LogIT Explorer

DCP Microdevelopments of Norfolk

Reviewed by Charlie Plumb

This small portable hand-held unit provides easy access to the world of data logging.
LogIT explorer is a lightweight hand-held portable data logger. It provides three internal sensors: light, sound and temperature. These three physical parameters are measured and are available, in SI units on the built-in display, within 3 seconds of turning the unit on. This easy-to-use approach taken by the manufacturers ensures that children using the unit will not get 'bogged down’ with the information technology aspects of the device but instead be able to get on with science, environmental geography or mathematics.

What is it?
LogIT Explorer is supplied in a small ABS plastic carrying case along with software that enhances the unit's built-in capabilities. Connection to the host computer is made via a USB cable, allowing for rapid 'trouble-free' communication. Conveniently the USB port also supplies the power for LogIT whilst connected, which enables the unit to log data over a period of days or even weeks (if you don't mind leaving your computer on that long!) The software supplied is comprehensive, and on the whole, self-explanatory in use. On start-up the LogIT program checks for external LogIT Explorer modules and offers a choice of facilities and tools dependent upon what it finds.

The manufacturers have achieved a certain amount of 'future-proofing' by the inclusion of upgradable firmware. A connection to their Internet site will allow anyone to download the latest firmware revision. In addition, the site provides information on data logging, teachers’ resources and product support as well as links to third party software vendors and LogIT distributors.

The unit is intuitive in operation. Children are familiar with the green 'go' and red 'stop' symbols displayed on the front panel. These also carry the legends of a 'tick' and 'cross' respectively used to reinforce the button's operation. The only other control on the front of the unit is the menu button, shown in blue with a question mark. This allows the pupil/teacher to select various logging operations available.
This unit could be used in a variety of different ways, for example to record 'instantaneous' data for use within a lesson, or to record remote data for analysis later.
This makes LogIT a very versatile unit.

Connecting to the outside world
External sensors are available for the LogIT Explorer. These are hermetically sealed extensions to the basic unit. In the review box was a temperature probe, rated -10 to +110 degrees Centigrade and a piece of fibre optic cable to extend the light sensor.
There are three ports on top of the unit for connection of external probes; these ports will connect to any approved sensor. The Explorer's software has been cleverly written such that the operator just connects the external sensor and the LogIT Explorer identifies it correctly.

The Manual
The supplied manual is both comprehensive and informative, containing not only information about the unit's operation and maintenance but also the outline of investigations that may be carried out. This provides starting points from which teachers, or indeed pupils, may develop more in-depth explorations of the physical properties of temperature, sound and light. The manual is careful to point out any areas of health risk, for example from scalding or from exposing the eye to direct sunlight. The emphasis of the teaching material contained in Part 2 'Investigations with LogIT Explorer' is rightly focused on environmental science and not the technology used to explore it. The investigations are well laid out and contain extension activity ideas for teachers and pupils alike.

The current price for a LogIT Explorer is £169 excluding V.A.T. The manufacturers of LogIT claim that they have designed the Explorer from an educational standpoint, and after using the unit for an afternoon I have to agree that this unit has been designed with the child user in mind. It is refreshingly simple to use, is foolproof in operation and offers a well-rounded collection of logging and data analysis features.
Educational supplements are available from the LogIT Internet site along with upgrades and product support.

For further information see http://www.dcpmicro.com


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