Everyone has been there – you’re in the field setting out instruments to monitor an event with little time to plan or you’re in the deep field where a hardware store run is not an option. You pull out the batteries, solar panels, and instruments and start to figure out how to connect everything. The weather is either hot, cold or rainy but never pleasant. You then realize you don’t have the right connector or tool you need and have to improvise. You finally get the instrument deployed but it took twice the time you thought it would and there was a lot of electrical tape involved. Hopefully it will hold the elements off until you revisit the site. You cross your fingers and move on to repeat the exact same process. At least that’s what it feels like when we do field geophysics… 

We are extremely excited to share with you something we’ve been working on for months – the FieldVolt power system. There are plenty of “battery in a box” style systems that are out there, but we’re introducing an entire ecosystem and open standard. FieldVolt encompasses everything you need to handle power for field geophysics, from the power source to solar panels and cables to connections. All from one place. All open source. All to make your life easier.

What is FieldVolt?

FieldVolt is really an open source standard. We are launching a line of products that all adhere to that standard, but there is nothing stopping other manufacturers from doing the same. In fact – that’s the whole point! We WANT you to take this idea. We really want the geophysical community to agree to use a standard way to power our equipment so that no matter whose instrument you buy, whose power pack, or whose cable, it all plugs together easily. The standard is freely available here!

We had a lot of meetings to develop this standard and used connectors that have been field tested in our Quick Deploy Boxes. Those boxes were the brainchild of two seismologists and now hundreds have been made and deployed around the globe. Not a single connector failure has been reported. For that reason, we elected to use Amphenol Industrial circular connectors. They are not the least expensive connectors on the market, nor are they particularly easy to install, but they are the most robust. These metal connectors use a twist style bayonet lock for easy one handed connection, even with gloves on. The connectors can handle plenty of current for almost every solar powered instrument deployment and most battery powered short term deployments.

Between the connectors is a high quality wire. While the standard doesn’t specify a specific wire, we decided to use a UV hardened water block cable to provide the best life for exposed wiring. The wire goes into the weather proof boots of the Amphenol Industrial connectors and creates a connection that will work on just about everything except the outside of a submarine.

How Does it Work?

The FieldVolt standard specifies the pinouts of two different connects: the power connector and the charging connector. Power connectors are used to provide power to your instruments and equipment. Charging connectors allow different charging sources to be connected to a power source, like a battery bank.

Power connectors are a 4 pin connector with two of the pins reserved for future use. Charging connectors are 3 pin – that way you cannot mix them up when tired in the field! We’ve tried to think of all of the ways that we’ve messed up in the field and built in measures to make sure you, your equipment, and your data stay safe.

That’s it! You just need a power source like a battery box, a charging source like a solar panel if this is a long term deployment, and a power cable! We have cables with connectors on both ends, pig-tail cables so you can connect to your existing equipment, extension cables, and even a power hub to charge your phones, tablets, and more.

We’ve also taken instruments that we manufacture off the shelf, changed out the power connector to be FieldVolt compatible, and restocked them. That means you can do something like setup a complete tilt measurement and logging system with solar power, batteries, and everything else with no soldering, no wiring, and all off the shelf components!

Look for the Logo

FieldVolt has been designed to be as robust as possible, because we know you get tired in the field and it is easy to make mistakes after a long day. Those mistakes shouldn’t mean that you’ve ruined an expensive instrument. To make it easy to know if you’re good to connect, we created the FieldVolt ready mark.

Whenever you see this logo, it is a statement from the manufacturer that the instrument, power source, accessory, etc. is compatible with the FieldVolt system. We’ve engraved it onto our enclosures right by the power connector. If you see the logo, you’re good to go!

Try it Out!

Head on over to the new FieldVolt category on the store and see all of the components we just launched. As a special introductory period we’re offering many substantial discount for a limited time. You can also help the ecosystem spread and make life easier for everyone working in the field by encouraging your other equipment suppliers to make their instrument’s power connections FieldVolt ready. If you need a custom cable, just let us know, and we’ll be happy to make one for your equipment.

Simplify your power systems and speed up deployments with the FieldVolt system today! Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter as well to stay updated with all of the latest advancements, deals, free tutorials, and more!

John Leeman
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