A conventional electronic development laboratory requires relatively expensive instrumentation, and access to such facilities can sometimes be difficult for students or hobbyists outside their school or work schedule.
OpenDAQ labKit is intended to become a comprehensive platform that enables students and electronics amateurs in general to have access to a complete, flexible and low cost electronic laboratory, for any personal use. It brings the possibility even to use it like a completely portable facility.
The central element in the labKit is the breadboard. The test boards or protoboards are essential systems for prototyping electronic systems, allowing real concept testing circuits, up to an intermediate complexity, without any special tools and without any welding.
The breadboard included with the kit has the particularity of sharing a common ground reference throughout the entire board, so that wiring the power circuits and most of the connections to external elements are significantly simplified.
The mass of the breadboard and the one from the circuit are shared, and the power lines of the breadboard are also connected to the +5V signal of the circuit wiring. This greatly simplifies the wiring for many of the circuits that can be tested with this kit.
All the blue lines in the diagram are connected to GND. All the red lines are connected to +5V.
The Interface Circuit
Besides the breadboard, the openDAQ labKit has a PCB that acts as interface support. At this circuit, there are available several connectors for external elements:
- Two stereo jack connections (J1 & J2), designed to be connected to the inputs and outputs of any computer sound-card. This allows the use of several virtual instrumentation software applications, available on the net.
- Two BNC connections (BNC1 & BNC2), which may allow the connection of any conventional laboratory instruments, like an oscilloscope.
- Two terminals, socket type, in red and black colors. These connectors can be fitted with a conventional multimeter to access any signal in the circuit, stable and comfortable way for the user.
- Two LED indicators, showing the availability of +5V and +9V supplies.
- Eleven terminal blocks, easy to connect, that provide access to all the main signals in the board.
- An additional terminal block, designed to connect the power lines in the kit to the power outputs of openDAQ (GND and +5 V)
- A power input jack with a switch, allowing the connection of external power sources, up to +12V.
Powering the Kit
The whole lab can be powered directly from any PC, using the +5V available from a conventional USB port. The USB cable may also be connected to an AC adapter with USB output, included in the kit, and thus making use of the circuit even without a PC.
Additionally, the circuit as a power jack input, which can be connected to an AC adapter from +9 V to +12VDC. This allows having higher voltages in those circuits that may require it. This input can also be powered using a conventional a 9V battery, using our clip-to-jack accessory, and so allowing the use of openLAB in a completely autonomously and independently way.
The labKit features a removable acquisition instrument included in the kit, an openDAQ [S]. This device comes by default interconnected to the system power lines (GND and +5V).
The instrument can be used as support for any type of experiment, making use of it in combination with the circuit that the user could have developed on the breadboard, and so taking advantage of the analog and digital inputs and outputs of the device.
The instrument can be controlled in the regular way, from the software running on a computer, but it also may be possible reprogramming the firmware of openDAQ to perform experiments in a completely autonomously way.