Vernier Software and Technology
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Tech Tips

Tech Tip: Summer Storage Tips

Packing up your Vernier equipment for storage over the summer? Here are a few tips to ensure proper storage over summer break:

  • Turn your LabQuest 2 or original LabQuest completely off and disconnect from the Charger. In sleep mode, the battery drains much more quickly than when the unit is all the way off. To fully shut down, press and hold the power button for a full five seconds until LabQuest 2 displays the Shutdown message or an original LabQuest displays a black screen. If your school storage area is especially hot when the air conditioning is off for the summer, we recommend that you keep them in a location that remains cooler.
  • Store your pH Sensors and Oxidation-Reduction Potential (ORP) Sensors vertically in the storage solution provided. The storage solution needs to be replaced once a year, and replacement solution can be purchased, if needed. If the solution looks cloudy before vacation, it is probably best to change it before you leave.
  • Make sure no liquid (either in a cuvette or spilled) is inside your Colorimeter.
  • Store your Oxygen Gas Sensors upright using the 250 mL Nalgene bottle that was shipped with the sensor.
  • Make sure your Dissolved Oxygen Probes are completely dry after emptying the filling solution and rinsing the sensor electrode and cap.
  • Keep your Ion-Selective Electrodes in the humid environment of the storage bottles in which they were shipped. If the sponge at the bottom of the storage bottle has dried out, simply add a few drops of distilled water.

See more summer storage tips »

Vernier Accounts: Update Your Software

Did you know that you and your IT team can download the latest versions of Logger Pro and LabQuest Viewer from the Vernier website? A Vernier account lets you send update instructions, passwords, and links to your IT department. When it is time for the IT team to update your computers, you can help them by granting free, 24/7 access to the software you need.

Sign up for an account »

Tech Tip: Choosing a Spectrometer

Vernier offers a number of spectrometers. Which spectrometer is right for you? This is an important question. The first step begins with identifying the applications for which you want to use your spectrometer. We offer spectrometers that measure absorbance, fluorescence, and/or emissions.

We sell two visible-range spectrometers that can be used to study compounds that absorb light from 380 to 950 nm. SpectroVis Plus, a great, budget-friendly option, offers fluorescence capabilities with excitation at two different wavelengths, 405 and 500 nm. The Vernier Spectrometer, powered by Ocean Optics™ technology, is an excellent choice for college chemistry.

Do you study absorbance spectra of compounds in the ultraviolet range? Check out the new Vernier UV-VIS Spectrophotometer. With the UV-VIS Spectrophotometer you can monitor the rate of a reaction or collect data for an absorbance vs. concentration experiment for compounds that absorb light in the UV and visible range (200 to 850 nm). UV-VIS Spectrophotometer specifications and free, downloadable experiments can be found on the UV-VIS Spectrophotometer product page.

If your application involves looking at emissions spectra from light bulbs or gas discharge tubes, you may be interested in the new Vernier Emissions Spectrometer. The Vernier Emissions Spectrometer gives precise measurements over a range of 350 to 900 nm.

If you remain undecided about which spectrometer would be the best option for you, watch our Tech Tips video, “Which Spectrometer is Right for Me?

And, of course, if you continue to have questions, feel free to call and ask for a chemistry specialist.

Tech Tip: Tips and Tricks for Excellent Cellular Respiration Data

Cellular respiration in germinating peas
Cellular respiration in germinating peas

Cellular respiration is a fundamental concept in biology. Our CO2 and O2 Gas Sensors make it easy for your students to study this concept, producing excellent data, as shown above. However, you can’t just place a few peas in a chamber and expect to see great results when using both sensors at the same time. Our resident biologists have recently revisited the “Cellular Respiration” experiments in Biology with Vernier and Advanced Biology with Vernier to provide you with the following tips and tricks for consistently good results when using both sensors.

  • For best results, you should follow the Teacher Information, which calls for using peas that have been allowed to germinate for three days. However, you can still get very good data with peas that have been soaked for 12−24 hours. You just need to use more peas.
  • Blot the peas with a paper towel before you put them in the chamber. Excess water vapor can interfere with both sensors.
  • Use the BioChamber 250 as the sample chamber, and fully line the bottom with peas to maximize the number of peas in the chamber. Twenty-five peas work fine if you are just using the CO2 Gas Sensor. But we recommend using at least 40−50 peas if you want to see significant changes in oxygen concentration. This is very important, especially if you are using peas that have only been germinating for 12−24 hours.
  • Oxygen levels are very high in ambient air (20.9%) and your students are measuring a relatively small change in concentration over time in this experiment. This change will be much easier to observe if your students change the units to ppt or ppm. By following these suggestions, you and your students should get good results when using the CO2 and O2 Gas Sensors at the same time.

Vernier Data Share and Plot.ly

Check out this screencast on how to extend the features of the Vernier Data Share app using Plot.ly. The procedure is especially valuable on Chromebooks, but works with regular computers as well.

The screencast demonstrates using Plot.ly to create a calculated column and a curve fit with data from a LabQuest 2. Users who would like to use this option can make a free account at the Plot.ly website.

Note that this screencast does not mention saving the data in Plot.ly, and that is an important step after creating a calculated column. To see the plot created in this screencast, go to https://plot.ly/~fpoodry/15/

Vernier Software & Technology does not provide technical support for Plot.ly, but we do offer technical support on Vernier Data Share and LabQuest 2.

