First-year laboratory equipment

Comments on 1st year lab equipment options.

If one wants to emulate scope and function generator (f.g.) with Labview then sensorDAQ is not adequate. One needs NI myDAQ.
In order to use Vernier’s plug-in sensors then the Vernier myDAQ attachment is also needed to plug in to it.
* 20 kHz max freq
* 0.5 W max total power output for all ports (e.g., 10V, 50 mA)
* only 1 digital and 2 analog inputs for Vernier sensor plugs.
* using the Vernier power amplifier ($247) will allow the computer to serve as a f.g. up to 15 kHz with ±10V, 1A using the computer’s sound card.


Don’t know how well the virtual system will work with both f.g. and oscilloscope emulation vi’s being used at the same time.

Compared to stand-alone
* oscilloscope: 50 MHz or greater bandwidth (
* f.g. max freq several MHz and about 5 to 10 W power output depending on model.

It is possible to design most of our experiments to work in the audio range in most cases, but we do use the max power output of our current function generators. For example in the slinky induction lab we go up to 1 kHz but the pick-up signal is small and we put the f.g. on max output. (

If we use a stand-alone f.g. then we might consider the Labquest mini. The labquest mini has 3 analog and 2 digital ports. It can be accessed with Labview and voltage signals can be input through mini grappler plugs into any or all of the analog ports — no need for tiny screw drivers.


The Pastrack is a plastic multi-segment track It is composed of 50 cm segments that have to be put together. (
This design causes glitches in data when the carts pass over the junction. The FIC instructors don’t like them and have ordered one-piece Al replacements.

The tables work with 1.2 m track lengths, 2m (as shown in Dave’s presentation) would be too long.
The Vernier 1.2 m track is about the same price as Pasco’s ($150) but includes better options for brackets and mounting and include the feet. It allows for a bracket to mount the go-motion so that glitch-free data are usually collected compared to using the pasco tracks without the bracket. ( End stops are $10 extra. (

The optics kit designed to fit on on Pasco’s dynamics track is not comparable to the Pasco introductory optics kits we now hove. (
There are only light source, screen and two lenses.
The lenses are demountable from the holders with fussy 3-screw mounts that will give problems in a first-year lab environment.

The main bulk of the box of the basic Pasco optics kit we now have is the foam rubber cutouts that allows one to quickly verify the many items that are included in the kit. The extra encumbrance of the optics bench only adds about 2 cm to the box width.