so that we can send you the correct version.
What may be more important to the user is the type of computer available to you or which computer you wish to use.
Desktops & Tower systems: this may well be available to you as a teacher in your classroom or laboratory. xllogger will function here in a demonstration situation or as a teacher led activity linked to a PC projector or Interactive Whiteboard.
If it is the only computer available in the lab’ you may wish to demo’ data capture using xllogger to students whilst they do the same experiment traditionally. This may lead to questions about experimental and data errors highlighted between the electronic and manual data. You may discuss the accuracy of electronic data and it’s stability or consistency. Consider sample time, length of recording and the automatic function of computer generated data.
Laptops/Netbooks/Notebooks: these offer flexibility of use in laboratories and classrooms and are ideal as class sets for student use. Equally you may be constrained by your own teacher Laptops/Netbooks/Notebooks for class use, in which case you may have to revert to the ideas above.
However with a class set of Laptops/Netbooks/Notebooks and pupils working in small groups there is a real opportunity for shared work and data sets using xllogger data easily transferred between students and teacher either via the school network, memory sticks or Bluetooth options.
With some quality netbooks at less than £250 (which may well be less than the cost of a standard datalogger) xllogger is ideal, simply plug in a sensor and open Excel*..!
Some netbooks now offer 7 and 9 hour battery life enabling longer term remote logging in the field. More robust and rugged versions for field work are also available. For field work we would recommend a netbook which, with data saved as an Excel* file, can be shared quickly and simply with students via the network once back in school or field centre.
Tablets and mobile computing: xllogger will soon be functioning on the new range of Android and similar operating systems…so watch this space!
As with your computer type you are not constrained by the type of board. Open Excel* and xllogger as normal and use with the board. Use to display xllogger data as real time logging, show the class the uses of Excel* data analysis with xllogger menus or the full functionality of Excel*. Share experimental data sets by importing into one large class spreadsheet or encourage students to add manual data to electronic data sets for comparison.
Students and Open Source software:
The new netbooks were designed for use with free or Open Source software. Open Source software is free software which is increasingly available and as robust as other systems. So instead of Microsoft as your operating system then you might choose a free download e.g. Linux. Rather than Microsoft Office you can freely download Open Office and find a complete suite of programs almost identical to MS Office and with inter-compatibility between the two e.g. an Excel* file can be opened in Open Office Calc (equivalent spreadsheet) and vice versa.
Although at the moment you can only log data in Excel* it is possible for students to manipulate data in equivalent Open Office systems.
We hope in the future to provide the opportunity to log data in Open Source systems as well as Microsoft operating systems.