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Monday, April 2, 2012

Star Trek Tricorders - Dr. Peter Jansen, has been working on making Tricorders.

About the Tricorder Project

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Science Tricorder Mark 2

The Science Tricorder Mark 2 was a wonderful adventure of discovery to develop. It's my pleasure to be able to share it with you.

To introduce you to the Tricorder project, I'd like to begin with a story from the development of the very first Tricorder that I built. The first educational discoveries with the Tricorder came only moments after completing it, and walking about the workshop to "see what can't be seen". Upon holding the Tricorder near a power adapter plugged into the wall, you could see the oscillating magnetic fields on the magnetometer visualization. There they were, slowly bouncing back and forth, right in front of you. My father had taught me how transformers work from a young age — two coils are wound together, each having a different number of windings, where an oscillating magnetic field from one coil would induce a voltage in the other coil proportional to the ratio of their number of windings. I know how transformers work — I have known since he explained it to me, I know the equation that determines the output given the input and a certain number of windings — but I had never seen it work until then, until I had this Tricorder in my hands. It grounded my knowledge of the electromagnetic phenomena at work in transformers with something that I could easily watch and see, and use to see inside /any/ transformer, right in front of me. And from that moment on, it seemed like much of the mystery of how they worked I now understood — I could think about what was going on inside them easier and more naturally, now that I had visually grounded the science going on inside. This is why I built the Tricorder.

More educational discoveries came quickly — from finding all the heat leaks from different building materials in my graduate student apartment in a century home, to how much humidity is exhaled in a breath. The people I gave it to play with loved it too — I fondly remember characterizing the fields emitted by enormous nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers with researchers in chemistry and physics at McMaster University.

Again, it is my pleasure to be able to share this with you. I'm excited for all the discoveries you can make about the world around you.


The Science Tricorder Mark 2 prototype sensor board contains ten different sensing modalities, organized into three main categories: atmospheric sensors, electromagnetic sensors, and spatial sensors. Many of the sensors are similar to those used in the Science Tricorder Mark 1, where the differences are centrally in upgrading sensors to higher-resolution versions where possible. The prototype sensor board also includes an imaging sensor, in the form of a cell phone camera, that is untested. Sensor boards for the Mark 2 are designed to be self-contained, include separate microcontrollers for low-level sensor communication, and as such are more easily upgraded.

The sensing modalities and specific sensors used on this device, as well as some approximate summary specifications, are as follows:

Sensiron SHT11
Atmospheric Temperature and Humidity
-40°C to +120°C, ± 0.5°C accuracy
± 0.1°C repeatability
PNI Corp MicroMag3
3-axis Magnetic Field Sensor
±1100 µT range, 0.015µT resolution
up to 2000 samples/second
Sensiron SHT11
Atmospheric Temperature and Humidity
0 to 100% RH, ± 3% accuracy
± 0.1% repeatability
Avago ADJD-S311-CR999
Colour RGBC Sensor
10-bit resolution per channel
Absolute Pressure Sensor
30kPa to 120kPa, 1.5 Pa resolution
Melexis MLX90614
Non-contact IR Thermometer
-70°C to +380°C, 0.02°C resolution
± 0.5°C to ±4°C accuracy over range
Light-to-digital converter
300nm to 1000nm responsivity,
16-bit resolution
Lassen iQ
GPS Receiver
<5m (50%), <8m (90%) accuracy
1 Hz update
MaxBotix MaxSonar LV
Ultrasonic distance sensor
0-6m range (approx), 2.5cm resolution
Analog ADXL330 and Invensense IDG300
Sparkfun Inertial Measurement Unit breakout (5 degrees of freedom)
±500°/s Gyro
±3 g Acceleration


      2.1 Design Philosophy


Finally! What took you so long!;) Yep, I sure would love to have one of my own too!:)


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the Tricorder project - Science Tricorder Mark 2

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