Versid Temperature Acquisition Module Review

Program Requirements:
Device:
PalmPilot Professional, IBM WorkPad, or Palm III
150 K free RAM

Desktop:
Windows 95 or NT 4.0

 

For years, if you wanted to develop thermal profiles you could break out the old
FLUKE thermometer, take your readings, and download them to your laptop. But now you can
use the Versid Temperature Acquisition Module by Tangent
Systems, Inc.
This compact device plugs onto the end of your PalmPilot or Palm III.
(It’s almost like having a real Star Trek Tricorder)

The Versid comes in two styles, the ST-40s* and the MT-20s. This
review will pertain to the MT-20s, which has 2 thermocouple sensor ports, and snaps
directly onto the Palm device.

*The ST-40s is a temperature acquisition module, (a classy way of saying
“thermometer”), which plugs into the HotSync port of the Palm device via a 3′
long HotSync cable, (which is included with the ST-40s). The ST-40s has 4 thermocouple
ports.

At first glance, the Versid looks exactly like the PalmPilot modem. That’s because it
is in the same style housing as the modem. The only differences are that the Versid has
thermocouple ports where the modem phone jack is, and that the side clips which hold the
Versid onto the PalmPilot/Palm III are Palm III compatible. (The clip posts are a bit
smaller, enabling it to grip the Palm III better.)

It’s very easy to set up the Versid. It runs on 2 AAA batteries, (included) or an
available AC adapter. The Versid also comes with software for recording temperatures, (on
CD), but you have to purchase the thermocouple probes separately. I tested the Versid
using Type K thermocouples. After you have it set up, taking temperature readings is as
easy as pushing a button.

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The thermocouples plug snugly into the ports, but the ports were not marked
“1” or “2”. This was a bit confusing because the PalmPilot display
screen refers to each port as 1-4 (ports 3 and 4 are for the ST-40s). Anyway, you simply
place the thermocouple probes where you want them and push any button on the PalmPilot
(except the “on/off” button) to record a reading. Each time you push a button,
the Versid records the temperature for all probes that are inserted, the time, the date,
and any user profile data that you have set up.

A PalmPilot with the Versid attached is definitely less bulky than most other
thermometers. It weighs less as well. But I would suggest that if you purchase the Versid,
you may want to use it on a PalmPilot that you can get dirty. The Fluke thermometer that I
tested the Versid against has all sorts of oil and dirt on it from normal use. Of course,
your application for the Versid may be in a clean environment.

If you are concerned about calibration, each Versid unit is calibrated prior to
shipping with a NIST traceable reference standard. Any re-calibration would need to be
performed by Tangent Systems, but they have assured me that under normal operation, there
is nothing that should effect the calibration.

The Versid supports thermocouple types J, K, T, and E sensors. It can measure
temperatures ranging from -200°C (or -328°F) to +1000°C (or +1832°F) with an accuracy
of ±1°C (or ±1.8°F).

Tangent Systems is offering hardware discounts to software developers for the Versid.
This is a truly unique piece of hardware, and I can see a lot of potential for software
development. And fortunately, the makers of the Versid designed this compact, gray colored
thermometer to be almost unnoticeable when attached to a PalmPilot. Otherwise, like the
bright yellow Fluke, it might wind up on SeaQuest!

 

Price: $389.00

Pros:
Compact
Lightweight
Eliminates the need to carry a laptop into the field.

Cons:
Care must be taken to protect PalmPilot while in use.
Thermocouple probes not included.
Would have to send back to the manufacturer if calibration needed tweaking.

 

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