Our Spring Slider Earthquake Machine has been a favorite lab activity for classes ranging from introduction to geology to structure. Now it is even better with new software and the open-sourcing of the firmware and desktop software. Over the last year we’ve continually made minor tweaks and improvements based on classroom feedback, but finally we were ready to update the software, documentation, and create a new release!

The first big news is that we have open sourced the Arduino firmware and the desktop data logging application! We’ve written before about why we love open source, and this was the perfect opportunity to take components of this product and put the power in the user’s hands to adapt, experiment, and enhance as they desired. This well documented and structured code is a great place to learn some coding basics or change apparatus behavior to your heart’s content!

 

Firmware and circuit icon

Firmware

The earthquake machine is based on the Arduino platform, specifically the Sparkfun RedBoard with our custom shield to read the load cell and control the motor. We’ve now open-sourced the Arudino firmware for the product here! Curious how it works? Have an idea for a change? Go check it out!

Desktop computer

Desktop Datalogger

The desktop data logger application records, displays, and loads data from your experiments. Written in LabView 2021, this application is now not only free as a complied installer for Windows here, but the LabView source code in available in the GitHub repository as well!

Probably the most exciting thing about the desktop software version 1.1 release is the improvements to the user interface we have made thanks to your suggestions and comments from using the device in your classrooms! All of the changes made are detailed in the release notes, but the biggest highlights are:

  • Graphs dynamically resize with the window for a full screen chart – this is great when projecting in the classroom!
  • The red exit button no longer causes serial port trouble with Window’s port management. This is a minor detail, but was a great annoyance when using the software.
  • The default save and load locations are now the LabView Data Directory (commonly created in Documents) instead of the program directory.

While none of these are… earth shaking (sorry, we had to!), they do really improve the user experience. We encourage you to uninstall the old version of the software and give version 1.1 a spin! As always keep the feedback coming and your suggestions help make better products for you and everyone else using the equipment.

If you don’t have your earthquake machine yet, be sure to add it to your cart and get science shaking in your geology classroom!

Earthquake machine v1.1 screenshot
John Leeman
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