Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Go Direct® Energy Sensor User Manual

Go Direct® Energy Sensor

Go Direct Energy measures the voltage and current of a renewable energy source. Connect a source, such as a small wind turbine or solar panel, and Graphical Analysis 4 calculates the power, resistance, and energy output.

Go Direct Energy is ideal for a wide variety of renewable energy experiments:

  • Investigate the electrical energy generated by a wind turbine or solar panel.
  • Explore the effect of load on wind turbine or solar panel output.
  • Test blade design variables and evaluate data to determine optimal blade design.

Note: Vernier products are designed for educational use. Our products are not designed nor are they recommended for any industrial, medical, or commercial process such as life support, patient diagnosis, control of a manufacturing process, or industrial testing of any kind.

What's Included

  • Go Direct Energy
  • Micro USB Cable

Compatible Software

The Go Direct® Energy Sensor may require a compatible interface and software. Choose a platform below to see compatible interface and software options.

Getting Started

  1. Connect the Go Direct Energy red lead to the red wire of your energy source (generator, solar panel, etc.).
  2. Connect the Go Direct Energy black lead to the black wire of your source.
  3. Make sure the Load switch is set to 30 Ω Load.

Please see the following link for platform-specific connection information:

www.vernier.com/start/gdx-nrg

Bluetooth Connection

USB Connection

  1. Install Graphical Analysis 4 on your computer, Chromebook™, or mobile device. See www.vernier.com/ga4 for software availability.
  2. Charge your sensor for at least 2 hours before first use.
  3. Turn on your sensor by pressing the power button once. The Bluetooth® LED will blink red.
  4. Launch Graphical Analysis 4.
  5. Click or tap Sensor Data Collection.
  6. Click or tap your Go Direct sensor from the list of Discovered Wireless Devices. Your sensor's ID is located near the barcode on the sensor. The Bluetooth LED will blink green when it is successfully connected.
  7. This is a multi-channel sensor. The active channel is listed in the Connected Devices Sensor Channels list. To change channels, select the check box next to the Sensor Channel(s) you would like to activate.
  8. Click or tap Done to enter data‑collection mode.
  1. If using a computer or Chromebook, install Graphical Analysis 4. If using LabQuest 2, make sure LabQuest App is up to date. See www.vernier.com/ga4 for Graphical Analysis 4 availability or www.vernier.com/downloads to update LabQuest App.
  2. Connect the sensor to the USB port.
  3. Launch Graphical Analysis 4 or turn on LabQuest 2. You are now ready to collect data.
  4. This is a multi-channel sensor. To change the default channel selections, see www.vernier.com/start/gdx-nrg

WARNING: To avoid possible electric shock or personal injury, do not connect the red or black leads to household power. This product is designed to measure low-voltage sources such as classroom-scale wind turbines and small solar panels. It should never be connected to an electrical outlet.

Charging the Sensor

Connect Go Direct Energy to the included USB Charging Cable and any USB device for two hours.

You can also charge up to Go Direct Energy Sensors using our Go Direct Charge Station, sold separately (order code: GDX-CRG). An LED on each Go Direct Energy indicates charging status.

Charging

Orange LED next to the battery icon is solid while the sensor is charging.

Fully charged

Green LED next to the battery icon is solid when the sensor is fully charged.

Powering the Sensor

Turning on the sensor

Press the Power button once. Red LED indicator next to the Bluetooth icon flashes when the unit is on.

Putting the sensor in sleep mode

Press and hold the Power button for more than three seconds to put into sleep mode. Red LED indicator next to Bluetooth icon stops flashing when sleeping.

Connecting the Sensor

See the following link for up-to-date connection information:

www.vernier.com/start/gdx-nrg

Connecting via Bluetooth

Ready to connect Red LED next to the Bluetooth icon flashes when sensor is awake and ready to connect.
Connected Green LED next to the Bluetooth icon flashes when sensor is connected via Bluetooth.

