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Issue 2.6


Data In

Using Vernier's LabPro to collect data from probes attached to your computer

Issue: 2.6 (July/August 2004)
Author: William H. Murray and Chris H. Pappas
Author Bio: William H. Murray is the department chairman of the Electrical Engineering Technology Department at Broome Community College in Binghamton, N.Y. Chris H. Pappas is the department chairman of the Computer Studies Department at the same college. BCC is part of the SUNY system of New York Colleges. Together, Murray and Pappas have coauthored dozens of magazine articles and over 50 books on assembly language, Windows, C, C++, and C#. A recent paradigm shift at the college has brought the two departments together to build an eighteen unit Mac lab for a new Simulation program that is bound to make use of devices such as the LabPro.
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 37,998
Starting Page Number: 17
Article Number: 2610
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Excerpt of article text...

Ever since the introduction of the Apple II, teachers, students, experimenters, hobbyists, and professionals have been using computers to log data in and out of their machines.

Back in 1981, we developed a hardware and software interface for the Apple II that would allow simple TTL (Transistor-Transistor Logic) circuits to be interfaced with the computer. The computer would provide all of the possible digital input combinations to the TTL circuit, then read the digital output for each combination. That information was then processed through a command-line Pascal (remember Pascal?) program implementing the Quine-McKlusky technique for circuit reduction. The result? The simplest TTL circuit that could replace the circuit under test.

This was simple digital input and output, to be sure, but what an example it was to show how a computer could be used for something other than number crunching.

In twenty-two years a lot has changed in the small system arena. Intel invaded the industry with the introduction of the IBM PC using the Intel 8088 microprocessor and Apple moved from the Apple II platform to the current G5 processors on PowerMacs.

Hardware and languages also evolved during this time. Initially, everyone was using a version of Basic or Pascal as the programming tool on both Apple and PC platforms. Eventually, our operating systems evolved from the stark command-line environments of the 80's to the easy-to-use GUI's of Windows and OS X. Our programming languages eventually evolved from the simple Basic and Pascal platforms to the object-oriented C, C++, Java, and REALbasic languages used today. During this hardware and software revolution, our interfaces also changed. More and more emphasis is being placed on the use of USB and Firewire ports than on the legacy ports of the past. But here is the rub -- it was relatively easy to program the game ports, serial ports, and parallel ports of the past. It is not as easy to gain access to USB and Firewire ports in an operating system whose sole concern is not to allow you direct access to hardware.

The need for getting data into and out of a computer, however, hasn't changed during this time. While you may not be interested in creating your own computer interfaces or writing your own device drivers, you may have quite an interest in being able to input digital or analog information or output similar data.

...End of Excerpt. Please purchase the magazine to read the full article.