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Connecting Detection device to laptop

Connecting Detection device to laptop

Connecting Detection device to laptop

(OP)
Hi,
I am retired and work with computer programming as hobby. I wanted to find a way to connect a sensor to my laptop so that I could write a program for it. Example: reading atmospheric radiation levels with sensor connected to my USB port. Could you direct me as to how, or what type of connections and connectors I would require to connect these two types of hardware.
Thanks,

RE: Connecting Detection device to laptop

The simplest approach is probably with an Arduino: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/12757 which has a very easy to use GUI and a bunch of I/O

What sorts of radiation you are talking about may dictate what model of Arduino you ultimately want. Sparkfun has a couple of different models of Arduino, as well as a whole host of different processor boards like Parallax, Beagle, PIC, etc.

TTFN
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RE: Connecting Detection device to laptop

I agree with the approach of electrically interfacing the sensor to an external microcontroller (Arduino, Raspberry Pi) which provide a variety of I/O interfaces, and then from the microcontroller to the laptop becomes essentially a pure software task.

Another approach would be to interface the sensor in place of a variable component within a USB Human Interface Device, e.g. a joystick.

Did you post this query in the Antenna... forum because you were looking for a wireless connection?

Many decades ago I wired up a CDS photocell in place of an analog joystick and programmed my pre-PC microcomputer to plot the ambient light over a 24-hour cycle. Back in those simpler days, the interfacing was trivial.

RE: Connecting Detection device to laptop

(OP)
Yes, that is similar to what I wish to do. I would like to use some type of input device to measure e radio frequencies: something like your solar cell reading ambient light and measuring its changes.

RE: Connecting Detection device to laptop

Detecting radio frequencies typically requires a radio tuner. One option would be the USB SDR sticks (e.g. R820T RTL2832U) that are available for $10-$30 price class. They typically cover VHF up to L-band.

One can buy $100 accessories to up-convert the MF/HF band into range. You'll also need connector adapters, cables, antennas.

An exception is in the ULF/VLF range (essentially audio RF) where an antenna can be connected directly into a computer's MIC input. Beware leaving your PC connected to an outside antenna during lightning. You may find your computer itself is quite noisy.

Are these the topics you're interested in?

RE: Connecting Detection device to laptop

(OP)
could I get both digital and analog from VHF to S or C Ban for a wider range?

RE: Connecting Detection device to laptop

I'm confused. The question started out with atmospheric radiation levels but now includes analog and digital signals. So what field of study is this related to? Radio Astronomy, signals monitoring, or other? All are fascinating activities.

Different frequency bands carry different sorts of signals, and require vastly different antenna systems. C-band around 4 GHz is the old Big Ugly Dish downlink band and requires that sort of hardware. Signals in the other bands vary widely.

In any case, if you're just starting out, then you can't really go wrong with ordering a USB SDR stick of the chip set numbers already mentioned. They're as little as about $10 and provide endless entertainment. As they're so cheap, one can order several to reduce risk of getting a bad one. Freeware SW is available.

Pay attention to the antenna side. The sticks come with a toss away antenna designed for Euro digital TV. You'd need an MCX to ?? adapter, and invest in better antenna systems.

RE: Connecting Detection device to laptop

By the way, there are more than a few SDR connected to the 'net. They often cover the HF band (shortwave).

This one is the best I've found.

http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/

If you're interested in the intersection of computers and radio, this is a good intro.

RE: Connecting Detection device to laptop

I wonder if you're asking for a Spectrum Analyzer, test equipment that shows you the RF spectrum.

RE: Connecting Detection device to laptop

The SDR cited by VE1BLL can be used for doing signal strength measurements:

http://www.pe0sat.vgnet.nl/sdr/sdr-software/sdrsha...
http://www.rtl-sdr.com/rtl-sdr-tutorial-analyzing-...

TTFN
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There is a homework forum hosted by engineering.com: http://www.engineering.com/AskForum/aff/32.aspx

RE: Connecting Detection device to laptop

(OP)
Great, thanks so much for your help. I will have to take some time to read these then get back if necessary.

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