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LabJack and educational programs

LabJack recently donated a few U3s to Stern MASS High School in LA, California, and their setup is a good example of how data acquisition hardware can be used in the classroom. Professor Peter Halverson organized a wonderful electronics lab for his STEM students, which they use to learn about programming, hard-core electrical engineering, and realistic scientific experimentation.

16 experimentation setups, so students form pairs of 2 for the projects.

New Java LJUD Wrapper and Examples for the Windows UD Library

Now available for download is the new Java LJUD wrapper and examples for the Windows UD library (LabJack U3, U6 and UE9 driver). Using JNA it provides 32 and 64-bit Java support. This replaces the old Java LJUD wrapper which used a JNI dll and only supported 32-bit Java. For full details refer to the Java LJUD download's README.txt file.

Here is a simple code demonstration to read the voltage from AIN1 on the U6 ...

Beta T7 µSD Card File Downloader

Here is a beta file downloader (v1.21)* that some customers using the T7s µSD card might find useful.  The main intent of the program is to flush out quirks with the T7 µSD file IO interface, but we decided that some T7 users might also like to give it a try.  It works best with firmware v1.0150 or greater, but some older firmware might also work.  Windows only [1].

When you select a device with a working SD card, it will show the files on the µSD card in the file selection area.  Click on a file to get a preview (puts file contents into program memory), and then click download to copy the file over to your computer's hard drive (brings up file browsing interface). If you select multiple files, it will download all the files at once.  Starting with v1.18*, the program can enter/exit folders, and long file names are supported.  At the time of this post, Lua scripts can only create files in the root directory.

Improvements to Digit Firmware and Software

We released new firmware and software for the Digit-TL/H series data loggers which has some nice improvements.

  1. New zoom tools. Starting in Otero version 1.53, there is a tool which enables zoom selection, zoom in on point, zoom extent, and a few other options to help users view their data.
  2. Starting in firmware version 1.21, the Digit-TL/H recovers from replacing the battery, without having to re-connect it to the computer to begin a new logging session.  When the new battery is inserted, firmware will remember where it left off, and continue logging data.  The downloaded data will contain a flag indicating when the power failure occurred. You can see this feature in action if you set the log interval to 10s, let it log a few data points, then un-plug the battery for a minute or two, and plug the battery back in, and then download the data.
  3. Non-critical settings are auto-saved. That is, it's not necessary to begin a new logging session when only settings such as the Device Name are changed.

Key Advantages of T7 Lua Scripting

While running a Lua script, the T7 and T7-Pro can operate without computer involvement.  Basically, user-specified operations (feedback loops, logging, PID loops) can be conducted via on-board script, which was not possible in previous generations of LabJack hardware. Below is a screenshot of the Lua Scripting section in our free cross-platform program called Kipling.

Autonomous scripting operation is common for embedded devices like Arduino, but there are some key advantages of the T7 compared to other embedded solutions:

  • Full access to all T7 features within script: (24-bit ADC, 14 analog channels, 23 digital I/O, 10 counters, I2C, PWM, etc.)
  • If you require more I/O capability, we have a host of accessories that can be added without extra code or wiring.
  • No code is compiled on the host PC, so there is no need to setup some kind of compiler/interpreter on your system.  Simply send the Lua scripts to the T7 as a basic text file using Kipling (free, cross-platform), and the T7 returns all feedback, including print statements, compiler errors, and all other debugging information.  This debugging information is shown in Kipling in the console, all you do is click the Run button.
  • You get to write code in Lua, which can be easier to learn than C or C++.
  • The T7 can be running a script, and also responding to external requests at the same time. (multitasking)
  • There are dozens of simple examples built into Kipling, so you don't have to dig around to find example code. 

Kipling 3 Enters Public Beta

Kipling received a version number increment to put it inline with our latest (windows only) version of Kipling that is released in our main installer and is considered to be in a public beta phase. This version of Kipling may have a few bugs, however it is a big improvement to the currently distributed version of Kipling and is recommended to almost all customers using a T7/T7-Pro.

More information about Kipling and how to get the latest version can be found on the Kipling Support page.

Device Selection

Kipling features a simple device selection process that makes it easy to see a device's connectivity options and provides users immediate information about each found device. The information provided is particularly useful for users trying to connect to devices using a local area network.

