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Sources of Equipment

Jump to [filters] [hand-held sensors] [LED flashlight] [digital cameras] aerial photography] [color calibration card] [infrared thermometer]

The following sources are not endorsements of any particular product or supplier, but since one of the goals of this project is to develop and integrate low-cost equipment to support scientific exploration and learning, we did need to post our sources.

FiltersPurpose–colored filters are an inexpensive way to look at the world to see what portions of the visible spectrum are being emitted from, transmitted through, or reflected by objects.  These durable filters are broad-band, meaning a wide range of wavelengths are transmitted through the filters.

1) Plant Stress Detection Filters (see details of filters that compare very well with forester’s plant stress detection glasses)

Mike Abdow, Sales  (Barbizon has been a long-time supplier for MoS activities; ask about discounts for bulk orders)
Barbizon Light of New England
1-800-935-3920 ext 212
mabdow@barbizon.com

NOTE: one 21”x21” filter sheet costs about $7; Consider calling for all filter needs, including those that follow)

2) IR gogglesPurpose­–provide inexpensive experience in exploring the beginning of the near infrared (IR) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum using one’s eyes.  Important to do before using digital cameras, which many young people expressed concern about because they believe one can lie with an electronic instrument.

Details on making the goggles are available at Bill Beaty’s website
Bill’s web site includes details on what filters to order and where to purchase welder’s goggles (~$6-7 apiece) that will hold the proper set of filters.
Consider buying welding goggles at your local hardware store, including Home Depot and Lowes.  See goggles that works well for glass-wearers cost about $10 apiece.

Mike Abdow, Sales  (Barbizon has been a long-time supplier for MoS activities; ask about discounts for bulk orders)
Barbizon Light of New England
1-800-935-3920 ext 212
mabdow@barbizon.com

NOTE: one 21”x21” filter sheet costs about $7; Consider calling for all filter needs, including those that follow)

Hand-held SensorsPurpose–nearly indestructible and inexpensive light probes that monitor a narrow bandwidth of light.

1) LEDs–Light Emitting Diodes– (typically use 5 mm size, but this is not essential for activities)

a) With resisters already soldered to LEDs. These are good for activities in which people “light” LEDs with batteries; may also be used as light detector when connected to voltmeter/multimeter.

TIP: To find soldered LED sets, search eBay.com for website listings using “12v ready LEDs” .

b) Without resisters – These LEDs should be used only for light detectors or for soldering to create a light source.

Consider buying in bulk from LED manufacturers selling on eBay (search for vendors).

Also consider these companies:
All Electronics
DigiKey

2) Digital Voltmeters/Multimeters – When combined with the LEDs, become an inexpensive light detector

$8 apiece (also bulk discount available) from All Electronics or higher-end voltmeters/multimeters for $18 each

3) ATLA II reflectance spectrometer (Note­–useful for educational training, but not a useful tool for collecting any significant quantity of data efficiently). Sets of ALTA II spectrometers are available by loan from theLunar Planetary Institute.

LED FlashlightsPurpose–to create lighting with a greater control of wavelengths (most LEDs are designed to emit in a narrow bandwidth of light), which is ideal of studying the reflectance of light from objects using the naked eye or a digital camera.

Battery operated (least expensive at first, but inconvenient to maintain batteries over time).  Buy in bulk to save on shipping.  Flashlight sell for about $5 apiece. http://stores.ebay.com/DAVES-BEST-DEALS-IN-TOWN(search for “4 LED” to find useful and inexpensive flashlights)

Flashlights that are significantly more expensive but wide array of wavelengths are available (including UV and near IR):

Watch for solar-powered, rechargeable, and hand-crank rechargeable LED flashlights; however, most use white LEDs rather than the colored LEDs.

Digital CamerasPurpose–invaluable tool for collecting spatial, spectral, and temporal data that may be used in a broad spectrum of scientific studies (Our project will focus on plant and environmental sciences, but we will include a number of examples of broader scientific use)

1) Time Lapse PhotographyPurpose–visualize and measure the dynamic nature of plants in our surrounding landscape.

Kodak DC290 (Lower resolution version, also with time lapse is DC260): workhorse of relatively inexpensive digital cameras that have built in time lapse capabilities; unfortunately, these cameras are no longer manufactured, so one needs to patiently bid on eBay or other sites that sell used camera equipment.  One should pay no more than $150/camera.  You will need a power supply to take time lapse with this camera, and a 96 to 128 mb compact flash card.

Pentax Optio 43 WR: very useful camera for many outdoor experiments since the camera is water resistant (WR).  Has adequate time lapse capabilities (up to 99 pictures at a time).  Very efficient use of battery power, so most likely will not need an external power supply. Recently discontinued, so search on eBay or other sites that sell used camera equipment.  One should pay no more than $200/camera. 

Pentax Optio W10: water and dust proof, light weight, and can take up to 324 pictures with a time interval as short as 10 seconds.

Keep up to date on digital cameras and options at DPreview.

Firewire web cameras (combined with BTV Pro software for Mac computers, $40 turns a computer into a very powerful time lapse camera with unlimited number of pictures)

iSight  $150
Unibrain $110 to $100 (bulk discount)

These cameras come with two firewire ports, so more than one camera may be connected to the computer at once.  Has its own software, so runs on Mac or PC.  Also, consider SecuritySpysoftware to capture time lapse of all cameras attached; the cost of which depends on how many cameras you will be connecting to your computer.

Tripods – consider purchasing for any time lapse photography work (~$30-40 each)

2) Vis/IR photographyPurpose–explore worlds previously invisible with relatively inexpensive, portable equipment.

Many modified cameras are available, but they aren’t cheap

Bullet/Lipstick (plugs into TV for classroom or science center use) – $90-100 at + $15 power supply

Computer board cam (plugs into TV for classroom or science center use) ~ $75 at + $15 power supply

Sony “Nightshot” cameras: have slightly disabled near infrared mode that allows basic near IR photography.  Disabled because of “voyeur” use of near IR photography and certain types of fabrics being somewhat transparent

Aerial PhotographyPurpose–valuable way to collect useful field data while helping students learn about the change in perspective in aerial/satellite imagery.

Any small, lightweight digital camera will do.  Consider the cameras with built in time lapse mode (such as the Pentax Optio 43 WR and Pentax W10 described above)– may set camera to take pictures at timed intervals, which saves developing a triggering device for the camera. 

Wireless TV camera: Purpose­–lightweight, so useful with one helium balloon; plus, see live what we can see from the balloon/kite/airplane (helps identify when to take digital photograph, if this is also on board)

Many nice, complete packages from $40-60. Go to eBay.com or Google.com and search for “wireless spy video camera”

A wide array of quality radio remote control rigs for panning/tilting/taking pictures from kites and/or helium balloons:

Best kites

Best radio controlled airplanes

Field RulerPurpose–add a scale to every digital photograph so image may be used for scaled measurements (length and area) using AnalyzingDigitalImages software

Very useful ruler that won’t break, may be written upon and erased, and provides two axes to document distortion in the picture: $6 each,

Color Calibration Card for Digital Cameras: Purpose–identify the color balance of the digital photograph and the quality of the ambient light; essential to use digital cameras to scientifically study color of objects.

10 cm x 15 cm plastic/washable gray card ~$15
15 cm x 22.5 cm plastic/washable gray card ~$30

Infrared Thermometer

The GLOBE program recommends the Raytek ST20 handheld infrared thermometer. There are others, but this is as big a recommendation as one can get. Search the Internet for the best prices.