Connecting via USB

Connected and charging Orange LED next to the battery icon is solid when the sensor is connected to Graphical Analysis via USB and the unit is charging. LED next to Bluetooth icon is off.
Connected, fully charged Green LED next to the battery icon is solid when the sensor is connected to Graphical Analysis via USB and fully charged. LED next to Bluetooth icon is off.
Charging via USB,
connected via Bluetooth
Orange LED next to the battery icon is solid when the sensor is charging. Green LED next to the Bluetooth icon flashes.

Using the Product

Connect the sensor following the steps in the Getting Started section of the user manual.

Connecting the Energy Sensor to an Energy Source

The Vernier Energy sensor is designed to measure the output of simple generators and solar panels, such as the KidWind renewable energy kits. Connect the red clip lead on the sensor to the positive (red) side of the energy source and the black clip lead to the negative (black) side of the energy source. In the most common configuration, the Load switch should be set to Internal 30 Ω Load.

To use an external load, such as a pump, lights, buzzers, etc., set the Load switch to External Load.

The Check Load LED, , will flash when Go Direct Energy detects that there is a potential between the red and black leads, but no load is connected. If you do not have an external load connected, make sure the Load switch is set to Internal 30 Ω Load. Using Go Direct Energy with this LED flashing will result in measurements of potential, but since no current flows, there will be no other quantities measured.

Channels

Go Direct Energy records data in five measurement channels:

  • Potential (V)
  • Current (mA)
  • Power (mW)
  • Resistance (Ω)
  • Energy (J)

Energy

If your goal is to simply compare the total amount of electrical energy produced in a given time, such as in the KidWind Challenge, the most common number to use is the final value of the Energy column. Energy is the measure of how much total power is generated or used over a period of time. This sensor uses units of joules, abbreviated J, to measure energy.

Current

Current is the measure of the flow of electrons through the wires. When the current is high, the electrons flow quickly through a circuit. When the current is low, the electrons flow more slowly. This sensor uses units of milliamperes, often called milliamps for short. The symbol used to represent milliamps is mA.

Potential

To make the electrons move through the wire, they need to be "pushed." The amount of push is called the potential difference. Potential difference is measured in units of volts. The letter V is used to represent a volt.

Power

Power is the measure of how quickly energy is generated or used. This sensor uses units of milliwatts, abbreviated mW, to measure power.

Resistance

Resistance is a measure of the amount of opposition to the passage of an electric current. The unit for resistance is ohm and is represented by the Greek letter capital omega, Ω.

Using the Load Switch

When the Load switch is set to Internal, the load is an internal 30 Ω resistor inside the Energy sensor. When the Load switch is set to External Load, you will need to connect an external load. For example, in several experiments students explore the effect of load on energy output.

Calibrating the Sensor

The sensor is factory calibrated. You should never have to perform a new calibration for Go Direct Energy.

Specifications

Source input potential range

±5 V (for internal load)

±30 V (for external load)

Source input current range

±0.18 A (for internal load)

±1 A (for external load)

Resolution

1 mV

40 µA

Input impedance

1 MΩ

Insertion resistance

1 Ω

Wireless specification

Bluetooth 4.2

Maximum wireless range

30 m

Battery

300 mA Li-Poly

Battery life (single full charge)

~24 hours

Battery life (long term)

~500 full charge cycles (several years depending on usage)

Care and Maintenance

Battery Information

Go Direct Energy contains a small lithium-ion battery. The system is designed to consume very little power and not put heavy demands on the battery. Although the battery is warranted for one year, the expected battery life should be several years. Replacement batteries are available from Vernier (order code: GDX-BAT-300).

Storage and Maintenance

To store Go Direct Energy for extended periods of time, put the device in sleep mode by holding the button down for at least three seconds. The red LED will stop flashing to show that the unit is in sleep mode. Over several months, the battery will discharge but will not be damaged. After such storage, charge the device for a few hours, and the unit will be ready to go.

Exposing the battery to temperatures over 35°C (95°F) will reduce its lifespan. If possible, store the device in an area that is not exposed to temperature extremes.