Program Usability

Multifunction DAQ devices, especially the T7 and T7-Pro have a lot of built-in features. Kipling combats this by being fast and organized. Kipling keeps a tabbed based interface but formats all information so that it is both easy to understand and easy to find.

Analog Input Functionality

The T7 and T7-Pro are highly capable devices with a multitude of different analog based features. Kipling makes them easy to learn about, configure, and use. Explore the device's extended features through a GUI interface before trying to program them with only command line based tools and a datasheet for debugging.

Device Scripting

Explore the T7/T7-Pro's most unique feature, Lua Scripting. Write, run, and debug Lua scripts that get executed locally on the device to explore the device's capabilities and allow the T7 to function independently from a computer. Lua script examples are built into the program!

Device Updating

The employees at LabJack are dedicated to making the T7 a quality data acquisition and control device that fits many people's needs. In order to do this we release device updates with new features, bug fixes, and more. Kipling makes this easy by automatically downloading and installing firmware files that used to be only available on the firmware page.

Affordable temperature probes designed for LabJack devices

Brew Data has developed a full line of high quality, industrial grade, solid state temperature probes that are designed to work well with LabJack's DAQ hardware. These probes are accurate, easy to wire and install, and can be used in a wide variety of applications. They are available in a variety of styles and lengths.

All probes use solid state temperature sensors, which gives them an advantage in accuracy and ease of use compared to other sensor types such as RTDs or thermocouples. Solid state sensors have their signal conditioning electronics built along side the actual sensor, so they can directly drive an analog to digital converter without any extra signal conditioning. Also, because of how solid state sensors are measured, these probes don't have any special wiring requirements, and can be connected to cables using simple wire nuts.

All probes are made from 316 stainless steel and are designed to be used in industrial environments. This makes them ideal for use in breweries, food and beverage production, or any other application with sanitary or watertight requirements.

Every one of Brew Data's probes are designed to be compatible with LabJack's equipment. No extra circuitry, or signal conditioning is needed. Brew Data even uses the UE9 for probe quality assurance and development and U3 devices in control systems.

See the full selection of temperature probes on Brew Data's website.

Developments in LabJack software

We are continually making improvements to our software and libraries - here are some highlights from the last few months:

LJM Library

  • Added constants look-up functions LJM_LookupConstantValue and LJM_LookupConstantName. These functions allow users to quickly and programmatically identify the meaning of status codes and other device-specific information, without consulting the device datasheet.
  • Added support for output streaming. This functionality increases the maximum speed of analog waveform outputs on DAC lines, and also provides flexibility for the shape of digital waveform outputs. Currently only useful to the T7 device.
  • Improved speed of searching for LabJack hardware using the ListAll function.
  • Added handle auto-healing, which improves reliability and robustness. Basically retries communication for spurious corrupt packets.
Example Code
  • Added LJM examples for VisualBasic .NET, which can be found on the .NET examples page.
  • Registers tagged with SPI, I2C, SBUS, EXFLASH, TDAC, LUA, and STREAM are now visible on the Misc. tab when added manually.
  • Now updates the session data when the user presses the "Refresh Device List" button.
  • A lightweight, demonstration app that uses Java and the jamod library to interface with TCP Modbus devices such as the T7. It's designed for simple R/W access to Modbus registers over Ethernet/WiFi on your Android platform. 


Digit with replaceable CR1632 battery!

The popular Digit-(TL/THL) series loggers now has a replaceable CR1632 battery! Another key improvement is the addition of a clear plastic enclosure so that light readings can operate while inside. If customers prefer the rugged aluminum enclosure, it can be purchased as an add-on item. See the Digit-TL/TLH product page for more information.

Read about the differences between hardware versions in Appendix A of the datasheet. Or look at the product brief below.

Digit-TLH Product Brief

1 Year in the pond - Digit-TL reliability test

When we first started selling Digit-TL devices, we decided to stow one outside under a rock, and another in the pond to see how they'd hold up. After 6 months we downloaded the results to verify operation, and everything looked good, so we threw them back out. Now, after a full year, they're still going strong. See the data and photos below.

Each day is a small spike, and the yearly trend is shown by the overall shape of the graph. The two curves on the graph demonstrate how the water acts as a thermal buffer by regulating fluctuations in daily temperature.  If you look carefully, you can tell when there is snow covering the Digit-TL on land, because the temperature fluctuation is minimal (like the Digit-TL in the water).