Update your ageing electronics with this kit!
Old test equipment... if your anything like my friend Ed, you have tons of it which has accumulated over the years.
But why should you have to throw it away just because it doesn’t have all of the newest technology?
After all, it still works great and, often times, is even better than buying brand new equipment.
They just don't make things like they used to.
But what if we could breathe new life into it with some Arduino magic instead of just tossing it into the trash bin?
Well, that's exactly what Ed and I started discussing several months back.
Ed is a soon to be retired medical physicist who relies on several pieces of Xray test equipment to perform his daily duties.
This piece of test equipment you see here is used to calibrate the various Xray machines, including CAT scanners, mammography and even dental machines you find at your dentist’s office.
When Xrays strike the sensor area (1 above), it translates it into an analog voltage which it then spits out onto the BNC connector you see on the right (2 above).
Now here is the issue. Part of the calibration procedure requires Ed to write down the analog voltage which this unit spits out.
However, in order to do so, he needs to connect the device above to yet another piece of equipment via a very long wire which reads the voltage and displays it digitally.
That part isn't so bad except that some X-ray machines (CAT scan units) actually rotate as they emit X-rays.
Since this test equipment needed to be inside the rotating CT unit, that would make an awful mess of the wires.
In order to still perform the calibration, he is forced to use a much more expensive piece of equipment which has a digital read out to do the same thing.
How much more you ask? A Whopping $25K more!!!
That’s when Ed approached me and asked if there was a way to upgrade his old piece of equipment using an Arduino-type board to do what the $25K piece of equipment would do for a fraction of the price.
The idea would be to read the analog voltage from the BNC and display it right on the box itself without having to use a long wire to another piece of equipment or the massive price tag for new gear.
Breathe New Life Into Aging Equipment
My brain immediately began to light up with excitement as the thought of breathing new life into an old piece of equipment was very exciting to me!
I knew a standard Arduino Nano clone would do the trick, but I wasn’t quite sure how to take in the data, translate it to a useable value and then display it on a tiny display.
That’s when I bumped into an article from Nuts & Volts which talks about a new Arduino-based kit from the folks over at Dr.Duino called the Dr.Duino Explorer Diagnostic Equipment Edition.
It teaches you how to build your own Digital Multimeter (DMM) and basic Oscilloscope using an Arduino Nano clone and a very cool Arduino Uno/Nano compatible shield called the Dr.Duino Explorer (photo below).
Photo Credit Dr.Duino| Dr.Duino Explorer Diagnostic Equipment Edition
The kit itself is made up of two separate parts, the Dr.Druino Explorer Kit and an online course called the Diagnostic Equipment Course (DEC).
The DEC is what transforms the Dr.Duino Explorer into an absolute beast of an Arduino shield.
The course has you perform several experiments which teaches you how a Voltmeter, Ammeter, Ohmmeter, Continuity tester and basic scope works.
This was exactly what I was looking for and would help me upgrade Ed's old equipment for much less than $25K.
Normally, Arduino-based kits will just provide you with a bunch of code and some schematics, but that's where this kit is just warming up.
It starts off with a neat concept which the folks over at Dr.Duino call "Layered Learning", which is what they use to teach you the concepts of how Analog to Digital (A/D) converters work.
This layered learning approach really helped me understand what the microcontroller inside the Arduino Nano is actually doing to perform its A/D magic.
They provide an excellent video tutorial of how SAR type A/Ds work. (SAR is short for Successive Approximation Register.)
From there, they layer on more and more complex topics slowly.
Each topic builds upon the previous lesson, which really helped me understand how DMM's and scopes work.
Once you understand how the hardware works, it makes creating any project which requires A/D conversions (like Ed's project) a breeze.
It takes someone who may or may not have any experience in coding and/or electronics and transforms them into a master at translating Analog voltages into digital ones.
What's in the Online Diagnostic Equipment Course?
What Comes With The Dr.Duino Explorer Kit?
Photo Credit Dr.Duino | Shown here fully assembled and with optional temperature sensor (purple board not included)
The Dr.Duino Explorer comes as a kit which you build using Dr.Duino's online assembly wizard. It's part educational, part manual, part troubleshooting guide. It's a really unique way to show someone how to build a kit.
Out of all of the kits that I've built over the years, and I've built quite a few, Dr.Duino's assembly manual is hands down the best I've ever seen.
The kit is perfect for beginners through advanced users and is Arduino Uno & Nano Compatible.
Here is what's included in the kit.
Once you finish building the Explorer and complete the DEC, I can promise you that this Arduino-compatible kit will be your go-to shield.
It's just so incredibly convenient to quickly prototype concepts or if you're just getting started and don't feel like dealing with a breadboard-based kit that has miles of loose wires and pounds of cheap components.
You can tell that Dr.Duino went to extreme lengths to create a high-quality kit.
The PCB alone is a work of art and incredibly robust.
What else Do I Need?
Aside from your Dr.Duino Explorer and the DEC the only other things you'll need are some assorted 3-Watt resistors and dupont wires used to wire up some test circuits.
These are not included as part of the kit but chances are, you probably have them on hand anyway.
You might be wondering why 3-Watt resistors are required.
Well, that's because part of the DEC has you build a very impressive Ammeter which is capable of measuring up to a maximum of 106 mA.
If you were to drive that much current through a typical 1/4 watt resistor, well... let's just say that you'd be able to cook an egg with it.
In the course, they do provide links so that you can pick them up.
Ready to Build Your Own DMM & Oscilloscope with Dr.Duino?
To check the pricing and more importantly, the availability of this new edition, please enter your name and email below.
Now, you might be wondering why you are being asking for your email?
You may not be aware of this, but there is currently a global chip shortage which is affecting supply chains from cars to paper towels, and yes, even the Dr.Duino Explorer.
With that said, inventory of the Dr.Duino Explorer is extremely limited, so we ask that you enter your name and email to check availability as we need to reserve inventory for serious inquires only.
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