Water Resistance

Go Direct Energy is not water resistant and should never be immersed in water. If water gets into the device, immediately power the unit down (press and hold the power button for more than three seconds). Disconnect the sensor and charging cable, and remove the battery. Allow the device to dry thoroughly before attempting to use the device again. Do not attempt to dry using an external heat source.

How the Sensor Works

Go Direct Energy measures the potential across the load, as well as the current through the load. The power, energy, and resistance values are all calculated from the potential and current.

Does the sensor need to be grounded?

No, Go Direct Energy does not need to be grounded. However, be aware that the black lead is common to the USB ground, so if you are using Go Direct Energy connected to USB, the ground of your USB device is the same as the circuit ground.

Connecting an External Load to the Energy Sensor

You can connect an external load such as any electrical device that is meant to run on DC electricity at a voltage that matches the power source. Examples include the Vernier Variable Load (order code VES-VL), the Vernier Resistor Board (order code VES-RB), single component resistors, motors, pumps, or LEDs. The metal-coated holes are designed to accommodate alligator clip connectors.

Self-resetting Fuse

The circuit in Go Direct Energy includes a self-resetting fuse to protect the components from accidental overloading. Currents over 1 A (external load) or 0.18 A (internal load) may cause the fuse to open the circuit. In this case, you will have to wait a few minutes for the fuse to reset itself before using Go Direct Energy again.

Can I use this as a Current Sensor or a Voltage Sensor?

Although Go Direct Energy can be used to measure simple circuits in a physics classroom, it is designed primarily for use with simple motors and solar panels. We recommend the Go Direct Voltage and Go Direct Current sensors for doing battery-and-bulb type experiments, as the addition of a load is not necessary when using those sensors.

Troubleshooting

The Check Load LED, , will flash when Go Direct Energy detects that there is a potential between the red and black leads, but no load is connected. If you do not have an external load connected, make sure the Load switch is set to Internal 30 Ω Load. Using Go Direct Energy with this LED flashing will result in measurements of potential, but since no current flows, no other quantities will be measured.

Resistance Values Fluctuate

When the current and voltage values are near zero, the resistance value is not meaningful; it may fluctuate widely.

Thermal Protection

Go Direct Energy uses internal thermal fuses to protect the sensor from overheating. For the Internal Load, if the potential increases above 5.5 V, the thermal fuse will start to engage and internal resistance will begin to increase. Over approximately 7.7 V, the thermal fuse will fully engage, meaning that the sensor is overheated and all readings will go to zero. If this happens, disconnect all wires and allow the sensor to cool for 10 minutes before starting another measurement.

When using the External Load, the thermal fuse will start to engage if the current increases above 1.1 A. Continued operation above this point will cause the thermal fuse to fully engage, meaning that the sensor is overheated and all readings will go to zero.

For additional troubleshooting and FAQs, see www.vernier.com/til/4123

Repair Information

If you have followed the troubleshooting steps and are still having trouble with your Go Direct Energy, contact Vernier Technical Support at support@vernier.com or call 888-837-6437. Support specialists will work with you to determine if the unit needs to be sent in for repair. At that time, a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number will be issued and instructions will be communicated on how to return the unit for repair.

Accessories/Replacements

Warranty

Vernier warrants this product to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for a period of five years from the date of shipment to the customer. This warranty does not cover damage to the product caused by abuse or improper use. This warranty covers educational institutions only.

Disposal

When disposing of this electronic product, do not treat it as household waste. Its disposal is subject to regulations that vary by country and region. This item should be given to an applicable collection point for the recycling of electrical and electronic equipment. By ensuring that this product is disposed of correctly, you help prevent potential negative consequences on human health or on the environment. The recycling of materials will help to conserve natural resources. For more detailed information about recycling this product, contact your local city office or your disposal service.

Battery recycling information is available at www.call2recycle.org

Do not puncture or expose the battery to excessive heat or flame.

The symbol, shown here, indicates that this product must not be disposed of in a standard waste container.

Contact Support

Fill out our online support form or call us toll-free at 1-888-837-6437.

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