Tech Tip: Windows RT and the Microsoft Surface RT

The low-price version of the Microsoft Surface tablet runs an operating system called Windows RT. This OS does not run standard Windows applications, so it does not support Logger Pro. However, it is still possible to collect data on the tablet. The next release of Vernier Data Share web app, which is included with LabQuest 2 and Logger Pro, will be compatible with Internet Explorer 10, the browser in Windows RT.

With Vernier Data Share and 1:1 devices such as the Microsoft Surface tablet, every student in a lab group can get their own copy of the data, perform analysis, and make annotations for lab reports and informal reports. Vernier Data Share even supports offline analysis, so students can finish their lab reports at home.

Tech Tip: Use Digital Filtering to Get Better EKGs

Graph of a smooth EKG trace
Using a digital filter to collect EKG data

EKG and EMG Traces Just Got Smoother

John Melville, our Biology Staff Scientist, has created a set of files for Logger Pro and LabQuest App that use digital filtering to improve EKG and EMG traces when using our EKG Sensor. Logger Pro 3.8.6 and LabQuest App 2.2 both offer calculated columns that can be used to filter sensor data. Digital filtering is also referred to as signal processing and is a common tool that many biomedical engineers use to improve signal quality of physiological data.

In Logger Pro, the new files that utilize digital filtering can be found in the EKG Sensor folder, which is located inside the Probes & Sensors folder. You will find a low-pass filter file for reducing distracting, rapid variations in signals, a high-pass filter file to reduce the effect of a varying baseline on signals, and a time-decay filter file that applies a simple adjustable time constant to the data, smoothing out rapid fluctuations while preserving long-term trends. The parameters of each filter can be adjusted using arrows in the parameter control, which is found just below the digital meter. These filter types can be used to improve the signal quality of EMGs and EKGs. An example EKG trace using the low-pass filter file is shown above. Similar files for use on LabQuest can be downloaded below.

Download similar files for use on LabQuest

For more information on how to apply or use digital filters in Logger Pro or LabQuest App, contact John Melville at physiology@vernier.com. You can also watch a video demonstration of how to use digital filtering.

Tech Tip: Pivot Your Data in Data Matrix Mode

Have you used Data Matrix mode on your LabQuest yet? It’s the best mode to use when conducting fieldwork such as water quality or ecology studies. Data Matrix mode addresses several key issues that used to limit fieldwork, including:

  • Collecting data at multiple locations and over multiple days, all in one file.
  • Collecting data from more sensors than there are ports available.
  • Collecting data from certain combinations of sensors that previously could not be used together due to electrical interference.

In addition to these features, Data Matrix mode has been improved, beginning in LabQuest 2.2, with the introduction of the Pivot Data feature. Here’s how it works: Imagine that your students are studying water quality at four different locations along a stream for the entire school year. They want to analyze the data at each site over the course of the year. For example, this graph shows temperature data collected from September to June at Site 1.

Original graph showing temperatures over time at one location
Original graph showing temperatures over time at one location
Pivoted graph showing temperatures at all four sites on one day
Pivoted graph showing temperatures at all four sites on one day

However, they might also like to compare temperatures along the stream on a particular day. To do this, they can use the new Pivot Data feature to swap the x-axis values with the data set values, in this case swapping months for sampling sites. This new view of the data reveals warmer water at sites 3 and 4 as the stream flows through an area of slow water movement with no shade trees.

Previously, students needed to decide whether to analyze their data over time or over location before they even began. Now, with the Pivot Data feature, they can switch between the two as often as they would like.

Detailed instructions for using Data Matrix mode and the Pivot Data feature »

Tech Tip: Student Instructions for the Vernier Optical DO Probe

Now that the Optical DO Probe is shipping, we have had questions about updated student instructions for our experiments and investigations. The easy answer is that you just use the same instructions as before but take out all the prep work! The serious answer is that yes, we are working on them. If you already own a Vernier lab book that uses the Dissolved Oxygen Probe and you need the Optical DO version, just send an email to odo@vernier.com. Include your name, your school’s name and address, the book title, the experiment name and number(s), and what version you need (e.g., LabQuest, computer, or TI calculator).

Graph showing oxgen consuming more yeast as the temperature rises
Using an Optical DO probe to measure oxygen consumption of yeast
at various temperatures

Tech Tip: Using Graphical Analysis with Evernote and Google Drive

Teachers and students love using Graphical Analysis for iPad alongside some of their favorite apps. It’s easy to save annotated graphs and experimental data directly to Google Drive online storage servce, Dropbox, Evernote®, and many other apps for easy storage and retrieval.

Graphical Analysis can also be used to analyze output from Video Physics, Vernier applications for Windows and Mac (Logger Pro, Logger Lite, and Graphical Analysis), and any application that produces a CSV file (such as Excel®).

Graphical Analysis automatically lets you export to any compatible app installed on your iPad. First, collect data. Create and name selections, apply curve fits, and add a title to annotate your graph. Next, tap the Export button and choose Graphs or Data. The Graphs option produces a PDF file of the currently-displayed graphs. The Data option creates a CSV file for the data in the current session. After tapping “Open in” you will be presented with a collection of apps that support the file type. Tap the appropriate icon to open your Graphical Analysis data in another app.

Read more »

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